The Best Team Project Management Software for Small Businesses: Automate and Streamline Your Teams for Better Project Management with These Tools

Sean Lund-Brown

Managing teams can sometimes feel like herding ferrets—just when you think you’ve got everything in line, someone wanders off the path, even through no fault of their own, and you end up spending more time trying to keep things together than actually getting anything accomplished. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Thanks to modern apps and tools, you can automate project management and take team collaboration to the cloud so that everyone is always on the same page and your business is running like a well-oiled machine. 

Of course, there’s always going to be the occasional hurdle in every team and every project. It's not about finding software that eliminates that. It's about finding software that reduces the risk of human error and helps improve the process so that there are fewer hurdles and disconnects along the way

In the list below, you’ll find a selection of the best project management tools on the market today. These tools are designed to improve teams and collaboration, streamline projects, and make management one less thing that you have to stress about. Of course, they’re not all created equal. We’ve taken the time to provide a short overview of each product so that you can get a better idea of how they work and, more importantly, how they will work for you. 

When you’re checking them out, look for things like:

  • Tools to break complex projects into goals that can be accomplished.
  • Full management tools to cover all aspects of projects, including team collaboration and more. 
  • Multi-layered project management tools with long-term planning and goal-setting. 
  • Platforms that offer various pricing and subscription structures to customize your plan. 
  • Feedback and communication tools.
  • The ease with which the platform can be integrated by all members of the team. 
  • Included training and support resources for those who want to have help available when they need it. 
  • Scalability and customization options so that you can create and manage all kinds of your own projects. 

Your main focus should be on finding a tool that works for your own workflows. You may not find the “magic tool” that hits the mark for every single item that you need. However, if you focus on finding one that genuinely improves your workflows, you’ll be on the path to getting more out of your project management. 

How to succeed with project management tools 

Of course, these are tools that you can’t just set and forget. Several things need to happen when you integrate these project management tools and apps. For starters, you need to consider how effective the platform will be at helping you execute your workflows and improve your productivity as a team. 

You’ll want to create a system that works for your project management needs. Make it one that your entire team can understand and that works for everyone involved. If you can, take advantage of features in the project management app like color coding and labeling that can help you customize your projects and how they are managed. 

Essentially, it’s all about mapping out a system before you get started so that you can stay on track more easily. You'll also be able to better know what’s next and how to juggle all of the tasks involved to complete the project or move onto the next phase. Speaking of tasks, you will also want to create your own set of actionable ones. Make sure that your tasks aren’t too narrow in their scope or too vague because that can make it difficult to succeed. 

You’ll also want to set up as many integrations as you can to help you stay organized and on track with your projects. Fortunately, many of the collaborative tools and resources available today are designed to integrate seamlessly with thousands of different programs and apps so that you can manage all kinds of projects and tasks, from day-to-day duties to special projects and campaigns, and more. 

While you’re managing your projects and taking care of getting things done, find out how the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can manage your mission-critical needs, including 24/7 live website chat and more.

Trello: best for collaboration and sharing

Trello is a great tool that is designed for team collaboration. The app allows users to create their main board, and then they can add various cards to that board to help manage workflows and projects. You can even set up tabs for different users and tasks, such as having a folder for projects that need review and projects that are complete. Perhaps you’ll even set up custom tabs for the team so you can manage everyone in one place. 

Trello offers several iterations, but the best feature is that it’s free to use. Trello Business Class is available for rates as low as $10 per month, but most users will find the free app to be more than enough for project management. Anyone can sign up and start using Trello boards and cards to manage their projects, from busy companies to individuals, startup teams, and more. 

Trello makes it easy to manage projects by creating custom labels for cards, making it easy to drag and drop attachments and move cards around the board, and allows users to interact and leave comments on various tasks so that everyone stays informed. It's not ideal for real-time communication, but when you integrate it with something like Teams or Slack, you’ll have a total package for project management and day-to-day communication. 

Zapier: best for automation

Zapier is a great project management tool for teams that need to automate workflows and get things done. Plus, it connects and integrates with more than 600 different platforms and apps, including Slack, Google Calendar, and plenty of others. Just connect whatever tools you’re using to the Zapier program and then you can start creating integrations and automations, or Zaps, that will improve your project management. 

Zapier can be used as a total business management and improvement tool. You can create Zaps to notify teams, send SMS messages or emails, generate invoices and sync details, and more. Zapier is really designed as a tool’s tool—it harnesses the power of the other apps and tools you’re using by allowing you to automate as much as possible. There are literally hundreds of Zaps and integrations the tool can offer. 

Plus, Zapier is free to use for up to 100 tasks per month, and paid plans start at just $20 per month when you pay for an annual membership. Whether you’re trying to manage a team of 500 people or just a few staff members, and no matter the “project” at hand, this tool delivers everything that you need. 

ProofHub: best all-around project management

Designed as an all-in-one tool to reduce the clutter on your desktops and home screens, ProofHub is a tool that offers versatility and multiple solutions for teams who need an easy place to keep things organized. It's used by a lot of big names like Taco Bell, NASA, and others, but what sets it apart is how useful it is even for the small brands. Online proofing software ensures that there is less time wasted on the feedback stage. 

Plus, the app is full of visuals and task management tools, including Gantt charts to help you see everything in a single image so that you can make the right move on your projects. Mobile apps are available for iOS and Android, and the tool will ensure that you can always get things done when you need to. 

ProofHub can help you collaborate, organize, and deliver on all of your projects with Kanban boards, tasks and custom workflows, table views, and custom roles for access to various parts of the platform. Plus, it comes with a free trial and plans start at just $45, and you never have to pay a per-user fee like with some apps and tools. 

Zoho Projects

If you’re a fan of the Zoho family, you’ll appreciate that they have their own project management tool now. It's designed to streamline your efforts and help you do everything with just a click or two. You can use the built-in Gantt charts to keep tabs on everything and manage files, projects, and more. It's ideal for collaboration and communication and will integrate seamlessly with Zoho CRM, Zoho Invoices, and the rest of the suite. 

Plus, Zoho Projects also integrates with hundreds of other apps and tools. You will have no trouble fitting it into your existing tech stack, and the easy-to-use tools make sure that you can streamline everything and teach others to use the tool with ease. Tasks, time tracking and management, custom project management, and rich analytics offer all the tools you need to get things done and get on with your business. 

Zoho Projects generally cost $25 per month to start, but it could be more affordable as part of a Zoho package. There are also higher tiers available for those who need more than 20 projects a month. You will be able to manage and automate tasks, set up administrative roles, and even manage projects from mobile with iOS and Android apps. 

Asana: best for advanced management

Asana offers a unique to-do app that’s more than just a to-do list. This is a total project management platform that offers premium solutions for a budget-friendly price, making it a great choice for anyone who wants to get more done. Asana has features like custom due dates and project labels, a real-time dashboard to manage it all, and charts and analytics to let you know how things are working in real-time. 

Asana allows you to integrate with your existing software and tools, including Zapier to integrate Zaps and automate workflows. You'll also find project lists, subtasks, notes, tags, and more. Status updates can be shared with the team, and you can even track projects individually, thanks to the handy navigation bar on the left of the screen. Status reports, steps and progress, and other details will help ensure that all projects are managed effectively and go off without a hitch. 

Plus, Asana is free for as many as 15 users when you are looking to save a little cash on the tools that you’re investing in. Those who do need more access or who want premium features can invest in the Premium plan for as little as $5 per month. 

Manage projects better while Smith.ai manages all the fine details

All of the tools above are designed to improve the way that you manage projects. You can easily find lists of hundreds of different apps and tools that you can integrate for easier project management across the board. Plus, if you’re smart, you’ll use more than one of these tools and create your own project management suite that capitalizes on the best features of each platform that’s out there. 

For example, you might use Trello for team collaboration and sharing but then opt for something like Slack or Microsoft Teams for day-to-day chats and communication. Take advantage of free apps and free trials, too, because that will give you a chance to test out your options before you commit and make sure that you’re getting the solutions that you need. 

Speaking of solutions, Smith.ai can provide all of the ones that you need for handling the day-to-day tasks that often get in the way of project management. You can’t plan effectively without a solid plan and a team of reliable people—but your team only goes so far. A partnership with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai will help you go that extra mile to make sure that your business is taken care of while you’re taking care of business. 

Schedule a consultation now to discuss all of the solutions that we can offer, including everything from 24/7 call answering and live website chat to lead intake, overflow calling, appointment booking, and more. When you add us to your project and business management suite, you’ll know that everything is managed even when you’re busy working on the next big project. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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