10 Project Management Tools for 'Net Professionals
Nearly every type of digital business can benefit from leveraging a project management system. They can prove invaluable to companies as many take conversations out of email inboxes - where messages can be lost or siloed - and on to a platform where all team members who need to have access to them can see information (discussions, documents, etc.)
Aside from a proven way to bring together remote workers or keep clients updated, companies using project management systems can see big jumps in productivity, as employees and managers are accountable for progress updates, deadlines and providing feedback. Here are 10 project management systems for every type of Web business - e-commerce merchants, information publishers and service providers.
Whether a retailer needs to update a customer service system or increase his or her Web presence, Intuit QuickBase is a reliable option trusted by some of the top names in the field (e.g. Sears, eBay, P&G, etc.). Users report that QuickBase can be customized pretty quickly, is versatile and good for processes that require workflows. The popular consensus is that reports are easy to generate and QuickBase can be used by team members with different levels of computer knowledge.
This modular platform helps manage creative workflows and enables users to complete creative tasks, such as collaborative review, mark-up and approval – all of which adapts to each client. RealTIME also gives companies the ability to produce, approve and deploy material to all communication channels and includes integrated analytics to measure marketing efforts. At first glance, it would seem that this product is best for information publishers, but its suite of cloud-based tools can also help retailers meet the demand for content faster, as well as manage production schedules and track inventory.
Retailers looking for a variety of products – like time tracking, file sharing, forums, test cases, issue tracking and help desk – may want to consider Elementool solutions. Its File Sharing product, for example, is hosted on the Elementool website and team members can access what they need from anywhere. Perhaps especially useful to merchants, is Elementool’s help desk product (a screenshot of the demo is shown below), which enables retailers to run customer service operations, create Contact us forms, store all the messages received from and sent to customers in a database, generate reports and more. Elementool offers many different project management and operation products - each product has monthly fees. Elementool is the choice of corporations like Motorola, Best Buy and Nokia, as well as the 41,000 other accounts.
ContentBranch by ContentForest
Ideal for marketing teams, creative agencies and publishers, ContentBranch helps teams stay organized by breaking down content projects into single steps, from first idea (or even pitches) to final piece, as well as assign specific tasks to team members. The Web-based project management system allows users to upload files, as well as sort projects by type – current projects, new projects and finished projects. There are packages for many different budgets – like for individuals with prices starting at $2 a day to enterprises at $100 a day.
Multiple articles with varying deadlines can overwhelm even the most experienced bloggers or editors. After all, most stories require multiple steps to completion (e.g. research, interviews, writing, editing and publishing). AgileZen by Rally Software is a simple and flexible project management application that lets users see and interact with their work visually. For example, the “process screen” (pictured below) lets users define the phases that a “story” (although it can be any project really) must travel through to go from concept to completion. Users can edit and delete phases, as well as drag the phases to reorder them. Similar to how one can use colors to indicate/assign meaning to emails in an inbox, AgileZen users are able to color code project details.
This editor, personally, signed up for the free version to add a project that has multiple steps to completion (e.g. research, article, presentation). Even the gratis edition was feature rich, but it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the other versions. By upgrading the plan, users can take advantage of additional user collaboration, IM notifications, file attachments and SSL security.
Small teams can literally get started with Web-based Zoho Projects in 30 seconds. It’s easy to give Zoho a free spin for businesses wanting to see how it would work for a single project. At its core, Zoho Projects lets companies set milestones, task lists, project tasks, priorities, project duration, etc., as well as collaborate in forums and chats. The free version even offers a visual task progress meter that shows the percentage to completion. Teams that need a more robust solution can select from plans starting at $199-$599 that include features like Dropbox integration, time tracking, reminders and more.
Zoho Projects also offers extremely comprehensive “Getting Started” tutorials on, seemingly, every aspect of the product. The image below shows Zoho Project’s “Project Feeds” that keeps teams “in-the-know” in a Facebook-like news feed manner.
Website Magazine readers who have spent any time in our around this publication are likely familiar with Yammer – Microsoft’s “enterprise social network”. Since Website Magazine’s staff uses the product all day – every day – it’s one often written about on this site and in our print pages. It’s about as thrifty and flexible as a project collaboration/management tool can get, because it’s more like Facebook than anything.
Since it is a social network, it’s not one a company would probably want to include a client on, but it can bring together multiple departments so everyone knows what each other is working on – all in a secure environment.
Service providers looking to customize a project management system may want to look to the very popular Basecamp. This editor has personally used it to collaborate with designers and copywriters, as well as creative and marketing directors. Some of the inherent features that prove to be quite useful are the ability to add to-do lists, files, events and text documents to projects, as well as set deadlines.
While Basecamp is very easy to use, at the time this editor leveraged it, Basecamp seemed a little “bare bones”, but there have been many updates recently that make it prettier to look at and more intuitive to use. For example, designers, developers, consultants and other professionals who need to keep their clients up to date, yet converse with other team members without letting clients see certain conversations, can now simply “hide posts”. They are given the option each time they post (see image).
Basecamp also recently launched a new look for displaying projects. Now files in a user’s Basecamp projects are displayed in a clean, orderly grid with bigger images, large tiles and far less clutter, according to Basecamp’s blog.
This online project management platform helps enterprises schedule, prioritize, discuss and track progress in real time. Users can take advantage of Wrike’s many integrations, which include gmail, IBM connections, Dropbox, Google Drive, box, Microsoft Excel and more. Anyone can take Wrike for a whirl, as there is a free option (up to five users and 2 Gb of storage) and premium plans top out at $199 a month (for 50 users). Some of the features inherent to both free and premium plans are iPhone and Android apps, task prioritization, real-time activity stream (pictured below) and more. One Wrike service provider customer said his company was able to keep clients up-to-date without phone calls, while another said Wrike increased team efficiency by 20 percent.
This marketing project management tool is specifically designed for marketing and creative users that manage projects daily. RoboHead offers real-time access to project tracking and schedules, so everyone knows where things are and who is working on what. Users can also manage deliverables using online annotation and approval tools. There are options to assign employees, see their progress, estimate project completion, discuss with coworkers, store artwork and copy in a company’s library and more.