The internet is one of those rare things that can make your life easier and a living hell all at the same time.
The good, the bad and the ugly come and go at gigabits per second through fiber-optic cables.
The good: The internet brings us the ability to recruit highly-skilled remote workers who will make up a distributed dream team.
And for an employee, the ability to work from home—or wherever they want—is a beautiful benefit. That’s even more good stuff.
But then comes the bad. The internet can bring elevated stress levels and early aging with its never-ending flood of messages, emails and deadlines—oh my!
And for the manager of a remote team, coordinating those distributed tasks and teams can be a chaotic nightmare.
Why Your Team Needs the Best Online Project Management Tools
With people in different time zones, sometimes on opposite ends of the world, project management is no trivial task. You can’t rely on using shared docs and spreadsheets and just hope for the best.
Miscommunications and missed deadlines can be catastrophic for productivity and entire projects!
Instead, more online businesses are taking advantage of online project management tools to increase both their efficiency and productivity.
It’s time for you to take advantage of these too! If you’re not already working with one, prepare to be amazed at how much your day-to-day improves.
Following are six of the best online project management tools available. Each has its pros and cons, but one is sure to be the perfect fit for your organization and management style.
Remote Control: The 6 Best Online Project Management Tools for Remote Teams
Trello is one of the most popular online project management tools out there, currently serving over 10 million users.
Kanban boards, which are the heart of the Trello system, offer an easy-to-use, intuitive interface, making communication convenient and efficient.
The basic idea behind Trello is that each project can be set up on a “board.” Within each board are individual lists that show the state of each task within the project. Then, cards can be created to represent the tasks themselves.
Cards can be assigned to one or more users. As each task moves through the necessary steps to completion, the card representing that task is moved to a new list.
For example, a publishing company might have lists titled “Assigned,” “In Progress,” “Completed” and “Published.” They would then create cards for each article that needs to be written and assign them to the proper writers. Writers would then move each item along from one list to another as they complete their work.
Project workers and managers can quickly see the status of any item within Trello. The main disadvantage of Trello is the difficulty of tracking time and using the tool on more complex projects. You may need to use extra plugins if you want to track time, and management can become complicated with larger projects.
Trello is free to use with paid options available, though many users are satisfied with the features on the free version. Read our full review of Trello here!
Freedcamp has a versatile interface to suit the needs of several types of users and management styles. This tool is popular with businesses that employ many remote workers as well as non-profit and educational organizations, who receive special pricing.
Kanban Boards and Gantt Charts are available to enhance the user experience and give the manager more flexibility in distributing and monitoring tasks.
The tool is easy to set up and you can begin sharing information and documents within a matter of minutes. Technical skills aren’t necessary to get the most out of Freedcamp, making it convenient for everyone.
The platform is free to use with paid premium features. Freedcamp’s vision is to keep their software free and readily available for anyone who wants to use it.
The free version allows you to start tasks and discussions, set milestones and deadlines, and make use of time tracking. Free users also have unlimited storage capacity with the only limit being the size of uploaded files.
Premium packages, which are offered free to non-profit organizations such as teachers and students, can sync data from Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive.
The main advantages of Freedcamp are the ability to assign tasks, set milestones and track changes in a fast and easy way. However, some users complain that it’s a bit lacking when it comes to integration with other tools and programs.
Asana was started by the co-founder of Facebook as an online project management tool for the Facebook team.
Each team creates a workspace for individual projects and their specific tasks and subtasks. Templates are available to structure projects, and Asana breaks down and helps distribute complicated tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. Users can upload files and share with other members of the team.
Asana emphasizes tracking progress to streamline project management and help improve productivity. One of the most useful features is automatic task tracking, which removes the need for regular meetings and messages to update status.
From an administrative point of view, Asana is easy to manage and has a comprehensive overview of all projects, tasks and their current status.
The biggest complaint about Asana is the relative difficulty. Asana is powerful, but this can make it a bit more complicated to set up at first.
The software offers users plenty of great features on the free plan, but recently there have been complaints that the free plan features have been cut back. The paid premium packages available should cover any team’s needs. You can read our full review of Asana here!
Zoho Projects is a cloud-hosted online project management tool for freelancers and businesses of all sizes. Zoho is known for making it easy to divide large projects into smaller and more manageable tasks and subtasks.
Zoho Projects receives a lot of praise for both the ease of setting up the software and its responsiveness. You can share files on Zoho Projects and integrate the tool with other programs such as DropBox and Google Docs.
Other features include time tracking with the use of milestones and timesheets to help improve efficiency. The platform supports direct reporting and invoicing. The built-in chat features also make it easy for everyone to communicate in a central place without the need for external messengers or chat programs.
The free version (premium options available for a monthly fee) gives you a lot of value compared to other online project management tools. You can read our full review of Zoho here!
Active Collab works as a cloud or self-hosted online project management tool. It combines time tracking with project management to make a very well-rounded and easy-to-use tool.
One thing to love about it is that it’s highly customizable with a variety of views such as Kanban boards, calendars and Gantt charts.
Individual dashboards and to-do lists break down larger projects into smaller ones for individual employees. You can then set rates and delegate tasks and subtasks, so everyone knows exactly what they need to be working on.
Permission management allows you to modify visibility settings for all tasks and messages. Task delegation is easy, and the tool is very flexible, allowing it to work well for a diverse set of management styles.
One of the most unique features of the software is Active Collab’s ability to run as a self-hosted program, meaning you can download and install the software on your own private server. This means you don’t have to keep paying recurring fees and you gain a high level of privacy.
As with most other similar tools, Active Collab has a free version and a series of paid plans.
This online project management tool is useful for creating easy team communication across a wide range of projects.
Packages start at $7.20 per month (unfortunately, there are no free packages available) and users will get features including individual dashboards, file sharing, e-signature support, time tracking and a large variety of useful project reports and statistics.
Administration and project management is smooth and easy with an organized overview. You can customize just about everything, including changing views and setting reporting styles to suit your individual needs.
The many add-ons and app integrations give Podio an even greater level of flexibility.
Podio’s main advantage is also sometimes reported as its main disadvantage. Some users find that the high degree of flexibility leads to a more complicated user experience. Few other tools, though, can match Podio’s ability to deal with large, complex projects that require many different tasks and users.
Choose Your Online Project Management Tool Wisely
With all the programs and tools available, the smartest approach is to spend some time now testing different options to find the one that works best for you.
Premium packages often have free trials and demos. Use these to your advantage.
Choosing the wrong tool and finding that you need to start over somewhere else can be a big waste of time and money.
The right project management tool can do wonders for your team’s productivity—and even their morale.
Once you’ve found the tool that’s right for you, you’re sure to see some big improvements across the board.