Illustration redesigned by Devin Thorpe
Work Has Changed
Let’s face it.
The way of work has changed. People are increasingly moving from the traditional 9-5 to picking up side gigs or side hustles and working online. And with the current pandemic, people have been forced to work from home. The new arrangement has presented a challenge and an opportunity.
The challenge: everyone is in the home, but we still have to get things done within a specific time frame.
The opportunity: we have more autonomy than ever before over how we spend our time.
It’s the perfect time to learn a new skill, or start the business you’ve been dreaming of since you decided you don’t want to give your life away to your day job. Starting and running a company is not for the faint-hearted. Founders must create the organization and then lead it through challenges by generating new ideas while ensuring tasks are effectively handled.
Thankfully, it’s 2020, and technology has made starting up and organizing your work life a whole lot easier. There are tons of extensive lists on project management applications all over the internet. And with all the decisions you already have to make, we wanted to provide a resource that was thorough but doesn’t leave you feeling like you have too many options.
The Project Management Apps You Need to Organize your Work
The beauty of the current working landscape is that your team does not have to occupy the same physical space or even the same time zone. When you’re managing a project and seeing tasks through to completion, it helps to have a centralized system in place, so team members can at least be on the same page. Enter project management applications.
Quite a few project management applications exist in the marketplace. So, we’ve decided to share the features of the five programs that members of our team have used.
Monday.com is a beautiful and versatile platform. It’s got everything you need to organize yourself and your team. And it has a neat dashboard that allows you to see progress on all your projects in one place.
This is great because you can skip all the clicking around and easily see where flows are bottlenecked, and where flows are progressing, smoothly. At the same time, it’s highly customizable, and you can keep your entire team in the loop on what’s happening and what needs to get done within the company.
It is an empowering tool in that it allows you to work according to your needs. Its scheduling interface enables it to stand out from many other applications since team members can approach their projects differently. Monday is a comprehensive project management system that includes all the features your team needs to accurately and adequately divide the work.
To make things a bit easier, Monday.com has templates that help users set up their project flows. These templates include options for customer retention management, event planning, video production, daily task management, and departmental planning, to name a few.
The best feature is users get plenty of freedom to tailor the system to the needs of their organization once they have picked a workflow design to use. For instance, users can add a star system if they want to show the priority of different tasks. The system also makes it easy to assign individual tasks to different members of your team.
They offer a trial week, so you can try it out if you’re seeking a project management tool. I’d suggest you skip the free trial if you don’t want to commit to a monthly bill. It’s that great of a tool, that the free trial is just too short. And the tiered subscription is pricey if your organization does allocate funding for robust organization software.
Asana is a more simplified workflow management tool. It’s comparable to a team checklist, or a deck of cards, depending on the view. Users can see their tasks in list form, or kanban form, in the free subscription. Other views are available in the paid options which include calendar, files, and milestone views.
Because it is so simple, it enables team members to see and manage their tasks in a more streamlined fashion. Meaning, users can go from “assigned” to “finished” by selecting the checkmark next to their task. Whoever is managing the workflow must be attuned to the progress of tasks otherwise, the tasklist can seem to disappear without any conversation.
To combat this, team managers must ensure that their entire team is trained on the way the project tasklist will be used by the entire team. Once everyone is aware of their roles and how to interact within the program, it is fairly simple to use.
Asana ensures its customers remain happy and interested by introducing new features every month. For example, as recently as February 2020, Asana introduced JIRA integrations, milestone timeline view, and browser notifications.
These updates enable users to convert tasks to milestones and quickly see progress on projects and tasks. It also enables users to easily communicate tasks between business and technical teams. And, it affords users the option to always be notified about updates to project tasks.
Without a doubt, Airtable is the most relational database tool that provides online collaboration services. The application is like excel on steroids. It’s highly visual, easy to use, and enables collaborators to facilitate conversation while working on a task. What’s best: it has tons of features on their free plan. And it’s structure is applicable to organizations of any size.
Individuals, small businesses, and large corporations can use Airtable to manage and organize their workflows. Individuals can organize their grocery lists, closets, budgets, and home projects. Young startups can manage and organize the tasks of their team effectively. Small businesses can organize their product inventories, plan and manage projects, and oversee progress on workflows. And large corporations can organize their CRM, plan events, manage company budgets, and even more.
Even though Airtable comes with various plans, the free plan allows users to create and manage many databases. You can invite as many people as you want to join a free Airtable plan. However, the free plan limits users to seeing 1,200 records per database.
Similar to Monday.com, they provide users with a plethora of templates that can then be customized to each users’ preference. Each template comes with a video tutorial to show you how you can best make use of the base.
Finally, the Airtable allows users to change views which affords a clear indicator of progress.
Wrike’s program is designed for remote teamwork. So if you have a large team, Wrike is probably the program for you. Its features are significant to project managers and product managers. The features include custom Dashboards, tasks and auto-assignment, and Gantt charts.
Wrike allows individuals to organize, group, and assign their projects to team members, which helps each team member to be more organized. Also, the look of the project boards makes it easy for people to create tasks and assign them, add attachments, format texts, set dates, and change priorities, among others.
Wrike works for larger teams, but it works really well for creative teams, marketing teams, and special delivery teams. They have four subscription levels, so it is easy to pick the tier that works best for your team.
Fog Creek Software developed Trello in 2011, and it has since emerged as a forerunner application in project management. Trello organizes information in “boards” and “cards”. Project managers can share their boards with team members and organize the information in a way that works best for their team.
Trello is great because each card can house a running record of the process of the card. The digital dashboard enables team members to easily create, organize, and prioritize actions. This makes for easy communication between team members. For example, members of the team can add links, photos, comments, or files to the project card.
The best thing about Trello is its simplicity. It has a user-friendly interface and is straightforward to use. Once you set up your account, you’ll get email notifications whenever you’re added to a board, tagged in a task, or if one of your cards has been updated. Trello also allows you to set the priority level of any card which makes it an excellent tool for the young startup.
The main disadvantage of the free version of Trello is that it does not allow users to extract all their boards into a spreadsheet format. The second disadvantage is that it’s not truly scalable at the free subscription level.
What These 5 Project Management Applications Have In Common
These project management applications have a few similarities. First, they have mobile compatibility. So you can keep up with your team and your project while you’re on the go. Second, they allow multiple views of projects and task lists, so you can adjust your view based on what you’re hoping to discern while reviewing projects. Finally, each of these applications have varying levels of utility based on your subscription model.
If you’re serious, you must determine what utility level will make the most sense for you and your business. Monday is a robust platform, but it’s free trial only lasts for a week, then you must pay to even access the platform. However, you may not get all the features you want with the first subscription tier.
Similarly, Wrike is a robust platform. While there is a free subscription tier, it is limited in comparison to what is offered on the paid plans. On the other hand, Airtable – also quite robust, Trello, and Asana all have free subscription tiers. However, the features and versatility of each platform differs significantly at the free level.
How Project Management Applications Improve Productivity
Project management apps improve productivity through portability, integrations, and efficiency. In doing so, they allow you to regain control of your time while upping your productivity and keeping you accountable to the tasks and goals you set for your work.
Eliminate the need to carry around different notebooks and planners. Simply download the apps of your choice to your smart device or laptop. Now, you only need your phone, tablet, or laptop to have all of your work planning tools at your disposal. With more people having access to smart devices, it’s easier than ever to manage their workload and to keep your work life organized and streamlined.
We all have a few must-haves when it comes to work. Inter departmental communications systems, email credentials, cyber-security, and even logistical set ups are just a few of the staples any organization needs to thrive. These applications can also integrate with current systems you’re already using.
If you want to be notified via email anytime someone updates your task, it’s a simple set up within your preferences depending on the app you choose. If you want to link two apps, use Zapier. This program does not require you to know any coding, and it makes it easy to automatically update apps that are used between two separate teams [if they need to have two different apps].
Have you ever wanted to see all of your projects, and their progress in one place? And have you ever wanted to give a comment to one team member, but you had to wait until the team meeting? These applications allow you to visualize projects and save time.
Invest a little time on the front end to fully develop the first iteration of your dashboard. Once you’ve set up your system, you’re ready to observe your team’s progress and the progress of your project over time. As you make progress on projects, you may notice that certain details are extra while others are absolutely necessary. Improve your system over time.
Having everything in one place doesn’t only make for easy viewing of progress. It makes for easy access to communication channels, and updating time sensitive tasks as they occur. When you hold your business in your hands, you are so much more capable of being present even when you are physically distant from your team.
Why These 5 Project Management Applications?
There are a number of project management applications on the market. They all help with some aspect of productivity and organization. We have chosen to share these five applications in particular because they have helped us shape our work at Etekly.
The individuals on our team have experienced Monday, Asana, Airtable, Wrike, and Trello. The Etekly team used Trello in the early days, and then transitioned to Airtable when the team expanded. After using these five applications within our company, we realized they are essential for increasing productivity.
In the vein of being authentic with our content, we decided to write on what we know in hopes that it would help you in your remote work journey.
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