Project management can be a complex business – from making watertight plans and estimates to coordinating resources and keeping everything within budget. While modern technology can facilitate the process, in many cases it only adds to the burden.
Many heavy-weight project management tools leave a lot to be desired. There’s a rabbit warren of options to contend with, a saturation of features you didn’t know you needed, and an eye-wateringly boring design that makes you weirdly existential. Months in, you’ll find your employees still don’t know if they’re using it correctly – or that they’ve disengaged entirely.
We’re firm believers in keeping tools simple; they shouldn’t require your team to sink tons of productive hours just using them, or try to solve too many problems. Here’s our pick of the best light-weight project management tools out there, which require little-to-no training.
nTask – for project initiation and planning
Ideal for both teams and freelancers, nTask is enormously versatile and completely free! Whether you’re working by yourself or as part of a team, nTask allows you to create individual task management and project management elements, and it’s extremely easy to create, allocate and share tasks. You can create detailed reports and timelines that examine project flow, add notes and comments to tasks, and stay abreast of meetings and deadlines. Worried about something going awry? nTask has an issue management component that recognizes prospective issues and a risk management section to identify prospective risks – both vital services for the early stages of project management.
TeamGantt – for seamless scheduling
TeamGantt is a project scheduling tool that makes scheduling a breeze. Though its timeline charts may look complex, they’re actually simple and self-explanatory, and you can create your own charts just by dragging and dropping – no training necessary. Perfect for people who like to envision project progress with a timeline, TeamGantt is also handy for getting everything together in one place; all related conversations and files are pinned to the appropriate task or project.
Timely – for coordinating resources & workloads
Good time management is central to good project management, and luckily Timely helps make both a doddle. By using automatic time tracking, it can help you keep accurate records on how project time and budgets are actually spent. All your team’s logged project activity is fed into a central dashboard, so you can make sure everyone is working to your priorities with a balanced workload. Real-time budget spend tracking and team capacity bars give you full resource visibility without digging for any information. From keeping within deadlines to seeing who’s heading for burnout or available to help out, Timely is unsurpassed when it comes to managing team resources. Its precise time records are also essential when it comes to making better estimates for future projects!
Wrike – for super-fast simplicity
Wrike is known for being one of the very best project management tools around, and thankfully you don’t need hours of training to get familiar with its different services. On the dashboard you can see all pending tasks, with upcoming or overdue assignments highlighted for ease. Importing and exporting from Google Docs can be done with just a click – a basic service that’s still sadly (and strangely) missing from many other project management apps. Though a multipurpose tool, Wrike is probably best at measuring project progress and assigning tasks, so be sure to get familiar with these services when you first play around.
Basecamp – for structuring project communication
The multipurpose Basecamp is another favourite for restructuring communications and keeping on top of different tasks. It’s especially great if you work remotely as it gets everything onto one page – so if you find yourself searching fruitlessly for old documents or important info, Basecamp will be a godsend. It’s simple to create individual to-do lists for every project, and if you forget about a task, the software is smart enough to give you a nudge. Basecamp’s straightforward message boards and scheduling abilities are also worth mentioning – they’re great for keeping all the discussions your team has throughout a project’s development in one place. Think of it as an information hub for organizing the project.
Asana – for simplified, streamlined collaboration
Known to be one of the most versatile and flexible project management tools around, Asana is unrivaled when it comes to streamlining collaboration. This tool allows you to map out each individual step within a project, create and assign tasks, get the latest updates from team members, keep notes and ask questions, alter task deadlines, and keep on top of your to-do list. The most basic Asana version is free, easy to get to grips with, and delivers detailed reporting on your strengths and weaknesses.
Trello – for visibility and coordination
If you ask people to name a simple project management tool, Trello will no doubt be one of the most they mention. This user-friendly tool keeps tabs of absolutely everything, and gives you a unique shared perspective on both tasks and projects. The simple, visually appealing design is easy to get used to, and you don’t need any training to start setting up workflows, allocating tasks or uploading documents. The free version allows you to create and access numerous boards for every project, and you can drag and drop lists and files between boards with a few simple clicks. Great for staying updated on task progress!