Chances are, the answer to that question, is no.
Think about it – you are a business owner and as such, you fulfill many different roles. You are a marketing expert, you are an accountant, you are a supervisor. You play some extremely vital parts to run and successfully sustain your freelance business.
How do you tackle your project management? Do you write a to-do list down for each project and each client? Do you use spreadsheets for everything? What about your team members? Do they email you their updates on a project’s status? Are they waiting to hear from you about deadlines and important tasks?
These are all questions to consider and evaluate as a freelancer and as a business owner. Sometimes everything we need to manage can become, well… unmanageable!
What is the Solution?
You need to find a project management tool that works for you, your team members, and your business. Think of what you struggle with – is it accounting? Is it the overflow of ideas that you can’t keep up with? Do you hate waiting for email updates about where a project stands?
We’ve got some amazing resources to help you get started.
Below is a list of project management tools that can aid you in getting organized and better managing your workload. Some of these are best suited for the collaboration of a team while others can help any individual. A few of these tools are extremely detailed and professional while some of them are a little less rigid in structure and can really just help in a fun, laid back set up.
Take a little bit of time to help yourself by checking these out – see if you find the project management tool that is right for you!
10 Project Management Tools to Help You Better Your Freelance Business
- Smart Sheet
One of the easiest and most familiar management tools is a spreadsheet, right? Of course! This is why Smart Sheet is such a great project management tool. The basis of their organization is built on spreadsheets – except it’s not just a run-of-the-mill spreadsheet. The design is extremely sophisticated but because its use is already based on a familiar format – it’s very easy to use. Smart Sheet already has tons of templates for you to choose from or you can create your own new document. Their server makes it possible to collaborate with other team members in order to track your progress. You can set daily reminders or important dates on the calendar. You can even give administrative permissions to your teammates should they need to access to edit and make necessary updates. Smart Sheet also has mobile apps that make your team’s documents accessible on any computer, tablet or mobile device.
How much time do you spend emailing? Quite a bit? Communication in an instant is a beautiful thing. It really can help connect us with other and speed up processes like no other. What might be a drawback about email? Just the fact that its in a separate place from your work and while you can organize folders and labels, sometimes finding the information you need can take up a bit of time that could be spent better elsewhere. Enter Asana. Essentially, Asana is a project management platform in which all of your project data is held in one place. So – instead of having to toggle screens to your inbox and search for the latest update on the project’s progress, you can navigate to a specific task and get an update there. Your team members can easily leave notes (rather than send emails) and create updates so that you can have access to everything all in one location. You have the ability to assign tasks to individual team members, set reminders on the calendar and track your progress by searching for a specific piece of the project. There is a free membership which grants access to several of the basic, but unique features. From there, you can sign up and pay for premium access as well which offers more intricate and detailed features.
If you are comfortable with Excel – you will really enjoy Wrike. This project management tool is like a super-detailed spreadsheet!
- You can control who has access to what. Maybe some team members need access to the calendar and the task list but not to any financial or budgeting information. Wrike allows that kind of control.
- Their reports are extremely detailed and with these, you can identify the best places to cut back on expenses or scale down the man-power on a particular segment of the project.
- Integrate your email into a task-list. Wrike can sync your Outlook and/or your Apple Mail to better accommodate your team. Instead of searching for emails and sending those out individually – Wrike will pull the task you designate and create an actionable list out of those items.
There are many, many, more features to Wrike that go from simple to advanced and you can still view everything in a spreadsheet format. If you have 15 users (administrators) or less, there is a free version of the project management tool available. If your team exceeds that size, the membership prices for Wrike begin at $49 per month.
This project management tool is another fine example of streamlining your processes and cutting down on goose-chasing, trying to get updates, and general disorganization. The company formerly known as 37Signal, now Basecamp underwent a name change to reflect their biggest success yet.
You can create a new project and invite people to accept membership and view the page. Here, you can give information about the specifics, the ultimate goal and any expectations in a welcome section. From there, any of the invitees can leave comments or updates for you. As the project manager, you have the ability to create new tasks – update the calendar – ask for feedback – so many things! You can upload images and PDF files so that you don’t have to email anything to anyone. Basecamp really is a fantastic dashboard to use when managing any project.They have signed up freelancers, small businesses; even national entities have used Basecamp. As a new member, your first two months are free. Thereafter, their plans begin at $20 per month and go up based on what features you’d like and how much storage space you need. The cool thing is that when you pay your monthly dues – it’s all-inclusive, (save storage space) meaning that there is not a pay-per-user structure. You can pay $20 a month and have 2 users or 200 users!
Have you ever seen the website Pinterest? Think of Trello as something similar – an online pin board – only it’s task-oriented instead! This tool is great for just one user but you still have the option to invite others to your task board so that everyone can be on the same page. Trello is a completely free project management tool and it really works well for anyone who likes lists! Why? Because you can create a list on what’s called a card – and then organize those cards according to your grander scheme.For example, let’s say that you have a website to get up and running. Some of your categories might be… Design Template, PlugIns & Software, Articles & Content, and Advertising. So basically under each of these categories – you have cards. Each card can have to-do’s on it. You might place a card underneath Articles & Content with two or three ideas on it. Then on the back of that card, you can store all of your pertinent information to those ideas – like a website resource or the link to an image you want to use.
What a fun and easy way to connect with your team members. This project management tool is a product of Basecamp (Project Management Tool #3). With this program, you have a secure server to communicate with both your team members and your clients. The chats are password-protected real-time chats that are much faster and simpler than corresponding with multiple people via email. If you click on Tour Video, you can see a snapshot of how it works. From that chat room – you have the ability to initiate a conference call. The calls have a phone number and a specific access code that everyone can dial in on and the great part is that the calls are all recorded for future review!You don’t have to download anything to your computer because the program is all web-based. Campfire does offer a free trial to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Described as “simple to use,” reviews are all the rave about Project Bubble. It’s a web-based project management tool that features some of the same features as other tools available but one of their most stand-out features is the “incredibly complex” reports you can create. You can even share your status with your clients using these reports. Take a look and see how neat they are.
Who hates wearing the bookkeeper’s hat? Anyone dread invoicing? Well… enter Wave! If you handle your own finances – or just want to make your accountant’s life easier – pay attention to this one. Wave is a project management tool focused on the finances and more importantly, the invoicing. The program is tailored to small businesses – specifically those with less than 9 employees or team members. That’s not to say that larger companies can’t benefit from Wave, however the team’s focus truly is on small business. What Wave is designed to help you do is create professional looking invoices – without the hassle! Choose from several different formats – input a little bit of information and ta-dah! You have created an invoice! Wave will send reminders about due dates – when to remind your clients or when to send the invoice again. You’ll receive statements each month as well that will show you what’s been invoiced, paid, or to-be-paid. This tool simply takes the hard work out of what can be an extremely daunting task.
- Pivotal Tracker
Pivotal Tracker is similar to some of the other project management tools contained in this list… However, it is geared specifically towards software development. There are calendars and task lists to help manage the workload and to help the project managers oversee the status as a whole but what we found that was really neat – was a “community support” feature that every user has access to, regardless of the membership level chosen. There is a constant flow of help from other members and peers that you can gain insight from. Pivotal Tracker offers a free 60-day trial (no credit card required). From there, the plans vary in how many users have access and in how much storage space is available.
If you haven’t checked out Evernote yet, you really should! They offer many different products but their basic program is really cool! Evernote is a place to compile all of your ideas – organize all of your to-do’s – save any resources you want to read later! You can tailor your lists to meet your needs and create different labels to help you keep everything organized. It could be a new idea to speed up your invoicing process that you don’t want to forget. Maybe you came across a really awesome article that you didn’t have time to finish. Evernote provides a place for you to save & store all of that. This is a perfect app for individuals who have a lot of ideas or those who are on the go and can’t always act on an idea right then and there. It’s completely free to open an account – all you need is your email.Recently, the company has rolled out Evernote Business. Evernote has created a project management tool that allows collaboration with your team members and gives you the ability to share information with your clients. The business edition isn’t free but it is extremely affordable, offers unlimited storage space, and provides business-class support. It’s definitely worth checking out!
What Helps You Manage Your Business?
Have you used any of these project management tools? Did you find any of them useful? We’d love to know what you think and if you have any others to contribute to this list!
*Please note that this is a revised, updated and/or rewritten version of a previously published post from 2010*