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Just like how all projects are different, so are the tools you can use to manage them. What’s important is that you have a tool and it’s the right one for you.
If your company does not offer software like Microsoft Project, you can still find a robust tool. Luckily, there are plenty of free project management tools to choose from that are online and provide great features.
So, how do you pick one? Answering these five questions will help you decide which project management tool is the best one for you.
Will You Manage Projects Regularly?
This may seem like a silly question to those who hold a project management position. And for those people, it is. But not all project management is performed by those in an official position.
Smaller companies may have projects that only pop up occasionally. Managing them might be done by any number of employees and due to their simplicity, a formal project manager is not needed.
Then there are companies that are a bit larger and have projects come up more often. A company may not employ an official project manager but simply designates a certain person to keep projects on track.
How often you will manage a project is the first question to ask yourself. This helps to choose a tool that is basic and intuitive if you won’t use it often. On the other hand, for projects you manage regularly, whether daily, weekly, or monthly, you may want one with specific features.
MeisterTask is a terrific tool for managing just one project here and there or even several. The simplicity of the interface makes this one of the best free project management apps. Plus, it offers a visual method of project management called the Kanban technique. Basically, this shows your projects and tasks in a graphical form rather than a simple list with text.
You can also use basic features like due dates, task assignments, file attachments, and notifications with MeisterTask.
What Size Are the Projects You Manage?
Projects come in all sizes and for various industries. You might work for a small company of 10 where your projects are minimal and short-term. But maybe you work for a larger company of 1,000 where projects are intensive and last for months.
Determining the size of the projects you will manage is helpful when choosing a tool. You need to make sure that it can accommodate your needs up front. That last thing you want is to discover half-way through a project that the tool has limitations you were not expecting.
Podio is a nice tool for both large and small projects. What makes it stand out in regards to project size, is that you can use app packs directly related to your industry or function. These apps allow you to customize Podio to your exact needs.
So, for small projects, you can just use the basics you see after you sign up. But for larger ones, you can snag tools from the App Market that let you track timelines and deliverables, campaigns and calendars, clients and appointments, and much more.
Will You Collaborate With Others Using the Tool?
Team collaboration is a common activity for those in a project management role. But that doesn’t always mean that the tool you use to manage those projects is where you want to collaborate.
Maybe you prefer to keep your communications separate and use something like Slack or simply email. However, if collaborating within the tool helps you to manage your project more effectively, then take a look at this option:
One free online tool that is perfect for collaboration is Freedcamp. You can invite your team members, control their access, have discussions, and keep in contact, all in the same place you manage your project.
Freedcamp also provides the features you need, like notifications, due dates, task assignments, subtasks, and comments. For a full-featured tool that you can use for free, Freedcamp is excellent.
What Specific Features Do You Need?
One of the biggest things you need to think about with a project management tool is its features. And believe it or not, some do not offer the most basic of features for free. Think about what you really need to successfully manage your projects.
Do you need to be able to create unlimited projects? Do you need reminders and notifications? Do you need Gantt charts, timelines, and reports? Do you need to be able to assign tasks?
If you are looking for a tool that has features that go above and beyond, then Trello is for you. It’s one of the most popular free project management tools, and for good reason. Like MeisterTask, Trello uses the Kanban method. Using boards, lists, and cards, you can easily manage your projects at a glance.
Of course, Trello has the most basic of features. But those that stand out include power-ups to integrate with other services, labels for organizing, browser extensions for access anywhere, and options to send emails right to your boards.
Does the Tool Need to Offer a Mobile App?
Nowadays, doing business from your mobile device is almost commonplace. But that does not always mean it’s required.
If you will not be managing projects on a regular basis, then you probably don’t have to worry about a tool that offers a mobile app. However, if project management is your job and managing more than one at a time is your duty, then a mobile app is likely something you want.
All of the above mentioned free online tools offer mobile apps that are also free. They are easy to use, handy to have, and keep you working no matter where you go.
- MeisterTask for Android or iOS
- Podio for Android or iOS
- Freedcamp for Android or iOS
- Trello for Android or iOS
How Do You Choose a Free Project Management Tool?
Along with these five questions, are there more that you ask yourself when picking a project management tool? Specifically, for free online options, are there additional questions that you would consider?
Share your suggestions, recommendations, and thoughts with us in the comments below!