As your business grows, getting things done becomes a complex juggling act. When it was just you, project management was simple. Maybe you kept to-do lists on sticky notes, or you planned out your next product on the whiteboard in your office. Whatever your system, as a team of one, it worked.
Now that you’ve added more people to your team though, project management takes a bit more sophistication. These five free tools will help.
Google offers a full suite of cloud-based apps, including a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software, and a form maker for collecting information.
Where it really shines as a project management tool is in collaborating with others. Because it’s completely cloud-based (no files are stored locally) and works in a web browser, it’s possible for multiple people to view and even edit a document all at the same time. As someone who regularly works with others on content and spreadsheets, I can tell you this is a huge benefit.
How we use Google Drive for project management: Because of its stellar sharing and collaboration functions, we use Google Drive to store all our company procedures and checklists. I can share them with any team member easily, and there’s never a worry about conflicting copies or out-of-date information.
Google Drive is free for up to 15GB of storage (including your gmail archive), and has a paid plan for greater capacity.
Some files just don’t fit well in Google Drive, and for that, we have Dropbox. Unlike Google Drive, Dropbox is not a cloud application. Instead, the files you store in Dropbox actually live on your computer. Dropbox simply keeps a copy on their server. For this reason, it’s not great at collaboration, but it is fabulous for sharing static files and documents–especially if you might need to access them when you’re offline.
You can set up shared folders with your team members, which allows them to download, upload and edit the files in the folder. Or you can share a folder or file link instead. This allows the recipient to download the files, but not upload or change them.
How we use Dropbox for project management: I use Dropbox primarily for storing large files, transfering documents between devices, and for backing up all my documents and client files. We also have many clients who love it for quickly sharing files with us, other service providers, and their customers.
Dropbox is free for up to 2GB of storage space, and just $10 per month for 1TB of storage.
If you’re managing a team, then a rock-solid project management system is a must have. Trying to coordinate tasks and due dates with email and Skype alone is a sure-fire path to disaster (trust me, I know). You absolutely must have a PM system that:
- Creates automatic reminders for due dates
- Allows you to track completion of tasks and projects
- Has a messaging system so team members can stay in the loop
Asana is a favorite among our clients for many reasons, such as:
- It’s free for small teams
- It’s intuitive and easy to use
While I do prefer Asana over some other systems (or none at all) it’s not currently a part of our workflow at Digital Business Managers, simply because it does not allow for easy time tracking and invoicing. For many of our clients, though, it’s the perfect solution.
Asana is free for use with up to 15 team members. However, if you need to create private projects, you’ll want to upgrade to the paid version.
I will admit–I have a love/hate relationship with Evernote. I love that I can quickly clip information from the web, save receipts and other important inforamation, and find nearly anything within this messy virtual file cabinet. Even better, it synchs across devices, making it perfect for coordinating projects such as home remodels, party planning, and other things that require work away from the office.
How we use Evernote for project management: We use Evernote for project planning. It’s great for collecting bits of information and research, including photos, links, text snippets and more.
When you need to coordinate the many (many) moving parts that make up a product launch or team schedule, there’s no better tool than Google Calendar. Anyone with a gmail account can share and colaborate on any number of calendars, such as:
- Launch Schedules
- Editorial Calendars
- Product Promotions
- Affiliate Promotions
You can also keep a task list, so you not only know what appointments are on schedule, but also what next steps need to be completed.
How we use Google Calendar for project management: We keep shared calendars with many of our clients to help keep track of events and deadlines. I also have a shared calendar of appointments, so my team knows when I’m available and when I’m not.
How do you keep your team on track and projects moving forward? Share your favorite tools in the comments.