Top 5 project management apps

By Matt on May 1
TOP 5 project management apps

What is project management?

Before we try to nail down exactly what project management is, perhaps it’s worth answering the question of “What is a project?”

A project is a temporary endeavor designed to produce a unique product, service or result with a defined beginning and end. It usually has limits which constrain factors such as time, budget and human resource that can be applied to meet unique goals and objectives.

Projects are temporary and run until the objectives are achieved. We can compare this with normal or routine business operations which follow established practice for the business or organization.

Normal business operations are repeated functional activities that produce the products or services related to the organization’s core business. When it comes to projects, businesses and organizations frequently need to adopt a management process which is totally different to the way it conducts everyday business.

So, in its simplest explanation, essentially, project management is guiding, controlling and managing any activity required to achieve the desired objectives. If we expand this out a little and bring in some more formal terminology, we can to refine the definition to say that:
Project management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time.

How long have we been doing project management?

From macro projects controlling the labor of thousands of people over many years to more modest (micro) scale projects which organize the labor of a few people over a couple of weeks, projects come in all shapes, sizes and ambitions. But how long have people been working like this?

It’s possible to create a frame of reference to establish the history of project management.

If we take two examples in the Middle East, we can see how far the principles of project management stretches back.

  • The Great Pyramid of pharaoh Khufru (formerly Cheops) constructed 2580 - 2560 BCE
  • The Burj Khalifa the centerpiece of downtown Dubal constructed in (topped out) 2010

The timescale between these two outstanding feats of project management means that some principles for organizing human labor on a mass scale were laid down at least 4590 years ago.

One of the masterminds was undoubtedly Imhotep, the Egyptian polymath identified as the first architect and engineer. His life pre-dates the construction of the Great Pyramid as do the ruins of the stone Necropolis of ancient Egypt’s Old Kingdom at Memphis. And older, and slightly less ambitious and well survived examples of ancient ingenuity can be found in ancient Mesopotamian civilization.

Enough ancient history! Modern approaches to project management stem from the work of Henry Gantt. His work between 1910 – 1915 led to the design of the chart named after him. While Gantt charts are comprehensive and versatile, they can be rigid and not match up very well with one of the key ways we have to be able to work today – flexibly.

Today’s projects are undertaken for an almost infinite variety of purposes and the formal rigid methodology of Gantt charts can be incompatible. Alternative project management methodologies like Scrum and Kanban built on Agile principles are widely used and are much better suited to allowing projects to progress quickly while allowing the flexibility we need to operate our businesses in a fast-moving and changeable world.

Why use apps for project management?

Software is a natural progression allowing us to integrate project management as part of our overall digital technology strategies for using, managing and storing business information. Here’s a quick overview of the top 5 project management apps.

1. Breeze

Breeze screenshot

Breeze is a simple tool for project management. Track projects from start to finish. Breeze has core features like real-time updates, tasks and todos, time tracking, reports, discussions and calendars, without having to navigate unnecessary features you don’t need. Breeze is used by freelancers, small to medium sized companies and large multinationals in every sector. Developers, marketers, project managers, accountants, designers track their projects with Breeze.

  • A simple yet very powerful way of laying everything out visually
  • Helps your team see where each project is and where it needs to go
  • Visually it is not stunning, but it makes up for it in the usability and power that is under the hood
  • What people say: We have been using Breeze to manage our software development project and the experience is fantastic. A perfect blend of simplicity with the right amount of functionality. Michael M., Capterra reviewer.

    Price from $29.00/month for 5 user

    2. Asana

    Asana screenshot

    Asana lets you visualize your work. Move work through multiple stages quickly. Timeline to create a plan that shows you how the pieces of projects fit together, and helps you keep work on track as things change. Bring emails, files, tickets, and more into Asana with over 100 integrations to choose from, so you can see everything in one place. Share results with your team and see how work is progressing to see what’s on track and what needs attention. Use custom fields to track the info that’s most important to your team or company, so it stays front and center.

    • Intuitive to navigate and use
    • Can set personal goals, and team or organization goals
    • Could do with more linking options to platforms like GitHub, bitbucket, etc.
    • Free version limits user numbers, preventing a good test of using it at scale to collaborate

    What people say: Easy to integrate across multiple projects and capture tasks for all team members. Integrates with all your devices. Michael from The Spur Group, Software Advice reviewer.

    Price from $9.99/month/user

    3. Basecamp

    Basecamp screenshot

    Basecamp combines message boards, schedules, to-do lists, group chat, documents & file storage, and more the tools teams need together all in one place. Instead of information being spread about in multiple places or pieces of software, everything you're working on is in one, place. Centralizes the storage of all project materials.

    • It’s very easy to use
    • Attach files and comments for each task
    • Very basic functionality, not great if you need more sophistication
    • Visualization of open activities could be better

    What people say: Basecamp gives teams an online hub for basic collaboration. But the layout of the app isn't conducive to productivity, and it only has rudimentary tools. PCMag reviewer.

    Price from $99.00 month

    4. Trello

    Trello screenshot

    Trello fits the needs and work styles of teams from sales and marketing to HR and operations. Over 100+ integrations with other tools like Trello is a project hub of cross-team collaboration no matter where your work needs to happen. Go from idea to action in seconds. Trello's core features are as relatable as organizing sticky notes on a wall.

    • Not very expensive compared to other project management software tools
    • Makes cross communication easy with multiple teams
    • Lacking some functions that other project management tools
    • Doesn’t have reporting for progress information

    What people say: The best project organizer that I have used to manage my projects, increase my productivity. Marianny Carolina B., G2Crowd reviewer.

    Price from $9.99/month/user

    5. Wrike

    Wrike screenshot

    Wirke makes managing multiple projects and cross-functional, distributed, or growing teams easier. End-to-end solution takes your projects from the initial request stage all the way to tracking work progress and reporting results. Manage Enterprise projects from creating and delegating tasks, to visualizing plans and organize workflows, and more. Perfect for teams of 20+ people.

    • The document editor is another of the tools that it offers and that is very useful
    • Very intuitive with the ability to operationalize lots of project management
    • Very cumbersome with templates that were not that relevant
    • Does not work well in Firefox and sometimes works pretty slow

    What people say: It’s an all-in-one project management and collaboration software. It gives complete visibility of where your project is at with a visual timeline which you can edit with dependencies. Digital Project Manager reviewer.

    Price from $9.80/month/user