Collaboration: 5 Tools For Project Management

This is a great question! Our team at Scalable Path, of 2500+ remote working developers, are collaborating together, across 90 countries, to build products for clients. It wouldn’t be possible if not for the use of collaboration tools which allow seamless communication.

In my experience, the best tools will be depend on your business’s culture and specific requirements - rather than the coolest app with the most bells and whistles. Here are the tools I’ve used:

Virtual Meetings

When I need to organise meetings with people in different time zones, I use a free app called to find a mutually acceptable time.

For conference calls and internal meetings I use GoToMeeting. It has less bugs than Skype, you can share your screen and users can jump in on a call by just sharing a link.

Group Chat, Not Email.

We prefer Slack to email. It allows groups to have text conversations and collaborate in an effectively. If you want to speak to select few people about a particular subject than we can create a private channel to enable a group conversation. Alternatively you can speak to people one on one or create a public channel, where the whole organization can have a conversation. You can scroll up the the conversation to see the history of what has been said and you can attached documents and links.

If you were trying to do this via email than it would be a mess of many email messages and threads. You can check out Slack here, it’s free to get started. Another great tool that accomplishes a similar goal is HipChat, but the barrier to entry is larger for organizations. Other Tools: 10 alternatives to Slack

Project Management

I’ve tried Asana, Jira, Trello, Podio, Basecamp, Gitlab, Liquid Planner and Pivotal Traker (8 of the most established products in the market). There is no ‘one size fits all’ choice, each has it’s tradeoffs.

Do you want something easy to use that requires very little training?

Trello, (grounded in the Kanban style of project scheduling) initially developed by Toyota, is a wonderful tool and the easiest to learn. Think of it as digital Post-It notes on a whiteboard. Tasks are progressed by moving them into different buckets (also called lanes). It’s the perfect entry point for teams making the transition to online Project Management Tools.

Asana is another great option and works more like a ‘To Do List’. You can set a task and within in that you create to-do-list that is checked off as the project progresses. The customer support for Asana is comprehensive: from thought out tool tips to a help desk with same day email support.

Do you want a project management tool for software development teams?

In this case you will benefit from a tool that has integrated support for Scrum or Kanban boards.

As noted above, Trello uses the Kanban framework, which is perfectly suited for software development. Though it’s simplicity is appealing to small teams, larger teams will quickly outgrow it.

This is where Jira steps in. It is very well established and comes with the support and stability you expect from the Atlassian family of products. Jira’s Agile module has full support for the popular Scrum and Kanban methodologies.

While Asana, Basecamp and Podio can be used for Software Development, you will find yourself using 3rd party apps or workarounds. Possible, but not ideal. It’s important to note that there are many smaller PM tools built specifically for software development. You can find out about these here on our blog about Project Management tools for software development.

Do you want your client’s to be on your Project Management tool?

Sharing projects with clients and other external stakeholders can be a great timesaver. But without the correct user permissions framework, it can also be a recipe for disaster.

Basecamp splits projects down the middle with a client section and a team section. This is a great way to bring client discussions into your PM tool, while ensuring that the client doesn’t see anything you don’t want them to. This approach also makes the experience more manual, as you have to push specific information to the client. Asana, Jira and Podio operate on a similar principle, where guests only see what you explicitly share with them.

Trello’s ‘observer’ feature allows you to give read only access to clients. It’s a less time consuming approach – but it does expose all your team’s comments.

Do you have complex tasks?

Both Asana and Jira have been developed with complex multi-level tasks in mind. Sub-items can be easily created, managed and discussed.

Podio achieves the same objectives but in a less elegant fashion (that really is the Podio story in a nutshell).

Trello’s visual UI favours simple tasks – and it does this beautifully. While there is support for more advanced features, these clutter the overall experience. Basecamp has also opted to keep things simple and does not offer sub-tasks.

We calculated the prices of these different project management tools at the end of one of our blogs this year, you can see it here 6 Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Project Management Tool

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