Best Project Management Tools for the Low-Cost Startup in 2013

best project management tools

best project management toolsProject Management is a beast. Communication, sharing documents, tracking time: managing a project can become a headache real quick. It’s no wonder startups love to use project management tools (specifically online ones) to help connect everyone as well as organize the handling of projects. These pieces of software help businesses manage their inner workings  and even their sales.

But with endless choices for Project Management, it can be overwhelming to pick the right website software for any business. Features, cost, everything is a factor. The bottom line is that no two businesses are the same, so no matter how great a piece of CRM or PM software is, it might not be the best one for your business.

Most businesses and startups have three major uses for Project Management software: to assign and track tasks, track time used, and manage/increase sales. The cost of the software is another consideration. To be thorough in our reviews, this article will focus on the best software for accomplishing tasks and improving management. Look for future posts on time management tools and sales management tools.

Take note: These are suggestions for businesses or entrepreneurs that are not focused on development work. I will write another article in the future specifically on Project Management for Developers since their needs are unique.Collabtive 1 01.06.09




Free Trial:

Yes – Even though the software itself is free, Collabtive also offers a preloaded version on its site that you are welcome to log into and play around with before you attempt to download and load it on your own servers.

Ease of Use:

Setup requires some technical knowledge. Once installed, the software is easy to use.

Main Features:

  • Projects, Milestones, Tasks
  • Basecamp Import
  • Time Tracking, Reporting


My personal top pick for Project Management, Collabtive (that’s not a typo) is a great solution. And, because the software is open source, you can update and customize it at no cost.

Not tech savvy? No problem, Collabtive’s really easy to install on your own personal website. It’s easy to get going. Even users who are not comfortable with technology can get the swing of it quickly. And, in the unlikely event that you find yourself totally lost, the forum is a great resource for those that need a little direction. Again, this is all for free.

I personally find Collabtive to be a perfect solution for those who are unhappy with the new and “improved” Basecamp. Not only is Collabtive easy to use, best of all you can create your own integrations or hire a programmer to make it your own. What more could you ask for?

Collabtive also offers plugins (which you do pay for, but only once) for additional features that are often requested. These are:

  • Project Templatescollabtivess2
  • Prioritization for Projects, Task Lists, and Tasks
  • Automatic Time Tracker
  • Project Independent Task Overview
  • Gnatt Chart for Projects and Tasks
  • Comments for Tasks


Final Opinion:

Though some users feel less intimidated by Basecamp (reviewed below), Collabtive is a great solution if you can handle getting it installed and running. Once up and running, it’s easy to use and fits most basic needs for small (or even large) startups. Best of all, it’s free. Even more, you can customize it to your needs or, if you don’t know how to alter it, you can hire a developer. Either way, the software can grow with your company at little to no cost.



Free – $25/yr

Free Trial:


Yes – 2 weeks

Ease of Use:


Main Features:

  • To-Do Lists
  • Repeating Tasks
  • Google Calendar Integration
  • Reminders
  • Sharing


GQueues is a really great choice if your only concern is tracking tasks. Don’t be deceived by its name: GQueues is not a part of Google. It is, however, created to work specifically with companies that are already using Google Apps. So, if you love Google and you only want to track what people are doing, GQueues might be right for you. It’s pretty, it’s easy to use, and it automatically drops tasks that are assigned into your Google calendar.

With GQueues, you can not only assign tasks, but you can specify a deadline down to the hour and even how much time you want the assigned party to spend on the task. This is one feature of GQueues that I really like.

You can also share task lists in a way that cannot be edited; this means you can keep clients in the loop without them accidentally messing up your workflow.

Final Opinion:

GQueues is really great if all you have to worry about is getting things done. It’s easy to share and assign tasks and attach due dates to them. If your needs are more robust, however, its integration isn’t as nice as it could be. The creator of GQueues does seem to be hard at work to change that, so it might be a service to keep an eye on.



$1 to $5 a day

Free Trial:basecampss2

Yes – 60 days

Ease of Use :


Main Features:

  • Discussions
  • To-Do Lists
  • Upload and Share Files
  • Text Only Documents
  • Calendar Management


I have to be very honest here, I used to love the old Basecamp, but long gone are those days. Basecamp has changed its look and, in my opinion, the update wasn’t an improvement. That said, l still believe it’s a great low cost pay-as-you-go solution for companies that are struggling with organization and communication within the company or with other companies. The user interface is intuitive and visually pleasing. If you are not good with technology then Basecamp might be the perfect solution for you.

You don’t need any technical know-how to set up or use the system. With Basecamp, everything is right in front of you and easy to understand. It comes with many integrations including but not limited to:

  • Smart Phone Apps
  • Time Tracking like Harvest, Crispy, Tick and more
  • Reporting, Charts, and Planning like DashStack, SlickPlan, and EazyBl


Final Opinion:

Basecamp gets the job done. For that, I love it, I really do, but I feel a business can easily outgrow the software. To its credit, Basecamp has aimed to become easier and easier to use, but this leaves companies that have tailored and specialized needs begging for more. In the end, they have to sign up for 3, 4, or even 5 different services in addition to Basecamp to get what they need done. Some people don’t mind this, and, for them, Basecamp might be perfect. However, if you are looking for more of an all-in-one solution, Collabtive might be worth some serious consideration.

Are you using any of the Project Management tools listed above? Are you using something totally different that you LOVE? If you answered yes to either of these questions, share your experience in the comments below.


By Amanda Mock

Amanda Mock is a Business Coach and Online Entrepreneur with an obsession with technology and low cost start ups. If you want to find out more about Amanda, and what resources she can provide your business please visit her site.


  1. If you like Basecamp but need some extra stuff like time tracking, reporting, google drive and dropbox integration then check out Breeze ( It’s Basecamp and Trello mashup plus it adds some extra functionality.

  2. I use TeamBox because it’s easy to use with people that aren’t versed in project management verbiage (like some of my clients) however, my team are aware of what’s required by them by viewing the more complex dashboard features.

  3. Whoever wrote this article (Amanda, talking to you!) – you should be writing graffiti on the streets, because you obviously lack any research / writing skills whatsoever. And you dare using the word “Best” in your title, when you’ve done ABSOLUTELY NO RESEARCH and you post only 3 PM tools? REALLY? I know you get paid per word to produce bullshit like this, but you could have at least TRIED to invest some effort into this bullshit.

  4. I currently use Microsoft Excel to keep track of my projects. It might sound kinda archaic, but with recommended charts and a little elbow grease, you can gain fantastic insight into the progress of your projects.
    Take for example Earned Value Equations, although they sound daunting, they are so simple and can provide you with the knowledge you require to keep everyone informed. I wrote a short post on EVM & how simple it can be

  5. thank you Amanda for this list, we spent so much time to look around!
    I would share my experience: I work in a small group and after a long search we adopted Teamwork ( Why? Just because we would like to preserve our “casual” working-style, and we didn’t want to be forced to adopt a specific methodology. We started using it as a simple to-do list (as Basecamp does) then progressively we introduced project, costs, and a Scrum oriented approach. We started with the online service, then we moved to our internal server. Maybe someone else will find it useful.

  6. Hi Amanda, I think you forgot to mention Many start ups also use this tool and what makes it unique with other project management tool is that Email is integrated on the system, and you can just convert the email to a task, convert that task into a time sheet and generate a PDF Invoice. All in one, right?

  7. Money makes your business go. But don’t try going to a bank to get it when you’ve just started in business. Banks normally make loans only to businesses with operating histories. This section will give you some alternatives, some strategies and some things to think about as you go about finding the money to make your business work.
    Small Business Loans .

  8. Awesome list! It’s so nice to have variety out there. I would like to add Talygen project management software to your list. Talygen is comprehensive project management software that offers useful task management modules.

  9. , is a new start up offering Saas based project management. One can see the templates after visiting the site. Project calendar and Personal Calendar are connected with wbs items. Document storage mechanism, Messaging system is available. Blogs can be created based on teams and several blogs/threads can be under a team. For startups, this definitely be a good software. No installation required. Just use it online.

  10. You definitely missed RationalPlan Project Management Software which is a solution within the low cost range but with pretty strong functionality. Although it is also suitable for easy tasks like personal productivity I would say it is recommended for managing entire projects.

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