Project Management Applications For Small Businesses

If you manage a small business or project, using email communications, Excel spreadsheets and company hard drives for managing and storing project information might be okay on a temporary basis, but as the number of your projects grow (and your number of collaborators grow with it) you’ll need to consider a more sophisticated system to incorporate in your business processes.

In fact, it has been proven that for small businesses having a collaborative tool providing multiple features including task assignment, time tracking, CRM, document management, mobile connectivity and third party invoicing can make a huge difference in company’s bottom line.

For large organizations, systems like Primavera, MS Project or SharePoint are the most popular software programs for project planning, reporting, document sharing, progress updating and tracking. They are used worldwide and have their own benefits and disadvantages.

On the other hand, for small businesses or small projects (such as creating new websites, new software programs, new mobile apps or even a minor manufacturing projects) Primavera and MS Project might not be the best solutions, the most important disadvantages being higher costs, heavy platform environment, learning curve, the need for sophisticated support team and unavoidable staff training.

Deciding which project management application or software to incorporate into your small business processes can be a daunting task as there is quite a wide selection to choose from and they are all continually evolving and advancing. To make matters more difficult, each software creator provides different packages to choose from, depending on the number of projects, the number of users (collaborators) and the storage space offered.

On the lower end, developers seem to categorize their packages based on one of these two choices:

– Unlimited collaborators, but limited number of projects

– Unlimited projects, but limited number of collaborators

But, they also offer unlimited projects/collaborators packages at much higher monthly rates.

Even if you select a low-end package to start with, as a growing business the high-end packages should be an important criteria for your selection because in a few years when your number of projects/users grow you would want to be able to keep the same platform, and avoid having to transfer all your files to a less costly solution.

Storage is also another differentiator for choosing your package. Depending on the type of projects your organization is managing, and the size of files your team members share on a daily basis, this could become a make-or-break factor in your selection.

The ability to use the software on your mobile smartphone or tablet is another factor to take into consideration, if that is indeed important to you or your organization. Some applications are just web-based, others use HTML5 code that fits and adapts to any screen size, and others provide their own iOS, Android or Windows Phone apps for the most popular devices such as iPhone or iPad.

Another factor to consider is whether you want (or need) to work with Gantt charts that are simpler versions of MS Project and Primavera. Some project management apps offer visual Gantt-based (rather than a task-assignment based) software.

To make your selection a little bit easier, outlined below are some project management apps we briefly examined for small businesses (in no particular order):

Product Name: Basecamp (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: 10 Projects, Unlimited Users, 3 GB Storage, $20 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 100 GB Storage, $150 / month

Basecamp keeps all your project documents and communications in one place. You can control who sees what on the projects and who can communicate with whom. The user interface is quite user-friendly and provides quick access to the latest project progress, communications, To-Do lists, etc. Basecamp also provides iOS and Android apps for mobile phones and tablets.

Product Name: Mavenlink (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 20 GB Storage, $25 / user / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 100 GB Storage

Mavenlink is fully integrated with Google Docs, Tasks and Contacts. It allows you to centralize your project information, files and communications in a shared environment. Real-time messaging ensures your team members stay on the same page. You can also stay connected using your mobile smartphone as the software offers an HTML5 mobile version as well.

Product Name: Apollo (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: 18 Projects, Unlimited Users, 5 GB Storage, $23 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 75 GB Storage, $148 / month

Apollo helps you keep track of what’s happening on your project, tasks, and calendar using interactive timers. In the activity screen you can see who did what, and even communicate with other people. Files can also be kept within the platform. Mobile versions of the software for iOS and Android are also offered.

Product Name: Wrike (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: 5 Users, Unlimited Collaborators, Unlimited Projects, 5 GB Storage, $49 / month

– Higher End Package:: 50 Users, Unlimited Collaborators, Unlimited Projects,100 GB Storage, $199 / month

Wrike is another project management software providing task management, time tracking, document sharing, and real-time news-feed. It also provides Gantt-chart integration as well as Outlook and email integration to facilitate communications.

Product Name: Projecturf (Web-based only)

– Lower End Package: 20 Projects, Unlimited Users, Unlimited Storage, $40 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, Unlimited Storage, $120 / month

Projecturf provides a user-friendly web environment giving instant access to various projects using tabs. It allows you to grant and change access permissions in every section, and even remove some section if they don’t apply to a project.

Product: Project Bubble (Web-based only)

– Lower End Package: 10 Projects, Unlimited Users, 5 GB Storage, $24 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 100 GB Storage, $99 / month

Project Bubble allows you to assign tasks and sub-tasks to team members, as well as define user permissions. It also allows you to enter the amount of hours you expect a given task should take (planned) and compare with the amount of hours is actually took (actual) to compare your actual costs with your planned budget. A timesheet feature is also offered for team members to help track the hours

Product Name: TeamGantt (Web-based only)

– Lower End Package: 5 Projects, 5 Users, 1 GB Storage, $10 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 20 GB Storage, $79 / month

If you like using simplified Gantt charts, then TeamGantt might be the solution for you. The software also incorporates simple task commenting (by team members) directly in the Gantt chart. You can still take advantage of sharing documents and many other resources, and even view multiple projects’ Gantt charts in one screen to help with your resource planning.

In a nutshell, if the essence of project management is the breaking down of multi-faceted projects into smaller tasks and milestones assigned to various collaborators, then project management applications and software should assist you in organizing and breaking those complex operations and individual tasks down into specific data available at your fingertips; thus, providing more efficiency into the process than contemporary paper documents and spreadsheets offer. Therefore, your decision to purchase a project management software for your small business should be a long-term strategy for your organization:

1- Make a list of features you need today (and maybe in the future)

2- Assign weights to each feature based on its importance to your business

3- Review each software platform (start on their website)

4- Use a simplified QFD chart to compare various programs and narrow down your choice to just a few

5- Test the waters by emailing/calling each software provider to evaluate their customer support and agility to respond to your requests in a timely manner.

A final note of caution: Not all these project management software programs will survive today’s competitive marketplace, and one can easily predict that only a few will remain in a few years. So make sure your selection is not just based on price and short-term advantages, but also looks further on the horizon. If you like the content of this article, please share it on social media.

The Most Popular Android Apps

In a tough economy, investors tend to put their money into thriving industries. Innovation drives the marketplace, and this is demonstrated clearly in the case of Android apps.

Initially, software developers began to focus on mobile applications after countless consumers demanded more features for iPhones. Eventually, other mobile phone companies offered their own smartphone alternatives based on the Android operating system. Now, these phones have become extraordinarily popular, and the Team Android phenomenon has become a full-blown consumer trend.

In response to this, app developers have been racing to release new titles on the Android Market. With so many available options, it is important to compare and contrast the different pieces of software that you can use to add new functionality to your smartphone. Which Android apps are the most popular? Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook for Android

Facebook has become the home page for a vast majority of people on the internet. This incredible social media website allows you to stay in touch with your friends in an intuitive and simple way. The Facebook app provides an attractive interface with which you can enjoy most of the features offered by the web version of the site.

Since many Android users have Facebook profiles, this app is extremely popular. If you are looking for a trendy Android app that will help you stay in touch with friends, check into this one.

Groupon

From a business standpoint, Groupon is an interesting service. This company bridges the gap between local businesses and consumers by presenting special offers on a convenient coupon app. Businesses win because so many people are using Groupon, and the thrifty deals presented thereupon encourage consumers to check out the companies featured by the service.

Consumers benefit by getting great deals sent to their mobile phones every day. If you are a choosy shopper that doesn’t want to pay too much for your favorite products, the Groupon Android app would be a wise selection.

Twitter for Android

Twitter is an extremely popular online service. This social media website is beloved for its short status updates called “tweets.” These brief and to-the-point updates convey information in a simple and swift manner.

As a result, Twitter’s proprietary Android app is among the most popular. Many people use this application every day to stay in touch with their Twitter friends. The brevity of the service’s timeline system lends itself to mobile use.

The popularity of particular Android apps changes every day. New mobile applications come out on a regular basis, and consumer trends respond accordingly. These are just some examples of a few that are considered to be unusually popular.

That said, there is no doubt that mobile apps are changing the way people consume and share information. Mobile technology is advancing at an amazing pace, and more and more consumers are joining Team Android as new apps come out with innovative functions.

Popular Software Applications for Small Business Owners

As software applications are getting more effective and gaining currency, small business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly relying on these technologies. There are a few favorable mobile and web applications that can make your business organized, connected and visible to your target customers. Some of them can go a long way to help your small businesses work more efficiently and effectively. Mentioned here are some software applications that can be installed at no cost.

Evernote

Evernote is an easy-to-use application and is available at no cost. This software application is designed for the purpose of note making. It allows users to store, organize, and share text, voice notes and photos.

It can also capture information easily in any environment using any platform or device that is most convenient, and makes the information accessible, searchable anytime and anywhere.

It can also be used to create to do lists, to clip entire web pages, manage passwords and to record audio. Everything that is added to Evernote is synchronized across platforms and devices used.

QuickBooks

This software application is easy-to-use, easy to access, powerful and customizable accounting software. This is an online software application and is designed to suit the needs of small businesses to help them perform accounting with ease. This application is powerful enough for experienced online accounting professionals. It is a web-based software, so you can access it from anywhere through the Internet.

Some of the easy-to-use software include budgeting, project costing and invoicing with customizable invoice template options. Quickbooks can create estimates and financial reports easily. Therefore, it is used by millions of people worldwide.

Open Office

Apache open office is both productive and an open source software. Since the 13th of October 2000, the software application has been in existence, and the 1.0 version was released on 30th April 2002. It comprises six personal productivity applications, namely word processor, presentation graphics, spreadsheet, drawing, equation editor and database. It is available on Windows, Solaris, Linux and on Mac operation system. This application is localized and supports over 110 languages worldwide.

Adobe Creative Suite

It presents graphic designs, video editing and web development applications that are made by adobe systems. The collection consists of adobe applications like Photoshop, InDesign, Acrobat, which are based on various technologies like PDF, Flash and Portscript. The latest version of this suit is Adobe Creative Suite 6.

Cute PDF

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a software application for secured and reliable distribution of document exchange in electronic form. It is written by the free version of commercial PDF creation software. It installs as a printer subsystem, and enables virtually any windows application to create professional quality PDF documents.

These software applications are likely to help small businesses enhance their productivity and profitability.