Recommended Project Management Systems and Tools

As an Online Business Manager (OBM), I use a project management system to manage all the projects, milestones and tasks associated with the activities in the business on a daily basis. It is the center point of the virtual office for my clients' businesses.

What System Should I Use?

Here's a selection of project management systems and tools that I have tried and recommend. Every business is different and is going to have different needs. It's okay to take some time in choosing and testing out different systems until you find the one that works best for you.

And quite honestly, nothing will be absolutely perfect - meaning you're not likely to find one thing that has every feature that you want. I've often overheard other OBM's lament the lack of the "perfect" project management tool or system. My hope is that someone answers our plea and creates a kick-ass system that doesn't break the bank.

Until then, here are some of my recommendations:

1) Central Desktop

This is the closest to an all in one solution that I've found.

A list of features (from their site): Document management and creative approvals, Project management, Cloud collaboration and mobile, Online databases, Workflow, Report, Online calendars and web meetings.

This is probably the top recommendation on my list because it enables you to have everything in one spot. Your filing, project management, time reports, SOP and process wiki. Everything can be set up and managed within Central Desktop, making it a true "command console" for you and your team.

All these features come at a premium price. There is a free version, but when you're running a six-figure business, you'll need the full package at $99/month.

2) TeamWorkPM*

This is the system I currently use in my business and for one of my clients (an online business coach/trainer).

This system is missing the wiki that is available in Central Desktop and Zoho, but it does have its own file system and it integrates seamlessly with Dropbox* or Google Docs (or Google Drive).

I love the price and after trying almost every single system or tool out there, this one brings me back time and again.

3) TeamWorkLive

Honestly, this system isn't much different from TeamWorkPM. I use either/or without much change in the way I handle the system.

One of the differences is in pricing. TeamWorkLive offers packages based on the # of users, unlimited projects. TeamWorkPM offers packages based on the # of projects, unlimited users. I find I can get more out of TeamWorkPM than TeamWorkLive for a lower package price. But, as I said before, every business is different.

One great feature about TeamWorkLive and Central Desktop - this is more pertinent to team members than the owner - you can sign in with your own account. That means if you already use TeamWorkLive elsewhere, you can use that same account to log into other instances as a user.

A warning: Project and task permissions can get tricky when you have team members with their own accounts.

4) Zoho Projects

I love Zoho, and believe this system to be as, if not more, robust that Central Desktop. And, all of their applications work together. Which potentially adds up to a very powerful system.

Why I don't use it? There are two reasons. One, their project management packages requires paid add-ons for features that others include. And without the paid add-ons, I like other systems better.

Secondly, I find their pricing scheme and product descriptions/set-up utterly confusing. I feel like I get caught up in a maze, and I'm never sure what applications I should be looking at and what the total cost of the system I want to "build" with combined applications would be on a monthly basis. If I can't figure that out, then I am unable to explain it intelligently to my clients.

5) BaseCamp

I don't think anyone does specific task lists any better than BaseCamp. And I have to admit, I haven't used BaseCamp in the last year. I know they have made a ton of updates, additions and improvements.

The problem I experienced in the past (and in my most recent product trial in July 2013) is that I cannot create recurring tasks. I know some people have created work arounds to solve the problem. But for me, this is a deal-breaker. I shouldn't have to "work around" an integral missing feature.

On that note, Central Desktop isn't so great at recurring tasks either. The feature works, but it needs improvement. TeamWorkLive does a pretty great job. Except a repeating series is set up, good luck editing or making changes without headaches.


Full disclosure: there are affiliate links on this page, marked by a * beside the link.