Comparing Project Management Tools

January 27, 2020


person in suit writing on a board with post-it notes

There was a time when project management software was used almost exclusively by large companies. Not so anymore. Nowadays, businesses considered medium or small are using project management tools as part of their administrative tasks. You can think of project management software as a toolbox to help you start, manage, and complete a project. 

The Four Types of Project Management Software

Project management software can be loosely divided into four types:

  • Basic
  • Comprehensive
  • On-premise
  • Online

Basic: A more basic or simple project management software, as the name indicates will have the fewest features to help with tasks. This doesn’t mean they are in any way inferior or useless. The features that come with most of them may be all that you need to finish your administrative tasks, especially if you are running a small business. The basic features most project management tools are offering are task management, email integration, file management, team collaboration and sometimes, learning materials.

Comprehensive: Comprehensive project management software will have all the features the basic models offer plus added next-level features, but will be more costly. So, what do you get for the extra money? You can expect to get features like resource and financial management, scheduling, more advanced task management capability, more accurate estimates, real-time progress tracking, to name a few.

On-Premise: On-premise software resides on the company server. It is likely managed by the IT department of your business at all times.

Online: Online software is cloud-based and it is usually offered as a software-as-service product. It will be managed by the cloud company for a monthly fee. Online software service is more popular with small companies that can’t afford to have a separate IT department. Hence, most of them are offered as an online product.

Comparing Different Project Management Tool

When you are thinking about a new tool, you need to understand your options. Some of the popular project management tools are:


Trello is a highly versatile software that can be used by large companies or fo your personal use. This task management tool allows you to assign team members to tasks on a project board and creates a visual map of each stage of the project with easy tracking, checklisting, deadlines, and alerts.


Basecamp is known as a "sandbox" style project management software. This is because it makes it easy for people to collaborate and work on a project together. With Basecamp, you can upload files, track, and discuss projects with colleagues and clients.


Like Basecamp, Smartsheet is also considered to be a "sandbox" style management tool. However, it gives priority to share with other team members, rather than customers. File sharing, sending alerts and reports, and collaboration are some of the strong suits of Smartsheet.


Wrike is a cloud-based project tool and is more suited for teams consisting of 20 or more people. Some of the top features include Gantt charts, workload view, custom dashboards, calendars, and real-time project updates. Wrike is popular with many types of businesses, such as tech, finance, and advertising. takes the "sandbox" concept to another level. It collects and synchronizes all information into one easy-to-access hub. Everyone from team members to customers to third-party vendors can have access to relevant info. However, one of the main reasons for's popularity is its ease of use.


Asana is one of the top project management software companies. The product enjoys a large subscriber base because it is compatible with businesses of any size. Like most project management software packages, Asana is Cloud-based, which makes it a SaaS (software as service) and you pay a monthly fee to use it. 

How to Choose the Right Project Management Tools

Let's say you've been thinking about getting a project management software or app and have started shopping around for one. However, the more you look at each one, you feel confused and overwhelmed, and find yourself not being able to make a decision on which one to go with. This is common with any new software, but especially with one that comes in so many different types, with subtle differences between them.

The following is a list of questions to ask yourself that might help you with finding the right project management software for your administrative work.

Why Do You Need It in the First Place?

This may seem obvious, but the first question to ask is why you need it. The best place to start is by outlining what your needs are and how you are going to use the software to help improve your or your team's workflow. 

This is also a good time to figure out if there will be any implementation barriers. For example, there could be an issue with data migration, costly training sessions, and even resistance from employees not wanting to learn something new to do administrative tasks.

How Much Is It and How Useful Will It Be?

The cost versus practicality issue is an age-old riddle that business owners have been trying to solve. For example, you might start your research and learn about all the top project management tools, but then the cost tends to reel you back in from what you want and what your business needs.

Ultimately, finding the right software is about seeing if it will truly fit your and the needs of your business. The trick is to see project management software as an investment to improve efficiency. If you've saved your team or executive time and money by finishing a project on time and under budget, then the project management tool has proved its ROI.

Join the Conversation

Welcome to the ASAP Circle, a community platform for peer-to-peer conversation on trending topics, professional challenges, and shared experiences. We even have designated spaces for weekly Tuesday Coffee Breaks.

Start Connecting Today!

American Society of Administrative Professionals

Producer of

APC  EA Ignite