The bigger your business gets, the more tasks you have to manage at once. Small businesses eventually feel the squeeze of too many tasks to keep track of. This is a normal part of growth for SMBs, but these growing pains can be alleviated with collaboration software. Today we’ll help you find the best collaboration software for small business owners so you can get a hold of your business and keep your productivity up.
A word of warning, though. Collaboration software comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so naming a single piece of collaboration software as the best collaboration software for small businesses is a bit tricky. We’ve decided to give you a veritable buffet of options, each one tailored to slightly different needs and circumstances. Hopefully one of these will be exactly what you were looking for.
What Is Collaboration Software?
Collaboration software is a rather broad term, but it’s easy to understand what it refers to. Any software that was designed to help multiple people organize their shared tasks could be called collaboration software. Collaboration itself is, after all, when two or more people work together on a single task or project.
Most collaboration software focuses on two key concepts: Tasks and Projects. Tasks are generally assigned to specific individuals, while projects are assigned to groups or to an entire organization. You’ll find that some of the software on our list today focuses more on tasks while other programs promise to help you manage your projects more efficiently.
In either case, your software will centralize all of your company’s tasks and make them visible to your staff. This makes it easier for people to collaborate since they can see what their colleagues are up to, and know who to reach out to if they’re having problems. Combined with notifications, collaboration software keeps your team moving, instead of guessing what they have to do next.
How Can Collaboration Software Help Small Businesses?
So why do you even need collaboration software in the first place? Well, not only does your software keep your employees from shouting across the office for information, but it also speeds up your workflow in general. Imagine if every time a task was finished someone tapped you on the shoulder and handed you your next task.
Instead of leaning back, admiring your work, and scratching your head or reviewing your notes to remember what you had to do next, you could just keep working. That’s the beauty of collaboration software. When you configure it properly, it’ll automate your workflow and prod your employees so as to keep productivity up.
Collaboration tools also keep you from making mistakes. It’s easy to get confused when you’re busy. You won’t have to worry about workers forgetting important tasks or mixing up assignments as long as you have your software up and running. There’s a reason nearly every enterprise has some form of collaboration software: it just works. So, let’s check out some options.
What’s the Best Collaboration Software for Small Business Owners?
Todoist: An Affordable Task Manager
Todoist stands out because it’s affordable and easy to use. It’s all about managing your to-do list, making it a more task-focused piece of software. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t help you track a project. You’ll just have to spend a little more time determining which tasks apply to which people in your organization.
You can group related tasks to have a pseudo-project level of organization, but the app is more designed for individuals to create tasks quickly and get to work. It does that quite well. Creating a task takes seconds, and you can create recurring ones just as easily. It’s possible to assign a task to someone else in your organization or get someone else to help you with your work.
Todoist even includes a few nifty features to help motivate your workforce. They’ve got achievements and a points system that keeps the reward center of the brain happy like a mobile phone game. You can also connect Todoist to your other apps, like GSuite or Microsoft 365, if you want to automatically pick up tasks from other programs or create a file in seconds straight from your task manager.
Who Should Use Todoist and How Much Is It?
We think Todoist is great for very small businesses or even for larger businesses but used at an individual level. Todoist excels at providing workers with a way to organize their own work. It doesn’t force anyone to conform to a specific routine or format.
However, if your organization is getting bigger, you might find Todoist lacking compared to other solutions. It’s a glorified to-do list, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, you might need other features to truly turn your business’s wheels.
At just $3 per user per month, however, it’s tough to beat the price. It’s so cheap you can’t afford not to have it, honestly.
Zoho Projects: Cheap Project Management
If Todoist is the affordable task manager, then Zoho is its project-focused counterpart. Instead of starting with your tasks, Zoho starts with your project. You create a new project and then add specific tasks. You can group those tasks as well, so if your project is a home remodel, you could have “kitchen tasks” as a group, subdivided into “new floors” and “new countertops”.
You can dig a pretty deep rabbit hole with this system. Tasks nestled inside of tasks like Russian dolls are commonplace with Zoho. Once your project is configured, you’ll get colorful Gantt charts to visualize your progress. Your team can update any task they’ve been assigned to and the chart will update accordingly.
Since it’s all run off of a cloud-based system, everybody gets live updates and push notifications as needed. Zoho also has a ton of other programs available for your company to use, so if you like Zoho you can check out their full set of solutions.
Who Should Use Zoho and How Much Is It?
We think Zoho is great for virtually every business. Don’t believe us? Try the completely free version that allows you to manage two projects, it’s great for taking Zoho for a test spin.
Costs are quite low. It’s $4 per user per month if you pay for the whole year upfront. If you want to add clients as users to collaborate with you on your projects, a single client user costs just $2 per month.
Monday.com: Do It All on One Platform
You have to give Monday.com credit, they named their product after the most hated day of the week. It’s a bold move and one that’s sure to get people’s attention. It already has, since the company has won several consumer’s choice awards for usability and ease of implementation.
Monday works a lot like Zoho in that it’ll let you create projects with task groups and Gantt charts. But where it differs is in how it presents that information. While Zoho prioritizes the project, and Todoist the task, Monday prioritizes the person behind it. When you take a look at a project at a glance, you’ll see current tasks and their status, along with an image of the person assigned to it.
If an employee needs something from someone else, their task status switches to a red “Stuck” that lets others know to step up and help unclog the workflow. There’s even a file request menu where you can say “Hey I really need this file from this person” and they’ll get a notification, or someone else can fulfill your request. It’s a collaboration driven by the people who need it most.
Who Should Use Monday.com and How Much Is It?
Monday.com is the type of tool that works best for businesses with several workers who each have distinct roles. Do-it-all solopreneurs might find some of the features superfluous. Similarly, startups with small teams may not see the need for lots of personnel management features.
Pricing is “per seat” which is how Monday.com refers to its paid users. They claim this is because multiple individuals could use a single seat, for instance, if you had a morning and afternoon shift for the same position.
There’s a free plan for $0 that gives you two seats and a surprising number of features, so give Monday.com a try before you decide to spend $8 per month for a basic plan.
ZenTao: The Best R&D Manager
What if we told you there’s a totally free solution out there for collaboration, regardless of the size of your company. Well, it exists! It’s called open-source software, which is free to download and distribute. However, you need to run the software from a server that you own or rent from another company.
ZenTao is a leading collaboration tool for R&D, especially software development. Designed by developers, for developers, it’s a great development project management tool.
Who Should Use ZenTao and How Much Is It?
If you’d prefer not to set up ZenTao yourself, you can pay for a license directly from the website or find a web host that comes with an installer package for ZenTao.
If you’re in the software business or plan on putting together a team of programmers to develop your own company software, this is a must-have tool.
Any one of these programs could be called the best collaboration software for small businesses, it all depends on your needs. If we left out your favorite software, let us know. We’ll be revisiting this topic in the future to cover even more collaboration tools, but we’re confident that these can more than satisfy your collaborative needs.