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Best Project Management Software and Tools for a Remote Team in 2020

By | Backend Support Services, Business Improvement, Customer Service, IdeasUnlimited US Remote Workers, Remote Support Services, Remote Work, The IU Way, Virtual Assistant Support | One Comment

A New Era and the Use of Project Management Software and Tools

Ever wondered how technology has encompassed every field of life today? For businesses, small or big, technology has enhanced the way teams are created and the way they work. Projects can now be delivered by a remote team spread across the globe, an in-house team, or a combination of both.

How is that convenient, you ask? Are you also wondering if such work arrangements will be productive?

The global remote workforce has been growing over the last few years because collaborative and interactive technologies have dissolved all geographical barriers to create efficient virtual workspaces. Reports on remote work show that 35% companies have currently employed a remote workforce, while 89% respondents are involved in fulltime or part time remote or virtual work. Moreover, a remote team shows 10-43% higher productivity as compared to an in-house team.

Benefits of Project Management Software and Tools for a Remote Workforce

Are project management tools effective for virtual teams?

Project management is difficult with an in-house team, and with virtual teams it becomes even more overwhelming. But technology provides the ideal solution. An ideal project management software helps a remote team in project planning, time management, resource allocation, and change management. As virtual workspaces are here to stay, effective project management is a must to build a remote workforce that is competitive, responsive, and successful. A good project management software serves to overcome the time-consuming communication issues and aids in efficiently streamlining processes and tasks.

Project management software and tools serve as a classic solution for keeping things organized and meeting deadlines—leading to greater profitability. Just like for an on-site team, the benefits of using project management software and tools for a remote workforce are innumerable:

 Better planning, execution, and monitoring

 Maintaining work schedules

 Better and clearer delegation of tasks

 Better collaboration

 Efficient problem solving

 Meeting deadlines

 Faster delivery of projects

 Better evaluation of performance

To give you a head start, we have compiled a list of the best project management software and tools for managing a team, especially a remote workforce. These have been handpicked based on ease of use, agility and advanced features, free trials, and quality of customer support.

Proofhub allows you to easily plan, collaborate, organize, and deliver projects—big or small—on time. This project planning software is based on Kanban boards where you can create custom workflows using tasks, assign user roles, choose a project manager, use Gantt charts, and do much more.

Create unlimited projects and add unlimited users, by paying a simple flat fee. Their free trial allows you to try it with your team and since there is a negligible learning curve, you can start using it for your business right away.

Proofhub - Project Planning Tool

Loved by over 85,000 teams and businesses around the world, including Google, Netflix, and NASA, this work management system ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. You can even bring on your clients, show them the progress made, and get real-time feedback and approvals from them. There is no need for lengthy email exchanges any longer. All you need to do is set up your client on Proofhub, give them the access they need, and make your life easy.

They promise to make work a “rewarding experience”, so go ahead and give it a try today.

Wrike is a cloud-based leading project management solution for team collaboration that serves well for both in-house and remote workers. It has won the Best Project Management Software award in 2018 and has 99% positive user reviews. It has a user-friendly, convenient interface, easy set up, and it works just as well on mobile devices. Wrike provides tutorials, documents, and live webinars for training.

It works well for prioritization, visualizing workflows, and analyzing results. Wrike’s features such as Gantt Charts, templates, built-in time tracking tool, scalability, and workload view are equally popular among project members and project managers.

It also offers cost-to-completion tracking for better budget management. Therefore, it has a dual functionality as a resource management cum project management tool. Wrike is a comprehensive software which comes with flexibility and customization to suit each team’s needs. Furthermore, it gives you the flexibility to easily integrate with various tools.

It is particularly beneficial for a virtual workspace because of its many data management and collaborative features. It helps in creating a remote team that is self-sufficient and productive.

Teams up to 5 members can reap its benefits for free. Bigger teams or enterprises can try it and then opt for a professional plan. However, reviews show it works best for marketing and design teams with 20+ members. It comes with a 24/7 support through a live customer service representative, which most definitely is a big plus!

Previously known as Dapulse, Monday.com has revived its image and has emerged as a fun, visually appealing, intuitively easy to use, and organized project management resource.

It offers collaboration and communication tools and provides integration with Google Drive, Dropbox, and Slack.

It is popular for remote workforce management because it is easily customizable, provides in-built tracking and monitoring, and can seamlessly become part of any established software system.

With a common dashboard, centralized communication and data management, the entire team stays in the loop. Different bright colors for each project stage, easy to add to-do lists, and member-designated tasks help the teams efficiently plan their timeline and use resources.

Its strongest feature is a URL mirrored Mobile Application. This is invaluable for those who are always on the move—as is the case for most remote workers. Monday.com offers the same interface on mobile as on PC/laptop, edging Monday.com over its competitors because of the easy integration and connectivity with the team.

It is most popular with creative agencies but is equally convenient for all other industries. It does offer a free trial and has different plans depending upon the features required and number of team members. Users find Monday.com intuitive but in case you have any difficulties, its robust customer service is always available to respond to queries.  This excellent and reachable customer service sets them apart from many other viable options.

This is one of the cloud-based software from Zoho with a focus of providing all basic features of project management. It has a simple pricing plan for both the web and mobile applications.

With clear user design, its best feature is its strong integration with other services from Zoho as well as Google and Microsoft. Moreover, the in-built chat option saves the user the hassle of opening external tools and keeps things simpler and timely.

It helps a remote team become organized through its time tracking, problem resolution, and document management tools. Progress tracking is also easy and quick due to easy-to-access Gantt charts, reports and analyses, and individual workflows.

It has a multiple view option and the members can choose their own style, depending on their preference for tasks lists. Impressively, Zoho Projects has shown continuous improvements, giving its users a better interface with many stable, customizable, and advanced features.

Along with tutorial videos and webinars, it also provides in-person trainings for the optimum use of the software. It has a free version for unlimited users, but the features remain restricted. For paid plans, you can enjoy a 10-day free trial to see if the plan suits your specifications or needs any revision. All their plans are flat rate and are very cost effective for larger teams.

Do you often find yourself scrambling at the last minute while trying to manage routine tasks and organizing work schedules for your remote team?

Asana might be a solution to your needs. It is another popular cloud-based project management suite that effectively helps you track the progress of your remote team and meet targets. It offers a simple layout, where all project and task details can be added for easy view.

The easy, flexible layout and mapped-out details for each task benefit the team in staying organized, identifying and rectifying any loopholes or errors, and adjusting schedules instantaneously. Thus, a remote team not only collaborates through Asana but efficiently completes a project by setting priorities, adjusting work structure, and assigning tasks—eliminating overlaps and delays. For routine tasks, a process timeline can be used and

shared as a template for all similar future tasks.

Asana can tie it all together for you with more than a hundred tools for integration, be it email, file sharing, data security, anything you can think of! It has gained popularity among small as well as large businesses and has 96% user satisfaction reports. It also acts as a resource management and collaboration software. Moreover, the mobile application helps with real-time updates and tracking.

It has a basic free version, while the premium and enterprise plans—with advanced and collaborative features—are billed yearly. For a larger team, the premium plan can come cheaply, and it offers exclusive projects, unlimited guests, unlimited dashboards, data export, central administration and other advanced features. Enterprise plans provide agile tools and customer support. Other than higher security and backup options, this plan also guarantees a dedicated customer success manager and instant customer support throughout the year.

Basecamp is most popular in creative agencies and it is very similar to a personal assistant who takes care of everything from assigning tasks and tracking the progress, marking them as done and then moving onto the next stage of the project. It is equally popular among entrepreneurs, contractors, small and medium businesses, and departments of larger organizations.

It has an easy, efficient system that helps in long-term planning and resource management as well. It gels conveniently for multi-customer and multiple projects firms.

It has all the features for collaborating on a project such as to-do lists, message boards, schedules, documents and file storage, and group chat. Since a decade Basecamp has been helping teams to organize, delegate, and monitor tasks.

It has a good file management system and integrative tools that helps virtual teams easily access what they require and finish tasks uninterruptedly. Team members can store, link, tag, share, and comment on project documents and files. The built-in real-time chat room is great for sharing ideas, proposals and discussions, and keeping the entire team on the same page. Therefore, Basecamp is your go-to tool when groups need to efficiently monitor their projects and achieve targets in a timely manner.

Basecamp gives you the freedom to set a date range, prioritize and rearrange tasks according to your needs. By the end of each operation, an automated report can be generated to analyze the progress and save time.

Use your google account to log in and you can enjoy a 60-day free trial of this software. The paid subscription is a fixed annual payment and depends upon the type of use.

For paid plans, the best part is that basecamp comes with all updates and IT issues are taken care of by 24/7 technical assistance. Users can also join a live Q&A base for instant solutions to their queries.

Here is another camp for you to join and enjoy some campfire with your team members!

Freedcamp is a cost effective, user-friendly software that has excellent features for seamless and convenient collaboration of remote teams. It is easily used through iOS and android applications too.

It is a project management solution that is not heavy on the pocket. It is used by a diverse clientele from many industries, ranging from retail, marketing, architecture, interior design to IT services, manufacturing, construction and many more.

Freedcamp features and tools facilitate project management through project scheduling, document and issue management, task management, reporting and time tracking. It has an in-built calendar for scheduling, reminders, tasks and monitoring events. It also has invoicing and billing and project templating tools.  Similarly, Wall is the interactive feature which allows instant communication between all parties. The settings can be used to adjust who sees what. This plethora of add-ons make up for the lack of a vibrant interface for Freedcamp.

It has a comprehensive and responsive customer service. Freedcamp has a general free plan for unlimited users and projects. Moreover, the company offers advance plans to non-profits, teachers and students without any costs.

Trello- Project Management Tool

You will love Trello whether you have just switched over to remote work or have had a remote global team for a while. All the features you need are completely free.

It is a Kanban-style project management app that helps you visually organize tasks, deadlines, and files. You can collaborate with and give updates to a team as well. Organized by cards, boards, and lists, it is a perfect tool for brainstorming a new idea or managing an ongoing project.

Best of all, use their amazing Power-Ups to sync your Google Calendar with the Trello boards, introduce agile elements to your workflow, connect to Dropbox, and do much more. You get one Power-Up free with each free account or you can upgrade to use unlimited Power-Ups. Trello even offers you the possibility of creating one for your own team, with custom functionality.

Conclusion

Using the right set of tools is necessary to reap maximum benefits of a remote team and its potential talent. At IdeasUnlimited, we have honed our remote workforce optimization strategy over the last 8 years to ensure the best quality of work from a geographically dispersed team. Our workers have a wide range of experience of using the above project management tool in several industries—be it real estate, sales, IT etc.

We would love to hear from you! If you have tried any other tool for virtual collaboration that has worked wonders for you, then please share your experience in the comments below.

 

30 Invaluable Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

30 Invaluable Tools to Make You Better at Freelancing

By | Freelancing, Remote Support Services, Remote Work | 6 Comments

Check out these 30 useful tools to improve your performance at freelance work and help you find more jobs.

Are you a freelancer competing with others from all over the globe for jobs? Honing your skills to remain competitive in the ever-changing job marketplace? It may seem like a rushing tsunami at times but freelancing does not need to be stressful. Enjoy the freedom of working in the comfort of your home, at your pace and in the hours that suit you, and become successful at it by harnessing the power of these tools. They will help you in skill development, time management, and productivity enhancement to transform your freelance career.

We at IdeasUnlimited have compiled a list of our favorite tools that have helped our global remote workforce and call center operators get their jobs done efficiently. Click the links below, and you will see the benefits from them as well!

Skill Enhancement

Skill Enhancement Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

In the freelance industry, you need to expand your skillset with the demands of the times, getting better at your work and moving away from generic skills to specialize in areas of high demand. Invest in your career by using these skill development resources.

1. Lynda.com

A LinkedIn resource with an affordable membership and unlimited access to their library, Lynda.com offers courses in fields ranging from business and design to software and web development. Learn from expert teachers on any of your devices. Start with their free trial month and their most popular courses to get a better feel of how you can upskill yourself.

2. Coursera

Partnering with world-renowned institutions, Coursera provides online courses on everything you can think of. You can enroll in their courses, learn at your own pace, discuss difficult topics with other learners to improve your understanding, get certification, and even earn degrees. Evaluate your skillset, figure out the weak areas, and find free courses to improve. You’ll find mentors and translators to help you through the process.

3. edX

Another resource we love to recommend to our remote team and other freelancers is edX. Partnering with 130 institutions globally, edX offers thousands of in-demand courses for business professionals. Work on your professional skills or learn something new like artificial intelligence to enhance the marketability of your freelance skillset.

4. Codecademy

Join 45 million people who have transformed their careers by learning how to code through Codecademy. Their motto is

‘Tell us why you want to learn to code, we’ll show you what to learn’.

Join for free to learn web development, data science, programming, and computer science with easy-to-follow tutorials, immediate feedback, and a tried and tested curriculum. Their coaches, advisors, and graduates are also available to help you through any difficult sections.

Time & Productivity Management

Time Management Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Your personal motivation and willpower are key for a successful freelance career, but these time and productivity management tools provide the extra push needed to ensure wise time use. In addition, they will help you track time spent on each project transparently, so you can easily bill your clients.

5. Toggl

Incredibly simple time tracking for personal and business use, which prompts you when you’re idle for a period of time. You can divide up your time by projects, clients, and tasks, and Toggl will let you know exactly what is making you money and what is dragging you down. You can use it on any device, and with real-time sync, you can start a task on your laptop and end it with your phone, making your life easier all around.

6. RescueTime

This app will run in the background on your computer to track time spent on various functions or projects. It then develops a report for the day, allowing you to see how you spend your time and what activities are eating up most of your day, so you become more focused and productive.

7. Paymo

A free-for-life time tracking and management software for freelancers that also allows you to manage clients. Eliminate all the stress of managing different projects for different clients by tracking the billable hours for each and presenting transparent reports to clients, apprising them of the status of each project. You can even generate three invoices for free and purchase the invoicing add-on to generate more.

Paymo also allows to manage tasks with deadlines and order them according to their priority levels, using Kanban boards to set up a workflow. We love the feature that allows attachment of all the files of each project, so your work is all organized in one place.

8. Thrive

Marketed as the wingman of the solo freelancer, it will help you manage your projects with data analysis to ensure you meet deadlines, remain productive, complete pending tasks, and manage your time effectively. With Thrive, you can then take on new tasks and improve your earning. Not only does it help manage timesheets, it makes invoicing clients as simple as the click of a button with its instant autofill of project details.

Communication Tools

Communication Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

These simple tools will facilitate your communication and marketing efforts, leading to a bigger client base.

9. Skype

Contact your clients, team members, and project collaborators through the free Skype app. It allows you to chat to people all over the globe, share all types of files instantaneously, make voice and video calls, and even set up conference calls. You can even add some money to your Skype credit and use Skype for Phone and Home to call those who don’t use the app.

10. MailChimp

The world’s largest marketing automation platform, MailChimp allows you to connect to customers and engage with them, managing email subscriber lists and building your personal brand with email marketing campaigns, updates about new services offered, or availability for projects. You can even automate your marketing emails. Start off with their free plan till you get your bearings.

Administrative Support

Administrative Support tools that every freelancer needs

Each call center operator and remote team member at IdeasUnlimited swears by these administrative support tools for providing 24 hour call center support and remote support services to our clients all over the globe.

11. Google Productivity Apps

The real-time sync feature and editing capabilities provided by Google’s web-based office suite apps are nothing to scoff at. Our remote workforce uses these apps to collaborate with team members all over the globe—forms are used to collect information, sheets manage databases, docs are used to create and edit documents, and slides help with presentation of sales pitches. These apps are free with your Gmail account, which makes them ideal for freelancers.

12. Every Time Zone

As a freelancer, you must work with clients from all over the globe, each with a different timezone. Never again do you have to struggle through the math to figure out what the time is in a particular country. Simply look it up here, like we do!

Managing Projects

Project Management Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Each freelance job is a new project that you need to manage well, completing all the tasks within the deadline. Check out these project management tools to help facilitate your work.

13. Trello

Trello is an essential project management tool for both individual freelancers and those working in a team of digital nomads or remote workers. A Kanban-style project management app, Trello can be used in myriad ways to manage your to-do list, visually organize data, manage productivity, and collaborate with teams. Organized by cards, boards, and lists, it is a perfect tool for brainstorming a new idea. Check out a detailed summary of all that you can do with Trello here.

14. Evernote

Making sure no detail falls through the cracks again by keeping notes, pictures, videos, and voice notes of your ideas. Manage your personal and professional lives with Evernote and become more efficient by keeping track of projects and tasks—online or offline—using any of your devices.

Managing Finances

Tools for Managing Finances that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Freelancing frees you from the restrictions of a 9 to 5 job with a single company but without the associated 401k, managing expenses and savings is likely to get hectic. You also need to keep track of invoices due and received from clients. Don’t worry, we’ve found these 4 tools to make your budgeting and financial management a piece of cake:

15. Mint

Working as a one-person business becomes difficult since work and personal finances tend to overlap, so to keep your boat afloat you must get your business finances in order. Mint offers the perfect budgeting tool, sending you alerts when you’re near your budget limits, push notifications when a bill is coming due, and charts to see how you’re managing your cash flow. It even gives you suggestions based on your budget, allows for instant scheduling of payments, and helps manage your credit score.

16. Shoeboxed

Get your receipts in order and generate expense reports with this verified paperless organizer. You simply scan your receipts, and it will digitize and archive them into accessible human-verified data in one secure location. Shoeboxed will develop expense reports for your clients as well as organize IRS-recognized receipts for facilitated tax filing so you don’t have to manually input any data.

17. Wave

This free online financial management platform allows freelancers and small businesses to record expenses, make invoices, and balance their books. It allows customization of invoices and even tracks them, so you know when to expect payments. You can even fast-track your cash inflows by accepting credit card payments through Wave, simplifying the process for your clients as well.

18. PayPal

PayPal allows you to create and email professional invoices that you can send to clients all over the globe, and they can pay using their credit cards even if they do not have PayPal accounts. You can even accept payments over the phone with Virtual Terminal. Best of all, you’ll be keeping track of all invoices and payments in one place.

Sources of Inspiration

Sources of Inspiration that every freelancer and remote worker need

All of us face mental blocks from time to time. These sources of inspiration can help rejuvenate your creative juices and power you full steam ahead.

19. The Accidental Creative Podcast

Get free advice on improving your productivity, developing creatively, and staying brilliant and healthy at your life and work. Author Todd Henry talks to authors, inspirational leaders, and artists to get their insights on how to cultivate creativity and stay positive. Freelancers love listening to his take on these important topics.

20. 99U

Whatever your field of expertise, 99U aims to creatively inspire you to succeed at your goals. Learn how to create your own signature value proposition by following the experiences of these trendsetters, so you no longer have to compete for freelance jobs as one of a crowd but stand out for the extra value you offer. It teaches you everything from perfecting your sales pitch and getting noticed to generating innovative ideas.

Legal Resources that every freelancer and remote worker needs

21. The Freelance Contract

Protect yourself by entering into binding legal agreements with your clients using this free resource. Vetted by the Freelance Union, it allows you to customize the contract by adding or removing clauses and notes, and generates alerts when the contract is reviewed and signed. The best feature it offers is generating invoices based on the terms of your contract that you can simply approve and send. Not only can both parties e-sign the contract, you can set up a self-destruct time, so only contracts signed within the stipulated deadline are valid.

22. Bankrate's Mortgage Guide

The current mortgage industry makes it difficult for freelancers to obtain mortgage on favorable terms since they cannot furnish a consistent source of income.

Bankrate simplified the intricacies of the mortgage industry and created a guide full of helpful tips for you to know when applying for a mortgage as a freelancer. Their guide covers everything from real-world financial implications for freelancers, loan assistance options, and potential legislature that could alleviate concerns for freelancers. Make sure you are well-acquainted with this guide before applying for a mortgage.

Backup Storage

Backup Storage Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

When asked about their greatest professional fears, the one we hear the most often from our remote workforce and call center support workers is data getting corrupt or erased. Prepare yourself for such an eventuality by backing up your work on a secure cloud storage platform or using an appropriate backup tool. We’ve rounded up three of the best options for you:

23. Google Drive

Get up to 15 GB of free drive storage with your Gmail account on which you can store all kinds of files—photos, videos, drawings, etc. You can sync these files across all devices and access them when and where you like. With Google Drive, you don’t have to email entire files to clients any longer, simply share the files with them to view, download, and edit directly on the Drive. Upgrade if you need more storage space.

24. Amazon Glacier

Do you want a cheap, secure, long-term storage option for your important data? Compliant with strict data regularity standards and using three forms of encryption, Amazon Glacier offers privacy, security, and durability. With three retrieval options to choose from, you can decide how actively you wish to access your data. Store all your project work and data here, paying only for what you need, with no upfront costs.

25. All-in-One WP Migration

Backup your website and your clients’ websites using this amazing WordPress plugin that allows you to quickly restore a site if a bug or glitch brings things crashing down. It also makes site migration incredibly easy, you only have to import the new site and voila, you are ready to go!

Free Resources

Free Resources that every freelancer and remote worker needs

There are tons of free resources, graphics, and tools but not all of them impart significant value. Here are some we have used and would recommend to you too.

26. Free WiFi Finder

There’s nothing worse than going out and realizing you’re out of data. Free WiFi Finder will help you locate the closest place with a WiFi connection that you won’t have to pay for, so you’re never out of touch with your clients. You may need to purchase a drink or small bite to eat, depending on the location, though!

27. Canva

You need graphic design skills to create stunning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator graphics but Canva requires none of that. For quick and easy designs, use their beautiful freemium templates, vast database of elements and photographs, collaborate with teams, and share designs. You can even upload logos, choose brand colors, and decide on default font styles. Our remote workforce and even internal team swear by Canva for designing brochures, social media posts, flyers, marketing documents, and much more.

28. Freepik.com

Freepik is an amazing source of free vectors, illustrations, photos, PSDs, and icons that you can use in your work. You simply need to credit the author of the graphic or upgrade to the premium account for a few dollars a month to download hundreds of graphics for personal or commercial use. They add to their database daily and have yearly subscription discounts. This should be your go-to resource for all kinds of graphics to jazz up your projects.

29. Creative Commons

Join this incredible global network that shares audio, photos, videos, scientific works, and educational resources by issuing free creative commons licenses, attributing usage conditions to the works. You can use most of these for free by simply attributing the authors, so you have an incredibly vast resource that you can use in your projects and designs. You can share your own work with the community too.

Other free resources

Graphic Burger: Find free to use without attribution—personal and commercial—icons, textures, templates, and photos.

The Deck Stack: With over 60 presentation slides and proposal templates, this can give you an edge in pitching your services to your clients.

30. And Co's Directories

And Co has compiled a few directories of free videos, photos, templates, and much more that can make your work much easier.

For a veritable goldmine of free videos, download this list.

Find free design content for a wide range of needs from this list of 150 resources.

Want to drive up blog traffic but stumped by post headlines? Use this spreadsheet and don’t worry, you can apply it to any industry.

Use these 30 tools vetted by our remote workforce to transform and grow your freelance career. Comment below to let us know about any other tools that you have used and can help freelancers.