20 Best Online Project Collaboration Apps for Freelancers
There are plenty of online solutions in today’s project management and collaboration tools segment aiming to ease freelance and distant work. The search for the one that is most suitable to you can be no less exhausting than the pursuit of your significant other.
The majority of teamwork apps have a specific focus: Do.com only for task assignment, SugarCRM for sales management, Intuit for accounting. Some well-established project management market players like 37 Signals or Zoho have a whole bunch of tools, but each of their services is intended for separate deployment.
Nevertheless, in the dynamic online world with tons of information to process daily “all in one” solutions seem to be more and more tempting. When saving time and resources is a priority, either dictated by your client or freelance needs, you will definitely address apps where most of the tasks can be fulfilled centrally in one service or portal.
To help you make up your mind on what is the online project collaboration tool for your freelance business, this post will cover the most versatile and well-reputed services, while taking into account a series of important factors including:
- Intuitive Interface – speaking about “all in one” solutions, it’s of vital importance to grasp how everything works from the first minutes and without reading a heap of guides.
- Comprehensive feature-set – for a freelancer to get hold of the maximum functionality, a virtual office can provide, it should combine tools on task management, forum or instant messaging, file sharing, calendar, CRM and invoicing.
- Accessibility – cutting edge technologies have given way to cloud apps easily reached from any location in the world with only an internet connection needed.
- Data Synching and Integration – no matter how many features a service boasts, it’s always handy when it can be easily integrated with other useful or popular apps to provide more opportunities for working in one and the same workspace without additional installs or tab switching.
- Customization – any collaboration or project management service should be ready to serve the needs of a variety of professional spheres and the more customization options it can provide the better for users.
- Affordability – cost effectiveness is everything. Some apps stick to the freemium model, giving away a part of functionality for free, meanwhile the majority will allow you only a free trial, with the flexible pricing options offered according to the number of users and amount of storage space used.
Top Cloud-Based Project Collaboration Tools for Your Freelance Business Work
- At first glance: navigation elements centered around a project.
- Must-haves: projects, timesheets, calendar, files.
- Benefits: recurring tasks, which is often demanded by users; focus on reports – 6 types including Gantt chart and very illustrative tables.
- Integration: FreshBooks, Google Apps and Google Docs.
- At first glance: quite convenient dashboard demonstrating your calendar, what’s new section, tasks and files.
- Must-haves: project collaboration using whiteboards, file sharing, calendar.
- Benefits: built-in phone conferencing tools, media viewer to view videos directly in Huddle, multiple options for customization and branding.
- Integration: Fileboard (to automate CRM); developer’s API.
- At first glance: workspace logically divided into four main modules – Community, Projects, Documents, CRM.
- Must-haves: forums, projects, online editing, calendar.
- Benefits: HTML5-based online document editor with almost all the functionality of a desktop word processor, a complete built-in CRM suite.
- Integration: Google Drive, Dropbox, Box; Import from Zoho; REST API.
- At first glance: calendar-typed view of past, current and upcoming milestones.
- Must-haves: projects, files, calendar, instant messenger.
- Benefits: risk register (chart) for assessing the most critical risks in your projects, invoices, expense tracking.
- Integration: Resources tab allows users to embed 3rd party applications, links and web pages in a popup window such as Google Documents, YouTube Videos etc.; Email integration.
- At first glance: projects in folder tree structure; task status and workload can be viewed as lists, tables, timeline or calendar.
- Must-haves: projects with dynamic Gantt charts, files, calendar.
- Benefits: single workspace for all projects; regular webinars for newcomers.
- Integration: Outlook, Email, Google Docs, Excel export, Excel import, RSS, iCalendar, MS Project.
- At first glance: fast signup with gmail, not overloaded tab switching interface.
- Must-haves: team collaboration, files, calendar, reports.
- Benefits: apart from PM the app offers a form builder for online contests and grant management system.
- Integration: Zoho Docs, Twitter, API.
- At first glance: simple tab switching interface.
- Must-haves: workspaces, Gantt chart, calendar, documents.
- Benefits: billing option, free open source community edition for technical personal use, academic research.
- Integration: Google Docs, Google Calendar.
- At first glance: simple tab switching between main categories.
- Must-haves: project management and collaboration, client work and invoicing.
- Benefits: project requests, options on tracking a project budget and creating invoices.
- Integration: Import from Basecamp; API.
- At first glance: easy sign-in with Google, extremely light interface.
- Must haves: projects, tasks, contacts.
- Benefits: projects are easily converted into lightweight CRM and bug tracking modules.
- Integration: Email clients, REST API.
- At first glance: workspace with the switch between projects, timeline, people and reports.
- Must-haves: projects, Gantt Chart, files, time tracking, reports.
- Benefits: a series of useful features like task dependencies, autoarchive, deadline reminders, timetracking desktop widget to get done by 5pm.
- Integration: email, Google Apps, iCalendar, open API, Import from CSV/Excel and MS Project, Basecamp.
- At first glance: workspace with the division into 2 main sections – projects and people.
- Must-haves: task management, calendar, files.
- Benefits: issue (ticket) system that can be helpful for software bug tracking.
- Integration: Github, API.
- At first glance: very simple dashboard with projects centred around the calendar.
- Must-haves: to-do lists, file sharing, time tracking/reporting.
- Benefits: a dynamic task tray with a handful of most important tasks today.
- Integration: no features detected.
- At first glance: workspace with the switch between projects.
- Must haves: messaging, tasks and milestones, calendars, file management.
- Benefits: apart from task management options, users can work with a variety of to-do-lists.
- Integration: Evernote and Google Documents.
- At first glance: lots of features in the dropdown menus in the upper panel.
- Must-haves: interactive Gantt chart, calendar, documents,reports, CRM.
- Benefits: ability to hold online conferences, create custom forms for CRM, HR or IT.
- Integration: Outlook integration,import from MS Project, import from CSV (MS Excel).
- At first glance: required tools can be enabled or disabled any time, some features not easy to find – hidden in the dropdown menus in the upper panel.
- Must-haves: agile task management, documents, scheduling, finance management.
- Benefits: video meetings and screen share, budgets, expenses, receipts.
- Integration: Email, MS Project.
16. Liquid Planner
- At first glance: dashboard with the most important info on the home tab and other features in the corresponding sections.
- Must-haves: portfolio management, task management, reports.
- Benefits: analytics tools; adding multiple tasks at a time and via email.
- Integration: Calendar integration (Google + Outlook), Import from MS Project and Excel, Programming API, QuickBooks.
- At first glance: dashboard including main info on invoices, time summary and active projects.
- Must-haves: time tracking, reports, invoicing.
- Benefits: focus on gaining maximum efficiency with time and financial resources.
- Integration: Google Apps, Basecamp, Quick Books, API.
- At first glance: workspace divided into a dashboard, projects and activity feed, to find financial tools users are forwarded to the Settings section.
- Must-haves: tasks, files, scheduling, custom branding.
- Benefits: financially oriented with the options on invoicing, tracking time and expenses.
- Integration: Quick Books and PayPal.
- At first glance: you’re offered to get stared by creating a project with tickets, messages and milestones available inside of it.
- Must-haves: projects, online documents, messages.
- Benefits: issue tracking, open source projects (with codes open).
- Integration: Beanstalk, Exceptional, GitHub, Airbrake, API.
- At first glance: intuitive dashboard with switching tabs.
- Must-haves: projects with Gantt charts, calendar, instant messenger, files, Wiki.
- Benefits: group chat to ease distant team collaboration.
- Integration: multiple services incl. Google Apps, Dropbox, Github.
After reviewing the twenty online project collaboration apps above, let us know in the comments which one you’ll be using for your freelance business. Are you leaning towards an all-in-one project collaboration tool? Are you happy with your current project collaborative application? Or are you looking to try one of the online project management solutions featured here? What do you feel is the best collaboration app to fit your project management needs? And what features are on your must have list?