6 Popular Small Business Project Management Tools (Pros and Cons)

Have you ever felt overwhelmed while running your e-commerce store?

If yes, you’re not alone.

E-commerce businesses are complex operations. Between fulfilling orders, managing inventories and running promotions, you have your work cut out for you.

A point comes when email and spreadsheets just don’t cut it. You need something more comprehensive and cohesive. A single place to keep track of everything and map out your progress.

This is where project management software comes in.

In fact, we spoke to a number of merchants about their biggest challenges. Managing projects was almost unanimously one of the top concerns.

Keeping all this in mind, we decided to take some of the most popular project management tools on the market for a test drive.

Here’s what we discovered:

How Project Management Software Helps E-Commerce Stores

Managing efficiencies is one of the hallmarks of the e-commerce business. How you deal with your day-to-day operations impacts everything from customer support to order fulfillment.

Project management (PM) software promises to help you keep track of everything related to your business — key files, communication, project progress, etc.

While there are a number of uses of project software, here are three use cases where it’s particularly helpful for e-commerce stores:

Marketing

Running an e-commerce marketing campaign requires two key things:

  • Collaboration on marketing creatives (banners, social media ads, etc.)
  • Regular communication with multiple stakeholders, both within and outside the business (i.e. freelancers)

Project management software give you a centralized place to share files and communicate with team members. This makes marketing operations much smoother to run.

Customer Support

For e-commerce stores, customer support hinges on speed. How fast you can resolve customer complaints will determine customer satisfaction level.

With PM software you can automatically create to-dos with each new support request. You can then track the progress of each request and the time taken to resolve it.

Order Management

Managing and fulfilling orders often involves recurring tasks. PM software gives you the ability to not just track the progress of each order (“In Process”, “Shipped”, “Delivered”), but also create recurring to-do lists for each order.

Of course, once you start using project management software, you’ll find plenty of other uses as well, from managing product launches to delegating tasks.

What to Look for in E-Commerce Project Management Software?

The business software directory G2Crowd shows 222 different tools when you search for “project management software”.

project management software

With such a wide range to choose from, how do you select the right software for your e-commerce store?

Given the specific needs of e-commerce stores, this is what you should look for in your project management software:

  • Complexity: A number of PM tools such as JIRA and Clarizen are designed for enterprise customers. This makes them powerful, but also exceptionally complex and costly (Clarizen, for instance, costs $45/user). Look for something small, yet capable enough for small e-commerce store needs.
  • Cost: As a small e-commerce business, you shouldn’t have to spend anything beyond $100/month for all your team. Most tools in this category cost under $10/user.
  • Cloud-based: Unless you have your own servers and IT team, you should only pick cloud-based solutions that you can access from a browser.
  • Speed: E-commerce businesses move fast; your project management software should do as well. Look quick loading times and rapid task switching.
  • Store integration: Although not necessary, a PM tool that integrates with your e-commerce store is always preferable to one that doesn’t.

Beyond these, also look for feature availability, support and design.

Based on these factors, we’ve compiled a list of the best project management software for e-commerce stores below.

Top E-Commerce Project Management Software

Here are some of the top tools you can choose from for your project management needs:

Trello

trello interface
Trello uses Kanban boards to keep track of projects

Trello uses the Kanban methodology of project management. This methodology involves moves a task along a series of “cards” as it nears completion. Since it is highly visual, the Kanban methodology is ideal for a range of tasks.

With Trello, you can create separate boards for each aspect of your business (such as “Marketing” or “Inventory Management”). Within each board, you can create different cards signifying a task’s current stage (such as “To Do”, “In Process”, “Finished”).

trello interface
Create boards for every project and add lists to manage the progress

After adding a task, you can drag-drop it from one card to the next based on its current stage. You can also assign a task to a team member, add attachments and leave comments.

Trello’s biggest advantage is its flexibility and ease of use. You can get started in seconds and use the software for virtually anything — managing your inventory, gathering ideas for your blog, and maintaining a to-do list.

The ease of use is also Trello’s biggest disadvantage. The Kanban methodology is hard to scale for complex, non-repeating tasks. Trello’s support is also limited unless you spring for the Enterprise plan ($20.83/month).

Pros

  • Extremely easy to use; highly visual
  • Fully-functional free plan
  • Good for collaboration and task delegation, especially for repeating tasks
  • Can create any number of boards, cards and tasks

Cons

  • Limited support
  • No way to sort tasks by due date or stage of completion
  • Not ideal for complex e-commerce related operations such as managing recurring tasks, keeping track of time for support requests, etc.

Pricing

Trello is free to use. You can buy a Business plan that includes additional features and integrations for $9.99/user/month.

Summary: Trello’s ease of use and price (free) makes it a great tool for those new to project management. The Kanban methodology is flexible for a wide variety of projects. However, for complex…