After conducting extensive research and analysis in 2017, we recommend Zoho Projects as the best project management solution for teams with remote workers for 2017. We chose Zoho Projects from a pool of dozens of project management solutions. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of project management solutions on our best picks page.
Why Zoho Projects?
Zoho Projects is easy-to-use project management software that offers a great slate of features and strong collaboration tools. It's a great solution for any team looking for project management software, but we chose it for remote teams because of how its integrated collaboration tools complement its strong set of features. For teams spread out over a wide geography, it's essential to remain in constant communication. It's also necessary for their chosen project management solution to be intuitive; if one team member has a problem using the software, it might be difficult to help solve it from far away. For these reasons, we chose Zoho Projects as the best project management solution for teams with remote workers.
Ready to choose a project management solution? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- Best Project Management Software
- Choosing Project Management Software: A Buyer's Guide
- Best Project Management Software for Small Teams: Teamwork
- Best Project Management Software for Large Teams: LiquidPlanner
- Best Free Project Management Software: Wrike
- Best Project Management Software for Remote Workers: ZohoProjects
- Best Project Management Software for Teams with Freelancers: TeamGantt
- Best Agile Project Management Software: Atlassian JIRA
Zoho brings the one-two combination of excellent features and comprehensive service to its project management solution. Zoho Projects features easy-to-use tools with powerful capabilities for an affordable price. Below are some of the most useful features available with Zoho Projects, though some are only accessible at higher pricing tiers, which are explained in the pricing section below.
- Core features – Zoho Projects lays out all of its core features in a clean, easy-to-use interface. All the basics are covered, from project creation to task management. Each of the core features is easily accessible through both a topline navigation bar and a sidebar, which are neatly situated on the interface regardless of which page you finds yourself on.
- Planning – Zoho Projects' planning tool is an especially useful feature that allows users to break down projects into individual tasks, subtasks, lists and milestones. Managers can also set task dependencies and priorities to make sure things are done in the proper order and that team members can see progress in real time as it relates to their roles. Each of these features is common in other project management solutions, but Zoho Projects organizes it all nicely into one tool.
- Kanban – Technically part of the planning tool, the Kanban system allows project managers to overview projects and workflows with a series of cards that represent different tasks or milestones, as well as who has been assigned the task and the percentage completed. Kanban offers another way to gain a bird's-eye view of your projects and their progress.
- Gantt charts – Like Kanban, Gantt charts are useful for gaining an intuitive overview of your project and the individual tasks that comprise it. Project managers and team members alike can use Gantt charts to see which tasks they’ve been assigned, which tasks are dependent upon others, milestones and deadlines. Zoho Projects' Gantt chart tool is an intuitive, color-coded visualization that lets you drag and drop to make editing and updating it easy.
- Activity feeds – Activity feeds like the ones on social media help keep teams connected. You simply click and scroll to view recent activity and stay abreast of what's going on. This collaboration tool works well with the integrated chat application.
- Integrated chat app – There's no need to minimize Zoho Projects just to chat with another team member or ask the project manager a question. It might seem insignificant, but the benefit of an integrated chat application is that team members won't have to interrupt their workflow to contact other team members. That keeps the trains running on time and saves valuable working hours.
- Time tracking – Zoho Projects features a built-in time-tracking feature that does far more than simply track hours worked. While you can either run the clock or manually enter billable hours, the time tracker also keeps track of specific tasks and milestones accomplished while on the clock. This helps managers keep an eye on what tasks were completed and when. The time-tracking tool generates a report that breaks down daily and weekly progress.
- Reports – Zoho Projects can be integrated with Zoho Reports, a business intelligence tool that provides access to contextualized data.
- Document management – All your documents can be saved and organized directly in Zoho Projects, eliminating the need for separate spreadsheets or emails. Other team members can access and edit documents that have been uploaded, giving you quick and easy access to the most recent versions.
- IssueTracker – IssueTracker identifies bugs and problems in software projects. Managers can set the urgency and severity of the problem, and the tracker will log each issue so they can easily be revisited and resolved. Team members can access a centralized, consolidated report about how many open issues remain and how many have been resolved already.
- Mobile applications – Zoho Projects supports both an iOS and Android mobile application, enabling team members to access the software on the go and update your projects at any time.
- Project forums – Project forums are yet another collaboration tool that earned Zoho Projects the mantle of best remote collaboration project management solution. A forum for questions or solutions is a great solution for team members in different time zones because it does what a chat application cannot – it brings everyone into the conversation on their own time and enables them to leave detailed, HTML-enabled posts on each thread. Forums are extremely useful for teams displaced over a wide geography and a unique tool we found to be innovative and effective.
- Resource utilization chart – Projects don't usually go well when resources are not managed effectively. This tool shows each team member and their workload, so project managers can tell if someone is overloaded while another member is underworked. By keeping the workload even, especially managing task dependencies, the project can move much more smoothly. This tool makes it far easier to visualize and manage the workload of your team.
Ease of use
Zoho Projects has one of the most welcoming and user-friendly interfaces we reviewed. Colorful displays and reports draw the eye to contextualized information, and a series of tabs and sidebars makes navigation easy. The interface feels anything but cluttered; it's quite clear what each tab or menu leads to, and a first-time user can get a grip on the software pretty quickly without any additional training. Best of all, the dashboards are customizable, so you can set up Zoho Projects to suit your preferences and individual workflow as you become more acquainted with the platform.
What really takes the cake is Zoho Projects' collaboration tools. The integrated chat application functions like a social media messenger, as does the activity feed. With these tools, seeing what your team members are up to is as easy as surfing and chatting on Facebook. Other project management platforms we reviewed require an outside chat application, which can break your working rhythm if you need to ask a colleague a question. With Zoho Projects, chatting is seamless.
Moreover, notifications and alerts keep you up to date with any information relevant to you in real time. If a task you're working on is dependent on another team member, for example, you might receive a notification that their task has been completed. You could then comment on the notification immediately to let them know you're moving forward, and tag any other relevant team members in it, all without leaving the interface. These collaboration tools are the reason we selected Zoho Projects as the best project management tool for remote teams.
Zoho Projects has several different pricing tiers, including a free version that allows users to create a single project. Each package is priced at a flat monthly rate, rather than per user per month, which keeps costs down. Every pricing tier supports an unlimited number of users, which is a unique benefit of Zoho Projects. Here are the pricing tiers and some of the features they provide access to:
- Free – Free. This is a limited program that only allows users to create one project and store just 10MB of data. It's enough to get a feel for the program, but not really enough to work with for the long haul.
- Express – $25/month. The Express package allows 20 projects per month and includes 10GB of storage space. IssueTracker is not included in the initial price and costs $25 more per month. Express also includes project feeds, task management, document sharing, calendar and forums, budgeting, invoice and expenses, and time tracking.
- Premium – $50/month. Premium allows 50 projects a month and 100GB of storage. Pages and chat are available on all projects, as opposed to just one on the Express plan. Gantt charts become editable within the project, and premium subscribers also gain access to the resource management chart. Subtasks are also accessible at this level, as well as additional integrations, including Dropbox and Zoho Reports.
- Enterprise – $80/month. It supports unlimited projects and 100GB of storage space. Enterprise includes all the features in the Premium plan, plus the ability to generate custom fields and workflows, as well as a far more powerful bug tracker. Enterprise also includes Zoho Support integrations and custom email templates to really make the platform your own.
Our customer service experience with Zoho Projects was excellent. Each time we called, we were greeted with a friendly, informative and helpful representative. We never felt pushed to make a purchase, and each representative was attentive and patient when we asked questions about specific features and pricing plans.
In addition to the customer service team, Zoho maintains resources online such as a user's guide and a series of webinars to help new and old users alike. There's also a Zoho Projects community that allows users to connect with others around the world; whether it's to troubleshoot a problem or to discuss the best ways to leverage Zoho Projects, the forums are a great place to find out new things about your project management solution.
There aren't many limitations to Zoho Projects. There is a minor learning curve, but for the most part, any user willing to spend some time with the software can get the hang of it rather quickly. The size and scope of all of Zoho Projects' features can be somewhat intimidating, but with an effective customer service team and resources like the user guide and webinars online, there is more than enough opportunity to find the information you need to leverage Zoho Projects effectively. Ultimately, it's a great solution with few drawbacks for teams of any size, and it's especially effective for those with remote workers scattered over a wide geography.