The Best Online Platforms for Project Management and CRMs for Startups

During launch of a startup there are many issues to deal with - from organization of business processes, product development to fundraising. Though fundraising can be delegated for out source to the dedicated professional, all other issues must be solved by your own forces.
Many companies offer various solutions for effective management of projects or sales activities.The right choice of a platform allows you to solve numerous issues and automate business processes.

Check the optimum list of online solutions for startup processes organization below. Let's review both paid and free solutions. Let's start with project management.

Project Management

Apps for project management allow you to organize business processes in your company. Let's take development of the selling website as a task. You need to divide this task on check-list points, to appoint those who are responsible for execution, to set deadlines. Afterwards you only need to track the progress and make changes if appropriate. It is much easier if you use corresponding software. Though the choice of the platform must be made according to the type of tasks. There are two apps that should be considered. Let's review Trello first.

Trello

One of the main advantages of Trello is user-friendliness. You can create boards, cards and customize them in a single click. Let's review Trello's usability in the example of site development.

At first let's create a board for website development. It looks like this.
This is simplified board - it is obvious that in order to develop website you need to make much more lists and cards. However, this amount of cards and lists is enough to understand Trello' main functions.

Here are the elements of interface we've got:

  • Board - this is a page for the task (that has numerous subtasks).
  • List - in the list there are created and edited cards. Lists show stages of the task' accomplishment, however, they also can be created for the different types of tasks (for example, there can be separate columns for content creation and development).
  • Card - card is specified task which you need to make in order to complete the goal. We will review card in details below.
  • Team - it is a group of people which can modify and review the board. You do not need to give an access to the board to all people, all you need is to give an access to those who are working on the task set for the board/card.

Cards

Let's review cards in details. The card is the main feature you are going to work with in Trello. In the example above in cards you only need to specify its name, however, it can have many useful functions and settings. Let's look at the picture below.
As you can see there are many elements in the card interface. Most of them are intuitive for user. Let's review most frequently used elements.

  • Members - you can add someone who has to complete the specified task - it can be one or several persons
  • Due Date - you can set due dates and time in the calendar.
  • Checklist - it is a very useful function that allows you to make a set of simple tasks in a one card - once you make one simple task you just pin the checkbox and all the card members see that the part of the task is completed.
Below the Attachments box you can see the Get Power-Ups link. It allows you to add useful extensions for the card - advanced calendar, widget for Slack and many other useful apps. You get an access to the majority of extensions if you have a paid account.

Price

There is a good news - you can use Trello absolutely for free. However, there are some limits for the free accounts.
There is a huge advantage for a startup - there can be unlimited members in your team.

There are also paid accounts with the advanced functions available (e.g. process automation, advanced administrating etc.). The price starts from $9.99 per monthly for a member.

Thus, the main advantages of Trello are simplicity, availability of free accounts and low resource demands. Even if you have a slow Internet connection you will benefit from using this tool.

However, Trello is not the best tool if you have many development projects. For this purpose, it is better to use Jira.

Jira

This is an app with very rich functionality. Most probably that you will spend some time in order to understand how Jira works, but, it is worth it if there are many complicated tasks in your project, especially if you prefer agile development methodology.

Similar to Trello in Jira there is an option for free usage, however, here you are limited with trial period, not by the functions available. Here you can:

  • develop technical documentation - it fits not only for software description but also for development of business process and workflow
  • track development progress online
  • use tools for client support - Jira Service Desk
  • use service hosting
  • develop marketing strategy
  • track financial operations
  • etc.
There are numerous tasks you can solve with JIRA, however, for the tech startup on the initial stage it is better to use only modules that help to develop the software. Here you can easily customize:

  • agile development for your team
  • continuous integration of modifications
  • GitHub integration
  • notifications for team members on project status

Thus, you are going to have it all for product development. However, there are tasks that Jira cannot really cope with - sales and client relationship management.

Client Relationship Management and Sales

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) - is a software that allows you to customize your business processes related to clients and organize sales.

The more clients you have, the more important it is to have a CRM, because it allows you to maximise time efficiency. Good CRMs also provide tools for analysis of your sales department results. Let's start with free and rather popular tool Bitrix.

Bitrix

Bitrix provides unlimited free access for a company with less than 12 users and a limit of 5 Gb data. It is enough for any startup or a small business.

This is how the Deals page in the CRM section looks like.
However, you are going to start working with the Bitrix from the Contacts page.
Here we have the base of contacts - suppliers, partners, clients, others - there are many fields you can fill in - from the contact's preferred communication channel (messengers, phone number, social networks, e-mails and others) to the way contact has to be addressed.

On the screenshot you see the red arrow pointing on a line There are no contacts requiring immediate attention. If in the base there are contacts which you need to modify or have tasks arranged in a couple of hours or days, a notification will appear in this line.

On the Contacts page there is a Report section.
On the screenshot you see a demo-report. You can add any kind of reports based on dynamics in a form of diagrams, graphs and others. Reports are made on the basis of data in your CRM.

In the Tasks section in the side menu you can create projects, appoint responsibilities for tracking and completion of tasks. All modules in Bitrix are interconnected, so if you create a task for an employer A - to call the client B tomorrow, this is going to be displayed in the report, in client's card, in the employers profile and your profile when you get a notification on the task status.

Using this CRM can only make sense if you have at least several clients, more than 10, for example. There is no sense in working with this CRM unless you make any sales or have a finished product. Now let's review one more CRM - AmoCRM.

AmoCRM

AmoCRM is very similar to Bitrix, here you also can make a client base, appoint employees with tasks and provide an analysis. In AmoCRM there is a free trial that lasts two weeks. When the trial period ends you can choose one of the following plans:
The main difference between Bitrix and Amo is wider functionality when it comes to integration with other services thanks to having own API and widgets. It is very convenient if you use several channels for communication and lead generation, as it allows you to stop messing with contacts data transfer manually.

Conclusion

Having an online tool for startup work organisation (especially if you have remote workers) is a MUST HAVE. Though it is not necessary to start with large and complicated pai products especially if you do not really understand how to work with them. The best solution would be to try out universal and cheap products, and when the time comes you will have an opportunity to choose the best one.
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