One of the things that we’re always having a constant battle with is choosing the best applications and systems to manage our projects and keep on top of our business. Everyday new apps are springing up and the list to choose from is getting bigger and bigger. New apps with automated features, all promising to be the only app you need to control everything. It’s a bold claim and after testing a handful of applications desperate to find the right one for us, we’re understanding how difficult it is to find one that you’re truly happy with.
Things that are important to us, easy time tracking, project management, task delegation, invoicing and the ability to check on tasks from mobile. One thing that I also find important for myself is that the UI is super clean and tasks can be presented in a way that they are satisfying to complete. Below i’ll show you the apps that we’ve tried and the setups that we have used over the years.
Harvest + Trello
We started off with Harvest which is my favourite time tracker to date, everything about the website, the desktop app and iPhone app is just super clean. Design was clearly very important and it shows, the Mac app sits in the OS bar at the top of the screen and works extremely well there, it’s quick to access and you can switch tasks with ease.
Invoicing is built into Harvest and allows payment via Stripe or PayPal, it works really well and email reminders can be auto sent every x days should you need them to. You can add multiple people and set cost & billing rates per user and also per project.
The analytics aren’t brilliant and we found the API very limited which was a shame, it ended up working out quite expensive for lots of users here and we grew a dislike to having time tracking and task management in different apps. It works much better for us if we can track time directly onto a task or project.
I’m still a big fan of Trello, I think as far as project management goes or just personal to do lists, I think it’s awesome. They’ve kept it really simple and haven’t got too carried away with buttons and features.
We discovered Plutio when we were looking for an all in one solution where we could combine project management, invoicing and time tracking all into one app. Plutio are constantly bringing out new features from what surprisingly seems like a super small team behind the project.
We used Plutio for a little while, the UI isn’t the prettiest, they have a nice board view that allows you to directly track time onto certain tasks. They also have some cool things built in such as proposals and contracts (they have really thought about what’s needed for this niche).
The app is new, we encountered quite a few bugs over the time, support was reasonable but not enough people handling support, I believe I was talking to the CEO all the time. The app was actually really good value and didn’t scale based on number of users which was nice.
We had a few issues with multi currency displaying wrong and also encountered bugs with time being tracked by certain users appearing as if it was tracked by someone else. We really enjoyed having everything in one place but the UI wasn’t motivating and we found that we didn’t enjoy using it.
ClickUp + Google Sheets
Fast forward to 2021 and we’re using Clickup for project management. Clickup is packed full of features and automation that you can setup. You can also build all kinds of documents in here such as SOPs and project briefs. There are lots of ways of viewing your tasks, you can use the list style view or you can go for Kanban view. You can create tables, custom fields and setup colours and statuses for all kinds of tasks.
They have a built in time tracker that you can click on next to each task, this is also accessible by a chrome extension (sadly not as smooth as harvest) but it’s alright. There’s an iPhone app that you can use on the move to check in on tasks and you even get iPhone notification when a task is in progress or complete.
The only thing that is lacking with Clickup is that it isn’t built for tracking billable time and that’s evident inside the app. You can select that time is billable but you can’t set user cost/billing rates or project cost/billing rates. Ideally you want to see the total cost of a project and then also the total billing rate of a project.
Thankfully being a development team we were able to set up webhooks in Clickup and connect it to Google Sheets so when a time entry is created, the cost and billing amounts of the time entry are calculated and it’s added to our Google Sheets where it can be invoiced.
All in all I think we’ll always be on the lookout for new project management tools that are launching, I’m interested to keep an eye on Plutio but I don’t think it’s quite where it needs to be yet. Harvest will be interesting to see if they can make their offer any more attractive by adding new features or even merging into task management.