Are you a project manager tasked with boosting the productivity of a small developer team? Then keep reading, as these project management tools are some of the best in the business for smaller software development teams. And, to help differentiate them, we will discuss the features, pros, disadvantages, and pricing of each.
- Basecamp: best for small developer teams seeking several collaborative features.
- Trello: a solid option for small developer teams in need of a basic, user-friendly PM tool in a Kanban board format.
- LiquidPlanner: ideal for small developer teams looking to manage complex projects.
- Backlog: a great option for small developer teams seeking an all-in-one tool with bug tracking, code management, collaboration, and more.
Basecamp is project management software that comes with tons of bells and whistles to help small developer teams thrive. It is a particularly attractive option for project managers needing several collaboration options to keep their development teams in sync.
Features of Basecamp
Basecamp has many features that make it an excellent pick for small developer teams, such as:
- Card Table for Kanban functionality
- Files and docs
- To-do lists
- Message boards
- Campfire collaboration tool
- One-page dashboard
- Automatic check-ins
- Doors (integrations)
Card Table is Basecamp’s original take on the Kanban board that gives developers instant access to workflows and progress. The PM software offers a single place to share, discuss, and store files and documents, plus it has a scheduling feature with deadlines, milestones, and other essential events.
Basecamp’s to-do lists keep teams organized, and its message boards and real-time chat (Campfire) keep them in touch. There is a one-page dashboard for fast access to the schedule, assignments, etc. too. Automatic check-ins are great for team feedback, and you can extend Basecamp’s functionality through its Doors or third-party integration system.
Pros of Basecamp
Basecamp’s pros include:
- All-around collaboration
- Unique Kanban concept
- Scheduling built-in
- Modern interface
Project managers will be hard-pressed to find a developer tool with more collaborative options than Basecamp. The Card Table is a cool take on the traditional Kanban board, and the built-in scheduling feature ensures nothing slips through the cracks. Basecamp’s modern interface is intuitive and is also to be commended.
Disadvantages of Basecamp
Basecamp does have some disadvantages as a PM tool, including:
- Lack of a free option
- Few pricing plans
- Not an Agile fit
Unlike other PM software, Basecamp lacks a free plan. It also only gives you two pricing plans to choose from, which can be pricey for small developer teams. And since it was built for the Waterfall methodology initially, Basecamp may not be a great fit for Agile teams.
Basecamp’s pricing plans are:
- Basecamp: $15 per user, per month.
- Basecamp Pro Unlimited: $299 monthly for unlimited users.
Both plans unlock all of Basecamp’s features, which is unusual amongst project management tools.
You can learn more about Basecamp by reading our Basecamp Project Management Review.
If user-friendliness and simplicity are a must for your small developer team, Trello may be the perfect fit. It is not the most complex or advanced PM software around, but Trello has the basics with its drag-and-drop Kanban boards to keep teams productive and in touch.
Features of Trello
Trello’s feature list may not be the longest, but the project management tool has just enough to get the job done:
- Drag-and-drop Kanban boards
- Task management
- Real-time collaboration
- Agile workflows
- Third-party integrations
Developers can start using Trello’s drag-and-drop Kanban boards with ease within minutes. The PM software’s boards, lists, and cards offer an intuitive format for managing tasks, and you can add custom labels, descriptions, due dates, and more to take task management to the next level.
Team collaboration is offered through discussions, time-stamped and threaded comments, email invitations, tagging, file attachments, notes, etc. Trello is flexible enough to be customized into a tool for Agile workflows, too. By simply renaming its columns, you can turn Trello into a PM tool for sprint planning, issue and bug tracking, and more. And you can make it even more Agile-friendly via third-party integrations (Power-Ups) with apps like Jira and GitHub.
Pros of Trello
Trello’s pros that may attract small developer teams include:
- Easy to use
- Sufficient free plan
- Various collaboration features
- Agile-friendly with some tweaks
Trello is easy to figure out right from the start, which limits the need for onboarding. The Free plan should be good enough for small teams on a budget without many needs for advanced features, and it has plenty of out-of-the-box collaboration options to keep developers on the same page. Lastly, small Agile teams can tweak Trello to fit their needs by adjusting columns and using third-party Power-Ups.
Disadvantages of Trello
Trello falls short as project management software in the following ways:
- Limited views
- Not the most feature-rich developer tool
- Caters toward simpler projects
If you are not a Kanban fan, you may find Trello’s views to be limiting for viewing project progress and yearn for something more. Trello is known for its simplicity and not a long list of features. As such, it is best geared towards simple and not complex projects.
Trello’s four pricing plans are:
- Free: No cost.
- Standard: $5 per user, per month.
- Premium: $10 per user, per month.
- Enterprise: $17.50 per user, per month.
The Free plan offers unlimited cards, storage, and Power-Ups per board with 10 boards per workspace. Standard is ideal for small developer teams and offers unlimited boards, custom fields, and advanced checklists. Premium unlocks table, calendar, timeline, map, and dashboard views, plus templates and added security features. And Enterprise offers unlimited workspaces, multi-board guests, organization-wide permissions, and enhanced controls and security for larger teams.
You can learn more by reading our Trello Project Management Review.
LiquidPlanner is a tool that can help software development teams ensure they never miss a project deadline. The project management software achieves this goal through predictive scheduling and other advanced features ideal for handling complex projects.
Features of LiquidPlanner
Some of LiquidPlanner’s highlights as a productivity-boosting developer tool include:
- Predictive scheduling and forecasting
- Several ways to visualize progress
- Integrated time tracking
- Change tracking
- Automatic resource leveling
Software development projects can be unpredictable. With LiquidPlanner’s predictive scheduling and forecasting that leverages Monte Carlo simulations to handle changes on the fly, developers can minimize uncertainty, know what to expect, and meet deadlines.
The project management tool has various views for visualizing progress (Gantt charts, board, baseline, status, workload), plus out-of-the-box time tracking that many competitors lack. Team collaboration is offered through Slack integration and a change-tracking feature. And to ensure each developer on the team has the proper workload, LiquidPlanner offers an automatic resource leveling feature.
Pros of LiquidPlanner
LiquidPlanner’s pros as a PM tool are:
- Generous Free plan
- Scheduling and forecasting capabilities
- Custom onboarding
- Multiple views
The Free plan offers just enough features to keep small developer teams happy at no cost. LiquidPlanner’s scheduling and forecasting are ideal for meeting deadlines and managing complex projects, and the software offers help, if needed, via a custom onboarding service.
The multiple views are also worthy of praise, as they offer project managers flexibility.
Disadvantages of LiquidPlanner
LiquidPlanner’s areas of improvement include:
- Limited collaboration
- Steep learning curve
- Not too many integrations
If collaboration is critical with your small developer team, LiquidPlanner may not suffice outside of its Slack integration and change tracking. Getting used to LiquidPlanner’s features takes some time, and extending its functionality will be tough with limited integrations.
LiquidPlanner’s pricing options are:
- Free: No cost.
- Essentials: $15 per user, per month.
- Professional: $25 per user, per month.
- Ultimate: $35 per user, per month, with volume pricing also available.
Up to three users can use the Free plan and enjoy many of the features offered by the Essentials plan. Essentials is geared more toward mid-sized teams and offers the popular predictive scheduling feature, plus priority-based planning, workload management, and added views. Professional can handle 50,000 tasks and includes custom fields, while Ultimate unlocks every LiquidPlanner feature for unlimited users, projects, and tasks.
You can learn more by reading our LiquidPlanner Project Management Review.
Small developer teams seeking an all-in-one solution may find Backlog right up their alley. Not only does it offer collaboration and project management features, but it also comes equipped with bug-tracking and code management capabilities.
Features of Backlog
Over 18,000 teams have chosen Backlog for project management. These features are some of the reasons why:
- Tasks and subtasks
- Comments and feedback
- Gantt charts
- Kanban boards
- Bug tracking
- Version control
Project managers can use Backlog to split complex tasks into subtasks and then assign those subtasks to specific developers. Teams can collaborate via comments, feedback, wikis, questions, notifications, file sharing, and integration with third-party apps like Slack.
Backlog has Gantt charts and Kanban boards for tackling tasks and visualizing progress. And it also offers bug tracking and version control capabilities that developers can enjoy without context switching and having to leave the PM software.
Pros of Backlog
Backlog’s pros as a PM tool include:
- Customizable Gantt charts
- Bug and issue tracking
- Solid Free plan
Despite being full of features, Backlog is surprisingly easy to use. The Gantt charts can be tweaked to your liking and work seamlessly.
The bug and issue tracking capabilities are another plus that work like a charm, and small developer teams on a budget will enjoy the robust Free plan.
Disadvantages of Backlog
Backlog’s disadvantages include:
- Limited time tracking
- File storage is lacking
- Issue migration
Subtask time tracking is one gripe that has come up with Backlog, as has limited file storage.
And if you need to move issues between projects, you may find that a bit complex when using Backlog.
Backlog’s pricing is as follows:
- Free: No cost for small projects.
- Starter: $35 per month for up to 30 users.
- Standard: $100 per month for unlimited users.
- Premium: $175 per month for unlimited users and projects.
Up to 10 users can enjoy the Free plan for one project and 100MB of storage. Growing teams can use the Starter plan for up to five projects with 1GB of storage and subtasking. Mid-sized companies will want to opt for the Standard plan with its 30GB of storage, 100 projects, Gantt charts, burndown charts, and issue templates. And the Premium plan was built for larger companies needing custom fields, dedicated support, 100GB of storage, and unlimited projects.
Learn more by reading our Backlog Project Management Tool Review.
What to Look for In PM Tools
Finding the right PM tool for your small developer team can be challenging with so many options on the market. To help filter your search, save time, and save you from picking the wrong project management software, make sure your choice has some combination of user-friendliness, the right price for your budget, and essential features like various views for visualizing data, templates, dashboards, file sharing, collaboration (chat, conversations, direct messages, etc.), time tracking, invoicing, real-time reporting, scheduling, task management, resource management, and third-party integrations.
You can learn more by reading our tutorial: What Features to Look for in PM Software.
Final Thoughts on PM Tools for Small Developer Teams
Although small developer teams have plenty of PM software options at their disposal, start by looking at the ones listed above. Basecamp, Trello, LiquidPlanner, and Backlog are all solid choices for smaller software development teams, so you cannot go wrong by choosing any one of them.