Seeking a Perfect Online Project Management Tool

For the past week, every spare moment has been dedicated to the search for my own personal Holy Grail for my entrepreneurial business … A project management tool for the freelancer who collaborates with others.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? I’ve reviewed dozens (literally) of the options currently available. From the over 60 options I’ve seen, I’ve narrowed them down to just a few and then gone searching again over and over.

When I discovered Worketc.com, I started rethinking what I’d like this project management tool to do. I thought that maybe there was an “all-in-one” option out there that would replace all the little web-based apps I have started to use as well as the others I’m still seeking and/or evaluating.

Worketc.com has almost everything I want… close, but no cigar. I may have to settle for it, but before I’m willing to “settle” for anything, I wanted to define exactly what I want and search one more time.

In a perfect world, I’d be able to find a system that has all the tools I need to work more efficiently (from anywhere) the way I already work. I am no longer willing to change the way I work, the service I offer to facilitate the tools I use. Enough of that already!

With that in mind, I’ve created my “wish list” in two parts. One part is “Must Have” items and one part is the “it sure would be nice” list the third portion is me dreaming a bit, but still…

The program must have:

  1. Simple intuitive interface
  2. Tasks list that is sortable by project and by assignee
  3. Email notification of assigned and completed tasks
  4. Quick glance of latest activity on each project
  5. File uploads area
  6. Meeting notes area
  7. Client login
  8. Ability for clients to see progress
  9. Client task list that they can check off

Would be nice:

  1. Internal email
  2. Contacts Management Database
  3. Journal function
  4. Searchable Notes area
  5. Ability to create tasks via email
  6. Timer (punch clock) and time sheet
  7. Simple invoicing
  8. Simple accounting
  9. Multiple calendars (for each involved party, listing their tasks)
  10. Ability to import calendars into Outlook and to subscribe in gCal

In a perfect world:

  1. An offline option that syncs with the online option
  2. Interactive whiteboard area for visual tools when meeting with clients
  3. Ability to upgrade to self-hosted on my server
  4. VOIP option built in for use with client and collaborative meetings
  5. Ability to record and store whiteboard/telephone/webinar meetings in the project file area
  6. Ability to host up to 20 people for a webinar
  7. Ability to backup to/use from a thumbdrive
  8. Skinnable and brandable
  9. Logon widget for wordpress for clients to use from my website

I’ve said for some time that my business really isn’t that complex, and it isn’t. A tool like this would meet most of the needs I have in an easy-to-use, customer-friendly and portable option.

I love CashBoard for my timer, invoicing and simple accounting online. I’d like it even better if I could merge those features into an all-in-one freelance solution like this to work from anywhere. I can imagine the day when I would only need to find a computer with a browser to work from anywhere, and then could sync that data with my own freestanding version daily at my own computer as an “onsite” backup.

With that freestanding version, I could also continue working even if the Internet was down or unavailable or otherwise “wanky” and then sync the next time I connected. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Today, I’m back to the drawing board again. Now that I’ve finally reviewed enough to know what’s available and have considered more thoroughly what I need, what I want and what additional features would make it a “silver bullet” for my business… I need to try to find what will most closely meet my specs.

After the third round of shorting, I have a list of ten (some free, some paid) including (in no particular order):

But I may go back to the proverbial drawing board again. None of these offers everything I want, and many only offer a small number of the items in my “must have” list. The weekend is still young.

By the time this weekend is over, I’ll have found a workable solution — even if I can’t have all my desires filled by a single option. I’ll review again and pick the best of the lot and get my data settled in a new home. I’ll let you know what I find.

In the meantime, if anyone has a suggestion that will satisfy my list, I’d LOVE to hear from you!

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