5 Project Management Software Apps With Time Tracking

The project management world is growing increasingly crowded as new methods, frameworks, and philosophies are introduced, all designed to help your business be as efficient as possible. As you might expect, these management styles have their strengths and weaknesses, designed to serve primarily in specific industries. However, across all of these industries, one feature remains consistently useful: time tracking. Some developers opt not to include their own timesheet functions, relying instead on integrations with the likes of TSheets (read our review) or Time Doctor (read our review). Others, though, go for a more all-in-one approach and integrate time tracking features natively within their own software.

But which of these project management apps does the job best? What other tools do they bring to the table? And are they all worth the cost of admission? Let’s dive in and find the answers we seek!

1) Wrike

Wrike (read our review) is one of the industry standards for project management. It is a classic all-rounder and remains a popular choice across the internet. Prices for Wrike range from free (though you can only have 5 users maximum with this version, and only a very limited feature set) through $34.60/user/month. To access the time tracking features, though, you will need to subscribe to the Busines level or higher, which starts at $24.80/user/month. That is on the pricier side of the project management spectrum, but may well be worth it to your team if they mesh well with the sensibilities of this app.

Wrike handles time tracking in what is my favorite manner possible. You can start a live timer by clicking a button, which tracks time associated with whatever task or project you choose. Or, you can enter time manually after the fact. This sort of flexibility makes Wrike useful in all situations, which is great!

2) Mavenlink

Mavenlink (read our review) takes an expansive approach to project management, including resource management, business intelligence, and more. The widespread nature of Mavenlink does mean that you pay a considerably higher premium to access its capabilities. Plans with time tracking start at $39/user/month and only go uphill from there.

However, the product you get for that price is pretty impressive. Time tracking and accounting, in particular, are some of Mavenlink’s many strengths and go far beyond simple timesheets. With this app you are given the functionality to estimate the time expenditure for tasks, then analyze the time actually spent on that task. This might seem like an obvious feature, but Mavenlink executes it flawlessly, providing the data you need to make better, more efficient decisions in the future.

3) Clickup

Clickup (read our review) was one of the standout project management apps I reviewed last year. With a remarkably thorough feature set that still manages to be unintimidating and a UI that communicates everything you need to know without being overwhelming and busy, it has earned a spot as one of the top 5 project management apps I recommend most frequently, especially with a starting cost of zero dollars per month.

Clickup has its own timesheets that allow for automatic time tracking and for employees to add time after the fact — as such, it is one of the best simple project management software options with time tracking built-in. Tasks here can be set to recurring, which is handy if you have repeat customers or need to be doing the same set of tasks or duties day after day. In terms of communication, Clickup is a little weak, but it does feature threaded comment chains. While I would like to see a dedicated chat, the comment threads are likely serviceable, and if you want more, there is an excellent Slack integration.

4) Streamtime

After a massive redesign in 2015, Streamtime (read our review) is leading the way in terms of creative approaches to project management. Their goal? Make project management approachable, easy, and maybe a little fun! With automatic scheduling and impressive quoting and reporting features, this app may well be the fix you need to make your business more efficient.

In terms of the service industry, Streamtime’s task list/scheduling features stand out to me. When you create a task and assign a due date and team member, it is automatically added to their weekly schedule. When they finish that task, they can mark it as done. That part might not seem so revolutionary, but when you realize this also serves as Streamtime’s time tracking feature, it becomes clear just how smart this app is. The downside of Streamtime is the lack of native communication features in the app. Depending on your situation, this may not matter as much to your business, but if communication tools are needed, you may be able to use a third party app such as Slack!

5) Redbooth

Redbooth (read our review), one of our favorite project management apps here at Merchant Maverick, brings a clean aesthetic to project management, married to incredible ease of use and excellent features. For me, the best thing about this app is how intuitive it is to use. Honestly, I think that you could have just about any employee sit down with Redbooth and have them confidently using it in about half an hour. It is that easy to use.

Redbooth’s time tracking is pretty lackluster, but it gets the job done. There is no option to track time live, but you can enter how much time you spent on each task after the fact. It might seem strange to include an app like Redbooth on this list, whose time tracking features compare so poorly. However, Redbooth is excellent in so many other respects you may find it worth the sacrifice in order to gain access to this app’s legendary ease of use, as well as its fantastically flexible approach to project management.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the best choice of these five apps comes down to how you plan to use them. If you can afford a higher price tag and are looking for a thorough project management app that has all the features, Wrike or Mavenlink might be the right answer for you. If affordability and usability are higher in priority for you, Redbooth or Clickup may be better. If you want to think outside the established time tracking box, Streamtime offers a great way to do that.

So what is your next move? Take a closer look at the apps that appeal to you most. Sign up for a free trial, and give one or two of them a try. Then commit and take your team to new heights of project efficiency!

The post 5 Project Management Software Apps With Time Tracking appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Finding accounting software is never easy. Finding nonprofit software is no walk in the park either. But finding nonprofit accounting software that you can actually afford can seem downright impossible.

Sure there are plenty of fund accounting nonprofit options, but if your organization is looking for something easier to use and more affordable, QuickBooks Online may be the perfect way to go.

While QuickBooks Online doesn’t have features that are specifically designed for nonprofits, it does have several key nonprofit integrations. With QuickBooks Online covering the accounting and a nonprofit software covering your nonprofit management, you may be able to find a great alternative to traditionally expensive, convoluted fund accounting.

In this post, we’ll cover the top four nonprofit integrations for QuickBooks Online and how to choose which nonprofit software is right for you.

Overview Of QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online (see our review) is one of the most popular accounting programs on the market — and for good reason. The software offers strong accounting, tons of features, and is completely mobile. This cloud-based accounting software has been giving other programs a run for their money since 2004, and since then, QuickBooks Online has grown to support over 2.2 million users.

What makes QuickBooks Online such a popular choice? It’s easy to use and requires very little previous accounting knowledge. It has a large feature set at an affordable price — and what features it doesn’t have are covered by 200+ integrations. While the customer service has left users wanting in the past, QuickBooks Online is working hard to improve their support.

In terms of nonprofits, QuickBooks Online doesn’t offer nonprofit-specific features. When you create your QuickBooks Online account, you can mark your company as a nonprofit, which will create a customized nonprofit chart of accounts, but that’s about it. Instead, the main benefit of using QuickBooks Online for nonprofits is the strong accounting (and the nonprofit integrations, which we’ll cover in this post).

Features

For the most part, QuickBooks Online is intuitive and its features are easy to use. QuickBooks Online covers all of the features you’d expect from an accounting software, like invoicing, estimates, contact management, expense tracking, project management, time tracking, and then some.

Best Integrations For QuickBooks Online

You’ll also find key accounting features like accounts payable, bank reconciliation, reports, and a chart of accounts.

Some of our favorite additional features include:

  • Inventory
  • Budgeting
  • Printing checks
  • Tax support
  • Client portal
  • Multi-currency support
  • Class tracking

It’s also worth noting that QuickBooks has one of the best invoicing features out there. Not only are the templates customizable and attractive, you can also autoschedule invoices to automate your billing process.

The only downside of QuickBooks Online is that some of these features are only available with the most expensive plan, and the software doesn’t support more than 25 users. See our full QuickBooks Online review for details.

Pricing

QuickBooks Offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo – $50/mo. Each tier gives you access to more user and features. There is a free 30-day trial if you’d like to test the software before buying.

The highest plan only supports 5 users, so you’ll have to pay extra for additional users. Payroll is also an additional $39-$99/mo depending on your plan. Luckily, QuickBooks Online often offers a discount on the Intuit website. Be sure to take advantage of this, especially because you’ll have to pay for QuickBooks Online and the nonprofit integration of your choice.

Now that you have an idea of what QuickBooks is capable of and how much it costs, let’s see how your nonprofit organization can benefit from one of the QuickBooks Online nonprofit integrations.

1) SumacBest Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best For…

Nonprofit organizations looking for a highly customizable nonprofit software and CRM solution.

Sumac is a locally-installed nonprofit software founded on the motto “do more good.” The software offers everything from basic CRM to pledges, course registration, auditions and submissions, and more. The best part about Sumac is that the software is incredibly customizable and can be tailored to fit your organization’s specific needs. Well, maybe the best part is that the basic CRM package is completely free. We’ll let you decide.

Features

Sumac has an incredible number of features that are relatively easy to use. The design of the locally-installed version of Sumac is less attractive than the other nonprofit software options in this post, but if you can look past the outdated UI, you’ll find that Sumac is easy to navigate.

The software begins with basic CRM features: invoicing, contact management, reporting, email marketing, donation management, event management, and time tracking. These features are included in every plan.

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

You can then add these additional modules to Sumac:

  • Memberships
  • Volunteers
  • Grant management
  • Pledges
  • Ticketing
  • Reminders
  • Course registration
  • Forms
  • Tour booking
  • Proposals/prospecting
  • Auctions
  • Sales
  • Auditions and submissions
  • Job search
  • Collection management
  • Awarding grants

In general, users seem incredibly happy with the number of features they receive from Sumac. They also praise Sumac’s customer support, how easy the software is to use, and how customizable it is.

Pricing

Sumac offers four different pricing plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each plan varies in the number of add-ons, contacts, and users available. Each plan integrates directly with QuickBooks Online to connect all of your data.

  • Bronze: The Bronze plan is free and includes all basic CRM features, email support, 1 user, and up to 500 contacts.
  • Silver: The Silver plan is $20/mo and gives you the basic CRM features, 2 add-ons, phone and email support, support for 1 user, and up to 1,000 contacts.
  • Gold: The Gold plan is Sumac’s custom pricing option where you can add the exact number of add-ons that your organization needs. It also includes the Basic CRM features, phone and email support, unlimited users, and up to 30,000 contacts.
  • Platinum: The Platinum plan is $400/mo and includes the basic CRM features, 5 add-ons, phone and email support, unlimited users, and unlimited contacts.

If you prefer cloud-based software over locally-installed software, you can upgrade to the cloud version of Sumac for an additional $25/mo.

Takeaway

Sumac is a great option for nonprofits who need a customizable software with ample features. Sumac has the only free nonprofit software option on this list and is also the only locally-installed option. If you are looking for a cheap nonprofit CRM, you can’t beat Sumac. Pair Sumac with QuickBooks Online and you may have a winner on your hands.

To learn more about Sumac, visit their website and take the software for a spin with their free trial. You can also schedule a demo of Sumac.

Get Started With Sumac

2) KindfulBest Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best For…

Nonprofits in need of a cloud-based nonprofit software with ample integrations. 

Kindful is a fully-featured, cloud-based nonprofit software that is used by organizations like the Special Olympics, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Habitat for Humanity. Kindful has been helping nonprofits since 2011. Their motto is “your mission is our mission” and they offer tons of features to help nonprofits succeed. The software is intuitive with a beautiful design and offers the most integrations of any nonprofit program on this list.

Features

Kindful’s UI is both appealing and easy to use. While Kindful doesn’t have quite as many unique features as Sumac, the features it does have are done well. Kindful offers contact management, donation management, event management, pledges, letters, and more.

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Kindful is well-suited out to meet the needs of real nonprofit organizations. You can accept online donations and recurring donations, create contact groups, enter gifts, and email receipts automatically. There is also an unlimited number of customer donation pages, and donors receive their own Kindful login where they can view and manage their pledges and donations.

Some other great Kindful features include:

  • Donation campaigns
  • Scheduled reports
  • Activities
  • Donor analytics
  • Tax receipts
  • Activity trail

For the most part, Kindful has positive customer reviews. Users appreciate how easy the software is to use, which saves them time so they can focus on their nonprofits.  They also find the customer support team helpful and enjoy the 30+ integrations Kindful offers.

The only downside is that the software can be a bit spendy for smaller nonprofits with a large number of contacts.

Pricing

Kindful offers four different pricing plans. Each plan comes with all of the same features; the only difference is the number of contacts available. Each plan integrates with QuickBooks Online as well.

  • Up To 2,000 Contacts: $150/mo (billed annually)
  • Up To 5,000 Contacts: $200/mo (billed annually)
  • Up To 15,000 Contacts: $300/mo (billed annually)
  • Up To 25,000 Contacts: $400/mo (billed annually)

There is no additional charge for tech support and the only payment processing fees you pay are those charge by your specific payment processing company (i.e. Stripe, PayPal, etc.).

Takeaway

Kindful’s UI and customer donations pages make it a great choice for nonprofits. The software offers great CRM features and good donor management, as well as a unique donor login feature. If integrations are important for your organization, Kindful has the most offerings out of all four programs in this post.

To learn more about Kindful, visit their site and schedule a demo. You can also see how other real-life nonprofits are using Kindful in their customer stories.

Get Started With Kindful

3) BreezeBest Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best For…

Small to medium-sized churches in need of church-specific nonprofit software.

There are plenty of nonprofit programs out there that churches could make work, but Breeze wanted to make a software specifically create with churches in mind. This church management software is ideal for small to medium churches. The software is cloud-based, easy to use, and — best of all — it’s affordable.

Features

Breeze offers an impressive number of features designed specifically for churches. It allows you to manage contacts, tithes, and events, as well as online giving and volunteers.

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

One of the features users love most about Breeze is the children’s ministry check-in feature. Breeze allows parents to check in their children to Sunday school and even lets you print name labels. You can also create custom forms to suit your church’s needs.

Church members get their own Breeze login where they can view their statements and donate online.

Other Breeze features include:

  • Event registration
  • Contact groups
  • Built-in emailing and texting
  • Donation tracking
  • Reports
  • Year-end statements
  • Pledges

Existing Breeze users praise the software for being so easy to use that everyone in their church can learn it, no matter what level of tech experience. Users also praise the customer support and the low cost of the software.

The only potential drawback we see with Breeze is that larger churches may outgrow the software’s capabilities.

Pricing

Breeze has a single cost of $50/mo. This includes every Breeze feature, unlimited users, phone support, email support, upgrades, and even data transfers.

Takeaway

When it comes to churches, there are very specific needs and requirements that a software must meet. Breeze offers the key features churches need, all while maintaining an affordable price. The software is easy to use and has a beautiful UI, and you can’t top unlimited users.

To see if Breeze is right for your church organization, schedule a demo or sign up for a free trial on Breeze’s website.

Get Started With Breeze

4) NeonCRMBest Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

Best For…

Nonprofits in need of a comprehensive CRM solution.

NeonCRM is a cloud-based nonprofit software founded back in 2004. Over 85% of NeonCRM’s staff has a nonprofit background, so they know exactly what nonprofits need. With several pricing plans and a nice selection of features, there’s a little something for everyone with this software.

Features

NeonCRM has an attractive UI that is well-organized and highly developed. A few users have complained that the software is unintuitive at times, but the majority find NeonCRM easy to use.

The software offers a good number of features, including contact management, volunteer management, donations, event planning, and more.

Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online

If you go with the smallest NeonCRM pricing plan, you’ll have to choose between either the fundraising or membership module, though with any other plan you get access to both. NeonCRM has good automations like automatic receipting and batch donations. You can also create custom fundraising pages and can even indicate the relationship between contacts.

Like Kindful, users get their own contact login where they can view their history and manage donations.

In addition, NeonCRM offers:

  • Campaigns
  • Thank yous and gifts
  • User permissions
  • Volunteer project management
  • Prospects
  • Grants
  • Event registration
  • Reports
  • Letters

In terms of customer reviews, NeonCRM receives relatively high praise. Users appreciate the software’s ease of use and praise the customer support team. The software also offers a handy MailChimp integration.

The only drawback of the software is that it can get a bit expensive.

Pricing

NeonCRM has three different pricing plans: Essentials, Impact, and Empower. The exact cost of each plan varies depending on how many contacts you need and if you need data entry assistance.

  • Essentials: Starts at $50/mo. Must choose between fundraising or membership. Includes event management, campaigns, automatic receipts, reports, contact management, and volunteer management. Does not include a QuickBooks Online integration.
  • Impact: Starts at $110/mo. Includes both fundraising and memberships. Includes all of the features from the Essentials plan, plus web forms, online store, customer survey builder, peer-to-peer fundraising, and a QuickBooks Online integration.
  • Empower: Starts at $200/mo. Includes all of the features form the Impact plan, plus donor search, live chat, and visual phone support.

Customer support may cost extra depending on the plan. Download NeonCRM’s pricing .pdf for all of the details.

Takeaway

NeonCRM is a comprehensive CRM solution with a few great nonprofit additions. The software is beautifully designed and is a great choice for organizations seeking to build an appealing online presence and brand. While Neon CRM can get expensive (especially considering that the QuickBooks Online integration is limited to the two higher plans), it may still be worth it for some medium to large-sized nonprofits.

Learn more about NeonCRM on their website, or contact NeonCRM directly for a free trial or demo.

Get Started With NeonCRM

Which Nonprofit Software Is Right For Me?

When it comes to choosing the perfect nonprofit software to integrate with QuickBooks Online for your organization, think carefully about your nonprofit’s needs. Which features do you need? How many users need to use the software? Do you need cloud-based software or mobile apps? All of these factors, as well as your budget, will determine which nonprofit software is right for.

QuickBooks Online does have two other donor management integrations — Method:Donor and Donor Receipts — if you need an even simpler solution. That said, Sumac, Kindful, Breeze, and NeonCRM are your best bets if you want to integrate fully-featured nonprofit software with QuickBooks online.

If you’re still not certain if QuickBooks Online is the best choice for your nonprofit, take a look at our Top 10 Best Nonprofit Accounting Apps For 2018 for more options.

The post Best Nonprofit Integrations For QuickBooks Online appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Apps For Scrum Project Management

Scrum. It was originally a rugby term, describing the interlocking formation of players as they get ready to…you know…do rugby stuff. Now that I have alienated our entire British commonwealth audience, let’s turn our attention to Scrum’s other meaning, the one in the field of project management. In snazzy technical terms, scrum project management is “an iterative and incremental framework for managing product development.” But, since that definition is just a collection of buzzwords, let me just show you:

Unlike Waterfall project management, in which you follow a very black and white, linear process, the idea here is that you and your team start tasks in the “to-do” column, move them to “in-progress” while you work on them, then send them through verification and Q/A. When put like this, it makes perfect sense! More than that though, it is clear why this method of organization might be beneficial.

The original Scrum concept used a whiteboard and post-its in order to create the classic grid and moving tasks, but that is far from the only way to use this methodology. As you might expect, a number of software developers have created different apps capable of replicating the original pen-and-paper version. Which of them is best? Let’s take a look and see.

Trello

Trello (read our review) is the first app I thought of when preparing an article on scrum project management. One of the originators of the now popular Board View, Trello is ideally suited to arrange into a Scrum configuration. You can create boards for each section of the scrum, then add cards to those boards and drag them back and forth as you see fit, which is vital to effective use of scrum and agile methodology.

Trello also has the advantage of being free to use. While there is a paid version available, in most ways it is just not necessary, especially if you are only interested in using it for Scrum applications. Perhaps most important of all, though, Trello is fantastically easy to use. Every step of the process of signing up is a breeze, and there is effectively no learning curve.

Redbooth

Redbooth (read our review) employs a similar system to Trello, wherein you may create task lists, populate them with tasks, then drag and drop them into other lists as you need. This, though, is about where the similarities end. Redbooth is a much more developed tool, with such additional features to sweeten the pot as subtasks (oooh), reporting (aaaah), and even some communication tools (round of applause). Some of those features, especially the reporting tools, are pretty useful in understanding how effective your Scrum techniques have been, and in identifying possible trouble spots.

Of course, those nice extra features come at a price. Sure, Redbooth offers a free version of the software, but all those nice, juicy extras could be yours for less than $10/user/month. Fortunately, the price is probably worth it; Redbooth is both easy to use and also beautiful to look at.

Binfire

Binfire (read our review) is designed from the ground up for Scrum project management. Each project is fully customizable with different “bins” for you to file tasks under, allowing you to decide project-by-project how you want to organize your work. This, of course, means you can easily set up a wide variety of Scrum configurations. Binfire also specializes in communication features, with a pretty excellent group chat. My favorite part of this instant message-style chat is that it stays with you as you navigate through the program, allowing you to look at your work as you communicate with team members, rather than clicking back and forth between screens.

Unlike the first two apps covered here, there is no free version of Binfire. However, the lowest subscription level is just $5/person/month, which is pretty good value for money. It should be noted, however, that the minimum user count is six, so if you happen to be working on an extremely small agile team, this might not be the best choice for you.

Asana

best ecommerce apps

Asana (read our review) might take the cake for prettiest Scrum project management app. The clean design just invites users to drag-and-drop tasks back and forth between boards. In addition to the Scrum project view, Asana offers Gantt charts, excellent integrations, project reporting, and more. Really though, the biggest appeal in Asana is the absolute beauty of the UI. Some might consider this of little importance in a piece of software, but I personally feel that if you are going to be spending considerable time in an app, it had better be a nice place to be.

The pricing for Asana is incredibly simple. There is a free version (limited to just 15 users), a $10 version, and an enterprise version that you have to contact the sales team to learn the pricing for. Most of the good features in Asana only come from the paid version, so even if you are part of a team with less than 15 users, it might be worth paying the fee to get the rest.

Teamwork Projects

Teamwork Projects (read our review) is perhaps less adaptable to Scrum project management than some of the others on this list. However, with the recent addition of Board View to the app, it will be more than serviceable in this regard. One of the things I appreciate about Teamwork is that it is a very scalable product; if you have aspirations of growing your business beyond the “small” label, this could be the project management app for you.

Like Redbooth and Asana, Teamwork has a free option, offering a reduced feature set to users for either limited use or use as a trial phase. If you want the rest of Teamwork Projects’ features, you are going to be shelling out $9/user/month. This pricing category goes all the way up to 100 users. If you need more than that, the price per user will go up.

Final Thoughts

Scrum project management is one of the most approachable iterations of Agile methodology and could represent a huge boost in productivity and efficiency for your business. While the original whiteboard approach might work for some, for others a more technological approach will be more appealing. If that is you, any of these five options might suit you.

If I were pressed for a single recommendation, I honestly think I would go with Trello. While it offers fewer features than the other items on this list, it also is available completely free and is an absolute joy to use. But honestly, it would be difficult to go wrong with the others as well. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose completely blindly. Start by reading the complete reviews of the most likely candidates for your business, then sign up for one of the free trials before making your final decision.

The post Best Apps For Scrum Project Management appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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QuickBooks For Nonprofits 2018

QuickBooks For Nonprofits

As a nonprofit, you want the absolute best for your organization — and that includes accounting software. If you’ve started your search for the best accounting software for nonprofits, I’m sure you didn’t get far without hearing the name QuickBooks.

But is QuickBooks the right accounting solution for your small business or not-for-profit organization? Which QuickBooks product is best for nonprofits? And how do you know if QuickBooks has the nonprofit features you need?

We’ll answer these questions and more!

QuickBooks Nonprofit Products

First off, QuickBooks doesn’t have a separate product specifically designed for nonprofits. However, several of its existing products offer nonprofits features.

QuickBooks Premier

QuickBooks Premier (see our review) is a full-fledged, locally-installed accounting software designed for small to medium-sized businesses. QuickBooks Premier offers six industry-specific editions, including a nonprofit edition.

QuickBooks Enterprise

Like QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise (see our review) is a locally-installed software targeted to large businesses and enterprises. This product also has a nonprofit edition.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online (see our review) is a cloud-based accounting software with tons of features and over 200 integrations. While there aren’t any built-in nonprofit features in QuickBooks Online, there are a ton of integrations that can give you the nonprofit features you need.

If you’re looking for simple, web-based accounting software for nonprofits, QuickBooks Online is an excellent place to start. However, in this post, we’ll focus specifically on the nonprofit edition of QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise.

Pricing

One of the biggest differences between QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise is the cost. While both offer the nonprofit edition, QuickBooks Enterprise allows for more users, advanced inventory, and lead management. If you’re looking for discounted or free software for nonprofits, QuickBooks isn’t your best bet, but you get a lot for your money when you use one of the QuickBooks nonprofit editions.

QuickBooks Premier

QuickBooks Premier offers two pricing options. You can either purchase a QuickBooks Premier license for $499.95 or purchase a yearly subscription of QuickBooks Premier Plus for $499.95/yr.

A QuickBooks Premier license is good for three years, after which QuickBooks drops support. Phone support costs extra. The QuickBooks Premier Plus subscription includes phone support, updates, and data backup. Additional users cost extra.

Going with QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit Edition instead of the Standard Edition doesn’t cost any extra. For more details, visit QuickBooks Premier’s pricing page.

QuickBooks Enterprise

QuickBooks Enterprise has three pricing plans:

  • Silver (starts at $1,100/yr)
  • Gold (starts at $1,430/yr)
  • Platinum (starts at $1,760/yr)

The price of each plan is determined by your number of users. Subscriptions are renewed annually and include phone support, updates, and data backups. You can calculate how much your QuickBooks Enterprise software would cost on Intuit’s site. Like QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit Edition has no additional cost.

Basic Accounting Features

Both QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise have strong accounting features and are incredibly well-developed. Here’s an idea of the features you can expect to find with each software.

QuickBooks Premier Features

QuickBooks didn’t earn its strong reputation for nothing. QuickBooks Premier is one of the most comprehensive accounting programs out there. The software offers strong accounting features, including a customizable chart of accounts, journal entries, bank reconciliation, accounts payable, and over 135 reports.

QuickBooks for Nonprofits

QuickBooks Premier also offers invoicing, contact management, expense tracking, project management, inventory, and time tracking.

Some of our other favorite features include:

  • Tax support
  • Budgeting
  • Sales orders
  • Mileage deductions
  • To-do list and calendar
  • Print checks
  • Letter templates

All of these features do come at a price — the software has a steep learning curve. For accountants and those with accounting experience, QuickBooks Premier’s traditional setup may be easy to understand, but for those with limited accounting knowledge, the software will take some time to learn.

On the plus side, QuickBooks Premier offer decent customer support and receives extremely high praise (especially when compared to QuickBooks Pro). Read our comprehensive QuickBooks Premier review for all the details on these features and more.

QuickBooks Enterprise Features

Much like QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise has an impressive number of features, but with 6x more storage and advanced inventory capabilities, QuickBooks Enterprise is designed for large businesses and enterprises. QuickBooks Enterprise has the accounting features you’d expect including a chart of accounts, journal entries, bank reconciliation, fixed assets management, and accounts payable.

QuickBooks for Nonprofits

QuickBooks Enterprise also includes expense tracking, contact management, project management, and time tracking. While the invoicing is slightly more limited, there are several features that you won’t find with QuickBooks Premier like lead management, advanced inventory, a loan manager, a business plan tool, and the option to add Intuit Field Service Management.

QuickBooks Enterprise also provides:

  • Tax support
  • 140 reports
  • Class tracking
  • Mileage deductions
  • To-do list and calendar
  • Letter templates
  • Print checks

While there is a steep learning curve, QuickBooks Enterprise offers better customer support than QuickBooks Premier, making it ultimately easier to learn. Customer reviews on the software are mixed; you can check out our full QuickBooks Enterprise review for all of the details.

Nonprofit Accounting Features

In addition to the standard features that come with QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise, the nonprofit edition for both programs adds:

  • Pledges: You can create and manage pledges. When creating a pledge, you can record the item, description, class, amount, and tax.
  • Donations: You can record donation made by check, e-check, credit card, debit card, or cash.
  • Programs/Products: The Programs/Products tool lets you track specific projects and programs run by your nonprofit.
  • Donor Letters: With QuickBooks Nonprofit, you can create donor letters using QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise’s existing letter templates.
  • Customized Chart Of Accounts: The Nonprofit Edition comes with a default chart of accounts specifically designed for nonprofits. You can customize this chart of accounts to fit your organization’s needs.
  • Nonprofit Reports: One of the best parts about QuickBooks’ Nonprofit Edition is that you have access to nine additional nonprofit reports (in addition to the existing 135+ reports that come with QuickBooks Premier and Enterprise). You’ll find reports like a Statement of Financial, Position, a Statement of Functional Expenses (990), the Biggest Donors/Grants, the Budget vs. Actual Programs/Projects, and more.

The only downside of the QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit Editions is that you can’t change the title of your contacts; so all of your donors and volunteers will be called ‘customers’ and ’employees’ within the software.

Learn more about how real nonprofit organizations are using QuickBooks Nonprofit Edition.

Is QuickBooks Right For My Nonprofit Organization?

QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise are fully-developed accounting solutions. Each has a bit of a learning curve but offers impressive features and key nonprofit features. But how do you know if QuickBooks Nonprofit Edition is right for you?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have time to learn how to use QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise?
  2. Do the QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit and/or QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit Editions include all of the features I need?
  3. Can I afford nonprofit accounting software from QuickBooks?

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, great! QuickBooks may be a good fit for your nonprofit organization.

Before committing to QuickBooks, we recommend you take the software for a spin. Sign up for a free trial of QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit Edition. There is no free trial for QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit Edition, but you can still get an idea of what to expect using the Enterprise trial. Don’t forget to look at The Complete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide to see the key differences between QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise.

If you can’t afford QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise, or if you want something easier to learn, check out our Top 10 Nonprofit Accounting Software Programs.

Read our Complete QuickBooks Premier Review

Read our Complete QuickBooks Enterprise Review

Read our Complete QuickBooks Online Review

The post QuickBooks For Nonprofits 2018 appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

Easy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

If you’re reading this, you’re in the market for a simple accounting solution. Maybe you don’t know anything about accounting and need a program that’s easy to learn. Or maybe you’ve been using Sage or QuickBooks Desktop Pro and are tired of the confusing accounting lingo.

The good news is that accounting doesn’t have to be difficult, and neither does finding easy accounting software. Thanks to the Cloud, there are plenty of full-featured, capable accounting programs that are easy to use and can help small business owners gain control of their business’s finances.

In this post, we’ll cover the top seven easiest accounting software programs. Each program on this list is easy to use and makes learning how to manage your accounting a breeze. We’ve included options to fit every budget and multiple business types.

Each program is ranked by how easy it is to use, how well the software is designed, and how quickly it can be mastered. Read on to see which is right for you!

1. WaveEasy Accounting Software For Small Businessses

Wave (see our review) is an eminently easy to use accounting software — and with a price of $0, it’s easy on the budget as well. Excellent customer support, competitive pricing, and great features have earned this software 4.5/5 stars on our site.

Best For…

Small businesses on a tight budget that still want strong accounting capabilities. Ideal for Etsy sellers and micro businesses.

Wave Pricing

As we mentioned earlier, Wave is free, no gimmicks or strings attached. With a Wave account, you get access to all Wave features and unlimited users. The only extra costs to be aware of are payroll and payment processing. Read our complete Wave review for all of the pricing details.

Wave Features

Wave is well-developed software that even rivals some paid programs in terms of features. This app is incredibly easy to navigate, and the learning curve is minimal, making it a great choice for business owners with little previous accounting experience. The software covers all of the accounting basics including invoicing, expense tracking, accounts payable, bank reconciliation, and more.

Easy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Wave also has several unique features. In Wave, users can separate personal and business expenses, which is ideal for freelancers or side hustlers who don’t have a separate business bank account. Wave also offers Lending by Wave, which helps business owners gain access to capital through a partnership with OnDeck (see our review). Learn more about this financing option in our post Lending by Wave: Everything Small Businesses Need to Know.

Other features include:

  • Item management
  • Reports
  • Receipts
  • Contact management

Wave doesn’t offer as many integrations as its competitors; however, it does have a Zapier integration, which connects Wave with over 750 third-party apps. Besides Zapier, there are only three other integrations. (The Etsy integration makes Wave a great choice for Etsy sellers in need of simple accounting.) Wave also has several mobile apps.

There are a ton of customer support resources that make the software easy to learn. Only payroll users have phone and chat support, but Wave’s support team answers emails quickly and there’s a thorough help center with how-to videos.

The only downside to the software is that there is no project management feature and time tracking is limited to payroll users. There also isn’t a true inventory feature. If these features are integral to your business, you’ll have to use an integration. Or you can take a look at one of the other options on this list.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for an affordable accounting option, it doesn’t get better than Wave. With positive customer reviews, excellent customer support, and a well-organized UI, it’s no wonder this free accounting software is so popular. It’s easy to jump straight in and start using Wave, even with little previous accounting experience.

To learn more, read our full Wave review or sign up for an account to test the software yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose — after all, it’s free.

Read our full Wave review

Visit the Wave website

2. Zoho BooksEasy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

Created in 2011, Zoho Books (see our review) offers unbeatable invoicing and strong mobile apps. In fact, recent updates have put Zoho Books on par with QuickBooks Online in terms of features, but with better customer service, cheaper pricing, and a more user-friendly UI, Zoho Books is a great option for small businesses.

Best For…

Small businesses in need of strong online accounting, affordable pricing, and good invoicing. Ideal for international business.

Zoho Books Pricing

Zoho Books offers three affordable pricing plans ranging from $9/mo – $29/mo. Each plan comes with basic features and unlimited invoices. The larger the plan, the more contacts, users, and advanced features you’ll have access to. Read our Zoho Books review for the details.

Zoho Books Features

Zoho Books has an impressive number of features. With good customer support and a well-designed UI, the software is easy to use and learn. The software has all of the features you’d expect from a fully-developed accounting solution including invoicing, contact management, expense tracking, time tracking, inventory, project management, and even tax support.

Easy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

The best part about Zoho Books is its invoicing offerings. Zoho Books offers 15 customizable invoice templates, a client portal where customers can pay invoices directly online, recurring invoices, and the unique ability to encrypt invoices. There are also many automations that make it easy to invoice customers, like the ability to autoschedule invoices to be sent at a later time. In addition, you can send invoices in over 10 languages, making Zoho Books a great choice for international business.

You’ll find these key accounting features as well:

  • Accounts payable
  • Charts of accounts
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Fixed asset management
  • Reports

Zoho Books offers 30 integrations, including 12 payments gateways options and a Zapier integration that connects Zoho Books to over 750 other third-party apps. Zoho Books also has easy accounting apps that are highly developed and praised by existing users.

Zoho Books is known for great customer service. Phone support and email support are both available. Representatives are generally helpful and quick to respond to questions. The majority of customer reviews are positive, and users especially like the level of support they receive.

The only drawback is that Zoho Books has no payroll feature. You’ll either have to find a payroll integration or opt for a different software.

Takeaway

With almost as many features as QuickBooks Online, Zoho Books is definitely a contender worth considering. The software is easy to use and its invoicing features are unbeatable. Great customer support, a good number of integrations, and international features are also perks of the software.

If Zoho Books sounds like it might be a good choice for your small business, start a free trial or read our complete Zoho Books review to learn more.

Read our full Zoho Books review

Visit the Zoho Books website

3. ZipBooksEasy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

ZipBooks (see our review) is an up-and-coming accounting software that was launched in 2015 and offers a free accounting software plan. The software may be new, but it has already mastered simplicity. ZipBooks is one of the easiest accounting programs out there, and with a free plan, unlimited users, and ample automations, it’s not hard to see why this software gets 4/5 stars.

Best For…

Small businesses in need of affordable, strong accounting. Ideal for business owners with little previous accounting experience.

ZipBooks Pricing

ZipBooks offers three pricing plans ranging from $0/mo – $35/mo. Each plan comes with unlimited invoicing and unlimited users, which is almost unheard of (especially for the free plan) Each pricing level adds more features. Read our complete ZipBooks review to see which plan’s features suit your needs best.

ZipBooks Features

ZipBooks offers a good number of features that are easy to use and has one of the most attractive interfaces out there. The software’s design is simple and intuitive, using automations to save you time. The UI is even color-coded to make navigation a breeze. ZipBooks offers the basics you’d expect from accounting software, including invoicing, contact management, and expense tracking.

Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

One unique aspect of ZipBooks is that the software takes the data you input and uses it to provide helpful business insights, including a business health score and business recommendations specific to your financial situation.

In addition, ZipBooks offers:

  • Time tracking
  • Project management
  • Reports
  • Category tracking

ZipBooks only comes with eight integrations, so if you’re looking for ample add-ons, this may not be the software for you.

If you’re looking for good customer support, ZipBooks has you covered. Representatives are quick to respond to questions. Phone support is available for the paid plans. Other support options include email, in-software chat, a knowledge base, and a blog.

Before purchasing ZipBooks, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider. Compared to the other choices on this list, ZipBooks has very limited invoicing and only a small number of accounting reports. There also is no item or inventory feature. Despite these shortcomings, ZipBooks receives many positive customer reviews.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for easy accounting software, ZipBooks is hard to beat. With a great design, good learning resources, and ample automations, ZipBooks does everything it can to make accounting simple.

If ZipBooks sounds like a good fit for your business, use the free plan to take the software for a spin. Read our complete ZipBooks review to learn more.

Read our full ZipBooks review

Visit the ZipBooks website

4. FreshBooksEasy Accounting Software

FreshBooks (see our review) is invoicing software with a few bookkeeping tools tossed in. Although it’s not true “accounting” software, we kept in in the mix because it is incredibly easy to use and free of accounting jargon.

Best For…

Small businesses looking for strong invoicing and basic bookkeeping but not a full accounting software.

FreshBooks Pricing

FreshBooks offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo – $50/mo. Most features are included in all plans, so each larger level mainly adds more billable customers.

FreshBooks only supports a single user (additional users cost an extra $10/mo each). Read our full FreshBooks review to learn more.

FreshBooks Features

FreshBooks has always been easy to use, but a recent redesign has made the user experience even simpler and the UI more attractive. Setup is simple and the software takes very little time to learn. In terms of features, you’ll find invoicing, expense tracking, contact management, and more.

Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

FreshBooks offers two customizable invoice templates and a client portal where customers can pay their invoices directly online. One of the coolest features in FreshBooks is the ability to chat with your customers directly on their invoices.

Other features include:

  • Project management
  • Time tracking
  • Reports

FreshBooks offers 60 integrations, which is significantly more than most invoicing programs. There are also mobile apps available.

FreshBooks has great customer support. Representatives are friendly, helpful, and quick to respond. There is phone support, email support, a help center, and several other resources to help you learn the software.

For the most part, FreshBooks receives positive customer reviews; however, there are some recurring complaints.

In addition to not being true accounting software, FreshBooks only supports a single user — and this invoicing software is already more expensive than most accounting software. Instead of purchasing additional users, you’d get more bang for your buck by choosing a full-fledged accounting program (or a less expensive invoicing program like Zoho Invoice or Invoicera).

Takeaway

While FreshBooks isn’t accounting software, many small businesses are able to look past the lack of double-entry accounting because the software is so simple and easy to use. This easy bookkeeping software is ideal for small businesses that only need to send invoices and track expenses.

If the simplicity of FreshBooks sounds appealing to you, take the software for a spin with a free trial or read our comprehensive FreshBooks review to learn more.

Read our full FreshBooks review

Visit the FreshBooks website

5. QuickBooks Self-EmployedEasy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

QuickBooks Self-Employed (see our review) is tax software designed to help freelancers with basic bookkeeping and tax support. While QuickBooks Self-Employed isn’t exactly accounting software, it offers easy bookkeeping and tax support for freelancers.

Best For…

Freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed individuals needing basic bookkeeping and tax support. Ideal for managing estimated quarterly taxes and maximizing deductions.

QuickBooks Self-Employed Pricing

There are two pricing options for QuickBooks Self-Employed. There’s a $10/mo plan that includes all of the software’s features. Going with the $17/mo plan adds a Turbo Tax integration, so you can easily file your self-employed taxes.

QuickBooks Self-Employed Features

QuickBooks Self-Employed is well-organized and easy to use. The features help simplify estimated quarterly taxes and allow freelancers to manage their expenses and track their deductions.

Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

This software also makes it easy to separate personal and business expenses, which is ideal for freelancers who don’t have a designated business bank account. LIke Wave, QuickBooks Online also has a built-in lending feature called QuickBooks Capital (see our review) that helps small businesses manage gain access to working capital to manage their cash flow.

In addition, QuickBooks Self-Employed offers:

  • Invoicing
  • Fixed asset management
  • Schedule Cs
  • Tax checklist

QuickBooks Self-Employed offers a small number of integrations, but the Turbo Tax integration is the best part of the software by far. This integration makes self-employed taxes a breeze and makes it easy to file taxes online.

Unfortunately, QuickBooks Self-Employed is known for poor customer service. With no phone support and limited additional resources, it can be hard to find help, though the company is working to improve this. There is a live chat feature, a redesigned help center, and a small business resource center with helpful business advice.

While QuickBooks Self-Employed is a great option for managing your federal taxes, our one concern is that the software lacks state tax support. This means you’ll have to find another way to file state taxes.

Takeaway

If you’re a freelancer looking for a way to manage your finances and taxes, QuickBooks Self-Employed could be a good option for your business. The software is easy to use and comes with good mobile apps for quick access to your data.

To learn more about this software, read our complete QuickBooks Self-Employed review. If you’re already convinced, sign up for a free trial or start using the software today.

Read our full QuickBooks Self-Employed review

Visit the QuickBooks Self-Employed website

6. SlickPieEasy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

Founded in 2015, SlickPie (see our review) is an easy-to-use accounting software that has already received positive customer reviews and press coverage. Like Wave and ZipBooks, SlickPie offers an impressive free plan and a beautiful interface.

Best For…

Small businesses on a tight budget in need of basic accounting features and bookkeeping automations.

SlickPie Pricing

SlickPie offers a free plan and a paid plan which costs $9.95/mo. Both plans come with basic features and unlimited users. The main difference is the number of invoices you are allowed to send. Read our complete SlickPie review for all of the pricing details.

SlickPie Features

As we mentioned earlier, SlickPie is easy to use and offers several automations to help save you time and energy. There are a few occasional navigational difficulties and the organization could be improved, but overall the software is simple to set up. Features include invoicing, expense tracking, contact management, accounts payable, and more.

Easy Accounting Software for Small Businesses

One of the coolest features is SlickPie’s MagicBot, which is a data entry tool that automates your receipts. When you take a photo of your receipt, SlickPie will automatically gather the information from the photo and enter the data for you.

Here are some other features found in SlickPie:

  • Chart of accounts
  • Item management
  • Reports

SlickPie only offers three integrations, which might not cut it for many small businesses.

This app does have good customer support, however. Emails are responded to incredibly quickly. There is also phone support and a helpful knowledge base. SlickPie receives positive customer reviews, especially where support is concerned.

There are a few limitations to consider when comparing SlickPie to the other options on this list. While SlickPie is still easy to use, the software is difficult to navigate at times. There are also no project management or time tracking features. Unlike the other options, SlickPIe does not have mobile apps.

Takeaway

SlickPie is simple accounting software with basic features and a few promising automations. However, its limited automations, missing features, and occasionally unintuitive organization may rule this software out as a viable option for some small business owners.

If you’d like to learn more, read our complete SlickPie review or see the software in action for yourself by signing up for a free account.

Read our full SlickPie review

Visit the SlickPie website

7. QuickBooks OnlineEasy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

QuickBooks Online (see our review) is a fully-featured accounting software program that is generally easy to use. With 200+ integrations, strong mobile apps, and tax support, it’s no wonder this software receives 5/5 stars.

Best For…

Small businesses looking for a full-featured accounting solution that is relatively easy to use. Ideal for businesses with five users or fewer (though you can add up to 25 users for an additional cost).

QuickBooks Online Pricing

QuickBooks Online offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo – $50/mo. The larger the plan, the more feature you have access to and the more users you can have.

Payroll costs an additional $39 – $90/mo (plus $2/mo per employee). Read our full QuickBooks Online review to learn more and to see if Intuit is running any sales promotions.

QuickBooks Online Features

While this cloud accounting software is not quite as easy to use as the other options on this list, the trade-off is more advanced features. Set up is a bit involved and the organization is occasionally difficult to navigate, but compared to other big-name programs like Xero, Sage, and AccountEdge Pro, QuickBooks Online is a piece of cake.

Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses

QuickBooks offers double-entry bookkeeping and strong accounting features like bank reconciliation, accounts payable, reports, and a chart of accounts. You’ll also find invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, project management, and more. In terms of invoicing, QuickBooks Online offers the second best templates and automations (with Zoho Books being the first).

Other features include:

  • Class tracking
  • Client portal
  • Tax support
  • Contact management
  • Budgeting
  • Inventory

With over 200 integrations, QuickBooks has more integrations than any other accounting program on this list. This includes 15 payment processing options and great mobile apps.

As we mentioned earlier, QuickBooks has been known for poor customer service in the past. Recently, QuickBooks Online has made great strides to improve their customer support. While the company still has a ways to go, phone response times have greatly improved and a redesigned help center makes it easy to find assistance.

Takeaway

While QuickBooks Online may not be quite as easy to use as the other options on this list, this online accounting software might be a good fit for businesses looking to get the most bang for their buck in terms of features.

Read our comprehensive QuickBooks Online review to learn about all that this software has to offer, or sign up for a free trial to see for yourself.

Read our full QuickBooks Online review

Visit the QuickBooks Online website

Final Verdict

Any one of these simple small business accounting software options will allow you to easily manage your business’s finances and balance the books, no matter what level of accounting experience you bring to the table. Ultimately, the decision will come down to your budget and the features your business needs.

Want a good double-entry accounting solution that’s more robust than the options we discussed above? I suggest trying Xero, Sage, AccountEdge Pro, or QuickBooks Pro. These apps aren’t quite as easy to use as the seven programs in this post, but they come with far more advanced features. If you need higher-level inventory management, payroll software, or a more refined method to track bank accounts, credit card payments and/or credit card charges, you’re going to be better off with one of these solutions. Conversely, for small business owners who are in the market for something very simple and don’t want to pay anything for an accounting app, we’ve compiled a list of the best free online accounting software programs out there.

If you need more help deciding, read the Complete Guide to Choosing Online Accounting or 20 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Accounting Software. And don’t forget to download the Beginner’s Guide to Accounting — in this free ebook, we make accounting simple and teach you everything you need to know without the confusing accounting jargon.

As always, let us know if you have any questions, and happy hunting!

The post Easy Accounting Software For Small Businesses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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What Is Waterfall Project Management?

It should come as no surprise that there are several methodologies out there for managing projects. Likewise, with different priorities, goals, and habits, it should make sense that different project management apps exist to meet the needs of those varied methods. The most basic, traditional, and universal of those methods is Waterfall project management.

In the tech world, Waterfall is seen as something of a pariah. Newer, shinier, sexier options have eclipsed the old school methodologies and left them behind. But just as old muscle cars still have proponents who insist they are way better than those new-fangled electric cars, the Waterfall method is still considered completely valid, even superior in some fields. But what is it? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this most traditional of project management styles?

Looking for project management software? Check out our quick comparison chart of the top project management apps on the market today.

What Is Waterfall Project Management?

When you think of working on a project, you likely think of that project in terms of the Waterfall method. You come up with a concept, do some research, build a model, test it out, and put it into production. The whole thing is linear, simple, and makes sense, at least on the surface.

The idea is that once your idea gets going, it continues through until brought to completion. I can think of many a school project completed in this fashion, and it gels well with what you expect when working on a project

In contrast, Agile methodology has taken the tech world by storm in the last decade or so. Rather than thinking of projects as purely linear, those working in an Agile mindset allow for iteration upon iteration at every step of the project. This allows for rapid development of multiple versions of a product, each suited to a slightly different set of variables.

Unsurprisingly, Agile has found a perfect fit in the software industry as the cycle of testing, implementing, redesigning, and iterating makes sense in an app-driven world. But the Waterfall method, while less and less common in Silicon Valley and among tech startups, is still a mainstay of manufacturing and other, similar industries. To understand why, let’s take a closer look at the advantages of Waterfall project management.

Advantages Of Using Waterfall To Manage Projects

Waterfall’s linear nature fits nicely in any industry where change is difficult to implement once a project has begun. With software, your product is line upon line of computer code, but industries like construction and manufacturing find it exceedingly difficult to change details of projects once they have been physically put together. For example, once a part has been milled from a block of solid aluminum, it is tough to just…put some of the material back.

This is just one of many reasons why Waterfall management might make more sense for your business. Others reasons to use Waterfall include:

  • Allows more multitasking
  • Rewards thorough pre-planning
  • Intuitive and approachable

Basically, Waterfall rewards those who approach it seriously but also have three or four projects going at once. For that reason, it is important that every part of a project be immediately discernable at a glance. Where Agile may have a bewildering maze of iterations to wade through for project managers, teams working a Waterfall approach know exactly where the project began and exactly where it will end.

Disadvantages Of Waterfall Methodology

Of course, the reverse of many of these is true as well. If you are on a team that intends to devote itself to a specific and single project, it may be more advantageous to take a rapid, open-ended approach that will allow a product to be created early in the process and then refined over time. As mentioned above, this is most possible in the software world, where developers continuously tweak, update, and redesign as they go, sending improvements out to users over time. However, a form of this thought process can be seen in the car world, where each model year brings some refinements and changes.

Waterfall doesn’t handle that level of flexibility well, at least not in the short-term. Additionally, you may experience some of these other drawbacks:

  • Delivery happens at the end of the process, not before
  • Once the process is started, it is hard to change course
  • Most variables must be known early in the process

Again, certain industries will find these disadvantages no trouble at all. If you feel like you can handle the lack of flexibility and are fastidious in your preparation, Waterfall will likely be rewarding for you.

Final Thoughts

When it comes right down to it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Waterfall project management in the correct context. This most traditional methodology is time tested and proven to get results consistently. So if you are in manufacturing, construction, or any similar industry, you probably should be using it.

Fortunately, since Waterfall is kind of the OG project management method, nearly every app out there will be entirely serviceable for you. My personal favorites include Redbooth (read our review), Teamwork (read our review) and Clickup (read our review).

We’ve written in-depth reviews of the major cloud-based and on-premise project management apps on the market today, whether you’re using Waterfall, Agile, Scrum, or some combination of the three.

The post What Is Waterfall Project Management? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Complete Quickbooks Product Comparison Guide

Complete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

Not sure which version of QuickBooks you should choose? Can’t decide if QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop or some other version of QuickBooks is right for your business?

With five different products to choose from, deciding on the best QuickBooks software can be intimidating. Not to mention the fact that QuickBooks isn’t always the most forthcoming with information about their products!

In this complete QuickBooks Comparison, we’ll explain what each software is capable of, what type of business is best for each version of QuickBooks, and the main differences between each product. We’ll also walk you through what questions to ask so you can pinpoint the perfect QuickBooks software for your business and choose the right QuickBooks accounting solution with confidence.

Don’t have time to read our full comparison post? The following chart breaks down the main differences between QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise, and QuickBooks Self-Employed.

QuickBooks Online QuickBooks Pro QuickBooks Premier QuickBooks Enterprise QuickBooks Self-Employed
Not Yet Rated
Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review
Visit Site Visit Site Visit Site Visit Site Visit Site
Pricing $15 – $50/mo $299.95 $499.95 $1,100+ $10 – $17/mo
Customer Support Good Poor Poor Good Poor
Ease of Use Easy Difficult Difficult Difficult Very Easy
Size of Business Small Small – Medium Medium Large Freelancers
Number of Users 1 – 25 1 – 3 1 – 5 1 – 30 1
Web-Based or Installed Web-Based Installed Installed Installed Web-Based
Mobile Apps Yes No No No Yes

Overview of QuickBooks Products

QuickBooks OnlineComplete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

Launched in 2004, QuickBooks Online (see our review) is a cloud-based accounting software that is used by over 2 million people. With strong accounting capabilities, impressive features, and fully-featured mobile apps, it’s no wonder this is one of our top 5/5 star accounting recommendations.

Best For…

Small businesses with no more than 25 users looking for easy to use, cloud-based accounting software and strong mobile apps.

Pricing

QuickBooks Online (QBO) offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo-$50/mo. The larger the plan, the more features you have access to and the more users are allowed. The largest plan includes only five users, though you can though you can add up to 25 users for an additional cost.

Payroll costs an additional $39/mo-$99/mo (plus $2/mo per employee). Luckily, Intuit is almost always running a sales promotion. Read our complete QuickBooks Online review for all the pricing details.

Features

QuickBooks Online offers an incredible number of features and automations. The software covers all the accounting bases as well as invoicing, expense tracking, accounts payable, contact management, project management, and more. Though there are occasional navigation difficulties, QBO is incredibly easy to use overall.

Complete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

One of the things that really sets QuickBooks apart from other accounting products is its new lending feature — QuickBooks Capital (see our review). QuickBooks Capital uses the information already in QuickBooks Online to determine if a small business owner is eligible for a loan.

Some of our other favorite features include:

  • Invoice scheduling
  • Class tracking
  • Inventory
  • Time tracking
  • Print checks

QBO offers over 250 integrations, which is the most of any QuickBooks product.

QuickBooks is generally known for poor customer support, but QuickBooks Online has worked hard lately to revive their reputation by eliminating long wait times and redesigning their help center.

If integrations, ease of use, and mobility are important to you, QuickBooks Online is your best bet. If you want to see how QuickBooks Online stacks up against other QuickBooks products, continue reading.

View our comprehensive QuickBooks Online review for more information on this small business accounting software or sign up for a free trial if you think this version of QuickBooks is right for you.

Read our full QuickBooks Online review

Visit the QuickBooks Online website

QuickBooks ProComplete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

Launched back in 1992, QuickBooks Desktop Pro (see our review) is the software that put QuickBooks on the map. This 5/5 star software is locally-installed and offers highly developed features.

Best For…

Small to medium-sized business with three users or fewer looking for strong accounting or a locally-installed software.

Pricing

There are two pricing options for Quickbooks Desktop Pro. You can either purchase a QuickBooks Pro license for $299.95 or purchase a yearly subscription of Quickbooks Pro Plus for $299.95/yr.

If you go with the QuickBooks Pro license, it should last you three years, after which Intuit drops support for the software. Phone support costs extra. If you go with QuickBooks Pro Plus, updates and phone support are included. Additional users cost extra. For the full scoop on QuickBooks Pro’s pricing, check out our review.

Features

As we mentioned earlier, QuickBooks Pro has an unbelievable number of features. In terms of accounting, QuickBooks Pro is one of the most developed solutions, boasting a chart of accounts, journal entries, bank reconciliation, 200+ reports, and more. These highly developed features do have a steep learning curve, but for accountants, those with accounting experience, or the business owner who just wants to get their accounting right, taking the time to learn the software can pay off.

Complete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

The best part is that QuickBooks Pro not only offers a lot of features, but each feature is highly developed. Intuit truly thought of everything with this one — even spell check.

Some of our other favorite QuickBooks Desktop Pro features include:

  • Invoicing
  • Project management
  • Job costing
  • Calendar and to-do lists
  • Accounts payable
  • Budgeting
  • Tax support

QuickBooks Pro offers over 175 integrations, which is an impressive number for a locally-installed software. Unlike QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro still suffers from poor customer support.

QuickBooks Pro can be a great option for businesses looking for strong accounting or in need of locally-installed software. The learning curve makes this software ideal for people who have previous accounting experience.

If you want to learn more about how QuickBooks Pro stacks up to other desktop selections keep reading. You can also read our complete QuickBooks Pro review for more details on this software option.

Read our full QuickBooks Desktop Pro review

Visit the OnDeck website

QuickBooks PremierComplete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

QuickBooks Desktop Premier is the next step for medium-sized businesses looking for the same strong accounting as QuickBooks Pro, but with more users and industry-specific features (and a lower cost than QuickBooks Enterprise). Desktop Premier is a robust, locally-installed software with plenty of features and a good number of integrations.

Best For…

Small to medium-sized businesses with 5 users or fewer in need of the strong accounting and industry-specific accounting features.

Pricing

QuickBooks Desktop Premier’s pricing structure is nigh identical to QuickBooks Pro’s. There are two pricing options for Quickbooks Premier. You can either purchase a QuickBooks Premier license for $499.95 or purchase a yearly subscription of Quickbooks Premier Plus for $499.95/yr.

If you go with the QuickBooks Premier license, phone support costs extra. If you go with QuickBooks Pro Plus, updates and phone support are included. For the full scoop, visit QuickBooks Premier’s pricing page.

Features

QuickBooks Premier is optimized for strong accounting. Like QuickBooks Pro, there is a steep learning curve here, but the software includes certain features Pro lacks, including business plans, inventory assemblies, and sales forecasting.

Complete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

The real thing that sets QuickBooks Premier apart from QuickBooks Pro is the industry-specific features. You can choose the standard edition of QuickBooks Premier or you can choose one of five specialized editions: Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, Nonprofit, Professional Services, and Retail.

Here are some other features to expect with QuickBooks Desktop Premier:

  • Industry-specific reports
  • Sales orders
  • Print shipping labels

QuickBooks Premier offers 173 integrations, and customer support is similar to that of QuickBooks Pro.

Before deciding on QuickBooks Premier, continue reading for more information. You don’t want to spend extra money if the features aren’t worth it.

If you want to learn more about QuickBooks Premier or are certain that your business does need industry-specific features, check out QuickBooks Premier’s website. QuickBooks doesn’t readily advertise a QuickBooks Premier free trial, but there is one available in the QuickBooks Community.

Visit the QuickBooks Premier website

QuickBooks EnterpriseComplete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise (see our review) has the same great accounting capabilities of Pro and Premier but allows access for up to 30 users and much more storage space. With six industry-specific versions, QuickBooks Enterprise has highly developed features to meet the needs of nearly any large business.

Best For…

Large businesses with 30 users or fewer looking for industry-specific accounting and advanced accounting.

Pricing

QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise features three annual subscriptions: Silver (starts at $1,100/yr), Gold (starts at $1430/yr), and Platinum (starts at $1,760).

Price is determined by the plan you select and the number of users you have. You can purchase Intuit Field Service Management at an additional cost. For the full scoop on pricing, read our complete QuickBooks Enterprise review.

Features

In terms of features, QuickBooks Enterprise is about as close as you can get to an ERP without making the switch to full-on business management software. In addition to the strong accounting you’d expect with a QuickBooks desktop product, QuickBooks Enterprise provides invoicing, expense tracking, contact management, project management, job costing, and more.

Complete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

You can opt for the normal version of QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, or you can choose one of the six industry-specific editions for added features: Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, Nonprofit, Retail, Professional Services, and Accountant. Read our post A Quick Guide To The 6 Industry Specific Editions Of QuickBooks Enterprise for a peek at what each edition has to offer.

Some other notable features include:

  • Lead management
  • Accounts payable
  • Inventory
  • Business plans
  • Loan manager
  • Tax support

Like QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Enterprise also integrates with over 160 third-party apps.

QuickBooks support puts its best foot forward for QuickBooks Enterprise customers. Representatives are responsive and friendly, and there are tons of support resources to choose from.

That being said, QuickBooks Enterprise does have its drawbacks. The software is incredibly expensive, and for the price you’re paying, certain features — like invoicing, project management, time tracking, and importing — are fairly limited. Additionally, the software is more suited for large businesses rather than enterprises, making its name slightly misleading.

If this software still sounds like it might be the right choice for your business, read on to see how it compares to other QuickBooks products or check out our complete QuickBooks Enterprise review. You can also sign up for a free trial of any edition of QuickBooks Enterprise.

Read our full QuickBooks Enterprise review

Visit the QuickBooks Enterprise website

QuickBooks Self-EmployedComplete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

QuickBooks Self-Employed (see our review) is different from the other QuickBooks Products in that it isn’t quite accounting software. QuickBooks Self-Employed is a tax software created to help freelancers manage their finances, handle estimated quarterly taxes, and calculate deductions.

Best For…

Freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed individuals in need of basic bookkeeping and tax support.

Pricing

There are two pricing options for QuickBooks Self-Employed. You can either pay $10/mo for all of the features QuickBooks Self-Employed has to offer, or you can pay $17/mo, which will add a Turbo Tax integration to your plan.

Intuit is almost always running a sales promotion, so be sure to check any possible discounts before purchasing. To learn more, read our complete QuickBooks Self-Employed review.

Features

Like QuickBooks Online, Quickbooks Self-Employed is an easy to use, cloud-based software with strong mobile apps. The features are designed specifically for freelancers and address needs like tax support and deductions. You can easily separate personal and business expenses, which is ideal for freelancers who don’t have a separate business bank account.

Complete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide

Not only does Quickbooks Self-Employed help freelancers navigate the scary waters of estimated quarterly taxes, it also gives them basic bookkeeping tools to track income and expenses.

Here are some other features you can expect with QuickBooks Self-Employed:

  • Invoicing
  • Fixed asset depreciation
  • Schedule Cs
  • Tax checklist

Quickbooks Self-Employed has very limited integrations, but the Turbo Tax integration is one the greatest parts of the software. When you’re ready to file taxes, you can pull all of your QuickBooks Self-Employed data directly into Turbo Tax to make filing easy.

Unfortunately, QuickBooks Self-Employed’s customer support is even worse than QuickBooks Pro’s. There is no phone support and additional support resources are limited. There is a live chat feature and help center if you need assistance.

There’s one other drawback users should be aware of: QuickBooks Self-Employed only offers federal tax support, so you’ll have to handle your state taxes another way.

That being said, QuickBooks Self-Employed is a great option for freelancers, contractors, or other self-employed individuals. If that’s you, you won’t find any other QuickBooks product that is more tailored to your specific tax needs.

If you want to learn more, read our complete QuickBooks Self-Employed review. If you’re already sold on QuickBooks Self-Employed, sign up for a free trial.

Read our full QuickBooks Self-Employed review

Visit the QuickBooks Self-Employed website

How To Choose The Right Version Of QuickBooks For Your Business

If you read the overview of each QuickBooks product, you may already have an idea of which version of QuickBooks is best for your small business. If not, don’t worry. These five questions will help you narrow down your search and find what you’re looking for.

Do You Want Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed Software?

The first major deciding factor is whether or not you want cloud-based or locally-installed software.

Cloud-based software operates entirely in the cloud (on the internet). Some perks of cloud-based software include:

  • Mobility
  • Access for multiple users in different locations
  • SaaS subscription-based pricing model
  • Security is handled by the software provider
  • Usually comes with mobile apps

Locally-installed software is downloaded and installed on a single, on-premise computer. Some perks of locally-installed software include:

  • No internet access required
  • More complex and feature-rich
  • Potentially more secure (you are responsible for security)

Most small businesses prefer cloud-based software as it is often more affordable, easier to use, and keeps up with our society’s mobile lifestyle. However, locally-installed software can be more secure and offers a level of feature depth that the cloud often can’t touch.

Deciding which type of software works best for your business model can make your QuickBooks choice a whole lot easier. If you want cloud-based software, there’s QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed. If you want locally-installed software, you can take your pick from QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, or QuickBooks Enterprise.

Are You A Mac Or Windows User?

QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise are all designed for Windows. So if you’re a Mac user, you’re down to two options: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise.

What Type Of Business Do You Run?

The type of business you run has a huge influence on which QuickBooks product is right for you. If you’re a freelancer, QuickBooks Self-Employed is the obvious choice. If you’re running a small business, you’ll be comparing QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Pro.

Larger businesses will be looking at QuickBooks Premier or QuickBooks Enterprise, depending on the number of users they need.

How Many Users Do You Need?

The number of users you need will also help determine which software is best for your business. Take a look at this chart to see which product suits your business’s size.

QuickBooks Self-Employed: 1 user
QuickBooks Pro: 1 – 3 users
QuickBooks Premier: 1 – 5 users
QuickBooks Online: 1 – 25 users
QuickBooks Enterprise: 1 – 30 users

Note: This chart shows the maximum number of users available with each version of QuickBooks, which may cost extra.

How Much Accounting Experience Do You Have?

If you don’t know much about accounting, you’ll want to shy away from QuickBooks Pro, Premier, or Enterprise, unless you’re willing to put in the time to learn.

QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed are much easier options to grasp if you don’t have much experience or just want to keep balancing the books simple.

On the other hand, if you’re an accountant or someone with a great deal of accounting experience, you may like the complexity of the QuickBooks desktop options as they stick to more traditional accounting.

QuickBooks Product Comparison

Here is a more detailed QuickBooks comparison so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting with each software and can easily tell the differences between each version of QuickBooks.

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Pricing $15-$50/mo $299.95 $499.95 $1,100/yr+ $10-$17/mo
Extra Cost for Phone Support None $249.95/yr or $89.95/three months $89/three months None None
Web-hosted or Locally-installed Web-hosted Locally-installed Locally-installed Locally-installed Web-hosted
Number of Users 1-25 1-3 1-5 1-30 1
User Permissions ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ N/A
Support for Multiple Companies ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Size of Business Small Small to medium Medium Large Freelancers
Ease of Use Easy Difficult Difficult Difficult Very easy
Learning Curve Small learning curve Steep learning curve Steep learning curve Steep learning curve No learning curve
Customer Support Good Poor Poor Good Poor
Numbers of Integrations 250 160 160 160 4
Number of Payments Gateways 16 13 13 13 1
Invoices ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Number of Templates 5 9 8 5 1
Customizable Templates ✔ ✔ ✘ ✘ ✘
Invoice Customizations ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Recurring Invoices ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘ ✘
Autoschedule Invoices ✔ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘
Batch Invoices ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Invoice Reminders ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Invoice Discounts ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Online Payments ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Snail Mail Option ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Invoice Receipts ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Default Email Messages ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Default Invoice Notes ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Default Terms and Conditions ✔ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔
Packing Slips ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Purchase Orders ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Estimates ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Convert Estimates to Invoices ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Accept Quotes Online ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Contact Management ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Lead Management ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔ ✘
Customer Credit Memo ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Refunds ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Map & Directions ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Expense Tracking ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Chart of Accounts ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Sales Orders ✘ ✘ ✔ ✔ ✘
Sales Receipts ✘ ✘ ✔ ✔ ✘
Accounts Payable ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Recurring Bills ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Automatic Bill Reminders ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Bank Reconciliation ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Automatic Categorization ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Custom Bank Rules ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Live Bank Feeds ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Manual Bank Statement Import ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Project Management ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Tasks ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Assign Tasks to Employees ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Job Costing ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Time Management ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Manually Enter Time ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Built-in Timer ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Bill Time to Customer as Invoice ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Payroll ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Direct Deposit ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Inventory ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Low Stock Reminders ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Inventory Bundles ✔ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘
Number of Reports 27-75 200+ 135 140 3
Budgeting ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Journal Entries ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Class Tracking ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Letter Templates ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Thank You Notes ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
To-Do-Lists ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Print Checks ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Calendar ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Mileage Deductions ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Home Office Deduction ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔
Tax Checklist ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔
1099-MISC’s ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
W-2’s ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
W-3’s ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
1096’s ✘ ✔ ✔  ✔ ✘
940’s ✘ ✔ ✔ ✘ ✘
941’s ✘ ✔ ✔ ✘ ✘
944’s ✘ ✔ ✔ ✘ ✘
Schedule C’s ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✔
E-file Tax Forms ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Sales Tax ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Multi-Currency Support ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
API ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
Import ✔ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘
Export ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Upload and Save Documents ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘

Final Thoughts

Now you know exactly what to expect from each version of QuickBooks in terms of features, pricing, and usability. While the numerous options seem intimidating at first, each version of QuickBooks is designed to reach a certain business size and type.

If a specific version of QuickBooks stood out to you, we recommend taking the software for a test run to make sure you love using it.

If after reading this post, you aren’t convinced that any version of QuickBooks is right for you, or if you just want to consider all of your options, our comprehensive accounting reviews can help you find the perfect accounting software for your business. Take a look at these additional resources for more QuickBooks alternatives.

The Best QuickBooks Online Alternatives

The Best Alternatives to QuickBooks Pro

The post The Complete Quickbooks Product Comparison Guide appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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A Guide To Open Source Project Management Software

When it comes to project management software, there are all sorts of opinions about what is most desirable. I think the majority of people, even those who would describe themselves as technology nerds, most often prefer to use applications that work well enough on their own and do not require deep knowledge of coding to use and understand. We want a kitchen knife that is sharp, comfortable in the hand, and dependable for chopping ingredients. For us, the point is not the knife itself, but the beautiful food we make with it. And the same principle applies to our project management tools.

But not everyone subscribes to this view. In the software world, particularly, there are those who prefer to write their own code and design their own applications. They use self-made computers and run operating systems like Linux. Whenever they can, they use open-source applications so they can dig into the code and make sure it is doing just what they want it to.

As with most kinds of web-based software, the project management world contains a number of open-source options. If you are anything like me, you have probably heard the term “open source” before, and it filled you with a vague apprehension. Do I have to write the code myself? Isn’t this why I paid for someone to design this software in the first place? What if I break the code by accident! This is all too stressful!

Fortunately, I can offer you respite from those fears. There are a number of advantages to using an open-source software for task management, though there are some complications that can arise from that choice. Is it worth your time? Let’s dive into the facts to find an answer to that question, and then take a look at some good open source project management software programs.

What Is Open Source Software?

In general terms, open source software refers a program or application with a source code that is accessible by any user. Now if you are like me, the term “source code” makes your eyes glaze over, your head tip back slightly, and re-runs of “How It’s Made” start playing behind your eyes. But fear not! The term is far less intimidating than it might seem. As you probably know, all software runs on code, and open source software just makes that code available for editing by anyone. As my father is fond of reminding me, “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to.” So if you are content with your software just how it is, you do not have to play with it.

Another misconception people have about open source software is this: If anyone can edit the source code, isn’t it easier to hack, sabotage, or otherwise ruin by mischevious antagonists? Effectively, the answer is “no.” When you purchase or download open-source software you are creating your own version of that software, and the only people able to modify the code will be people within your own team. It is no more vulnerable to attack than other software you might consider using.

More specifically, open-source project management software tends to include applications that are designed to meet project management needs (task lists, project portfolios, Gantt charts, Kanban boards, etc), while allowing users to customize their experience both in the mechanics of how the app functions (do you want recurring tasks? Templates? Timesheets?), and the visual interface (want a bright pink background? Company logos?)

Buying or subscribing to open source project management can be like going to the hardware store and buying lumber, nails, and a hammer, rather than simply buying a pre-built table. Alternatively, sometimes it is more like going to IKEA for a flatpack table that just requires a few steps to assemble. So how much of a DIY-er are you? And what are the concrete benefits of that trip to the hardware store or IKEA, rather than just getting something ready-made? Let’s take a closer look.

Benefits To Open Source Software

The most obvious benefit of open-source software of any kind is the higher level of control you will have over your application. This goes deeper than the cosmetic jokes I made above, meaning you can drastically modify the inner workings of the program. You can add entirely new features that were never present in the original, though the quality of these features will sometimes depend on the skill of your in-house software engineers. Some providers, however, have marketplaces that users can browse, shopping for community-designed features that slot into the code perfectly. A great example of this concept is OrangeScrum, hosting a diverse market with all sorts of additions to choose from.

Another big draw of open source software is that these options tend to be available for free! Most open-source creators don’t see the point in charging for a product that their customers are likely going to modify up the wazoo anyway. Access to the source code is usually free or comes with a one-time cost, rather than the monthly subscription model common to other, cloud-based project management software. If you are wondering how companies like the aforementioned OrangeScrum and others (like Taiga or MyCollab) make money, it’s simple: they tend to charge for customer service, though some also offer standardized versions of their software as well.

Downsides To Open Source Software

In some ways, the most prominent advantages to using an open-source project management software — control and customizability — can be the biggest disadvantages as well. You may have noticed above my repeated references to coding and software engineers, both of which will be needed to take full advantage of apps like OrangeScrum and the rest. If your small business lacks an in-house IT or computing division, open-source might be too large an undertaking.

On another note, if you end up with a project management vendor that offers source code for free but customer service for a premium, you might be facing prohibitive costs. Basic customer service plans can go for more than $150 per month, with premium plans costing triple that. Some might consider this money well spent, and they might be right. But I can think of several closed-source, web-based project management apps that you can get much cheaper. If you just want a simple way to manage tasks, you’ll be better off with an SaaS solution like Basecamp that you can use out of the box.

Finally, using open-source software often means wading through poorly designed interfaces. To be fair, several of the ones I have mentioned here have decent designs, especially the folks at Taiga, who have created an interface as nice as the likes of Binfire (read our review) or Streamtime (read our review). However, several of the higher-recommended open-source offerings, like ]project open[, ProjectLibre, and Open Project all feature less-than-inspiring GUI’s. Like it or not, visual design is part of a user’s experience, and good design leads to happier users.

Which Open Source Project Management App Is The Best?

There are so many open source project management apps out there that it would be impossible to cover even a representative sample in a blog post like this. With that in mind, here are my three favorite apps to get you started:

OrangeScrum

As I have already mentioned, OrangeScrum is one of the most well-known apps in the open-source project management world. This is classic open-source software; the options are almost overwhelmingly endless. You can get the cloud option or the on-premise option. You can use the marketplace to modify the app up the wazoo. You can integrate Slack, Google apps, or Dropbox. You can use it on a computer, your phone, or your tablet. If all those options started to blur together in a whirlwind of customization fatigue, keep in mind that OrangeScrum was designed to be an enterprise-level tool.

When you subscribe to OrangeScrum (there are five subscription levels, each of which increases the file storage and user cap), you gain access to a full range of project management features. This includes time tracking for tasks, projects, task lists and to-do lists, Gantt charts, resource tracking, and more. For those of you looking for a comprehensive project management solution available at a decent price with excellent customization options, this may be the task management tool you are looking for.

Taiga

In my opinion, Taiga takes the prize for the most stylish open-source project management app. Comparing Taiga to OrangeScrum is like comparing apples to an apple tree. Where OrangeScrum can be almost anything you need it to be, Taiga is extremely focused on Agile methodology. With a scrum board to highlight what jobs and tasks are falling behind schedule and a Kanban view to help dissect what needs to happen on your own project, this is one of the best interpretations of Agile project management I have yet seen.

There is a free version of Taiga, though it is quite limited, with only one project and three team members available. Fortunately, a subscription comes pretty cheaply, at only five dollars per month. Best of all, for you coding geeks out there, the source code is available to you to customize to your heart’s content.

MyCollab

Of the three apps I am covering here, MyCollab is the tool that best fits the open-source archetype, warts and all. The website feels thrown together, with a couple of copy-editing issues even on the front page. MyCollab does offer some paid subscriptions, but the option open-source fiends are going to be most interested in is the free “community” edition. Note that in order to use this completely open-source version of MyCollab, you will need to self-host the app on your own servers.

If you choose to do that, you get access to issue tracking, email reporting, tasks, project and customer management, and anything else you can dream up; you can alter, modify, and otherwise change the code to your heart’s content. I probably don’t need to point this out, but this option is probably not for you if you don’t have dedicated code monkeys on staff to keep everything straight and track your own bugs. If you are looking for project management that works every time you use it without much effort from you, you should probably look elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

When it comes right down to it, I think that open-source software is going to be valued differently by different kinds of teams looking for different things out of a project management tool. Enterprise-level corporations, with in-house computer engineers, will probably find the flexibility and customization of these tools extremely appealing. Likewise, startup tech companies and smaller teams will probably appreciate the opportunity to tailor their apps directly to their own needs, whether they need Gantt charts, advanced task tracking or simple to-do lists. Experienced project managers will also enjoy the fact that they can tailor their tools to Scrum, Agile, or Kanban-based project planning methodologies.

However, if you are in a small or mid-sized business operating outside the tech industry, you will probably get better value and less headache out of a more conventional cloud-based tool.

The post A Guide To Open Source Project Management Software appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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5 Free Project Management Apps

It goes without saying that paying less for something is desirable. But on the hand, choosing the cheaper of two options can put you in dire straits if that lower-priced product is also of cheaper quality. Sometimes, it’s better to pay a higher cost upfront if doing so means you are less likely to have to replace things later on. But does this axiom hold up in the world of project management?

There are a number of free apps or free versions of apps out there designed to help you and your team manage your work efficiently. Is it worth it to go with a free version when paying might get you access to new features, better support, or more file storage? These are the questions we will be answering here and now.

But first, some housekeeping. For each app, I will cover what the free version brings to the table and how it differs from paid versions (when applicable). I’ll also throw in a few other observations about the value of each app based on my experience in testing this kind of software. At the end of the process, I will deliver a verdict about whether each app is worth your time.

Let’s get started!

Redbooth

Redbooth (read our review) is one of our favorite project management apps here at Merchant Maverick. We love it for its slick, modern interface and excellent, easy to use features. But how much of that awesomeness overflows into the Free version? Let’s find out.

At first glance, the free version of Redbooth might come across as a little underwhelming. With a 10-user maximum threshold, you will have to be operating on a small scale indeed for this to meet your needs. Add to that a strict limit of two workspaces, and you may feel that Redbooth’s usefulness does not outweigh the downsides of the free version.

However, if you keep looking, you will find that many of our favorite features are still accessible in the free version. You still get unlimited tasks and subtasks, Gantt charts, basic reporting, conversations, templates, and email support. Wrap it all up in Redbooth’s gorgeous UI and you end up with a pretty picture.

Are there issues with the free plan? Yes. Like I mentioned above, this is a difficult free app to adapt to larger teams, or even to small teams that handle lots of kinds of projects. But if you are a kind of one-trick-wonder company, or if you work on just one or two major projects at a time, Redbooth’s no-cost plan might work out for you.

Verdict: Redbooth’s free version is worth your consideration

Teamwork Projects

Teamwork Projects (read our review) is another longstanding favorite at Merchant Maverick. And we aren’t the only ones who like it. Teamwork Projects has been winning hearts and minds since back in 2007. And happily, there is a free version. Signing up and entering your email address and a password will give you access to this app’s user-friendly interface and good integrations. But how many of its features carry over to the free plan?

As with Redbooth, things don’t start out promising. The free version of Teamwork projects enforces a maximum of five users, making it a bit less useful than even Redbooth’s offer. With so few users available it will be a small team indeed that can make use of Teamwork Projects for free. And where Redbooth allows free users two workspaces, with the potential of several projects in each, Teamwork projects only gives two projects. That is pretty limiting, to say the least.

Honestly, there is just not much good news to be had here. The free version of Teamwork projects is just not enough. You only get 100 MB storage and what the pricing page describes as “limited” task boards and “basic” project management. You do get access to subtasks and “color schemes,” but part of the appeal of Teamwork Projects is that it is an advanced project management app. If all you really need are basic and limited task management, there are far better options. Teamwork Projects truly does deliver robust features and good value with its paid plans, but I’m sorry to say that the free version is not particularly advanced or valuable.

Verdict: The free version of Teamwork is not worth your time

Clickup

Unlike the first two entries on this list, Clickup (read our review) is not a long-standing project management solution that has been through more than a decade of refinement. No, Clickup is one of the new kids on the block, and it has something to prove. Notably, Clickup was practically designed around its free version. So what do you get here and how does it compare with other free software?

Put simply, you sacrifice very little by sticking to the free version of Clickup. The only major differences between the paid and free subscriptions are that by paying, you unlock unlimited storage (the free version comes with a paltry 100MB), and onboarding training. Though I find it difficult to imagine working with such small amounts of storage, Clickup’s integrations with Google Drive and Dropbox may solve at least part of that problem. On top of that, Clickup is an absolute joy to use. I find that its usability and interface design are on par with Redbooth’s; both of them are excellent.

To be clear, Clickup is by no means perfect. Like many of the free-forever project management apps floating around out there in cyberspace, it lacks more advanced features like reporting, financial documentation, and budgeting. That is an important factor in the decision-making process; if you need reporting, this may not be the app for you. Having said that, you will struggle to find many software examples out there that do have a reporting feature on their free app. The only one I can think of is Redbooth.

Clickup should absolutely be on your shortlist of free project management apps, especially if you don’t need the financial and reporting stuff I mentioned above. This is not just a free version of a normally premium app, this is a naturally grown, gluten, dairy, and GMO-free burger of an app, designed and built to be free from the ground up.

Verdict: Clickup’s free version is worth a look-see

Squidhub

Squidhub (read our Review) is one of the most pleasant discoveries I made last year. A brand-spanking-new project management app, Squidhub is like Clickup in that it was designed to be free. Also like Clickup, Squidhub’s feature set is on the lighter side and focuses primarily on task management, communication, and file storage. Having said that, paid versions of Squidhub are “coming soon” according to the website’s pricing page, so it is worth taking a few moments to determine whether these subscriptions are worth your time.

Basically, Squidhub’s free features center around a task list, chat panel, and document storage interface. This allows for plenty of new features to be layered on top since Squidhub is already such a barebones app. With that in mind, it is actually a little surprising how limited the planned additions are for the upcoming paid subscriptions. For $5/user/month, the only new features you will get are file recovery, calendar sync, and phone support. Go up to $8/user/month, and you will get an “admin panel,” as well as group templates. Honestly, I can see the value of that higher subscription, but in many cases, the free version of Squidhub is going to be all you need.

I really like Squidhub. However, it would be dishonest of me to say that this is a perfect, one-size-fits-all app. It is extremely limited in its capabilities. What it can do, it does with aplomb. But compared to the likes of Redbooth, Squidhub is a little like a two-stroke weed-eater next to a Rolls-Royce Phantom. But you know what? You wouldn’t use a Royce to trim the long grass in your backyard, would you? Use the right tool for the right job.

Verdict: Squidhub is worth your time, but limited in capabilities

Trello

I have said this before, but Trello (read our review) is a project management app I can recommend without reservations every day of the week. The fact that there is an excellent free version is a big part of that. Trello popularized the increasingly common “Board View” that is now ubiquitous in the project management world. They also bring a sense of humor into their app, with stickers and silly “power-ups” for users to enjoy.

Trello’s free version is good, but what are you missing out on by not paying for a monthly subscription? To be frank, quite a bit. Paid versions of Trello come with advanced integrations with the likes of Jira and MailChimp, as well as features like Collections that add to team cohesion. Essentially, if you are using Trello on your own, the free version might be okay for you. Working in a group, the paid subscriptions become increasingly useful as you add more users. If you are willing to shell out for the top subscription, you get enhanced security features that include two-factor authentification.

I still love Trello. But my affinity for this program comes with the knowledge that larger teams may find the free version limiting. If you need an app for a few users and no more, the free Trello plan is probably fine. You may even be able to make it work with more team members than that. But there are other options out there, including several on this list, that will serve you better.

Verdict: Trello’s free plan is worth a trial, depending on your team size

Final Thoughts

It is difficult to resist the draw of the “free” label. But when it comes to your business, you want quality as much as you want affordability. Is it worth your time to work with a free project management app subscription, or should you go straight to a paid plan with more robust features? As with most things, the answer comes down to context. Is yours the kind of business or team that just needs task management? Do you need communication tools? Do you need invoicing or other financial capabilities?

If task management is all you need, nearly every option on this list is going to work well for you, depending on how many people you plan to have using the app. If your needs go beyond that, really the only viable option here is Redbooth — and that option will only work if you have a team of fewer than ten people.

When it comes down to it, the two free project management apps I recommend most highly are Redbooth, for its advanced features, and Clickup, for its wide-open usability. But don’t just take my word for it. As always, the final decision is up to you. Go out and give some of these options a try!

If you’re looking for a free app because you run a nonprofit, there are better solutions available. Read The Top 5 Project Management Apps For Nonprofits for a look at your other options. Otherwise, check out our project management software comparison page for more information.

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Top 5 Project Management Apps For Nonprofits

Your business models may differ slightly from those of traditional businesses, but organizations in the nonprofit realm need project management tools just as much as anyone else. The problem? Many nonprofits can’t cough up the cash for a monthly subscription to an app in a field that is already relatively expensive.

Fortunately, there are several ways around this issue!  Several project management software programs offer free or reduced rates to nonprofits. That means that you can stop mucking around with whiteboards and Post-Its and go back to teaching underserved kids. Or researching bio-degradable plastics. Or whatever other noble mission you have set your minds on.

Typically, articles about project and task management apps for nonprofits focus on apps with free versions, ignoring the fact that many top project management developers offer their products at a reduced price to qualifying organizations. For that reason, I have chosen to ignore free apps in this post and focus on those offering discounts.

Here, in no particular order, are Merchant Mavericks’ top five project management apps for nonprofits:

Redbooth

Redbooth (read our review) is one of Merchant Maverick’s favorite project management apps. In fact, it’s the solution we use to manage tasks for our remote team of writers.

The slick UI, handy features (including time tracking and reporting), and overall ease of use all combine to make a powerful tool that can be used in a variety of ways.

Redbooth does offer a free version that works for simple task management. If that is all you need, you need read no further; follow the link above and give it a try. If you are looking for more advanced features, like the time tracking and reporting I mentioned, you will need to pay a bit more. Pricing for Redbooth is figured per-user, meaning that you pay less if you have fewer users. Though I would not call Redbooth “expensive,” the price can add up if you have more than 10 or 20 users. Fortunately, Redbooth offers a 25% discount for nonprofits, providing you can show them your IRS 501c3 status letter.

Read our full Redbooth review

Visit the Redbooth website

Teamwork Projects

When I think about rock-solid project management apps, Teamwork Projects (read our review) is one of the first that comes to mind.

Teamwork Projects is easy to recommend for a wide swath of reasons: powerful features, excellent integrations, and exceptional ease of use. Even better, there is a free version available! While this stripped-down version excludes many of Teamwork Projects’ more advanced features, it does fulfill small-scale task management needs for teams of 5 or less. If your team is larger than five, or if you would benefit from increased task boards, project portfolios, and reporting features, you may want to take a closer look at the paid versions. For most nonprofits, I think the relatively affordable “Pro” plan will suffice; most features from the Enterprise plan are geared toward large businesses rather than smaller, cash-strapped teams.

And speaking of operating on a budget, Teamwork Projects does offer a discount for nonprofits, though you will need to contact the company directly ([email protected]) to find out exactly what kind of deal is available to you.

Read our full Teamwork review

Visit the Teamwork website

Smartsheet

Smartsheet review

Smartsheet (read our review) offers a bit more hardcore project management than the previous entries on this list.

Where Redbooth, Teamwork Projects, and some of the other apps I will discuss below make concessions in feature-depth in favor of usability, Smartsheets goes another way. This is a spreadsheet on steroids, and the developers don’t much try and hide that fact. In addition to standard spreadsheet features, Smartsheet also offers Gantt charts, automation, limited communication tools, resource management, and more.

While the interface is far from what I would call inspiring, it manages to keep from being quite as bland as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. If your team has spreadsheet experience but wants to supercharge functionality, Smartsheet might be a good choice for you. Unfortunately, there is no free version of Smartsheet at this time, but they do offer reduced rates to qualifying organizations, including nonprofits. The discount amounts to about two months off the yearly plan prices whether you choose the individual, team, or business subscription options.

Read our full Smartsheet review

Visit the Smartsheet website

Asana

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One of many products that attempt to combine user-friendliness with advanced project management features, Asana (read our review) successfully creates a social-media-like feel while still retaining such capabilities as reporting, task dependencies, and more.

I can’t call it full on, grown-up-pants project management, given its lack of time tracking and Gantt charts, but Asana still provides plenty of bang-for-buck. There is a free version which is limited in both how many people can use it and in what features are available. This app is definitely worth actually paying for, and though the initial cost is relatively low by project management standards, Asana developers have indicated they are willing to cut deals with students groups and nonprofits. To find out exactly what kind of deal you can get, though, you will have to contact their sales team.

Read our full Asana review

Visit the Asana website

Basecamp

Basecamp (read our review) is one of the project management perennials. Everywhere you look in the project management world, you find other companies desperately claiming to be “better than Basecamp!” The fact that so many project management startups compare themselves with this app should speak to its quality all on its own, but Basecamp can also boast over two million signups for their services.

This has always been one of my favorite project management platforms because of its simple interface, excellent communication tools, and automated check-ins. The features I just mentioned make Basecamp one of the best options in the business for remote teams; the app does so much of the work for you, keeping the whole group on the same page.

Happily, Basecamp offers 10% off for qualifying nonprofits with a 501(c)(3) form.

Read our full Basecamp review

Visit the Basecamp website

Final Thoughts

In the end, the best project management app for your nonprofit is going to depend on, well, your nonprofit. The actual work you are doing is the biggest part of what will determine your needs. Got a lot of data to share and analyze? Smartsheet might be the best option for you. Is your team working long distance, possibly on more than one continent? Basecamp and Redbooth will probably be the options you should consider most. Need a solid project and task managing app? Take a closer look at Teamwork projects or Asana.

I recommend checking out the free trials on offer from each of these companies to see which makes the most sense for your organization. From there, rest in the knowledge that each of these apps will be available to your nonprofit at a discounted rate, allowing you to manage your work without breaking your cash-strapped budget.

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