Activity Management Software Platforms To Boost Client Work Efficiency

ChelseaWilliams
By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Feb 13 2023 read
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Internal processes are distinct from external communications, yet both can impact your business reputation. Clients feel the effects of inefficiencies in the quality and timing of your deliverables, even if they don’t witness the ins and outs of your workflows.

Thus, optimizing how you manage your business behind the scenes is critical to delivering the highest quality client work possible. When you aim to maximize internal efficiency, you support strong client relationships and, ultimately, profitability.

How the Right Software Keeps Project Managers on Budget

Achieving optimal internal efficiency is largely about keeping project tasks on track, which requires the coordination of many moving parts. To stick to project timelines, your team needs tools that are built for client work. An appropriate tech stack is also important for staying on budget in every phase of a project.

Online task management software can ensure that your project plans and milestones align with project budgets by: 

  • Offering essential visibility for project managers
  • Providing templates to reduce manual work
  • Eliminating confusion about task assignments and scheduling

The Importance of Interface: Dashboards, Reports and More

It’s best to think about what the right software for your team might look like — not just the features it includes. User interface can positively or negatively affect your team’s software adoption process. 

Consider which type of interface makes the most sense for your business and industry. One that’s too simplistic may make it difficult to find essential tools, while one with advanced features such as customizable dashboards can be overwhelming if you don’t use it to its fullest capacity. Instead of focusing on complexity, it’s best to try out a software platform and follow your instincts about whether it’s intuitive.

Keep this in mind as you review the following categories of activity management software to help your teams more smoothly manage client work activities:

Task Management Tools With To-Do Lists

The most straightforward type of activity management software is a task management app that acts as a digital to-do list. Task management software houses individual tasks, task lists and, sometimes, tracks task dependencies. Below are four examples of simple task management software that can work for client-based businesses.

Asana

Asana is a web and mobile work management platform designed to help teams organize individual tasks, track and manage projects for various industries and purposes. The platform offers multiple task and project views, including lists, Kanban boards, calendars and timelines (similar to Gantt charts). Asana’s collaboration tools clarify team responsibilities and project hierarchy, while its advanced goal-setting and workflow features can be used to keep tabs on the bigger picture.

Features

  • Layered tasks and subtask structure with task templates for recurring projects
  • Kanban board, list and calendar views
  • Workflow builder tool with forms managed in one place
  • Rule-based automations to organize tasks and save time
  • Custom forms to submit inter-departmental requests
  • Goal setting and tracking

Notable Integrations

  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Salesforce
  • Slack
  • Tableau

Pros

  • Works well for internal teams with no client-facing responsibilities
  • Adapts to a variety of use cases and industries
  • Custom sorting and rules for task management
  • Ability to set permissions for guests and temporary employees

Cons

Pricing Plans

Asana offers a free plan, but many professional services businesses will need the Business plan, as it includes features such as goal tracking and advanced workflows.*

  • Basic: Free (up to 15 seats)
  • Premium: $10.99 per user per month (unlimited users)
  • Business: $24.99 per user per month (unlimited users)

READ MORE: Accelo vs. Asana

Basecamp

Basecamp is a project and task management app known for its collaborative tools, including chats, message boards and pings. As the name suggests, it’s a singular place for teams to turn for tasks, notes, files and conversations related to a given project.

Features

  • File management and document collaboration
  • Automated check-ins to minimize unnecessary meetings
  • Customizable homepage with pins and reordering
  • “Lineup” timeline view of all projects in progress
  • Daily summary emails
  • Activity sorting by person or project

Notable Integrations

  • BrightGauge
  • Harvest
  • Pro Backup
  • Proposify
  • Zapier

Pros

  • Strong team communication features
  • Free client and guest contributor access
  • User-friendly project management tools
  • Ability to divide teams into subgroups

Cons

Pricing Plans

Basecamp offers a free trial for up to three users and up to 12 months. Thereafter, access to the platform costs $11 per user per month for full access to every feature, plus unlimited projects and users.*

Teamwork

Teamwork is a project management solution built for client-based businesses, including creative teams, accounting firms and those in a variety of other industries. The software encourages internal and external collaboration with various task organization views and unlimited client access. It offers time tracking and schedule forecasting to help professional services teams balance their workload, plus budget management and profitability tracking tools. Add-ons are available for help desk, video chat, CRM and document management.

Features

  • Task management tool with multi-assignee, priority and custom tag options
  • Task automations
  • In-app chat feature
  • Invoicing and budget management
  • Workload planner
  • Add-ons: Help desk, video chat, CRM and document management

Notable Integrations

  • Harvest
  • Microsoft Teams
  • OneDrive
  • Slack
  • Xero

Pros

  • Clients can access the platform and collaborate on projects for free
  • Wide range of project management templates
  • Resource allocation and management tools support accurate time estimates
  • Privacy settings at the task level

Cons

Pricing Plans

Teamwork offers a “Free Forever” plan for up to five users. However, client-based teams that need access to billing and invoicing, team chat, custom reports and sufficient project templates will need to sign up for the more costly Grow or Scale tier.*

  • Deliver: $10 per user per month
  • Grow: $18 per user per month
  • Scale: Custom quotes available

Each paid tier has a five-seat minimum.

READ MORE: Accelo vs. Teamwork

Trello

Trello is a sister program to Jira, as it’s managed by Atlassian. One of the most well-known and widely used project management tools on the market, Trello integrates with many of the tools you may already use. Its structure is based on the Kanban framework of agile project management. However, it's possible to use Trello with the Scrum framework as well.

Features

  • Simple drag-and-drop interface 
  • Task assignments for groups or individuals
  • Email notifications for deadlines and mentions
  • Voting and discussion options
  • Rule-based automations
  • Labeling, tags and comments

Notable Integrations

Trello has over 200 integrations that bring additional functionality to the platform. Some of these are native integrations, and others are “power-ups,” or apps that can boost features.

  • Google Drive
  • Hootsuite
  • Miro
  • Salesforce
  • Slack

Pros

  • Free version available for unlimited users
  • Well-organized and user-friendly with a recognizable format and versatile uses
  • Client access with varied permissions
  • Unlimited users per team and unlimited boards for paid plans

Cons

Pricing Plans

While Trello offers a free plan, most service businesses will need to pay for one of the business plans (Premium or Enterprise) to access its most useful features.*  

  • Free: Unlimited users for up to 10 boards
  • Standard: $5 per user per month
  • Premium: $10 per user per month
  • Enterprise: $17.50 per user per month

READ MORE: Accelo vs. Trello

Team Messaging and Calendar Software Options

Client-facing and non-client-facing teams need to achieve seamless communication to support your revenue and profit goals. Today’s software platforms support real-time collaboration with calendars, chats, document editing and live meeting functions. Let’s look at four tools your team might consider for messaging and scheduling.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is a widely used calendar application that makes integrating your team’s tasks with their schedules straightforward. Because it’s frequently used for both personal and business events and allows for multiple calendars to be shown and shared on one account, Google Calendar is a universally compatible option that can accompany your other work management software platforms — and integrate with many of them. 

Features

  • Recurring events with custom settings
  • Built-in tasks and reminders 
  • Automatic video meeting creation with Google Meet or Zoom
  • Customizable calendar sharing and permissions
  • Robust event creation options, including attachments and joining instructions
  • Optional guest notifications for event changes

Notable Integrations

  • Airtable
  • Asana
  • Confluence
  • Hive
  • Smartsheet

Pros

  • Syncs with Gmail so events populate automatically
  • Simple booking with one or more colleagues using availability tool
  • Tracks time in meetings and focus time for weekly monitoring
  • Easy access to Google Keep, Tasks and more via sidebar

Cons

  • May not be the most convenient tool if your team isn’t using other Google Workspace applications
  • No robust integrations for meeting notes
  • Limited color and font options for events
  • Some users find day, week and month views to be less than ideal on different devices

Pricing Plans

While Google Calendar is free for anyone with a Google account, its advanced features are reserved for those who pay to use all Google Workspace features. Plans start at $6 per user per month.*

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a popular team collaboration software featuring audio and video meeting tools, one-to-one and group chat, document collaboration and more. Teams natively integrates with other Microsoft products, including Microsoft 365, making it easy to expand its collaborative functionality without using third-party platforms. 

Features

  • Teams and channels for group conversations
  • Audio conferencing
  • Document collaboration and storage via Word, Excel and PowerPoint
  • Online meetings for up to 10,000 users
  • Screen sharing
  • Message bookmarking

Notable Integrations

Microsoft teams integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products, in addition to a host of third-party platforms, including:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Kiwi
  • Trello
  • YouTube
  • Zoom

Pros

  • Compatible with all other Microsoft products
  • Compiles documents, calendar, notes and meetings in one platform
  • Ability to access chat history after a meeting has ended
  • Industry-leading security

Cons

Pricing Plans

Microsoft Teams features are available in an Essentials pricing tier and are bundled with Microsoft 365 features in two additional tiers:* 

  • Microsoft Teams Essentials: $4.00 per user per month
  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic: $6.00 per user per month
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard: $12.50 per user month

Outlook Calendar

Outlook Calendar is part of Microsoft Outlook’s suite of productivity tools. Events sync between email inboxes and calendars, and coworkers can see one another’s availability for booking meetings. A unified search tool makes it easy to discover reminders, calendar events and more in one place.

Features

  • Email, calendar and contacts sync
  • Flagging and color coding for event organization
  • Combined calendar and email view
  • Shared calendar permissions
  • Integrated to-do list
  • Event reminders

Notable Integrations

  • LinkedIn
  • Pipedrive
  • QuickBooks
  • RingCentral
  • Zapier

Pros

  • Access to colleagues’ availability
  • Intelligent reminders automatically appear
  • Option to add and organize tasks
  • Personalized meeting insights before each meeting

Cons

  • Tasks are siloed for individual work and don’t support collaboration
  • Event previews don’t show attendees
  • Some users find calendar integrations limited
  • Teams video links can be confusing if using another conferencing software

Pricing Plans

Pricing for Outlook Calendar is integrated with business pricing plans for all Microsoft Outlook. Plans start at $6 per user per month.*

Slack

Slack is a messaging app used by all types of businesses. With private messaging and group chat features, the platform makes internal communication simple. It integrates with many popular tools, allowing users to be notified about documents and events. Slack is a great complement to other project management tools.

Features

  • Public and private channels
  • Voice notes, audio and video calls
  • Toggle between multiple workspaces 
  • File sharing with previews
  • Audio “huddles” for quick and easy collaboration
  • Custom schedule for notifications

Notable Integrations

  • Box
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Drive
  • HubSpot
  • Salesforce

Pros

  • Reduces the need for inefficient email
  • Allows simple cross-departmental collaboration via dedicated channels
  • Profile settings for individual time zones support global teams
  • Message forwarding and shareable links

Cons

  • Premium plan pricing could be out of reach for small to mid-sized businesses
  • Some users claim they don’t receive all notifications on mobile
  • Long threads can make it easy to lose track of messages
  • Users report that file uploading can be slow

Pricing Plans

Slack offers a free version with limited features and three additional pricing tiers:*  

  • Free: 90 days of message history
  • Pro: $7.25 per user per month
  • Business: $12.50 per user per month
  • Enterprise Grid: Custom quotes available

Project Management Software Platforms

As it’s the stage in which your team generates tangible client work, project management is at the heart of your business. To be viable for a service business, an activity management platform should have robust project tools.

Accelo

Accelo is known for taking project management to the next level — it helps professional services firms connect project work with every other stage of client work. The platform expands visibility and supports increased profits with a full suite of sales, project management, ticketing, retainer management and billing tools in one single platform.

Features

  • Robust CRM with custom fields that connects client projects and tasks to a client record
  • Quote-to-project conversion for an easy transition from sales to project management
  • Automated time tracking at the task level
  • Customizable project templates and trigger automations to streamline workflows
  • Integrated billing that accurately reflects billable time
  • Automated retainer management

Notable Integrations

  • BrightGauge
  • HubSpot
  • PayPal
  • QuickBooks
  • Slack

Pros

Cons

  • The platform may be too robust for business leaders seeking project management only
  • Not ideal for teams of fewer than five people

Pricing Plans

Accelo offers all the solutions you need to plan projects, track results and deliver client work. Schedule a demo to tour the platform, learn how Accelo will help your business and determine what pricing tier best fits your needs.

Trial Accelo to preview its full suite of client work functions.

BigTime

BigTime is a professional services automation (PSA) software that offers project management, time tracking, billing and more for accounting and consulting firms, creative agencies, IT providers and other professional services businesses. This platform was built to connect teams and offer company-wide visibility and detailed reporting in a modern user interface.

BigTime also acquired Projector PSA, now called Projector by BigTime which the business claims will expand its consultative services and lead to more frequent functional improvements on both platforms.

Features

  • Detailed time tracking features and resource management tools
  • Project management with Gantt charts
  • Invoicing, forecasting and revenue management
  • BigTime Wallet add-on for payment processing and client portal
  • Business intelligence tools
  • Expense reports and timesheet approvals

Notable Integrations

  • HubSpot
  • QuickBooks
  • Salesforce
  • Slack
  • Xero

Pros

  • Multilayer approvals for time, expenses and invoicing
  • Automatic scheduling recommendations based on staff availability
  • Micro and macro business intelligence analytics 
  • BigTime and Projector by BigTime partnership brings expanded expertise

Cons

  • No built-in CRM
  • No retainer management
  • No task board, email tracking or ticketing
  • Some users report support delays and lack of follow-up from BigTime’s team

Pricing Plans for BigTime

Businesses that primarily need time tracking can go with BigTime’s Express pricing tier, while more robust features such as invoicing and project budgeting require a Pro plan. Resource allocation and analysis is available only for Premier users.*

  • Express: $10 per user per month
  • Pro: $30 per user per month
  • Premier: $40 per user per month
  • 5-user minimum

Pricing Plans for Projector by BigTime

Projector by BigTime offers custom quotes for two tiers:*

  • Scale: For mid-sized firms that need resource management, project accounting, project management and limited integrations
  • Optimize: For enterprise that need all the same functions, plus business intelligence dashboards and unlimited integrations

READ MORE: Accelo vs. BigTime

monday.com

monday.com is a cloud-based software platform that allows businesses to build custom work management systems using a variety of apps and integrations. Teams can collaborate in monday.com’s Work OS and its four core apps to manage projects and workflows, follow up with sales leads, track bugs and more. Because monday.com is a strong project portfolio management software, it’s popular for planning, organizing and tracking projects, processes and teamwork across a broad range of industries and is designed to be used by a wide range of businesses.

Features

  • Work OS: A board- and table-based work management system with drag-and-drop capabilities
  • Add-on apps: monday marketer, monday sales CRM, monday projects and monday dev
  • Kanban and Gantt chart visualization options
  • File management
  • Chat, whiteboard and other collaborative tools
  • Workload management 

Notable Integrations

  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Dropbox
  • Google Calendar
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Slack

Pros

  • Ideal for internal teams for which billable rates and customer lists are irrelevant
  • Strong project portfolio management
  • Malleable for a variety of industries and use cases
  • Automations, task notifications and recurring tasks

Cons

  • Not well-suited for client-facing teams due to lack of budgets and rates 
  • All work is categorize by workspace and not attached to client records
  • Some users find the interface overwhelming due to number of fields and workspaces
  • Full customization requires paying for multiple apps or third-party integrations

Pricing Plans

monday.com offers a free plan with limited features, but most professional services businesses will need a more premium plan:*

  • Individual Plan: Free (up to 2 seats)
  • Basic Plan: $8 per user per month (4-seat minimum)
  • Standard Plan: $10 per user per month (3-seat minimum)
  • Pro Plan: $16 per user per month (3-seat minimum)
  • Enterprise Plan: Quotes available

READ MORE: Accelo vs. monday.com

Wrike

Wrike is a work management tool that consolidates internal and external communication for teams of all sizes. The interface provides at-a-glance project progress and tracks goal progress for multiple teams within an organization.

Features

  • Resource demand planning tools
  • Robust reports displaying billable and non-billable hours and team workload
  • Product roadmaps, Kanban templates and Gantt charts
  • Shareable dashboards for better collaboration
  • Resource planning tools
  • Desktop apps for Windows and Apple

Notable Integrations

  • GitHub
  • Google Sheets
  • HubSpot
  • Jira
  • Microsoft Teams

Pros

  • Good for simultaneously managing both long- and short-term projects
  • Plentiful tools for planning projects and predicting resourcing needs
  • Automated workflows with approvals
  • Cross-tagging for visibility across departments and workflows

Cons

Pricing Plans

Wrike offers a 14-day free trial and five pricing plans:*

  • Free
  • Team: $9.80 per user per month
  • Business: $24.80 per user per month
  • Enterprise: Custom quotes available for large teams
  • Pinnacle: Custom quotes available for teams with complex work needs

READ NEXT: Project Task Tracking Software: Vetting and Feature Considerations

The Most Versatile Option: A Client Work Management Platform

The activity management software that works best for a client-based business is one that can be customized to your needs. It should allow your team to build automated workflows and easily manage resources. Furthermore, each task should be connected to a project or client record to make it easy to track billable work and generate invoices based on said work. 

Thus, the best activity management software is an end-to-end client work management platform. Let’s review how Accelo fits the bill.

Accelo

Accelo is an intuitive solution built for professional services firms looking to maximize efficiency and improve collaboration. The powerful platform provides your entire team with the efficiency-maximizing tools they need to complete every stage of client work. Expand visibility and increase profits with a full suite of sales, project management, ticketing, retainer management and billing tools in one single platform.

Features

  • Robust CRM that connects client projects and tasks to a client record
  • Quote-to-project conversion with automated task assignments
  • Extensive project management tools, including automated time trackers and customizable project templates
  • Custom trigger automations to streamline workflows 
  • Auto-scheduling and schedule dashboard for better resource management
  • Bulk client billing and automated retainer management

Notable Integrations

  • BrightGauge
  • HubSpot
  • PayPal
  • QuickBooks
  • Slack

Pros

  • Unique retainer management features support recurring revenue
  • Built-in tools for both internal visibility and external communication
  • Proven results for IT businesses, accounting firms and other service businesses 
  • High-performing platform based on real user feedback 

Cons

  • The platform may be too robust for business leaders seeking a singular function
  • Not ideal for teams of fewer than five people

Pricing Plans

Accelo offers all the solutions you need to plan projects, track results and deliver client work. Schedule a demo to tour the platform, learn how Accelo will help your business and determine what pricing tier best fits your needs.

Start a free trial or schedule a demo to see how Accelo could help your team be their most efficient and productive.

*Pricing details are accurate as of January 2023.

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About the Author

ChelseaWilliams

Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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