Project management apps used to be complicated and expensive gear for high-level management. Now they are everywhere and most of them come for free.

Keeping track of tasks assigned and completed by your team members and virtual assistant is harder than expected, isn’t it? How about the discussions that come with them? Skype, Hangouts, email, Facebook chat, Twitter direct messages… It’s just impossible to be productive and keep an eye on everything. And this is why project management apps are so popular.

I’ve been testing and using a lot of different tools in the past years and I’ve always found that something is missing in every tool. But there are 5 project management solutions that are (mostly) free and would help you manage your business better. Here they are:

1. Asana

Asana is loved and praised by anyone who has ever used it. Or so it seems. It’s easy to understand, offers free accounts for teams up to 15 members and unlimited number of projects. What makes it great is the clean design, the ease of use and the great mobile app they have. It allows me to track projects for myself plus other clients – as I don’t have a limit of the number of teams I can join. I can see all my tasks and notification together, plan my day/week/month and follow up when needed.

Why I like Asana: You can create projects, group tasks in them into separate sections, add subtasks (and assign them to different team members and set different due dates for them). Tracking everything seems easy – you can filter tasks by projects, due dates or just check tasks assigned to you. You can search tasks by tags too.

You can integrate Asana with a lot of tools – including team communication with Slack, time tracking by Harvest, sharing documents from Google Drive, Dropbox and Box, creating Gantt charts with Instagantt and more. Check out their apps integration page for details.

2. Producteev

Producteev by Jive is free forever – unless you want Microsoft Outlook integration and personalized support. It looks a lot like Asana and covers almost the same features, but does not offer a lot of integration possibilities. You can attach files from Dropbox but that’s most of it.

Why I like Producteev: I love the fact that it is simpler than Asana and I can mark a task not only as Completed, but as Paused or In Progress. And this comes with comprehensible icons that make the task status stand out. In the List view you see tasks Due today, Late, Starred, Assigned to you. You can switch between the List, Calendar and Activity views to get a better perspective of how the project is moving forward.

3. Slack

Forget everything you know about productivity and project management apps. Forget about email too. In less than a year Slack has become a big favorite for virtual and office teams – because it works flawlessly and offers great solutions to common problems.

Slack is essentially a chat for your team – highly searchable chat where you can upload files, share code snippets and so much more. Those attachments are searchable too. You can create different channels where different people can discuss a project, office party or share kitten pictures. If you connect it with Asana, Slack would take out the discussions underneath the tasks and allow your team to see the big picture. Because some discussions just don’t fit a specific task. Slack is free to begin with but as your projects and discussions grow, you might find the need to start paying for a pro account.

Why I like Slack: I communicate with my clients mostly online – we Skype, chat, email, write and comment tasks. But sometimes we all get overwhelmed and confused. I love the possibility to switch Skype and chat discussions with Slack – mostly because I can track what was said and done and go back to a specific idea much faster.

However, Slack is not a project management tool per se. But integrates with Asana. Plus it is fun to use.

4. Google Apps for Work 

Good old Google. Or Bad Wolf Google? We are so used to using their services that it only seems natural to do so. And yes, you don’t need an additional tool when you have Google Calendars, Google Hangouts and Google Tasks. If you are a fan of keeping it all together then Google Apps for Work is your solution.

Why I like Google Apps: Google Drive is connected to Gmail, which is connected to the Calendar, connected to Hangouts. All this used to be free, but now comes with a price tag of $5 or $10 per user per month, depending on your needs. But nothing beats that seamless integration.

5. Trello

I personally like Trello the least of those 5 apps but it has it’s power. The card-based project management allows you to move tasks from one column to another – the Kanban way. It’s a preferred tool by web developers who can easily see what are their upcoming tasks and move them through the different columns.

Why I like Trello: It is versatile – you can use it as a content curation and generation tool, idea vault and team management. But mostly – it is made to fit your style. And moving cards between projects/columns can be so relaxing sometimes.