7 Best Project Management Tools for Developers (+ Free Templates) | Hacker Noon

June 21st 2020

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You may have heard the analogy that developing software is a lot like building a house. 

Maybe you’ve even used that analogy yourself when trying to explain to a client why it’s problematic to change requirements halfway through a project.

Some developers love this analogy and use it all the time. Others, not so much. 

But today, let’s use that analogy in a different way. Developing software is a lot like building a house because there are multiple smaller tasks to manage and tick off in order to complete the overall project. 

If just one of these smaller tasks is overlooked, forgotten about, or difficult to track, your project isn’t going to come in on time or on budget. 

You’re stressed. The client is stressed. And the whole project is looked back on with a shudder. 

Of course, there is a better way. 

With a great project management tool, you’ll be able to organise your tasks, track the progress of your project, communicate with clients, and (as we’ll find out) a whole lot more! 

There are tons of project management tools out there. To save you the time and hassle of looking through them all we’ve collated the best 7 project management tools for developers. 

Whatever you could want from a project management tool, Project.co’s got it. 

Want to work through your backlog? Done.

Want to track issues & bugs? Simple.

Want to manage tasks? Easy. 

Want to communicate with clients? No problem.

How about taking payments? Cha-ching!

All of this, and more, can be done directly within Project.co 

Project.co is a highly customisable project management tool that you can tailor to your specific needs and team workflow. 

Every project you create has a set of powerful tools that make project management a breeze. 

You can add people via the People tab and start chatting to them on the Discussions tab. Not only is this great for communicating with your clients and the rest of your team, it also logs your communication in one secure place – perfect if you need to review previous messages.

As it’s a client-facing tool, you can customise Project.co in a number of ways so that it reflects your brand. You can use your own brand colours and logo, as well as uploading profile photos to make communication more personal.

Once you’ve created a project you can add tasks. A task could be an issue, a bug or a thing you need to do to progress a project. Every task can be allocated to a person, include a detailed note and has a place for discussion with your team.

Tasks can be viewed in multiple different ways, including by calendar, scheduler or Kanban view, giving you the option to choose the best one for you and your team: 

Kanban is a common visual way for developers to manage projects, and Project.co gives you the power by allowing you to drag and drop tasks into the next column when you’re ready to move them ahead.

By clicking into a task you can directly assign team members and deadlines, and add files and notes to ensure every part of your project runs smoothly.

The Time tracking feature allows you to log hours spent on each project to ensure you’re coming in on budget:

And the Payments tab allows you to take payments directly within the project. Making payments quick and easy for clients: 

And, if you need some inspiration on where to get started, Project.co has several free templates (especially for developers!) that can give you a running start:

All templates come with customisable project details, checklists, and tasks. 

Pricing:

Great for developers because…

Workflow stages can be customised to match your development process.

Enter code snippets directly into comments, notes and tasks. They are all colour-coded based on the language.

The templates built especially for developers make it really easy to get started.

It’s client-facing, so not only can you use it to track your projects, you can also use it for client communication – keeping everything in one neat and organised place.

Trello is a kanban-style workflow management tool. As we’ve seen from Project.co above, a kanban board is a visual way to manage a project through different stages. 

In Trello, these are called ‘Trello boards’ and each project stage is called a list. Lists begin with the catch-all headings:

  • Things to do
  • Doing 
  • Done

But these can be easily customised for your specific project. For example, if you’re working on developing a new website then you could change the headings to something like:

  • Backlog
  • New Features
  • Running Tasks
  • Fix & Upgrade
  • Testing
  • Deployment

You can add as many lists to each board as is required. And then within each list you can include ‘cards’ to break your project down into tasks.

Trello comes with different free templates for users to choose from. Here is the Website Development template (we added a couple of cards to demonstrate how the tool works):

This template comes complete with lists that can see your project from start to completion, and everything is quick and easy to customise. 

You can rename lists by double-clicking on them, and add label colours to your cards to make them easier to track: 

Clicking on a card allows you to add more detail, including adding team members, attachments, and also a due date:

Within Trello, you can also add many integrations, or ‘Power-Ups’ as they’re called, including Google Drive, Calendar, and Slack. 

Trello also has a handy ‘Butler’ feature which gives you the opportunity to automate certain actions on your board with a simple ‘when this happens, do this’ format – eliminating those pesky admin tasks and freeing you up to be more productive! 

Pricing:

Great for developers because…

The drag-and-drop functionality means you can move tasks from one list to the next instantly.

It’s easily customisable so you can use it for a number of different projects with different requirements.

Jira was designed specifically for software developers – so this is a project management tool that knows your issues and roadblocks inside-out, and was built to solve them!

With Jira, you can plan sprints and track work with complete visibility of tasks using a kanban-style view:

You can also use Jira as a reporting tool (to track team performance and improve for the future) and to manage software releases:

When signing up, you can create your own project (or ‘Board’ as they’re called within the platform), or you can use an ‘out-of-the-box’ template. 

Jira actually encourages users to select templates during the sign-up process. You can even import your work directly into the platform so you can hit the ground running:

Templates come pre-populated with tasks that include useful directions for new users:

As a tool designed especially for software developers Jira also has the ability to integrate with tools you may already be using, such as Confluence and BitBucket. 

Pricing:

Great for developers because…

It was MADE for developers! 

It can integrate with hundreds of different developer tools.

There’s something satisfying about ticking a task off your to-do list. 

As you’ve probably guessed by the name, Todoist is an online line to-do list app. While not strictly aimed at developers, or businesses in general, Todoist can be used to efficiently manage projects.

Todoist isn’t as customisable as other tools on this list, but users can still pick a ‘theme’ for their to-do list:

It’s pretty easy to get started. You simply click the + button at the top of the page to add a task. All you need to do to create a task is give it a name. But for the purposes of effective project management, you can also add dates, priority levels, labels, and more. 

You can postpone your tasks with a click, and also check them off with a click. Simple!

Todoist has a few development templates to choose from:

These come pre-populated with tasks that can be customised with priority levels, reminders, and comments – although you’ll need access to a Premium account to access most features:

Pricing:

Great for developers because…

It’s simple and easy to get started.

The prioritisation tool means that you can see, at a glance, which tasks are more pressing on any given day.

The templates can inspire you with how to use the software.

Airtable describes itself as part spreadsheet, part database – not exactly the most exciting sales pitch. But, the key selling point of Airtable is how flexible it is – allowing you to shape the tool into a format that best serves your needs.

Airtable gives users the power to add rich field types, including checkboxes, dropdowns, and long notes – so that each project you work on only shows the columns you require:

You can also assign tasks to different team members and change the priority in just a couple of clicks. 

Switching between different views is easy. You can view all of your tasks in a grid (as seen above), or you can opt for a kanban view: 

Within the kanban view, you can drag and drop tasks to different columns and also click on a task to add more detail.

All of these features can make Airtable seem like a pretty ‘hands on’ project management tool. 

If creating field types and tasks from scratch is a little bit too time-intensive for you, then you can opt to start with one of the templates: 

These templates create pre-populated projects that can then be edited according to your requirements. 

Pricing:

Great for developers because…

It’s highly customisable, allowing you to create custom spreadsheets for each project.

The different field types available make it easy to manage a range of different tasks.

DoneDone is a simple issue tracker tool that can be used to manage tasks, issues, bugs, or other workflows. 

The founders of DoneDone actually created the tool to help them manage their startup, because they found other project management tools at the time insufficient for their needs. 

DoneDone has a couple of templates that could be useful to software developers, such as bug tracking, but they don’t come with tasks already set up (like some tools do):

Once you’ve created a project, adding tasks is simple. You can give your tasks a priority level and assign them to different team members. You can even link related tasks together: 

You can also manage conversations and reports within the platform, as well as integrating with existing tools that you may use, such as Slack, Zapier and Google Drive. 

Pricing:

Great for developers because…

You can group similar tasks together to ensure nothing is missed.

You can assign tasks to team members, but you can also ‘watch’ tasks to ensure that everything is completed on time.

Zoho Projects is an online project management platform that makes it easy for teams to manage any project. 

You can plan projects with task lists and milestones, track progress with timesheet and reporting features, and also collaborate with team members.

After signing up for Zoho Projects, users are taken on a walkthrough of the platform with hotspots and information boxes that make it easy to get started:

Like several other tools on this list, Zoho Projects has multiple views, including kanban:

There is also an ‘issue tracking’ feature – a much-needed tool for software developers! When creating an issue, you can easily drill down into the specifics: 

Zoho Projects doesn’t, at this time, offer templates in the same way as the rest of the tools on this list. However, users can create their own templates through their account (that can include the same tasks, team members, etc.) in order to save time when starting new projects. 

Pricing:

Great for developers because…

The fact that this already has an ‘issue tracking’ feature eliminates some steps for software developers.

The timesheets feature makes it easy to see how profitable projects are at a glance.

Final Thoughts

All of these project management tools are pretty great. The one you choose will depend on your specific needs as a software developer.

Hopefully this overview makes the decision a little bit easier for you! 

And, hey, all of the tools mentioned here offer free trials and free templates – so why not give them all a whirl and see what sticks? 

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