Project management tools: Trello vs Monday.com
Looking for project management software to keep your freelance assignments on-track? Need help making better use of your time so you can get out there and go after those high-value clients who appreciate your work? Trello and Monday.com are popular freelance project management solutions. It is easy to get started with both, but they offer some different features. Read on to decide which one is best for you.
Trello – Based on Kanban
Trello is based on Kanban, the Japanese workflow management system that visualizes the work you need to do for your project, and in doing so, helps you find ways to be more efficient and create a better outcome.
With Trello you set up a virtual board for the project you are working on. You then add in the tasks you need do. It’s almost like working with a physical whiteboard where you write your tasks on cards and stick them to your board.
You load your Trello task cards with information that you (or your team, if you are working on a group project) need to do the task, such as photos, checklists, due dates, and attachments. You can also add comments to talk to other team members.
You can set up your board however you like, and then move your task cards around to show your progress. For example, you can create three categories, such as Pending, Started, and Done, and simply drag and drop the task cards from one list to another. At one glance you can see what still needs to be done, who is working on what, and the status of each task.
You can also add Power-Ups for more features, such as the Calendar Power-Up to help you keep track of when tasks need to be completed. All cards that have due dates appear in the calendar, giving you a quick view of when different parts of your project need to be done.
Monday.com – Find your “pulse”
Monday.com also uses a visual board system based on Kanban. It displays the tasks for your project, but calls them “pulses,” which all have their own status columns with customizable indicators to help you keep track of your progress.
Besides supplying more than 200 ready-made templates to create your workflow process, you can customize your boards further by dropping in over 30 types of columns. These columns provide a variety of functions, from delegating tasks to different team members, setting priorities, creating timelines, and identifying dependencies. But one of the major differences from Trello is the ability to view your project in different ways.
You simply click on the view you want from the drop-down menu and you can immediately see your tasks organized by Timeline or Gantt chart to check due dates and see if there are any task dependencies coming up, by Calendar to look at your workload over the next days and weeks, and many more useful views.
(Insert the Gantt and Calendar views)
Monday.com also offers automations you might need for your freelance business, such as reporting. You can also perform some financial calculations just like you would on an Excel spreadsheet.
Trello vs Monday.com – the details
Both are highly visual and easy-to-use, so let’s see how the two project management tools compare by looking at the features they offer.
How do their prices compare?
You need to consider many factors when deciding on a project management solution, and cost is often a starting point. It turns out Trello and Monday.com price their features in different ways. This may impact what you end up charging your clients.
Trello is free, and you can invite as many people as needed. But if you want to use more than 10 boards, and want to use features like dashboards, timelines, and priority email support, you will need to upgrade to Business Class.
That costs $10.00 per month for each user for a year, or $12.50 per user per month if you pay monthly. Companies that have large teams can contact Trello for Enterprise pricing.
Monday.com’s pricing is more complicated. It’s free, but only for two team members. That gives you an unlimited number of boards, but with none of those unique ways of viewing your project that make Monday.com so appealing.
If you want to include more team members, Monday.com goes up in price. The Basic plan has unlimited team members and provides features such as greater customer support. It costs $11 per month for each user, with a maximum monthly cap of $33 if you pay for a year. The popular Standard plan includes more features, such as a variety of useful views and some automations and integrations. That comes to $14 per month for each user, with a maximum monthly cap of $42 if you pay for a year.
The Pro plan includes all the features and increased automations and integrations for $22 per month for each user. In addition there is a customized Enterprise plan for larger companies.
If you cannot start on some tasks until others are completed, you may want a project management system that tracks task dependencies.
Trello doesn't have a built-in task dependency management system, but you can use some of the information you put into your cards, such as checklists, to help you catch all the tasks that need to be completed before you tackle another.
Monday.com also doesn’t have a built-in system. You can add connections between tasks that are dependent on each other, however. To do this you add a dependency column to your tasks. Your board will then automatically ensure that tasks are done in the right order.
To help you work as smoothly and efficiently as possible it’s important that the other software and applications that you use in your daily freelance work can integrate with your project management software.
Trello has many Power-Ups available to add more features onto your boards, such as the Calendar Power-Up, as well as to integrate Trello with other programs and apps that are useful for freelancers, like Dropbox, Google Drive, Zapier, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.
Monday.com offers the same kinds of integrations as Trello, with the addition of e-commerce and sales integrations like Shopify and Salesforce, and other project management solutions like Jira. You can even create new cards in Trello and see them automatically entered as new tasks in Monday.com!
To protect both you and your clients, you need to make sure your project management software has security systems in place to safeguard any confidential and proprietary information you use.
Both Trello and Monday.com comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Service Organization Control (SOC) 1 and 2 audits, as well as other important regulations to ensure they meet rigorous security and confidentiality standards.
Both Trello and Monday.com also offer two-factor authentication on all plans for extra security.
If you use Trello’s free plan, the only support you receive is through its online resources, which includes some video tutorials. There are also user forums where you can ask other freelancers for answers to your questions. The Business class offers priority email support, where they promise to provide a response within a day.
Monday.com provides many more ways to help you navigate their software program and help you out with user problems. There are help guides to refer to, tutorials and webinars to watch, as well forums where you can ask questions. You can also submit questions through email if you buy the Basic plan.
Unfortunately neither Trello nor Monday.com offers immediate customer phone support.
The communication capabilities of Trello and Monday.com are both task-related.
In Trello, if you need to discuss something related to a particular task, you can do it right on the card’s comment feature. There is also a notification system that updates team members if their task gets updated or changed.
With Monday.com you can also only comment on specific tasks. You click on the task, or pulse, and leave your comments in the window that opens up. There is also an inbox on the mobile app that displays all the comments added to your boards, even if you’re not assigned the task the comment is attached to.
Both project management tools are highly intuitive and don’t require special training. Both also have introductory videos which explain how to use their systems to organize your projects.
Trello is extremely flexible. It’s actually not limited to project management, so you can use Trello for your personal use too, such as planning a vacation or organizing your wedding.
There are easy-to-understand steps to create your first board, and all the task columns are clearly displayed. It’s also easy to create cards and checklists, as well as add attachments, comments, and assign tasks to others. When you make progress you just move the card from one task column and put it into the next. Since you are basically just using boards and cards, the user experience is pretty simple and straightforward.
Trello can become a bit unwieldy if you have to search through a lot of cards to update your progress. That means a lot of scrolling around if your project gets bigger. You also have to recreate tasks over again for each new project, which can be a major pain point if your work uses a repeatable process.
Added functionality of Monday.com
Monday.com is also highly intuitive and easy-to-use, with the additional functionality you may need to manage your project, such as reporting and financial calculations.
After you create the board you want, it’s easy to select task columns and add in your tasks, as well as select the various views available. The interface may be bit too bare bones for some freelancers however, as it relies heavily on icons where the purpose might not be immediately identifiable.
There is also an array of templates to choose from to create the project management process that is right for you. These templates are grouped by industry and are filled in with real-life examples of status, approval, timeline, and progress.
Trello’s task management is simple
You move task cards from one column to another as tasks are completed on your project board.
You can customize your board in the way that suits your particular project. For example, if you were editing a magazine you might have cards for each individual feature article and move the cards through the different stages of completion, from research, to outline, first draft, revisions, fact check, and layout.
Within each task card you can add due dates, write comments, attach files and photos, link to storage systems like Dropbox, and assign tasks to other team members.
There are really no other functions available in Trello, besides gathering information from your cards, such as tasks completed, to export into an Excel spreadsheet. But there may be a Power-Up you can add to fill some project needs.
Monday.com offers more
In contrast, Monday.com offers several useful ways to view your project, such as by timeline, calendar, Gantt chart, pie chart, and map, as well as by Kanban board. Clicking on the drop down menu transforms your project into these different views in an instant.
If you are concerned about meeting deadlines, choose the Timeline or Gantt views. To make sure your work schedule is manageable, take a look with the Calendar view. And if you are working with a team, use the Workload view to make sure the tasks are being evenly distributed. You can then customize your workflow further by adding columns with useful features.
Besides creating shared boards, you can also create private dashboards to keep track of your own progress. If you are working in a team, there is a shared team calendar and the ability to create custom boards to track project resources.
Which project management solution is right for you?
Because Trello is highly visual and intuitive, it’s easy to use, really requires no training, and works well by simply moving tasks to different stages. It's also extremely flexible. You can use it for your personal planning, as well as for your freelance or small business projects. But it does get difficult to use when a project expands and there are many tasks to consider.
Trello also doesn’t have as many features as Monday.com, but you can add Power-Ups like the Calendar Power-Up that helps you keep track of when tasks need to be completed.
Monday.com is also simple to use, but it offers more than Trello. The different views allow you to examine your project in many ways, and the boards you create can hold a lot of important details. It also offers more functionality, such as reporting and financial management. That means you don’t have to worry about as many add-ons or integrations as you do with Trello.
If you are working with a team, Monday.com also has some valuable features. You can see how much work has been assigned to your different team members in a handy bar chart so you can reassign tasks to make sure people aren’t overloaded.
If you are a freelancer or run a small business that has pretty straightforward processes, Trello might be the best option for you. It's also a good choice if this is your first time dipping your toes into project management.
Monday.com offers all that Trello does, with added functionality. So if you have more complex projects, or often work with a team, the more advanced offering of Monday.com might be right for you.