If you own or manage a small business, you want project management software that doesn’t punish you for wanting all of the features you need. ActiveCollab keeps your monthly bill low, even if you’re a small team that wants advanced tools like built-in time tracking, client management, and task dependencies. Let’s dive into how well their top features perform and where ActiveCollab could stand to improve.
ActiveCollab Compared to the Best Project Management Software
We’ve written a lot about project management here on Crazy Egg, including our full post reviewing the top options for project management software. From that article, we’ve pulled our three favorites—our Golden Eggs—which are solid, versatile alternatives to ActiveCollab and other PM platforms.
ClickUp lets you set goals, chat with your team internally, plan like an expert, and much more for less money than you might think. You can even start using ClickUp today on its free-forever plan.
ActiveCollab: The Good and the Bad
Buying software is hard, which is why we use this post to break down the key virtues and flaws of ActiveCollab as a project management solution. Our goal is that, by the end of this post, you’ll have all the facts and details you need so your purchasing decision is simple and stress-free.
What ActiveCollab Is Good At
ActiveCollab delivers 20 standard features on every plan, so there is no shortage of benefits to be gleaned from this software. Below, we break down the best features you’ll get from the software and what current users feel are the core elements that stand out.
Simplified management: If you manage daily scrum meetings or sprints, ActiveCollab does an excellent job helping you organize and manage events, tasks, and other project items all at once. With list, column, Gantt, and calendar views, you can visualize all these elements in whichever way you like best. You can easily use any PM methodology.
Plus, you can duplicate entire task lists, complete all open tasks with one click (instead of one by one), and even copy tasks to a completely different project, all of which help you template common endeavors and streamline project setup and completion at scale.
Built-in time tracking: Users love that you don’t have to secure different software to calculate billable time for projects and track time spent. ActiveCollab’s stopwatch feature lets you track time with ease—accurately. Individual tasks and entire projects are monitored, then neatly summarized in easy-to-read reports.
Once ActiveCollab has a feel for how much time your team members spend on projects and tasks, you can compare the estimated time to completion versus actual time spent. Even better, time management through ActiveCollab also folds in payroll calculation for all your team members with billable hours. You can easily bill by the hour and let ActiveCollab do the math. Calculate time as a team or individually through personal timesheets.
Profitability forecasting: Knowing how much a project will impact your bottom line is one of the differentiators between decent and great project management. ActiveCollab has features that help you predict the outcome and profitability of your projects and prove the worth of new opportunities to executives, clients, or other stakeholders.
This picks up where the previous feature left off. With the ability to forecast billable hours spent on the tasks that make up a project, ActiveCollab combines that information with project expenses to develop an initial profitability analysis. Better still, it keeps updating that analysis in real-time, so you’re alerted if delays or new tasks are eating too much into your profit margin.
Client work: All ActiveCollab plans allow you to invite an unlimited number of clients to your interface, allowing you to bring them behind the curtain at key points in your process. Plus, their guest accounts can receive notifications from within the platform, so you can communicate with clients clearly while eliminating unwieldy email chains and confusion regarding project details.
Beyond just giving and receiving quicker, clearer feedback from clients, the integrated time tracking and profit forecasting you get from ActiveCollab also lets clients into your visibility on project health and expectations, if you so choose. Furthermore, by adding the Get Paid features to your ActiveCollab plan (more details on that in a bit), you can even bill clients and get payments from them from right within this platform.
Team collaboration: ActiveCollab offers several features to keep your team working together like a dream. Real-time notifications happen when tasks get completed so the next person in the chain is notified that it’s time to start. Meanwhile, comments and discussions can happen within tasks allowing team members to upload attachments like drafts, mockups, and proofs.
That’s not all, though, as ActiveCollab also has built-in team chat that can happen independently of tasks and projects. Create custom groups of team members so those involved with specifics can brainstorm and solve problems amongst themselves. Then, turn a simple brainstorming session into a real actionable task with the click of a button.
Payment gateway integration: All project management software will have some ability to integrate with other key platforms you’re likely to use during project work. But ActiveCollab continues its excellence regarding client work with its unique ability to sync with payment processors like PayPal and Stripe. This way, you can accept easy client payments for invoices you create within the ActiveCollab software.
What ActiveCollab Is Lacking
ActiveCollab is great at delivering a wide array of useful features on any plan, but we’ve noticed a few drawbacks during our research. Assess the following flaws and see if they present too much of an obstacle to justify committing to ActiveCollab as your PM software of choice.
Mobile access: ActiveCollab offers a mobile app version of its software platform, but it is slow and doesn’t perform up to the level that many users expect. There is often lag when switching between screens, causing some users to just abandon even trying to use it. By most accounts, the desktop app is much more user-friendly and reliable.
Need for duplicate tasks: A major limitation we found is the inability to assign more than one team member to a task. That’s just unrealistic when it comes to modern project work. In ActiveCollab, if you have more than one team member that needs to be attached to a task, you’re stuck making multiple copies of that task for each person who needs to work on it.
Having this limitation with ActiveCollab causes extra busy work for project managers and can lead to confusion and reduced visibility because of these redundant project items. That disproportionately affects certain project views, like Gantt charts and calendars, which become more cluttered the more duplicate tasks you need to make.
Search: Another aspect where ActiveCollab breaks down at scale is the search function in the software has a tendency to be glitchy, requiring you to manually search for tasks, attachments, or other items. That can be ignored or suffered through for smaller endeavors, but when you’re juggling a whole portfolio of projects or just one with upwards of 50 individual tasks, all with their own requirements and team discussions, this can be a huge nuisance or just flat-out untenable.
ActiveCollab Options and Pricing
ActiveCollab offers streamlined pricing that doesn’t lock a bunch of features away on high-cost plans. And the overall price point for any option is quite easy to swallow.
There are three primary forms of pricing for this software. It starts with the Pro plan, priced at $8 per user per month when paying annually, and $9 per user with month-to-month billing.
The Pro package delivers every software feature for project planning, task management, collaboration, and time tracking. You get everything ActiveCollab has to offer, short of the features included in the Get Paid add-on (which we’ll cover momentarily).
That’s a pretty solid price point for unlimited users, client accounts, and projects, plus 100 GB of shared storage.
There are two other pricing tiers for smaller teams. ActiveCollab Plus is meant for teams of three or fewer members and also delivers the vast majority of features that the software offers. All that’s missing are integrations, expense tracking, and advanced reporting features. You’re also limited to 10 GB of storage.
Plus will actually cost you a bit more than the Pro plan, as it starts at $9.50 per user per month when you commit to a year upfront. That price goes up to $11 per user if you opt for monthly billing instead.
There’s also a free version of the ActiveCollab platform. It’s a limited version of the software, with only 1 GB of storage and no project views outside of lists and Kanban boards. But you still can have up to three team members using it together, plus you also have access to project time tracking, the Stopwatch feature, personal timesheets, start and due dates, task dependencies, and more.
ActiveCollab Get Paid
For teams that want to lean hard on ActiveCollab’s ability to simplify and support client work, it’s worth considering adding the Get Paid package onto the Pro plan. In one bundle that costs just $11.75 per user per month on annual billing ($14 per user for monthly billing), you get everything this software can do, plus tools for invoicing, billing clients, and accepting payments.
This is a really unique and helpful package, as it also unlocks integration with QuickBooks, the profitability reporting features we mentioned earlier in this post, and a wide range of budgeting and workload planning tools. Get better at both people and client management alongside your project management when you opt for ActiveCollab’s Pro+Get Paid bundle.
ActiveCollab in Summary
Project management isn’t exciting, usually. But the features and benefits offered by ActiveCollab are as understandably mesmerizing to some agencies as the lights on the Vegas Strip. The benefits are abundant with this software, but be mindful of its limitations and the intricacies of its pricing structure.
With that in mind, ActiveCollab might not be the best option for you and we understand that. Keep your options open if this software’s shortcomings are too much to bear, and consider our favored picks for a wide variety of users and use cases. Monday.com and ClickUp are reasonably priced, powerful, and popular options well-suited for many teams, while Smartsheet delivers serious power even on its cheapest plan.
And, if you want to do more research on your own, dive into the wide array of project management posts we have written here on Crazy Egg. We suggest you start with our top list of the best project management software options and keep going until you are armed with the information you need to make a confident, correct decision for your organization.