illustrated concept of a team working through a project.
Image: Visual Generation/Adobe Stock

Project management software has increasingly become an integral part of a successful organization, especially as organizations began supplementing in-person work with remote working environments. Project management systems help keep all the employees in sync on tasks in a software development environment, and helps to ensure that project deadlines are met and the end customer expectations can be achieved more efficiently.

In this article, we’ll talk about PM ticket systems, what features you should be looking for in a system, and talk through the top systems and their feature comparisons. By the end, you’ll have an idea of which you should choose for your organization.

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What is a PM ticketing system?

A ticketing system is a project management system that allows project managers to break tasks down into sprints, clearly delineate tasks for software engineering (or other business divisions), and track the progress of a project, deadlines, and what work is outstanding to help manage client expectations, needs, and features and bug fixes.

Some basics of a good project management ticketing system include:

  • Team collaboration
  • Ability to track sprints or other planning and scheduling features
  • Reporting for individual teams and broader scopes
  • Time tracking
  • Project and resource budgeting
  • Agile features
  • Third party integrations that can map ticket progress with other reporting systems, code or content management systems

At its core, the goal of a project management and ticketing system is to break apart projects into smaller coherent tasks, assign them to individual team members for completion, then track that task as it relates to a larger project (often called a sprint, feature, or plan). Most systems can track the time spent by an individual on a task, plus the total time by a team for the larger feature, allowing budgeting and time tracking aspects to the software as well.

SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

What are the benefits of using a ticketing system?

Ticketing systems allow project managers to have more oversight as to assigned tasks, when tasks are nearing completion or overdue, and can better help organizations manage client expectations, whether that’s internally or externally. These systems also keep project managers and users tracking along with their tasks and not veering off to tackle things that aren’t important to the current project at hand.

When a ticketing system is used, you can more accurately capture customer expectations, features, and bug reports. Then the team can relay that information to the appropriate departments in your organization to work on those items without losing context or information needed to diagnose issues the customer is facing.

Some ticketing systems feature a full communication system capable of capturing files, hosting documentation, and even chat or message board features where folks across the organization can collaborate on issues around a particular ticket if it requires action from multiple divisions to accomplish a task.

Using a ticket system that meshes with your organization can ensure that work is completed in a timely manner and help manage client expectations, consolidate information to a centralized place, and ensure that budgets are hit more effectively.

Basecamp

main project page within basecamp project management.
The Basecamp dashboard that shows all of your projects easily at a glance. Image via Basecamp.

Basecamp is an online tool that aims to keep all of your important project documentation, tasks, work schedules, and communication all in one place where it can be cross-linked, searched and organized for your team to consume as needed.

Projects can be created to house tasks and documentation, and tasks can be broken down into neatly organized lists and assigned out individually along with notes and communication around particular items. Notes are helpful for keeping track of where along the timeline the task currently resides. Basecamp doesn’t provide the ability to reference ticket numbers or have reporting for management, but it does offer integrations that can connect with some compatible third party tools. Basecamp features mobile applications as well as browser access.

Unfortunately, Basecamp and its interface isn’t very customizable. If your organization requires more communication tools, task management, or integration with third party tools than Basecamp’s main offering, it may not be the tool you want. However, if your organization doesn’t have any of these tools already, Basecamp can supply the basics of all of them in one easy to use tool that anyone across your organization can use, manage, and consume content from.
Basecamp offers a single business plan that runs $99 USD/mo for unlimited clients, projects, users, and 500GB of storage space.

Which business users will get the most from Basecamp?

Basecamp is more suited for roles that involve both technical and non-technical departments in an organization. It can be used across a wide variety of users to keep projects, goals, tasks, notes, and more organized and readily available. Designers often flock to Basecamp for its notoriously easy to use interface, and most users can comfortably navigate it with ease.

JIRA

customized flows on a jira kanban board.
JIRA showing the Kanban board view with customizable flows. Image via Atlassian.

JIRA is one of the standard project management platforms used across the software engineering industry. It has been around for a little over 20 years, and has been built with the software industry in mind, even though it can be used for more than that.

JIRA hits all of the boxes when it comes to the basics of good ticketing systems, including out of the box Agile support, support for reports for management, time management and tracking, team collaboration, and an extensive library of third party integrations for added functionality. There’s even an API to allow custom integrations for your organization.

One of the mainstays of JIRA is collaboration, through the use of ticket numbers, descriptions, comments, and more, collaboration can be easily achieved both in person and in remote environments. JIRA can also store files and time estimates inside of tickets. JIRA can maintain a backlog of tickets that future sprints can pull from to create a new sprint, which is a powerful feature that some PM software doesn’t offer.

This platform also lets you easily remap your data into different views, whether you’re used to a Kanban view, or want a scrum board or Gantt chart.

JIRA’s power for software engineering teams shines when you integrate it with other Atlassian products, like Confluence for being able to document software and services that your organization maintains, or automatically close tickets when pull requests are merged in GitHub or BitBucket. JIRA can also be turned into a full-blown DevOps platform that can share information between developers and those in operations to collaborate and communicate on features, changes, and bugs that occur in production environments.

JIRA’s technical usefulness is its advantage, but also its downfall. It’s less approachable for other business units in your organization that don’t have the same technical skills. Graphic designers, accounting teams, and business development teams might find the user interface grating, confusing, and want to use it less than other tools that are more approachable. JIRA features mobile applications as well as browser access.

Pricing for JIRA starts at $7.50 USD/user/month for up to 20,000 users in a single site installation.

Which business users will get the most from JIRA?

JIRA is a tool that is best suited for organizations that deal with technical information, such as the software engineering industry. It has out of the box support for many of the business tools these users rely on and integrations for GitHub, CI/CD platforms, and more. If your team relies on third party integrations and services, or wants to integrate with custom business applications, then JIRA allows for this too.

SEE: Top keyboard shortcuts you need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Asana

Work management system from Asana.
Asana features the ability to integrate with many chart types. Image via Asana.

Asana is a popular project management system for all types of businesses, and allows for task management, collaboration, documentation management, and workflow management all in a single platform that’s easy to use and maintain, and is approachable from every business unit regardless of their technical skills and abilities.

With Asana, like JIRA, you can choose how to visualize data within the system: Switch between Kanban boards, Gantt charts, lists, calendars, and more. Asana offers a backlog feature similar to JIRA that can store tickets that aren’t ready to be worked on, but ensures they won’t get lost and can be pulled into a future project. Asana doesn’t strictly conform to Agile principles like JIRA does, but does offer the ability to use it in an agile manner.

One of the biggest advantages of Asana over other project management platforms is the workflow builder, which lets you customize exactly the flow tickets take, even allowing you to build a public-facing form for intake of information for ticketing. Tickets can be further organized and acted on through automations, and the system even integrates with third party tools to act on tickets ingested through an automated flow. This power can be added to other platforms, but often relies on additional tools, costs, and overhead of maintaining these connections to perform the same work that can be achieved with Asana’s workflow builder. Asana also offers a wide variety of integrations available with third party services and platforms. Asana features mobile applications as well as browser access.

Asana offers a lower priced premium plan starting at $10.99/user/month and adds tools like timeline views, workflow builder for automations, reporting across projects, advanced search, custom fields, unlimited guests, forms, rules, start dates and time, and an admin console for user management. This tier also allows for private teams and projects. Asana’s business tier starts at $24.99/user/month and adds all platform features, along with portfolios, goals, workloads, custom rules builder, approvals, locking custom fields and integrations with premium products like Salesforce, Adobe Creative Cloud, Tableau and Power BI.

Which business users will get the most from Asana?

Asana can integrate across many types of organizations, business units, and types of workers, and can be approachable and maintainable by both technical and non-technical employees. Asana’s power shines when it comes to building out workflows, externally available intake forms, and the powerful automation tools the platform provides.

monday.com Work OS

monday.com dashboard showing a print marketing campaign.
monday.com dashboard view showing customizations. Image via monday.com

monday.com Work OS is a newer platform that can centralize all of your plans for project management, including budgeting, calendaring, task breakdown, and simple communication around tasks and projects. monday.com’s biggest feature is the ability to see all projects at once, track status and make better decisions based on accurate data available at a glance more efficiently.

Tasks in monday.com Work OS are called “Pulses” that operate almost identically to other platforms, except they can be represented by different types of views depending on how the organizer wants to organize them. Choose between tables, Gantt, Kanban, or other visual types. You can create customized project dashboards using “widgets” that will give project management teams a high level overview of where projects sit, a powerful tool that monday.com provides. monday.com also provides mobile apps in addition to the web interface.

Another big feature of monday.com Work OS that other platforms don’t have is the ability to track the full workload of your employees, letting you to see at a glance how many tasks they’re currently working on, and allowing for better management for resources, expectations, and helping to avoid burnout.

monday.com offers integrations with popular third party platforms, such as source control platforms, CI/CD platforms, and file storage platforms.

monday.com Work OS is missing many technical flows for engineering that other project management systems provide, such as strict Agile workflows, but can allow for a custom flow. For technical users, monday.com may be perfect because it allows so much customization and technical information to be viewed; however, it may be difficult for non-technical users to set up some of the features of monday.com and maintain them without some training.

monday.com Work OS pricing starts at $8/seat/month with unlimited free viewers, unlimited items, 5GB of file storage, and the ability to create a dashboard based on a single board.

Which business users will get the most from monday.com?

monday.com Work OS offers a high level of customization that most other tools don’t provide: You can create your own dashboard views to view and intake the data exactly the way your team wishes to. This is one of the most powerful features of monday.com. If you need that fully customizable experience, then monday.com can readily provide that and more.

Feature comparison

Feature Basecamp JIRA Asana monday.com Work OS
Customizable workflows 🚫
Free guest viewers 🚫
Reporting features 🚫
Built-in automation 🚫
External intake forms 🚫
Built-in Agile 🚫 🚫 🚫
Storage 500 GB 250 GB / unlimited tiers Unlimited (100 MG file limit) 5 GB
Pricing $99/month Starts at $7.50/user/month Starts at $10.99/user/month Starts at $8/user/month

Which ticketing system should you choose?

For businesses that are focused solely on providing software services or technical services, we still recommend JIRA as our top pick because JIRA allows for integration across the entire business, documentation abilities through its existing products, and rich integration with GitHub and BitBucket.
For businesses that need the entire organization accessing the project management system, or for organizations that don’t solely operate software services, Asana can provide the mainstays of traditional project management systems, but will also add flexibility and automation for intake of tickets through externally available forms. Asana is our top pick for organizations looking to get a great project management system that can grow with their business needs as they add employees or business units and want to maintain an easy to use system.

For organizations that are looking for something different, perhaps providing a more limited set of project management features in exchange for more user friendly interfaces, then we’d recommend Basecamp if you need message board tools accompanying it, or monday.com if you’ve already got your own communication set up.