ActiveCollab Review

by ActiveCollab LLClast updated October 20th, 2020
4.2/5
starting from$7 per month
Layer 1
Offers free trial

RESULTS Score

4.2/5
Lydia Pang

reviewed by

Lydia Pang

Pros

Multiple task views
Offers a free online payment system for clients to pay invoices
Good customer support
In-built time-tracking and invoicing tools
Easy to use interface and open API
Works well for team collaboration

Cons

Only suitable for small to medium teams
Less than 20 third-party integrations
No pre-built templates

Overview

ActiveCollab is an all-in-one project management software focused on teamwork and helping companies track time and project expenses. It has just the right amount of project management tools to plan and organize tasks, facilitate effective communication between team members, and track project milestones. Some of ActiveCollab’s features include multiple task views, discussions, invoicing, payment gateways for external clients, and an open API. ActiveCollab is used in fields like marketing and advertising, information technology, product management, and more. 

ActiveCollab is a modern and refreshing take on project management software. Its pricing system is fair, coming in at $7 per user, per month. ActiveCollab does not have an enterprise option, so larger businesses might have to consider other alternatives. Like many project management tools, ActiveCollab offers integrations to supplement missing features, however, ActiveCollab has fewer than 20 third-party integrations. 

In this ActiveCollab review, we will explore project management features, pricing, ease of use, customer support, add ons, and more.

ActiveCollab Review Screenshot

What is ActiveCollab?

ActiveCollab is a project management tool great for managing projects and helping teams complete work on time. It is the brainchild of founders Goran Radulovic and Ilija Studen, first beginning as an open-source project before evolving into a successful commercial product. While ActiveCollab’s head office is in Norfolk, Virginia, the company also has an additional office in Novi Sad, Serbia. 

For over a decade they have helped companies manage their businesses by offering a great project management tool. Some companies that use ActiveCollab include Honda, IKEA, Microsoft, and NASA.

Facts and Figures

Employees30+
Founded2007
FounderGoran Radulovic, Ilija Studen
HeadquartersNorfolk, Virginia
CEOIlija Studen

ActiveCollab Project Management Features

ActiveCollab delivers a powerful project management experience by allowing teams to plan and organize projects, collaborate with each other, and keep track of resources. ActiveCollab boasts features such as Kanban and Gantt charts, ensuring that teams can toggle between different project views. Teams also have the ability to comment on tasks, add files and attachments, create invoices, and give external partners access to project materials via client roles. Agile teams can also use ActiveCollab to manage IT projects via the Kanban feature, though tools like issue-tracking and Agile reporting are lacking. 

Project Planning

ActiveCollab’s project planning toolkit boosts team efficiency through features such as Kanban boards and Gantt Charts. Team members can create tasks, subtasks, and add task details. Tasks can be easily moved around and reordered using drag and drop. Project managers can also set start and due dates to a task and give it a priority label, ensuring that all work is completed on time.

How do other options score for project planning?

Gantt Charts

The Gantt chart allows teams to gain a condensed view of a project’s timeline and progress. Gantt charts in ActiveCollab are also known as the Timeline view and displays progress bars based on a task’s start and end date. ActiveCollab has also added task dependencies with automatic rescheduling, ensuring that teams can plan their projects more efficiently and visualize the steps required to complete the project. Project managers can also set project milestones. 

ActiveCollab Gantt Charts Screenshot

Kanban

The Kanban view is perfect for teams who want to visualize key components of their work processes in one location. ActiveCollab’s Kanban system, also known as the Column View, organizes projects by cards, where each card represents a task. Cards can be dragged and dropped across different columns according to its status. 

Clicking on a card opens up task details, where project managers can add assignees, task descriptions, task labels, and file attachments.

Task Management

ActiveCollab’s task management features are easy to use and allow users to manage all kinds of projects, such as building a website and shooting a video tutorial. A team can create an unlimited number of projects and choose a pre-built project template from ActiveCollab’s template gallery.

In addition to adding task dependencies, a team can also create recurring tasks, duplicate tasks, track time and expenses related to a task. Project managers can easily filter tasks by labels and edit multiple tasks at once in the batch edit mode. Task dependencies can also be exported as a PDF or PNG file. 

ActiveCollab Editorial Calendar Task View Screenshot

Communication & Collaboration

ActiveCollab improves collaboration between team members with an activity feed, comments, and discussions. Due to its note-taking feature, teams can also use ActiveCollab for content management. Team members can leave comments under tasks and attach files to notes. Collaborating with external partners is also possible via the Client role feature as project managers can give clients access to project documents. 

How do other options score for communication & collaboration?

File Sharing

ActiveCollab allows team members to upload files via drag and drop, directly to the Files section or under tasks, discussions, notes, and comments. All uploaded files display a thumb view and can be previewed without downloading. The maximum file size per upload is 2GB and ActiveCollab does not impose a file storage limit. 

ActiveCollab can be used as a collaboration software tool to some degree, as teams can invite external vendors and clients to their ActiveCollab workspace. Collaboration partners are added by including their individual email addresses and assigning them a client role. Once assigned a client role, external collaborators can view tasks not hidden to them, create and edit discussions and notes, as well as view time entries and expenses. A user with a client role will not be able to open and complete tasks, reorder or edit tasks, and log time entries and expenses.

On the downside, ActiveCollab does not have client proofing features. If this is an essential requirement, teams will need to find a workaround.

Discussion

Leaving comments is a fast and efficient way of collaborating with team members. Comments can be posted on tasks, discussions, or notes, forming a thread for the entire conversation history. Attaching a file to a comment is also possible. All subscribers to the conversation thread will be notified when a new comment has been posted. 

The team can also view comment activity in the Activity Feed, which is a centralized hub where all the activity related to a project is stored.

Note-Taking

As far as project management tools go, ActiveCollab is also suitable for IT project management with its various methods of displaying project information. All tasks can be viewed in List, Kanban, and Gantt chart view, which is particularly helpful for teams who are looking for flexibility in their project management. ActiveCollab’s Kanban board is particularly helpful for Agile teams as the Kanban board can be customized into a Scrum board. The Scrum board can be split into several task columns such as “Backlog”, “To-Do”, “In Progress”, and “Done”. The Scrum board can also be used for user stories, sprints, issues, and more. 

Project managers can also add priority statuses using the task label feature and assign multiple members to a task.

Resource Allocation & Planning

With ActiveCollab’s time and expense-tracking features, project managers can better manage time resources and measure expenses related to a project. Users can log time spent on tasks whereas project managers can set up automatic payment reminders and create recurring invoices. Project managers also have the option of generating tasks reports, advanced time reports, and workload reports. 

How do other options score for resource allocation & planning?

Time-Tracking

While many project management tools require integration with third-party time-tracking software, ActiveCollab’s native time-tracking tool helps teams save time and gain even more insight into their projects. These tools include Stopwatch and Timesheet, allowing project managers to automatically generate detailed time reports and profitability analyses. The Stopwatch function measures precisely how much time a user is spending on tasks and the timesheets provide a detailed record of where that time was spent. 

Thanks to the native integration of time-tracking with ActiveCollab’s project management features, project managers have access to even more granular features. This includes the ability to define different job types and add in hourly rates, choose which time records are billable, and detail what tasks were performed during a time entry.

Teams on the ActiveCollab Get Paid bundle unlock further features such as expense-tracking and invoicing. With this add-on, ActiveCollab allows users to set internal hourly rates to ensure that all project costs are recorded in detail. The application will also automatically calculate the total amount to be paid out to an employee once the information has been entered.

The invoicing feature also allows project managers to schedule repeating invoices and set up overdue payment payments that are automatically sent out to clients. ActiveCollab also supports online payments so clients can pay invoices onlines. Payment methods accepted include PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, and Authorize.Net.

Agile Project Management

Though not typically used as an Agile project management tool, ActiveCollab enables Agile teams to move freely within workflows. ActiveCollab has some features such as Kanban boards and Gantt charts that facilitate software development, but overall is still lacking technical tools required for Agile project management such as issue-tracking and Agile reporting. 

How do other options score for agile project management?

As far as project management tools go, ActiveCollab is also suitable for IT project management with its various methods of displaying project information. All tasks can be viewed in List, Kanban, and Gantt chart view, which is particularly helpful for teams who are looking for flexibility in their project management. ActiveCollab’s Kanban board is particularly helpful for Agile teams as the Kanban board can be customized into a Scrum board. The Scrum board can be split into several task columns such as “Backlog”, “To-Do”, “In Progress”, and “Done”. The Scrum board can also be used for user stories, sprints, issues, and more. 

Project managers can also add priority statuses using the task label feature and assign multiple members to a task.

ActiveCollab Pricing

Layer 1
Offers free trial

ActiveCollab offers cloud-hosting and self-hosting options. Teams on cloud hosting can subscribe to ActiveCollab’s only paid plan that charges $7 per user, per month. The paid plan includes unlimited projects, time records, task dependencies, and recurring tasks. Teams on the paid plan also enjoy features like advanced reports, email integration, and client management. Teams who choose to host ActiveCollab on their own servers will have to contact the sales team for custom pricing. 

ActiveCollab also offers a 14-day free trial and an additional Get Paid bundle that unlocks advanced features such as workload management, time estimates, invoicing, online payments, and profitability analyses. The Get Paid bundle costs an additional $4 per user, per month. 

Teams from nonprofit organizations or educational institutions can receive a 50% discount while using ActiveCollab.

ActiveCollab Project Management

from $7 per user, per month

Unlimited projects
Unlimited tasks
Unlimited time records
Task dependencies
Recurring tasks
Desktop and mobile apps
Email integration
Client management
Budget vs cost tracking
Advanced reports

Get Paid Bundle

from $11 per user, per month

Workload management
Availability
Time estimates
Timesheets
Invoicing
Profitability
Online payments
Quickbooks and Xero integration

ActiveCollab Security

ActiveCollab deals with sensitive client data using industry-grade security measures. ActiveCollab is cloud-hosted and the system is tailored to keep customer data sets separate. Every cloud instance has a unique database and its own place in the file system. Data stored from one company can only be accessed by authorized personnel from that company. All connections to a cloud account are SSL secured. 

ActiveCollab adheres to all HTTPS security protocols and uses AES-256 encryption to handle data transmission. It is also GDPR compliant. The server systems themselves are stored in facilities with 24/7 surveillance, and access to them is strictly monitored. On-site and off-site backups are done regularly over the day. ActiveCollab also tests for vulnerabilities in their security systems and updates them when necessary. 

A unique selling point of ActiveCollab is its self-hosting option. Rather than store data in a cloud database, ActiveCollab allows companies to purchase a one-time license fee and receive access to the application’s source code. ActiveCollab can then be hosted on a private server, giving the company full control of the system. This ensures that companies are always in control of their own data and security practices.

ActiveCollab Integrations

ActiveCollab offers third-party integrations that expand its native functions. These applications range from file sharing to collaboration to time tracking. ActiveCollab’s list of integrations is limited compared to some alternatives, but they include:

  • Basecamp
  • Wrike
  • Google Drive
  • Slack
  • Zapier
  • Quickbooks

Interface

Overall, ActiveCollab is an intuitive project management tool with a modern, sleek, and easy to use interface. It features a light grey dashboard with violet as an accent color, keeping the interface simple and pleasant to the eye. The sidebar on the left navigates to different parts of a project such as Activity, Calendar, and People. The main screen displays the bulk of the project’s activity and can be toggled to enable different views. 

Mobile Apps

In addition to the desktop app, ActiveCollab allows users to work on the go with their fully-featured mobile apps, available on iOS and Android devices. With the ActiveCollab app, team members can start a new project, edit tasks, and leave comments. Users can also turn on push notifications and be alerted to new updates. All of ActiveCollab’s features available on the desktop app are also available in the mobile apps. 

ActiveCollab Support

ActiveCollab provides a variety of support options for customers, including a self-serve knowledge base and direct support: 

  • Knowledge base: ActiveCollab offers written articles and video tutorials that help users grasp the basics of ActiveCollab. Users can also use the search function to find answers to their questions. 

  • Live chat: ActiveCollab operates a live chat that can be accessed at the bottom right of their website. The live chat is supported by ActiveCollab’s customer care specialists and can be contacted during business hours. 

  • Email support: Users can contact ActiveCollab via email every work day from 8AM to 2AM CET.

  • Phone support: ActiveCollab’s customer support team is also contactable by phone during work hours.

ActiveCollab Alternatives

ActiveCollab is a well-designed project management tool that features plenty advanced tools such as invoicing and time-tracking. However, it may not be suitable for enterprise-size companies as ActiveCollab charges by the user and does not have additional benefits for larger organizations. For enterprise organizations, here are some alternatives to ActiveCollab:

Verdict

ActiveCollab is a great project management software option for small to mid-sized companies looking for a powerful, yet inexpensive tool. It provides a range of comprehensive project management features such as task management, project budgeting, and time-tracking, all at an affordable price. With its List, Kanban, and Timeline views, teams can switch between different visualization methods to gain broader perspectives on their projects. 

On the other hand, ActiveCollab does not come with pre-built templates and supports less than 20 add-ons. Companies looking to integrate their project management software with other tools may find ActiveCollab lacking, especially when compared to other options like Basecamp or monday.com.

FAQ

ActiveCollab offers a 14-day free trial but does not offer a free version. The trial does not require a credit card to sign up, with users only being prompted once the trial expires. 
ActiveCollab is easy to use and starts at $7 per user, per month. For the level of features it provides, ActiveCollab is inexpensive and offers great value for money. The Get Paid Bundle costs an additional $4 per user, per month. 
Yes, ActiveCollab offers a self-hosting option. Instead of using ActiveCollab’s cloud database, a company can choose to pay a one-time licensing fee and obtain the ActiveCollab source code. It can then be hosted on a private server but the security, maintenance and hosting fees are borne by the company.