If you’ve clicked on this article, then you must have one problem: you’re absolutely done with SuiteDash.
And it’s understandable! We’re sure there are more people who find SuiteDash outdated, overwhelming, and unintuitive. It might be a good solution for enterprises, but if you’re a freelancer or a small to medium business owner, we assure you: there are better project and process management tools built just for you.
Don’t make yourself suffer for no reason. You deserve better.
Before Jumping Head First…
There are no universal tools that are good for everyone. Some try to be a panacea by including every single feature the owners think of, but that’s not the wisest direction to take. After all, if you serve everyone, you serve no one.
That’s why some project management tools might have more robust time–tracking and others might be heavily focused on automation, for example. But don’t be swayed by what seems cool! Instead, analyze your business processes and really do think about what’s needed to make them seamless.
By thinking of the most necessary features first, you’ll make the decision way easier for yourself. Also, you’ll ensure that it’s the right one.
HoneyBook: Best Project Management Tool
HoneyBook is a widely popular project management software among creative professionals, such as designers, photographers, wedding planners, and so on. And no wonder — HoneyBook spoils them with ready–made templates and proposals that cater to their craft.
HoneyBook is based in the US and it was founded in 2013 by Dror Shimoni, Naama Alon, Oz Alon, and Shadiah Sigala. In 2022, it made a $35.1M revenue thanks to 55k users, and it also has a significant funding of $498M.
The Killer Feature: Project Pipeline
What makes HoneyBook so special? Its magnificent pipeline.
The pipeline is your business workflow that starts with an inquiry and ends upon project completion. If the default one, presented on the image above, doesn’t satisfy your needs, you can customize it to your heart’s content in order to reflect your business processes.
Each project is assigned to a specific stage and follows the pipeline. Of course, any changes can be done manually, if you want to skip a stage or add a project in the middle of the workflow.
Why is this such a great thing? It gives you an overview of your business at a glance. You can clearly see what’s currently happening, track progress of all your projects, see which ones are stuck and which should be prioritized. This makes your day–to–day planning easier and gives you the broad picture to work with. For us, HoneyBook deserves the title of the most comprehensive project management tools for freelancers and small business owners.
The Catch: US and Canada–centric
HoneyBook doesn’t offer any payment integration. Instead, it serves as a payment processor on its own that comes with a similar fee to Stripe or PayPal. Sadly, because of that, HoneyBook is only available to the US and Canada so far.
Best Suited for: Freelancers & SMB
As mentioned above, this tool is suitable for freelancers and small to medium business owners. Unfortunately, HoneyBook lacks features meant for teams, but it does support collaboration with contractors. Also, if you want to keep your clients up–to–date, you can invite them to the client portal, where every data pertaining to the project — such as invoices, emails, or images — are stored.
HoneyBook comes with a free trial that lasts for 7 days, no credit card required. It offers only one plan with access to all features, either paid monthly ($39) or yearly ($390). In our opinion, that’s the money wisely spent.
Dubsado: the Automation King
Dubsado is a robust business management software that’s also on a mission to help creative solo entrepreneurs and ease their burdens, allowing them to focus on what they love the most. It also comes with many ready–made resources, customization options, and white–label experience for your clients.
Dubsado was created in 2015 in the US by a married couple, Becca and Jacob Berg, who were freelancers themselves. Interestingly, they don’t have any funding — they want to stay as independent as possible — and their estimated revenue reaches $3.5M. As for the number of users that actively use Dubsado, it’s said to be more than 25k.
The Killer Feature: Workflows
When it comes to automation, Dubsado is far superior to its competitors — at least on this scale (ERPs are another matter entirely) — and you can unlock all the new possibilities under the workflows feature.
In there, you can create a process that leads you from inquiry to project completion with as many automated steps as you need. You can choose actions (such as: send an email, contract, form, invoice, create a todo task, and so on) to be triggered by a specific date or another action. This can help you create a domino–like effect where you don’t have to worry about sending the right files at the right time or agonize about the response time, which is crucial in delivering excellent customer experience and retention.
If you want to save time on manual tasks as much as possible, Dubsado will be a good choice for you. But of course, there’s a catch.
The Catch: Steep Learning Curve
Dubsado is very hard to learn. Not because of the amount of features, which is just right — but because of their complexity. Of course, that level of advancement is surely a significant benefit due to what it allows us to do, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or even use this business management tool in the wrong way by limiting yourself to the basics.
Creators of Dubsado are well aware of that fact. And the problem will only grow since the new features just keep on coming. That’s why you can find on the official website Setup Services offered by Certified Professionals. They can teach you how to use Dubsado’s full potential, create your processes and branding.
Best Suited for: Freelancers & SMB
Dubsado was created with freelancers and small to medium businesses in mind. There are no features supporting team management or internal communication, but you can invite collaborators or your accountant into your workspace. So if you’re a lone wolf who occasionally needs some help, this is the platform for you.
Pricing: Unlimited Days in Free trial
Free trials with unlimited days are uncommon, and yet here we are. Instead of limiting the days you can spend on Dubsado, it limits the number of your clients (up to three), which is more helpful in finding out whether this platform is a good fit for you.
If you decide to give Dubsado a shot, there are two subscription plans: Starter ($20 per month or $200 per year) and Premier ($40 per month or $400 per year). The difference between the two mostly lies in the automation prowess, which the Premier plan has in abundance.
Zendo: Selling Services Through Chat
In contrast, Zendo is a client requests management software that’s heavily focused on teamwork and transparent, fluid communication. It helps small to medium–sized businesses sell their customized and productized services in a swift manner while staying in touch with clients at all times.
Zendo was released to the public in September 2021, so it’s one of the newest platforms on the market. On the upside, the creator of Zendo — Jakub Gaj — definitely had time to learn from the mistakes of its predecessors and to deliver the UX/UI design that reflects the newest trends.
While we cannot for that reason bring up any impressive numbers, we can certainly state that the first reviews and success stories seem promising. Zendo’s origin story is unusual, too, since it was developed based on the internal software that was already in use by Jakub’s company, Massive Pixel Creation. Overtime, it captured enough interest from their clients that the idea for a SaaS product was born.
The Killer Feature: In–Chat Payments, Quoting & Invoicing
The roaring success of such collaboration tools as Slack or Discord clearly showed that nothing beats the good old real–time chat, at least when it comes to communication. People reply faster and are more engaged. That’s why Zendo decided that a chat feature is just what everyone needs instead of a typical dashboard, that can be either over or underwhelming.
Each Request created by the client creates a new conversation thread in Zendo’s chat. But it’s not a typical chat — it comes with superb features that are real game–changers. Because of them, the chatbox can become your main center of operations and substitute all the current apps that you’re using.
In short, it allows you to send quotes, issue invoices, and finalize payments.
Additionally, you can:
- ask for client’s approval for quotes,
- reject and accept quotes (as clients),
- send payment requests,
- send and accept payments,
- change the Request’s Status.
With this powerful tool, you can negotiate and close a deal in one simple conversation. You can forget about emails or switching between different software. It gets even simpler once you automate parts of the process — you can set up triggers to specific events to make selling services even smoother.
And of course, you can use the chat for normal conversations with both your client and your team members. And if there’s anything confidential, or your teammates have any issues, they can communicate in the same chat via notes, which exist only for internal purposes only and are invisible to the client.
Best Suited for: SMBs
To unravel Zendo’s full potential, it’s best to use it among teams who want to:
- spend less time on paperwork and management,
- automate the sales & delivery process,
- improve customer experience,
- improve teamwork,
- uphold the values of transparency and trust,
- eliminate misunderstandings and lower the chance of mistakes,
- gain a professional look, especially with white label features,
- use just one app to run the business.
That’s why it’s more suitable for small to medium businesses than lone wolves, while big companies could use more features that are offered by ERPs.
The Catch: New On The Market
Because Zendo is fairly new on the market, it hasn’t been tested as thoroughly as other tools. It hasn’t yet made a name for itself and it’s difficult to predict how it’s going to work in the near future — will it stay as a simple software, or grow to be a huge feature creep? Nobody knows!
Pricing: Per User
Zendo offers three plans: Starter, Growth, and Enterprise. The Starter plan is entirely free with access to most features, but with a restriction on the number of users (up to 2 agents, including the workspace’s Owner). Meanwhile, the Growth plan is enriched with automation features but limited to 100 agents, and the Enterprise plan is a custom one with no limits whatsoever.
The Growth plan costs $19 per seat annually, paid monthly, and $23 per seat monthly, paid monthly. The Enterprise plan requires individual estimations.
Because of such pricing, Zendo comes across as very flexible yet affordable.
Bonsai: Awesome Task Management
Considering Bonsai’s main strengths, it could be called a task management software. But in truth, it has a little bit of everything — proposals, contracts, accounting, a rich, yet US–centric taxes feature, and many others. In our opinion, Bonsai doesn’t know what it wants to be; it’s an amalgamation of many basic features. But it does have one feature that makes it special — time tracking.
Before we get into that though, let’s summarize the Bonsai’s origins.
It was developed in 2016 by Matthew Brown and Matt Nish who wanted to lessen the amount of admin tasks for freelancers, especially bookkeeping and taxes, which tend to surprise us all in the least opportune of times. Currently, its revenue is estimated at $1.8M with a secured funding of $120k.
The Killer Feature: Time–Tracking
Time–tracking software is a must for people working on an hourly–basis and most of the time, freelancers have to use an additional tool to measure that. Thankfully, Bonsai comes with very robust time–tracking that has no competition. Let us explain why.
First of all, the time–tracker can be found in the top right corner on every page and subpage in Bonsai. Moreover, the time tracked shows on the tab in your browser, never letting you forget that your timer is on (who’s guilty of scrolling social media while the time goes on?). But that’s not all — you can also download a special Chrome extension and a mobile app as well, so that you can keep tracking the hours everywhere and anywhere. This solution is just too convenient.
Additionally, you can easily turn the billed hours into invoices, thanks to the rate you can set up in many different currencies, and send them to your clients at once or after a certain event which can trigger this action.
The Catch: Discouraging Trial
Bonsai is playing hard to get thanks to its convoluted trial terms.
First of all, you have to connect your credit card, which can be discouraging to many people. Secondly, you have to subscribe to the plan that interests you, which isn’t obvious at the start. So if you’re wondering why so many features are restricted in your trial, now you know why.
This strategy might feel a bit underhanded and leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. Such a shame, Bonsai team!
Best Suited For: Freelancers
Because of the superior time–tracking feature that turns your billed hours into invoices, it’s clear that this software is best for freelancers working on an hourly basis. Teams will find this tool rather lacking, although it is possible to collaborate with other people.
Pricing: Good enough
There are three plans to choose from: Starter ($24 per month or $204 per year), Professional ($39 per month or $384 per year), and Business ($79 per month or $645 per year). The Professional plan comes with more integrations, custom branding, and automation, while the Business plan offers features that are helpful in team and contractor management. In conclusion, Bonsai doesn’t stray off far from the market in terms of its pricing.
Notion: Document Everything!
Notion is a famous project and document management software. While it doesn’t offer the usual features concerning finances, it offers many great ways of bringing order into your files instead. You can create a vast knowledge base, keep your team up–to–date, and document all your processes.
It’s a particularly good choice for non–profit organizations or companies that deal with more files than they can handle and who value productivity that stems from well–thought out processes.
While this tool is completely different from all the others discussed previously, it does complement them rather nicely.
Notion was founded in 2013 by Ivan Zhao and Simon Last. Currently, it brings them $43.5M in revenue, $343.2M in funding, and 4M happy customers. Interestingly, their road to success wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. We applaud them for their perseverance!
The Killer Feature: Limitless Flexibility
Notion by design is rather simple in use and that’s where its biggest strength comes from. Because it doesn’t force you to play by specific rules or follow a framework, you can do whatever you want and how you want it.
Do you need a moodboard? Go ahead. A filterable database with different option views? You got it. A task board that lets you assign teammates, priority level, and deadline? A meeting calendar with a scheduler? A categorized goal chart?
Yes, yes, and yes.
So unless you have a mind palace the likes of Sherlock Holmes, this is the best solution currently available on the market.
The Catch: Admin Tasks Are Still Bothersome
Notion doesn’t offer any help when it comes to your finances, besides pure organization. There are no automated invoices, billing, tax reminders, or ready–made contracts with legally binding signatures. So if that’s what you’re after, consider other options.
Best Suited For: Everyone!
Honestly, everyone can use this tool and reap benefits.
If you’re a student, you can import all your notes and organize them properly for better access. If you’re a freelancer, you can document all your processes and a client database. If you’re a team manager in a company, you can use it for project and team management.
Truthfully, the possibilities are endless and dependant on your creativity. Don’t be afraid to look up various Notion communities and see what they’ve come up with, or you can even see how Notion itself uses Notion.
Pricing: More Than Affordable
Notion offers four different plans:
- Personal, which is entirely free,
- Personal Pro, paid either $5 per month or $48 annually, with unlimited file uploads and guests,
- Team, paid either $10 per month or $96 annually, with unlimited team members, a collaborative workspace and admin tools, among others,
- Enterprise, which comes with a custom contract, advanced security, dedicated success manager, and many other features.
All in all, we can agree that Notion is more than affordable and that everyone can find something suitable for their needs.
HubSpot: A Marketing Dream
HubSpot is a customer relationship management software that is beloved by marketers all across the globe. And no wonder — after all, it is catered specifically towards them. Everything they need can be found in this not–so little software that currently has more than 100,000 customers, reached $883M in revenue, and has funding of $100.5M.
HubSpot entered the scene in 2006 with the help of Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan. At first, they had an idea for a suite of applications to help manage law firms, but they’ve switched to a marketing tool in order to appeal to a much broader audience. Taking into consideration the numbers mentioned above, it was a good call.
The Killer Feature: Workflow’s Final Form
If you liked HoneyBook’s visual workflow automation, you’re going to love HubSpot’s.
Here, you can create truly complex workflows. You can plan a long yet dynamic journey for your users that’s suited to their behavior and triggered by their actions, all while analyzing the campaign’s performance.
Right at the start, you can either create your workflow from scratch or use ready–made templates. In the case of the former, there are many types that define the kind of triggers you can set. You can choose ticket–based, contact–based, conversion–based, quote–based, and many more.
In the workflow itself, you can define the enrollment triggers, from form submissions, ads interactions, to email subscriptions and page visits. Next, you can define all the other steps, be it in the form of external communication, creating if/then branches, todo tasks, managing lists, ads, and so on. Everything can be delegated to other people and whole teams as well, you can freely assign tasks left and right, and you can also delay events. And of course, you can indicate the hours when the workflow will take place (for example, you can limit it to your business hours or exclude the holidays).
The workflow becomes all the more powerful with the sheer number of apps you can integrate HubSpot with: such household names like Asana, Airtable, Jira, Google Sheets can easily become the necessary cog in your workflow machine.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. This feature offers even more value, and the more time you spend with it, the more you discover and appreciate.
The Catch: Reporting & Analytics
Unfortunately, HubSpot isn’t that great when it comes to working with data. If you’re used to Google Analytics or SalesForce, you might find HubSpot’s capabilities rather limiting – it’s just not flexible nor customizable enough.
Also, you might stumble upon some issues. Certain numbers might not add up, there are no segmented traffic reports, and of course – forget about any intuitiveness whatsoever.
Best Suited for: Marketing & Sales Team
HubSpot is definitely too big for freelancers and small businesses and just right for medium to big companies who have their own marketing and sales team. And who also have a huge budget — because when it comes to money, the price for this all–in–one tool is quite steep.
Pricing: Off the Charts
There are six different plans depending on what kind of team you have.
- Free, where you gain access to the most basic of tools,
- Customer Service,
Then, each plan (excluding the free one) has three pricing tiers available: Starter, Professional, and Enterprise. They all differ between the types, so let’s see what the Marketing plan has to offer — all the others are similar enough, when it comes to money.
- The Starter plan costs $540 yearly and has 1,000 contacts available,
- The Professional plan costs $9,600 yearly and has 2,000 contacts available,
- The Enterprise plan costs $38,400 yearly and has 10,000 contacts available.
A bit much? Oh yes, definitely. That’s why HubSpot should be recommended only to big businesses whose budget is big enough.
SuiteDash Alternative: the Conclusion
If you’re looking for a SuiteDash alternative, you don’t have to look far; there are many productivity and management tools, project financial management systems, client portals, and other variations of platforms that were created to make your life easier.
If you’re still unsure which software would be best for you, please refer to the graph below.
How To Choose The Right Software For Running An Agency?
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Are There Any Free Client Portal Software?
Despite what you may thinking, there actually are a few fully free client portal options out there. In this article, we’ve analyzed four best options in terms of the features offered, ease of use, and more. We’ve tested SuperOkay, Ahsuite, Aligned, and Zendo, to choose the best solution.
Why Would You Use A Free Client Portal Software?
Using a free client portal software not only resuscitates your budget, but also very much helps to improve client management, enhance client relationships, organize customer data, and more. With features that ease file sharing, communication, and task management, both sides of the business can stay up-to-date, avoiding any unnecessary back-and-forth.
Which Free Client Portal Software Is The Best?
After testing and analyzing four free client portals, we’ve concluded that the best options are Zendo and Aligned, because of the ease of use they offer, the modern designs we get, and the features we can operate for free. SuperOkay was way too limited, allowing us to add only 1 client, whereas Ahsuite turned out to be less intuitive and way less modern-looking than the competition.
Zendo or Aligned: Which Free Client Portal Is Better?
Out of the two winners we’ve selected, you may now be wondering which of these is better. The answer is that it depends. If you’re after file and app embeds for free, while don’t mind a limit of adding just 3 clients, then go for Aligned. And if you’re after unlimited clients & client portals that come with file sharing, efficient communication, and features for service selling, then go for Zendo. Zendo doesn’t include file & application embeds in its free plan, but it offers a real-time chat that can be used to share client-specific information.