Online app Monday.com (formerly dapulse) is a team collaboration tool that looks like it was spawned by multi-person spreadsheets. Collaborators create boards made up of rows and columns. Each row is a task, or “pulse.” Each column is an attribute related to that task and you get to choose its value, whether task status, assignee, due date, and so forth. It makes a little more sense when you see it on the screen; images below. Monday.com is slick and responsive, which makes it easy to use. It also has tools for discussing work, with intuitive features. The app has a lot going for it, although it’s missing a few important features that would make it better, and it’s a little expensive for what it offers.
Pricing and Plans
If you want to try Monday.com, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial, but after that you have to pay. There is no unlimited free account. There are four plans, each with different features and pricing. For any of Monday.com’s plans, you can choose to pay monthly, annually, or for two years at a time, with greater discounts for longer commitments.
It’s difficult to compare Monday.com’s pricing with those of other collaboration services because it charges a rate for a group of users, with a minimum of five, rather than per person, as most other apps do. In other words, with Monday.com, you can sign up for a plan for up to five people, or up to 10 people, or up to 25 people, and so on. If you have 37 people in your team, you’ll need an account that supports up to 50.
The first tier of service, called Basic, costs $29 per month for up to five people. You can also pay annually or for two years upfront, which costs $300 or $504, respectively, for five people. Beyond the minimum group of five, the pricing works out to be roughly $5 per person per month for the Basic account when paid annually, but again, keep in mind that you may end up paying for more seats than you actually use. The Basic plan includes 5GB of storage, an unlimited number of boards, and 24/7 support. You only get simple search functionality in the Basic plan, and you can only filter views by person, which is limiting.
Basic users also miss out on the ability to share boards with guests, external integrations, an API, and a Timeline feature that’s similar to a Gantt chart view. For many businesses, being able to share boards with people outside the organization is important, as it’s the easiest way to give clients and third-party collaborators visibility into your progress on work that concerns them.
The second tier of service, called Standard, starts at $48 per month for up to five people. The annual and two-year options run $468 and $768, respectively, for a group of up to five people. At those rates, Monday.com includes everything in the Basic plan, plus advanced search functionality, all filtering options, unlimited boards, external integrations, the ability to share boards with an unlimited number of guests, an API, and Timelines. The storage increases to 50GB.
The third tier of service is called Pro, and it starts at $72 per month for up to five people. You can instead pay $708 up front for one year, or $1,176 for two years, again for a group of up to five. The Pro plan includes everything in Standard, plus private boards for each user, detailed activity stats, the option to use Google authentication, and customized user profiles. Storage is unlimited at this tier.
Finally, the fourth level of service is Enterprise, starting at $144 per month for up to five people. Pay annually, and it’s $1,416. Pay for two years upfront, and it’s $2,352. The Enterprise account includes everything from Pro, plus VIP support, one-on-one training, a two-factor authentication option, advanced security features, and an audit log.
Another reason it’s tricky to compare pricing with other services is because I haven’t seen an app that’s quite like Monday.com. Collaboration apps don’t all do the same thing, with some offering a lot more than others. Two reasonably close contenders, however, are Asana and Trello, both of which have much lower starting rates.
Asana has a free version for teams up to 15 people, which has some limits in its functionality. Asana Premium costs about $120 per person per year (it’s advertised as $9.99 per person per month, but you have to pay annually to get that price). At that rate, you get unlimited dashboards, advanced search and reporting tools, the ability to create custom fields, and more.
Trello is slightly more lightweight, but still roughly comparable, and it offers a truly free account, just as Asana does. A Business Class Trello account costs the same as Asana Premium: about $120 per person per year.
Another app worth comparing with Monday.com is Podio. Podio is a highly customizable online workspace, and you can add apps to it as needed. Depending on your setup, it could have a lot of the same functionality as Monday.com. Podio’s prices are $9 per person per month for Basic, $14 per person per month for Plus, and $24 per person per month for Premium.
What Is Monday.com?
As I said earlier, Monday.com looks like it evolved from collaborative spreadsheets. The initial setup is a simple grid, and you choose what goes into it. What would be sheets are here called boards, and you can have more than one of them in view at any given time. It shares some similarities with kanban apps, although there are differences as well.
As mentioned, each row is called a pulse. Given the product name change, this term isn’t as relevant as it used to be, but it’s still the word used throughout the company’s help pages, so it’s good to know if you use the product. In any event, each pulse typically contains a task. The columns are different attributes of that task, and you can define them as you like. For example, you might have different columns dedicated to different states of completion. Let’s say the task is to fulfill an online order. The first column might indicate whether payment has been received. Is it owed, pending, or paid? The person in charge of monitoring payments could update this cell. The next column might indicate whether the items have been assembled for shipping. A person in the fulfillment department could update the cell to say whether the order is ready to go. Perhaps the column after that notes if the items are packed and if a shipping label has been printed.
When you set up an account, you customize all these fields for each board, and that can take both time and some trial and error. In that regard, Monday.com reminds me of Asana. Both apps are so highly customizable that there’s no right or wrong way to use them. It can take considerable time to figure out the best workflow for your team.
While refining your processes may require patience, learning how to use Monday.com takes no time at all. It’s highly intuitive, as well as slick and responsive. Actions rarely require more than one or two button presses. You can drag and drop elements to rearrange them on the page. Commenting and discussion tools are just as intuitive to anyone who’s used social media in the last five years.
You can organize your boards into folders using a collapsible left rail. Here, you can also manage which boards are shared with outside clients, which are visible to all team members, and which are private only to you.
For boards with deadlines, an optional timeline can display directly above your board. It resembles a Gantt chart, showing tasks as spanner bars that spread across the dates when the work will be done. But you can tell right away that it’s not a true Gantt chart because there are no task dependencies.
With a Standard, Pro, or Enterprise plan, Monday.com includes API access, meaning if your team knows how to build custom integrations, they can have at it. For the less technical among us, the app is supported by Zapier. Zapier is a tool that lets anyone connect online apps and services in different ways, even if they don’t know how to write code. Belonging to the Zapier network opens up a lot of possibilities for Monday.com users.
Another standard integration is the ability to connect to Google Calendar, but it’s a one-way integration. So dates and deadlines from Monday.com can show up in your Google Calendar, but you can’t put items on your calendar and have them show up in Monday.com.
Speaking of calendars, I wish there were a team calendar that showed not only deadlines added to boards, but also other relevant team scheduling, such as meetings, holidays, and so forth. The app’s timeline is meant to be something like a team calendar, but it doesn’t cater well to people who prefer to see a standard grid calendar. It also doesn’t include any calendar items that aren’t also logged somewhere on a board as a pulse. It might be useful to be able to tell the whole team the office will be closed the day after Thanksgiving without creating a board and pulse for it.
Room for Improvement
Setting up and customizing my test account, easy as it was, felt cumbersome and more time-consuming than I expected. Creating the attributes of the boards didn’t feel as productive as listing all my tasks and milestones, setting deadlines, and doing the other initial steps that it takes to set up a project in a project management app. You can add those details to Monday.com (although there isn’t a milestone marker per se; you’d have to invent your own way of signaling one), but you first have to decide how the boards themselves will look. The result is you get the customized experience you want, but it takes time.
As much as I like the timeline feature, the fact that it doesn’t support dependencies is disappointing. Many Gantt charts have the option to link tasks together. Let’s say task C can’t be done until task B is complete, and task B can’t commence until task A is finished. So tasks B and C are dependent on A, and C is also dependent on B. Ideally, a team wants to see these dependencies visually, and in Gantt charts that support them, they would likely appear as thin lines connecting the tasks. More importantly, they stay connected if one task’s deadline shifts. If task A is late by two days, we’d want the deadlines for tasks B and C to also move forward by two days. Many project management app include this functionality, but Monday.com doesn’t.
Other missing features include recurring tasks, markup tools, and a general team discussion area that’s unaffiliated with a particular task or board. Having the ability to setup a recurring task is not only important to teams, but also a time-saver. You can duplicate a task in Monday.com very easily, but doing that every day or every week is a waste of time.
Markup tools, meaning digital pens and highlighters for PDFs and images, help teams that use a lot of visual material because they facilitate discussion better than text alone. If you want the ability to open a file right in your browser and draw on it, consider the project management app Volerro. You can highlight an area of a document or image and type comments about it that your collaborators will be able to see as well. Igloo, which is more of a workplace collaboration space than a cut-and-dried project management platform, also has PDF markup tools as well as a star ratings on uploaded documents, letting you easily see which files your teammates liked more than others.
Fluid but Missing Features
There’s much to like in Monday.com. The service’s strong suit is its fluidity and ease of use. It’s attractive, and it functions smoothly. The app also has optional desktop notifications, as well as mobile apps for keeping up with the team’s work when any team member is not at a workstation. As a cutting-edge team collaboration tool, Monday.com certainly looks the part. However, it’s missing a few significant features, and it’s expensive. I wouldn’t steer anyone away from using Monday.com, but I would recommend looking at a few other apps first to see if they are a better fit for less money. You won’t find anything perfectly comparable, but Asana and Podio (both Editors’ Choices) are well worth considering, as is Trello.