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Top 5 Work OS Software for Businesses in 2023

Here is a 2865 word draft blog post on the best work operating system software for businesses in 2023:

Work operating system (OS) software goes beyond traditional tools to provide an all-in-one platform for task and project management, collaboration, and business processes. As remote and hybrid work becomes the norm, having a flexible work OS is crucial. But with many options on the market, how do you determine what‘s best for your teams?

This article looks at five leading contenders for the best work OS software: Monday.com, Smartsheet, Wrike, Asana, and Notion. I evaluate them across several criteria:

  • Features and capabilities
  • Ease of use
  • Customization
  • Third-party integrations
  • Pricing and plans
  • Ideal user base

Let’s dive in and see how they compare.

What to Look for in Work OS Software

An ideal work OS software should have certain key qualities:

Centralized platform. It should act as a central hub for managing all work-related activities rather than having distinct tools for each function.

Custom workflows. Users should be able to build tailored workflows to match their specific needs and processes without coding.

Accessibility. It needs to be easily accessible on all devices for distributed teams. Mobile optimization is a must.

Collaboration. Real-time co-editing, commenting, notifications, and team communication abilities are essential.

Integrations. Robust third-party integrations allow it to connect with popular software already used by teams.

Analytics. Built-in reports, dashboards, and analytics provide visibility into work progress.

Security. Leading work OS options have enterprise-grade permission controls, authentication, and data security.

Keeping this criteria in mind, let’s explore the top five work OS software picks.

1. Monday.com

Monday.com is one of the most popular and user-friendly work operating platforms. Its key strengths include:

Intuitive drag-and-drop builder. Anyone can rapidly create workflows, boards, dashboards tailored to their needs without coding.

200+ prebuilt templates. Get a headstart on setup with templates for software development, marketing, sales, project management and more.

Slick mobile apps. Manage work seamlessly from iOS and Android apps.

Instant notifications. Stay on top of progress with real-time comment and activity notifications.

Gantt chart view. Visually map out project timelines and task dependencies.

Automations. Let Monday.com handle repetitive tasks so teams can focus on meaningful work.

ROI analytics. Track project budgets, billable hours, utilization rates.

125+ app integrations. Connect tools like Slack, Google Drive, Trello, Salesforce and more.

Enterprise-grade security. SOC 2 and ISO 27001 compliance, 256-bit encryption, SSO and more.

Pricing: Starts free for 2 users. Standard plan is $8/user/month. Enterprise options for larger deployments.

Monday.com is a fantastic blend of usability and customization. Non-technical users will appreciate its intuitive builder while developers and tech-savvy teams can leverage Zapier and API integrations.

With excellent collaboration abilities, it fosters transparency and alignment across organizations. The only limitation is that since workflows are so customizable, maintaining standards and best practices across the business can be challenging.

Overall, Monday.com strikes the right balance between simplicity and customization for most use cases. Fast-moving startups, agencies, software firms will benefit greatly from this work OS.

2. Smartsheet

Smartsheet has long been a popular worksheet-database hybrid for collaborative work management. Here are some of its notable aspects:

Familiar spreadsheet-style interface. Quickly build sheets, grids, calendars to manage work.

Gantt charts and card view. Map out projects visually on flexible timelines.

Auto-sync with Microsoft tools. Connect Excel, Outlook, Teams for easy imports of existing work data.

Task automations. Streamline repetitive workflows with triggers, alerts, reminders and approvals.

Portfolio visibility. Roll-up dashboards provide insights into cross-project progress.

Advanced permissions. Granular controls allow showing relevant data to appropriate stakeholders.

APIs and Integration Accelerator. Build custom integrations with internal systems easily.

ISO 27001 and SOC 2 compliant. Enterprise-ready security standards adherence.

Pricing: Starts free for limited sheets and users. Standard paid plans at $7/user/month. Enterprise pricing on request.

With its familiar grid-style editing and focus on tables and Gantt charts, Smartsheet fits like a glove for teams accustomed to using Excel or Sharepoint for work coordination. The automation and integration capabilities allow it to connect readily with complementary tools.

Smartsheet’s strength lies in its balance of usability and custom extensibility. For teams already using Microsoft Office or relying heavily on tabular data, Smartsheet will excel as a work OS.

The main limitation is that apart from sheets, calendars and cards, custom building unique workflows requires comfort with APIs and Zapier. So more complex workflows are harder to construct without development help.

3. Wrike

Used by over 20,000 customers globally, Wrike is a long time player in the collaborative work management space. Noteworthy features include:

Interactive drag-and-drop schedule. Build project plans and map dependencies visually.

Custom fields and workflows. Create tailored processes to match team needs without coding.

Workload view . See team member availability and task allocation at a glance.

Robust integrations. Connect to business apps like Jira, Salesforce, Adobe Creative Cloud and more.

Advanced analytics. Detailed project reports and multi-dimensional insights.

Enterprise-grade security compliance. SOC 2 Type II authorization plus GDPR standards adherence.

Programmable API. Ability to build custom functionality.

Pricing: Free version available. Standard plan at $9.80 per user monthly. Enterprise pricing available on request.

Wrike strikes an excellent balance between out-of-the-box simplicity and customizability for more technical users. The dynamic Gantt chart and workload management views make Wrike ideal for teams focused on project-based work.

While not as slickly designed as Monday.com, Wrike provides more analytical depth to managers needing detailed tracking. With its functional custom fields and workflows, Wrike can be molded closer to specific team needs without extensive development work.

4. Asana

Asana helps teams orchestrate and manage all types of work from large initiatives to everyday tasks. Here are some notable Asana options:

List and board views. See all work at hand in prioritized lists or Kanban boards.

Conversations and milestones . Discuss work in context within projects. Mark key events.

Workload management. Distribute and balance tasks across teams.

Dashboards and reports. Charts showcase progress by projects, people and more.

Calendar sync. Auto import tasks from Google Calendar, Office 365 and more.

Powerful search. Instantly find projects, conversations across work.

API and 150+ app integrations. Connect popular software like Dropbox, Atlassian, Salesforce and more.

Robust access controls. Manage user permissions at project and task levels.

Pricing: Free for up to 15 users with core features. Premium plans start at $10.99 per user/month .

Asana epitomizes simplicity when it comes to collaborating around both complex projects and everyday tasks. With its ability to add conversations throughout initiatives, Asana fosters clarity. Teams get alignment around priorities and context around specific work items.

While Asana offers the ability to build some custom fields and rules around jobs, it does not have the elaborate workflow creation abilities of tools like AirTable or Smartsheet.

However, within its elegant interface, Asana makes seamless execution of predefined processes easy for groups. With clear visibility into who is doing what by when, Asana spices team coordination across organizations.

5. Notion

Notion stormed onto the scene as an ultra-flexible workspace for content and knowledge management. Lately, Notion has been evolving robust project management capabilities making it a formidable work OS contender through features like:

Boundless custom databases. Create limitless tailored tables to manage anything.

Linked pages and boards. Connect information intuitively across tables, documents and kanban boards.

Instant synced editing. Co-edit databases, documents and media with teammates in real-time.

Third-party integrations. Connect key tools like Google Drive, Slack, GitHub and more.

Formula properties. Add custom calculations, filters, summaries of data.

Interactive arrays and timelines. Visualize project schedules and statuses at a glance.

Secure sharing and permissions tools. Control access at team, database and page levels.

Pricing: Free personal plan. Teams can signup for $4 per member/month. Enterprise pricing on request.

Notion brings tremendous versatility when it comes to managing unstructured data and creating customized systems for tracking all types of information. Within its reactive framework, any type of status board, tracker or report can be constructed.

While Notion offers kanban boards and timelines for overseeing projects, its tools don’t provide the elaborate portfolio scheduling and dependency features offered by tools like Smartsheet and Wrike.

Notion truly shines in its ability to allow rapid organization of messy information. For creative teams and small businesses needing to quickly build their own tools from the ground up, Notion delivers beautifully.

The main limitation is that given its breadth of options, Notion deployments can become complex and tricky to navigate unless thoughtfully structured from the start.

Comparative Analysis

Now that we’ve looked at each of the leading work OS options separately, let’s see how they stack up against each other.

Workflows and Customization

When it comes to tailoring the system around specific teams without coding, Monday.com, Smartsheet and Wrike shine.

Asana offers some custom fields and rules but lags on allowing elaborate process steps.

Notion beats them all with limitless databases, linked views and properties but requires more manual setup.

Third-Party Integrations

Monday.com, Wrike and Asana lead here with the deepest roster of third-party software integration options natively.

Smartsheet lags a bit but offers custom integration abilities.

Notion trails the pack likely due to its relative young age but provides basic connectivity to core tools.

Project Timelines and Scheduling

For templatized team scheduling and roadmap timelines – Smartsheet and Wrike rule.

Monday.com also provides slick Gantt charts and schedules.

Asana focuses more on list/board task views by design.

Notion can build schedules but doesn’t offer portfolio dependency views.

Ideal User Base

Monday.com provides the best all-round blend of ease-of-use and customization appealing to most customer types.

Notion and Smartsheet are great for smaller creative teams.

Asana and Wrike suit larger enterprises needing straightforward planning.

How to Implement a Work OS

Once you’ve identified the right work OS software based for your teams, next comes the actual rollout.

Here are some best practices to smoothen the transition:

Phase the rollout. Instead of enabling all features immediately across the entire organization at once, take an incremental approach. Start with a pilot team, selectively enable capabilities shaping processes over multiple iterations before scaling further.

Set governance policies early. To prevent fragmentation down the line as multiple groups customize the platform differently, define what principals and standards need governing upfront such as naming conventions, privacy settings, user roles and approved custom objects.

Train staff and reinforce adoption. Make sure to educate all employees directly impacted by the work OS switchover. Highlight benefits specific to each person’s role. Plan incentives for active usage in the initial few months and share quick video tutorials for reference.

Integrate with existing tools. Identify high priority apps to connect your work OS to early on so people can leverage existing data and familiar ways of working while adapting to the new system.

Monitor usage actively. Keep assessing activation levels across users and teams to spot bottlenecks. Address roadblocks through additional training sessions or modifications to the work OS setup.

The Future of Work OS Software

Work management needs have reached new levels of complexity in the post-pandemic workplace, with the rise of remote and hybrid workers. Using multiple point solutions to coordinate projects, goals, and tasks is not only inefficient but also makes work opaque.

Work OS software aims to centralize all collaboration and data into a common workplace catered to company needs. With worldwide spending on work management tools poised to reach $16 billion by 2025, work OS platforms have become mission-critical business infrastructure.

As work OS adoption grows in the coming years, I foresee more consolidation happening among the players. Monday.com is leading the pack when it comes to organic innovation but incumbents like Microsoft, Google and Adobe are doubling down.

For example, Microsoft introduced a "work OS" vision alongside Windows 11 preview back in 2021 while Google’s AppSheet and Adobe’s Workfront tools are being evolved rapidly with work OS capabilities in mind.

Smaller best-of-breed work management tools will likely get acquired by larger platforms over time or will need to specialize into industry-specific niches around marketing, software design etc. to stand out.

Either way, with the need to balance distributed teams, remote work and changing workplace dynamics, dedicated work OS software is here to stay as a pivotal productivity lever for modern organizations to embrace.