By Daniel Schwarz

​Active Collab: How Collaboration Should Have Been All Along

By Daniel Schwarz

This article was sponsored by Active Collab. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

Collaboration differs from team to team. All teams eventually discover their own unique workflow, although the way in which teams implement those workflows is fundamentally similar. Let’s take file uploads as an example. Designers will upload their designs, writers will upload their writings. Regardless of what the team does, it’s a safe bet that they’ll use file uploads.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a designer, a writer, a marketer, or whatever: the best collaboration tools are those that master the core features — task management → feedback → time-tracking → invoicing. Enter Active Collab.

Powerful yet simple, Active Collab helps your team stay organized when you outgrow email, allowing you to manage tasks effectively, collaborate alongside your clients and delegate when necessary — think Trello, but with calendars, time-tracking and invoicing features built right in.

All Features in One Place

Whatever your team does, Active Collab has your back, allowing you to manage tasks from conception to completion. After estimating, time-tracking and collaborating on tasks, you can then issue invoices to clients when the tasks are complete — all in a single app. Project management works best when these features work cohesively, reducing (or even outright removing) friction which normally occurs when the required functionality is spread far and wide across various apps. With Active Collab, all of the management tools are united under one subscription.

A seamless experience is a happy (and productive) experience!

Active Collab Kanban

Task Management

Run your business like a well-oiled machine. Stay organised start to finish with advanced to-do lists, and manage your team’s progress every step of the way. While Active Collab has all the functionality you’ll ever need — time and expense tracking, file uploads, discussions and more — team members will only see what they need to see with their own unique dashboard.

Personalised dashboard

Team Collaboration

Collaboration simply doesn’t work without communication. Luckily, Active Collab helps teams connect with @mention functionality, collaborative writing tools, and an easy-to-read calendar that ensures that you’ll never miss a deadline.

It’s time to ditch email. Active Collab ensures that your messages are treated as actionable tasks with due dates, and not inbox items that become weighted down and lost by mid-afternoon.

Time Tracking

With Active Collab, you can set hourly rates for the different types of work that your team does, and have the Active Collab Timer app record your hours automatically. While you focus on the task at hand, Active Collab does the rest, leaving you with the peace of mind that clients are being billed accurately, and, of course, saving you from the hassle of having to track time manually (which, ironically, can be very time-consuming!)

As soon as you hit the stop button on the timer, Active Collab calculates all of the billable hours, shows you how much money you’ve made, then lets you send an invoice for your work.

You can generate instant, easy-to-understand reports on your time, revenue, expenses and invoices immediately.

Generating reports



After Active Collab calculates your billable hours, you can then easily issue invoices to your clients and set up payment options (PayPal, credit card, etc) for them. When a payment becomes overdue, Active Collab will remind them automatically, so that you don’t have to. When it comes to task-reminding, time-tracking and invoicing, Active Collab is like a helpful assistant that saves you bundles of time every day.

Tracking invoices

For the clients that you haven’t yet secured, you can create handy project estimates, and should you land that client, you can convert the estimate to a real project in Active Collab and begin working on it right away! How’s that for convenience?

Flexible Task View

We all organize ourselves in different ways. Some of us literally can’t survive without making lists (this would definitely be me!), whereas others are better suited to column-based Kanban cards, or even a Gantt-like timeline. Active Collab lets you choose a view that makes the most sense to you.

Flexible task view

Tip: team members can use Unsplash to customize the look of their own Active Collab interface! Who says collaboration and communication can’t be fun?

Self-Hosted Version

Like most modern apps, Active Collab runs in the cloud, but if security is a key concern for your company (in 2017, I imagine it would be!), it can be installed on your own server for a one-time fee. No subscriptions, unlimited users and clients, upgrades are free forever, and setup is super-easy too!


Active Collab certainly compares favourably with the likes of Basecamp, Asana and Trello, especially if you’re keen on using a tool that automates certain activities such as tracking billable hours and reminding clients about invoices. For me at least, I loved the way that Active Collab unified every step of the collaborative workflow into a single app. Let’s be honest here, this is the way collaboration should have been all along!

Active Collab is used by the likes of Slack, Apple, Adobe, Intel — even NASA! And who are we to argue with NASA?

This content is sponsored via Syndicate Ads.

  • P.K. Hunter

    Looks like it does everything that Asana and Clubhouse do. The difference would be if we can create projects across teams and assign access smartly depending on projects — both the aforementioned tools struggle with this. Secondly, reporting. Project tracking reports done right. We should be able to filter by project, time, status of things, People etc.

    • You can filter by teammate, tag or due date (useful for finding high-priority tasks). I don’t know what you mean by filtering time, but you can totally see how much time has been spent on a specific task, on a specific day. Reports are laid out in tables day vs. task, so there’s no need for filtering. For me, Asana is more complex than I need it to be. What I love about Active Collab, is that it takes the best aspects of Trello and Wunderlist.

      • More Spinach

        Trello and Wunderlist are both trivial tools, meant for tiny project teams. If this also got the best of what makes Clubhouse great (which eats Trello for lunch) and Asana (which is excellent in its customisability for project views), that would be super. For instance, on a day to day basis, we need Projects on the left hand sidebar. Not the default admin settings etc. No way to customise this in ActiveCollab. Another smaller but meaningful gripe — like Wrike, it looks a bit “IT”, not quite as modern digital UX as Clubhouse.

        • Depends on what your team does. Trello is excellent for writing teams, but I agree with you on Wunderlist. I use it for my own needs (things I need to do today, etc). I like Active Collab because it combines the two tools that I’ve enjoyed working with over the last few years, you could quickly switch between a list-based layout (WL) or a card-based layout (Trello). Everybody has their own needs, but Active Collab has been very flexible so far.

          • And as a designer I don’t hate Active Collab’s interface!

      • More Spinach

        Also, the presumption of “Clients” means this is skewed forcefully towards agencies and freelancers, not for use by Clients. Unless I’m missing something. How can I, as let’s say a Nestle, organise ActiveCollab and add some companies as “Agencies” instead of “Clients”? The opposite way around? This forced functionality is a pretty basic flaw — which is what Clubhouse and Asana don’t have. They’re less prescriptive, more flexible.

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