- All-in-one solution
- Expensive monthly cost
- Moderate learning curve
- Poor mobile app
Mavenlink co-founder and CEO Ray Grainger makes a bold claim when he says, “by combining expertise, technology, and a customer-first mindset, we are enabling professional services firms around the world to grow and scale confidently.” From this and other statements on the company’s website, it seems like Mavenlink is on a mission: to provide a tool that can serve everyone from small tech startups with teams of three to much larger companies like Salesforce and Navigant.
From the beginning in 2008, Mavenlink was known as an ally of the small business person. Mavenlink’s product aimed to allow entrepreneurs to bring their businesses to life with the power of technology. Grainger, along with Roger Neel and Sean Crafts, came up with the idea for this software while working at InQuira and Oracle, and it was launched to the public in 2010. Since then, Mavenlink has grown astronomically, earning high marks from the likes of Google, Intuit, and Digitized.
In this increasingly internet-dependent age, businesses experience a rapidly altering flow of demands and need a tool that is equally flexible. Thus, Mavenlink’s goal is to provide a service that allows users to communicate internally, talk with clients, keep projects on track, manage schedules, and generate invoices all in the same place. Mavenlink does all this while maintaining a steady stream of updates, ensuring the software does not fall behind current trends in design and functionality.
Overall, we think Mavenlink is a powerful tool. However, no software is one-size-fits-all. So, is Mavenlink the right fit for your business? Read on to find out!
Table of Contents
Mavenlink offers a free plan as well as four paid pricing plans. For the Teams Plan, payments are made monthly, but you can receive a discount for paying annually. The Professional Plan is by annual contract only. A free trial is available for the Teams and Professional plans and you can request a demo of the two larger plans — Premier and Enterprise.
Mavenlink has a pretty wide array of features available, but in order to access all of them, you have to be willing to shell out the cash. I have to be honest, Mavenlink is pretty expensive compared to many competitive project management platforms. Fortunately, Mavenlink does offer a free plan that includes some basic features. In addition, non-profits signing up with Mavenlink may qualify for a discount.
Here’s a quick breakdown of all the pricing plans available:
- Unlimited users
- Project collaboration
- Task management
- Integration with google calendar, contacts, & tasks
- $29/month for 5 users + $6/month for each additional user
- Project management
- Task management & scheduling tools
- Gantt charts
- Team collaboration
- File sharing
- Project workspaces
- Access permissions
- Public & private messages
- Google apps integration
- Custom branding & subdomain
- $39/user/month (annual contract only)
- All features of the Teams plan PLUS
- Project accounting
- Time & expense tracking
- Budgeted projects & tasks
- Time cards & expense reports
- Invoicing & online payments
- Contact for pricing
- All feature of the Professional plan PLUS
- Portfolio management
- Project baseline & variance analysis
- Project accounting
- Job costing
- Rate cards (cost & bill rates)
- Resource planning & scheduling
- Team collaboration
- API Access
- Custom Fields
- Contact for pricing
- All features of the Premier plan PLUS
- Business intelligence
- Real-time analytics
- Expert-built reports
- Custom reporting
- Trend analysis & forecasting
- Data visualization
- SAML single sign-on (SSO) support
- Audit log
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Mavenlink is cloud-based. It does not require installation, and it updates automatically.
Hardware & Software Requirements
Mavenlink is compatible with modern web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer 11+. Mavenlink works best on computers with a screen resolution of at least 1440 pixels, as this best fits the dashboard (My computer screen has a lower resolution, and I had to scroll horizontally to see my whole dashboard).
Mavenlink does not have a downloadable app. However, they do offer a mobile version of their site, which they refer to as their app. The site is m.mavenlink.com, and you can access it on iPhone and Android. You can also save the Mavenlink icon to your mobile device so that you can quickly access the dashboard. I’ve seen a number of negative reviews that call out this app for not working correctly, so keep that in mind if you need a lot of mobile functionality.
Specific Size Of Business
Small and enterprise businesses alike can benefit from Mavenlink. Mavenlink’s lowest pricing plan covers five users while their enterprise-level plan can be customized to fit a large business’s needs. Mavenlink works for businesses in a variety of industries. You can use the software to track projects related to developing a new product, solving an IT issue, creating a marketing campaign, and more.
That said, available features change with each pricing plan, which may make Mavenlink less accessible for smaller businesses that need advanced features. For example, businesses that need budgeting features will have to sign up for the Professional plan or higher in order to gain access to the necessary features. I could see this being a limiting factor for businesses with a small software budget.
Another feature we expect from project management software is the ability to set user permissions. This feature is necessary for businesses of all sizes. Mavenlink makes this feature available to users on all paid plans (starting with the Team plan). The free plan does not include user permissions, which may be frustrating for very small teams.
Ease Of Use
In order to test out Mavenlink, you have to submit a request for a free trial. Then, a sales representative will call to ask you a few clarifying questions about your business and email you a link to your test account. For my trial account, I was given access to the Professional level software (although I was able to upgrade and downgrade my trial to see all the other options).
When I logged into my trial, I was immediately directed to create my first project. Then, I was able to view my complete dashboard. Fortunately, Mavenlink’s interface is pretty well organized, and after a little clicking around, I began to understand what everything was for. Most helpful for me was the left-hand menu, which makes it pretty easy to move around the site. I was glad to have a predictable method of navigation.
My main criticism of Mavenlink’s ease-of-use is that it is not always clear how to operate certain features. For example, I wanted to assign different tasks to a couple of users that I had already added to the system. It turns out, in order to assign tasks, you have to first invite those users to the project. This was not immediately clear to me, and I had to dig into the support resources to find out what I needed to do.
In addition, Mavenlink’s numerous features can make the software a bit difficult to use. I know that there are so many more features that I could have been using during my trial that I just hadn’t learned to optimize yet.
All in all, I think Mavenlink does well in term of ease of use, although there is still room for improvement. New users should expect to experience a moderate learning curve in the first few weeks of learning the software.
As I have indicated before, Mavenlink can be powerful (depending on how much you are willing to pay for it). In my test, I had access to all of Mavenlink’s features, many of which are only available in the Premier plan. Keep that in mind while reading about the following features:
- Dashboard: Mavenlink’s dashboard gives you a quick view of all your projects, as well as current communications regarding tasks. You can use the toolbar on the left to navigate to different pages of the software.
- Project Management: It wouldn’t be a project management program if there weren’t a way to create projects, generate task lists, and assign employees to them. Mavenlink packs a lot of capabilities into its Projects section, with an Activity page, Task Tracker, and Gantt chart page available to all users.
- Tasks: Tasks can be designated as a “Task,” “Deliverable,” “Milestone,” or “Issue.” This makes it easy to see exactly what each task is really about. Further, depending on your subscription, budgeting tools are built into each task. Mavenlink also makes it easy to create subtasks and to assign tasks to different team members.
- Resource Management: Make informed decisions by looking into your employees’ skills, planned time off, and workload.
- Gantt Charts: Check on the status of your tasks and projects.
- Time Tracking: Starting at the Professional plan, users have access to Mavenlink’s timer, located in the upper right of the UI. Pressing the start button will get the timer moving on whatever project you last logged out on. It is pretty simple to switch projects and tasks within those projects in the Time & Expense section of the main menu. The Time & Expense section is also where you can view timesheets, weekly schedules, and expense reports.
- Billing Expenses: Create invoices for a single project or across projects by client.
- Messaging: I am impressed by how easy it is to communicate with employees and clients. Fear not, though: should you want to keep a conversation private to your team without the client, this is also easily accomplished.
- Scheduling: Users on the Premier and Enterprise plans can set weekly schedules and holidays.
- Reports & Analytics: Mavenlink Insights reports give you access to data and forecasting. Users on the Premier plan and above have access to advanced analytics on invoices, expenses, WIP, and more.
Customer Service & Support
Mavenlink has a number of support options available to users, ranging from personalized support to self-help tutorial videos. I’ve seen a handful of customer reports that praise Mavenlink’s support team. Most notable, however, is the absolute lack of complaints about the Mavenlink support team. It seems they’re doing a pretty decent job.
Here are Mavenlink’s support options:
- Email: You can submit a support ticket from Mavenlink’s support portal, and the Mavenlink support team will respond via email.
- Live Chat: Mavenlink offers a 24-hour live chat support service.
- In-Software Help: In your dashboard, you can find links to the Help Center, announcements, the changelog, the Mavenlink training center, sales inquiries, and the blog. You can also access live support via chat within your dashboard.
- Help Center: Get access to support articles, video tutorials, developer documents, and training resources. When you enter the Knowledge Base section of the Help Center, you’ll find that all the articles are arranged in helpful categories.
- Guides: In Mavenlink’s Resource Library, you can find eBooks, infographics, research reports, and more that discuss how to make your business more profitable.
- Videos: The Help Center currently includes eight tutorial videos and 15 webinars.
- Changelog: For a service (like Mavenlink) that is updated often, a developer changelog is a great, helpful idea. This regularly updated log helps you keep track of the changes that are being made to Mavenlink. If you use Mavenlink, it would be a good idea for at least one member of your team to keep themselves familiar with it.
- MavenOps: This new support option is effectively a subscription service for onboarding Mavenlink. The web page dedicated to describing this service is full of nebulous statements like “Mavenlink’s flagship service offering” and “A packaged program of services leveraging Mavenlink’s methodology and best practices.” They use these and a number of other business buzz words to explain that, essentially, they are offering strategies to help you get the most out of Mavenlink. They then proceed to not tell you how much it will actually cost to use this subscription service. If you think this kind of thing is worth your time, you can schedule a call to discuss pricing.
- Partners: Look through Mavenlink’s partner network to find affiliated technology services and consultation services.
- Training: Mavenlink has their own training center, which you can access from the Help Center. Here, you can find online courses that teach you a few fundamentals of project management and how to best use Mavenlink. Pricing for these courses ranges from $0 to $450.
- Blog: Mavenlink’s blog includes tips and best practices on topics like project management, resource management, and productivity. This is also where you can find product news and new feature announcements.
- Social Media: Mavenlink has an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
In general, customer reviews of Mavenlink are positive. However, nearly every commenter had a few things to say about how Mavenlink could improve their software or their service. Here a few of the trends I noticed in these comments:
- Overwhelming User Interface: Mavenlink users say that the UI is not the most intuitive. There is a lot of information present on each page of the dashboard, and it can take a while to get a hang of the software. Prepare to experience a moderate learning curve.
- Trouble With Mobile: Users say that they often experience difficulties with Mavenlink’s mobile site.
- Difficulty With Customization: Users say that there aren’t enough customization options available, and those that are available are difficult to implement. In particular, I noticed comments that mentioned how difficult it is to create customized reports.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
I should point out again that most users appear happy with Mavenlink. Scores across third party review boards are overwhelmingly positive; Mavenlink scores a 4.3/5 on G2Crowd and earns an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Here are some things users love about Mavenlink:
- Time Tracking: Users love the ability to track their own time and their employees’ and contractors’ time. They say that the time tracking tool is easy to use.
- All-In-One Solution: Mavenlink is a great tool for an entire company. Each department can use the software, and they can use Mavenlink’s communication tools to track progress in projects easily.
- Helpful Reports: Mavenlink’s reports allow users to monitor many aspects of their projects, and it can help to see which teams are busy and which teams have space for new tasks. Many users say that Mavenlink’s reports inform the decisions they make for their companies.
- Easy Collaboration: Many users comment that Mavenlink allows for painless client collaboration, and note that their clients and contracted employees genuinely enjoy using the program.
The following is an excerpt from one satisfied customer review:
I have been looking for a way to organize all my project communication and collaborate online with clients and subcontractors all in one place. My goal is to work smart, not hard. Mavenlink gets me there.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Mavenlink is a little lean on available integrations and add-ons. There are 11 integrations pre-built including integrations with accounting software like Xero and Quickbooks and communication tools like Slack and Google G Suite.
Mavenlink also makes their API available to users on the Premier and Enterprise plans, so you can build connections to software that aren’t already integrated.
Mavenlink protects its users with reasonable security precautions, including data encryption, a single sign-on system (SSO), and a 99.9% uptime record. They also house your data securely with 24/7 monitoring and annual audits. Your data is stored in multiple servers, which creates data redundancy. Mavenlink meets or exceeds the security standards of SSAE 18 (SOC1 Type II) and AICPA SOC2 Type II.
There is one word to describe Mavenlink, and that word is “scale.” If you are a small business needing a bit more organization but little else, there is a version of Mavenlink for you. If you are a growing firm needing to get on top of employee scheduling, there is a version of Mavenlink for you as well. If your business has reached the size where you need detailed reporting from your teams, Mavenlink has a solution for you too. Mavenlink is designed to scale with you as your business grows. This is certainly an admirable pursuit, but it makes for a difficult-to-understand application. After all, is it really fair to claim to be an all-in-one when only one of your four subscription plans includes all of your features?
Like I have said before, all of Mavenlink’s features work well on their own. They offer details that are on par with or better than other project management software I have seen. I genuinely like the task manager, the timer, and the communication tools. But, because the features have so many working parts, I continually found myself feeling lost and a little confused.
However, I strongly suspect that confusion would pass with time. It is possible that with practice, Mavenlink could become the most valuable tool of its kind. Take Mavenlink for a test drive to find out for yourself if the software is right for you!
To learn more about how we score our reviews, see our Project Management Software Rating Criteria.