Have you tried Trello. It's pretty simple and has a free version. You can track tasks across boards which should help you see where things are at. you could create a board per project.
As a cheaper alternative to the products above you could try Dozillo it has more robust time tracking features than Trello and offers cheaper pricing than Asana and wrike etc.
I agree, Trello is easy to use and free. I work a lot of startups, and using Trello always seems to work well.
Love Trello. Used it for years. Matches big corporate Kanban methods with great add-ons.
We tried Trello but we need the task list view, which Trello doesn't have :(
Dozillo has a task list view within projects and has individual task lists from each team member. Dozillo also plans, schedules and tracks your tasks for you based on the time you allocate to them. This makes it easier to manage projects and avoid missing deadlines or going over budget. It's not free unfortunately but its base price includes 5 users
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