Autarchy of the Private Cave

Tiny bits of bioinformatics, [web-]programming etc

    Project management software

    21st January 2007

    I decided to streamline my project management procedures with some kind of software, as the number of concurrent projects is increasing, and more and more time is lost both for switching tasks and trying to grasp a-new the global view of the project each time I turn to it.

    One of the resources I came across is rather comprehensive – www.projectreference.com. It has both courses on better project management, and some software links.

    One of the points when choosing PM (Project Management) software is the question whether it should be standalone (running without internet connection), or web-based (requiring connection to operate). I am not using the “client-server” dissection of PM software types, as standalone can consist of both client and server, but running on a single machine.

    I decided to stick to the web-based solutions, as my activities are related to the internet, and if no connection is available – then no projects can be efficiently conducted and managed.

    I needed the solution which would allow to have multiple projects with sub-tasks and task dependencies, and ability to assign people to tasks. A kind of projects visualization is needed as well. And, as the software is intended primarily to manage my private projects, I would be glad to have it free. Absence of support is fine.

    From what I had seen, I decided to try dotProject (they have a demo, login as admin/admin). It has features similar to eProjects’ PMexpress, but doesn’t cost 25$ per user per month.

    Another good choice might be project-open, but I have to try it yet. Project-open has online demo as well, and they offer downloadable versions of Project-Open, which allow running it on a single machine with no internet connection.

    After trying dotProject and (probably) project-open I’ll write a follow-up to what are the differences, advantages and disadvantages.

    There is a project management knowledge base, but it appears rather dead. If you do not need multiple projects with tasks, you might find Google Calendar organizer or FreeMind mind-mapping software useful.

    Update: I tried the free version of BaseCamp.com, the product of 37signals. (BTW, 37signals have a good services marketing model, which is worth looking at and probably even repeating – the model, not the services). For me at appears too simple, but this might be an advantage to someone – so check it out.

    Update: Mark from Vertabase commented on their web-based PM solution, Vertabase Pro. They have a blog which discusses various PM software options available.

    Update: found some more PM and similar tools.

    WebCollab looks similar to Basecamp in terms of functionality. They do have online demo.

    AceProject also has a demo. It seemed aimed at software developers at first, though demo has sample projects in real estate, head hunting and web design. Functionality is close to that of dotProject, though interface looks nicer. Gantt charts are available. AceProject looks light and promising.

    GanttProject is an off-line PM tool. As the name implies, it is centred around the Gantt charts. Didn’t try this one.

    ActiveCollab is “an easy to use, web based, open source collaboration and project management tool”. Apparently, this is a work in progress, though telling from the screencast (also a copy on my server, by Eli Foner) it’s pretty good. It’s really good! If you were considering BaseCamp – I advise you look at ActiveCollab as well: it’s free, it’s equally and/or even more functional than BaseCamp, it looks good, and it might offer you better experience than BaseCamp. (If you are interested in the hosted solution, and do not want to organize some kind of “intranet” for ActiveCollab specifically – you can contact me, I might be interested in contractual work on setting up “hosted solution” of ActiveCollab for you.) Didn’t try this one, but might do that after tinkering with dotProject. I’m interested in hearing comments/comparisons about this one.

    QuickBooks is NOT a PM tool, it’s a kind of an accounting software, available also in online version. However, it works only in IE6, so I just couldn’t try it with FF2. (I wonder if IE7 is supported?)

    There is also an interesting thread on drupal about PM software (that’s where I had taken some of the links above).

    Update: in my next post on the topic (dotProject: first impressions) Keith Casey, dotProject core developer, commented on how he uses both dotProject and BaseCamp.

    Please comment which PM tools/solutions you use and why.

    Update: came across another to-do list. Didn’t try it yet.

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    10 Responses to “Project management software”

    1. Mark Says:

      I use Vertabase Pro project management software (I also work for them). There is a free demo/test drive on the site. http://www.vertabase.com.

    2. chronos Says:

      Mark, thanks for your reply. I might be the only one from the crowd, but the need to “request” test drive by entering name/email/company somewhat inhibits desire to have a look at the software. It took me some time to figure out that access to demo is immediate, and the name/email asked are not really necessary to gain access. I didn’t see your page entrance/exit stats, but I think that making demo easier accessible would take more people into trying the demo… (e.g., providing both direct link to demo with some default login, AND an option to login with email and blank password to request personal password for further in-depth testing)

    3. Mark Says:

      Thanks for the comment and helpful feedback. Makes sense.
      What did you think of project management software?

    4. chronos Says:

      Mark, I was looking primarily for free solutions. Thus I didn’t look into Vertabase in details. To be short: you have the philosophy and “why vertabase?” behind the software; you know the market (e.g. your blog posts); software appears to have good features. The only thing which a kind of disturbs me is the visual/design part of the software. To me, some parts don’t look efficient. For example, the top three navigation levels (e.g. Projects->Documents->List) take up roughly 35% of the browser’s viewport (at 1024×768 in FF2 with Navigation, Bookmarks and Developer toolbars enabled), and can be clearly taken down to ~20% or even less, freeing space for actual info… or is that navigation only for demo?
      Well, as you see, not too much of a review :) I am currently playing with dotProject, and probably after that would be able to judge what is good and what is not/missing.

    5. Mark Says:

      Thanks for your comments, kind words and the pingback to the site.
      I look forward to hearing how dotProject works for you.

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    8. Semina Says:

      Hello!My name is Semina and I would like to add to this Project Management Software list, Comidor.
      Comidor is a set of tools including collaboration, project management, crm and productivity, which will help you
      organise your work, convert your customers and increase profit.
      I would like to invite you to use Comidor, trying its free demo version at https://www.comidor.com !

    9. Danielle Says:

      Hello, My name is Danielle, and I would like to recommend Priority Matrix (www.appfluence.com) as Project Management software. You can do so much with Priority Matrix, including creating multiple projects to keep you tasks organized, setting task due dates, and syncing with your calendar, uploading and sharing files, communicating in the in app chat and delegating tasks to other team members, and more. It is definitely worth a try!!

    10. Malcolm West Says:

      Mark,
      Thanks this is a good list.

      I’m hoping you would be interested in adding a link to us in your useful links section. Of particular interest to you I think would be our free PM tools, Planner (supporting task/planning as well as risk and issue/RAID management) and Community Edition providing a PM process and documentation tool (supporting a range of methods including PRINCE2 and AGILE).
      http://www.projectinabox.org.uk/planner/
      http://www.projectinabox.org.uk/community-edition-2/

      We provide both of these as freeware and they are available free for life, not crippleware or timed trials. The sign up and download is from here:
      http://www.projectinabox.org.uk/registration/

      Of course we also offer a range of commercial products to support multiusers or more advanced personal users but this isn’t a hard sell we have many happy users of our free products for many years and we are happy to encourage that. Our free tools are also becoming very popular in support of PM training in Universities.

      If you would like me to talk you through these then we would be delighted.

      Best Regards

      Malc

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