Online Project Management Tools Whether you are an experienced Project Manager, or just starting out, the volume of online Project Management tools is sure to leave you a little overwhelmed to say the least. In addition, many online tools offer very similar services. Here are a few of the most common key features that online Project Management tools provide: Message boards Online discussions Online information sharing Project management template documents Time monitoring Milestone management If you’re still finding it hard to decide, help is at hand! By turning to a site such as Delicious, the social book marking website, you can get a feel for the general popularity of these solutions. We entered the search term ‘Project Management Tools’ on Delicious and it gave us the following results: Online Project Management Tools 1) Basecamp with 14538 book marks 2) activeCollab with a 8169 book marks 3) Trac with 6178 book marks 4) Redmine with 4456 book marks 5) Dotproject with 4060 book marks If you read further, you’ll find out in a bit more detail how these ‘Delicious Top 5’ online tools can help you improve communication, save money and reduce the risks of managing a project. Basecamp Key Features Communication Message boards and easily edited task lists Discussions in one central location Select who can see which messages and leave your comments Sharing Information Share your project documents in all popular file formats Can be set up to email the project team when new files are uploaded. Time Set up milestones and to-do’s to help you track project progress Ability to assign activities to project team members Basecamp gives a clear picture of project progress and draws attention to potential problems. Monitor how much time has been spent at individual task level or for the overall project. Reports can be exported to Excel Templates Templates allow you to quickly replicate common task lists and milestones. Cost $24 per month for the basic package which allows you to manage 15 projects, store 5GB of data and allows access for an unlimited number of users. What Basecamp users think “The dashboard overview lets me create a new message, a new task, or a new milestone in one click. They make it easy for many people to collaborate.” “It wasn’t easy or intuitive to set up Campfire, the chat tool, but it wasn’t hard, either. It just didn’t seem built to connect to the Basecamp app.” Source: http://smallbiztrends.com activeCollab Key Features activeCollab is a tool that you set up on your own server or local network. Sharing Information Range of tools to help Project Managers to share files and allow people to comment on them. Projects are organised around milestones, each one with files, comments, tasks attributed to it. No limits to the number of people that can access activeCollab and in terms of privacy, people only see information related to the project that they are working on with a further facility to control who can see and do what - helpful if your client requires access to the system too! Tickets and Checklists You can add ‘tickets’ or big tasks to milestones which can be broken down into bite-size tasks and discussed. Alternatively, if you simply need a ‘to-do’ that doesn’t require comments then the Checklist function will help. Time Monitoring Allows you to track time at project and task level and generate reports by person, date, status and project. This system allows you to distinguish between chargeable and non chargeable hours. Invoicing Integrate your invoicing process with your project management activities through information already on the system including time logs and tickets. Email activeCollab sends email notification to keep you on top of new comments, files, tickets and documents and it allows you to reply, submitting your comments in the appropriate place. As email is the accepted communication tool, this may support client and team engagement with the tool. Cost Two options are offered by activeCollab, ‘Corporate’ at $499 and ‘Small Biz’ at $249. The corporate version includes some of the more advanced tools including time tracking. Pricing Information What activeCollab users think “A major plus is that you can host activeCollab on your own server. There are no limits to storage space to worry about.” “I was a little disappointed that there was not more attention given to client interaction. It’s hard enough to get your clients to log in to a project management tool without at least giving them some extra ability to interact with the project.” “There are plenty of tools available for helping you to break down your project. Project milestones, discussions, file sharing, joint calendars, time tracking, and forums are the standout ones. Noticeably missing are whiteboards, real time chat areas, and any type of RSS.” Source: http://freelanceswitch.com Trac Key Features Trac is described as “an enhanced wiki and issue tracking system” designed particularly for software development projects. For those of you who may already be a little lost, a ‘Wiki’ is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser (and is taken from the Hawaiian word for ‘fast’). Open Source - Open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials and are usually free. However if you are not ‘technical’ and have little knowledge of working with this type of solution, you may feel a little out of your depth. Sharing Information Communication, discussion and decision-making within the Trac project is done primarily through mailing list conversations. The lists are powered by Google Groups. Time Monitoring The timeline provides a historic view of the project in a single report. It lists all Trac events that have occurred in chronological order, a brief description of each event and if applicable, the person responsible for the change. Each event entry provides a hyperlink to the specific event in question, who authored the change as well as a brief excerpt of the actual comment or text, if available. It is possible to filter the displayed events with the various filters in the option panel. Cost Trac is an open source free project management tool What Trac users think “It is amazingly easy to use after it has been installed, and it allows a shallow learning curve so that every project team member will be up to speed on Trac in just a few hours.” Source: http://www.softwareprojects.org “Web designers and others who like their interfaces clean and less cluttered my find Trac a bit cumbersome.” Source: http://www.myintervals.com Redmine A flexible, project management web application and like Trac, Redmine is open source software. Key Features Multiple project support: projects can be either ‘Public’ (accessible to all) or ‘Private’ (accessible only to the project team), depending on the needs of the project. You can manage related project elements as ‘sub projects’ of the main project. Flexible role based access control which means you can define your own roles and set permissions. Time Monitoring Time can be entered at project or ticket level. Simple report to view time per user, issue type, category or activity Automatic Gantt and calendar based on issues start and due dates Information Sharing You can easily post messages and share files Project activity, change sets, news, issues, issue changes are available as Atom feeds Each user can have a different role on each project Each project can be declared as public (visible by anyone) or private (visible by project members only) Modules (e.g. wiki, repository, issue tracking, ...) can be enabled/disabled at project level Support Redmine lets you authenticate users against multiple ‘LDAP’ or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol Accounts can be created on-the-fly when a user is found in the directory (optional) You can allow users to register online 3 account activation methods are available: automatic (no confirmation required), manual (by administrators) or through an auto generated URL sent via email Multiple databases support - Redmine runs with MySQL, PostgreSQL or SQLite Cost Another free-of-charge, Open Source Software What Redmine users think “The integration throughout the entire system is excellent. You can create nested subprojects and move issues/tickets from one project to another.” Source: http://www.digitalbase.eu “I often wish a few more items where ‘clickable’. For instance when viewing the issue list, I’d like to be able to click the Category name in one of the rows and see a list of issues for that category. “ “You can save filters on the issue list, which is ace, but it would be nice if you can ’save as new’. I often create lots of very similar queries and have to build up each one from scratch.” Source: http://www.davedevelopment.co.uk dotProject dotProject is a volunteer supported Project Management application. There is no "company" behind this project, it is managed, maintained, developed and supported by a volunteer group and by the users themselves. Key Features Offers a view that almost all other project management tools ignore, instead of just managing projects, you can manage several companies at once. dotProject provides more than just project management solutions; it also sets up a help desk with ‘trouble tickets’. This allows your clients to contact you with their issues and complaint or suggestions, and organizes them by date or priority level. Ability to attach files to tasks and projects. Allows you access to budgets and an employee database system. Cost dotProject is free to anyone who wants to download and use it. Day to day support is provided free by volunteers. What dotProject users think “One of the best free tools we have found, with an excellent layout and design and fast page loads as well as clean and concise lines, so its easy to see what to do.” “The only thing missing from this excellent project management tool is a time logging module, allowing team members to show when they were actively working.” Source: http://www.softwareprojects.org The Centre for eBusiness recommends that, if these solutions are still a little ambitious - experiment with online collaboration and document sharing using Google Docs.
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