There are more options available to you than just Microsoft Project. Here are 5 project management tools that you probably haven’t come across before.
1. Birdview Projects
About: The company says that Birdview Projects is “the world’s first human-centric project management software.” It’s been developed for creative teams who don’t have the time or interest to deal with learning and configuring a new software product.
Interface: Web-based, Apple-inspired user interface. Looks nice. Aims to give you a bird’s eye view of your projects.
Neat features: Track progress by setting and completing goals – no more using percent complete as a measure. There is a slider mechanism to control what information you see by zooming in for more detail, or zooming out for an overview.
Random fact: The pricing plans are named after birds: Hummingbird, Robin, Owl, Falcon and Eagle.
About: 2 products: a desktop version for individual use and a web version for team use. Company says it is a “free alternative to MS Project.”
Interface: Web version has a smart-phone interface. Tabular interface includes one view just for milestones. The team version can also be hosted locally if you prefer not to use an internet service.
Neat features: Includes a graphical Work Breakdown Structure. You can layout the high-level scope of your project and then work downwards to add additional details as they become available. Includes time recording features.
Random fact: The software is free, but you can pay 2-plan to develop extra features for you. Or you can develop them youself as it is all open source.
About: Bontq is a new product made by a small team of developers and designers in San Mateo. It’s a bug and issue tracking system and project management tool.
Interface: Web-based, with email notifications when things change. All the plans except the cheapest include a desktop client.
Neat features: Includes a wiki. Even the project management interface looks like bug tracking software though. There is built-in screen capture and video capture options so that you can record what users see in order to fix it. Includes Google Docs integration and the ability to set custom priorities.
Random fact: The software’s logo is a bug. Not for the squeamish.
4. PlanningForce Express
About: The PlanningForce Express suite is made up of the Planner tool and a Portfolio management tool. It is aimed at small teams. According to the manufacturer, it “is not Gantt-centric.” The product focuses on project start up, resource planning, and project goals, and then delivers a Gantt chart. The Gantt chart produced reduces the need for manual resource leveling or juggling date constraints, so it automatically fits the available people to the available tasks. The latest version was released in April 2011.
Interface: Not web-based. The Express Planner is available free to download for Windows and Mac. Looks a bit like MS Project in terms of structure, but more colourful.
Neat features: The plan is automatically produced by the scheduling engine. It provides realistic start and end dates for tasks, taking into account resource constraints and ‘daily intensity’ i.e. how hard you work your staff. Manual scheduling is also available. With the Portfolio Planner, you can group projects by hierarchy into portfolios. Resources can be grouped into portfolios too.
Random fact: PlanningForce supports the Graine de Vie initiative, for Madagascar’s reforestation project. The project aims to open a tree nursery and plant 100,000 trees. Last time I looked, PlanningForce had only achieved 2% of its target donation this year. You can donate here, if you like.
5. TeamDynamix Task Manager
About: Task Manager is a free desktop application which is effectively a stand-alone application. If you have other TeamDynamix Enterprise applications it is fully integrated. Task Manager will create, update and manage plans and tasks offline. It is free to anyone who joins the TeamDynamix Higher Education PPM community – which means that you need a .edu or other institutional email address to sign up. The company says it is a “free, intuitive and easy-to-use alternative to Microsoft Project.”
Interface: Desktop-based, stand-alone. You can’t see very much about how the application looks from the TeamDynamix website as you need to sign in to watch the videos and see more. But from what I can tell it looks a lot like MS Project.
Neat features: The Gantt chart has a zoom feature so you can see big picture or detail. The Gantt chart also has a drag and drop facility for re-ordering tasks.
Random fact: TeamDynamix has a Higher Education Advisory Council. The council is self-directed and acts as the product governance committee, dedicated to promoting good project and portfolio management across the higher education community.
Have you used any of these products? What do you think?