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Project management software?
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Project management software?

by george graves on Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:17 am

Has any of you guys/gals used project management software to help keep track of a larger project, or several projects at once?

I've got about 8-12 ongoing projects, that some are kinda intertwined, all of them are multi-step complex things. Some of them are inter-related. I've never touch any project management software...but I kinda wanted to create a timeline that will help me keep track of things and show me the potential road blocks.

Without really knowing what I need, I kinda think I need something that will show me something like this:

Image

Is there anything online(free maybe?) I should look at? Is Microsoft Project good for a noob?

I only need one user license (me).
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Re: Project management software?

by ezekielmudd on Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:33 am

IANAPMP, but that picture is a Gantt Chart.

You could use Excel to make one. Here's a free template.
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Re: Project management software?

by george graves on Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:42 am

Gantt Chart - thanks for the name. I'm sure I could create something like that in photoshop,illustrator or the like. But I think the key to it would be automatically updating and whatnot. So I'm more interested in software that does that sort of thing for me.
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Re: Project management software?

by lyndon on Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:30 pm

MS Project is OK for large projects with many people, but for stuff where I'm the only person, I find that to-do lists work much better. Borrow from Scrum and write each task and its due date on a Post-It note then stick them on the wall in the order they should be done.

No computer needed and you can see at a glance what your status is.
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Re: Project management software?

by sircastor on Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:01 pm

I use Evernote to keep track of my projects. I organize projects into notebooks, and add checklists for milestones - I have ordered lists to provide me a roadmap, and other notes just to write down ideas. It can hold files for you. Everything is searchable and there's a pretty robust API if I need to extend it (haven't so far). I also like that it's almost universally accessible. It's backed up, they have a very strong policy about user ownership of their own data.

It's not really geared toward projects specifically, so you have to develop your own workflow - I guess it depends a bit on how much you like to pave your own way vs using something proven.
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Re: Project management software?

by MoonyMoon on Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:42 pm

You can try Ace Project. It's free for the Basic Setup (w/ limited features though e.g only for 5 users, 50 active tasks, etc.). AceProject empowers you to structure projects with these specifications:
1. Task Status
2. Task Priorities
3. User Assignments
4. Task Type
5. Task Details

It also has a gantt chart feature to view the progress of all tasks within a specific project - daily, weekly and monthly views are available. It also shows the progress (percentage complete) of each tasks.

Another tool worth trying is Zoho Projects. The task management module helps you to effectively track key milestones, set dependencies and tasks to be accomplished. This helps you to organize, assign tasks and prioritize them using color codes.

You might also be interested with the tools listed here and check the comparison table of the various project management software and see which is better for you.
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Re: Project management software?

by jasonwebb on Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:11 pm

I would highly recommend reading Getting Things Done (http://tinyurl.com/co8opte). It's got a lot of business / office type lingo, but its really caught on in the programmer / hobbyist world. Essentially, it comes down to finding a system (whether it be all on paper, a variety of software or whatever) that works for you, and making yourself actively maintain it.

For me, the most helpful project management tools that I use now are:
1. Installing a local wiki on my machine to collect relevant data about each of my projects.
2. A simple task-manager to help me prioritize physical actions (what the next things to do on every project are). I have tried a few, but find myself loving Todoist. Todoist also has a great Chrome add-on that lets you view your prioritized list of actions quickly in your browser so you can pick appropriate things to do while you're already doing your web browsing and whatnot.
3. A big whiteboard. I recently moved and have not yet put one up, but having a physical system in place (away from the computer) that you can just glance at and get a feel for what you having going on is great. The added bonus is that you can remain productive even when you're tired of working on your computer - just take a short break, stand in front of your whtieboard and evaluate what you have going on and whether you need to add, update or remove anything. My whiteboard usually contains a mix of Post-Its (day-to-day things and 'don't forget's), sketches, brainstorms and an overview of all the projects I currently have.

The most important thing is to just have something in place and to use it. When you have a system in place that you trust, and you have dumped all of your projects, progress, to-do items, etc into it, your stress level will drop dramatically because you don't have any 'loose threads' in the back of your mind making you feel like you missed something.
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Re: Project management software?

by s_brune on Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:01 pm

I used this at my last job http://www.ganttproject.biz/.I could not use MS project because of the cost and I needed something I could run that did not require administrator rights to install. It's not as good as project put it is free and works reasonably well for the projects I worked on.
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Re: Project management software?

by TonyH on Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:57 am

Try open proj...

http://sourceforge.net/projects/openproj/

All the project management software I've used sucks to a greater or lesser extent tbh and or anything other than very simple stuff Excel is a pain in the backside.

Have you tried mind mapping? I find it more useful than a traditional gantt chart for multiple smaller projects. Also helpful to do before you try and gantt chart as it's better (IMHO) at teasing out all the little things you need to do.

http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/in ... /Main_Page
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Re: Project management software?

by adafruit_support_mike on Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:57 pm

The tool you need really depends on what job you're trying to do. Based on your description, it sounds like you want topological sorting and critical path analysis.

Topological sorting is the 'what comes before what else?' stage of planning. IMO, the best toolset for that is a couple of good-sized whiteboards and a pad of 3x5 post-it notes.

Start with a randomly-selected step in some process. Write the name of that step across the top of a post-it note. Draw a line under the name, then a vertical line splitting the lower part of the note in half. On the left, write all the things this step needs before it can happen. On the right, write all the things this step produces. Stick the note to the whiteboard, and draw a line away from the card for each 'consumable' and each 'deliverable'. Make notes for the stages that produce or consume each item, and paste those at the end of the appropriate line. Repeat until every line has a note at both ends.

That's your process graph. Don't worry about making it pretty, but try to keep it from becoming too much of a haystack. If at any point you decide you need to rearrange things, move the post-it notes to the other whiteboard one at a time, redrawing connections as necessary.

Once your process graph is complete, you can sort it topologically, which just means putting things in the order of their dependencies.

Start by circling all the notes that have no incoming connections (self-contained steps). For each circled note, draw a large dot in the center of each line that comes out from it. Once all the lines are dotted, move the note to a column running down the left side of your second whiteboard, which for convenience I'll call the 'sorting board'.

Go back to the process graph, and this time circle the notes whose incoming edges all have dots (all the dependencies for this step have already been moved to the sorting board). Draw dots on all those outgoing edges, move all the notes to a second column on the sorting board, and draw all the connections from column one to column two.

Repeat that 'find the notes whose inputs are all dotted, dot their outputs, move them to the sorting board, draw connections' process until all your notes have moved over to the sorting board. Now you have a well-organized graph of what comes first and what comes next. Each column is a 'stage' of production.. a set of operations you can do in parallel.

To do a critical path analysis, start with the notes in column one (all the way to the left) and write a number on each note that tells you how long that step will take once you have all the stuff you need. Copy that number onto each edge leaving that note. When you're done with the last note in column one, find the line or lines that have the largest number and draw a dot on the center of those lines. Those are your 'critical' (slowest) connections. Copy the largest number to the bottom of the board below column one. That's your 'critical deadline' for that stage. You can delay any step in a stage as long as you don't exceed the critical deadline.

Next, go to column two. Write a time value on each note, then look at all the lines coming into that note and pick the one with the highest number. Add the highest incoming number to the number on the note itself, and write the sum on every line coming out from the note. Again, when you get to the end of the column, find the line or lines with the highest number, put a dot on them, and write that critical deadline at the bottom of the board below column two.

Repeat that process all the way to the last column. When you're done, there will be at least one path from the first column to the last one with a dot on every line. That's your critical path.. the slowest path through the process, and the one that will hurt you the most if anything goes wrong. You'll also have a row of critical deadines across the bottom of the board that you can use as milestones during the process.

Honestly, I find it easier to do the whole thing with office supplies than to try doing it in software.
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