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Sunday, November 25, 2007

dotproject: open source project management for the rest of us

If you're in IT, chances are sooner or later you're going to be managing a project. And, if you're managing a project of any size, you need a set of tools to help. For those of you who use a PC running Windows know who you are...Microsoft Project will probably be your tool of choice. And, if you're into the whole project management certification track, Microsoft Project makes a lot of sense because so many of the training materials reference it.

But, if you're a Mac user like me, Microsoft Project is not an option (unless of course you're dual booting on an Intel or running Parallels and/or Virtual PC). And, if you're less concerned about project management certification and more concerned about managing projects, you still need a tool. What are your choices?

I've done some less than extensive research and the tool I've started using is dotProject. It's an open source project management tool written in PHP and MySQL. The only other thing you need is a web server. I've run it on both a Mac and on an ubuntu linux box.

While not as feature rich as Project, it has the most commonly used features. One that I like is the ticketing system. An issue that I often deal with during the life of a project is determining when a task is complete. This really becomes difficult with software development. Often a particular object or program that has been finished at one point in a project, has to be modified later in the project as requirements change. What to do? Do you reopen the task, create a new task that reflects the modifications, or do you add the time it's going to take to make the changes to another task? One solution is to use dotProject's ticket system to create a ticket for the mods that can linked to the project. I really like this concept for small changes during the life of a project.

Anyway, if you're looking for a non-Microsoft solution to your project management needs, check out dotProject.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dice Project Management Article

I recently read this project management article, Ten Skills for Project Management Success, on (no I wasn't posting a resume) that might be of interest to some of you. I really like tip 6: Stay Away from Microsoft Project. I agree with the writer, if you want to quickly lose peoples' attention show them a complex gantt chart and some resource docs. While these tools are good for the project team, they do not translate well to management. When presenting project progress to your management team, try keeping it simple and concentrate on the big picture. It's been my experience that if management wants the details, they'll ask for them.
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