Online Project Management Apps

Many people on Twitter ask for recommendations for a good online project management solution. There are many such web-based applications out there, and it really depends upon your needs and intended project approach - are you “agile”, do you want to use “scrum” or “kanban”, or are you PMI all the way. Do you want it SaaS, or self-hosted? Do you need time tracking? Should a wiki be integrated? The list goes on. Read on to hear about my assessment.

My requirements to make it through the “first cut” were:

  • app is web-based and so is accessible anywhere.
  • app is relatively bug free and stable.
  • app developer has some history and do not look like they will disappear tomorrow.
  • app is not linked to a single platform (that is, it can be accessed from a PC, Mac or Linux system, for instance) or a single technology (for instance, that it “requires IE and ActiveX”).
  • app supports Japanese for data entry, export to CSV or other formats, and in reports (I did not need the UI to be Japanese, necessarily, but the input and output should support Japanese characters).
  • app has time tracking.
  • app has custom fields, especially for time tracking.
  • app has email integration preferably in- and out-bound.
  • app has acceptable reporting.

Just below is a list that basically supported the above, or I felt were interesting enough to look at in more detail, even if the app did not make the cut - for example, “it must be free” or “it must include invoicing”. I suggest you make a list like that to weed out the ones that won’t work for you. Then you can start concentrating on really fine-grained items like:

  • app allows entry of “time remaining” rather than the asinine practice of entering percent complete.
  • app allows entry of estimates, from a task, rate-type, or “phase” perspective, and a printout of those (because even agile teams have stakeholders).
  • app is not just a list, but has some level of workflow tracking built in as well.
  • app does not lock you into only one way of doing things, but rather allows you to approach things from your perspective.

Online PM Solutions that Passed my First Cut

For your reference, here’s the list of “first cut” solutions (for me, that is) where I started examining in more detail (and in alphabetical order):

Acunote from Pluron

Basecamp from 37 Signals

Intervals from Pelago

LiquidPlanner

Mingle from Thoughtworks

Pelotonics

ScrumWorks Pro from Danube (Client Server Paradigm)

TargetProcess Agile Project Management Software

Teamwork Project Manager from Digital Crew

Teamwork Work Management from Open Lab

Unfuddle

V1 Enterprise from VersionOne

VeoProject

Wrike

Other Online PM Solutions

There are many other ones that I looked at, but were not quite what I wanted or needed. This does not mean they won’t work for you or are inherently bad. For your reference, here’s a list of some of the others (in alphabetical order) that I thought were good but that either lacked something I needed or that I simply did not have time to assess properly:

5pm from QG Software

Ace Project from Websystems Inc

activeCollab from a51 development

AgileBuddy from Brightspark

Agilefant from SoberIT and Helsinki University

Clarizen from Clarizen Inc

CoMindWork from NewtonIdeas

Copper from Element Software

DeskAway from Synage Software

dotProject

FogBugz from Fog Creek

Quickbase from Intuit

Redmine from Jean-Phillipe Lang

Trac

Note, many of these apps have ways to get a free version (limited by number of users or projects for example), are free for open source teams, or, are open source to begin with. I hope this article can be a starting point for your search for the perfect PM app. Enjoy!

Comments?

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—by Rick Cogley