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Finding the Perfect Online Project Management Tool

12월 21, 2007

Or, a living example of feature creep

Ok, this is going to be much harder than I originally thought. On Tuesday, I was speaking to Albert about creating a sort of project bank, which would be a large repository of project plans that may or may not be used in the future. But this large reserve of planning could be dipped into at any point when we needed a particular plan. I wrote up a very short example project plan as a word document, and envisioned a folder full of word documents, each with a different idea on them. They could be refined and altered over time, of course, because plans always change.

The altering over time thing Albert caught and suggested it might be better as a wiki. That was a great idea, a project plan wiki would be much more useful because it tracks version changes and the editor and could be accessible anytime, and anywhere. But if we’re going to start getting all online and interactive with this, we might as well include some work assignment and time tracking features just in case I end up managing a larger workforce than I am now (currently I’m just managing myself). And if we’re tracking the time of hypothetical future employees, we might as well give them a vehicle to write down what they did during the day.

Good ideas, right?

So I began to search the internet for free, open source, online project management and time tracking tools, thinking I might be able to find someone’s pet project on Sourceforge. Oh, how little did I know what I was getting into.

There are apparently over one hundred online project management tools there, with varying features, pricing, and scope. There are tools which look like a micromanager’s dream, breaking projects down into tasks, and tasks to subtasks. There is time-tracking software which people can actually use to track their tasks to the second. Hit one button to start the timer, hit another to stop it, all on a web site. Every service I’ve found so far is overkill. I’m writing this to try to sort through them and find one that fits what I’m looking for.

Begging the question

Which begs the question, what am I looking for? So far, here are the features that I’d like to have.

  • Project Wiki – I’d like to see a wiki-based project repository where I can write up a customized description of the project, much like a lab report.
  • Team Member Time Tracking – I’d like to have a nice, convenient way for team members to keep track of how much time they’ve spent on a particular project, in up to 30 minute increments. I don’t need seconds tracked
  • Team Work Reports – I’d like team members to be able to write up how the work actually went down and what they ended up accomplishing. Also suggestions for how to make the project better.

My search has begun, and who can say what it will find?

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