Project Management: Finding a New Solution

October 2nd, 2008 Posted in project management

After a few years of freelancing out of my Gmail inbox and a simple checklist in my Google Desktop sidebar, I finally committed to finding a new solution. I needed a better way to manage my projects. Avoid common mistakes in selecting a new project management tool with these easy steps.

Step 1: Identify Your Needs

In most cases, different people have different requirements. I didn’t need some massive piece of project management software, I just needed a better way to organize and track about 4-7 projects simultaneously. Gadgets and graphics are fun, but I needed to upgrade for the functionality, not for the pretty effects and eronious options.

Step 2: Indetify Your Wants

This is just as important as identifying your needs. Since you’re already willing to make a big change, you might as well make sure you’re making all the changes you’d like to. There’s few things more frustrating that going through a big upgrade or change only to find out shortly after that you’d like to make additional tweaks and you need to go through the whole process again.

Despite what some people think, it’s strikingly easy to determine your wants for things like project management… Just answer the following questions:

  • I wish I could…
  • It’d so awesome if the software did…
  • Hopefully I can find a program that…

See, it’s not rocket-science folks. I discovered that I’d love a solution I could log into from anywhere and get to work. I thought it’d be great if my clients could also log into the software and track and discuss projects so I also wanted it to look nice. Do you want to access your info on the go? Do you want to have multiple users?

Step 3: Identify Your Restraints

This is the most commonly skipped step for most of us. We’ve gotten so excited about what we might be able to do, we’ve forgotten to get realistic again. Once you’ve thought about what you need and want, it’s time to get down to business.

We’ll start with obvious. If you can’t afford new software right now, you’ll have to be looking at only free packages. The open-source community has plenty to offer so you’re not out of luck. It is also important to keep in mind that “not able to afford” new software is an idea you need to look at closely. Personally, I was ready to admit to myself that a one-time investment into better project management was something I couldn’t afford NOT to do. Between searching through emails and IM conversations and not remembering enough about something my sidebar is calling “Site for Joe”, I was losing more money every month in lost hours than what I would spend on the software.

Now to the not-so-obvious. If you’re putting in 60+ hours a week just to keep your head above the water, you don’t have much time to spend on this upgrade. You’ll need to find a solution quickly and get it up and running even quicker. If you’re not so crunched for time, you should be pretty thorough while going through these steps – the more time you can put in here, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

In the first step, we pin-pointed what we have to have in our new solution so don’t get sucked into something that doesn’t meet them to your satisfaction. As simple as it seems, I still talk to plenty of people who forget this. Perhaps I could simplify it a bit more… If ‘Software A’ doesn’t have your needs, move one to ‘B’. The solution you select needs to have these… that’s why they’re called needs.

Step 4: Go Shopping!

Note that I did NOT say “Go Purchasing”. My wife could assure you that there is a distinct difference between the two. To me, shopping consists mainly of research and test-drives.

Start by googling some keywords like “project management software”. You’ll see that there are thousands of companies and individuals claiming they have the best software ever created. Try integrating some of your needs and wants into the searches like “hosted”, “simple”, “mobile”, etc. and you’ll start to narrow the field. Once you find a few good-looking candidates, download the trials and test out the demos.

Step 5: Pull The Trigger

You’ve done your homework, you’ve planned, and now you’ve found the solution that best fits what you’re looking for in a project management tool. Puchase, download, install, test, and use it. If you’ve followed these steps you should be well on you’re way to more efficiency and a less stressful work week.

A Few Links to Help You Out

You didn’t think we’d leave you empty-handed did you? In addition to searching around, here are a few of the most popular choices for project management with a quick description.

  • ActiveCollab – $199-$399 (one time)
    My choice for project management. Fully-featured, web-based software you can install wherever you want. Full support for iPhone.
  • BaseCamp – $24-$149 (per month)
    Crazy popular hosted, web-based solution. Plenty of features, plenty of support.
  • Open WorkBench – FREE
    Downloadable replacement for Microsoft’s Project software. More traditional, database-style management.
  • dotProject – FREE
    Popular open-source web-based software. Decently equipped, Convincingly ugly.
  • Project Management Software
    Read for Benefits of Program Management Software.

Any other favorites out there? Let us know in the comments.

Author -

who has written 27 posts on [Re]

Contact the author

2 Responses to “Project Management: Finding a New Solution”

  1. Lucian Ioan Says:

    You can try RationalPlan. It is best suited for those that do not know to much about the project management domain having a helpful internal guide. You can find it at:

  2. HenryJ Says:

    Great article. I’m a huge Basecamp fan myself. Love the simple UI, makes me feel more relaxed. I think it starts here. Project management HAS to be about making it easier not having to add more to your plate.

Leave a Reply