What was project management like before computers? Imagine hand-scrawled papers, secretaries typing reports, and endless file cabinets. Time management might not have been such a big priority back then. But now, with highly-specialized tools, fewer people can manage more projects, and it could be argued that they manage them better. Let’s look at some of the most top-rated project management software packages and what they bring to the table.
When they created their project management software for subcontractors, eSUB took cloud-based project management to the construction field. eSUB is used by subcontractors in the electrical, mechanical, drywall, HVAC, plumbing, concrete, steel, and specialty contracting industries. This construction project management software tracks job costs, manpower, contract details, change order requests, RFIs, and submittals. It has been used on projects as big as a $500-million renovation of the Beverly Center, and it has demonstrated its use in increasing employee productivity by as much as 25% per week.
The people who built Basecamp built it to help them organize their own team, and they’ve been working remotely for 20 years. That’s the top selling point for this cloud-based project management software. In fact, they wrote a book, published in 2013, called Remote: Office Not Required. Basecamp helps organize all of the things that get lost when they’re spread out among emails, file services, spreadsheets, chats, meetings, and ticketing systems. As a tool, it includes ways to discuss and plan work, give status updates, ask questions, and share files. Another of the main selling points for Basecamp is that the software helps teams communicate better and require fewer meetings. In their book, Remote, the founder of Basecamp writes: “The technology is here; it’s never been easier to communicate and collaborate […]. The missing upgrade is for the human mind.”
If you’re looking for a project management tool with the name of a major tech brand behind it, you might be interested in “Project,” the little-known member of the Microsoft Office family that has been around, in some form or another, since 1984. While it’s a part of the Office family, it has never been included in any of the suites. Now, Project is under the umbrella of the Microsoft 365 brand and can be used in conjunction with Microsoft Teams, a software package that helps workers meet, call, chat, and collaborate. Project’s strengths are that it helps develop a schedule, assign resources, track progress, manage the budget, and analyze workloads.
So far, all of the project management software applications on this list have required payment to use. Redmine is a free, open-source, web-based project management and issue tracking tool. First released in 2006, it is based on Ruby on Rails and offers cross-platform and cross-database compatibility. With Redmine, you can track multiple projects, compile wikis and forums, track time, and create a Gantt chart and calendar.
Here’s another entry in the open-source project management department, this one for software development teams. FusionForge includes features like message forums, mailing lists, code repository creation, file release management, document management, news announcements, user and admin surveys, issue tracking, task management, and wiki creation. Compared to the other tools on this list, it’s not as user-friendly; you might not want to consider installing it unless you’re the type who enjoys troubleshooting open-source software installs.
The last software on our list is another open-source tool, but not all versions are free. OpenProject’s feature list includes project planning and scheduling, roadmapping, release planning, task management, collaboration tools, bug tracking, wikis, and time tracking. Like any useful project management tool for software teams, OpenProject includes Gantt charts and timelines to display the phases and milestones as your project goes along. The timeline is synced in real-time with task management updates. OpenProject is marketed as an alternative to Taiga, another open-source tool for agile teams.