Best Free Project Manager

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Introduction

The term "Project Management software" is muddy if not ambiguous. For example, users have different views of delineates “project management” from task or time management.

While Microsoft lead the way in desktop project management tools with MS Project. I used it and liked it. But not everyone wanted the complexity that came with all of its capabilities. That includes me now that my life is simpler.

This brings us to the Best Free Project Manager category: It features programs that offer most or all of these functions: project planning, task and sub-task tracking, scheduling and resource tracking, and progress charting and review.

Users with smaller projects or simpler needs should consider less feature-rich project managers such as GanttProject or ToDoList (included in this article) or products in the Best Free Reminder and To-Do Program category.

 

Rated Products

ToDoList  

A compact and powerful program with all the elements you need for professional project management.


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Open source)
Encrypt a task list, small memory footprint; Set priorities, due dates, time estimates, percent completion, etc; shows overdue items, multiple filters, powerful import/export, sort and search, share data, etc. Easy to get started managing a simple project; Lots of help for beginners, including a tutorial in the Help Wiki.
As with most project management software, the learning curve is a bit steep, but the Help Wiki provides everything you need to learn.
Read full review...

Open Workbench  

An open-source application offers project planning, scheduling, resource management, project review and more.


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Open source)
Feature-rich and powerful effort-based so it best suited to groups that estimate total work effort.
Note: Vulnerabilities in Java Runtime are regularly discovered. It also seems that Sun (owner of Java) is losing interest in maintaining Java and Java Runtime. This product is not recommended if security is a concern. Resource-driven (effort-based) rather than task driven (duration-based) like Microsoft Project.
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GanttProject  

Excellent for making Gantt charts and great for making logical and easy to understand development plans.


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Open source)
A full featured program. Available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Note: Vulnerabilities in Java Runtime are regularly discovered. It also seems that Sun (owner of Java) is losing interest in maintaining Java and Java Runtime. This product is not recommended if security is a concern.
Read full review...

dotProject  

A robust Web-based project management framework allows users to schedule, plan and staff projects.


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Open source)
Web based tool; long history of successful use; has a large active user base with effective community support if you have a problem.
Uninspiring website lacks the look and feel of other web based tools; bugs are often slow to be fixed.
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web2project  

A free open source business-oriented project management system built for the future.


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Open source)
Web-sync; better for collaborative projects with shared calendars; can migrate projects from dotProject; screenshots and video tutorials.
You have to install your own web server or get a hosted account; Some features previously available at dotProject are still being developed
Read full review...

Related Products

  • Zoho Projects: This is another one of Zoho's superb applications for personal and business users. "Milestones, tasklists and tasks help you break down complex projects into easily manageable units. Get more refined control with subtasks, recurring tasks, and dependencies." Zoho Projects would be the solution for me if I actually had any multiple-contributor projects to run. ;) You can get a good idea about Projects from their getting started guide and tour of features. Their cloud-driven collaboration tools are first class too.
  • Producteev: "Task Management Software for Teams." This is an attractive online project management system that keeps things simple, and enables team members to participate in creating, assigning and tracking project elements.
  • Asana is a simple, logical, web-based project manager, which is straightforward and easy to understand and work with. It is primarily task oriented, and there is no resource (time) dimension to the tasks, which trades off bottoms-up planning for simplicity. The tops-down planning focus lends itself to more flexibility and quicker response to workload changes than traditional, details-focused project managers. In other words, it would be best for internal projects, like product development, than it would be for managing contracts.
  • Rescoper is an interesting smart web-app that readjusts your plans as the work progresses.
  • ProjectLibre is an open-source replacement for Microsoft Manager. Could be a nice replacement for Open Workbench too. ProjectLibre requires Java Runtime though. Friends don't let friends install Java. Try at your own risk.

 

Editor

This software category is maintained by volunteer editor philip. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or suggestions they might have by clicking here.

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Comments

ReqMan appears no longer to be freeware. It just has a 14-day free trial with pricing thereafter starting at $9/month.

Thank you for letting us know. It is now removed from the review. MC - Site manager.

Does anyone have experience with Asana? ( http://asana.com/ ) I was searching for a web-based app of this type. Asana came up early in Google search results, and it looks interesting, but I see no mention of it here either in the article or in the comments section. Just wondering. Asana says it is free for up to 30 users/project participants.

I don't have any experience, but I did open an account and look around. Here is the decription I added to the Related Products section above:

Asana is a simple, logical, web-based project manager, which is straightforward and easy to understand and work with. It is primarily task oriented, and there is no effort required dimension to the tasks. That trades off bottoms-up planning for simplicity. The tops-down planning focus lends itself to more flexibility and quicker response to workload changes than traditional, details-focused project managers. In other words, it would be best for internal projects, like product development, than it would be for managing contracts.