Three usefull project planning tools

I did some research and testing of various tools to plan my PhD research and ensure that some important deadlines can and will be met.

I found 3 open-source software packages that will suit the needs of anyone, from quick building of a Gantt chart to the scheduling and execution of a project involving tenth of people over various months.

GanttProject

Project page: http://www.ganttproject.biz/

GanttProject is an interesting solution if you need to quickly create a planning using various resources. It is really easy to use and the interface is fast and straightforward. I really like the export function that can be used to create really nice reports (see a pdf example here). However, it lacks of an update functionality to efficiently follow-up a planning: it seems that the user has to manually change the start dates or durations of tasks to update the planning.

In short:

The goods:

  • Light weighted & portable (9Mo – jar file)
  • Intuitive & easy to use
  • Mutli-format export function (png, pdf, html, csv….)

The bads:

  • Limited functionality for planning update

Planner

Project page: http://live.gnome.org/Planner

Planner is a Gnome software that provides functionalities similar to GanttProject, suffering from the same lack of update function. An interesting addition is the presence of customisable calendars that can be associated with resources to define their availability day by day. It is also intuitive and relatively easy to use and can produce html reports. It is available for windows and in the package manager of most linux distributions.

The goods:

  • Multi-platform
  • Intuitive & easy to use
  • Excellent calendar function

The bads:

  • Only html reports
  • Limited functionality for planning update

Open Workbench

Project page: http://www.openworkbench.org/

Open Workbench is presented by its developers as a direct concurrent to Microsoft Project. It is indeed the most complete solution I have come to try. It includes all the functionalities of the previously mentioned products, plus extra features for the monitoring of the project execution. In particular the status update allows the recording of the working time by each person on each task on a daily basis, which can then be used to analyse the deviation from the original plan, or to automatically re-plan the remaining activities. As it is more complex that the previously mentioned programs, it is a bit harder to use, however, once you know how to do what it is a really powerful tool.

The goods:

  • Extensive functionalities
  • Auto-scheduling feature
  • Highly customizable views

The bads:

  • Natively available for Windows only (works fine with Wine though)
  • Not so good-looking interface
  • Lacks of an exporting/ reporting function

Screenshots

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