Once you get past a simple to-do list and start getting into the heavy-lifting of complex team projects, it’s time to look into project management software. My only memories of my project management course in college are dreadful words like milestones, Gantt charts, and critical paths. Still, when you’ve got a group of people at work on a long-term undertaking with lots of tasks associated with it, you need something to help manage the flow.
I asked my Twitter followers what project management software they use at home and at work, and how they like it on a scale of 1 to 10. I got fewer replies to this question than usual, which makes me think lots of people don’t use a PM app to begin with. Out of the 97 replies I did get, 17 said they use 37 Signals’ Basecamp (and gave it an 8 out of 10 average rating), 12 said they used Microsoft Project (it averaged a 6.6 out of 10 rating), and, interestingly, 9 people said they like Things (which averaged a 7.7 rating) and OmniFocus (which got a rating of 9), both for Mac OS X.
Of the two leaders, Basecamp and Microsoft Project, the comments were completely opposite: Basecamp is beautiful but in need of more features, and MS Project is ugly but powerful. Several people said they use plain text files, a spreadsheet, or an actual human project manager, and a few (presumably programmer-types) use bug trackers (like FogBugz and Trac) and wikis (like MoinMoin) to do their project management for them.
Here’s the full list of responses to the question I posed on Twitter.
What project management software do you use at work or at home? How do you like (scale 1-10)?
- MitchWagner says, “I use Things. Thinking about switching again – i do that when I feel disorganized. Perhaps I should just get organized instead?”
- threew says, “MS Project (6); OpenProject (7)”
- doctorparadox says, “Basecamp which i can only give a 7.5 until they make Writeboards searchable from w/in projects ;)”
- patrickrhone says, “37 Signals Basecamp for work. @dorisapp for home. Rate each a 5 for my uses.”
- briandewitt says, “I use Things and The Hit List about a 9 for both”
- rafaelperrone says, “Microsoft Project – 9 (too expensive)”
- codyks says, “basecamp and its a freaking 11. I love functional simplicity and basecamp rewrote the definition. Customer service is a 13”
- mattg says, “Remember the Milk (with Astrid). I rate it at 6. Unfortunately, seems like the best solution for OS X and Android.”
- karvetski says, “Basecamp…simple, clean, plays nicely with lots of other stuff. Give it 8 (want ability to view ALL projects across ALL hubs)”
- pfinette says, “Text File. Rates a fat 10. :)”
- Portakal says, “Trying nowadays “The Hit List”. Great interface and GTD methodology”
- craigkirchoff says, “I’m using Evernote for project management + Google/outlook calendars. About a 7 out of 10 but mostly b/c of my shortcomings.”
- arthur says, “I’ve been using ToodleDo. I like it at about a seven. That’s project management, not “Project Management”.”
- ddelony says, ” A local version of MoinMoin, 8 or 9.”
- jasonclarke says, “OmniFocus for work and home, 10.”
- dainius says, “things.app on iphone and mac. 7/10.”
- millerian says, “Basecamp, and only scratching the service so far. Expect 8/10 from what I’ve seen. Few annoyances but good workflow.”
- mygeekdaddy says, “and if anyone says they have the perfect solution for you… they’re lying! 😉 As a proj mgr, there is never a 100% fit.”
- mygeekdaddy says, “that’s kind of an open question depending on scale of project. Home – Omnifocus (8/10). Work – MS Project (8/10).”
- JohnZito says, “3×5 note cards (10), Things (7), Evernote (9), OmniPlan (7)”
- corewarrior says, “OpenProj is written in Java and designed to be a drop in replacement for Project. Awesome tool! #oss http://tinyurl.com/2eu3qs”
- halophoenix says, “Since I’m a project mgr by day, I’m relegated to MS Project 07 and Project Srv. I found Proj. Srv really enhances it though.”
- talance says, “I use a combo Excel doc and TaskFreak. I’d give the combo an 8.”
- tcabeen says, “TFS. HATE IT.”
- justyn says, “Probably doesn’t count as PM software, but I use Xmind and RTM to keep myself on track w/projects.”
- NoahGK says, “for work, I use a basic spreadsheet with date, item, owner, status, due date and notes. Simple to use, very portable. It works.”
- roxaloxa says, “post-it notes, rating: 9. i never got anything done before i started sticking post-its all over my apartment.”
- joanofdark says, “Just used 37S Backpack to finish last academic papers & organize a trip to Brazil. Sure beats paper calendar+email. Score: 8”
- jheftmann says, “at home: sticky notes on a board that I can move around (10). at work: Trac (1)”
- kristinab says, “http://www.backpackit.com/ – better than most, free of unnec, complex features.”
- 6sigma says, “Project Kickstart (9) and AES FastTrack Schedule (also a 9)”
- JoshuaRJones says, “OmniFocus. Greatest application on my Macs.”
- joeythespark says, “@37signals Basecamp I give it a 8 and I enjoy using it but I wish my office would adopt it!”
- flpatriot says, “two biggest tools so far are my brain (8/10) and The Hit List (7/10). planning to use Bitbucket if I ever have a team.”
- biggsjm says, “things at home and on my iPhone. At work, nothing but a word document to track projects, next actions, and waiting fors.”
- webarnold says, “ActiveCollab (still the free version, older, but free!) installed on personal host. I like 8/10.”
- vishalbathija says, “I use basecamp and am very satisfied 8/10”
- bloodsugarwilks says, “We use http://www.project.net/ at work and it’s fits our style so far. It’s a 9 right now, but we have yet to fully test it.”
- mandarvaze says, “I user planner. http://live.gnome.org/Planner – 5 out of 10- looking for better alternative on linux (preferably non-java)”
- rzazueta says, “SugarCRM – with plugins, it’s about 70-80% there. Needs native Gantt charts and better resource scheduling.”
- robalan says, “Basecamp: I’d give it a 7 – it’s the best UI I’ve seen, but not as feature-rich as some managers might need (ex: no Gantt)”
- robalan says, “Oh, and for my own personal task management = Things on the Mac and iPhone, rated 8 (needs synching w/o wireless network).”
- BenjaminBrooks says, “use Basecamp at work, love it. Use Backpack at home and love it.”
- tofumatt says, “We use Basecamp, and can’t imagine a better working system.”
- mattshelton says, “work: atTask – 5/10 for my needs (SDLC, multiple projs), but i’ve heard it’s pretty good for strict single-project management.”
- mattshelton says, “home: uhh… a whiteboard. 9/10 in that I can’t take it off of my wall and carry it wherever I need to go.”
- captainnapalm says, “The project mgmt software we use at work is JIRA (http://bit.ly/GA8eD) and I’d give it a solid 8. Great issue tracker as well.”
- IcemanUK says, “MS project at work and I don’t like it at all.”
- chipwell says, “M$ Project @ work – 8 (POWERFUL but ugly) Backpack for personal/school – 6 (easy but LIMITED) #PMOT @mursh @dinag”
- JamZest says, “I use Trac both at home & work. Rating: 6/10.”
- tghw says, “FogBugz. And it’s free for up to two users.”
- rezzz says, “I’d like to know what u use? I’m looking for one for my company but I use omnifocus which isn’t PM”
- _bruceb says, “MS Project at work=3, paper at home=2”
- benfsmith says, “What project management software do I use? OmniPlan. Rated: 8/10”
- plindman says, “Don’t use PM software, though I might benefit from it. I just keep a textfile ToDo showing on Samurize desktop with AHK hotkey”
- davejkirk says, “@DeskAway for small and medium projects. 7.5 / 10”
- Grodzman says, “we use Basecamp for project management at work and at Walsh College. I love it! 10/10.”
- kennonb says, “Been going between Things, OmniFocus and THL. Things (6), OmniFocus (8) and THL (7). None of them are perfect IMO.”
- hamzabhatti says, “Basecamp. I’d give it a 9.”
- morningglass says, “Basecamp. Leap (no, really). RTM…”
- tchviolin says, “I use OmniFocus wherever I go – iPhone version – 9, desktop version – 10!”
- shvidky says, ” RTM with Gmail. Created a Project folder, Urgency checkmark color codes diff stages. Notes section is useful & it’s portable”
- kevlong says, “I use MS Project 2007 supplemented with Word and Excel.”
- noahpurdy says, “I use @thehitlist as my simple but incredibly robust to-do list.”
- brijacob says, “OmniFocus! I rate it a 9 & would give it a 10 if it let me manage other employees projects as well! Nice iphone integration!”
- manyspears says, “Basecamp 8 out of 10… pricing structure irritates me, but the functionality and ease are excellent”
- alanbush says, “I use @centraldesktop at work. I give it a 9. Not a pure project mgt solution, but highly customizable. A+ cust service, too.”
- adang001 says, “I highly recommend 37signals Backpack for personal project management (http://bit.ly/FvcAj) – clean, simple, effective, mobile”
- hatchethead says, “I use OmniFocus (I give it a 10 and my GTD-mojo a 5). I also use OmniPlan, which I give an 8.”
- phnandor says, “I’ve been looking for a good project management sw for years but haven’t found one. Now I know what will be my next project :)”
- robmcbell says, “MS Project (5), Google tasks (7), Outlook public calendars (3)”
- dongola7 says, ” We use Mingle ( http://bit.ly/avhF3). I give it an 8 for its flexibility.”
- pinpix says, “Excel – 6 / 10”
- botykai_zsolt says, “@work internally developed ASP.NET s**t. That describes how I hate it. @home plaintext all the way. Grep. Vim.”
- EuroCrank says, “OmniFocus. Use it for work and home projects. Give it a 9. Disciplined weekly ‘reviewing’ is the hardest part.”
- Roryboryalis says, “I use 37Signals Basecamp for project management. I give it an 8 out of 10 (-2 for smallish usability hiccups).”
- beerdiary says, “Thoughtworks Mingle is brilliant”
- PhYoshi says, “Notepad, 9 :)”
- JohnnyRocket50 says, “Clarity from CA. 8”
- brettlleonard says, “At work –> MS Project – rating = 7, MS Excel and One Page Project Manager – http://tinyurl.com/ofb38b template – rating =8.”
- gniewomir says, “Today’s a: GTD Inbox http://www.gtdgmail.com/ 8 :)”
- thegrayraven says, “We use trac at work, and I give it a 7. I use google docs for personal projects, and give it an 8.”
- rendini says, “Basecamp. I’d give it an 8 out of 10. Perspective = I’ve used many PM tools & I can’t think of one other that I’d give a 5 to.”
- jutsman says, “things on osx. I rate it an 8.”
- cjokrap says, “MS Project, unfortunately. I am not given anything better at work. It works, but not great.”
- andylenzini says, “does it count if I use a project manager?”
- zarekthenerd says, “Microsoft project 🙂 I give it a 7.”
- SillyCasper says, “Basecamp 7/10, would use something else but it does seem the best. Not a fan of 37S themselves though.”
Thanks to everyone who told me what they’re using. Hereâ€™s more on why and how Iâ€™m using Twitter to run surveys like this.
Haven’t yet used it much, but there’s a free web-based PM called gantter
for work I’ve ben using tracker from pivotal labs … it’s gorgeous … 9 of 10 http://www.pivotaltracker.com/
Your post is particularly timely and a bit ironic, at least for me. 🙂 I’ve used several and haven’t been particularly happy with any of them, especially the market leader. So I figured that others might be in the same boat so I just launched a website called PM-Sherpa with a goal to help people find the service the meets their needs the best.
Right now the site is pretty simple but I plan to add more features as time goes on. You can see it at http://pm-sherpa.com. If you know of a tool we are missing just go to the “Submit” menu option where you’ll find instructions for telling me about other tools.
I’m surprised that nobody mentioned the big daddy of all project management tools – Primavera. Whether it’s the classic P3 or the newer P6, there isn’t a better project management tool out there. I give it a 10!
Check out http://www.gganttic.com.
It is a silverlight no-login online application that shows google spreadsheets as Gantt projects.
It is a beta, and it shows, but overall it is IMHO fine. (disclaimer: I am the guy behind it :))
I am with Brooks – serious Project Planners (often contractors) use Primavera. Client Project Managers of large projects in large corporations often have to incorporate Primavera results into Microsoft Project which can be 1) directly accessed by other Project Managers and/or 2) translated into Microsoft Power Point presentations for Management.
The Project Management Institute can confirm or dispute my assertion (I am retired and no longer a member)
For a web-based one – definitely try 5pm (http://www.5pmweb.com)
I was looking forward to seeing the results of your survey and I’m a bit surprised at the outcome.
I have used both of the top 2 tools and while I like Basecamp, there are plenty of things that are missing in order for me to consider it a comprehensive Project Management tool and MS Project has such a high learning curve and generally requires an FTE to maintain it’s not ideal either.
Thanks for the survey & update, Gina! I will definitely check out the other mentions…
Obviously we’re biased but check out ProjectSpaces – http://www.projectspaces.com – an easy to use online project management tool. Sign up for a free thirty day trial today!
Orchestrate is a resource scheduling app, it focuses on scheduling people to perform tasks at locations based on their qualifications. Here’s it’s review on Techcrunch, it wont suit everyone, and it doesnâ€™t have Gantt charts.
Disclaimer: This is my companyâ€™s app
I think maybe a lot of people don’t consider what they do from day to day to be “project management”, as much as collaborating with clients or team members.
We created ClientSpot to support that kind of informal project collaboration, and it’s been well received, especially by virtual professionals.
I suggest you to take a look at Teamwork, a great work management software.
I would recommend Comindwork.com – integrates MS Project Gantt charts and Basecamp. You may create Gantt charts online (or import from MS Project files) and also fully synchronize with Basecamp account (everything, even files).
I am looking for a hosted solution and like what I see with CreativeOffice Pro, especially the Job Timer, but am concerned about the lack of activity in the Forums. I had posted a question and emailed the developer about the ability to manually add time spent on a task but haven’t heard back from either. Based on their most recent blog, I think they’re moving away from a hosted solution.