Tools for Managing Projects

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

For complex projects that will involve many people, many tasks or take a considerable amount of time to implement, there is huge benefit to be had from using one of the many project management tools available to plan and manage the project’s resources successfully.

I have worked on some memorable large-budget projects where I have used a series of spreadsheets or MS Project to plan and manage the whole thing. Rather surprisingly, I think all of these projects were a success but I wouldn’t recommend the spreadsheet route for a complex project.

A decent project management tool will always help in the planning and managing of a complex, inter-related series of activities. That is because the more complex the project, the more likely it is that there will be problems, risks and dependencies so help in monitoring and anticipating these is far more likely to lead to a successful outcome.

Two commonly used methods in project management are Gantt Charts and Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams. Gantt charts are a graphical illustration of a project schedule a bit like a horizontal bar chart that helps to plan, coordinate, and track project tasks. Critical Path Analysis is simply a time line showing all related and dependent tasks and activities in a project which helps tasks to be scheduled to prevent overlaps in dependent tasks.

When selecting a tool to help you manage a project, two of the most important factors to consider are how it handles Gantt Charts and Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams and, therefore, how the tool is going to help you with scheduling, resource management and dependencies. There are a number of very good proprietary software tools currently on the market but here are my top ten recommendations for open source tools:

  1. Endeavour Software Project Management
  2. GanttProject
  3. KPlato
  4. Planner
  6. Project-Open
  7. RedMine
  8. TaskJuggler
  9. web2project
  10. Xplanner


But even the best tools are no substitute for a professional project management training course where you will learn tips and techniques about the underlying methods that will help you achieve a successful result.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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