While project management alm tools are by no means traditional instructional tools, they are certainly relevant in business curriculums, and other disciplines that teach project management. Of course, readers of this blog that work in administrative functions may also find themselves interested in low cost PM tools (especially in these difficult economic times).
Project Management has been a key aspect of my work as an IT Director for many years, and I know that in the last few years there have been a growing number of web based tools to facilitate this activity. As with so many web based applications, there are a variety of free options (typically providing some type of limits, such as few projects or few users, to remain free, with paid upgrades available to get more extensive functionality). I spent a couple hours researching some of the tools out there, and found just a few truly low cost options. Summary information is provided about each of these offerings below. Taking advantage of the free trials is a nice way to give students hands-on access to true PM tools, and as hosted solutions, they eliminate many of the headaches associated with local installations of software applications.
This is a well known online project management tool, with a very large user base. It also offers a 30 day free trial. In business since 2004, there are endless testimonials to the ease-of-use and overall utility of this project management toolset, which also features a wide array of extras and add-ons to compliment its functionality.
Zoho Projects (projects.zoho.com)
This application allows for free use for 1 project for unlimited users, providing 100 MB of disk space. Certainly a good way to get started. The application provides Project Templates, Calendars, Tasks & Milestones, Gannt Charts, Task Dependancies, Time Tracking, and more. Zoho looks like it is positioned to compete with Basecamp and other low cost online project management tools.
VPMi “web based project office” (www.vcsonline.com)
VPMi Express also positions itself to compete with Basecamp “and other simplistic tools” by giving users free timesheets, unlimited document storage, task end dates, and more enhanced functionality. There is a free 30 day trial available. The software looks very functional. There are a bunch of great testimonials on the site, claiming that VCSonline provides great support, acts like a real partner, and provides “exceptional” software.
Anyone teaching PM, or any discipline in which PM is relevant, may find one or more of the above applications helpful to the instructional process. I would love to hear feedback from anyone regarding this topic, and any related experiences you may have had. Thanks!