Microsoft Project is a project management software program, developed and sold by Microsoft, which is designed to assist a project manager in developing a plan, assigning resources to tasks, tracking progress, managing the budget, and analyzing workloads.
MS Project was the company’s third Microsoft Windows-based application, and within a couple of years of its introduction it became the dominant PC-based project management software. Although branded as a member of the Microsoft Office family, it never has been included in any of the Office suites (like Visio). It is available currently in two editions, Standard and Professional. MS Project’s proprietary file format is .mpp.
Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project Server are the cornerstones of the Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management (EPM) product. Microsoft Project 2010 features the Ribbon user interface.
Microsoft Project is suitable for everyone from a person with very basic project management needs to a very large team with very complex collaboration and management needs. But this software comes with a high price tag and a proprietary license. So here we explore some great free and open source alternatives to MS Project.
OpenProj is an open source project management software. It intends to be a complete desktop replacement for Microsoft Project. OpenProj runs on the Java Platform, allowing it to run on a variety of different operating systems.
Openproj is so far the best free and open source alternative to Microsoft Project. Openproj is the best alternative because there is very little time and effort required to shift from Microsoft Project to Openproj. It can even open MPP and MPT files created from Microsoft Project but the drawback of Openproj is that it will not be able to save the file back to MS Project file format rather it saves an XML file which can be opened universally by any XML reader.
Although being a great software, development of OpenProj seem to have been suspended. There has been no improvement in the past four years and it is not longer compatible with the latest Microsoft Project. In 2012 the founders of openProj announced that they forked the project and will be releasing a new version of OpenProj in August 2012. The name of the fork is ProjectLibre.
The latest version of OpenProj is 1.4.2.
Comparison to other full fledged project management software, GanttProject is designed in KISS principle. It features most basic project management functions like a Gantt chart for project scheduling of tasks, and doing resource management using resource load charts. It does not have advanced features like cost accounting, message and document control. It has a number of reporting options (MS Project, HTML, PDF, spreadsheets).
Some of its major features include create Work Breakdown, Structure, Task hierarchy and dependencies, Gantt chart, Resource load chart, Generation of PERT chart, PDF and HTML reports, MS Project import/export and more.
The latest version of GanttProject is 2.5.5.
TeamLab is an open source multifunctional web office for business collaboration, document, project and clients management. It has been developed by Ascensio System SIA, a fast-growing company that offers IT-solutions for personal and corporate use. TeamLab was founded on the idea of making social networking and project management efficient. It combines a wide range of features that assist a company team to work as one organism at solving common tasks and achieving results.
TeamLab is available in three deployment solutions:
- SaaS: Create your enterprise portal in the cloud with the free services we provide.
- Self-hosted: Download source code and host it on your own servers.
- Amazon EC2: Run a personal virtual server with pre-installed TeamLab platform
TeamLab allows you to – build teams and assign tasks, schedule project milestones, track project activity and generate reports, create posts in blogs and forums, view employee details, create, edit, save and share documents directly on your portal, import docs base from Google Docs, Zoho, Box.net, integrate documents into your project module and more.
Gantter is a project planning and management application running from a web-browser. With Gantter you can do similar things you do in Microsoft Project in a similar way: plan your project, review your plan using Gantt chart, manage project resources and calendars, review critical tasks, estimate project cost, control your project progress.
Gantter supports different task dependencies (including lags between depending tasks), task constraints and task types. Gantter performs all the scheduling and other calculations to make planning easy.
One of the best features of Gantter is that it can easily be integrated with Google docs. You can also import your MPP files created in Microsoft Project but Gantter will save files in XML format. You can either save your projects locally or on Gantter cloud servers.
Teambox is an open source collaboration tool that is web-based and, as of November 2010, 40,000 users were utilizing Teambox. Teambox is suitable for small and medium companies engaged in simple projects.
Teambox Technologies S.L. which develops Teambox was founded in 2008 and continues to serve commercial and free hosting for Teambox. However, the software, made with Ruby on Rails, is completely open-source under the Affero General Public License and can therefore be installed on every web server. The company also offers installation and customization of the software.
Teambox is much like a social network of all the people who are working on a project. You can easily assign tasks, leave comments and fix due dates and this functionality is given just like we post anything on Facebook or any other social network. This makes it stand off from other project management tools. If your requirement is heavy collaboration among the team, Teambox is the perfect solution for you. The free edition of Teambox supports up to 3 projects and 50MB of online space.