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OpenProj Review - Free Project Management Software For Work Breakdown Structures

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

OpenProj - the open source project tracking application

Compares favorably to the leading commercial products

Although OpenProj is still available, ProjectLibre has taken over the role of open source project management application. OpenProj has been unsupported for a couple of years. The future is now with ProjectLibre.

Experienced project managers should consider loading OpenProj, a free project task tracking application, onto their computer. The leading project management software tool has been quite expensive for a long time. Since it was a full featured software tool, the large amount of development work translated into a high purchase price. Now OpenProj can be downloaded and is available for free. It is very similar to the standard tools. In fact,those project managers who have used a software tool for project task tracking and scheduling should find OpenProj to be a very familiar environment.

Project managers know the value of having a good task management tool to show the progress of work. These tools allow for the detailed entry of a lot of information. The resouces, the schedule, the working days and any special no-work days can all be identified. This gives the manager a method of graphically charting the status of the project. Such graphs may be shown to project sponsors and other managerial staff.

Many project managers find that an application can easily be learned by studying examples. Consider a simple project plan example created using OpenProj. This example presents a simple project with a few tasks and a team of three resources. Even though it is simple and uses only a small subset of the OpenProj capabilities, project managers can use it to learn how to use the application. By reseting some of the task parameters such as duration, the project manager can instantly see how flexible OpenProj is.

A sample OpenProj project plan
ProjectLibre - The Open Source Project Management Application (ProjectLibre User Reference)
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of May 24, 2013)
A very comprehensive guide to the operation of ProjectLibre. Comprised of screen shots taken from the application while in use.
A Simple Project Plan For ProjectLibre (ProjectLibre User Reference)
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of May 24, 2013)
This publication is a step by step guide that shows a simple project plan created in ProjectLibre.

Many project managers find that an application can easily be learned by studying examples. Consider a simple project plan example created using OpenProj. This example presents a simple project with a few tasks and a team of three resources. Even though it is simple and uses only a small subset of the OpenProj capabilities, project managers can use it to learn how to use the application. By reseting some of the task parameters such as duration, the project manager can instantly see how flexible OpenProj is.

A sample OpenProj project plan

Project managers may find that OpenProj is a very good tool for task management. It is available as a free download and is an open source project. This allows unlimited use by anyone for any purpose. It may be used commercially by project management companies. It can be a replacement for expensive conventional project tools. OpenProj has been installed over 1.25 million times since it was made freely available. The users are located in over 142 countries around the world. The download is available as an auto-installing Windows file. There are also OpenProj versions available for Linux, Unix and Mac computers. OpenProj is able to import legacy project files and save them in the OpenProj format. It uses an advanced schedule engine similar to Project-On-Demand. The task details may be displayed in a graphical Gantt chart, network digrams, resource breakdown structure, work breakdown structure, earned value calculation reports and more. OpenProj may be used by project management office teams to work with portfolios. OpenProj is a very capable tool that offers functionality that rivals that of the commercially provided task management tools. Some of the popular tools that can be replaced by OpenProj have a list price of $1000. Similar to the OpenOffice concept of software, OpenProj provides a tool that can be used by project managers on any size of project.

For the world-wide project management community, OpenProj has been translated into many languages including Chinese, Korean, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Swedish and more. The development of alternate language support is strong with many translated and new documents in these languages.

OpenProj is considered a replacement for the standalone versions of traditional project task management software. There are limitations for multiple project management support that cannot be supported by a client-based tool. There is a server based project management tool that is available by subscription from the original developers of OpenProj.

With OpenProj, a project manager establishes the list of project tasks. Each can be assigned to resources and given an estimate of the completion effort. Tasks can be indented to be sub-tasks of a parent. OpenProj allows dynamic adjustment of tasks. By changing a duration, the effect on the whole project schedule can be viewed at a glance. Sub-project durations are accumulated into their parents. It is a simple matter to either add a new project task at any level or to change a task into a sub-task. The project resources can be maintained in a list showing the resource name and availability. Additional resource details can be entered such as name, email address, hourly cost, overtime or cost per use. OpenProj supports standard business calendars with established work days and times. It also supports holiday and custom day overrides, 24 hour operation and shift work.
OpenProj supports the task dependencies that are familiar to project managers. The standard finish-start relationship where a task cannot start until the previous one has finished is the default action. In addition, finish-finish, start-finish and start-start relationships can be entered as task predecessor constraints. Additional constraints such as "finish no later than" or "must start on", and several others, are available in task detail boxes. When tasks are active, project managers can add percentage complete figures for each task.

OpenProj allows project managers to easily switch between views and drill down into detail screens. The tool is very responsive and well designed. There are filter options that allow the system to concentrate on completed tasks, incomplete tasks, late tasks, over budget tasks, summary tasks and more. The project manager is able to define their own flags for report filtering. This might allow the division of projects into phases or some other criteria that is specific to the project.

OpenProj offers a very useful feature, the sorting of project tasks. When this is used with task priority designations, a project manager can obtain status at a glance reports that are very helpful for management. The project manager is able to establish project work baselines and use the tool to try alternate task scenarios. These may be saved as alternate plans for later review. OpenProj allows project managers to save the reports in PDF format. This can be used to establish project version planning and stored progress reports for later auditing purposes.

The OpenProj network diagram offers automatic critical path calculation. The report is color coded to show the critical tasks in red. This diagram also graphically shows parent tasks and milestones. Due to the use of color, it would be helpful to be printed via printers with color output capability. Since so many executives are impressed by the critical path analysis, it is a a welcome feature that is included with OpenProj.

The OpenProj is a welcome tool for many of the project tracking uses found in business today. The tool is very capable and is very familiar for the experienced project manager to use. Novice users will find that OpenProj can be very flexible and easy to get started. The standard project management text books refer to the features that are available in the OpenProj tool. As well, there is a large amount of documentation specific to the OpenProj tool. Those people wanting to upgrade to an enterprise project tool can move to the Project-On-Demand tool when needed. While it is not free like OpenProj, at $20 per month per user, it represents very good value for those companies using multiple projects, project management offices and distributed project resources.

OpenProj is just one application of many that are available for free. These are quality applications that are easy to use and as capable as commercially available titles.

How to Build a Project Plan With ProjectLibre (ProjectLibre User Reference)
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of May 24, 2013)
This guide is comprised of a step by step example of actual application steps used to build a project plan using ProjectLibre.
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