ProjectLibreCredit: javrsmith

ProjectLibre, the free, open source work tracking application, has become a very popular tool. This application has been downloaded over 1.2 million times by people in 210 countries. It is now in use virtually everywhere in the world.

ProjectLibre was started as OpenProj, a free alternative to commercial project tracking applications. The new app was based on the earlier one but it was extensively modified. As a stand alone product, it gained many followers, virtually instantly.

Project tracking is a worthwhile exercise for all organizations. Tasks can be defined and assigned to staff. Dependencies between tasks can be established. This allows the work team to specify which activities come first, and which come later. For example, painting a wall implies that the wall is finished first. Task tracking can precisely define this relationship. As well, additional task related constraints can be set.

Using the wall construction example, one can imagine that painting is dependent on earlier construction. If a wall takes a day to finish, then painting must wait for that period of time. What if other factors affect the construction? Many times, walls are made with gypsum board. This material must be finished with special compounds and tape. When such a wall is completed, it often cannot be painted immediately. Instead, there has to be a period allowing the drying of the gypsum compound. Such a delay can be added into a project task tracking application. This allows a full description of events such as:

Construct Wall, Add gypsum compounds and tape, sand wall, allow drying time, paint wall.

This type of sequence provides value to the organization. Rather than simply showing that a task takes a certain amount of time, the steps can be specified. Management can realize that the construction is a separate activity compared to drying. This allows the organization to move workers to other priorities when the drying is underway. Without a clear description of each step, no managerial decisions can be made.

ProjectLibre is able to track many related work tasks. Each can be given attributes such as a start time, duration and any dependencies on other tasks. The tasks can be assigned to specific team members. As work is completed, the system can be updated to record progress. This allows a graphical view of status. It also allows the determination of such work terms as "Critical Path".

ProjectLibre User Guide Reference Manual
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The Critical Path is the absolute longest amount of time that a given work project will take to complete. It takes into account the dependencies of work upon other work. It accounts for delays, special events, holidays, and more. If a job has several workers, with separate duties, the amount of parallelism is shown in the critical path. Those that take the longest time, after delays, etc, form the critical path. If changes are made, such as adding a new worker, the critical path is updated in real time to show so.

Another excellent purpose filled by ProjectLibre is the collection of valuable lessons learned from corporate work. As the file is built with tasks, assignments and a schedule, it incorporates a number of items that can be used to help future similar work. Tasks may be repeated in the future. With full documentation of the prior execution of same, the organization can perform similar work better in the future.