simple project management software or tools?

Orange Julia

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I work on one big project (for me, that is) at work and I feel that I could really use some project/event management tool to help me, and ensure that I'm not remembering at the last minute that I still need to get the fire marshal or health department out to the site in advance. Does anyone use some kind of open source free thing that has an easy learning curve but is slightly better than an ugly excel sheet? Something that is shareable across platforms would be helpful too, as a few other county departments have small pieces of this event and I never know until the week before the event whether they've actually done anything about it...
 
Thanks.
 

zenter

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I was searching for the right tool for my company (which is still mainly using spreadsheets and GDrive worldwide), and there are a billion options.
 
Evaluated/Tested: Basecamp, Asana, Trello, Mavenlink, Podio, Wrike, Freedcamp, Teambox (among several others). I settled on Wrike because it has a more heads-up view that we can have managers see everything (harder in Basecamp).
 
Given what little I know about your goals, OJ, I'd probably recommend Asana, Wrike, or Basecamp, depending on your tastes.
 

Curll

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What does your company do? What type of projects? we've all basically list a digital tools, aside from Microsoft Project. If you are in construction, Microsoft Project and Clarizen can handle that. If you're looking for a PSA professional service automation then you'll likely want to integrate with Salesforce. If you're looking for marketing automation then you'll likely want to integrate with Google Apps. What does know what type of project you're working on and we may be able to better direct you.
 

AlNipper49

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Trello looks really cool - I had never heard of it before.  Much more huddle-friendly than Basecamp, which is more or less a better cleaner Microsoft Project.
 

Curll

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Trello is neat, there's a third-party time tracking thinger, too. I like it for smaller projects and collaboration, but it obviously isn't for external clients.
 

AlNipper49

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aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I now see that it's a Joel Spolsky site.  Cool.  I don't like all of his stuff but I like him, so I'll make sure to give it a fair shake.
 

OfTheCarmen

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Heard about the 3d printing on the radio, went and youtubed for a while after seeing your post.
 
Mind = Blown
 

Orange Julia

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I opened a free 60 day of basecamp and so far i like it.
 
I need project management for the county's Earth Day/ Arbor Day event, which I do most of, but there are a few other pieces that other people do, and inevitably at in the last week there are 20 things that either I or one of the other departments/agencies neglected to do and we always talk about making a "system" and never do. So I'm being proactive. In addition I have a video project (4 15 minute environmental education videos) that I am managing and I suspect i could use some help on that as well. I think, at least so far, that the free Basecamp will help and even if i have to pay $20 a month for it, it is worth it.
 
I am kind of getting nickle and dimed here though, between this (eventually) and constant contact. It would be nice if there was a small organization package that covered all this stuff. That isn't google.
 

AlNipper49

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I can only speak to the IT world but we have a few "professional automation" tools that handle all of that stuff. In my opinion I don't think that one stop shops - in general - make sense for small organizations. You don't get a lot of benefits from a single tool but generally gain complexity and lose features.

I think you would be doing well with base camp and constant contact. Look at basecamp's integration tools, I bet they can tie into constant contact if that is the tree that you're barking up.
 

Orange Julia

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Thanks everyone. I'll let you know how it works out. I have started populating Basecamp with information and invited two people to collaborate but of course they don't work on the weekend so I won't hear from them until Monday. Municipal Workers!
 

leetinsley38

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AlNipper49 said:
I can only speak to the IT world but we have a few "professional automation" tools that handle all of that stuff. In my opinion I don't think that one stop shops - in general - make sense for small organizations. You don't get a lot of benefits from a single tool but generally gain complexity and lose features.

I think you would be doing well with base camp and constant contact. Look at basecamp's integration tools, I bet they can tie into constant contact if that is the tree that you're barking up.
Nip - what tools do you use that are specific to IT?
 

AlNipper49

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ConnectWise and Autotask are the two big PSA tools. They're usually combined with a RMM tool such as Kaseya or whatever.

We tend to have a lot of high touch clients and the problem with these tools is both you and the client have to use them as intended. It's tough. I've had better luck using task-specific tools that are best-of-breed (ie Zendesk) and piecing together the backend myself. None of those do every single thing as well, and introducing something to a closed ecosystem sucks.
 

leetinsley38

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AlNipper49 said:
This would be for external IT / consulting. After re- reading saw that that wasn't clear :)
Thanks Nip. I'm building a tool specific to the IT product evaluation process and looking for feedback. Sent you a pm.

As to OJ's post I would second Trello. It's great to organize yourself and/or small teams. Very intuitive and user friendly. Looks like a glorified To-Do list at first but with tags,organizations, assignments, due dates, etc. even the free version is surprisingly powerful.
 

JimBoSox9

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AlNipper49 said:
We tend to have a lot of high touch clients and the problem with these tools is both you and the client have to use them as intended. It's tough. I've had better luck using task-specific tools that are best-of-breed (ie Zendesk) and piecing together the backend myself. None of those do every single thing as well, and introducing something to a closed ecosystem sucks.
 
I basically agree with all of this as a general rule for business software.  The top notch experiences almost always come in programs from shops that are experts in That One Thing.  Cutting-edge expertise is so thin it's almost impossible for one employer to get that sort of expertise across the board, and as a result sexy all-in-one portals tend to suck.  Even the big guys who tend to buy their experts in job lots have trouble stitching it all together.  A while back I spent six months in a NOC watching presentations in search of a back-end monitoring omnitool, and it's the same wasteland. One the other end of the spectrum, want to be a billionaire?  Make a free consumer Hootsuite that actually works.
 
Pick the best function-specific tools; a nice network map takes maybe two hours to draw and makes it all make sense easily to everyone.  You're also right that if you take the next step and dive into those connections, half the time you'll find some nice automated integration you didn't know existed.  
 
Side request: No lurkers have posted in here, mind if we move this thread to TBLTS?
 
 
Jer said:
You may want to check out zoho. They have a bunch of free cloud solutions if you have minimal usage.
 
I haven't used them for a while so I can't vouch for their ease-of-use/features.
 
https://www.zoho.com/projects/zohoprojects-pricing.html
 
https://www.zoho.com/campaigns/pricing.html
 
I feel like Zoho's key selling point is their robust feature set; I'd consider them for a small enterprise but it's probably overkill for the OP's needs.  YMMV though, I've barely touched them compared to most of the other options named.  
 

Orange Julia

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so far, the Basecamp program is working quite well for us. It sends me an update of to do lists that have been completed every day, as well as reminding other participants of what they need to do, and I am able to set up multiple projects with different groups of people. My assistant/intern was able to figure it out quite easily and uploaded files we all needed. So, about a week or so in, I am liking it. thanks for the input, all.
 

SeoulSoxFan

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Well, since we run a web agency we get to test a LOT of PM software, ones that free, a few bucks a month, to hardcore software that are in the $10k range. 
 
For most Basecamp would work fine, but if you're sick of paying $ each month try https://www.activecollab.com/
 
Otherwise, our favorite tool right now is Asana.com, which is easy to get started with but has real depth when you need it. Once caution -- data is not easily exported and backup (yet). 
 

Orange Julia

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Right now the hardest part of Basecamp is getting other users to use it as a tool rather than constantly dropping things into a shared google drive folder.  I am still getting a lot of emails asking questions when the answer is already up on Basecamp.
 

AlNipper49

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Orange Julia said:
Right now the hardest part of Basecamp is getting other users to use it as a tool rather than constantly dropping things into a shared google drive folder.  I am still getting a lot of emails asking questions when the answer is already up on Basecamp.
Intellectual buy-in is the easiest part of the project. Emotional and behavioral are the bitches
 

Drocca

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I'm going to explain my situation and hope someone can give some recommendations.
 
I have three or four events to look after in some way or another each month. With each of those events there are what I'd call sub-issues or tasks that I need to do at different times for the event. Right now I use Outlook, which obviously is stupid.
 
What I don't need is collaborate tools. While it would be nice, occasionally, to 'share' info on where a project is, I would be the only one utilizing this tool. I would also like something that does not have to be opened everyday. So, in other words, I would open it up to put in a new task or event or mark one off but otherwise the tool would send me an email (not a calendar notification) that it was time to do something.
 
I am fine with spending money on something but won't if I don't have to. My main concern is that the tool be intuitive and not take a lot of time to learn. I am probably a little computer illiterate for my age and work, unfortunately.
 

Orange Julia

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I use google calendar to add both events and tasks with due dates. It sends me a text and an email when stuff is due.