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Monday, April 30, 2012

Guest Post: Comparing Project Management Systems for Software Development Projects

By Steward Copper


Managing projects correctly means combining science and art! Managing projects successfully means creating a team that will produce the required commercial product and, thus, will fulfill its mission. An effective leader manages a team presenting a symbiosis of technical solutions and managerial methods in his work. Many specialists in the sphere of web programming have already formed their own opinions about the advantages and disadvantages of different project management systems.

Most developers claim that the choice of an ideal project management system entirely depends on the mission that the team has to fulfill. For a long time, specialists have been discussing the evolution of the new culture of concurrent web programming automation. Among the most interesting software solutions I have found are the following:

Redmine (http://www.redmine.org/) is an open server web application for managing projects and tracking bugs. Redmine is written on Ruby and represents an application based on the widely-used web framework Ruby on Rails.


 
Redmine features:
  • Flexible access system based on roles;
  • Bug tracking system including submission of bugs by email
  • Maintaining project news, documents and file management as well as creating forums and wiki pages of projects;
  • Reporting on changes using RSS flows and e-mail;
  • Adjustable derived fields for incidents, time expenses, projects and users;
  • Simple integration with version management systems (SVN, CVS, Git, Mercurial, Bazaar and Darcs);
  • Database management system support (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Oracle).

Redmine drawbacks:

  • In Redmine you can’t manage access rights at the level of individual task fields. For example, at present you can’t hide subsets of information such as estimated hours or actual hours from clients.
  • One can manage access rights at the level of projects but can’t assign rights for some versions of the project or individual task. It means if a user needs an access to one task , he will also need to be given the access to the whole project.
  • If a user in Redmine gets access to the project, his activity can’t be limited to certain tasks only. For example, it’s impossible to allow viewing or creating tasks only of a certain type.
  • Task delegating is not available in Redmine — a task can’t be delegated to another executor.

Easy Projects .NET (http://www.easyprojects.net/) is a web application for managing software development projects written on .NET by Logic Software Company.


  Easy Projects .NET features:
  • Easy Projects .NET allows creating unlimited number of projects containing various adjustable fields. Batch processing allows performing typical operations for several projects simultaneously.
  • Gantt chart, interactive graphs and reports are available for users.
  • Easy Projects .NET supports unlimited number of tasks and sub-tasks as well as the adjustment of statuses, categories and task priorities. Creating tasks by e-mail is also supported . Both developers and clients can add requests and requirements.
  • The program supports  tracking paid and unpaid time spent on the project. Personal and corporate schedules are both supported and  you can also view the resource workload schedule. Flexible administration  of access rights is also supported.
  • Easy Projects .NET makes it easy to generate invoices, budget tracking and required custom reports .
  • The program supports data exporting to MS Project, Excel, PDF and iCal, integration with Vyew, QuickBooks, SmarterTrack, Dbxtra, as well as synchronization with Easy Time Tracking.
  • The program interface can be customized by adding or deleting widgets with the information on your projects. Users can use web conferences for concurrent work. The user interface supports English, French and Russian languages.

Easy Projects .NET drawbacks:
  • Assigning the team members’ level of training is not available;
  • No reliable means for tracking material resources is available;
  • No tools for risk analysis are available;
  • No mobile version of the program is available. However, modern mobile devices (iPhone, Blackberry) allow displaying usual sites quite well and give a possibility to use the given program without restrictions. 


Atlassian JIRA (http://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/overview) is a software solution from Atlassian Company for managing the lifecycle of any project or working process. This system is suitable for simultaneous work with tasks in the framework of a business process or project. The system allows working with several projects, dividing them into stages, assigning various types of tasks, connecting tasks, appointing responsible people, adjusting roles, generating reports, etc. JIRA works via the browser and doesn’t require software installation on the user’s PC.


JIRA features:
  • The system is scalable and suitable for small and big companies.
  • There are built-in options for for bug and task tracking;
  • Project support and maintenance;
  • Task tracking;
  • Requirement management;
  • Working processes / Business process management.

JIRA drawbacks:
  • Displaying takes place after some time. Thus, the less time passes between requests, the more often the repositories will be requested, which will affect the efficiency of the program;
  • Ticket searching takes place in all repositories — consequently, if you have a large number of repositories, the performance of the application is reduced;
  • It’s impossible to connect a repository to the certain project;
  • The program doesn’t prohibit introducing a comment into a non-existing ticket.

Comindware Tracker (http://www.comindware.com) is a corporate software solution for effective task tracking and managing daily processes and tasks. The Comindware solution is based on the ultra flexible technology ElasticData™ which allows managing business processes with extreme flexibility. Comindware Tracker includes free Comindware Task Management™ and the technology ConnectStep™ that allows automating the process of generating tasks for the next step and optimizing their execution for any business processes within any department or several ones. 


Comindware tracker options:

  • Automated task creation;
  • Changing processes on the fly without losing data; 
  • Flexible reporting function: easy adjustable lists, graphs, filters and groups;
  • Various resource accounting (material and informative resources) and interactions between them; 
  • 100% web-based solution.

Comindware tracker drawbacks:

  • No mobile version is available but the company promises to have it released by the end of the year;
  • The software is comparatively new so it may not be tested properly;Most programmers are still unaware of this software so additional training may be needed.

Of course, this list is not complete and some developers prefer using their own project management tools for achieving their goals. My goal was sharing my experience and presenting the various project management tools and systems used by our company.

Bio:

Hi, my name’s Steward Copper and I am the owner of Project Management Insights. While working as a project coordinator and BA, I have tried almost all possible PM tools, BA instruments, collaboration programs, including tracker and task management software solutions. I also write for different blogs sharing my knowledge and observations.