As freelancers, we wear many different hats. In addition to performing our freelancing specialty for the client, we’re also the sales staff, the manager, the support team, and the accountant all rolled into one person.
For many freelancers the project planning tasks that go along with freelancing may seem kind of overwhelming (especially if they’ve never done any project planning). Other freelancers may find that they need to provide the same kind of project plans to their clients that would have been required of them in the corporate world.
Either way, project planning can be a lot of extra work for a freelancer. The project planning task is difficult to handle without good tools to work with.
In this post, I list some project management tools that are either freeware or open source.
Free Project Management Applications
Fortunately, there is a huge variety of project management tools available to help freelancers and small business owners with their project planning needs. Some of the very best tools require a substantial financial investment on the part of the freelancer. However, there other tools that may not be quite as full-featured that will work fine for a freelancer who is just starting out or for a very small business owner.
Here is a list of ten project management software applications that are either free (or available at a very low cost) with a brief description of each:
- jxProject–Free application that includes many of the features expected of a project management package such as: task dependencies, resource scheduling, timeline formatting, and resource leveling. (The tool is free because it includes advertisements. A version without advertisements is available for $20.00.)
- dotProject–Open source tool designed to help you structure and schedule your work. For user questions, there is forum (manned by volunteers) that can be accessed from the main site. Announcements are made through the blog, which can be accessed from their website.
- GanttProject–Free, open source software lets you create Gantt charts, assign resources, create PERT charts, and plan collaboration. The tool has a very helpful user forum and blog.
- Open Workbench–This open source software bills itself as a direct competitor to Microsoft Project. In fact, the software’s website includes a detailed comparison between the two packages. Open Workbench is sponsored by CA, the manufacturer of the Clarity family of products (which are not free).
- SugarCRM –The community edition of this software is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) v3. This product includes a user forum and there is even a conference. (There are two additional products from this company that are not open source and do cost money.)
- ProjectPier–This open source software lets you manage messages, tasks, and milestones. You can also upload and manage files. The website includes a helpful forum and a blog listing planned updates.
- OpenProj–Open source software package distributed under the CPAL license. It is comparable to Microsoft Project in that it lets you produce a wide variety of charts such as Gantt and PERT. This software is owned by Serena Software Incorporated, which also sells Projects on Demand.
- Project HQ–This open source software package compares itself with Basecamp. Features include the ability to track projects, milestones, and create task lists and tasks. The website does include a user forum. I did notice on the download page that there are no stable releases of this software yet, which means that all versions are in development.
- Clocking IT–This free project management tool was designed by a consultant for consultants. It helps you track how much time is spent on each project, although it can produce Gantt charts and other reports. The website includes a user forum and a wiki.
- TaskJuggler–This open source package is released under the GNU GPL version 2 license. With this tool you can manage tasks, resources, and costs that are related to your projects. It also supports risk analysis and flexible working hours. Support is available through Google Groups.
If you didn’t find the project management system that you need in this list, you may find it in our earlier list of project management tools. There are also project management alternatives for freelancers with greater needs.
More Project Management Tools
If you didn’t find what you needed in the list above, you may want to choose from one of these additional fine project management tools. You’ll have to pay for these project management programs, but all of these packages also offer a short free trial to new customers.
Here are five more project management tools:
What Project Management Tools Do You Use?
Do you use project management software to plan your freelancing tasks? Have you used any of the tools above, or do you use other tools that we haven’t mentioned here?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Image by gregoryjameswalsh