Gantt Charts are an essential tools and outputs in project management. If you are in the profession you’ll know that when management asks for a plan they expect to see a Gantt Chart with an end date [that matches what they want]. So project managers do feel the pressure to get one done and agreed. It’s a tyranny.
Gantt charting tools are widespread (and sometimes free) – so it’s very easy to get started and build one for your project so you can quickly build dependencies between tasks, calculate critical path, assign resources to tasks and so on. You’ll use the Gantt chart as a communication tool first then as a monitoring and control tool. It’s great.
Project managers should however not jump straight into producing a Gantt Chart but first concentrate on agreeing a scope of work with a set of deliverables and decide on an approach to producing those deliverables. Only when this is clear [clarity would generally comes with an iteration of the planning activities] you can start building a Gantt Chart that will detail the tasks to be done in order to build those agreed deliverables.
Gantt Chart being a task driven tool it is easy to get carried away and forget the deliverables to build and the driving approach to deliver them. The risk is to end up with a plan that will forget some deliverables or use the wrong approach for this particular project.
I recommend to spend time with your team and stakeholders to clarify the deliverables, decide on the best approach for the project (including iterative approach for all or some of the deliverables) and then get going with Gantt Charting…if needed.
For those curious about or working with php, I suggest you check out Yii Framework. It’s a MVC framework that’s pretty fast and neat as far as I can tell.
So Wunderkit has ceased to exist.
The company behind it decided to stop working on it because of the inherent complexity of the application so far. It’s not easy to do a good project management web based software – back-end and front-end are challenging, and there are loads on the market, so much that I wonder what’s the economics for it.
Furthermore if you want to concentrate on making something simple then there are a lot of product features you are going to have to ignore. It’s a tough balancing work.
Anyway. Wunderlist is still up and running. It’s a nice Task list app.
As part of my current assignment I have to manage a number of tests activities involving several testers in several locations, testing several physical environments. To add to the complexity each environment goes through 3 distincts tests phases and we are delivering several sub-systems – each of them with specific tests and testers assigned.
Due to the complexity it rapidly turned out that a simple excel spreadsheet to manage the list of issues arising during testing was not going to be enough. The major issue was to manage concurrent updates to a single spreadsheet. Multiplying spreadsheet was not going to facilitate communication either.
Here comes in Redmine: an open source “issue tracking” system (it does more that just that but that’s the main feature) developed with the Ruby on Rails framework.
I am not using all Redmine’s features as I only concentrate on tracking issues and Redmine is very good at it, here is why:
- the user interface is simple and make good use of Ajax technology to simplify some interactions. This means creating or updating issues is easy to get processed. I added 10+ people on Redmine and nobody experienced problems with it or needed particular “training” to use the tool.
- there is a possibility to define custom fields for issues. Now that’s a killer feature as I needed to categorise bugs per environment, test phase and even “Lot” : pieces of the solution jigsaw. Custom fields are nicely integrated and esy to define. The database implementation for them will surely damage the performance when big volumes are involved but that’s the price to pay. It is also possible to filter the list of issues displayed, even filtering on customised fields. Very handy. Those filters can even be saved for later used.
- the export function (to excel) does the job perfectly – although the various updates to the issue (to record progress on day to day basis) does not appear in Excel export. This is a minor issue. I use excel export to generate pivot tables for reporting on number of issues.
- the rights management is fairly advanced and very customisable, it is good to give appropriate rights to group of people.
- It is stable, has relatively no bugs (so far) and the community is fairly big, ensuring support and enhancements. As of July 2008 there is very regular upgrades and you can suggest enhancements, the community is very responsive.
- one can create additional list of bugs or “things” with bespoke fields if needed. It is therefore ready for multiple deployment within or not within the same project. Careful: this is databaseCPU hungry.
I have been using this product for more than a month and it never failed me in any case. So I am a fan. I haven’t however looked at the other features such as News, Wiki, Repository…there is also a feature to track effort spent and progress. However it is fairly “basic” and will not suit my project’s size.
So if you are looking for a generic “tracking” tool then Redmine might be for you.