Free Project Management Tools for the Virtual Office
By David Wright – ETMG Blogger
There are a number of powerful web-based tools that allow project collaboration across time and distance in a common virtual environment — and most of them won’t cost you a dime. These tools make it possible for distributed work groups to manage projects as though they were working in the same physical space.
It’s time to stop emailing attachments and begin sharing instead.
All of the solutions identified here function in The Cloud and will bring you into the 21st Century:
Google Sites and Google Docs. Many organizations are using Google Sites as their shared intranet; an internal “home base.” Google Sites allows you to create a platform that is secure, free, easy to use, and connects with hundreds of productivity apps. Add to that the shared spreadsheets, text documents, presentations (like PowerPoint), drawings, and collections of Google Docs and you have a powerful information-sharing platform.
Google+ was intended as a competitor to Facebook, but this free social media tool is fast becoming a favorite of project managers. Users can move away from email and consolidate communication and documents in one place. Links, images, documents, etc. can all be reviewed from a single “circle” of users. It’s easy, free, and, most importantly, you can control who is in the circle. For more on Google + see our earlier ETMG blog post, “Book Review: Guy Kawasaki’s What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us”.
Microsoft SkyDrive was late to the game, but offers a product similar to Google Docs. The free account provides 25G of storage and a familiar interface similar to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. And, of course you can share the link with anyone.
DropBox allows you to access and share files on the web and gives you 2G of space with the free account.
Surdoc is a free online backup tool that allows you to back up 25G of your hard drive automatically from your computer and allows you, or your team, to retrieve from anywhere.
SlideRocket provides a unique set of presentation options for both PowerPoint and Keynote users and puts your presentations in the cloud where it’s easy to share and access. For a more in depth review of features, see our earlier post, “SlideRocket Offers Improved Presentation Tools” by Special K.
Gantter – Need to create a project plan? One way is to use a simple Google Doc spreadsheet, or a Google Calendar, but these won’t give you the graphical Gantt interface. Gantter integrates with Google Docs and gives you an interface similar to Microsoft Project.
Kashoo accounting software is simple, runs in a browser, and for most projects the free version will do the trick. It complies with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and is easy to use.
PassPack - All this online stuff means a lot of passwords. PassPack allows you to store and share passwords with other members of your team.
For Further Reading:
Essential Apps for the Virtual Office, By Neets – ETMG Writer