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The Pros and Cons of Free Critical Path Software

written by: Jayant R Row • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 10/7/2011

Free critical path software reduces the burden on a project especially if the project is small and time bound. Such software is easily available through search engines but there are pros and cons to any free download.

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    What Is Free Critical Path Software?

    CPM Network Diagram Free critical path software is a range of software available to project managers to enable them to calculate the critical path from a series of interconnected tasks and events that normally constitute a project. Doing this exercise manually is quite a daunting task especially when the tasks are complex and the likely permutations and combinations are too vast for rapid calculations. This is where software makes thing easy.

    A number of free software is available over the Internet and simple searches through search engines will lead you to them. The problem that most project managers will face is that almost all of them are free to try out in a trial download and them a purchase is required for further use. The only totally free software is open source software, found as downloads all over the Internet. Ideally, free downloads require modifications or enhancements for them to be utilized efficiently.

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    Problems With Free Critical Path Software

    While deciding on free critical path software the project manager must ensure that the software is based on a correct and sound management method and is akin to one that he or she is familiar with. Quite a few of these available softwares concentrate on the planning phase and do not allow for easy adjustments while the project is in progress. Good software makes a distinction between the planning and implementation phase and allows for the rapid changes to the critical path, quite often very essential during the progress of a project. Most free critical software only offers very basic features and professional versions would have to be purchased to access all of the required management features that are essential to the running of a project.

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    Reviews of Various Free Critical Path Software

    MinuteMan 7.47T is software that comes with a free trial download. It can create a project schedule with dates and milestones and assign resources to tasks with budgeted expenditures. PERT charts as well as other reports are available and can be printed out as desired.

    RationalPlan Project is free critical path software that allows managers and stakeholders alike to view all the details of a project besides working out the necessary critical path for the project.

    Planbee Project Management planning tool is another software that offers a free trial period. It is considered as the less expensive alternative to MS Project while remaining comparable to this popular software. However a number of reporting systems are only available in the professional version of the software and that requires a purchase.

    Open Workbench is a desk top application for project management that is open sourced. It can be freely distributed. It allows the CPM network to be viewed and allows any changes just like any good project management software.

    OpenProj is an open source rival for MS Project. It is very popular and has been downloaded over a million times and is available in Linux, Unix, Mac or Windows versions. Its capacity for scheduling and drawing up CPM charts is considered very noteworthy.

    Before you download or try out any free critical path software, find out what's included in the trial period, if it's really free, and what costs you'll incur to purchase the entire package.