When it comes to web-based project management software, there are a lot of choices out there – all with varying degrees of sophistication and usability. One open-source solution that’s been around for a few years, but hasn’t quite gotten the recognition that it deserves, is ]project-open[ (yes, the company uses the brackets). Version 3.4 of this extremely versatile PM and business management tool has brought a definite solution that you should have on your short list when investigating new project management systems.
Update: Version 3.5 has addressed some bug fixes in 3.4, and it also features a REST web service backend. Version 4.0 will be launched in June 2014.
If you’re expecting ]po[ to be another task scheduling tool, think again. In addition to traditional project planning and tracking, the comprehensive software package also supports a number of other processes in the areas of finance management, human resources, collaboration, CRM, and much more. For a full rundown, see this list on ]po[’s web site with more details.
How Does It Compare to Other Open-Source Software?
Many project management applications either restrict themselves to dealing with only specific aspects of a project’s life-cycle (such as task scheduling and monitoring) or have been developed to work best in certain industries. Contrary to this, ]po[ is a highly customizable package that can be tailored to include exactly those processes needed for your organization. When setting up the software, you can choose exactly which components will be visible to users as well as who will have access to each component. However, as your business needs grow, you can easily activate and include other modules of the software and expand the application’s capabilities without having to start from scratch.
For one comparison, I’ve long been a fan of dotProject as a PM solution for small to mid-sized businesses. However, with a bit of growth, it doesn’t take long for these businesses to realize that they need something in addition to dotProject, especially when they want to keep more detailed financial records or incorporate an issue-tracking system. With ]po[, you can have all the functionality of dotProject during the early stages of your business and expand to include other capabilities, if and when you need them.
As with many open-source products, the core bundle of ]project-open[ software along with essential services is completely free. Extensions, more comprehensive service and support packages, and training can be obtained for fees. Also, if you prefer the SaaS model and don’t care to host ]po[ on your own servers, you can elect to purchase one of three monthly subscription services and allow the ]po[ team to handle maintenance, upgrades, setup, and backup for you – and with this option, you can access ]po[ from any computer connected to the Internet.
Will It Suit Your Business?
No matter what you’re looking for in a project management solution, ]project-open[ is worth checking out. If you just want to get an idea of all the capabilities of the package, a complete working demo can be accessed through ]po[’s web site. For those who might be worried that the functionality is more than their business needs right now, remember that ]project-open[ can be customized to include only those modules and features applicable to your organization today. Then, as your company grows, you can incorporate additional functionalities as needed.