My, to put it mildly, understaffed and overworked startup is trying hard to not reinvent the wheel and outsource as much tasks as possible. So we are currently on the look out for a great project management software.
FogBugz and Basecamp look nice, and about a dozen others. Unfortunately there is no time (or desire) to try them all, so any thoughts and recommendations on project management tools are welcome.
Software Project Management Recommendations
I have 5 users and the server edition of FogBugz was the way to go. We had used BaseCamp for a year prior, without success. Cost-wise:
$50 Basecamp version = $600/year
FogBugz Server 5 users (@ $200/ea) = $1000 upfront
Depending on the # of users, and if you can afford the upfront investment, the server edition of FogBugz will pay for itself over time compared to other hosted services.
Setting deadlines, time tracking, and project discussion were among our top priorities. FogBugz may seem intimidating, but you'll dive right in and feel like an expert user in an hour. It's as easy as e-mail, and now they have great plugins like Clark Kent (for time reports aka billing) and Balsamiq (my favorite wireframing tool).
Another great feature--our customers email their support requests to an address that goes into fogbugz and assigns a case to the appropriate person. We can assign the case throughout the team and maintain a full history in the case. Then all the customer's cases can be used for billing if necessary.
Been using and unfuddle and fogbugz for 3+ months, we finally moved away from unfuddle and settled down with fogbugz.
Fogbugz has the worst usability but you'll get used to it.
Unfuddle has a great interface but it's limited in the functionality level. SVN support of unfudle is great as well. Especially if you want to separate SVN access for contractors.
Also Evidence based scheduling in fogbugz is a game changer, it's one of those killer features.
Basically neither of them is perfect. If you don't need so much advanced stuff and time tracking, estimation related reports then use unfuddle, it's easy to pick up and a joy to use.
If you looking for a terrible GUI yet advanced functionality go for Fogbugz. Don't forget you'll spot lots of stupid restrictions such as you can't delete tickets, you can't modify history, you can't use bold or italic in tickets (a total WTF! ).
How many are you? How much do you follow agile processes? I've been really happy with PivotalTracker, even if we're not an "agile shop" per se: http://www.pivotaltracker.com for feature tracking / bug tracking / todo tracking.
It's super light weight, but plenty powerful. The real-time-collaboration aspect is killer. Highly recommended. Also, it's free but I'd be happy to pay a monthly fee for it.
Digital Dandelion tried Basecamp, but chose Manymoon for its tight integration with Google Apps for Business. https://www.manymoon.com/
What sort of "project management" did you have in mind? Hosted or locally installed?
Are you trying to manage work by external people, or just for your internal team? Interactions with customers?
More interested in task/time tracking, or general feature/release management?
I'd split it into a few groups (assuming hosted):
We tried quite a few project management tools before we settled for Basecamp. It was by far the most:
Overall we have been really happy using the service and would highly recommend it.
The 30 day free trial really lets you get your feet wet and see whether the service is for you or not.
Short answer: Use one for some some time consuming tasks, but do not rely on a single tool as the ultimate solution.
Manage the project by managing your ideas. Your dreams. Your major goals. Discuss then with your associates, friends, meetings, social network sites. Give this high level your personal touch and time and opinion. Write emails, blog entries, word documents.
I think the biggest area in project management is handling all the tasks. Call them User Stories, product features, tasks, sub-goals. Find a tool for this. Assign priorities, assign resources. Open. Close. Track. Graph. For this almost any tool can be used, even free or almost free ones.
I personally prefer open source over monthly subscriptions. Make a list of what you need the software to do and then check out the below link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_project_management_software There are a few interesting ones that were recommended here, both are good to start with:
I find that it's always important not to try to get a tool to solve a process problem.
Sure use a tool once the problem is solved.
I spent a long time evangelising about Agile and Scrum and in a particular development team experimented with a, then new, on-line trial of on-time which was great - but it didn't make any difference to the team.
Eventually we scrapped all of the tools and used simple manual techniques. White-board, index cards etc. and it worked a treat. By removing the complexity of the tools and getting down to basics we were able to focus on the process and make sure that was right first; tools could come later...
Take a look at ProjectPier.
It is open source (free) and self hosted. To be honest I can't tell the difference between that and Basecamp. The software does everything I require of it!
Yes, eventually you may want something a little more complex, or hosted off site. But startup = boot strap, why spend when you don't have to? Project Pier does enough to last you through these stages.
Most of these are subscription based tools. The free ones can work well too, if you can host them yourself...
If you're doing mostly software-dev stuff with some project management, trac is an old standard for that.
We've been using Redmine for our projects, because it has good integration with version control, and the ticketing and assignment system is quite versatile. It has most of the features all these others have talked about - wiki, document upload, version control, ticketing assignment, time tracking, charts and reports, etc. It really meets our needs nicely.
Not paying a per-user fee is also really nice, since it means we can give our customers access to the appropriate parts of their projects without it costing us anything.
I know this answer may sound very sales pitchy like, but I will try not to go there. Having gone through similar experiences ourselves, we decided to build a product that integrates all of these components into one, like the way they are "connected" in real-life.
Like Derek said above - its not just about project management.. its projects, tasks, project plan - charts, features, requirements, time, and managing all of this in one would be nice. I would actually love to hear your opinions about the product - www.trakeze.com
(just launched this month)
We started off with Dot Project an open source tool and have recently migrated to BaseCamp! Love Basecamp and highly recommend it.
Atlassian has a nice deal on right now () that gets you their suite for $10/tool, and Jira with Greenhopper is a great combination for agile projects.
We've used and find it quite helpful to use VersionOne's Team edition (comes for free but I guess 1st year of subscription). Quite easy to setup & use. Oh and we're an agile shop by the way.
Although we're migrating to Microsoft's Teams Foundation Server, I wouldn't recommend that as you already mentioned your startup understaffed & overworked. TFS requires a LOT of administration but it handled your Project Management (agile or not), Continuous Integration, Build Management, Version Control everything under one roof. VersionOne on the other hand is only Project Management tool for agile only I believe.
My current team is 6 developers 1 UI guy & 1 tester
Just analyzed a lot of project management tools and made the choice to go with Unfuddle (www.unfuddle.com). Cannot say much about the results as we just started with it but for what we needed and from everything we looked at it seemed like the best choice.
I've used Unfuddle at Lookery.com and now Shareaholic.com It's great for projects involving actual code because of how tightly it integrates tickets, etc with the actual code. It has a nice API too. I recommend it to everyone.
There is a very long list of alternatives, here are just a few of the alternatives
I made a comparison chart of all of the features and costs of the various project management software alternatives here
I don't think you need any PM tool for small team of 2-3 people. It may just be an additional burden.