Project management is one of the most difficult tasks assigned to an instructional designer. We are typically invested in the creation of an amazing product. However, most instructional designers do not have experience managing others. Therefore, transitioning into an instructional design career that includes project management can be very stressful. As such, I can recommend OpenProj and TaskJuggler to make you a much more effective project manager.
Gannt Project is an open source project that can generate Gannt and Pert forms (GanntPro, 2011). It can be found at http://www.ganttproject.biz/. One of the major benefits of this project management tool is the tutorial video. It actually walks you through utilizing the software which is very easy (Alam, 2010). Not only are you able to produce the project charts to help you allocate resources accurately, but you can also export important reports. This software also allows one to easily see dependencies and hierarchies (Alam, 2010). Additionally, those using Microsoft Project can use this in conjunction with this software (GanntPro, 2011). Exporting and importing is as simple as clicking the button. This is important as many stand-alone software programs are difficult to integrate with the existing software (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer & Sutton, 2008). However, my favorite tool is the Resource Load Chart. This allows me to see all of the tasks assigned to each group and insure that I do not overload one particular person or group. I can then collaborate directly in the program (GanntPro, 2011). This allows everyone to be updated continually which is incredibly important as work is now being delegated globally, not just locally.
TaskJuggler is another free open source project management tool. It can be found at http://www.taskjuggler.org/download.html. This tool is comprehensive that will provide everything you need from inception to completion (Alam, 2010). It is integrated project-management software (Portny, et. al, 2008). While this program includes scoping support, Gannt charts, WBS and other necessary reports, my favorite function is the optimizing scheduler. It actually has a built-in resource balancer and consistency checker (Alam, 2010). This means that the beginning project manager can be confident that he/she chose an appropriate timeline and selected appropriate resources. The software even resolves resource conflicts and allows for shift work and multiple time zones (Schlaeger, 2013). For those who are more familiar with project management, the “as many details as necessary” approach allows for continued flexibility and planning throughout the project instead of planning the entire project before beginning (Jay, 2009). This tool is not appropriate for those simply creating charts that look nice. It is intended as a comprehensive tool to help you move through every phase of the project with flexibility and confidence (Schlaeger, 2013).
While both of these tools are beneficial to the new project manager, you must find what works within your organization (Portny, et. al, 2008). RASCI charts, Gannt charts and other reports will help you allocate resources properly (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). However, these are not the only reports that may be required. In fact, many organizations already have software available that other members are familiar with. Changing to another software may cause delays in your project due to lack of familiarity with the new project management tool (Portny, et. al, 2008). As such, I truly recommend that you analyze your organization’s needs before choosing a project management tool.
Alam, M. (2010, February 15). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.smashingapps.com/2010/02/15/10-free-tools-for-effective-project-management.html
GanntPro. (2011). Gantt Project Home. Retrieved from http://www.ganttproject.biz/.
Jay, A. (2009, April 21). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.smashingapps.com/2009/04/21/taskjuggler-a-modern-and-powerful-open-source-project-management-tool.html
Laureate Education, Inc., (2010). Creating a Resource Allocation Plan. [Web]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3398237_1%26url%3D
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Schlaegue, C. (2013). The taskjuggler project management software. Retrieved from http://www.taskjuggler.org/