I’ve never been very good with project management tools. Most I’ve used seem too complex for my taste and never that easy to understand and use.
Until now, my main experience has been with Microsoft Project. Yet my experience with that has been reflected by others with whom I’ve been using the tool: complex and not easy to use. So I tend to use tools like Excel and Access to keep track of things. Unquestionably the wrong types of tool but they’re relatively easy to use. Not very collaborative, though.
I’ve even tried using wikis. Not good for project management in my experience.
I’ve heard a lot about the Basecamp online project management service, although I’ve not tried it out. It’s a hosted service and you pay for it (the free option is too limited: only one project).
Then I heard about activeCollab a few weeks ago:
activeCollab is an easy to use, web based, open source collaboration and project management tool. Set up an environment where you, your team and your clients can collaborate on active projects using a set of simple, functional tools. 100% free!
This isn’t hosted – you install it on your own server. That appeals to me. Free? That appeals too, of course. Plus some good reviews about it so far. And a great screencast explaining what it is and how it works (and with an interesting account of how activeCollab came about).
Then I saw that Dreamhost, my hosting provider, is offering activeCollab as a 1-click install. That decided it. So I’ve installed activeCollab on my server. One click and it’s set up. (It requires PHP5 to run, so I also had to upgrade the PHP installation on my server from PHP4. That was almost a 1-click install as well, done in less than 5 minutes.)
I’ll be trying it out on a couple of projects. My 20-minute walk-around with it today shows me that this is a very promising collaboration tool.
Will it help me become more organized and efficient? Clients and other collaborators, too? Time will tell.