Since Jeff Kelly was kind enough to break the ice on PM issues I feel compelled to show you some cool tools out there for Project Management. As with most of the tools we feature here on eSamaritan the majority of them you can use for free or for very little money. For those that have never used a collaboration tool it's very simple. You have a project that you are doing and using excel to list all of your tasks is not enough anymore. It's not even enough to use Microsoft Project because you may have dependancies such as other people finishing work that can all happen online. This cannot happen with the regular Microsoft suite of tools. 


Let's start with the first one I was ever introduced to, BaseCamp.
 
 


The first time I was introduced to BaseBamp was at my last start-up. We had a development team of 3 straight up ninjas that all used BaseCamp to stay on track.  Two of the three worked remote and so they were managed by a Project Manager  that I would use to channel information. Every week we would meet and prioritize the work that we needed them to complete. She would go back and shoot out new requests and change existing ones through BaseCamp. You can create tasks / to-do lists, have discussion white boards, set milestone dates, and assign tasks for other people to do all online.
 
Note: BaseCamp is created by 37 Signals which have an entire suite of really cool tools. You should check them out when you get a moment. 

 
Price: The lowest price package is $49/month. However if you want to test the project you can use BaseCamp for 1 Project completely free. I highly recommend doing this before you sign up. The software is pretty easy to use and very fast. 
 



 
Next is what I am currently using in my new job which an SAAS (software as a service) product called Huddle. This is not so much a PM tool as it is task management system on steroids. I love it because for my job I don't really need that much. My boss sends me emails in batches of between 5 - 30. Most of the time they are basic requests in email that are no longer than a sentence long. Typically he is asking me to read an article, setup a meeting with someone, start a tech project with a new non-profit, or find out some information on a various topic. Huddle is perfect because for each email I get I simply cut and paste it into a Huddle task. If I want to can assign it to other people that have access and I can add attachments to each task if I need to. What I love is the simplicity of it. Each task only has 3 statuses you can assign it: Not Started, In-Progress, and Complete. That is it. 
 
Price: This is hard to write about because they do not list any prices on their site. I cannot stress enough how much this annoys me because all it means is that there is some commission laden sales rep waiting on the other side of that phone hoping you will be the one that gets him to his monthly goal. I do know that my company pays$2000/year ($166/month) for using this product. With that we get 10GB of storage (which is very useful I have to say) and right now we have about 5 people using the tool; most of them working in different locations. 




 
Action Method is another cool tool that I was recently showed by my non-profit friends. It is very similar to BaseCamp in that it has all the same variables. The big difference is the flow and how all those parts are laid out which is WAY different. I am currently using it to plan my up coming wedding and it's working very well. You can add multiple projects, add tasks to those projects, add notes, links and set dates for completion. 

Price: You can create an account for free in seconds just to try it out. It's a really fast learning curve and I had the handle of it in minutes. If you like it and want to get the Premium Package you can for $12/month. The only negative I saw was that you can't access the price page until you create your free account but that is not that bad in the grand scheme of things. 

  

 

 

Yammer is the last collaboration tool we will discuss in this blog post. As with most tools the biggest hurdle you will ever have to overcome is user adoption. Most people hate learning new tools even if they are cool and are going to save them time. You can tell the makers of Yammer really thought about this problem and so came up with the perfect solution; they designed it to look like something everyone uses every day. Facebook. The entire application looks and feels like Facebook with some slight modifications of course. This is great because now that person that hates change can't give you the old "it's too hard to use" or the "i can't figure it out" excuse. 
 
Price: It is completely free! They do also have a business version if you want to upgrade but that is only $5/month
 
Note: When you sign up with Yammer it will ask you for a business email address so can't use any personal email addresses like yahoo or hotmail because it won't let you. 

That is all for today folks. I am toying with the idea of taking screen shots from inside each of these applications so you can see what they look like. However, for those that are just dipping their big toe into the technology waters I do not want to overload you. Give me your comments if you want more or less!