Free Project Management Options for Team Science

A colleague asked me to go into further detail regarding software we use for team science.  There are many options out there but finding what works for your team may be confusing, and as we learned, needs may change over the life of the project.(UPDATE:  today we discuss the free or nearly free software that helps the team work together, not the specific scientific software such as STATA12, Nvivo9, Acess, etc.).

Some of the options you are likely to learn about if you google project management are:

When it comes down to it, however, we ended up using simple tools that are free and familiar to both senior faculty as well as early adopters.  Our top tools include:

  • Skype for conference calls and screen sharing (we started by using Wiggio for it’s free conference call option, but the call quality was not always the best)
  • DropBox to store, share, and sync and backup files.
  • MicrosoftWord to write text files (free option: OpenOffice), bought super cheap on campus
  • Endnote and EndnoteWeb to coordinate articles and citations (free option: EndnoteWeb)
  • MicrosoftExcel Useful for making gantt charts to track goals and progress, bought super cheap on campus.  We also have been using this for meeting minutes as its easier to see action items listed on one column.  Of course, this is super useful for budgets, as well.
  • Google Calendar for scheduling and sharing calendars

The best part about these options is that they are free, or have free options available, and translate across PC-Mac working environments.  On the flip side, these items are not integrated into one product, so integration can be challenging.  In future projects we may use all Google products, but only if we can confirm that EndNote works with G-Documents.  To this I may also mention I personally use Remember the Milk but do not like how unwieldy it is becoming with multiple lists and items (please comment if you know of an alternative!).

So there you have it.  A handful of free applications for project management.  We are always looking for something better so please share your suggestions!