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Top-notch tools for your software project manager toolbox

With the numerous tools available for project managers how can you be sure you've selected good ones? A tenured project manager points out good tools and resources in this expert response.

What tools do you recommend for project management?

There are many factors that need to be considered when selecting a project management tool including budget, current processes, size of project, and current technologies and tools already in use.

There is such a wide variety of tools available that it may be an overwhelming task to decide on one that is best. Start by determining what is being used now and what shortfalls are being experienced. What requirements do you need in a project management tool? What is your budget? What tools do you want to integrate? Do you want an ALM tool that will manage the project from idea through end-of-life or a tool that only needs to manage the software development lifecycle (SDLC) or a phase of that cycle, such as the test phase? What type of methodology is being used for your project? Agile, waterfall, a hybrid? Do you want a tool that is flexible enough to work for any project?

If money is an issue, there are quite a few open-source tools that will help you with your project management needs. Some people with small project needs are quite happy with the simplicity of spreadsheets, such as those provided by the OpenOffice suite of tools or GoogleDocs.

However, the best chart I've found that compares a variety of project management tools, listing available features can be found on Wikipedia.

Whether all you require is a simple spreadsheet or a full-feature product that will let you manage an enterprise-wide development effort, there are a variety of tools available. Take some time to evaluate your needs and you should be able to find the tool that best suits your organization.

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