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Lifehacker featured an online project management tool that is free, robust, and easy to use! Gantter is a web-based project management tool that looks very similar to Microsoft Project, but is so much easier to use. You can create, import, and export project files, including projects created in MS Project.  

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I created a sample project using Gantter. The online tool is so easy to use!  I know this is the 3rd time I’ve said this already, but I hate MS Project. MS Project has got to be the most un-intuitive and difficult to use project management tool out there.

For lack of better and robust options, many companies (like National Instruments) end up using MS Project to manage various projects. I think we use MS Project to manage many (most?) of our software and documentation projects at the Shanghai branch. I believe this is also the case in Austin.

My Homebrewed Project Management Tool

I hear my colleagues complain about MS Project all the time, but no one has found a better alternative. After using MS Project for two documentation releases, I got fed up and created my own nifty project management tool using Microsoft Excel and a few macros. My tool looks very similar to Gantter, but is even easier to use! You can see tasks and a dynamic Gantt chart on the same page. I even created buttons (macros) to add projects (pre-defined tasks), generate a to-do list, publish to HTML, and filter tasks.

I’ve been using the tool to manage my documentation project for this release, along with my lead writer and another writer. A few developers discovered my tool and is also using it to manage their projects. Thanks to my “beta-testers” feedback, I’ve made some improvements to the tool. I think the tool is working out very well for everyone so far!  I believe there will be more people using my tool for future releases!

Below are two old screenshots I took several months ago. The tool looks a little different (and better) now, but since I’m writing this post at home, I’m not able to take screenshots of the updated tool on my work computer. I managed to find an old email that happened to have these screenshots! 

So here it is, a preview of my homebrewed project management tool.

Project Tasks and Dynamic Gantt Chart

  shanghaitech writer project management tool

Auto-Generated To Do List

  shanghaitechwriter to do list

Would you believe this was created in Microsoft Excel?! And people thought Excel is only good for data entry! Excel is my favorite Microsoft Office application. (MS Project is my least favorite!) There’s so much you can do with the advanced features of Excel that most people don’t know about. I’ve picked up quite a few (advanced) Excel tricks over the years from creating administrative tools for my last job. In short, I created an entire school database and report card system using Excel!

One of these day, I will write a full post about my homebrewed project management tool and make the file/template available for everyone to download. I believe there are many people out there that also hate using MS Project. 

Meanwhile, check out Gantter and manage your projects online!

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Originally posted by Susan at http://www.shanghaitechwriter.com/2009/05/04/gantter-free-project-management-too l/