As many of you know, I work for SALEient and we sell a product called Conflux. Conflux comes in a couple different flavours (hosted by us at conflux.ca, your own server that you can put in your office or a dedicated server which is a server in our rack space that you have to your self but it’s on the Internet rather than on your network).

As well, many of you know I also do Internet software development through Sloan Consulting. As part of Sloan Consulting, I’ve worked on a lot of different and interesting projects over the past 6 or so years. Throughout my time developing, I’ve been adverse to using Project Management Software. Mainly, people wanted me to use Microsoft Project and I feel this isn’t a good product unless you have a formal project manager willing to make it work. As a result of my aversion, I’ve now finally chosen to write my own project management software for my consulting work. Conflux has a project management module (called Workflows) but I need something a bit more robust and flexible (and besides, a lot of my consulting clients aren’t using Conflux, yet…)

Here are the major premises of this software.

  1. It should be web-based and easy to use. I like the Basecamp model but I like a bit more information than they allow. As well, if I build it myself, I’ll be able to make changes. I’ve been working with the Python (programming language) Django Framework for the past year or so and I really enjoy it. It’s a great way to build web-based software.
  2. It should do what it is supposed to do and nothing more. I’m not trying to build a million features or move my accounting process onto the web. I just need to track and manage my projects. A project is a lot more than a simple to do list and it’s a lot more than a fancy gantt chart. My software should track what I’m doing and what I’ve done on a project and it should give me some insight into what I can do better. It also should help me communicate about my status to my clients. Lastly, people are people–we shouldn’t call them “resources.”
  3. It should be based on proven practices. Joel On Software has a great breakdown of how to painlessly schedule software development. I’m going to incorporate these ideas. Zel Nadal has some good ideas about why a project management database is a good idea. These ideas are going in as well. Also, this past summer, I worked with the Alberta Department of Agriculture (AAFRD) to scan the types of project management they’re currently using and to work with the Project Management support unit to recommend a more unified solution. It was a tough project to pull off but after many hours of interviews I got through a lot of people. Also, we eventually realized that a government department in Ontario was a leader in this field and we chose to piggy-back on what they are leading the way on. The Ontario Template and the wisdom within are also incorporated here. Lastly, the Getting Real book by 37 Signals has some more wisdom to incorporate.

Well, here goes. I’ll keep you posted. I’m hoping to complete this project in less than 25 hours.

Project Management Software