Web-Based Project Management Tools: Copper Project

Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 11:00pm by Site Administrator

Gantt charts

Could it be? Real Gantt charts in a web-based project management tool? That’s just one feature that Copper Project offers, but if you’ve been lamenting this absence in other project management tools, it’s an exciting prospect.

Why? Because Gantt charts are a convenient visual way of getting an overview of one or more projects and their component tasks. You can “see” bottlenecks far more easily, in relation to a timeline. They beat a plain list of tasks and even a mindmap any time. (Though some mindmapping applications allow export to desktop PM tools.)

Since my time as an assistant PM (Project Manager), I’ve been using real PM software (such as MS Project) for about a decade. Without Gantt charts, it just ain’t proper PM software in my opinion. So it always gets in my craw when a number of web-based packages call themselves PM applications, but lacking said feature.

Copper Project has Gantt charts, but you pay a hefty price for the software. Although it is collaborative software, which none of the desktop PM applications can claim. You also have the option of hosted or self-hosted – such as on a company Intranet. Hosted plans range from US$29-$199/mth. If you want to download and install Copper on your internal servers, prices ranging from $499-$2999, depending on expected number of users.

I’m focusing in this article on only the Gantt charts feature of Copper Project, not the rest of their features. If this is something you need, Copper has a free 14-day private trial in three modes: Standard 2007, Corporate 2008, and Enterprise 2008. All three allow unlimited projects, but have user limits 15, 50, 100 respectively. You do have to sign up for the trial.

If Copper’s prices are too rich for you, you have a few other options for producing Gantt charts, but you lose web-based collaboration capabilities. This is not an extensive list:

  1. Microsoft Project, with a site license. This is not a cheap package, and site licensing increases the cost. Mindjet‘s MindManager mindmapping software can export to MS Project.
  2. Gantt Project – Free, Java-based, Windows. At the time of this writing, Gantt Project does not handle tasks that are less than a day in duration (i.e., X hours or minutes). This is a serious drawback, but hey it’s free. Ideal for the proponent of bootstrapping principles.
  3. ConceptDraw Project – This package integrates tightly with their Mindmap application, too.
  4. SmartDraw – The new version 8 offers Gantt charts, but is more of an illustration tool (used for diagrams in some of Bootstrapper’s archives).
  5. Fake them in a spreadsheet such as MS Excel.

If on the other hand Copper is something you’ve “got to have” and you feel you can justify the price, you could always get yourself a business credit card and use that for payment.

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Filed under: Tools + techniques

1 Comment »

  1. I keep all my project development plans in Wrike. I think you reviewed it some time ago. The tool is great. It’s simple, but powerful and it takes only seconds to get a Gantt chart view of my project plans. And it’s not pricy, like all the other tools you mentioned in the post above.

    Comment by Ake — October 4, 2007 @ 8:11 am

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