Under the Bridge

Project Management: ProjectPier

Here’s an interesting post on setting up a development technology stack:

How to setup a complete Project Management, Subversion and Issue Tracking ecosystem

Interesting because whilst the recommendations pretty much mirror exactly the setup of the Trollwerks code foundry, they include a project management system we had not heard of before, the open source self-hosted ProjectPier:

ProjectPier is an open source online management system very similar to the ultra popular Basecamp from 37signals. It doesn’t have those hard features of project management (like Gantt Charts, etc), it simply deals with projects as Tasks, Messages, Files, Milestones, Tickets and optional Wiki per project…

Using Project Pier is very easy and straightforward:

  1. Create a project.
  2. Create a “Client Company”.
  3. Add users to the client company.
  4. Set these users to the created project and give them appropriate permissions (permissions are related per project, which means that you may have hundreds of projects and the client will only see his related projects).
  5. Add milestones, tasks, files, etc, don’t forget to check notifications checkboxes when applied.

Now you can center everything related to your project in Project Pier and access everywhere: brainstorming, files, tasks, bug tracking, etc. Explain and invite your clients to not directly send project related emails, but to post Messages in Project Pier (everyone receives them by email after that).

Note that you can add “Private Items”: private milestones, tasks, etc that the involved clients won’t see. Those can be internal tasks/files/etc that you don’t want the client to see nor participate…

Hmmm. That sounds like a pretty darn attractive solution for working with clients that don’t have their own project management set up. Currently, when left to our own devices we pretty much rely on the amazingly awesome Things for short-term GTD-style task management — all there is in a client project, generally — and stash longer term issues in a free Lighthouse account accessed through the sweet Lighthouse Keeper native client. However, it would be nice to have something with a bit more structure, that

A) we could add our rather long and ever growing list of projects and clients to without paying ridiculous monthly fees, and

B) is simple enough that it would be realistic to convince non-technical clients to actually use the thing. Which eliminates popular programmer-centric alternatives like Trac, Redmine, yada yada yada, right there.

A) is a given here, and surfing around the web a bit it seems that ProjectPier has a pretty good chance of qualifying under B) as well. And since it sounds like it should be pretty simple to set up on our DreamHost account, why we do believe that soon as we have a bit of a break around here (ha!) we will indeed look into setting that up and seeing how it works. Any of you Dear Readers tried out ProjectPier? How did it work, or not, for you?

UPDATES:

Here’s a roundup of online project management tools to check out — ProjectPier is the only self-hosted one on the list, we note, which keeps it front and center as the one we’re likely to try out whenever we get a chance.

And here’s a May 2011 roundup of 30 Best FREE Project Management Software. Free is a good price! Desktop and web both, ProjectPier is on that list too.

And a June 2011 40 Most Influential Project Management Tools roundup.

2
  • Adam

    Hi Alex, I will be checking this one out – been looking for something like this…

    Point of interest, the link for the current release version on ProjectPier.org under “Download Now” (on source forge), are broken. Scroll down the list into the Green section that actually reside on the ProjectPier.org server are working…

    Thanks,
    Adam

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