Freelance In 40 Days [Day 22]: Project Management Tools (Until You Get a Secretary)

Posted: October 28th, 2009

Photo by Pinprick (Flickr)

Photo by Pinprick (Flickr)

This is Day 22 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today will be an introduction to project management software.

The Do-It-Yourself Secretary

I’ll admit that I got into the concept of project management tools fairly recently, but I became very open to it after a couple of realizations:

1. I would occasionally get dates mixed up when completing stages for larger projects.

2. Writing all your tasks to complete on sheets and scraps of paper eventually get tangled in a mess on your desk. The image above actually illustrates a cleaner version of my desk.

3. Tasks get lost even in that organizer “book.”

Organization is a key to being efficient in freelancing and taking the time to learn and utilize a tool for managing clients and projects makes this easily possible. In fact, here are some major advantages:

You Save Time

When you deal with multiple clients and projects it becomes tedious keeping up with tasks, deadlines and communication. A lot of time can get eaten up just figuring out what you have to do in a given day. Project management tools keeps this all organized in one place.

Better Client Management

Like I learned, you do not want to ever make the mistake of missing a deadline or forgetting to do a task for a client simply because you “forgot.”  Needless to say, it doesn’t make you nor your business look good. When you get busy, you can’t rely on a written to-do list nor your memory either.

It’s Portable

In case you need to travel or change your office location for the day, project management software is web based so it goes with you too.

Project Management Software For Freelancers

Since project management software is becoming ever so popular, there are actually a number of open-source software that can be used free of charge. The downside is that it requires your own web server and a bit of tech savvy to install (they all have installation instructions though).

Not to worry. There are some that are web based services and can be used for free or a small monthly fee. Here are some of the favorites I’ve looked at:

  • OpenGoo: This one is my personal choice due to it’s ease of use and many features such as a calendar view, contact and email management, plus the ability to upload documents and save those web links you find useful. This does require you to install on a web server, but is well worth the effort or paying someone to do this.
  • Subernova: This is a web based service that is free for the first 30 days and 5.99 USD monthly on after. In addition to the usual client/project management, it has cool features such as time tracking, scheduling client emails and handy reminders that can be emailed to you.
  • ClockingIT: This can be used as a web based service or can be installed on a web server and is free to use either. It is not quite as robust as the above two but does offer client/project management and time tracking. To download the software go to their wiki page.
  • Collabtive: Provides a simple interface for client/project management and timetracking. This can be downloaded free and installed on a webserver or you can utilize their 40 EUR (about 60 USD) fee to have them install it for you. They can also host the software for you for a 10 – 40 EUR (about 15 – 60 USD) monthly fee depending on features.

Your Homework For Today

Start using a project management software of your choice. They take some time to learn and get adjusted to but it will be well worth it to help you be an organized freelancer.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

2 Comments. Join In!

  • John

    October 29th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Another project management software worth looking into for your homework assignment is Intervals. It’s a web-based tool built by and for web designers, developers and freelancers. There is a free plan and you can use it to track time, tasks and projects.

  • Shannon

    November 2nd, 2009 at 5:07 am

    http://contentcube.com is a great site to support the file management, sharing and presentation aspect of project management. It is built for designers and focus on the professional image formats they use like PSD, AI, EPS, PDF,etc. Very visual interface and dead simple to use. Can be used in complement to many project management work-flow tools.