Essential Tools When starting a new project #4 – issue tracking / project management software

A few weeks I decided to help what I think is a very good idea (more on that, I’m sure, in the future) try and get itself off the ground. In my mental preparations for this task, I began to wonder what we were going to need at the very beginning stages that would allow our work to proceed. I came up with this list:

  • Collaborative Software
  • Version Control System
  • Document Repository (with versioning abilities)
  • Issue Tracking Software

Since then I’ve talked about 3 of the 4 tools I think any “IT person” should have ready and available when a new project starts up; I’ve taken a look at Collaboration Software, Version Control, and a relatively new concept in my tool list in a true document repository. Last on this list is issue tracking and project management software. Of all of the tools I’ve been talking about, this is where things can get crazy really fast.

Why do you need this application in your corner when you first start out? I’ve seen too many projects flounder at the beginning and never recover because they couldn’t figure out how to go about eating their particular elephant. These tools, whether you want to use Gannt Charts or Burndown Charts, are designed to help you organize your work and attack it in a way that is consistent and doable. You know, project management. :)

A Google search reveals at least 8 quadrillion project management and issue tracking apps out there (an estimate of course). For the purposes of this talk I’m going to stick with the tools that I’ve personally worked with that I think can do the job for which they are designed. I’ll be excluding closed source garbage apps I’ve been forced to use in a few engagements that are parts of large “solution suites” that companies feel compelled to make and purchase without good sense. Out of the small universe of applications out there, my personal top few are:

  • Jira – Like Confluence, Jira is another Atlassian product that is trying very hard to become the standard for issue-tracking / project management applications. It’s a java application (amazingly stable, though), with a huge community that contributes plugins that do all sorts of amazing stuff. It’s biggest downside is that it’s not open source, but they try to overcome at least some of that stigma by offering Jira for free to open source and some other types of projects. They also have a 10-user/$10 license where the $10 goes to charity that is GREAT when starting up a new project.
  • Trac – I’ve mentioned Trac before, because it has some aspects of collaboration software built-in with its wiki (it can serve double-duty for smaller/more straight-forward projects, even). But at its heart it’s an issue tracker. There are now plugins that give you a more Agile look and feel in Trac (my personal fave), as well as the traditional milestones / versions, etc.
  • Bugzilla / Mantis – I’m putting these two together not because they are the same thing but because they fill the same role in a project. They are bug trackers, plain and simple. While some people use them to do it, they isn’t really a project management component to these applications. Mantis is written in PHP and Bugzilla is written in Perl. Both are open source. Bugzilla certainly has the edge in users, with a HUGE community that includes Mozilla, RedHat, the Linux Kernel and others.

Like I said at the beginning, there are more applications that purport to be issue trackers / project management applications than I could talk about in a lifetime. But in my lifetime, I’ve used several, with the short list above being the ones that worked best. Of them, I’m a big fan of Jira because of its interface and great Agile plugin (greenhopper).

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3 thoughts on “Essential Tools When starting a new project #4 – issue tracking / project management software”

  1. A timesheet is a record of time spent on a job by an employee originally for the employer to determine the payroll. They are an old concept and used to be paper and in some cases still are. The terminology of Timesheets became more prominent with increasing availability of software systems to generate employee timesheets automatically. timesheet has the records of start and end time of tasks, or just the duration.

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