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I run a small company doing design work. We have many projects that I feel sometimes are hard to keep track of. I realized I would like to use an online project management solution that my employees and I can use to keep track of projects and solve a few problems we have with these projects. The problem I am having with doing this is that there are like a million solutions out there. I have done searches for this stuff using google and freshmeat and sourceforge and I am overwelmed. So what I'm really looking for is someone who has/is using some kind of project software themselves and is convinced it will meet my needs. Here is a short list of the things I am definitely looking for. If the tool can do more than this, that's great but I think it has to do a minimum of the following.
1. Initial log in screen with user and password to keep non-users out and us in.
2. Users and administrators have slightly different capabilities. While the user can enter in hours worked on a selected project and the type of work (work category), the administrator can edit all of these different items and even add and delete users.
3. The ability to have all the current projects listed at the time of log in showing the status of the projects. At a minimum this status would show number of hours spent on the project as well as the number of hours initial allocated to the project.
4. Relatively simple installation using PHP/MySQL. Although these aren't completely required, they would fit what I have available on my web host currently. I am using the Shuttle service at www.lunarpages.com so you can look at that to see if the solution you recommend will fit with that hosting. I am currently using one of the 3 available MySQL databases for my web page.
5. Free or low cost software solution. Free isn't required. I will pay for the software if it solves my problems and does what I want. Sometimes the problem with paying is that I don't really trust the company I'm buying the software from. They may go out of business and leave me stranded. With free software you also have this problem but at least you didn't pay anything before that happens. Also, with free software/open source, you can modify the code to fix problems yourself or add features. This is the kind of software I would love to write in another lifetime but I've got other things to work on.
6. The software should be flexible enough to conform to the way I like things done. For instance, I do payroll on the 15th and the last day of the month. Those are the days of the month I would like to have the time sheets locked so employees cannot change the numbers in those entries again. Now, that isn't a hard and fast feature I need to have in the sofware but it might be something I ask someone to modify for me later for some relatively low price. Or, if the software can already handle this, that's great. But the point here is that it would be nice to be able to make changes to the software to accomodate features I my come up with that the software cannot perform. That's another agrument for open source actually. If I buy one license for the software from a company, they probably won't want to mess with modifications just for me and I'll never get the source code to be able to make those modifications.
7. It would be nice if the software were more mainstream so that more than a few people in the world would know how to use it. Maybe there is something out that that lots of people are using but from the searches I did, I just couldn't tell. I don't want to be the only person in the world using the solution I choose. And I don't want to be the one who has to find all the bugs with the software.
Here is what you are bidding on:
1. Give me a list of choices for the web based project management software you recommend. In your bid, please tell me how many you will recommend. Please keep in mind that I may just not like the solution you offer and may wish to try something else.
2. Set up demos for the choices or point me to an already existing online demo that I can play with. If it's a system you are already using in your organization then perhaps you can make a dummy account for me there so I can look around and see how you use it.
I may pick more than one person for this project so I get a variety of choices. I'm not sure if thats doable in GAF but I'll check it out.
Thanks for your time and good luck bidding.
ps. I'm out of the office for a week but I should be able to check the progress of the bidding in the evenings.