Visualizing a complex project with ProjectLibre

Check, Repeat, Report

Entering all this data is time consuming, but it happens once for each project and is well worth the time. Besides, you can probably reuse a Resources list by saving a project with another name and then deleting everything but the resource data.

While you enter dependencies and assign resources in the Gantt chart, remember to periodically save, click the Update button in the command ribbon, and then check the PERT, WBS, and RBS charts, as well as all the cost and resource usage statistics. All this information, accessible by clicking the corresponding buttons in the command ribbon, will either confirm that your planning makes sense or highlight errors before they have concrete consequences. Of course, you must update the charts and check that everything is on track repeatedly during the entire project.

What's left? Reports, of course. Both your team and your bosses want to know their tasks and that everything is under control. Click on View in the main interface and then on Report in the command ribbon to generate printable reports as shown in Figure 10. Alternatively, you may export these reports in CSV, HTML, XLS, and other formats.

Figure 10: ProjectLibre produces several summary reports of all the data, which you can print or export in several formats.

Conclusions

Currently, the ProjectLibre desktop version has two limitations that may be showstoppers. First, it offers little support for budget calculations and analyses. Second, the complete project data can only be imported and exported as Microsoft Project XML rather than a more easily reusable format. In addition, while the user manual is good, it is accessible only from a link on the website that points to a non-exportable file in Google Docs. Why?

In spite of these issues, ProjectLibre seems like a valid tool for simple projects, as well as a very good didactical tool to learn the basics of project management.

The Author

Marco Fioretti (http://stop.zona-m.net) is a freelance author, trainer, and researcher based in Rome, Italy, who has been working with Free/Open Source software since 1995, and on open digital standards since 2005. Marco also is a board member of the Free Knowledge Institute (http://freeknowledge.eu).

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