3 Best Open Source Project Management Tools


Project management is arguably the most important discipline for any business. If your business can’t properly break down the tasks necessary to complete a project, estimate the time to complete those tasks, and prioritize that work, you’re at risk of setting improper expectations for customers.

While a host of commercial project management tools are available, businesses can also turn to open source options, which provide a similar level of functionality without a large outlay in software costs. That’s right, these three options are all free. Let’s take a look at three of the leading open source project management tools.

1. Redmine

Redmine is a popular web-based open source project management tool deployable with a wide variety of databases and web publishing platforms. Written in the Ruby on Rails development framework, Redmine lends itself to easy modification for businesses with internal development teams. It is a fully featured tool with a host of useful functionality suitable for software development projects or any project following a traditional structure.

Some of Redmine’s features include support for multiple projects, time tracking, role-based user control, Gantt chart and calendar views, and integration with most popular source control options. Project communication and collaboration is fostered through the tool’s built-in project wikis and forums. Redmine’s active user community serves as an excellent source for support and as a sounding board for new feature requests.

Businesses involved with projects suitable for the Gantt chart view should explore Redmine for project management. It provides an easy-to-use, full-featured experience resulting in fewer overruns, happier customers, and a more robust bottom line. Many enterprises, as well as non-profit and educational organizations, use the tool regularly.

2. KForge

KForge is a freely available web-based open source project management application suitable for knowledge management and software projects. It uses a plug-in architecture, so features and functionality can be easily swapped out as needed. The software is free, but its installation and management require some technical ability. Its open source license allows for modifications to be made, which is useful for software development shops.

The modular architecture allows for a variety of source control systems (Git, Subversion), project tracking modules, Wiki and mailing list functionality, as well as popular CMS applications like WordPress and Joomla. This power and flexibility makes KForge’s relative installation difficulty worthwhile, but it is an application more suitable for software development shops.

The robust KForge community is one of the main strengths of the software. Businesses will benefit from being able to switch parts of the software to fit their workflows and preferred applications. New plug-ins are being developed and a mailing list exists; subscribe to learn tricks of the application and get usage questions answered.

3. Open Workbench

For businesses looking for an open source alternative to Microsoft Project, Open Workbench is an excellent option. It provides a standard desktop application look and feel, with a Gantt Chart view that should make any users of Microsoft’s tool feel right at home. CA Technologies also provides a version, but they require users looking for full enterprise features to subscribe to their own project management system, CA Clarity PPM.

While the software’s open source code base is older, it still allows businesses to benefit from being able to get a handle on their project workloads. For smaller businesses wanting to manage projects without all the other features of Redmine and KForge, Open Workbench remains a good option.

No matter the size of your business, these three open source project management tools are worth further exploration to see which application provides the best fit. All three provide the tangible business benefits gained from on-time, successful project completion.