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Here’s the second part of our marathon run everything social media and social enterprise to help you find tools to suit your project and your pocket. We can’t promise, but by the end we think you’ll know your yam from your tweet along with your Ning from your Ping.

1. Manage projects day-to-day with one-stop systems. Be honest now, are you running your projects or are they running you? For instance, are you coping with your emails, tracking individuals’ progress on tasks, keeping dispersed and disparate teams accountable, updating the project plan regularly? If the answer’s no, then maybe give project management systems a whirl. They can’t provide the project management skills and knowledge that come with the UK’s de facto standard, PRINCE2, but they can bring together information, people and projects. We’ve divided our selection into two broad groups.For small businesses who don’t want to shell out for applications we’ve found four great freebies for you to try.

  • DotProject is a versatile, open source, easy-to-set-up and easy-to-use web-based project management application that is supported by an army of volunteers.
  • Another free, multi-talented system is ProjectPier. It boasts unlimited users, email notification, Gantt, resource scheduling, data and timeline formatting. It must be downloaded and installed on your web server.
  • jxProject isn’t too shabby either. It’s clever at managing tasks, projects and teams and has a built-in constraint solver. It’s supported by discreet advertising but if you don’t like commercials you can upgrade to a paid, ad-free version.
  • Another nifty little application is GanttProject. It’s a cross-platform desktop tool for project scheduling and management with which you can create work breakdown structures, assign human resources, collaborate with others using WebDAV, generate a PERT chart from a Gantt chart, and benefit from other useful qualities.

In the end, you get what you pay for and you get plenty with both land-locked and cloud-based commercial offerings! The positive smörgåsbord of applications out there includes DeskAway, 5pm, Springloops, Teambox CentralDesktop as well as the few we’ve picked out to give you a taste of the facilities available; look out for free trials or packages on their websites.

  • AceProject definitely rates a mention providing as it does project tracking, collaboration, task management, expense management, HR management, reporting capabilities, mobile access – enough already – or maybe not!
  • If you’re an “all-you-can-eat” type of project professional, then go to Zoho Project 2. It comes with collaboration, communication, messages, wikis, storage, bug tracking, reports, recruit – you’ve got the picture!
  • King of the hill for many PMs is Basecamp thanks to its emphasis on collaboration and communication as well as its easy configuration, speed, file sharing and task assignment abilities. Basecamp also offers Campfire for real-time, collaborative, group chat.
  • We all know Huddle and while it may not have every feature under the sun it’s got a lot going for it. It enables you to manage projects, run schedules, store files and hold meetings; in addition it has loads of integration options.
  • Clarizen aims to leave clear blue water between itself and competitors. It includes project portfolio management, real-time project status visibility, built-in social communication and networking tools plus a knowledge base.
  • As you would expect from any Microsoft product, SharePoint doesn’t stint on capability. Your project team can collaborate through wikis, work flows and a multi-lingual user interface. Moreover, you have the added reassurance of easy integration with other Microsoft products.
  • Easy on the eye is the well-thought-out Wrike project management system. It aims to handle over 50 projects in a workspace whilst boosting collaborative and consistent working systems.

2. Share and share alike across the globe. Sharing content with every team member cost-effectively and efficiently is a major headache for project management professionals. Apart from the sheer weight of documents that might be involved there are issues around cost, travel, time zones, geography and so on; fortunately they are issues that can be solved.

  • Chuck your presentations, videos and documents onto Slideshare rather than into your briefcase and you can bring together your virtual team. The free version gives unlimited uploads but you need to upgrade to have the advantage of privacy and web-meetings.
  • You know YouTube’s for fun but did you know it’s for projects too? Project managers can use it to inspire, explain and share whilst HR managers can use it for training and inculcating best practices.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words and especially to busy project managers. Flickr is a great way of sending quick status updates with images, of sharing videos of meetings, and so on in a public and private arena.

3. Flag and share useful information. Let’s face it there’s a lot of rubbish out there on the web so how do you find project management material that’s worth your time? Here’s the answer.

  • Digg has its detractors but it can be a useful way of discovering and sharing content. It works by people hitting the digg button when they find content they think is good, the service then builds lists of popular stories that are shared across the web.
  • Coming in much the same category is StumbleUpon which takes you to web pages, photos, and videos handpicked by your friends and like-minded people.

4. Pull together all your social media or make your own social site. When you’re using social media every day and in every kind of way to improve project communication and collaboration you need services that let you manage things effectively. Here are some systems to consider including the opportunity of creating your own social site to increase control.

  • With FriendFeed you can add updates from your social media world, like websites, blogs and Twitter, onto one place and you can also subscribe to colleagues’ streams, create lists and find networks. It’s a great way for your virtual team to collaborate.
  • Simple and intuitive to use, Aol Lifestream brings together all your social networks. It allows people following you to see everything that you publish, it lets you publish backwards to your networks and it’s designed so you can use it over a number of platforms: websites, mobile phones and so on.
  • Amplify is a discussion platform but it can also be synced to your social networks to use as a hub for social media broadcasting, sharing and connecting.
  • If your head’s spinning through trying to choose from all the social media available, why not produce your own social site with Ning . Create or use a standard design, set up profiles, set up groups, monitor activity, go public or private, integrate with Twitter, Facebook et al, pull in RSS feeds from a blog, share photos and videos and more.

5. Can we talk? Can we text? Can we…? Communication is key to project management, of course, so we’re going to end with a look at some old and some not so old ways of communicating by email, by instant messaging and so forth.

  • Communication can cost so it’s no wonder that Skype is top of the pops for many. For free you can get Skype-to-Skype and one-to-one video calls, instant messaging and screen sharing. Various price points are available for calling landlines, calling abroad and for group communication.
  • It’s ironic that we live in an in-your-face, 24/7 world but privacy is what we crave. Use VaporStream and you’ve got it. Communicate by email, text and IM with all your contacts and leave no trace for anyone to follow – nada, zilch, zip, zero. Very James Bond!
  • Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger has got to be on any list of messaging tools. It’s well designed with chat windows, HD video calling, lots of free online storage and all the usual social networking links possible.
  • Who’d have thought the fax would still be alive and kicking! MyFax, Metrofax and eFax are some of the choices available. MyFax is affordable and simple to use. MetroFax combines a basic, easy-to-use product with price points to suit your pocket. Go local or international easily with the multi-featured eFax which allows you to store data online.

Useful Links

Training Tracks to Follow to Improve your PRINCE2 Skills:

  • For a complete picture of PRINCE2 and what it can do, head to the Office of Government Commerce.
  • The APMG provides a slew of useful information about PRINCE2 accredited training options.
  • TSO publishes a range of material for PRINCE2.
  • The PRINCE2 e-learning experience may be the perfect choice for those with an eye for cost-effective, rich and collaborative training that includes a blog, a forum and social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Head over to PRINCE2.com for an overview of everything we offer.