Ten Free Software Tools for the Cost-Conscious Consultant - Slide 2

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There are a ton of free spreadsheet-based Gantt chart tools out there, but for Ken’s money, if the project is complex enough to merit a Gantt chart to begin with, he wants the data to be in a database, not a spreadsheet. The best free tool he has found for this joyous task is GanttProject, a GPL 2.0 freeware project. You can import resources from standard contacts, assign hard dependencies between tasks, and toggle views between Gantt and the friendlier PERT model. You can post the project to a Web server account, and most importantly, you can export to the MS Project format or CSV. A handy set of tutorials at the project's Web page can walk new users through the basics of Gantting out a project.

Free, unlimited use.

Consultants need to do a little bit of everything, and that can mean loading up on a lot of potentially expensive software packages. Thank goodness for open source freeware projects and proprietary software publishers who give away powerful free samples as a marketing tactic.

These software packages provide more than adequate – sometimes surprisingly powerful – functionality for your Windows-based PC, and interoperate quite nicely with brand-name apps. They won't necessarily replace industry-standard tools for your core business; professional project managers are still going to have to bite that $500 bullet for a seat of MS Project.

But for general productivity and most niche tasks, software doesn't have to cost a lot, or anything, for that matter. These tools don't expire and won't frustrate you by suppressing necessary functionality. They just work.

This slideshow features 10 free client software packages identified by Ken-Hardin, an independent business analyst and management consultant, as well as an IT Business Edge alumnus.

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