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I work for a small plastics manufacturing company. We have 14 employees total but only 3-5 to start would be using Project to organize our projects. To this point we have only used excel and other rudimentary ways of handling our project management and are looking to get more sophisticated.

I downloaded a free trial of MS Project because it is suppose to integrate well with the ERP system that we will be getting by the end of the year. After working with MS Project for a while there are several questions that I need to have answered so that we can determine the best system for us.

Here is what we are looking for:

  1. 3-5 people to start that can work on own and simultaneous projects
  2. Eventually my have up to 9 people using it on a regular basis
  3. Have a system that multiple people can see and make changes to as the project evolves
  4. Manager has access to see what items are on track or overdue
  5. Individuals be able to see all projects they are on and at a glance see what needs to be completed that day (a task list perhaps)
  6. Receive email notices to let individuals know that they have something due coming up or if something is pass due on a project they are heading up
  7. Track costs of resources and overlap of resources on different projects

Are these things that can be handled and what is most cost efficient? Each individual has it on their desktop with something like drop box keeping the files for people to open or is there a server or web cloud type application that is more cost effective for our size company.

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Microsoft Project, in conjunction with Microsoft Project Server, will give you the ability to collaborate on projects. As I understand, collaboration and simultaneous access is one of your concerns. It will also fulfill the other requirements (task list, alerts, etc.). However, I'm not sure if it is the best choice from the cost perspective for an organization of your size.

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Even for a small company, tracking a project/status would be quite crucial as you cannot keep things using some good tool, but ultimately we should take care that this doesn't become an over kill.

Looking at your scenario, I don't think you will need a comprehensive system but a simple tool would do. I would go for OpenProj which is an opensource MS-Project like tool and it is free.

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MS Project also is very focused on linear project work. Even when this works, managing multiple projects is rather difficult.

I've just started using a freememium product call Trello. It's a good task based system that can have multiple people assigned and easily allows for multiple task boards. Might be worth looking at.

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There is a lot of good information in the different questions under the tag for pm-software.

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Another potential option would be to use Jira to track this work. It is not really a traditional project management tool, instead it is focussed more for the people doing to work to keep track of it and log time against tasks.

It has a bit of a learning curve to get the most from it but I think it would meet all the requirements you have.

You can get it as a on premise or cloud solution.

The best thing with Jira is that it puts the focus on the people doing the work to create whatever sub-tasks they feel are necessary rather than with Project where it pushes the PM to create the work breakdown and assign out the tasks. Once you have your team comfortable with Jira it is a great tool to distribute the overview to senior management.

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