Express Project is a free project management tool

Project management tools are generally aimed at large businesses, and perhaps as a result tend to be bulky, expensive, and difficult to use.

Fortunately, NCH’s Software’s Express Project is, well, different: a 209KB download (and that’s the whole program, not just an installer), entirely free (no adware), and so simple that anyone familiar with project management basics will have mastered it within minutes.

There are consequences to this, of course. Express Project is extremely basic because there’s just no room for anything advanced. Everything is stripped back to the bare minimum. There’s no time management, no calendar, no web integration. Scheduling is limited, resources are just text labels and you don’t get any detailed reporting at all.

Still, there is some functionality here. Create a project and you’re able to add tasks, with details like their type (fixed work/ fixed duration), the time they require, a start and end date (with optional automatic scheduling via critical path), milestones, constraints and more.

Resources are defined only by a name, but you can at least give them a custom schedule, with optional exceptions (a holiday for a particular staff member, say).

Plus, of course, once everything is set up and working, a Gantt chart is always available to display your current project status.

If you need a free project manager for anything serious then you’ll be much better off with an online service like Zoho Projects, which makes it much easier for a small team to collaborate, and has a clear upgrade path should you need more features. But if you’re just working on something very simple -- or, maybe, you’d just like to learn a few project management basics -- then Express Project may be able to help.

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