Understanding Open Workbench Project Management Software

Open Workbench is a project management software that offers a robust functionality for project scheduling and management. It can be used as a free alternative to Microsoft Project and varies a little from Microsoft Project. It was developed by Applied Business Technology, Corporation (ABT) of New York in the year 1984. It was initially referred to as “Project Workbench”.

ABT was purchased by Niku Corporation in the year 2000. Niku and this software were further purchased by CA Corporation in the year 2005. Its maximum use can be exploited if the user has knowledge of project management processes. It is an effective tool that can help perform important tasks with its advanced functional capability.


As of 2010 Open Workbench works under operating system Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista and necessitates Sun JRE version 1.3.1 or later.


Using Open Workbench, projects can be created, tasks populated, interdependencies on tasks that are both internal and external to the project can be created and resources assigned. Resource constraints can be defined and progress monitored. Data can be imported from other projects.


Project data can be presented in various ways like spreadsheet views, Gantt charts or CPM networks. It provides all the functionality and benefits generally expected by Project Managers.

Work is categorized into phases, activities and tasks. In Open Workbench the views are categorized by planning, executing and controlling sets as per the underlying project’s phases. The standard views can be tailored or new views created as per project requirements. The tool also has provision for variance analysis capability.


The new versions of Open Workbench even presents import of Microsoft Project files to make migration an easy task. It also has the advantage that it can used and distributed free of charge in an organization. However the commercially obtainable upgrade of Open Workbench comes attached to a cost. Open Workbench is suited to large scale projects that can rationalize the considerable time invested in learning the product and using it.


Some differences and similarities exist between Open Workbench and MS Project. The main difference is that they have a different focus. While Open Workbench bases schedule on effort MS Project bases schedule on duration. Creation of inter project dependencies is smoother in Open Workbench. Replacement of a resource during the project lifecycle is easier in Open Workbench as the estimates of work are retained and not replaced by default scheduling as in the case of MS Project.


The Schedule Calculation also differs. It is activated by user in Open Workbench whereas there are both manual and automatic options in MS Project. Because the Open Workbench is focused on the resources, the resource leveling process is different. Open Workbench does it based on the availability of the resource whereas MS Project does it based on the next existing duration of time that fits the task.


They are similar in the manner in which they are both schedule based project management tools. Some of the common factors they possess are ability to track resources, action items, milestones etc. Both have the feature of creating Work Breakdown Structures (WBS), inter-project dependencies and reports. Both facilitate baseline settings with options to reset and help adeptly in the identification of critical path.


Open source Project scheduling packages such as Open Workbench provide a cost effective option. However, users of these tools should regularly visit the support web sites and subscribe to newsletters to keep in par with the latest updates.

| An Introduction to Earned Value Management | A Note on Construction Project Management | An Overview of the Contribution of Sharepoint Project Management | Distinguishing between Project Scope/Hope/Effort/Feature Creep | Introduction to Open Workbench | Project Management Audit – Modus Operandi | The Critical Chain Project Management as presented by Goldratt |


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