Blog Post

Self-Hosting Your Project Management Tools

There are plenty of project management tools that allow you to work with team members all over the world. Tools like ActiveCollab or web2Project require you (or your IT team) to set them up on a server, but once you’ve got everything installed, your team members can access your tools from anywhere. The question is whether self-hosted tools are the right choice for your organization.

Control of Your Data

Keeping your data under your own control is an important consideration. When your projects are sitting on some other company’s servers, you may lose access to them. A small hiccup in the billing process could mean that your team is locked out of all the projects they have been working on. That’s a scary thought. In most cases, running project management tools on your own server means that no-one else can come between your team and your work.

Another reason to have your project management software running on your own servers is the question of security. If you are handling confidential information, you can add additional security measures. Furthermore, you’ll have a much better idea of what physical security is in place for your server if that server is your own.

All of that makes for an appealing set of reasons to run your own project management tools, but there are many reasons to go with a web-based application hosted by another company. There is the consideration of overall access: when a company stakes its reputation on keeping your projects accessible at all times, they’re going to be in a position to invest more in the infrastructure of keeping their servers up and running, quite possibly at a lower cost than your organization can manage, esepcally if running a server isn’t something that you normally need to do.

Managing the Costs

Many of the options for project management tools that run on your own server are open source, which means that they’re theoretically free to use. However, that may not be the way things work out. Of course you’ll need to factor in the costs of running your server. But there are other considerations, such as managing upgrades and even creating new features — and these can all add cost. Those costs are not necessarily more expensive than paying for a hosted application (that can depend on how many team members you’re working with, how many projects you have going and a variety of other considerations), but should be considered before making a choice one way or the other.

At the end of the day, whether or not hosting your own project management tools makes sense in terms of cost a question of core competencies. If you’ve already got team members who can effectively manage running a server and all the details that go along with it, your costs are going to look very different than an organization that needs to bring in outside help on a regular basis.

Do you host your own project management tools?

Image by Flickr user Rudolf Schuba

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6 Responses to “Self-Hosting Your Project Management Tools”

  1. I required a Project Management Tool for my Team which gives me & my team the flexibility to manage the project related tasks; and I found the solution in Web2Project. Since we have the resources to host the server and manage it efficiently, we could go for it.


  2. We tried installing and hosting our own open source task management software and it ended up being more trouble than it was worth, and we are a web development agency. Nobody wants to fix it when it goes down and it’s really easy to get sidetracked adding functionality to it rather than focusing on your work. However, that was several years ago and there are a lot of better options available. So it really ends up being a matter of personal preference. Our preference was to go with a hosted project management tool. It just so happened to be one we built ourselves. Check it out. It’s called Intervals.

  3. We are a web solutions company and after searching for more than a decade (trying and testing many project management systems on the way, and even building one from scratch), we finally settled on activeCollab.

    I liked it so much that I even started a new business of building activeCollab extensions. And yes, we also build a Basecamp extension.

    Basecamp was our first choice. After all, that’s the first name you will come across while looking for a web based project management software. We love the simplicity of Basecamp. But our needs grew bigger as we used it for a while. Basecamp is super for smaller teams who do not have tech expertize in-house. It’s also great if you expect your users (your own team, your clients and anyone who’ll see the system) to be less tech savvy. To date, Basecamp is the simplest system to understand.

    activeCollab seemed like the best option to us because we had many users and projects. We did not want to get tied to a “x-users” or “x-projects” license for the core of the project management system. Of course, we also wanted full control over the system and the ability to customize it to our needs (Keep in mind that customizing any system to your needs takes good bit of efforts, if not technical skills).

    Another aspect to look at, is that 37Signals also offers other products that can be used with Basecamp. There are many third party extensions too. activeCollab comes with a lot of features out of the box, and it too has active extensions providers and a great community.

    In my review of all other project management solutions, I’ve found them either to be too difficult to use, costly in the long term, or simply a “me-too” offers.

    We have seen all kinds of businesses use both Basecamp and activeCollab. From web companies to lawyers to musicians. My observation is that smaller teams with simple needs go with Basecamp. Larger teams with need for more control and features go with activeCollab.

    Hope that helps!


  4. I’m not sure about ActiveCollab, I’ve used a year ago and it looked incomplete. I do not vouch for any tool (after all, they’re all similar), but I think going for a paid solution is less headache…

  5. You bring up a good topic here. I’ve gone back and forth whether I should host apps in-house or not. I’ve come to the conclusion of hosting all these types of apps with a third party. I am an independent consultant so I find it better to leave that up to the experts and free my time up to do what I do best. For me the cost is best to allow someone else to manage everything for me.
    As far as losing all the data, that is a concern, but I trust that the companies are large enough that they have backup plans in place.

    Joel Dahlin | Dahlin Development |