—Heavy Duty Project Management For BIG Projects

by Randy Murray on August 27, 2013

Some of us forget that productivity and project management isn’t just about PERSONAL productivity. Yes, as individuals we can benefit from organizing principals and tools, but many, even most of those tools have their roots in the tools and processes developed to manage big corporate and organizational projects.

I was recently asked by the makers of to take a look at their offering and to provide a basic review (this is a commissioned review).

It’s an impressive system. It’s an entirely web-based project management system designed for organizations to create and manage complex project plans. It has a lot of things that other systems, like Basecamp, do not. For example, one of the core requirements for large-scale project management is expense and time tracking. Am I on budget for this project? If you’re running a simple project with only a few people you may not need this level of detail, but if you are running a multi-million dollar project that will take months or years and has thousand of separate tasks and resources, you’ll need the level of control that a system like offers.

It has an impressive level of detailed controls and customization. I found it very easy to get started using the system.

You can tell that owes a lot to Microsoft Project. has good import/export in MS Project format. Unfortunately the look and feel, the interface of is very Windows XP-like. It’s a strikingly out of date look. Compared to Basecamp, looks like something from ten years ago. Frankly, for the modern project manager, it’s off-putting. does have many things that I liked: Easy listing of projects and a customizable dashboard, spreadsheet-like task display, clear calendar display, easy-to-use project discussions, a separate “issues” feature, and flexible tracking of expenses and resource costs. These all provide an excellent base for creating and managing a big project, collaborating with a big team, and tracking projects at a very detailed level, even Gantt charting. And perhaps the most important features of this system are found in the way it allows project managers to tie in virtually every person working on a project, let them use the system for their specific tasks, and assign varying degrees of project access to everyone working on the project/projects. That’s powerful and very important.

I was also impressed with the support documents, tutorials, and their offering of webinars. They have an wide array of large corporate and government customers who use their system to manage BIG projects, including NASA, USPS, Volvo, and even Ralph Lauren. This is all very comforting for a project manager making a choice about what tools they should use.

The system also has the blessings and curses of being web-based. Being web-based means not having to install software, which is great for cross-platform usage and users outside the corporate walls (contractors, vendors, consultants, etc.). If you can get online, you can get to the system. But there’s also the down side. For example, you are required to manually save any work you’ve done. The system does offer Autosave, but that’s only available at a minimum of five minutes intervals and there’s a warning that it could slow the system down. You could lose a lot of work inside five minutes. I typically advise people not to do real work in browsers.

The biggest problem: no offline capabilities. You can’t work from an airplane or anywhere else that doesn’t have wifi. And if you aren’t using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) EVERYWHERE you access the system, you’re open to having someone sniff out your data.

In addition, since the system is web based, organizations will have to decide if they’re comfortable not “owning” their data. While the system appears to be secure, as a project manager and in my previous experience as a VP of Operations, the thought of months of work and sensitive plans living somewhere other than my servers would give me pause. If your project requires secure or secret levels of control, this may be a problem (i.e., defense contractors, industrial secrets, etc.).

I was disappointed to see how the site performed on different devices. It’s a single site design and not built using Responsive Design principles. It works fine on a laptop screen and great on a large desktop monitor, but it is barely usable on an iPad and completely sucks on a phone. I can’t read it at all on my iPhone 5 in portrait orientation without massive zooming magnification on a small section of the displayed page. This is a major drawback. Project managers that I know are on the go and aren’t chained to their desks. The system also didn’t allow me to be logged on in two places at once. I could set up a 2nd ID, but I could not use my desktop and my iPad at the same time logged in under the same ID, which is a very effective method to look at multiple aspects of a project at one time.

As a whole, if you require heavy duty project management tools, I’d recommend that you consider and test I prefer it over MS Project and was impressed by its wide feature set and support. When they update their system to support mobile devices I think they’ll have a winning large scale project management solution.

*I was compensated to review this product.

The—Heavy Duty Project Management For BIG Projects by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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