A few weeks ago, we posted a blog comparing 5 Cloud Alternatives to Microsoft Project. Inevitably, we coudn’t cover them all in one article. There are lots of competitors in this niche, and ProjectManager.com is perhaps one of the more established in the market.
ProjectManager.com is used by some very high-profile companies, including Volvo, the United Nations and NASA. But the cloud has come a long way since 2008 when the company was founded. Being established is one thing; being able to adapt and innovate in an increasingly competitive arena is another.
ProjectManager.com is free to try for 30 days. After that, it’s priced on a ‘per user’ basis. This pricing model is commonly seen among project management applications, although it’s not used by all of them by any means.
On the basic Projectmanager.com package, 1-5 users costs $25 per user monthly. The price drops to $20 per user monthly for 6-10 users, and drops again to $15 per user monthly for 10+ users.
Compare this pricing to a couple of randomly chosen competitors; Podio charges a flat $8 per user per year. Teamwork Project Management’s plans all include unlimited users; the cheapest plan costs just $12 per month.
Even if your company is small now, 5 users will still cost $1,500 per year if you choose ProjectManager.com. A company with 12 users will spend $2,160 per year. Pricing is an issue for all businesses to consider early on. Project management software ingrained into business process and becomes the ‘brain’ behind everything employees do. That means it’s quite difficult to switch to a different system later, and the cost on a per user model can quickly mount up.
Interface and Appearance
In terms of look and feel, SaaS products generally fall into two camps. There are flashy new responsive sites with rounded corners and lots of white space, and there are sites that are more like desktop applications. ProjectManager.com definitely falls into the latter category.
Much like TimeTac, the structure and layout of ProjectManager.com is inspired by desktop applications – in particular, Windows XP. This is a double-edged sword: it inspires confidence in people who aren’t used to working in the cloud. However, it also makes software look a little dated next to some of the newer tools we’ve seen.
The ProjectManager.com website interface has two sets of tabs across the top of the screen. The first row contains a Welcome page, a Home page and some tabs for individual projects. On the second row, you’ll see icons relating to the tab you’re currently using.
I started off by following the Wizard presented on login. These icons are all clickable links, and they look pretty good. It’s a shame they’re all tucked away in the corner of the screen.
Tabs and Features
Once I’d created a project, the site invited me to set up some Tasks. This screen took me by surprise, mainly because a third toolbar appeared, and this one contains no less than 25 different icons. You can immediately see just how much screen space the toolbars take up.
The layout here looks very much like Microsoft Office 2010; great for orientation, if that’s what you’re used to, but not really something I expected to see in the cloud. While entering tasks, the software dynamically builds a Gantt chart in the right-hand pane, which is nicely done.
(Note that even the Menu icon in the above screenshot is very ‘Windows-like’, with blue, red, green and yellow icons on a blue background. The desktop layout is evident here too; even the divider between the two panes is borrowed from Windows.)
I couldn’t see an option to progress further through the Getting Started Wizard, so I had to abandon the setup procedure and go back to the Dashboard. I haven’t really entered any data at this stage, so most of the images here are static.
Again, this screen is incredibly busy, and you really can’t complain at the amount of flexibility offered. I’ve expanded the window for this screenshot, and you’ll see that much of the information in the default view is still below the fold. Widgets can be removed if you don’t need to see this level of detail.
In the Calendar view, you’ll notice that my tasks have been added as full-day appointments which is a nice touch. The calendar is quick to load and has all the familiar features you’d expect.
The Discuss tab is a kind of shared forum space. It’s very quick and straightforward, and adding discussions is easy for the novice user.
The Issues tab is a fairly typical red-amber-green (RAG) chart with the option to attach files and assign tasks to the Issue. In the Info tab, I can change fundamental project settings such as the name.
Capable But Dated
There’s nothing wrong with ProjectManager.com as a project management tool. However, it’s so much like a Microsoft product, it may as well be Microsoft Project. If it had featured in our comparison article, it would have been a real contender as a direct cloud replacement.
But when replacing Microsoft Project, you might not want a direct swap: you might want an upgrade. More modern tools have re-thought the whole project management process and redesigned it from the ground up. In turn, these newer tools make their software far more suitable for a browser.
Newer project management tools are still finding their feet, and ProjectManager.com is arguably the most capable, making it ideal for enterprise. Its client base suggests this is its target market. Additionally, the familiar layout means less investment in training, and the abundance of features makes it extremely capable. The cost is quite substantial, though, and it doesn’t have any integrations with other cloud products, making it a closed system.
Assuming you’re looking at a project management software for a small business, I’d recommend trying ProjectManager.com alongside a few alternative cloud project management tools so you can weigh up the interface and capabilities of each one. Certain large companies wouldn’t be able to live without a complex tool like this, but if you’re willing to experiment, or you want to integrate different SaaS products, there are other alternatives that are more fit for purpose.
Category: Initial Reviews
About the AuthorClaire Broadley is a technical author and SEO copywriter. She reviews cloud applications and SaaS products for Rated Cloud.
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