Project management systems in the cloud are not hard to find, and there’s an array of different options to choose from – some basic, some complex. Psoda is at the complex end of the scale as it covers other aspects of project management and allows users to record incredibly granular detail.
Psoda is a scalable project suite with a free task list and timesheet module. Beyond that, there’s a range of bolt-on modules which must be paid for. Paid modules cover programs, projects, requirements, testing and products, and there are a huge array of functions to help you manage each one from inception to completion.
For the purposes of this review, I originally tried to use the free demo on the Psoda website. Be warned: this is a very poor way to experience Psoda. The interface is dumbed down, and the access level doesn’t provide any write permissions at all – just a series of blank tables with barely any example data filled in. If you want to try Psoda, I recommend signing up for the alternative trial which gives full write access and a better overview.
Getting started with Psoda
Psoda features a tree explorer which is collapsed by default. Expanding this menu shows all the programs, projects and other key data. This allows you to hop quickly from one to the other.
On the right hand side, a tabbed interface provides access to all the key functions in Psoda. Below this there is a row of smaller tabs relating to the data in the table below. These change depending on context.
In the body of the screen there are several tables which can be sorted, edited and exported. All the data is displayed in a similar way, except for workflows and RAG data. Each of these individual tables is referred to as a dashlet.
Finding my way
My initial impression of Psoda was not great, and that’s largely because the UI has a pretty awkward appearance. The large buttons at the top of the screen can soon swallow up valuable space, and in Chrome, the edges of the tables failed to render neatly with some hanging off the edge of the window. (You can see this in the screenshot above).
Some of the data I wanted to check out is tucked away below the fold at the bottom of the page. Leaving the application alone for a few minutes causes a timeout and forces you to log in again which is a pain. I also noticed that some pop-up windows persistently re-appeared when the page was reloaded.
When I began to use the application, it wasn’t immediately clear what to do, so I retreated to the help documentation. This is thorough enough to get you started, although true competency with Psoda will undoubtedly only come with time.
Working with a project
Here I’ll describe an example Project, DevelopBusinessCase. You can see it in the navigation pane on the left.
After clicking on the Project, the row of buttons across the team has expanded massively: the screenshot above was taken at a ‘typical’ or ‘best practice’ resolution, 1024×768. Although computer screens are getting bigger, tablet screens aren’t, and I would guess this layout is in line for a refresh pretty soon.
I added a task, and I had the opportunity to record time, documents, comments and costs against it. The data captured here is as detailed as you want it to be: you have total flexibility to disregard most of the fields if they’re not relevant, but it’s nice to have that freedom to grow later.
Scrolling down, the Dashboard area shows a dizzying array of reports, and below this, we can view financial information, milestones, risks, change requests and other information relating to the project. It would probably be more user-friendly if the user were able to collapse things, or drag the tables around to make better use of the screen, but items within them can be removed from view using the pencil icon which is handy.
Capable but complex
Psoda has tough competition from cloud project management tools like Basecamp and Teamwork which are simpler. The key word here is ‘usability’. When working on projects in the cloud, you’ll probably be collaborating with different teams and organisations; sometimes you’ll work over long distances, and always with people who have varying levels of technical ability. Applications that are easy to use tend to encourage engagement from everyone, and this is why Basecamp is prevalent: the less options you present, the more people are willing to give it a go.
There is a big learning curve involved with Psoda – so much so that I imagine only people with considerable investment in a project would ever really learn their way around. Simplifying the application look and feel probably goes against the grain, but Psoda would be phenomenal if only it were a little more polished.
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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