Project management is a task well-suited to cloud software, and we’ve covered a fair few project management tools on Rated Cloud. SimpleProjectManagement.eu is the latest one we’ve encountered, and it’s a little bit different from the others.
The developer says that the SaaS is based on the concept of Kanban boards: to-do lists that are used to shuffle tasks between different Lists (to do, done and in progress). It’s important to understand the basic idea behind Kanban boards before attempting to use the site, since it’s quite unique, and the tool won’t make any sense unless you realise what it’s trying to achieve.
SimpleProjectManagement is currently in beta and no pricing has been published. The company offers a refund for the most recent month of service if the customer isn’t satisfied, but it’s not clear what the monthly fee actually is.
The developer claims SimpleProjectManagement is a flexible tool that can be adapted for a range of tasks. As well as basic project management, it can reportedly be used for recruitment, bug tracking and sales. There are a variety of use cases on the website that show the various ways in which SimpleProjectManagement has been adapted. However, on a basic level, this is a task organiser with a few extra features built-in.
After signing up, SimpleProjectManagement presented me with a quick tour. This is well worth doing since the interface is very plain before it’s populated. Some of the terminology is quite different to other project tools, due to the Kanban model, so it’s worth using the tour to get the hang of the language.
In SimpleProjectManagement, projects are called Boards. It helps to imagine a Board as being a virtual whiteboard. Within a Board, users can add Lists, which are shown as columns. (On a whiteboard, a project manager would ordinarily draw these columns out according to the task lists they wanted to monitor).
Within a List, users add Cards. Cards are effectively Tasks. Offline, these would ordinarily be sticky Post-It notes. You can see these represented as squares in the screenshot below.
When editing a Card, users can add details, comments and milestones. People can also vote on the task, set a due date or archive the Card. This takes SimpleProjectManagement beyond the basic Kanban system and gives it some features more in line with cloud project management tools we’ve already looked at.
Once Cards are built up, you’ll start to see the traditional Kanban format taking shape. Cards can now be dragged from list to list, just as a sticky note would be moved into another column when actioned.
All user events are recorded and shown in a fairly basic activity log. There’s an example of this in the Users screen (see below).
The interface within the application is very bare – it’s basically modelled on a whiteboard, after all, so there isn’t much to see until data starts to build up.
There are plenty of forms and drop-down boxes to fill in, but not much to explain what they are. A little colour-coding or graphical guidance would make these forms far easier to understand. Even better, the software could have some context-sensitive help so that users found it a little easier to experiment with the features.
There are a number of other screens within SimpleProjectmanagement, in addition to the Boards screens above:
Activity shows a list of notifications for the user (not activity, strangely).
Within Charts, users can create custom reports based on the tasks that are outstanding. I couldn’t get the Charts screen to save or show any data at all – it may be that I hadn’t built up enough history for it to work properly.
On the Users page, additional accounts are created and assigned to an organisation. This is a pretty basic account tool; there’s no room to add metadata. I was also quite surprised to see a visible password screen on this page, since I can’t really see a reason for it.
Clicking on a user’s name brings up a detailed screen showing the user’s initials, email and so on. It’s possible to add a short bio on this page as well, but when I did this, it didn’t show up on the page after saving. Note that the user’s activity is also listed here.
As mentioned at the start of this review, project management in the cloud is a hugely competitive market. Any SaaS that’s going to gain traction needs to offer something that rivals, or improves upon, tools like Basecamp, Teamwork Project Management and the other really big brands.
In a way, SimpleProjectManagement really does offer something different: it’s the virtual equivalent of the sticky note system that many teams will be familiar with already. My enjoyment of the software vastly improved once I understood its niche and what it was trying to achieve.
The question is whether it’s enough of an improvement on sticky notes to make it worth using.
Although very intuitive on a basic level, I’m not sure SimpleProjectManagement is rounded enough to recommend. It does emulate the Kanban system well, but anything else on top of that is very convoluted and the interface is a little unfriendly. The software needs more features and polish before I can see a strong uptake, but I do like the way it’s evolving. At the moment, I’m sure most people would prefer to stick with their old-fashioned sticky-note system. With a bit of work, that might change.
Like several of the cloud tools I’ve reviewed recently, SimpleProjectManagement’s website copy could do with a thorough clean-up to make the product easier to understand. The home page is particularly dense, and had it been re-written and presented more effectively, I would have understood the potential of the product far more quickly. If the website, and the software, becomes more appealing, I can see this SaaS fitting into a niche all of its own.
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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