The Hunt for a Project Management Solution: Testing Candidates

August 7, 2007: This is the second of a three-part posting on how my firm, KoMarketing Associates, LLC, chose a project-management tool. In the first post, I outlined the key features we were looking for. This post explains why it was so difficult to find the right product.

I looked at a number of different tools (there’s a handy-dandy chart in this post, but you probably already saw that…).

  Pros Cons
Basecamp

 

  • Web Based
  • Easy to Use
  • Third-Party Add-Ons

 

  • No Recurring Tasks
  • Cannot Create Template
  • No Outlook Integration
  • Few Reporting Tools
ProWorkFlow

 

  • Web Based
  • Robust Reporting

 

  • No Recurring Tasks
  • Cannot Combine Dependent, Independent Tasks
  • Poor Web Interface
  • No Outlook Integration
Project Insight
  • Web Based

  • Easy to Use

  • Outlook Task Integration

  • Robust Reporting

  • User-Defined Project Templates

  • Clean Excel Export

  • Easily Copy & Paste Between Projects

  • Can Combine Dependent, Independent Tasks

  • No Recurring Tasks

  • Limited Outlook Integration

  • Reporting Has Limited Graphing Features

When I started working here, the company was using a basic Web tool called Basecamp. This is an extremely basic tool that allows you to list tasks, but doesn’t offer many more features. It soon became evident that this was not going to work well for us. I don’t mean to knock it too much… I’ve seen some message-board posts extolling its virtues, but these were mostly from individuals—often freelancers, not organizations.

The next tool I looked at was ProWorkFlow. This looked like it would work well for us. At first, it appeared to satisfy our criteria, with the exception of recurring tasks and Outlook integration. Honestly, I didn’t think Outlook integration was that important until we started using this tool (see my Outlook rant above).

But, I had a great conversation with the owner of the company, which, in retrospect, probably convinced me to sign up for this Web app. Once we started using it, I realized that a) the user interface was cumbersome and not especially user friendly and b) while the reporting tools were robust, it was quite difficult for me to generate the reports we needed.

There are only five us (plus our extremely capable intern, Bill) and I could soon hear people grumbling about using ProWorkFlo. I knew we needed to find something else…and fast. When I logged on, I could see that some people had not logged on for weeks!

In the meantime, we also started using Salesforce to help us track our link-building efforts. There is a nice looking add in for Salesforce called DreamTeam. I was convinced this would be a good replacement. I checked their site and it looked great!

But I soon found out that we had not bought a high enough version of Salesforce to take advantage of the features DreamTeam offered. The DreamTeam people set me up with a version of the application that did not integrate with Salesforce, which was fine since we only used Salesforce for a small aspect of our work. I spent days, well, really a few weeks, looking at this tool. It turns out that many of the features we need only worked if we had the (much) more expensive version of Salesforce.

I’ve condensed this process a lot (three months in just 836 words!). When it became apparent that neither Basecamp, ProWorkFlow or DreamTeam was going to work, I was getting stressed. I had looked at everything, I thought. Maybe there just isn’t a PM tool for companies like ours. I’ll tell you about the application we are using now in the next post. (I also looked into a host of other applications—too many in fact to list here… ) In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you if you’ve used any of these applications mentioned in this post and what you think of them.

  • Ben

    I am going through the same thing right now. I am trying to find a web app with recurring tasks, also for seo purposes. Let me know if you have any ideas.

    Here are the ones I have found, but none have recurring tasks.

    http://www.clockingit.com
    http://www.unfuddle.com (better than BC)
    http://www.goplan.com

    Goodluck!

  • Ben

    The best I found is centraldesktop.com, but there is no time tracking. Please tell us more about what you are using.

  • http://www.komarketingassociates.com Josh Fialkoff

    Hi Ben,
    I have not had the chance to look at those PM tools (with the exception of goplan.com). I’m going to put up the third part of my post today. Please let me know what you think of that…
    Thanks,
    Josh

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