The Hunt for a Project Management Solution: The Winner (So Far)

August 14, 2007: In my last post, I told you about some of the project-management tools we looked at, and their shortcomings… After months of searching, I was about to give up. Then I did another Google search and stumbled across a company called Project Insight.

My heart started racing…this looked great! But there had to be a catch. I spent weeks peppering the representative assigned to us with questions. I re-entered entire projects and all the tasks into Project Insight. It became an extremely time-consuming project in itself, but I was determined that the next tool we bought would do exactly what we needed it to do.

I ran reports, entered new tasks, replaced tasks… I couldn’t bear to have my coworkers look at this third tool and groan. It just had to work. I tested and tested and each time it met my expectations.

So, I finally showed it to my boss…and he liked it. I was so happy when I cancelled the ProWorkFlow subscription. That had become a word that people uttered with a scowl and a pause—the way they said the name sounded like an insult.
We’ve been using Project Insight for about three weeks, as of this post, and it’s going well so far. Most of my coworkers simply use the Outlook synchronization feature, downloading tasks assigned to them from Project Insight to Outlook.

Sync Tasks

The Outlook feature is not robust—users can download tasks from Project Insight, mark them complete and add the time they spent on each task. But they cannot create tasks from Outlook, nor can they change the task title or description.

A few people have started learning how to use the Web interface to create tasks and use other more advanced features. I have started generating reports, and those reports are giving us a better understanding of how much work we all have to do (not that I’m complaining… having a lot of work is certainly better than not having enough) and how much time we’re truly spending on each project.

I have created (and saved) report templates to see:

  • All incomplete tasks
  • Each person’s tasks due in the next week
  • Tasks behind schedule
  • All projects behind schedule

Project Insight Reports Screenshot

One feature that Project Insight doesn’t have that I wish it did was a visual representation of tasks and projects. But I have found a good workaround for that by exporting data to Excel. The export feature works quite well. Here’s a screen shot of a sample export:

Project Insight Excel Import Screenshot

Choosing a project management tool hasn’t been a fun process. It took longer than we expected and caused grief for all of us (I entered the same tasks over and over into each new tool and my coworkers struggled to learn each new interface). But, that has helped everyone appreciate the tool we are using now more. People seem to realize how hard it is to find the right piece of software to fit your company’s specific needs…and how helpful it can be when you finally find the application that truly fits the bill.

I’d love to hear from people who’ve used this tool and find out what you think (good or bad—just to be clear, we have absolutely no financial stake in Project Insight). I hope this series of posts has been helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.

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