With an array of project management software products available in the marketplace, it's difficult to find the one that doesn't cause disappointment after purchase. Depending on needs, a company may focus on any or all of the following: scheduling, cost control, budget management, resource allocation, communication, quality management, documentation and project complexity. To better understand what different project management products can provide and how they relate to specific businesses, three companies and their project management software are highlighted.
at Artistic Digital
Active Collab, developed by A51, is a project management and collaboration tool that can be set up on a company's own server or local network. Brian Whyers is president of Artistic Digital, a full service graphic and web design concept, illustration and full advertising collateral production services company in Evanston, Illinois. He uses it to work with his team and clients. Active Collab allows Whyers to keep full control of his data. He has been using this project management software for a little over a year.
Before selecting Active Collab, Whyers was using Filemaker Pro database, a custom database and layouts product, which was used for regular weekly output and as necessary in conjunction with GoDaddy calendars. Artistic Digital's business is very much about details, literally down to the comma and period. "As volume increased, the number of full-time employees increased and email accounts that we needed to keep track of grew. So, a centralized, documented area for all communications, timing, source files, etc. was discussed at a company production meeting," he says.
Whyers "test drove" four or five products. Most of them were either without significant support or too heavy (server-side size and CPU usage) and required a fairly extensive learning curve that his employees and clients would need to come up-to-speed. "The latter was a particularly key consideration, in that it needed to be readily used by our clients to do what we envisioned," Whyers points out.
Whyers believes that Active Collab is a better project management product for his business for the following reasons:
- The code resides on one of his servers, key for his use as it holds sensitive data.
- It's lighter with a relatively short learning curve.
- Active Collab is PHP/SQL-based so he can adjust code when necessary.
- It's relatively inexpensive.
- Active Collab had most of the features he was seeking.
Active Collab makes Whyer's business run more smoothly by centralizing all items associated with a project. This addresses a number of issues by tracking communications. It also speeds task completion so that when delivered to the system, all persons associated with that ticket or discussion are immediately notified so action can be taken. The project management software also identifies "out of scope" items and/or verification of communication from a client for billing purposes. In addition, the project management software allows for an easy way to move large files.
Active Collab's best features
Active Collab offers permission based access, which allows Whyers to let clients or employees see or not see information. Other important features include a short learning curve, php/mySQL based platform, local server control, and tested, ‘no bugs' reliability.
Two features are missing
Whyers would like to see Gant charting available for all projects. He also feels the calendar is not as full-featured as he would like as compared to the Google calendar.