by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 6 September 2011
Products distinguish themselves in various ways. Some offer niche novelty (think Apple) while others offer excellent support (think Dell). This week, we look at an online project management application that distinguishes itself through its focus on collaboration and support. Easy Projects .NET is a SaaS-based project management application that makes project management easy and manageable. We will look at its interface, features and see how it can be of use to you.
HOW EASY WAS IT TO START Easy Projects .NET?
Necessity (in this case, the need for a project management solution minus bells and whistles) was the mother of invention. Logic Software, the company that developed the solution, needed a new project management solution. The most common approach to project management was through the use of papers, whiteboards, and spreadsheets. "This approach was cumbersome, non-collaborative, and difficult to scale," says Vadim Katcherovski, chief executive officer of the company. In addition, existing solutions in the market did not suit Logic Software's requirements. "There were some open source products with good functionality but terrible user interface," says Katcherovski. "Some were more polished commercial products but were strictly desktop-based which was not acceptable for us since we had a distributed development team." Another major problem was that their products were either too complex or "ridiculously expensive." In the end, the company decided to go it alone and developed a custom-made solution, which metamorphosed into Easy Projects. Their customers liked the solution so much that they requested own copies. Easy Projects was in business!
DOING PROJECT MANAGEMENT EASILY!
Easy Projects is primarily designed for project management through collaboration. This means, in addition to the regular features present in any online project management software, the software also has some add-ons that might impress you. Remember the triggers for development of Easy Projects? One of them was the need for customized software. As such, the interface and features of this solution are highly-customizable. Easy Projects touts itself as an All-in-One solution; this means that, apart from project management features, the solution comes bundled with issue resolution, customer requests, and time sheet features.
Apart from task management at the granular level, the solution also uses an interactive Gantt chart that utilizes the latest Microsoft Silverlight Technology. This feature provides full screen graphing capability allowing project managers to plan and coordinate project tasks with options to zoom and print. In addition, the solution offers role-based access for projects. This means that your interface and access permissions are customized based on whether you are a project manager or a project worker. The software has a bunch of filters to generate reports. However, you can also customize your reports using Crystal Reports (or any other third-party engine) and MS SQL Server 2000 as database.
My favorite feature in the entire solution was Auto-assignment. Basically, this feature converts customer requests into features and assigns it to the appropriate team member, based on role description and availability. I can already imagine the time and material savings that this feature can bring to solutions. As I mentioned earlier, the solution features a plethora of features for customization. This includes dashboard widgets that can be customized based on user preference. This means they can be reordered or resized using simple drag-and-drop functionality. Also, the company offers volume discounts based on the number of licenses. Finally, and this is the interesting part, the company also gives away its source code for a price. This means that, in addition to API customization, you can also literally customize your entire project.
THE BASICS: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
As I mentioned in the earlier section, the interface is highly-customizable. It is also highly-simple. Easy Projects has a simple interface with tabs for each essential task such as My Projects, Time Logs, Reports, Options, and Administration. Each functionality is a reflection of the solution's simple interface. Thus, you can create projects, assign or fill out time sheets or perform other project management tasks in a maximum of three to four steps.
SUPPORTING YOUR PROJECTS
Support at Easy Projects is extensive and is a combination of knowledge base, video tutorials, and online help. I was quite impressed with their knowledge base and extensive video library. Easy Projects has an interesting theory about the "shelfware" adoption syndrome, which played a key role in designing the software. In case you are wondering about it, the "shelfware" adoption syndrome refers to the state of affairs when a company buys an expensive custom-made solution and shelves it for later use. Katcherovski says the syndrome is rampant in the project management industry.
However, he says things are different at Easy Projects. "Once a customer gets to experience Easy Projects post-purchase product adoption and implementation program, they will sleep well," he says. Katcherovski promises that the support folk will go the extra mile to help you. This means that they will review your business processes and provide implementation support to help you set up their solution. What's more, your first project is on them. This means they will help you import data and set up your first project with Easy Projects.
IS IT FOR YOU?
If simplicity is your mantra and you like simplicity in project management solutions, then you will like this solution. Throw in the source code and it's a deal!