by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 11 August 2011
All projects are alike. Or, at least that's what one would be led to believe by most online project management software. They contain the same functionality packaged in a different brand and interface. What this means is that you need to tailor your project interface and work flow to adapt to the software, instead of the other way round. This week we will review Project Drive - a software that claims to do just the opposite i.e., it adjusts to your project work flow and functionality. We will look at its interface, functionality, and see how it can be of use to you.
THE DRIVE BEHIND PROJECT DRIVE
Project Drive has been created by TGMT systems, a veteran of the cloud software business. According to Thierry Tremblay President and CEO of TGMT Systems Inc., their first product was a testing solution that tracked bugs. They developed Project Drive after assimilating and collating feedback from their clients. "We understood their needs for a cloud solution that would let them manage their whole projects while offering great flexibility and customization," says Thierry Tremblay . "Project Drive was born out of these concepts." He emphasizes flexibility and support as major assets to their solution. "With our solution, you can do all the standard project management tasks and track information that goes around and beyond project management," he says.
PROJECT DRIVE SPECIFICS
In many ways, Project Drive is like a typical project management software. This means that executives can have use the software for tasks such as portfolio management, cost and revenue report, calendars etc. Similarly, project managers can use the solution to plan, track, and schedule their projects. Finally, lay users can use it for simple project management tasks. The folks behind Project Drive have introduced a new freelancers version of their solution. This means that, if you are a freelancer like me, you can configure client access to the tool so that your clients can see and comment on your work.
Project Drive markets itself as a flexible collaboration and communication tool. This means that you can customize any module or deliverable in your project. Thus, you can customize templates for specific tasks or customize the level of detail available for your reports or even drill down to granular level for details and task instructions that need to be completed. "Users can track any type of information they need via our extensive list of "custom fields" from the simple text field all the way to file uploads, comments and even our tree structure custom field for hierarchical data," says Thierry Tremblay . I thought it might be really interesting and useful for auditing after project completion. What's more, customization is really easy. I tried it out; it is simply a matter of clicking, uploading appropriate information and logos, and customizing your templates.
In addition, the solution has a document repository that enables you to track and store documents. The solution does not have a specific integration with external software, according to Thierry Tremblay . However, he adds that the software does support export of data in multiple formats.
Of course, considering that each project has its own peculiarities, how does actual customization and flexibility occur?
"With all new clients, we take the time to understand our client needs and show them how they can be implemented into Project Drive," says Thierry Tremblay . "This ensures a quick turn around and project teams hit the ground running with Project Drive."
As a cloud-based software, deployment is instant. However, customization can take anything from a few hours to several days. As a first step, Thierry Tremblay recommends starting with Project Drive is to discuss needs and challenges with their support staff and engineers. "With this information, we will suggest the best approach for using Project Drive making sure that all the information is structured the way you need it and to people who need it," he says. Thierry Tremblay told me that Project Drive is very flexible and caters to a wide range of industries; however, the service sector is especially popular with them.
THE BASICS: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
The interface was actually one of my favorite things about the application. Why, you ask? Because it does not complicate or clutter. Several project management tools are a mix of color-coded graphs and charts. While they do make for a colorful and enjoyable interface, sometimes they can still complicate matters with their color-codes. Project Drive, on the other hand, splits the screen into multiple panels, each one representative of a different snapshot of your project. The feel is very much that of a To-Do list. For example, the screen has two panels: Start Next Five Days and Due Next Five Days. Both panels list tasks that you must start or deliver within the next five days. You can, literally, strike off these tasks once you are done with them.
In addition, the tabbed interface enables global navigation or movement between multiple modules of your project. Nice, no?
SUPPORTING THE SYSTEM
Support at Project Drive is a mix of blogs, video tours and online help. I especially liked their blog, which lists helpful best project management practices. In addition, online support is mainly provided through emails. "We provide ourselves with our support," says Thierry Tremblay . He says support mode and mechanism is provided mainly based on complexity. For example, they provide email support for simple issues; however, more complex issues are solved through personal interaction or phone support, where they walk the user through the question until they understand the issue.
IS IT FOR YOU?
If you are a project manager or user who wants a high level of flexibility and customization in your project, then this project management solution is definitely for you.