by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 12 April 2013
This week we will look at a solution that simplifies and can automate project workflow. In this ProWorkflow review we will see how this web-based application delivers easy project management. We will look at its features, interface, and see how it can be of use to you.
ProWorkflow has been a pioneer of sorts. Initial models of the tool were developed on palm pilots and mobile devices. "Our founders realized that other people could benefit from the solution and ProWorkflow was released as a code download," says Lara Williams, sales manager with the company. Customer feedback soon followed and the tool's popularity soon convinced ProWorkflow's developers about its utility. Subsequently, the ProWorkflow team improved the software further and moved to a SaaS model in 2005 (again, becoming one of the pioneers in this space).
According to Williams, the solution is primarily meant for creative and IT organizations. That said, ProWorkflow's customer base is derived from a variety of industries. Because installation is simple and the tool is easy to use, business case usage of the tool varies between industries. "It works as well within a corporate team as it does for a five-man band," says Williams.
ProWorkflow has stayed true to its origins, when it included several pivots based on customer feedback. In fact, Williams says their customer service is a real differentiator between ProWorkflow and other, similar solutions in the market. "We have a passionate team that backs the tool and is on hand for our users," she says. All changes to the tool are done in response to user feedback.
She also recommends a simple and repetitive usage of the tool for small businesses to get their start. "As an example, if the same person always handles the SEO audit task, then they don't need to have a sub-task for each item within that," she says.
In the future, Williams says the ProWorkflow team's focus will be on usability, performance, and reliability. "Our focus in this year's schedule is on getting data in and out of the tool through integrations and reporting," she says.
Configuring ProWorkflow is the simple matter of filling out a bunch of fields. Once you are set up, the solution offers you a choice of themes to customize the look and feel of the solution.
ProWorkflow works through tabs; each tab stores information about a different aspect of project management. Broadly, the solution stores information related to project details, tasks assigned, employee time, quotes received from clients and contractors and invoicing. These modules work in conjunction with each other to provide you with a comprehensive view of project management. The summary page on ProWorkflow displays details related to each of these modules in a visual format.
Beyond this, the team at ProWorkflow has come up with several, other enhancements. The solution's recently introduced drag-and-drop functionality makes it extremely easy for users to configure modules within the system. For example, you can simply drag a contact (or employee) name to assign them to a project or task. You can also set up project templates or configure recurring tasks for projects.
ProWorkflow is also a mobile project management solution. It has a custom app that can be downloaded for working on-the-go and offers a mobile site for all modern smart phones It also integrates with iCal, Apple's calendar solution. Hence, you can export relevant data from ProWorkflow to your iPhone or iPad.
Desktop widgets for individual task management (tracking time, viewing and adding files and messages) work on both Mac and PC environments; these give quick access to the details needed to get your work done.
One of the more interesting features of the solution is the search functionality. ProWorkflow search is fairly comprehensive that enables you to filter projects by type, date, or status. This can be an especially useful feature for project managers involved in program management.
As with most other features in the solution, report generation is fairly simple and easy. Once you have selected parameters for reporting, you can send the report for print and generate the output in multiple formats including XML, CSV or Excel.
The reports, by themselves, are pretty comprehensive and contain both macro- and micro-level information related to your project. At the macro level, I could see high-level data such as name and manager. While at the micro-level, I could see associated data such as project quotesand invoices. I was pretty impressed with the solution's analytics capabilities. ProWorkflow enables you to generate detailed reporting related to various aspects of your project management such as task breakdowns and assignments, messages, files, and timelines. Finally, you can also archive projects using ProWorkflow. This can be especially helpful for large or medium-sized businesses that have multiple projects and the accompanying churn.
ProWorkflow is a thoughtful solution packed with several benefits, which can be used for small businesses and large corporations alike.
Perhaps, the greatest one is that it can automate project workflow. As a result, you do not need to maintain multiple excel sheets for project data and metrics. In addition, the project's drag and drop interface ensures simple and intuitive processing for complex tasks.
Two other features also stand out. The first one is Project Archive. Although I have reviewed several project management solutions in the past, this is the first time I have come across an archiving facility. This is a novel (and often ignored) functionality, which should be made mandatory for SaaS project solutions. After all, the real utility of a project lies in the learning gleaned from its execution. Having an archival facility will make learning that much easier and simpler.
The second feature that I really liked is the integration of pages for clients and contractors. It saves processing time and enables sharing of information with vendors that might be critical to their tasks.
There is one area, however, where the solution could improve. The tabbed approach already makes it easy for users to navigate the solution. However, the number of tabs can be reduced to make the interface simple and easy-to-use. For example, the projects and notes tabs can be combined into a single tab. In addition, analytics, which is currently spread between multiple tabs, can be consolidated under a separate tab that will provide users with a centralized dashboard to view and generate reports for their projects.
As I mentioned earlier, the interface uses a tabbed display. Each tab represents a feature. It can be expanded and displays a detailed version of tasks or functions associated with that feature.
Depending on the features required (such as file storage or mobile app), ProWorkflow offers three tiers of pricing. The solution charges per users. The Standard tier, which is ideal for freelancers according to the solution, enables multiple projects. The Professional Tier, which is the most popular tier for small businesses, enables you to configure multiple projects, track time, provide access to clients and contractors, and also store files. Finally, the Advanced tier offers all features plus hierarchy, additional custom field options and further management features.
I would definitely recommend the solution for its innovative (and broad) feature list. As I mentioned earlier, it is a thoughtful solution that packs quite a punch at those price points. Added to that is a decade's worth of experience that the ProWorkflow team has built into the product. "Being responsive to customers and understanding the balance between usability and functionality has been the core of our business," says Williams. Touche.