Comindware Project Review
Note: Comindware Project used to be a stand-alone product, but has now ostensibly been rolled into a larger program, Comindware Business Application Platform. We don’t know much about the new platform (as you will see if you read our review of it here) and were not allowed to test it. The company has also refused our inquiries for information. We quite like (or liked) Comindware Project, and presume that some of the features still live on in Comindware Business Application Platform, so take the following review for what it’s worth.
Comindware is a software company that specializes in adaptive business process management and workflow automation. The company derives its unusual name from the concept of a ‘co-minded’ work environment. Though founded in 2010, Comindware is extremely new to the project management game; Comindware Project was only released to the public in January of 2014. Max Tsypliaev, the founder, president, and CEO of Comindware, describes his company’s latest brainchild as a one-stop, full-service work management solution. According to Tsypliaev,
Our vision is to provide a single solution to help businesses manage their team work. With the release of Comindware Project, we are closing the gap between Task and Process Management and providing businesses with collaboration capabilities across projects, tasks and processes.
Comindware’s new project management solution is built solidly on top of Comindware Team Network, a social software with unique collaborative features. Though it has only been available for a few months, Comindware Project has already attracted a network of users and a good deal of positive media attention. In fact, due to its thoroughly “distinctive approach to driving business performance in the knowledge management industry,” Comindware was recently named one of KMWorld’s 100 Companies That Matter in 2014.
Web-Based (SaaS) or On-Premise:
Comindware offers both web-based and on-premise versions of their project management software: the two are identical in function.
Since Comindware Project can be web-based or on-premise, it features two different pricing structures. Both versions of Comindware Project are accompanied by Comindware Team Network for no extra charge.
- 1-9 users for $29.99/user/month or $299.90/user/year
- 10-24 users for $28.49/user/month or $284.91/user/year
- 25-49 users for $26.99/user/month or $269.91/user/year
- 50-99 users for $25.49/user/month or $254.92/user/year
- 100-249 users for $23.99/user/month or $239.92/user/year
- 250+ users, contact Comindware sales or call 888-317-4608 (toll free in the US) for more information
- 1 year of free, Comindware Advantage support
You can request to try out a free, 30-day trial version of Comindware (at this link) by providing a business email address, your name/the name of your company, and a valid phone number. The sign-up process is quick and painless, and I was able to access my trial account with 60 seconds.
- 1-9 users for a one-time fee of $450/user
- 10-24 users for a one-time fee of $427.50/user
- 25-49 users for a one-time fee of $405/user
- 50-99 users for a one-time fee of $382.50/user
- 100-249 users for a one-time fee of $360/user
- 250+ users, contact Comindware sales or call 888-317-4608 (toll free in the US) for more information
- 1 year of free, Comindware Advantage support
To obtain a trial version of the on-premise software, you must contact the Comindware sales team directly using the link or phone number given above.
After the first year of free Comindware Advantage support, additional support will cost you 25% of your net subscription price (per year). While users are automatically provided with an unlimited number of user licenses for Comindware Team Network, you must purchase additional licenses for Comindware Project itself if the need arises.
The ROI calculator provided here can give you a basic idea of how much money your business could save by purchasing Comindware Project. All that is needed for an accurate estimate is to input a few details (like the number of people employed, their average salary, and how much work you do in a typical month).
Ease of Use:
In my experience, Comindware Project works in an easy and straightforward manner. Its overall user-friendliness is helped along by a refreshingly up-to-date and uncluttered user interface; nothing about it is reminiscent of older industry standbys like MS Project. The majority of the features are arranged in a logical order, and every function – from creating new tasks to logging time – is immediately self-evident or easy to master with a bit of practice. In addition to a clean interface (designed with modern features like inline editing and instant updates), Comindware Project offers the following practical features:
- Customized Notifications: Users may customize the type and frequency of email notifications with a few simple clicks. If instant notifications aren’t your cup of tea or seem too overwhelming, you can opt to receive a daily summary instead.
- Native Mobile Applications: Happily, Comindware Project is available in native apps for both iPhone and Android users. The iPhone app (also compatible with iPads and the iPod touch) is currently available in both English and German, while the Android app is supported in German, English, and Russian. Both of these apps allow access to structured discussions, a universal activity stream, and documents that have been uploaded to the main Comindware Project account. I can’t speak for the Android version, but the iPhone application is quite impressive and very similar in function to the original web version; it also loads and responds quickly. With it, you can create new tasks, mark them as complete, view your recent activity or documents, and see any Room activity. Native tablet apps for both Apple and Android devices should be released in the near future.
- Activity Stream: Each user has a personal activity stream that allows them to see – quickly and without the need to search – instant updates on the tasks, documents, and discussions from all of the projects and Rooms that they are following. In addition, each project has its own activity stream, containing only information specific to that project. Users who find the sheer number of updates overwhelming can selectively unfollow projects, tasks, or rooms. Thanks to the power of full email integration, any discussions in the activity stream can be managed via email. Replies to email notifications are automatically added to your activity stream. If you want, you can even add already existent email discussions to your activity stream to prevent them from becoming lost.
- Company Directory: Comindware Team Network provides excellent communicative/networking tools, and one of the best tools available is the social directory. Each user has a unique profile in this account-wide directory featuring their name and job title, the name of the person they immediately report to, a current phone number and Skype address, and their office location or department. Users can even record a list of skills and talents and specify their time zone and personal working hours. With the help of this information, their coworkers can then search the social directory to “easily find the person with particular skills, in a particular department, in a specific location, for a specific task.” Conveniently, Comindware Team Network may be fully integrated with Microsoft Active Directory so that users can simply import employee information instead of manually entering new data.
- Organizational Chart: In addition to the social directory, account owners are able to create a personalized organizational chart to visually record information about who reports to whom and where ‘the buck stops’ on certain projects.
Customer Service and Support:
Comindware Project provides the following support tools and services:
- Comindware Advantage: Upon initial purchase of the software, all Comindware Project users (whether web-based or on-premise) are gifted a one-year free subscription to Comindware Advantage, which provides a premier level of support via email, live chat, and phone (Monday through Friday, 10AM-5PM EST). Comindware Advantage users are given top-priority, and most problems – especially those of an urgent or critical nature – are addressed within two business hours. This support package also includes automatic upgrade protection “so you will not have to pay for the upgrades of the products you purchased should a new version go out.”
- Standard Support: Customers who do not choose to pay for a renewed subscription to Comindware Advantage are still given access to basic support services via email or live chat. The Comindware Project support staff is generally available from 10AM – 5PM EST, Monday through Friday. During non-business hours or on the weekend, live chat is unavailable and customers must email requests to the support team, who will respond as soon as they are able. Email requests are typically answered in one business day, but be aware that requests from Comindware Advantage users are given top priority.
- FAQ: On the Comindware FAQ page, you can find answers to general questions as well as basic information about pricing, sales, support, and maintenance. This isn’t the most complete FAQ I’ve ever seen, and some of it is actually about different Comindware products. It is also riddled with its fair share of grammar errors and translation issues. Despite its faults, however, this resource does contain accurate answers to a lot of common questions, so I would start there before venturing into the Knowledgebase or talking to customer service. You might save yourself some time.
- Knowledgebase: The Comindware Knowledgebase provides a fairly decent overview of most of this software’s main features, and the majority of these instructive articles are accompanied by screenshots. While the Knowledgbase can be somewhat helpful – especially for people navigating the software for the first time – it is unfortunately poorly translated and difficult to understand at times. I would have appreciated a more thorough, detailed approach.
- Getting Started Guide: As soon as you set up your Comindware Project account, you will be directed to an optional guide which takes you through all of the basic processes (creating new projects, adding tasks, generating a personal profile, adding other users, reading the Gantt chart, and managing resource loads). I thought the guide was extremely helpful. It clearly directs new users where to click and what to type in a logical progression. My only beef with the Getting Started Guide is that it is poorly translated (a common theme with Comindware) and can be slightly confusing because of grammar and syntax errors. Most of the translation errors, however, are minor and can be figured out without too much trouble.
- Resources: The Comindware Resources page provides access to several useful guides and data sheets. Be aware that not all are specific to Comindware Project, so you have to be a bit selective when choosing which articles to read.
- Feedback Page: On this page, you can give the Comindware Project designers useful feedback by recording any suggestions, comments, or complaints that arise while using the software. Comindware promises to evaluate every piece of customer feedback and draw on the information for future improvements or amendments.
- Social Media Engagement: As a company, Comindware maintains a general Google+ and Facebook presence. While neither are entirely specific to Comindware Project or Comindware Team Network, both contain relevant articles and press releases. The Comindware Twitter feed, while updated with frequency, is also fairly generic, and not the place to go for specific questions.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Comindware Project is a relatively new product, still in the process of development. Most of the user complaints that have arisen so far are concerned with the following issues:
- No Budgeting Tools: As yet, Comindware Project provides no way to track expenses or budget for projects/tasks.
- No Timer: The lack of a native timer is a pretty big problem in my opinion, as it forces employees to manually enter their time. Timers force accountability and increase accuracy in both invoicing and reports, and Comindware Project would be a better product if it incorporated some sort of built-in stopwatch.
- Bugginess: This has not been my experience personally, but some users complain that Comindware Project is still a bit buggy and suffers from occasional glitches.
- Expensive: The steep, per-user pricing of this software may be prohibitive for smaller businesses or start-ups.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Though it does have a few critical drawbacks (like the lack of built-in timer) Comindware Project has received mostly positive reviews from its users and the media in general. People are most impressed by these features:
- Visually-Appealing UI: Fresh, modern, and utterly simple, the Comindware Project UI is one of the best I have ever come across. Many users praise its easy, intuitive functionality and elegance of design.
- User-Friendly: Comindware Project comes with almost no learning curve, and most people are able to master the functions within 10 minutes or so.
- Collaborative Features: Partnership with Comindware Team Network is one of Comindware Project’s biggest attractions; it is one of the deciding factors that propel this software into a higher playing field. Comindware Team Network produces faster, more large-scale communication among employees, and even allows them to “work together collaboratively on matters that go beyond their assigned projects or tasks.”
- Automatic, Predictive Scheduling: Comindware Project’s unique scheduling capabilities set it apart from competitors. Users are especially fond of the Gantt chart feature, which instantly adjusts whole project plans whenever changes are made.
The following are excerpts from positive customer reviews of Comindware Project:
Comindware Project breaks the barriers as it brings project planning, execution and team collaboration into one place. The visual UI and intuitive features make the experience truly user-friendly for an easy adoption curve.
One can get maximum flexibility in adapting to unpredictable business processes or modifying existing ones. No redeployment is required. Discussing of projects, collaborating on tasks and sharing of files can be done in a single place.
I highly recommend Comindware.
Comindware Project is ideal for individuals offering project-based or time-defined services. It is also for small to medium-sized businesses in the IT, creative, marketing and product development sectors. Comindware Project¿s automated features, predictive technology and more visual user experience not only lighten the burden of updating the project plan but also provide project managers valuable real-time information. It is highly suited for collaborative team projects in most type of settings either with Cloud or on-premise options.
Comindware Project provides several standard project management features (like email integration, timesheets, and basic reporting tools), but where the software really excels is in the area of predictive, automated scheduling. Comindware Project’s exceptional design helps to keep executives and project managers “from being over-optimistic,” and this coldly realistic approach to accurate project planning is quite effective. Overall, most of the available features are excellent, and include:
- Automated Scheduling: Unlike many other project management systems, Comindware Project automatically creates complex plans and schedules. These plans are constructed entirely from data about each project’s estimated work hours, resource availability, deadlines and milestones, and priority status. As soon as changes are made to a project (i.e., a new task is added or reassigned, or the priority of the work is altered), the whole schedule adjusts immediately, “ensuring that managers are always seeing the actual status of their teams’ projects when they log in to Comindware Project.” If a resource is needed for more than one task, Comindware looks at priority and availability and plans the workload accordingly, so no one is ever overbooked or over-committed. Accurate task priorities are important to the automated scheduling process, so Comindware makes it possible to prioritize or re-prioritize work at any time by dragging and dropping tasks up and down your task list. Tasks with the highest priority are always scheduled first, and if these higher-priority tasks are not finished on time, all other work is rescheduled. That way, “the plan shows the actual state of things,” and managers can predict in advance whether a project will be on time or overdue.
- WBS Chart: Comindware Project’s WBS chart (work breakdown structure chart) is an essential part of the software’s unusual scheduling capability, particularly useful for large-scale or complicated projects. The WBS allows project managers to construct a detailed, visually-compelling project plan that can account for an unlimited number of task hierarchies. As soon as new tasks are created and dependencies are established, you can drop-and-drag to arrange them in this “clean project structure.” For people who learn and operate best with visual aids, like myself, this easy-to-use WBS is a godsend.
- Task Progress Tracking: Another way this software helps with accurate project planning is by meticulously tracking task progress. In Comindware Project, a task begins to leave a detailed trace as soon as users start logging time against it – there is thus no need for employees to “fill in misleading percentages of task completion or unrealistic due dates.” Using the trace information, project managers can compare actual task progress to preset baselines and determine whether the task is on time. Managers can also set up automatic Task Deadline Alerts to instantly notify users which tasks are falling behind.
- Real-Time Gantt Charts: Perhaps the best scheduling tool provided by Comindware Project is the predictive Gantt chart, which updates in real time and allows project managers to simultaneously view the status of multiple projects. The Gantt automatically reschedules work – including task due dates, estimated milestones, and finish dates – based on new information. Overdue tasks are prominently displayed on the Gantt chart in red. Amazingly, Comindware Project adapts to the real status of your work by both opening up new time slots (in case tasks are completed before their scheduled due dates) and moving delayed work items to the future.
- Document Management: Document management is a simple process with Comindware. To save time and effort, users can view previews of documents or images without having to actually open them (multiple images can be previewed in a gallery setting). You can also choose to follow the documents that interest you and receive instant notifications about updates and new discussions.
- Resource Load Management: The Resource Load chart is color-coded for quick and easier viewing. When a resource appears on the chart in blue, it means that they are currently working on a project that day. Red denotes that a resource has used up all of their availability for that time period, and gray represents weekends or planned vacation/absences. A resource with no highlighting in the chart is available to work. Resource conflicts in Comindware Project only happen when tasks in different projects have been simultaneously assigned to one person; due to this software’s automated scheduling procedures (described above), these conflicts cannot happen within a single project.
- Timesheets: In Comindware Project, managers can create special timesheet profiles to clearly define which users should be populating and submitting timesheets. Timesheet profiles can also include information about how often users should be submitting their hours and to whom.
- Discussion Rooms: Rooms, a particularly valuable contribution from Comindware Team Network, provide groups of people with a practical way “to collaborate on anything that lies beyond the scope of a certain project.” Most commonly, rooms are employed to help users converse about issues that transcend individual projects and departments, like product launches, company-wide marketing strategies, office politics, and so forth. Rooms can be made public or private, and you can even invite external users – like customers or stakeholders – to join. All topics discussed in rooms, as well as any attachments, are saved and available for future reference.
- Reporting: There are two different kinds of reports in Comindware Project: project overview reports and timesheet reports. Overview reports provide general information about expected finish dates, remaining work trends, individual project progress, and project scope changes. Timesheet reports are a bit more specific and can be used to closely examine the amount of time being spent on certain activities. This information may be exported to Excel and is useful for billing or accounting purposes.
- Awards: Ever true to its focus on collaboration, communication, and strong social interaction, this software allows managers to give out public awards (i.e. “Best Salesperson” or “Hardest Worker”) to those who excel in the work environment. Meant to increase motivation and productivity, these custom awards can be individualized to address the specific needs of your business. After an award has been given, it appears permanently thereafter in the awardee’s personal profile.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Comindware Project is still a very new product, and as such, offers few integrations at this time. The integrations that are offered are fairly standard and include:
- Outlook: Comindware Project is fully integrated with Outlook, which is a real perk for die-hard Outlook users.
- Microsoft Active Directory: If you want to avoid manually entering information about all of your new users, you can integrate Comindware Project directly with Microsoft Active Directory. As soon as this integration has been set up, everyone on your account will be able to log in to Comindware with their Microsoft AD credentials.
- MS Project: It’s easy to change over to Comindware by importing MS Project files to your new account- all it takes is a couple of clicks to view your MS Project information in Comindware Project.
Comindware does offer an open API, which you can learn more about here.
Comindware Project protects users in the following ways:
- Frequent Backups: Comindware performs backups on a daily basis and stores each day’s information for a week. That way, the last seven backups are always available for reference. Backup data is stored to Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).
- Data Isolation: By using Amazon VPC, Comindware ensures that customer data is completed isolated; only http and https ports are opened. The Comindware Project rep I spoke with assured me that “even if http (but not https) is used, additional security measures are assumed – the user’s password is encrypted during the authorization process.”
I have only seen a few other project management programs with equally realistic and accurate scheduling capabilities, and am extremely impressed with Comindware Project’s achievements in this area. This software excels in a lot of other areas as well, perhaps most especially in the collaborative features provided by Comindware Team Network. These unique features promote better communication and enhance company unity.
Comindware Project is still in its fledgling stages, however, and definitely has room for improvement. I would like to see Comindware invest in additional integrations in the near future. I also think the software would benefit tremendously from a native timer and at least some form of budgeting capability.
Overall, I highly recommend Comindware Project. This is forward-looking software that really speaks to the way modern people think, act, and work. Its price is steep, but I think even the smallest companies would find it worthwhile to take advantage of the free trial. With Comindware Project, there is an enormous potential to save both time and money by reducing false optimism and unrealistic planning, and that is worth quite a lot in my opinion.