Genius Project Review

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Date Established
1997
Location
New York

Pros

  • Suitable for large businesses
  • Advanced features

Cons

  • Not suitable for medium or small businesses
  • Difficult to use
  • Poor customer support

Overview

Genius Project, the flagship product of Genius Inside, was originally created “to address a need for project management software for the IBM marketplace.” According to the company’s website:

Genius Project is not only a powerful project management software but also provides customers with the necessary expertise in project management best practices…Genius Project’s mission is to make project managers’ lives easier by improving project selection, planning, staffing, execution and tracking with easy-to-use and powerful project management capabilities.

Heavily focused on advanced project portfolio management (PPM), Genius Project is feature-rich enough for even the most meticulous project managers. This versatile and complex software, though founded in 1997, has been available in both SaaS and on-premise forms since 2008. It is employed by 700 customers (and 65,000 end users) throughout the world (including Vodafone, Acadia Insurance Company, Bentley Motors, the United Nations, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Dwyer Instruments, and the Indonesian Stock Exchange), and is currently available in English, German, and French. Oft recognized by IBM, Genius Project has been the recipient of multiple certifications and awards and was recently named a 2014 SIIA CODiE finalist.

Web-Based (SaaS) Or On-Premise

Genius Project is available in both web-based and on-premise options, and it can also be installed on IBM’s Lotus Notes. The SaaS version of this software requires connection to the internet and access to either Internet Explorer or Firefox.

Pricing

Annoyingly, there is no clear price overview on the Genius Project website. The best they have is this page, which tells you that there is pricing somewhere (but doesn’t tell you where). To get more pricing, you have to enter your contact information and wait for the team at Genius Project to get back in touch with you. I did contact Genius Project, and, after a short wait, got my price list:

  • Project Managers: $44.95/month
  • Team Member: $35.95/month
  • Timesheet: $18.95/month
  • Stakeholder: $7.95/month
  • Reader: free

If you want the Agile module or the Helpdesk module, you will have to pay an additional amount, $2,520, which gets you 12 months of access.

Genius Project also offers an onboarding training service that lasts anything between 1 and 16 days. Obviously, they can cover more information and go deeper in their training with more time, but you also have to pay a higher price for those extra days. The one-day training costs $1750, whereas the 16-day training costs $28,000.

Ease Of Use

Although customers are generally extremely pleased with their Genius project experience, it is pretty well accepted that this software comes with a pretty steep learning curve. For that reason, I was a little surprised to find a total lack of initial tutorial when I logged in for the first time. Many other project management software providers (with much simpler programs, I might add) include a few little tips, guides, and hints about the best way to use their product on your first login. There is nothing of the kind with Genius Project, which feels to me like a bit of a missed opportunity. The closest Genius Project comes to a tutorial are some static descriptions of what a few of the buttons do:

Really, this is just one example of the overall problem with Genius Project: there is a lot here, and it isn’t going to be easy for you to just figure out. Fortunately, the user interface design is efficient enough to not make things more confusing than necessary, and while I would not call it beautiful, it is certainly not ugly.

The conclusion I came to after a little playing around was that this is one of those programs where it makes a lot of sense to pay for the extra training offered by Genius Project. There is so much to learn, and if this is the product you have chosen, you want to ensure everyone uses it properly.

Customer Service & Support

Genius Project offers these support services:

  • Online Helpdesk: Send in an email ticket with your question or problem and one of Genius Project’s customer service team will hook you up with a solution. Genius Project proudly proclaims that this service is free for all their users.
  • Training: A Genius Project partner, STS, offers a training course at what the website describes as a “preferred rate.” I am not sure what that means, but it might be worth spending the time and money to get professional schooling in how to work this product.
  • Guides, Database, TutorialsThese three options each link to a list of documents designed to help you navigate your problems with Genius Project. To be honest, I am not sure why there are three separate locations for this information, especially when they seem to cover similar subjects. Surely it would be easier to just have one “database” that contained “guides” and “tutorials?”

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Genius Project is generally well reviewed, but there are a few common complaints out there:

  • Not user-friendly
  • Not great for task management
  • Sub-par customer support

Most of the complaints I saw revolved around the ease of use problem: this is a hugely complicated software that will take some time to learn. For this reason, I do highly recommend paying for the training I mentioned above: it may make your transition to using Genius Project more successful.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Like I said earlier, Genius Project is generally well reviewed. Here are a few excerpts from the comments of satisfied customers:

Delivers standards improvement and procedures creation in the following key areas: RFP/RFQ requirements definition and responses, systems and software evaluation, cost determination and tracking, procurement, asset tracking and finance management.

Our company tested Genius Project tool and we have been a great experience with it. The tool aims to help professional users in the development of an hign project management level. Features and procedure are intuitives and correctly and easily indifiable.

I was impressed by this product. It definitely is worth investing in. As a project manager, I’m always looking for ways to streamline processes, communicate efficiently with my project team, etc.

Our small company found this software to be a vital tool in our daily operations. Its interface is easy to use and is perfect for small teams to collaborate. Assigning tasks to people is easy and we are getting a lot more done since we started using Genius Project software.

Helped us get our workflow on the right path! Also, brought together many different departments into one seamless system. Our teams production has increased dramatically. Give this software a try! You and your team will be glad that you did.

I love this product! Very user friendly and an excellent resource!! I would recommend this to others interested in genius hour and genius hour for students in the classroom. My students are excited and love genius hour!

Features

As you may have noticed by now, Genius Project is one enormous beast. Here are just a few of the features that make it what it is:

  • Portfolio Management: Using the portfolio dashboard and budget overviews, you can stay on top of the jobs your team is responsible for. In the words of the Genius Project website: “You have all of the information necessary online to help you make the right PPM decision such as stop projects, add more resources, and re-estimate priorities.”
  • Gantt Charts: Using Genius Planner, you can create Gantt charts and other project plans. This part of Genius Project interfaces with Microsoft Project directly, so if you are familiar with that program, this should feel pretty familiar. I have to say, it is not the prettiest Gantt system I have ever seen, but it does seem functional.
  • Time/Expense Tracking: Genius Project allows you to track your time…kind of. You can input the time you spend on different projects, but this program does not track time automatically, the way some of their competitors do. You can also enter expenses that are tied directly to different projects.
  • Simulator: A subsection of the Portfolio Management feature I mentioned above, I felt like Genius Simulator deserved its own section because I haven’t seen much like it in the project management field. This system allows project managers to simulate different iterations of tasks and see what layouts and timelines will work best.

Genius Project comes with far more features than I can fully describe here. For more information, follow this link.

Integrations & Add-Ons

Genius Project currently integrates with the following programs:

  • Salesforce
  • Oracle
  • IBM Lotus
  • SAP
  • Microsoft
  • Google Apps

There is also an Open Rest API, so you might be able to whip up a few more integrations yourself if you need it.

Security

Genius Inside protects users in the following ways:

  • Strong firewalls
  • Constant system monitoring for unusual activity
  • Secure server farm
  • Automatic document encryption using unique keys
  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements required for all employees
  • Frequent, encrypted backups to offsite locations
  • Information stored in Europe with SafeHost’s Swiss Datacenter (SGS’s ISO 9001 certified) and in North America with Digital Days (SSAE 16 certified)

To learn more about Genius Inside’s security procedures, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Final Verdict

There are very few tools available today with as much sheer power and capability as Genius Project. If programs like Basecamp and Asana could be likened to a single match—quick, simple, and effective for some purposes—then Genius Project is more akin a military-grade flamethrower. It is far and away the most complex, feature-rich project management system I have ever encountered. In fact, some might say that it is too powerful for practical use. After all, you can’t use just one match to start a blazing inferno, but neither is it particularly prudent to use a flamethrower to light a birthday cake. Genius Project is overkill in many ways, more suited for seasoned project management professionals in an enterprise setting than for small (or even medium) sized businesses. It is extremely complicated and intricate and takes quite an initial time investment to master.

That said, Genius Project’s wide array of features and inherent flexibility make it one of the best investments around for large and/or portfolio-driven organizations. Features like Genius Live! bring the software down to a manageable and comprehensible level for most employees, while trained project managers find themselves in PPM heaven, equipped with all the charts, reports, and evaluative tools they could ever hope for. I’m generally a bit skeptical of older software companies like Genius Inside (which has been around since 1997) because they tend to be stodgy, arrogant, and resistant to change. But the mere existence of Genius Live!, which operates in surprisingly modern and refreshing manner, has heightened my respect for Genius Project as a brand. The interface is a bit old-fashioned, to be sure, but this company has striven to remain relevant in a fast-changing technological environment and succeeded, for the most part. For that, they earn my respect and my recommendation. If you’re just starting out or don’t require much in the way of project management, then Genius Project isn’t for you. But basically, everyone else should give this software a try. I think, if nothing else, you’ll be suitably impressed.

Julie Titterington

Julie Titterington

Julie Titterington is a writer, editor, and native Oregonian who lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley with her husband and two small children. When she's not writing or testing software, she spends her time reading early 20th century mystery novels, staring blankly at her iPhone, and attempting to keep her kids fed, clothed, and relatively uninjured.
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1 Comment

    Antwon Snider

    Too complicated for startups so that’s why the best part of genius project was switching to Hitask.

    2

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

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