- Good customer support
- Easy to use
- Well-designed user interface
- No free trial
- limited features
ProjectManager.com, a product of Project Manager Online Ltd, was launched out of Auckland, New Zealand in 2008. Within 12 months of its public release, this software was eagerly embraced by huge world organizations like NASA and the United Nations; it has only grown in popularity since that time. Currently, though 70% of its estimated 30,000 users are based in the United States, ProjectManager.com is used in 101 different countries throughout the world.
Though small, ProjectManager.com is committed to delivering thorough, high-quality customer support. Led by CEO Jason Westland (a former teenage entrepreneur and the best-selling author of The Project Management Life Cycle), ProjectManager.com has achieved an annual revenue growth rate of 288% and was recently recognized as one of the 50 fastest growing companies in New Zealand. ProjectManager.com has been adopted by a wide variety of businesses and industries, and it is famous for its use in high security, governmental organizations like the UN. Some of the software’s more well-known customers include Volvo, the United States Postal Service, and Ralph Lauren.
Table of Contents
Web-Based (SaaS) or On-Premise:
ProjectManager.com, as its name would suggest, is web-based software. It exists entirely in the cloud and is accessible from anywhere.
I don’t know about you, but when I buy things like flour, sugar, and other staple household ingredients, I try to buy in bulk whenever possible. Why? By buying a large amount all at once, I save quite a bit of my hard-earned cash. I get a better price-per-pound, and the store gets a higher sale. That is the mindset ProjectManager.com brings to their pricing: the more users you need, the lower the price-per-user becomes. Here is what you get from ProjectManager.com no matter what you pay for it:
- Free file storage
- Free Guest Logins
- Unlimited projects
While each of the subscription levels includes the features listed above, there are different levels of access to ProjectManager.com’s other features.
- Up to 3 users: $25/user/month
- Gantt Charts
- Up to 10 users: $20/user/month
- Up to 20 users: $15/user/month
- Advanced Reports
- Project Groups
- Custom Security
- Email Integration
- Apps & Plugins
- Unlimited File Storage
- Unlimited Guest Logins
- Account Manager
- Enterprise Reports
- Premium Training
There are also Enterprise plans, if you have more than 20 employees, with prices as low as $8/user/month.
ProjectManager.com comes with a free, 30-day trial, which unfortunately does require you to input credit card information. If you think that seems a bit risky, you are not alone. Happily, the company does send a notice five days before the free trial period is due to expire – plenty of time to cancel your subscription, if necessary. If you do not cancel before the 31st day of your test period, you will be automatically charged for the entire month. ProjectManager.com offers discounts of up to 30% to users who commit to prepay their subscriptions. Monthly plans are generally paid via credit card; however, should you decide to pay on an annual basis you may also use PayPal, wire transfer, or check.
Ease of Use:
Widely held to be a simpler, less fussy version of the more ubiquitous MS Project, ProjectManager.com claims to be so user-friendly that “you will be an intermediate level user in just 10 minutes.” The whole interface feels familiar and comfortable, and it is straightforward and easy to navigate. The software also loads very quickly for a SaaS application, especially after the first few initial uses.
When you first load up your ProjectManager.com page, you will be greeted by a quick intro tutorial, showing you use the application at a basic level. I always appreciate it when a company includes this kind of thing, and though this was not the smoothest example I have seen, it still serves the purpose well.
ProjectManager.com also provides you a “sample” project when you first log in. This is a great idea, as it allows users to see what a fully developed project could look like. I wish other project management application developers included a feature like this in their products; it makes it much easier to understand how they envision customers will use their program.
Overall, I would say ProjectManager.com is pretty simple to use. However, I wouldn’t call it the easiest software by a long shot, and there are a few functions I wish were simpler. For example, in order to change the time frame for a task, you have to manipulate the Gantt Chart, rather than just typing the due date in on your own. And in order to see task details, you have to manipulate the screen layout so that it will display them. In fact, at first, I didn’t realize there was a way to see task details. This is where the design of ProjectManager.com’s interface really suffers. Were all these features fit into a better UI, I would be a much happier user.
Customer Service and Support:
ProjectManager.com offers excellent customer support and has provided numerous ways to address the questions, concerns, and other needs of their users. Some of the best support features include:
- Direct Customer Support: Users may email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time or call 1 (800) 765-2495 between 8 AM-5 PM Central to speak in person with a service rep. Also, within each account, there is a button you can click to request a callback from ProjectManager.com about specific questions or training requirements.
- Support Page: This page is the best place to go for direct access to support features like webinars and tutorials. From this page, you may also submit support tickets, view a handy list of FAQs, read a brochure that explains the software in great detail and walks you through the first steps of creating a project and find links to all of the relevant social media sites.
- Resources: For those of you who are really interested in becoming experts, click here to access a treasure-trove of helpful material that will help you master the software and use it at peak efficiency. The Resource page includes newly-released video and webinar content (which changes on a weekly basis), work templates, the official Blog, and several eBooks, all of which are completely free. There is even a forum here that helps facilitate job searches within the project management community.
- Webinars: There are two basic webinars offered every week, one for beginners and one that gives a more advanced look at the software. I took the beginning-level webinar, which lasted approximately an hour. This webinar, hosted by a friendly, effusive Kiwi woman (who also does all of the recorded video tutorials), was both warm and informative. I highly recommend signing up for the beginner version if you are really interested in learning about ProjectManager.com. Because this software tends to be fairly layered, it is nice to have an expert take you through which buttons to click, what keyboard shortcuts are available, etc. For more information about webinars or to see what times/dates are being offered for sessions in the next few weeks, click here.
- Video Tutorials: The video tutorials are specific, well-narrated, and generally helpful, though I did view at least two that hadn’t been processed correctly (so that most of the action was happening off-screen). The videos also feel a little old fashioned in the way they are edited and sometimes the audio feels a little harsh. Having said that, I found the “Getting Started” video especially helpful, as it walks you through setting up your new account and beginning your first project. Click here if you’re interested in a complete list of available videos.
- Social Media Engagement: There is a pretty standard Facebook page for this software containing news articles and press releases, as well as posts of their own resources. The ProjectManager.com Twitter feed is just a briefer version of the Facebook page – nice if you’re looking for tips and information, but not the place to interact with other users or company representatives.
- Newsletter/Blog: If you’re really fascinated by the ins and outs of project management, you can sign up to receive the ProjectManager.com newsletter here and get free video tutorials and other tips. ProjectManager.com also publishes a Blog on their website, with helpful articles about how best to use their product.
- Help Button: On the top, right-hand side of your actual account page you can find quick links to tutorials, webinars, and the support team, as well as a “help” button which allows you to search for answers to common questions/problems. I made use of the help button several times and quite liked its convenience.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no software is perfect. For me, there are no deal-breaking downsides to ProjectManager.com, but there are several inconveniences, including:
- Credit Card Requirement for the Free Trial: A lot of people are put off this software by the fact that you must input credit card information to receive the free trial. In fact, many potential users are so repelled by this idea that they don’t even look further into using the program and turn instead to other options. I read several reviews in which unhappy users suggested that the credit card requirement was just a way to trap people into subscriptions. That is a somewhat valid concern, I agree, but I don’t believe it is something to worry too much about. Trying out ProjectManager.com just requires a little bit of extra precaution and mindfulness. You’ve got to remember to cancel your trial if you don’t like the product. But – you’ll excuse me for saying so – if you can’t remember something as basic as canceling a subscription, you really shouldn’t be managing projects anyway!
- No Revenue Tracker: ProjectManager.com is geared to track expenses, not revenue.
- No Built-In Timer: This is more of an irritation than a major concern because you can always download a 3rd party stopwatch if you really need to. However, I wish that ProjectManager.com would have shown a bit more foresight and included a timer with the rest of their time-tracking features.
- Limited to One Currency: ProjectManager.com only allows you to work with one currency at a time. You cannot bill hours in different currencies, for example. This is a big inconvenience if you outsource a lot of your work or run business operations in several different countries.
The thing that makes the least sense to me about ProjectManager.com is its pricing structure. Earlier, I compared it to buying flour in bulk, but there is a key difference. When you buy bulk flour, you are getting the same product found in the more expensive, packaged variety elsewhere in the store, but at a lower price. With ProjectManager, though, you don’t actually get the same product at all price levels. If you require only three user accounts but need access to some of the features (like timesheets, etc) found in the higher subscription levels, you’re out of luck. This is something to consider if your company consists of fewer than 10 people: you will have to pay for extra, unused user accounts in order to get all of ProjectManager.com’s features.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Fortunately, there are a lot more important positive aspects to ProjectManager.com than negative ones. Some of the best, most helpful features include:
- Excellent Customer Support: Users are pretty unanimous about the high level of customer service that ProjectManager.com provides.
- User-Friendly and Intuitive Interface: While some may consider ProjectManager.com a bit passé, others (including myself) enjoy the comfort and familiarity of the software’s interface. Everything is simple and straightforward, and basic use requires no initial preparation.
- Versatility: This software works as a planning tool, a task manager, a time tracker, and an accounting tool. While perhaps not as fully equipped as some other software programs, ProjectManager.com performs an admirable number of functions. It is certainly more than just a basic project management solution.
- Reliability: ProjectManager.com loads quickly and is rarely offline. In fact, the system is said to be available 99.99% of the time, with scheduled downtime only once a month for major upgrades. As SaaS project management solutions go, it is very reliable.
- Budgeting: This software comes equipped with great budgeting tools, and has helped many businesses to monitor and curb spending.
- Excellent Gantt Designs: Every project automatically populates its own Gantt chart, which is a convenient feature. From what I’ve read, many people are impressed with the quality and functionality of ProjectManager.com’s Gantt design and would choose it again for that reason alone.
The following are excerpts from real customer reviews of ProjectManager.com:
“It (ProjectManager.com) gives us the ability to track the hours of my team and see where we’re profitable, right down to the task level!”
“…the support is great and most of our suggestions have been included in the new releases. We are extremely satisfied…”
“We use ProjectManager.com to manage a large variety of projects. It’s robust, has fantastic features, is easy to use, reliable and available all the time. It exceeds our expectations.”
“By implementing ProjectManager, we’re better managing our resources. Having the ability to review resource availability easily across all projects, helps us determine which projects can be implemented and by when.”
For additional positive reviews and case studies, click here.
ProjectManager.com’s most excellent and unique functions speak to the fact that it is, at its core, a project planning tool. The following are some of the most significant features of this software:
- Budgeting: ProjectManager.com allows you to track three distinct kinds of financial outlay – expenses, planned and actual costs, and employee labor costs – all of which can be synthesized and analyzed mid or post-project to give you a full financial overview. You can easily enter one-time project expenses (like the cost of taking a client to dinner) and even recurring expenses (such as the monthly cost of renting equipment). Planned and actual costs can be set and tracked on the task level, so you’re always aware of how on-budget you are. To calculate the overall cost of labor, each employee may be assigned their own hourly rate. ProjectManager.com automatically calculates how much each employee is costing the company based on the number of hours they log per week. Conveniently, in tasks with more than one assignee the software splits the hourly charges evenly between workers. You can manually override this by estimating and entering the % that each worker has actually contributed.
- Tasks: This software gives more attention to tasks than is usual, which I appreciate. Each individual task may be allotted its own time frame, commented upon separately, and assigned its own URL (for quicker email access). Additionally, files and documents can be attached (and discussed) at the task level, which is a rare feature. And you can even add audio updates to tasks. To organize your work you can arrange it into task lists or create however elaborate a task hierarchy you choose by indenting to create “parent” and “child” tasks. The task view for each project may be filtered to show specific information, formatted to whatever size/proportions you deem appropriate and printed.
- Project Tracking and the Project Dashboard: ProjectManager.com purports to be “the most fully featured tracking system on the market,” and it’s hard to refute this claim, especially once you’ve laid eyes on the Project Dashboard, a page consisting entirely of reporting charts. The Dashboard provides a graphical representation of almost every aspect of project planning, from budget analyses to percentage of project completion, risk levels, and employee workload. I am especially impressed by the variety and complexity of the available tracking charts, all of which combine seamlessly to give a true “helicopter view” of a project’s health and status. The dashboard is customizable, easily shared, and may be arranged in whatever order makes sense to you. If you require an even more full-scale overview, you can look at the portfolio-level Dashboard, which offers a record of your entire workload across all projects.
- Reporting: As evidenced by the Dashboard feature, ProjectManager.com comes with pretty impressive reporting capabilities. You can request reports on the status of your entire portfolio or the status of individual projects and project plans, create detailed reports on tasks, timesheets, and resources (employees as well as other assets), and examine workloads, expenses, and variance. If you’re up for it, you can also opt to design your own custom reports including any combination of information you wish, from the start and end dates of projects to which clients are involved. All reports may be viewed within your ProjectManager.com account, exported to email or Excel, or converted into .pdf or Word documents.
- Gantt Views: Like MS Project, ProjectManager.com automatically builds a Gantt chart for every project you create, viewed easily on the right-hand side of your project page (and hidden easily if you don’t want to look at it). Gantt charts provide a solid, color-coded visual representation of project timelines, tasks, and any dependencies that have been created between tasks. These charts have complete drag-and-drop capabilities, so you can change a task’s due date, create new dependencies, or drill down into a task from the chart with a few simple clicks. Gantt charts update automatically as you make changes to your project. You may organize your charts by weeks, months, quarters, and years. They are printable, shareable, and completely integrated with MS Project. Note: if you log on, as I did, and are unable to immediately see a Gantt chart attached to your new project, you may need to upgrade your version of Adobe Flash.
- Risks, Issues, and Changes: In keeping with its focus on project planning, ProjectManager.com allows you to track all risks, issues, and changes that threaten the health of your projects. Anytime a risk (defined as a possible future effect on your project), issue (a current problem with your work), or change arises in your project, you can record it and immediately begin planning how to deal with it. You can even create specific tasks to address any risks and issues that arise. For example, if one of your “issues” involved a broken printer, you could designate someone specific to call maintenance. Of course, that is a simplification of the process – risks, issues, and changes are rarely so cut-and-dry – but recording and addressing potential threats as you go really ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. Furthermore, for increased accuracy and appropriate response to problems, issues and risks are rated according to probability and severity.
- New Collaboration Tools: In the product re-design, Projectmanager.com aimed to greatly improve their customers’ ability to communicate with one another. One of those improvements was to increase the image rendering abilities of your discussions. This allows you to add highly detailed images with the knowledge that your picture will be visible to other participants. Other improvements include a streamlined way of adding new people to discussions.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Unfortunately, this software doesn’t support a whole lot of external integrations. However, ProjectManager.com has a healthy level of integration with Microsoft products, and functions well with:
- MS Project
More information about ProjectManager.com’s relationship with Microsoft can be found here.
Additionally, the software is also well-integrated with Google products, and supports imports from and collaboration with the following google apps:
- Gmail: ProjectManager.com has made a great project management widget for Gmail accounts that show you what tasks are due soon.
There is also a free Google Chrome app available which allows you to access ProjectManager.com directly from your browser. You can read more about Google integration here.
ProjectManager.com has partnered with Zapier to allow more integrations with products such as Quickbooks, Salesforce, Dropbox, Xero, and more. Additionally, there is an API available if you need to craft your own integrations. More information on the API can be found here.
ProjectManager.com is one of the most secure SaaS programs available and has won the trust of several very important, high-security clients (like the United Nations and the United States Department of Defense). You can be sure that if this software is safe enough for major governmental organizations, it is safe enough for your business. User data is protected in the following ways:
- Backups: All databases are backed up twice daily, every day.
- Servers Hosted by Liquid Web: ProjectManager.com does not rent shared servers and own its own set of servers within the Liquid Web facility. If one server goes down, the work is instantly picked up by another server. Physical access to servers is completely limited to technical staff (who are on site 24/7) and monitored by security systems and motion-detecting security cameras.
- Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS): Servers are protected by UPS with redundant battery cabinets and maintenance bypass cabinets, which allow upgrades and fixes without interrupting power flow to the servers.
- Temperature and Humidity: ProjectManager.com (via Liquid Web) protects information by strictly regulating the temperature and humidity of their facilities and providing constant, precise air filtration.
For a more comprehensive overview of ProjectManager.com’s security protocols, click here.
ProjectManager.com offers a great product. The features up for grabs here are some of the more comprehensive I have seen, especially in the planning and reporting categories. If you are a business-level subscriber, the price is quite reasonable as well.
Having said that, there is a big reason to think twice about this particular product: the pricing: do you have enough users to make this product worth it? Like I said before, you can only get the full features of ProjectManager.com if you fit into the Business category, with 20 users. Lower subscriptions lack some important features, yet cost more per user. That is something that should merit some serious consideration.
Does this problem mean I dislike Projectmanager.com? Quite the contrary: I think it has the potential to be a greatly beneficial addition to your company workflow. As usual, my final recommendation is for you to check out ProjectManager.com for yourself, and if you like what you see, sign up for the free trial (though if you decide against continuing your subscription, be sure to cancel it before they charge you for the next month).