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For people who are familiar with Microsoft Project and other online project management tools, taking a look at Intervals might also be something that will help you work your projects smarter. I recently took a look at intervals, and found that in the competition for Software as a Service, Intervals is a full fledged and very functional online project management software.
Intervals at MyIntervals.com is a software as a service (SaaS) project management platform that has various grades of service for people who want to do project management but often find the barriers of cost and understanding of project management tools a show stopper. Intervals uses a plain English front end that most project managers will take to immediately, but even non-project managers will find very easy to understand and adapt to quickly. I used the free account service that is limited to one project and one manager to review the product, and found it very easy to use. This completely obliterates the need for Microsoft Project, and makes project management for non-project mangers one of the easiest things to accomplish. If you are serious about project management but finding the desktop software too expensive for smaller companies, then this is a product you want to check out and see if it will work for you.
The setup is a five step process where you run through the initial project, project name, members, and cost against budget. This is one of the easiest setups I have encountered in online project management software, and the test project I put together went together very quickly, in about 30 minutes the whole project was input and level let. The most valuable part of the setup was the cost leveling feature and its setup that went in as part of the general project parameters. Cost leveling is a great feature of the software, allowing for cost containment and knowing if a project is running over budget or if budget dollars can be shifted from one completed task that came in under budget and moved to a task that is coming in over budget.
Another nice touch with the software that does not show up nicely in many of the Project Management SaaS tools is the standard dashboard of Red, Yellow and Green. Intervals supports the standard dashboard format that many Project Managers know, understand and use on a regular basis, which is truly useful when making reports to senior managers. The standard dashboard is one of the more important features that is harder to put together in Microsoft Project requiring a lot of manual work (and I use project 2007 on a regular basis), but when putting a project line into the red in the software was very easy, and could be done by either costs or by resource limitations. This is one of those automatic features that allows a project manager to move resources or budget as needed where needed, or have enough information to talk to the senior Project Manager or senior Managers about how the project is currently running.
Another nice module was the out of scope module – on many projects there are always things that people want added, that can quickly reach a scope creep crisis. The out of scope module allows the Project Manger to keep track of these great ideas that always crop up, but are beyond the actual project. These can be collected and added in as a second project to the original, or perform the basis of version two of the project that is being worked on. The problem is keeping track of all the extra items that someone asks for, and the out of scope module helps keep track of those ideas, and provides the basis for the next iteration of the project if this is a multi-version software project.
Reports are another key area where intervals does very good in the presentation of how the project is going. Reports are some of the hardest documents to put together for any project, and are usually hand crafted unless a programmer has added some automation to the process. Microsoft Project does not do reports nicely, so it is nice seeing the Pie Chart, Weekly Trends and Project Activity reports accessible and easy to get to.
In all this was a very smooth chunk of software and after working with Microsoft Project and some of the more popular Project Management software suits online I ended up really liking this one. It is very simple to use, has some great reports, and is free for freelancers and reasonable in cost for everyone else. Worth checking out and seeing what you can do with it, in the mean time I have a project to track with this software and it is actually fun to use. I really ended up liking the software, and that is hard thing for me to say.
FTC Disclosure Note: With a sense of humor I am happy to report to the FTC that I used a Free account to access this software, and turned down a T-Shirt because it would mean that I would have to disclose that I got a T-Shirt and I didn’t want the FTC thinking that I wrote a positive happy review because I got a T-Shirt for reviewing this product. Really, I am just interested in just about any project management tool out there because I spend a lot of time managing projects for myself, my work, some of my friends who don’t know how to do project management and I would not want them thinking that I wrote a positive review because I got a T-Shirt. So as a full disclosure to the FTC, I got nothing for this review other than using the free account and I had to turn down a T-Shirt.
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(Cross-posted @ TechWag)