Software Review: Easy Projects.NET
This month, I’ve been reviewing various project management software and Easy Projects.NET was on my list of things to look into. Amanda provided a demo account to me and I took it for a spin.
The tutorial page will open the first time you log into the software. It contains seven simple steps to get started. Although I’m slow, I struggled to remember what I needed to do to create billing options. This was after I had created my users and set up a project, then added activities. These screen shots give you an idea of what’s coming.
Logging in as an administrator, I receive a dashboard that allows me to select reports, project, add a request, and perform other ‘Executive’ functions. Customers, project managers, and users can have their own versions of this dashboard. The default setting is to the most important for them. Your users have no excuse not to fill out timesheets. It will be available on their homepage whenever they log in.
The first thing that struck me when I moved from the dashboard to a specific project was the way it looked on the screen. The web design is excellent and the images and screens look much more professional than the clunky MS Project screens. Although you won’t be able to tell from these screenshots but you can take a look at the Easy Projects.NET website.
There are two drawbacks to this web-hosted software. Clicking links opens up new windows, and clicking again can sometimes cause what you want to view to appear in a different window. Although it is not clear which links will open new windows or what they are, I believe you could find the internal logic if you use it enough. The second problem is the slow response times. The web-based version’s speed is limited by your internet connection speed. While the ‘Loading” icon is very intelligent, you don’t want to see it as often. It can be used to move between pages or add a dependency to a task. You can try the web version. However, if your internet connection is slow or you have many people accessing it simultaneously, you might prefer an in-house hosted version.
Although the Gantt chart view is very nice, I couldn’t get it to display tasks in chronological order. The dependency lines jump all over the place. This could be solved if you numbered the task names. Drag and drop is not possible within the Gantt chart view. It is technically a report and not an editing screen. I couldn’t find any setting to change the display options. I also couldn’t find a setting that would show dates in UK time, i.e. the day of the month, then the month. I created a task that took me 23 days to complete. It was supposed to be completed in October, but it didn’t.
I also wanted to be more precise about task duration. I used the example of updating my WordPress installation. It is a task that fills you with dread everytime I delete files from my server. Once I couldn’t get it back up, (thanks to A Small Orange for saving me from disaster!). Even though WordPress is known for their quick installs, it’s a weekend job. I wanted tasks to last less than one day. However, Easy Projects.NET refused to allow me to create one that would take 0.2 days. It gave me an error message saying that only values between 0 to 99 were valid. I thought that 0.2 was greater than 0. Creating tasks with a duration of 2.5 day was unacceptable. The software doesn’t support decimals.
Easy Projects.NET is not expensive (although it isn’t a name that makes you squirm). It comes with time-tracking, which is something that many project management tools do not offer. It is easy to use for planning, reporting and analysis. I like the ability to upload documents to each task. This would be helpful for testing scripts, for instance. Personally, I would love to.