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Summary:

My recent writing for WebWorkerDaily about project management applications has been focusing on productivity, and the need for the democratization of project data to make it accessible to audiences who may not understand (or want to understand) the ubiquitous Gantt chart. In this post, I’m going to […]

My recent writing for WebWorkerDaily about project management applications has been focusing on productivity, and the need for the democratization of project data to make it accessible to audiences who may not understand (or want to understand) the ubiquitous Gantt chart.

In this post, I’m going to explore some project management apps for the Mac that fit that vision because they offer intuitive user interfaces and flexible views over project data.

OmniPlan

OmniPlan from OmniGroup one of the brightest minds in Mac productivity applications includes an intuitive user interface with customizable views.


Task management in OmniPlan takes an outline approach, which is good for users who aren’t full-time project managers. From the outline view, you can track the costs associated with your tasks (resource cost, task cost and total); view task constraints and dependencies; and create milestones that represent completion points in your project.

I came to OmniPlan for my own project management needs because I was looking for a reasonably lightweight project management application and was already using OmniFocus, OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner Pro. One worry I did have was that I work with clients standardized on Microsoft Project, but OmniPlan can import and export MS Project files, and looking at my projects I saw most schedules were saved as PDF before they were distributed to the project team anyway, which took my worry off the table.

OmniPlan costs $149.95 for a single license (a free trial is available).

SharedPlan Pro

SharedPlan Pro from SharedPlan offers a project sketching tool (with network diagramming) and an online project editor with additional views, including Gantt chart and resource views. It also includes some more complex project management features including reports, analysis tools and management tools, offering flexibility as to how you can slice, dice and otherwise present project data.

You can easily overlook version management of project schedules, but Shared Plan includes version management features enabling you to compare previous project versions and check historical information.

SharedPlan Pro is available for Mac, Windows and Linux and costs $99.95/user (free trial available). A free iPhone application is also available.


Merlin2

Merlin2 is another strong Mac project management offering that includes several views of project data, including Activities, a comprehensive Gantt chart, Netplan, Resources and Utilization.

The Merlin2 Library is a source for project-specific information. You can drag and drop information from the library to any of your active projects. Out of the box, the library contains a range of documents and activities for general projects. You also have the option to customize the library to meet your respective project needs.

Merlin2 costs $210, with a free trial available. There is also an iPhone application available.

Which Mac-based project management application do you use?

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  1. I don’t need to use one now in my present position, but I did at the last one and since I got to review a bunch and pick, I used Project X from Marware. It’s much nicer than the three listed here.

    See http://projectx.com/

    marc.

  2. I couldn’t agree more that we need to “democratize” project data.

    The applications you mentioned are all quite usable and gives users more choices. We recently took a look at the state of affairs in this area. There is another terrific application for Mac OS X called Project X as well as several Software as a service (SaaS) solutions that of course also work on Mac OS X.

    Here’s a link to the article: http://bit.ly/macprj

    Cheers!

    1. Nicole–

      Thanks for your comment. I will have to check out Project X. For this post, I wanted to focus on native Mac apps vs. SaaS but may write about SaaS PM apps at some point in the future.

      Will

  3. Sidharth k Dhanda Thursday, January 21, 2010

    Here’s the comprehensive list of PM Tools / but lack Mac side of story ..

    The Marathon List of Project Management & Collaboration Tools
    http://blog.decode10.com/2009/12/13/the-marathon-list-of-project-management-collaboration-tools/

  4. Mac users can also take a look at this new online planning tool http://tomsplanner.com. It is compatible with PC and Mac. For more information check out our website or read this review on Techcrunch: http://bit.ly/1penId. Tom’s Planner is in beta and free for all beta users.

    1. Tom–

      Thanks! I will definitely check it out.

      Will

  5. I wonder how compatible these tools are with Windows Project Management applications. Say you have a project saved in Merlin (above), will it work on MS Project, and vice versa. Project Management is about communication (see what to communicate), and if you’re emailing the project plan to your stakeholders/team/client who can’t read it, then maybe you need to revise your PM tools.

    Although they’re still not great, I think online PM tools are better alternatives for people wanting to do PM on Mac.

    I don’t think current online tools are far from reaching a point where they’re better than the offline ones.

    Btw, I read an article a few days ago estimating the size of this whole industry (online PM and PPM tools) at more than $1 billion, and it’s destined to grow dramatically in the next few days. Lucky is the company who will control that market (right now it’s the wild west, where you have dozens of very similar alternatives, with similar plans and pricing, and not one company can claim supremacy over the others).

    1. Well, it all depends on the ability of transferring the files in a compatible format. Of course you can send a PDF but normally PM applications support import and export of MS Project formats. Merlin is not an exception to this.
      But another thing about Merlin, which I hadn’t seen yet by other mac desktop applications, is its ability to share a project for web access, so it get accessed and if needed changed online by you and your client over the web or an Merlin iphone app.

      Cheers.

  6. Check out iTask — another Mac PM program. Me, I just run MS Project in Parallels.

  7. Merlin in WebWorkerDaily » MacPM Friday, January 22, 2010

    [...] & drop features and the option to customize the library to meet respective project needs.  Here a link to the complete [...]

  8. Will,

    I’m one of the founders of SharedPlan Software.

    Thanks for the mention of our Pro product. Tomorrow, we’ll be releasing Pro 6 with loads of new goodness.

    Roger

  9. People in our team work on Mac, as well as PC and Linux, so SaaS was the easiest choice. We chose Wrike, and totally happy with it! Btw, the new version of this software was recently released, and its totally worth checking out! – http://www.wrike.com/blog/10/28/2010/Wrike-s-New-Social-Version-Is-Now-Officially-Released

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