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Projects: A Powerful Project Management Tool for the iPhone

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I’m not entirely sure project management is something you should do on your iPhone (s aapl), or any portable device for that matter, but if you’re stuck and you need something to help keep track of things while you’re on the go, you could do much worse than using Projects for the iPhone ($6.99, iTunes link).

Projects is one of the most full-featured, yet still affordable, PM solutions I’ve seen on Apple’s mobile platform. That said, if you’re looking for something that replaces Microsoft Project (s msft), you’re looking in the wrong place. Projects is more like an advanced task manager with some PM app characteristics and tools. It’s a supplement, rather than an all-in-one solution.

A Quick App That Needs to Be Quicker

The idea behind Projects is that you can do some basic PM on the go. As such, I think it’s really key that the app be tailored towards pick-up-and-go usability, but as it currently stands, that isn’t really the case. Your default view upon entering the app, for instance, is a list of all your current ongoing projects. That’s handy, but it took me a minute to figure out that I had to hit the “Edit” button to create a new project to begin with. A quick add button is something many iPhone to-do apps have, and it perfectly suits the platform and the concept behind Projects. Hopefully it’ll be forthcoming in a future update.

You also can’t swipe to delete any projects, which could arguably be a data loss prevention feature, but actually feels like another missed opportunity. Likewise, neither project phases nor groups can be quickly added or deleted, but tasks, which are two levels down, can be. I’d advise the developers to just make the adding/deleting features universal.

Better Fit For Different Types of Projects

I do like the options you’re given when you’re creating a project, even if I’d like it to be easier to get there in the first place. Projects lets you create either Group- or Phase-based projects, which, depending on the type of work you’re doing, can provide a great advantage. Being able to choose between an organizational model and a more linear progress-based tracking model is a definite advantage Projects has that you won’t find in a lot of the more simple to-do apps.

Creating tasks for projects also provides a decent amount of flexibility. You can add notes, set a flag (which unfortunately is only a star-based rating system at this point) and set dates and duration. You can also assign it a status, choosing between “To Do,” “Waiting,” “WIP,” and “Complete,” which should cover all the bases for most people. I also really like the date interface, which allows you to pick dates from a calendar and makes everything a lot easier than it would be with manual input.

Gantt Charts and More

Perhaps the most notable feature Projects brings to the table is to be able to look at all your tasks for your various projects in Gantt chart format. While they’re a standard feature of project management apps, I’ve yet to see Gantt charts so well implemented on the iPhone. Viewed in landscape mode, the charts are even more legible and helpful in providing a quick overview of where you stand with regards to your various deadlines. Tasks are also color-coded according to their status, making your at-a-glance takeaway even more informative.

Finally, you can export your projects, which is really helpful if you want to use them on a desktop platform as well. You can export your data as text or as an MPX file, which can be read by Microsoft Project. Unfortunately, there’s currently no way to sync or import data, which is a major limitation of the app, but at least data on the phone doesn’t have to stay there.

For $6.99, you really have to judge whether or not what amounts to a standalone PM app is necessary for your iPhone. Keep in mind, though, that Projects is a very handy to-do application as well, so the cost isn’t terribly unreasonable, even if you’re only using it for personal projects and day-to-day activities.

Would a standalone mobile PM app be useful for you?

7 Responses to “Projects: A Powerful Project Management Tool for the iPhone”

  1. I really don’t know a whole lot of Project Managers and team members that would strictly use their iPhones to manage their projects, and I surely wouldn’t want someone who used such an application to be managing one of my projects.

    Any application made for a smartphone should really be made as an add-on download for a web-based or desktop-based application that one would already be using.

  2. While not an iPhone app… if you are looking for a robust, rich internet PPM application, you shoudl look at Sciforma’s PSNext product. PSNext is based on almost 30 years of developing P/PM solutions and provides functionality and support for many growing areas of PM (e.g. Pipeline management, collaboration, doc repository, issues management, work flows, risk managment, earned value, dynamic reporting, unlimited user-defined fields, and much more….). PSNext provides the functionality equivilant to enterprise solutions but often costs less and easier to maintain the MSP Server. No pressure demos and monthly webinars are availbel from

  3. Darrell thanks for the succinct review of Project. I haven’t had a chance to check it out myself.

    You mentioned “[you have] yet to see Gantt charts so well implemented on the iPhone”. The iPhone version of Merlin has a pretty good implementation of Gantt charts, and it actually syncs with the Desktop/Server version of Merlin.

    We are planning on doing a complete round-up on the various mobile PM solutions, and would love feedback from you and your readers: