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Review: Projecturf [2009]

Today I’ve been oven drying some of my huge haul of cherry tomatoes, so that I can store them in olive oil and keep them a bit longer.  Honestly, I am fed up with fresh tomato salads, and there are still lots to pick, if they ever turn red.  Otherwise I will be getting out my trusty green tomato chutney recipe again.

Oven drying tomatoes isn’t that much effort but it is very time consuming (not even counting the whole ‘grow tomatoes’ task).  So I decided it would make a good mini-project to use to test out Projecturf.  And from the beginning it didn’t go well.

Projecturf has a dashboard in which you can store your project brief (not sure why you would want to do this as you can also upload documents, but you can type your project brief in here).  However, save your changes and close and you go back to the homepage, not the dashboard.  I’m a big believer in eliminating extra clicks – why make me and my team do extra work?

The homepage, however, does look nice.  The logos are clear and it is easy to navigate.  There is also the useful function of email alerts.  Projecturf emailed me about every task, which was annoying while I was setting it up and editing tasks.  Overall though, email alerts are a good thing.

I think the team at Projecturf are missing some things though.  This software is aimed at project managers in small to medium businesses.  Small companies don’t have less professional project managers than larger companies.  If the software is targeted at, say, marketing managers who don’t have a project management background, then this software could be a good tool for them.  It’s easy to use, relatively intuitive and it looks classy.  But it will infuriate project managers who know they could do a better job with a different tool.  I’m perfectly capable of producing my own Gantt chart, thank you very much, and I can do it much better than Projecturf can.

The Gantt chart, for example, will only show milestones and tasks associated to milestones.  Once I realised that I had to update all my tasks to associate them to a milestone so they would show on the Gantt.  Fine.  But there is no way of making changes to multiple tasks at once.  Milestone dates won’t calculate automatically, so associating them to a task doesn’t actually seem to do anything apart from show them on the calendar view.  You need to create your milestones first so you can associate tasks to them, which means the tool is only really helpful for fixed date projects.  Finally, milestones and events are not the same thing. You don’t need a start date and a due date for a milestone: it’s the same date, but Projecturf insists you put one in.  It’s bad project management practice to encourage people to add milestones that run over several days.

The Gantt chart view itself leaves something to be desired.  It only lets me see month-to-view only, no good for my cooking project which – from picking tomatoes to having the oven dried ones ready – took just a week.  Admittedly, you wouldn’t normally bother with a tool like this for a project that short, but I would prefer the ability to edit the Gantt chart to show the time periods of my choice.  The dates aren’t even shown, it just shows the week numbers.

Projecturf is like a simpler version of Windows SharePoint.  It’s probably good for creative teams, as it has functionality to handle development servers and design briefs, but it’s not a general purpose project management tool.

See all my project management software reviews here.

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About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.

Comments

  1. hilary laffer says

    wanted to like the product and when i tried it, it wasn’t right for my team. so i cancelled it, or so i thought. when charges appeared on my bank statement and i tried to cancel it again, the transaction wouldn’t take. when i contacted support, they wouldn’t even attempt to resolve the situation, insisting i pay for months of no-use. i question if they are one of these services that try to get you to sign up with a credit card and keep billing you and make it difficult to cancel.

    • Projecturf says

      Projecturf is very easy to cancel; you simply visit your my account page and follow the links to cancel. Saying the transaction wouldn’t take one day and then it miraculously works the next doesn’t indicate something is wrong with Projecturf. It appears Projecturf is being blamed for something we did not do. We provided several email responses extremely promptly. It seems to have worked because your account is now canceled.

      As a note, all users are free to upgrade, downgrade, or cancel at anytime, without contracts or long-term committments. You manage your own account, it’s that simple!

  2. Chuck says

    Thank you for reviewing Projecturf. We’re happy you found part of our product, including the user interface, useful and beneficial. We have found that a simple UI and easy-to-use navigational elements makes using Projecturf not only fun, but also efficient.

    I would like to mention that we’ve been working on version 2.0 of Projecturf this year and I’m confident that all the new features and functionality we are developing will not only address the few concerns you have listed here, but will also further separate us from competitive products. Version 2.0 is surely going to be a big enhancement to what we’ve already built because it’s entirely based on user feedback. We’ve received suggestions and ideas from our customers and we’re really excited that a lot of them have been incorporated into version 2.0.

    In terms of the review, the suggestion of eliminating clicks is spot on. We totally agree. We’ve addressed this a lot in version 2.0. For instance, you’ll be able to edit the project brief inline, right on the dashboard, without going to another screen. We also realize that not everyone will use every feature and every section, so we’ve also made virtually every section dynamic – meaning you can now turn on and off sections based on the project. We also have expanded feature sets and the ability to enhance certain features like email notifications (you can also turn off email notifications now in My Alerts on the Project page, btw). The flexibility that version 2.0 offers is incredible.

    You’re also correct that the Gantt chart is not nearly as sophisticated as something like Microsoft Project. However, it’s not intended to be! We’ve never been fans of complicated, clunky tools like MS Project that require certifications and classes to use. So we’ve taken the opposite approach. The idea is to simplify things. We also realize that Projecturf is not a tool for everyone; so a typical project manager who is very comfortable with those types of programs might find Projecturf too simple. But we believe simple is good. You might say it’s the Apple approach rather than the Microsoft approach. As an example, at first glance Apple Mail might seem ridiculously simple compared to Outlook, but over time a lot of people prefer it because they can be just as effective with less bloated software, if not more, by spending much less time managing the app and more time getting work done. This is our philosophy.

    I think you’ll find the Gantt chart in version 2.0 more sophisticated, as well as tasks and the calendar. We’ve moved towards having tasks and sub-tasks together, all managed in one place, and away from milestones. Things like this are making the ease-of-use and flexibility of Projecturf version 2.0 staggering. And it’s built on the foundation of version 1, so there will be a familiarity with our interface and design that helps customers feel comfortable with the new features, and not overwhelmed that they have to learn something new.

    We look at product development as an evolutionary process. Feedback is always welcomed and it’s actually used to enhance our product. Our goal is to deliver a simple project management solution to those who do not want to get certified by Microsoft to be able to use it. I think version 2.0 will address all your concerns and much, MUCH more. It’s due out before the end of the year and is a free upgrade for all paid customers. We do appreciate the review and good feedback on a few of our features.

    Thank you!
    Chuck
    Projecturf

    • Elizabeth says

      Chuck, thanks for taking the time to tell us about 2.0. It sounds great! I look forward to seeing the new version.

    • Elizabeth says

      Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, Gustavo. Let me know if there is anything I can do specifically to improve it.

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