Project Management

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 review: A vanilla project management application

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 is a lackluster project management application, according to our reviewer.

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 is a visual project management tool that is available for Windows and Mac. In this review, I outline what I think the tool gets right and where it falls short, especially in comparison to its primary competitors Microsoft Project, Microsoft Visio, and Mindjet MindManager.

Installation

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 costs $219 (USD) and will work on Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8 and Mac OS X 10.7/OS X 10.8. You can download a trial version, which is bundled as part of ConceptDraw Office. I downloaded a trial copy for this review.

The download process lacks the snappiness that trials of Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Project, and MindManager got down years ago. For example, the trial version is bundled as part of a larger ConceptDraw PROJECT trial (a bundle of all their applications), making for a slow 339 MB download (at least via my cable broadband). The install routine is also slow, and the installation progress dialog box lacks the crispness that you see in Microsoft Project, Visio, and similar applications.

The trial version includes an optional video tutorial about the download process. I accidently clicked on it because the download instructions suffer from a confusing page design. Why a company includes a video tutorial for a download page in 2013 is beyond me.

Once the install completed, I was able to launch ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 directly, which redeemed them a little after a rather frustrating sign up, download, and installation experience.

Visual tools

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6's major strength is its visual tools. The application makes a strong first impression when it opens into a blank Gantt chart. The application is well laid out, and the features are very accessible. Figure A shows a Microsoft Project Gantt chart (*mpx) that I was able to import into ConceptDraw PROJECT 6.

Figure A

ConceptDrawProjectFigA_101613.jpg

Gantt chart (See an enlarged view of this image.)

Even better news is that the Microsoft Project import is clean and expedient. Your mileage may vary depending on the complexity of your Gantt chart, so I recommend testing imports of such data during your trial period by using a cross section of your typical Gantt charts.

When I compare the Gantt chart features in Microsoft Project and ConceptDraw PROJECT 6, there is still a parity gap. A prime example is that ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 just launched enhanced options for selecting resource types. While the implementation of resource types is fluid and clean, Microsoft Project has had resource types for the last couple of versions. 

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 also includes a resource usage feature. If the indicator for a given day is blue, the resource is less than 100% utilized. A dark blue bar means the team member is at 100% utilization. A red bar means the team member is over 100%.

Custom views

Another area that ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 gets right is enabling users to make custom views for their projects, which makes it easy to show a cross section of tasks in each report. You also have the option to save custom views for later use; these custom views could come in handy for setting up views for particular team member roles. Views are a great way of democratizing project management information.

Project Dashboard

The Project Dashboard (Figure B) is another highlight because its layout pulls together project information for easy reference.

Figure B

ConceptDrawProjectFigC_101613.jpg

An example of a Project Dashboard (See an enlarged view of this image.)

No cloud integration

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 is missing cloud integration out of the box. Microsoft Project and Visio are SharePoint and SkyDrive friendly. Even MindManager ties into the cloud through Mindjet's ProjectDirector platform. The cloud is standard for enterprises and especially geographically dispersed teams.

Printing improvements as key features in 2013

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 offers improved capability for printing Gantt charts on large format paper or printing multiple projects to one document. A requirement to print Gantt Charts on large sheets of paper takes me back some years to pre-cloud and laptop days. It's not for me to dispute the feedback a developer gets from their customers, though this is quite a contrast from today's Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps and environments where team members interact with project schedules electronically.

Solutions and add-ins ecosystem

When I saw the Solutions Park tab in ConceptDraw PROJECT 6, I thought it could be the key to a treasure trove of templates, add-ins, and such. I found no such thing in my trial (maybe I just didn't know where to look). However, some further research came across solutions for agile and neutral project management methodologies and templates for typical project manager deliverables.

Conclusion

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 has an attractive price point and user interface, but overall it's features strike me as vanilla. The lack of cloud support and just getting around to adding improved resources and printing support makes the product feel like it's still playing catch-up with the rest of the market, which is focusing on team collaboration and more interactive scheduling options. 

About

Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

4 comments
Oscar Brunn
Oscar Brunn

I like CD Project, and no mind that it has no cloud integration I like some of the other integration elements, for example the ability to export screenshots as PowerPoint slides. It also creates web-ready versions of reports which could be useful for sharing the plan via other collaboration tools or to get round the fact that some of your team don’t have the same software as you. You can also email your team directly from the software. 

TinaTilson
TinaTilson

The point is to look at trending in the right direction, and a reliable but simple tool is better than the overwhelming, sophisticated tools.

GoodBIZ
GoodBIZ

I use the ConceptDraw Office which includes three of the ConceptDraw Products in my work.I find that they work well together.In the review there is a hint of this capability when talking about the installs of three other products Microsoft Project, Microsoft Visio, and Mindjet. I find the integration of the ConceptDraw Products to be in tune with the way I work.

I am constantly gathering requirements from my clients, putting them into project format, and then balancing my resources I have on hand across all the projects I have on the go. My computer of choice is a Mac, so I do not have a need to run an environment like Parallels. I am able to do my work directly on my Mac with no fuss.ConceptDraw products are an great value and they are core to what I do in my job.

Regards,

KlausGerome
KlausGerome

Thank you for introducing this.  I've checked out ConceptDraw this morning. A couple of observations 

This could be not only interesting for project managers (to be in time and in budget is a team responsibility).

You may like to look at ConceptDraw MindMap, because you can import it into ConceptDraw Project as a WBS. However, my favourite non-Gantt tool is the simple Linear responsibility Chart – I can use it to allocate and balance resources, calculate workpackage and workstream budgets, and communicate a whole project in an easy form. Also ConceptDraw MINDMAP and PROJECT use the same document to work with project. I usually come back from Cantt Chart to MindMap to rework and improve projects.