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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
The Project Dashboard (Figure B) is another highlight because its layout pulls together project information for easy reference.
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.
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.
Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applications for online and print technology publications. You can reach Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.