If you are into reporting, ProWorkflow is well worth a look. The basic task-based metaphor feeds a text-heavy UI that is reminiscent of a home-grown DB query dashboard; admin tools let you simplify the look a bit by dropping columns and such. A ton of reporting options come built-in, along with invoicing and time-tracking features in most subscription models.
ProWorkflow is a report junkie's dream, with built-in queries ranging from resource utilization to basic milestone tracking. (Click the image to enlarge.)
Pricing is based on a per-seat model, starting at $10 per user per month for the standard version. This package does not allow clients to access your projects, so it will be of limited use unless you want to dig in on your internal metrics. It's $20 a seat per month for a package that includes client access, file storage, and a mobile app. Invoicing and quote management are an additional $10 per seat per month.
I first used Basecamp while working with a remote design shop, and have since used it to help manage an editorial team and work on a non-profit Board of Directors. A hardcore project manager might say Basecamp is not truly a PM tool - it certainly does not have granular resource tracking, and you sure won't find a Gantt chart in there. But that seeming weakness is also its greatest strength - it is an absolutely great tool for tracking communication and assets, like specs and mock-ups, for non-technical stakeholders.
Basecamp offers the typical set of tasks and scheduling tools, but you won't find a Gantt chart anywhere in the interface — which can actually be a good thing, depending on your project. (Click the image to enlarge.)
Basecamp's Central UI is based around discussions, which most closely resemble blog posts with attachments in the comments section. You add events to what can best be described as a calendar view, not unlike Outlook or other common messaging applications. There are to-do lists, an activity log, and other very basic reporting, but again, Basecamp's real strength is in controlling fragmented communication, which is death to any project.
Pricing is based on number of projects and storage, with 10 projects and 3 GB of file storage running $20 a month, up to $150 a month for unlimited use.
Milestone Planner is a fairly simple tool that does what it says - it focuses on setting and tracking milestones in a visual, Gantt-like interface. Sure, you can download a spreadsheet to do the same, but the advantage of managing your timeline in the cloud is that you can maintain a "single version of the truth." Spreadsheets and email fork about 15 seconds after you press Send - there's no way to avoid it.
Milestone Planner's visual UI makes it easy to create clear timelines that are not as daunting as enormous Gantt charts can be to non-technical stakeholders. (Click the image to enlarge.)
The visual interface in Milestone Planner is completely intuitive, right down to a nifty mouse-over spinner for setting task status. You can add multiple workstreams for projects, so the net result is not as daunting as an overarching Gantt chart can become. And of course you can export a plan to CSV format.
The Professional version, which runs about $8.50 per user a month, offers RSS feeds and calendar program export, as well as full SSL encryption and PDF export. Read about all of Milestone Planner's pricing plans.
Ken Hardin is a freelance writer and business analyst with more than two decades in technology media and product development. Before founding his own consultancy, Clarity Answers LLC, Ken was a member of the start-up team and an executive with TechRepublic.com and ITBusinessEdge.com.