One of the many benefits of the rise of Software as a Service (SaaS)-based project management applications is mobility. A number of SaaS-based project management apps offer free iPhone apps that can help your team stay on track, regardless of whether they're located together or work virtually.
While it's easy to argue that you can't manage a project from an iPhone, each of these apps lets users track, add, and manage project tasks in the office or on the road.
WrikeAs a project management application, Wrike really embraces mobility for project management. The Wrike iPhone app even lets you start a project directly from the app. Figure A shows the activity stream of the Wrike iPhone app. Figure A
Wrike app activity stream.
The app settings in the Wrike app govern the following:
- Default Task
- Sort To-Do
- Start Screen
The Wrike app is well thought out, and it offers a great user experience that could even help convert the more project management app resistant team members to becoming users.
ClarizenThe Clarizen iPhone app lags a bit behind their application's web experience. Unfortunately, performance was sometimes slow when accessing features from the app's home screen (Figure B). Figure B
Clarizen home screen.
Adding tasks got confusing between the Mine and I Manage views. Hopefully, future versions of the app will have a more fluid entry of tasks from the iPhone. Granted, I jumped into the app without reading the documentation, but that's not uncommon for many users.
Where I do like Clarizen for mobile project management is how it includes Timesheets access. With so many industries depending on timesheets, the time has come that more mobile project management apps tie into them.
The free Smartsheet for iPhone app positions itself as a companion app for accessing a Smartsheet project. This app stays faithful to the SaaS version, with full access to the Smartsheet project plan that governs your project.
I like how the list and tile view options at the top of the app allow me change my views over a project with just one tap. The Action button lets you add rows, columns, attachments, and discussions. You can also send and share Smartsheet projects directly from the app.
Personally, I found entering information into the Smartsheet iPhone app a bit difficult. You have to tap on the row you want to edit, and then a new screen appears. From there, you have to press Edit again to edit the row data. I'm not a fan of spreadsheet project management to begin with, and editing data in this app feels like it takes an extra step when compared to some of the other apps in this post.However, I do think Smartsheet gets it when it comes to the app's project management views and performance. Figure C shows a Smartsheet project open in the iPhone app. Figure C
Smartsheet project in the iPhone app.
The app's login requires some setup in the SaaS application to make it work, unlike the other apps in this round up that let you login without any backend setup. This is also the only app in the roundup that includes Facebook as a login option, which I'm not a fan of for mobile business apps.Figure D shows an example of the Podio activity stream that greets you when you login to the app. Figure D
Podio activity stream.
Beyond the Activity Stream, you have the option to manage your tasks and the tasks you delegate to other users. Podio also includes its own contact list for projects.
The Podio app's login might confuse some users. It also detracts from an otherwise very usable iPhone app.
Teambox is a SaaS-based project management that sets the mobile app bar high. In fact, I cast the Teambox iPhone app as my dark horse favorite for SaaS project management client apps on the iPhone. The free Teambox iPhone app is easy to use and even novice users should find themselves getting quickly up to speed. The app includes:
- Recent Activity (an activity stream)
- My tasks
Teambox recent activity.
A new version of the LiquidPlanner iOS app was undergoing the App Store approval process at the time I was writing this post to get on parity with some of the new features they've launched in their SaaS application, so it's not included in this post.
Project management from your iPhone
While the features and user experience of the apps in this roundup are continually improving, arguments persist on whether or not you can manage a project completely from an iPhone or other smartphone. However, each of these apps can help a mobile workforce or even traditional-based office project teams stay better connected to project information and updates.
What SaaS project management apps do you recommend? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
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 applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.