Tablet apps for project managers

Project management is a natural use case for tablets. Will Kelly takes a look at some of the tablet apps available for project managers.

Project management can be a very mobile profession, and there are quite a few project management apps available for tablets. Tablet clients for cloud-based apps and standalone project management apps each have their drawbacks, but the potential is there to manage an entire project from the mobility of a tablet.

The iPad's entry into the enterprise is attracting a growing list of project management apps. You can expect more Android tablet project management apps in the future as well.

Cloud-based project management client apps for the tablet

Tablets are another way to extend cloud-based project management applications, providing another access point for project management data and related files. Be sure to make tablet access a requirement if you're shopping for a cloud-based project management application.

LiquidPlanner was an early entry into the mobile market for cloud-based project management applications. This company built on the mobile experience they gained with smartphone apps to deliver an iPad app (see Figure A) that offers project managers a tablet view of their crucial project data, including progress, tasks, and collaboration. It even lets users edit project tasks, events, and milestones. Figure A

The LiquidPlanner App extends LiquidPlanner from the cloud to the iPad.

LiquidPlanner recently launched an Android app that includes schedule information, a To-Do list that's personalized for the project manager, time tracking, comments, and attached documents.

Another company that offers an iPad app for cloud-based project management is Wrike. This free app extends online/offline access to Wrike's task management and collaboration to mobile project managers.

AceProject also has a free iPad app for cloud-based project management. It enables access to projects, tasks, documents, expenses, and timesheets in your AceProject account.

Of course, similar apps are available in the App Store, or you can check with your project management software vendor.

Standalone tablet project management apps

Some of the project management apps now on the iPad got their start on the iPhone. The increased screen real estate and processor power of the iPad definitely give these apps a sharper edge.

While you may not manage your next enterprise-wide SAP implementation from your iPad, these apps can be useful to SMB managers, freelancers, and even project team leads in larger organizations looking for a team-level project management app.

Here are some standalone iPad project management apps worth considering:

Project Planner HD: This is one of the first project management apps available on the iPad (see Figure B). Project Planner HD lets you manage multiple projects. It includes many of the features you would expect, including a switchable list and Gantt chart view. You can edit project information directly in the Gantt chart. When it comes to tasks, you can create dependencies between tasks, create and manage resources in tasks, and update the task's cost and progress. Project Planner HD lets you export data in *.gan format. PDF and PNG are also available as export formats. Figure B

Project Planner HD is a full-featured iPad project management app.
SG Project: A strong leader in iPad project management apps is SG Project. It has a very clean user interface that allows you to create multiple projects and easily switch between them. On the task level (see Figure C), you can create tasks and child tasks and set a start date, duration, and percentage done for each task using just iPad gestures. The app offers both Gantt and table style views with a 3-position split view. You can export data out of SG Project in XML format, or you can share data via PDF. It also includes full Dropbox support for transferring project schedules to other team members. While the app has a great touch interface, some settings -- like setting start/end dates on a weekend  -- could be more intuitive. Figure C

SG Project offers Gantt and table style views.
ScrumPad Pro: This app offers agile project management on the iPad (see Figure D). It can help separate backlogs, manage releases, and you can add user stories to the app's task list. Management-wise, you can use ScrumPad Pro to manage Daily Sprint meetings and team members. The app also includes charts for Burndown, Workload, and Team Workload. ScrumPad Pro provides full integration for sharing project files with other team members. Figure D

ScrumPad Pro is an agile project management app for the iPad.
xPlan: If you need resource views in a project management app, xPlan might be the choice for you, because it includes full resource management (human and goods). You can even add resources from your iPad's address book. Within the app's Resources view (see Figure E), you can view all tasks related to a particular resource in xPlan's Calendar view. There's also a Gantt view where you can view a project in Gantt chart format and a Reports View that offers a global view of all the project data. The app includes Events, Milestones, To Do, and Days Off management. You can get your project management data out of xPlan and off your iPad by sending an email with the data in XML or PDF format. Figure E

xPlan is an iPad project management app that offers a Resources view.

Rounding out the project manager's tablet

Some or all of the project management apps I highlighted in this post may appeal to project managers and team leaders, but to properly round out a project manager's tablet, consider a note-taking app like Bamboo Paper or Penultimate. If you're working in a SharePoint shop, there's also SharePoint client apps like Colligo Briefcase (Lite or Pro) or SharePlus to consider.

The traditional Office productivity apps can also be covered on iPads or Android tablets with apps like Quickoffice Pro HD and Documents To Go.

The project manager's tablet

Critics may cite that native project management apps on tablets don't have the juice to manage full documentation projects, but the features of these apps are continually evolving and can serve their purpose as a supplementary tool for project managers in larger organizations. What project management apps do you use in your organization? Share you experience in the discussion thread below.