Review: Projecturf [2009]

Today I’ve been oven drying some of my huge haul of cherry tomatoes, so that I can store them in olive oil and keep them a bit longer. Honestly, I am fed up with fresh tomato salads, and there are still lots to pick, if they ever turn red. Otherwise I will be getting out my trusty green tomato chutney recipe again.

Oven drying tomatoes isn’t that much effort but it is very time consuming (not even counting the whole ‘grow tomatoes’ task). So I decided it would make a good mini-project to use to test out Projecturf. And from the beginning it didn’t go well.

Projecturf has a dashboard in which you can store your project brief (not sure why you would want to do this as you can also upload documents, but you can type your project brief in here). However, save your changes and close and you go back to the homepage, not the dashboard. I’m a big believer in eliminating extra clicks – why make me and my team do extra work?

The homepage, however, does look nice. The logos are clear and it is easy to navigate. There is also the useful function of email alerts. Projecturf emailed me about every task, which was annoying while I was setting it up and editing tasks. Overall though, email alerts are a good thing.

I think the team at Projecturf are missing some things though. This software is aimed at project managers in small to medium businesses. Small companies don’t have less professional project managers than larger companies. If the software is targeted at, say, marketing managers who don’t have a project management background, then this software could be a good tool for them. It’s easy to use, relatively intuitive and it looks classy. But it will infuriate project managers who know they could do a better job with a different tool. I’m perfectly capable of producing my own Gantt chart, thank you very much, and I can do it much better than Projecturf can.

The Gantt chart, for example, will only show milestones and tasks associated to milestones. Once I realised that I had to update all my tasks to associate them to a milestone so they would show on the Gantt. Fine. But there is no way of making changes to multiple tasks at once. Milestone dates won’t calculate automatically, so associating them to a task doesn’t actually seem to do anything apart from show them on the calendar view. You need to create your milestones first so you can associate tasks to them, which means the tool is only really helpful for fixed date projects. Finally, milestones and events are not the same thing. You don’t need a start date and a due date for a milestone: it’s the same date, but Projecturf insists you put one in. It’s bad project management practice to encourage people to add milestones that run over several days.

The Gantt chart view itself leaves something to be desired. It only lets me see month-to-view only, no good for my cooking project which – from picking tomatoes to having the oven dried ones ready – took just a week. Admittedly, you wouldn’t normally bother with a tool like this for a project that short, but I would prefer the ability to edit the Gantt chart to show the time periods of my choice. The dates aren’t even shown, it just shows the week numbers.

Projecturf is like a simpler version of Windows SharePoint. It’s probably good for creative teams, as it has functionality to handle development servers and design briefs, but it’s not a general purpose project management tool.

See all my project management software reviews here.

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