Review: Severa 3

Why is registering for anything so complicated?  The ‘State’ field is not marked as compulsory when signing up for an account with Severa.  Except my registration would not be accepted without one.  So it is compulsory, then.  Having said that there is no validation, as I just typed ‘State’ and I was in.

The sign up process for Severa is more complicated than for other products because it’s not a temporary account for you to play with, it’s a real unlimited free service.  This is so much better than offering a temporary account as these normally have limited features which means you can’t truly evaluate if you want to use it.  With Severa, going through the sign up process (and I exaggerate, it’s only a page) is worth it as you get what you see, and the process enables you to choose date and time format – hurrah!

In Severa projects are called ‘cases’.  Once your case is created you can add tasks.  Adding a new task confused me: the ‘activities and phases’ box opens with the details you typed in last time.  It’s not blank.  So you have to overtype your last activity.  I forgot to overtype the date as the field was already populated with the old data, so some of my tasks ended up with incorrect dates that then needed amending.  Dates automatically are added to the calendar so it is easy to see if there are any deadlines due that day.

It took me a little while to get my head around the invoicing module, but actually it is very simple, and the automatically generated invoices look good.  The UK tax bands were set correctly but it was also possible to set new levels manually, which is helpful as VAT is going back up in January so you can enter the data now to bill for projects that will be completing in 2010.

Severa is aimed at small to medium sized businesses, who’s software needs have been overlooked by the bigger players.  It would be particularly good for professional services firms who bill for time as well as goods.  It’s been on the market since 2004 with over 500 customer implementations and now manages over 130,000 projects. “Severa 3 was developed with one objective in mind – to manage the whole process from project sales to billing in a single system,” says Jari Kärkkäinen, CTO of Severa. “We achieved this by letting our existing customers help with the R&D process.”

I really liked the fact that Severa looks and feels like a full-service project and customer management tool.  It is not too simple, but it’s not difficult to use.  It’s complex but without being complicated.  It does the time tracking and billing thing well, and many project management tools don’t.  However, you pay for the features: while the first user is free, additional users cost $40 per user per month.

It’s light on the project management task tracking side as it relies on the calendar view rather than the traditional Gantt chart view, but if you are managing customer projects and tracking high level milestone then I can definitely see a use for Severa.  I might even update the garbage I put in to register and start using it properly myself.

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