Takeaway: The cloud-based Clarizen software goes beyond project management to help organizations of any size get more work done faster.
Today’s project teams are often distributed, oversubscribed, and have to deal with daily information overload. This changing nature of work has created demand for tools that break down the silos of management, communication, and information. One tool that does this well is Clarizen. The cloud-based project management software pulls together the key components required to get work done with an intuitive, centralized interface that people like to use.
Note: I used a license provided by Clarizen for the purpose of this review.
- Product: Clarizen v 5.2
- Company: Clarizen
- Requirements: Web browser
- Cost: Starting at $24.95 per user, based on a 36-month contract. Packages are available for enterprise applications.
Who is it for?
Clarizen will work well for any kind of business that needs to track the multitude of components associated with projects, including industries like traditional IT or software development, consulting and professional services, marketing programs, or general business operations. Its feature set is robust enough for experienced project managers, though it is user-friendly enough for business people or other resources who aren’t professionally trained project managers.
What problem does it solve?
Historically, project management software was used primarily by the project manager and required frequent status meetings to ensure the model being built was accurate and on schedule. Further, projects span many activities, and traditional software didn’t always tie together all the data related to a project. These factors have impacted efficiency and the ability to make agile business decisions.
Clarizen’s web-based solution is designed to break down those usability barriers, combining task management, budgeting, timesheets, and other important tools in a collaborative hub that will help companies get work done faster. The software seems to be able to deliver on all of those claims.
- Work and task management: All details associated with projects are centrally managed and maintained online, creating one environment to accomplish work. Each individual gets an actionable list of tasks for each day. Managers can easily assign new tasks or change ownership, as well as get a clear picture of where projects stand compared to established timelines and budget projections.
- Reports and dashboards: Users who log in to Clarizen see a personalized dashboard that highlights their specific tasks, projects, and reports. Dashboards make it easy to see critical deliverables, timelines, budgets, resource loads, and deadlines. Further, these reports are fed by users, so they provide real-time status updates. The reports are also easy to generate and interpret even if you aren’t an experienced project manager (though if you are, there are GANTT views).
- Email integration: Clarizen leverages email as a central communication tool, allowing teams to provide updates and make changes to a project using only email. This is a unique feature to Clarizen, setting it apart in terms of usability.
- Project scheduling: As a manager adds milestones, tasks, and subtasks, a visual project timeline is automatically generated. As people contribute work and finalize their tasks, the timeline lets managers quickly see and analyze any divergence from baseline. A widget can also be published to update executive staff or customers on progress. In fact, Clarizen publishes the status of its upcoming software releases using this widget on its homepage.
- Collaborative planning: Teams work together to create a master plan; this increases the accuracy of planning tasks, timelines, and delegation. This feature is especially important for remote teams.
- Budget and expense tracking: Managers can define, manage, and track budgets, billing rates, and expenses associated with projects. Clarizen’s customization makes it possible to define global hourly rates, and users can also see how budget projections map to actual reported hours. For teams looking to make billing and expenses simple to analyze, Clarizen is a good choice.
- Customization: Clarizen lets you create and customize a variety of business rules. Clarizen Apps –which are common business rules and modifications — are published on the company’s website and can be installed with a mouse click.
What is wrong?
- Steep learning curve: Despite having an intuitive user interface, it can take some time to master all the software’s features and customization options. You don’t need to be a project manager to use it, but you may want to take the introductory webinars Clarizen provides free for all users.
- Local vs. cloud: Because the application exists solely in the cloud, if you have users who require offline access, Clarizen may not be the best fit.
Bottom line for business
The Clarizen project management software’s robust features and simple user interface make it an ideal tool for managing work. Because it’s cloud-based, the software should be able to scale to any organization, small or large, and require few IT resources. Whether you’re a seasoned project manager or a CEO of a small business, Clarizen can help you do more with less.
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