Takeaway: Despite a couple of drawbacks, this reviewer finds a lot to like about Project Insight, a customizable project and resource management solution.
Project Insight offers client-facing project teams the functionality needed to improve profitability. The customizable, web-based software centralizes all projects in a portfolio, allows for the prioritization of projects, provides visibility of resources’ workloads, and offers budget tracking and planned and earned value calculations. It also gives teams a way to share, collaborate, and comment on any project, task, file, or other item in the system.
- Product: Project Insight
- Company: Metafuse, Inc.
- Requirements: Be sure to check the complete list of requirements on the Project Insight site: http://www.projectinsight.net/project-management-software/requirements.aspx.
- Packages: Hosted Enterprise, Professional, and Workgroup Editions, or On Premise Enterprise Edition
- Investment: $1,800/year and up, depending upon the edition and number of active users.
Who is the target market?
Project Insight is targeted at the mid-market, but it can help teams of any size manage project and operations work. According to the product website, the software is used in various industries, including IT, professional services, interactive or marketing agencies, product development, healthcare, and retail.
What problem does it solve?
It solves many project, resource, and collaboration problems, while being readily available from any location via the Internet.
- Centralized project management. Many project teams manage projects in single user applications like Excel or Microsoft Project and then share project schedules via email or on a shared network. As I played with Project Insight on simulated project situations, I found the software to be very efficient at allowing for all projects to be centralized in one database so that team members may access their tasks, project managers may have real-time project information, and executives may view real-time portfolio reports.
- Resource management. Resource and staffing teams often lack visibility into what their resources are working on and when. Without centralized projects and resources, they waste time assembling information into spreadsheets or on whiteboards. I’ve helped small organizations understand where and what their project resources are working on at any given time, and see if they have availability for new project assignments. Project Insight allows project and resource managers to view all team members’ projects and tasks in one report or view. They may also re-assign or balance the work from the same view, so no one is overbooked.
- Collaboration and commenting. Most project teams have valuable information about their projects in individual email boxes, which makes it even more challenging for new team members to get up to speed. Project Insight allows team members to post comments and discussions on tasks, projects, issues, approvals, and other items in the software, keeping all information in the most relevant place. Documents and files may be uploaded and shared from any location, which is a critical step in keeping teams informed and makes onboarding of new resources easy and quick.
- Issue management. Many teams are managing issues in spreadsheets that are not tied to tasks or projects — I’m often guilty of this myself. Project Insight allows team members to advise project managers of problems that arise on projects and tasks. Because everything is centralized, project managers may report on all project issues, and executives may run reports on all issues across the portfolio. Inline editing on the report allows for rapid updating of issues as well.
- Tracking plan vs. actuals. Some project managers complain they only find out their projects are over budget after it is too late; they might only have themselves to blame for this because they’re not watching the budget closely enough even if it is only in Excel. In Project Insight, it’s easy to update tasks and enter time so project managers, sponsors, and executives can track the actual budget against the plan at any time. Advanced features include: tracking proposed vs. billable charges, invoiced charges, tracking fixed price projects, or projects based on labor and expenses.
- Portfolio reporting. It can take hours to aggregate information for management reports. With Project Insight, you can get real-time portfolio reports on project status, cross-project Gantt charts, milestones, planned, and earned value, profitability, recovery reports, and more. It seems easy to customize reports (by selecting from filter options) and then save those reports and share them with project team members.
- Support. You get 150+ hours of recorded product and project management training free of charge in the Project Insight Community. Support is offered via email and phone.
What is wrong?
- Price. Project Insight is not the low-cost leader — there are cheaper web-based solutions available, though not necessarily with the same features and support.
- Steep learning curve. If you have a mixed experience level project team, then you may need to invest in individual team training. If your team is not used to more advanced project management concepts, then training will definitely be needed. Experienced project managers who are used to desktop and web-based PM software will likely have no trouble getting used to Project Insight.
Bottom line for business
Not long ago, project managers had limited software options; they could invest in a high-end portfolio and project management software solution that took a lot of time to implement and to train the team to use, or they could purchase a low-end project tool that served the lowest common denominator. The tools often lacked the desired scheduling and resource management features. Now there are several players in this market that do a better job of meeting project managers’ needs. Based on my observations and use of the software, Project Insight appears to be a leader in this niche and worth a look.
Note: A license was provided by Project Insight to the author for the purpose of this review.
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