Categorized | the i.t. files

Project management software update: GeniusProject

I just came off of a product demonstration of Genius Inside. We talk about several SaaS project management software solutions in the Shoestring Venture book, but Genius Inside didn’t make it (it wasn’t out). Many of the solutions, such as Basecamp, are more or less fancy scheduling tools rather than full-throated project management tools.

But if you are running a business that requires pretty serious project management and Microsoft Project isn’t cutting it for you, then Genius Inside merits a look-see. It may be a little more crowded a toolbox than you may need at an early stage of your business (it is, after all, designed for the needs of good-sized to giant-sized companies), but if you’re a serious project management shop, these are tools you’ll end up needing. My impressions after the break.

The first thing to be clear on is that even though the company originally built the Genius project management system for Lotus Notes and Domino — one version of the product is Genius4Domino — GeniusProject is a standalone, web-based application that doesn’t require you shell out any hard-earned cash or patience on Lotus Notes or Domino. As stated earlier, it is a complete project management toolbox with resource management, collaboration, timesheets, budgeting, Gantt charts, planning, scheduling, risk management, document management, and project portfolio management. The software integrates with Notes (of course) and Microsoft Project; in addition to the application’s Web interface (it’s SaaS, after all), there’s a Blackberry plug-in. And the Blackberry interface I saw is no slouch. The software is subscription-based, but you can also purchase a version to install on your own server.

For smaller shops requiring less project management power, the company also offers a scaled-down “GeniusExpress” version that is really not much smaller than the big version. You basically lose Microsoft project integration, the risk management tools (if you don’t know what these are, you don’t need them), KPI module, and matrix planning and management.

While this is a pretty powered-up piece of project management software, there are still some missing pieces. It is the eternal handicap of project management software that they tend to be mapped out and built by software engineers (makes sense), so they lack valuable tools for projects that involve material resources. Materials planning and scheduling is make-or-break in certain industries, like construction, and Genius Inside, like Microsoft Project and almost every other player in the ballpark, simply leaves materials planning and scheduling resources out of the product. (Many moons ago, I was the principle designer and requirements engineer on a SaaS project management software for creative industries and, yep, we left materials planning out, too, but at least we designed it only for project shops that didn’t need those tools.)

The best things in life are not free, and neither are the second best, or the third best, or even the miles away from the best. So GeniusProject will set you back $42 per month per user and Express will set you back $30 per month per user. You can count your users and do the math to determine if this is a “low low” or “high high” price of $42 or $30 per month per user.

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