Review: A friendly project management package

By keeping things simple, Project Office 3.0 from Pacific Edge Software ensures that your agency staff actually use this project management software

Project-management software is often crammed with so many incomprehensible

or minor features that users may end up not using the software at all. By

keeping things simple, Project Office from Pacific Edge Software Inc. ensures

that your agency staff actually uses it.

Like most project-management packages, Project Office 3.0 lets you enter

scheduling data, including tasks, budgets and resources. But Project Office

hides this complexity behind a friendly interface, especially when compared

with client/server solutions from Artemis Management Systems or Primavera

Systems Inc. Moreover, because project information resides in a central

Microsoft Corp. SQL Server 7.0 database, you can quickly view the status

of all agency projects or see how a change in one project affects other

jobs. With other solutions, generating this sort of summary information

usually requires a lot of time and involves intricate import and export

steps.

To accomplish all of the above, Project Office 3.0 does require setup

help from Pacific Edge or your IT staff. Systems administrators likely will

need a few days of training and then will spend about two days configuring

the software and loading the database.

The upfront work needed to customize Project Office ultimately delivers

a user experience that would be hard to duplicate with other solutions.

I was, for example, easily able to add custom tabs, fields and drop-down

lists to Project Office views. I also set up a folder hierarchy that grouped

projects by departments within an agency. Lastly, I customized reports and

added them to the Project Office Reports menu.

To test how this upfront work played from a user's standpoint, I created

ten 50-task projects. Based on a log-in name, each person received a personalized

listing of projects. For instance, the administrator saw all projects, with

their durations and costs summarized. Conversely, I hid the budget view

from certain managers. An unusual function let me locate resources by, for

example a particular skill. I could then display that person's workload

across all projects. In this way I knew immediately if a resource was already

overbooked.

Experienced project managers will correctly point out that most of this

is pretty basic stuff. To answer more sophisticated needs, Project Office

3.0 works hand-in-glove with Microsoft Project 98 and 2000. I opened a schedule

in Project 2000, modified a resource's workload in a non-uniform way (which

can't be done in Project Office) and saved the file to the SQL Server 7.0

database. The change was then immediately available to all Project Office

users. Just as important, this database design helps overcome performance

problems inherent in Microsoft Project's native file format.

Pacific Edge says the system will scale to handle 10,000 users, and

one federal government agency — the Department of Housing and Urban Development — is already using Project Office at that capacity. To further evaluate

plans, Project Office ships with a run-time version of Seagate Software

Inc.'s Crystal Reports 8.0, and these pre-defined reports should cover most

needs. However, agencies wanting customized reports must purchase the full

Crystal Reports 8.0 Professional software.

Although we've discussed a lot of this product's project-management

functions, it's also intended for workers who don't even need basic scheduling

functions. For example, a manager may simply want to know is how much time

each person is spending on their tasks and the completion date. The lower-cost

Project Office eXpress Web client let casual users update plans in both

Microsoft Project and Project Office.

Project Alerts, the last piece of this solution, notifies users (via

e-mail) when something out of the ordinary occurs within a project. We used

this application's rules wizard to monitor a schedule and then send reminders

when a budget was exceeded and a time sheet was not submitted.

Overall, Project Office 3.02 overcomes usability problems of many project-management

packages with its simple interface and views customized to different types

of users. In addition, the system's SQL Server 7.0 offers very good performance.

If your agency or department has already invested in Microsoft Project schedules

and training, you can leverage that investment with Project Office.

—Heck is an InfoWorld contributing editor and manager of electronic promotions

at Unisys Corp. in Blue Bell, Pa.

REPORT CARD

Project Office 3.02

Score: B+

Pacific Edge Software Inc.

(425) 897-8800

www.pacificedge.com

Price and Availability: Project Office server starts at $15,000, with clientlicenses priced from $375 to $795 each. The Web-based Project Office eXpresscomponent is $5,000 with individual licenses costing $150 to $300. ProjectOffice Alerts is 15 percent of the total license fee. You must have at leastone Microsoft Project license. The system is available directly from PacificEdge Software.

Remarks: Project Office simplifies project management by letting userscreate basic schedules, tasks and budgets with about five minutes of training.The software maintains information in a central database to give administratorsa global view of all agency projects and enables them to manage resourcesacross multiple projects. For more detailed planning, Project Office integrateswith Microsoft Project. Project Office eXpress, a Web application, enablesusers to see their assignments, report time and name themselves to additionaltasks.

BY Mike Heck
August 02, 2000

More Related Links

NEXT STORY: Letter to the editor

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.