Online PM Solutions
There are basically two types of online PM applications that can be accessed and utilized with any compatible web browser. The first and most common type is web-based software that is hosted and maintained by a third party, such as Project Genius and Basecamp. These products offer numerous advantages, especially for those groups who are spread out over a large geographical area or who spend a lot of time traveling.
The main selling point for these tools is that all you need is an Internet connection to access your project information. That is, there’s no need to worry about remotely connecting to your company server or to lug around copies of data on external storage devices. An added bonus is that multiple people can access and modify the same information simultaneously, so there’s no confusion about which version of a project management form is the most recent.
One downside of these applications hosted by third-parties is that most have some sort of monthly fee associated with them, and these fees can start to add up fast. However, there are some services, including Basecamp and Central Desktop, which offer free accounts to those with limited needs. Others, such as Clarizen, offer substantial discounts if you subscribe for an extended period of time and pay for that subscription in advance.
A nice thing about the free accounts provided by certain vendors is that they can be upgraded to full paid accounts at any time. So, even if you think that the free version of these applications won’t be enough for your project management needs in the long run, you can still test them out without spending a dime.
Another disadvantage of these third-party services that may be a deal-breaker for some is that you are basically locked in to the design and format of the software. That is, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to modify the application so that it includes all the fields and forms you need as well as get rid of all the ones you don’t. If the ability to do this is high on your list, you may be better off going with self-hosted, open-source project management software. I’ll talk more about this option in the next section.