|Can import projects from MS Project||Navigation can be overwhelming before getting used to it|
|The Roadmap is an excellent overview of the project|
|Ability to generate reports|
|The Gantt chart representation is fantastic|
Clarizen is an online project management and collaboration tool that encompasses many elements in order to achieve its goals – to be efficient and to provide a complete project management solution. When first logging in to Clarizen and looking at the interface alone, it is evident that the system is comprised of more features and sub-tools that you can poke a stick at.
For a system that is feature-filled as Clarizen, it was obviously a difficult job for the developers to fit everything on the screen, and whilst they have done a fairly good job, the user interface seems cluttered at times. This may steepen the learning curve depending on the user’s initial knowledge of similar tools due to the fact that many of the functions and features are icons only which means that the average user would require some learning and practice before being able to fully utilize the system. However, once using the system and getting used to all the functions and buttons, it becomes easier to use and is actually quite efficient.
This is where Clarizen shines. As previously mentioned, the system is so packed full of project management and collaboration tools that it may seem overwhelming. However, while this may be true, it is balanced out by the fact that there is such an abundance of useful features within the system. A complete list of features would require a book to describe, so we present the features that stand out the most and enable quality project management.
The roadmap is a useful tool for high level representation of a project. Milestones and tasks can be created and added to the roadmap, and the following data can be assigned:
- Importance (example: Critical, High, Low)
- Status (example: At Risk, On Track, Off Track)
- Budget Status (example: At Risk, On Track, Off Track)
- Milestone/Task Manager
- Start Date
- Due Date
- Percentage Complete
- Visibility in Roadmap
As you can see, even a tiny part of the roadmap contains a plethora of options. Not only this, but you can easily add new milestones to the project by clicking the [Add Milestone…] button, share the entire roadmap with anyone via email or widget, and even specify an expiry date for this widget if you wish to do so. Furthermore, you can modify the view of the roadmap to show by week, by month, by quarter, and even a simple “Fit” option which fits the roadmap nicely to see the entire overview. If it is in a day view, or something that would zoom quite far into the roadmap, then the system even offers scroll bars to allow users to view all days inside of the roadmap with ease.
Work Plan Grid and Toolbar
The work plan grid and toolbar provide significant details to the project and allows for maximum view customization to ensure that project managers and users are able to specify exactly which part of the project they wish to view and in which manner. The work plan toolbar grants the ability to add documents and notes, assign resources, email users regarding particular work items and more.
To assign resources, project managers can click on the [Assign Resource] button to display the Resource Assignment Screen (shown above). From there, users can be assigned to work items, or removed from them. It also displays a list of the currently assigned users to the selected work item, providing a helpful overlook for which people are involved in the selected item. Furthermore, filters can be applied when selecting users in such a way that it is possible to filter users by skill, or by user group, which increases the overall efficiency of resource management.
Additionally, if you wish to export to MS Project, then you are able to do this as well.
A downside of Clarizen is the fact that a lot of the system takes a few seconds to load. While this may not seem like much, the seconds do add up over time, across each user, and many alternatives to Clarizen work faster. That being said, the system partially makes up for it by offering many of the main features from the main screen, thus preserving precious seconds where it can.
Ease of Use
The term “Ease of use” will highly depend on the skill of the project manager. Inexperienced users and project managers may find the system difficult to use at first, due to the potentially overwhelming number of options and icons on the screen. Many of the buttons are not labeled (unless the user mouse overs), so many users may not feel comfortable using the software until they become used to it. That being said, more experienced users should be able to navigate and use the software to the fullest.
Overall, Clarizen can definitely be considered as a complete package. It offers everything a project manager will need to effectively manage a project. The software even supports report generating of various aspects of the project including a collaboration report. It is obvious to project managers that the ability to review reports and gain a deeper understanding of the status of projects is an integral aspect of the role as a whole. While for some new and/or inexperienced users, the system may be difficult to use at first, most seasoned users and project managers will agree that Clarizen is a one-stop-shop.