Project Management Applications For Small Businesses

If you manage a small business or project, using email communications, Excel spreadsheets and company hard drives for managing and storing project information might be okay on a temporary basis, but as the number of your projects grow (and your number of collaborators grow with it) you’ll need to consider a more sophisticated system to incorporate in your business processes.

In fact, it has been proven that for small businesses having a collaborative tool providing multiple features including task assignment, time tracking, CRM, document management, mobile connectivity and third party invoicing can make a huge difference in company’s bottom line.

For large organizations, systems like Primavera, MS Project or SharePoint are the most popular software programs for project planning, reporting, document sharing, progress updating and tracking. They are used worldwide and have their own benefits and disadvantages.

On the other hand, for small businesses or small projects (such as creating new websites, new software programs, new mobile apps or even a minor manufacturing projects) Primavera and MS Project might not be the best solutions, the most important disadvantages being higher costs, heavy platform environment, learning curve, the need for sophisticated support team and unavoidable staff training.

Deciding which project management application or software to incorporate into your small business processes can be a daunting task as there is quite a wide selection to choose from and they are all continually evolving and advancing. To make matters more difficult, each software creator provides different packages to choose from, depending on the number of projects, the number of users (collaborators) and the storage space offered.

On the lower end, developers seem to categorize their packages based on one of these two choices:

– Unlimited collaborators, but limited number of projects

– Unlimited projects, but limited number of collaborators

But, they also offer unlimited projects/collaborators packages at much higher monthly rates.

Even if you select a low-end package to start with, as a growing business the high-end packages should be an important criteria for your selection because in a few years when your number of projects/users grow you would want to be able to keep the same platform, and avoid having to transfer all your files to a less costly solution.

Storage is also another differentiator for choosing your package. Depending on the type of projects your organization is managing, and the size of files your team members share on a daily basis, this could become a make-or-break factor in your selection.

The ability to use the software on your mobile smartphone or tablet is another factor to take into consideration, if that is indeed important to you or your organization. Some applications are just web-based, others use HTML5 code that fits and adapts to any screen size, and others provide their own iOS, Android or Windows Phone apps for the most popular devices such as iPhone or iPad.

Another factor to consider is whether you want (or need) to work with Gantt charts that are simpler versions of MS Project and Primavera. Some project management apps offer visual Gantt-based (rather than a task-assignment based) software.

To make your selection a little bit easier, outlined below are some project management apps we briefly examined for small businesses (in no particular order):

Product Name: Basecamp (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: 10 Projects, Unlimited Users, 3 GB Storage, $20 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 100 GB Storage, $150 / month

Basecamp keeps all your project documents and communications in one place. You can control who sees what on the projects and who can communicate with whom. The user interface is quite user-friendly and provides quick access to the latest project progress, communications, To-Do lists, etc. Basecamp also provides iOS and Android apps for mobile phones and tablets.

Product Name: Mavenlink (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 20 GB Storage, $25 / user / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 100 GB Storage

Mavenlink is fully integrated with Google Docs, Tasks and Contacts. It allows you to centralize your project information, files and communications in a shared environment. Real-time messaging ensures your team members stay on the same page. You can also stay connected using your mobile smartphone as the software offers an HTML5 mobile version as well.

Product Name: Apollo (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: 18 Projects, Unlimited Users, 5 GB Storage, $23 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 75 GB Storage, $148 / month

Apollo helps you keep track of what’s happening on your project, tasks, and calendar using interactive timers. In the activity screen you can see who did what, and even communicate with other people. Files can also be kept within the platform. Mobile versions of the software for iOS and Android are also offered.

Product Name: Wrike (Web-based + Mobile App)

– Lower End Package: 5 Users, Unlimited Collaborators, Unlimited Projects, 5 GB Storage, $49 / month

– Higher End Package:: 50 Users, Unlimited Collaborators, Unlimited Projects,100 GB Storage, $199 / month

Wrike is another project management software providing task management, time tracking, document sharing, and real-time news-feed. It also provides Gantt-chart integration as well as Outlook and email integration to facilitate communications.

Product Name: Projecturf (Web-based only)

– Lower End Package: 20 Projects, Unlimited Users, Unlimited Storage, $40 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, Unlimited Storage, $120 / month

Projecturf provides a user-friendly web environment giving instant access to various projects using tabs. It allows you to grant and change access permissions in every section, and even remove some section if they don’t apply to a project.

Product: Project Bubble (Web-based only)

– Lower End Package: 10 Projects, Unlimited Users, 5 GB Storage, $24 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 100 GB Storage, $99 / month

Project Bubble allows you to assign tasks and sub-tasks to team members, as well as define user permissions. It also allows you to enter the amount of hours you expect a given task should take (planned) and compare with the amount of hours is actually took (actual) to compare your actual costs with your planned budget. A timesheet feature is also offered for team members to help track the hours

Product Name: TeamGantt (Web-based only)

– Lower End Package: 5 Projects, 5 Users, 1 GB Storage, $10 / month

– Higher End Package: Unlimited Projects, Unlimited Users, 20 GB Storage, $79 / month

If you like using simplified Gantt charts, then TeamGantt might be the solution for you. The software also incorporates simple task commenting (by team members) directly in the Gantt chart. You can still take advantage of sharing documents and many other resources, and even view multiple projects’ Gantt charts in one screen to help with your resource planning.

In a nutshell, if the essence of project management is the breaking down of multi-faceted projects into smaller tasks and milestones assigned to various collaborators, then project management applications and software should assist you in organizing and breaking those complex operations and individual tasks down into specific data available at your fingertips; thus, providing more efficiency into the process than contemporary paper documents and spreadsheets offer. Therefore, your decision to purchase a project management software for your small business should be a long-term strategy for your organization:

1- Make a list of features you need today (and maybe in the future)

2- Assign weights to each feature based on its importance to your business

3- Review each software platform (start on their website)

4- Use a simplified QFD chart to compare various programs and narrow down your choice to just a few

5- Test the waters by emailing/calling each software provider to evaluate their customer support and agility to respond to your requests in a timely manner.

A final note of caution: Not all these project management software programs will survive today’s competitive marketplace, and one can easily predict that only a few will remain in a few years. So make sure your selection is not just based on price and short-term advantages, but also looks further on the horizon. If you like the content of this article, please share it on social media.

The Most Popular iPad and iPhone Apps for Video Production

Ever since the release of the iPhone and later the iPad, there has been a continual roll out of applications or apps aimed at the video production market. Some have come and gone but many have now become an indispensable part of our kit, providing convenience and in some cases replacing high priced production equipment.

Pre Production

Some of the most useful apps have been designed for use in pre production and planning. Often taking the place of expensive desktop software and in some cases adding additional usability.

Scripting apps such as script pro allow users to write scripts with the aid of pop up menus and short cuts straight onto your iPad.

It is also compatible with industry standard software such as final draft. It also senses when an external keyboard is plugged into the iPad and eliminates the onscreen keyboard for an even larger view.

Another extremely useful app is Hitchcock storyboard composer. This is a very well thought out storyboard app which allows the user to upload multiple images from your libraries, add music, notes and of course shot descriptions. It also emulates camera moves such as pans, tilts and dolly movements. Your storyboard can then be exported as a PDF or even played back as a movie.

Production

Perhaps some of the most popular apps are those used for production, such as movie slate or DSLR slate which replace the need for costly clapper boards.

The movie slate app does everything you need a clapper to do and then some. You can make comprehensive voice and image notes, export reports and ingest shot data in editing platforms such as final cut pro. You can also sync timecode between cameras, between other iPads or iPhones, with a clock time and even sync with an iTunes song, if you’re shooting a music video.

Telepromptor apps are also gaining in popularity too. The pro promtor app lets you edit the presentation text and has a customizable scrolling screen of text where you can adjust size and speed. Another handy feature is the ability to sync between iPads so your presenter can talk to numerous cameras displaying the same text.

There are also several editing packages available such as iMovie, a portable version of the popular desktop software for Mac. It’s surprisingly flexible with many of the usual features. Users are able to edit existing footage or shoot more with the built in 1080p HD capability of the iPad camera. This is of course not going to be as good as a professional camcorder but is very useful for shot planning, location scouting and story boarding.

And when you’re finished, the sharing possibilities are endless. Upload to YouTube or Vimeo, to a cloud or website or even play it on a big screen TV using airplay.

The iPhone and iPad have brought lots of new possibilities to the world of video production and i for one think video production is the better for it.

Most Popular Registry Cleaner Downloads

If you’re looking for the most popular registry cleaner downloads around, then I’ll assume that you’re already aware of what the windows registry is and how important it is that you do some periodic house keeping by optimizing it to maintain your PC’s performance.

The most effective way to fix registry errors is to use a registry cleaner, sometimes called a registry optimizer, they’re really the same thing, all you’re doing is scanning your registry with the help of this tool to find all the invalid and corrupt entries that are slowing your system down. When it comes to the registry we always err on the side of caution and never recommend that users delve into it with regedit. This built in editor is not a registry tool, it’s simply a manual editor that can be handy when you know what you’re doing and deadly when you don’t.

Top Registry Cleaners

There are more than a handful of registry cleaners that like to claim top spot in number of downloads and level of effectiveness, as a consumer you mostly rely on reviews and comparison charts to make your decision, nothing wrong with that. While researching across several search engines, it appears that there are at least 10 different cleaners with tons of reviews and testimonials, here are only 3 of the most downloaded and the talked about.

RegCure – a heavily downloaded registry cleaner and so far the only application I’ve found to have a 60-day money back guarantee. Other softwares have a money back guarantees as well, but not for 60 days. This and all tools from ParetoLogic come with free support for life and an array of other great features.

Registry Easy – one of the features people rave about in this registry cleaner is the user interface, its ease of use and clarity makes it ideal for anyone to run without complicating their lives. With over 3 million downloads to date, it is one of the top registry cleaners according to customer testimonials.

Registry Mechanic – with millions downloads, this is the top selling registry cleaner software. Among many of its special features are the browser helper object manager which allows you to monitor your IE objects to ensure you’re only running what you want to run.

Registry cleaning software is easy to use in most cases, there are dozens of tools that can clean and optimize your registry and most of them have a trial period, or a free download that can help you quickly evaluate the tool and see if its worth spending the money on a full registration.

There are free registry cleaners as well, but typically the problem with free tools is that there is no guarantee and not support. Also some free tools usually install along with other not so welcome programs that border on spyware, so you use them at your own risk. Check out CCleaner and Comodo Registry Cleaner if you’re interested in using a free tool.