Organisations evaluating iPlanWare PPM often consider Microsoft Project Server as an option. We felt it would be useful to provide a comparison of the two products and why we believe iPlanWare PPM is a better option for organisations that are serious about optimising their project management and resource management. [click to continue…]

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Two new tools are included in the next release of iPlanWare PPM to help organisations improve their project governance (check out the online tours.)

Project lifecycle processes. All projects have stages they must follow from start up to close down. Within these stages, actions and decisions need to be undertaken by the project manger, stakeholders and other people involved in the project. For example a business case may need approval and a budget allocated before the project can start. Once the project starts up a risk assessment may need to be done and a quality plan drafted. The next release of iPlanWare PPM allows the system administrator to set up a range of pre-defined processes which can be attached to a project.

As the project progresses, the project manager can mark these actions as complete or not required for this particular project. A new dashboard is provided that lets auditors and PMO staff check at a glance which projects are following the defined process.

Project status reports. Most project managers have to produce weekly / monthly status reports and we know it is a pain of a job. The next release of iPlanWare PPM includes the facility to build status reports directly within the software tool. As iPlanWare has knowledge of a projects RAG status, issues, risks, costs etc it is a simple matter of selecting items from a pick list to include them in the report.

Reports can be worked on over time until finally published to a status report dashboard. Not only does this dashboard provide a single source for all the status reports in the organisation – but it also allows stakeholders and PMO staff to see which projects are missing or are late producing status reports.

Both of these features plus a host of others are due to ship in iPlanWare PPM 3.2.

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Every couple of weeks we get contacted by someone asking if our project management software iPlanWare is free (of charge). When we politely tell them that actually no, it is not free (here is the pricing if you are interested) they always seem a bit disgruntled.

So, after I explain that our employees have bills to pay, kids to feed and our salaries are paid because we charge for software…. I then start explaining further why our software is not free – and that software that appears “free” is not.

  1. “Free” software started as a matter of liberty and not of price and this point is well summarised in this post. Free means free to fix, augment and share things back with the community. If you are not going to do this, then why not contribute money to the free software foundation.
  2. Everything has a cost. Freeware has ended up costing something to someone, somewhere down the line.
  3. Companies like iPlanWare invest a substantial amount of time and money in their products. Good design costs and we have to pay for our R&D somehow.
  4. Software needs supporting. I don’t mean just bug fixes but general help with the software – “how do I do?” type questions. Who is going to support the freeware you use? This is exactly why organisations like sugarcrm offer a “commercial open source” option. When you investigate the pricing of commercial “paid” freeware you quickly realise it is going to cost you the same as regular paid software.
  5. With freeware you have the option to fix and augment the software yourself. But are you really going to do this? Or are you just going to use it? If so refer back to point 1.

I have a couple of builders quoting me for a new extension at the moment. Perhaps I will ask them if they would build it for free. No wait a minute, next time someone asks me if our software is free, I will tell them yes, if you give us some of your organisations products or time to the same value for free. Seems fair?

I should stress, I have nothing against freeware and use quite a few freeware products myself. In fact this blog is created using freeware. And in thanks I have answered quite a few questions posted by WordPress users to problems we have also encountered.

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I don’t really understand why software vendors keep introducing new terminology for the same thing. I guess it is the marketing departments trying to give the sales team something “new” to take to prospects. In early 2001 when iPlanWare started offering our software as an online project management solution (i.e. customers didn’t have to install any software) this was called hosted software. We hosted it for them, they paid us – simple. For some reason the industry then migrated to calling this ASP or application service provision.

Ok, so we lived with that for a couple more years then someone decided ASP was old hat and we needed yet another term for the same offering. So SaaS or software as a service was born. Same software, same deal – new name.

And now we have cloud computing – whatever next. Let’s just get something clear – hosted software, ASP, SaaS, software as a service, online software or cloud computing we are talking the same concept. Software that you don’t install or manage. If you want to know more about the advantages of SaaS take a look. And remember you can always take our iPlanWare PPM software onsite also.

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