Project Management Software Review: 5pm

My boyfriend’s company recently switched project management tools and my boyfriend was so happy with the new program, 5pm, that he told me all about it (yeah, we’re geeks).  I quickly became very curious about the seemingly great features and so I signed up for 5pm’s 14-day free trial.

What is 5pm?

It’s a web-based project management and time tracking software that allows team members to log information on how they’re progressing on tasks related to a given project.

How does it work?  How do you use it?

  • A project administrator creates a 5pm site for his or her team (for example workawesome.5pmweb.com).
  • The administrator may sign up anyone using just their email, which I found a bit invasive because the notification email isn’t a request for confirmation of account setup but rather simply tells the recipient that he or she has been signed up for the website and gives them their password.
  • The administrator may create different types of accounts: user, administrator, external user and client, and there may be multiple administrators, who may then assign tasks to users and choose to hide tasks from clients.
  • Users can download a desktop widget to easily track time (more about it below).
  • Users may also go on their team website to check on the progress of any project at any given time.

Navigation is really easy!  There’s one landing page and all navigation is done through there (see a screen shot below).  This page contains permanent tabs through which users can switch among projects, timeline, reports and profiles.  Clicking on a tab takes a user into that section of their site, where the user will find a list of drop-down menus that make for effortless navigation among tasks, member profiles, different types of reports and other functions.  Administrators can also create different groups and invite different team members to each group.  All it takes to switch between groups is a click on the drop-down menu at the top of the page.

Landing page on 5pm

Users may also upload files so that everything related to a project is right there for all members working on that project to see.

The desktop time tracking widget is one of my favorite features.  Users download this widget and it stays on top of all windows (with the option to hide it).  To track time, users select the project and the task related to that project from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the timer then click the play button to start tracking time.  One annoying thing about the timer is that it logs time in increments of 15 minutes but only when a user goes over a 15-minute chunk, otherwise the user has to manually enter the time.  For example, if a user worked for 25 minutes he or she will need to manually select a whole 30 minutes from the drop-down menu.

The desktop time tracking widget

The main other features include links to iCal and google docs, an RSS feed, a free mobile app and even the ability to import information from Basecamp.

The Downside

The price isn’t very friendly.  Unless you can afford to pay $175/month for unlimited space and users, you’re likely to find yourself out of space, as 5pm offers a low space limit.  The least expensive account costs $18/month and allows up to 5 users to work on up to 10 projects for a total of 1GB of space, which I can’t see working for a designer who might want to upload files for client approval for example.  The largest allocation of space other than unlimited is 12 GB for $88/month.

Prioritizing tasks doesn’t work well at all. Although there is an option to select the priority of a task, a user can only see if a task is urgent by going into the task and not by looking at the list of tasks in their project.  This might be a big problem for users who have many projects on their plate, since prioritizing tasks is essential to completing them on time.

The timeline is not very useful.  Though there are options to view the calendar of tasks by day, week and month, all that switching among views does is stretch or shrink the view of the monthly calendar.

Who is 5pm for?

The pricing was a bit steep for me, so I think some individual freelancers would be inclined to feel the same.  However, teams (remote or local) with a decent budget that are collaborating on projects and freelancers with small budget and files who want to send information on project progress to their clients would find 5pm useful.

If you’d like more information about the software you may visit its website.  5pm was developed by Quatre Group, LLC, an American software company and they had no involvement in my writing this review.

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