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M2: Analysis of Comparable Project Planning/Management Offerings

M2 Product/Service Profile: ManagePro 4.0

Date: 12 Aug 2000

Copyright (c) 2000 Jim Salmons
All Rights Reserved

Associated project: Specification Writing for Web-based Project Planning Software

Project URL: http://sohodojo.com/techsig/project-planning-project.html

sXc Project detail: http://sourcexchange.com/ProjectDetail?projectID=24 (SourceXchange is out of business.)

Project coordination: Sohodojo

Sponsors: Position open

Sponsors (M1-3): Opendesk.com and Collab.Net

Core Team: Jim Salmons and Frank Castellucci

1 Overview

The intent of this document is to provide feedback from analysis of products that are comparable to the general goals of the project. The focus is on key technological areas with an overriding concern in regards to role collaboration capability.

2 Product/Service Profile [ All assessments, this topic ]

2.1 Name of offering

ManagePro 4.0

2.2 Publisher/Author/Service-provider

Performance Solutions Technology, LLC.
1198 Pacific Coast Hwy, D515
Seal Beach, CA. 90740
(562)430-7096 Ext. 0
Fax: 800/645-6618
Email mpro@managepro.net

2.3 URL for more information


2.4 Type - one or more of local client, client/server, web service, etc.

Licensed and used as a local client, it is known as the Solo Edition. Network licensing is available for multi-user configurations which are known as the Teamware Edition. The executable codebase appears to be the same for the Solo and Teamware editions. Multi-user features are unlocked based on a license entry basis.

Both the Solo and Teamware editions have an excellent 'mobile computing' feature which allows ManagePro databases to be 'spawned' and used remotely, then resynchronized with the 'master' database. Team-based communication facilitates database resynchronization conflict identification and resolution.

2.5 Pricing/Availability

ManagePro was an initial offering of a company named Avantos. It matured through single and multi-user versions to about level 3.2. When Avantos went out of business, ManagePro was in limbo for a while. Fortunately, the Seal Beach-based company, Performance Solutions Technology (PST), acquired the rights to this innovative product. PST next re-released the 3.2 versions. The 4.0 major point release is a strong indication of PST's commitment to further support and development of this product line.

A Solo edition license is $250 ($225 for electronic delivery only)

PST has just restructured its pricing of the Teamware edition. The Teamware version is sold in the U.S. and Canada in a 'software plus web-based mentored training' bundle. Current offerings include:

ManagePro Teamware Direct Report Package - $695 per user
(shared coaching)
ManagePro Teamware Executive/Manager Package - $995 per user
(shared coaching).
ManagePro Teamware Executive/Manager Package - $1,495 per user
(individual coaching)

2.6 Assessment based on hands-on experience or info-only?

The reviewer was a long-time ManagePro user 'in a former life' using both the solo and network edition through the final Avantos 3.2 version. This assessment is based on a 21-day evaluation installation of the Solo Edition of the 4.0 product.

2.7 Reviewer comments

It is great to see this landmark, innovative product not only back on the market, but evolving with a new release.

I understand the rationale of PST's 'niche positioning' of its network version by bundling it with a web-based mentoring/training experience. Unfortunately, its network functionality is LAN-based. This makes it appropriate for many users in one location. (The Multi-link feature allows data migration between disparate ManagePro databases which allows it to be effectively used in 'loosely connected', multi-location network configurations.) But without support for Internet communication protocols, the multi-user version is of limited use to teams of distributed users, such as a web-based Open Source development team, for example.

3 System Constraints [ All assessments, this topic ]

3.1 Physical Limitations


3.2 Software Limitations (operating systems, plug-ins, drivers)

Windows OS. The 4.0 version is 32-bit code which may limit use on 'vintage' Windows versions.

Networking configurations depend on Windows networking.

ManagePro's database engine is proprietary and built-in, no plug-ins or drivers are required.

3.3 Implementation Limitations (number of projects, tasks per projects, users, roles)

There is no stated limits for the data entries in a ManagePro database.

Whether running in Solo or Teamware mode, the ManagePro desktop application can only open/access one database at a time. Since ManagePro is 'goal-based' rather than 'project-based', it is possible to have a single database which contains the data for multiple 'projects'. Alternatively, a user may maintain a separate database for each 'project' and switch between them as needed.

3.4 Does the software assume a specific project management methodology, if so which one(s)?

While there is a _tremendous_ amount of configuration flexibility which can be used within a wide range of management styles, there is an underlying 'theme' to ManagePro. ManagePro is clearly 'goal-based' and 'people-oriented'. When used to full advantage, ManagePro encompasses project management, issue management, personnel development and performance appraisal functions.

For those who do not need or want all the personnel management bells and whistles, ManagePro configurations are easily set to 'slim down' the user interface to the essential goal, to do and people data elements.

If ManagePro misses anything, the database is highly configurable and allows the addition of user-defined fields.

3.5 Reviewer Comments

4 Collaboration [ All assessments, this topic ]

4.1 What is the interaction model? (Real-time dynamic views, publish/subscribe, email, user queries, etc.)

In Solo mode, everything is dynamic. In Teamware mode, shared access users of the same database have dynamic views on the data. (ManagePro handles all record-locking transparently.)

When using its 'mobile computing' database extraction feature, the user can have disconnected dynamic views. When the extracted database is merged for synchronization, conflict identification and resolution manages the mobile user's integration back into the master database.

The Multi-link mode implements a creative 'distributed database' feature which allows data to 'propagate' within and between multiple databases using a 'delegation/recipient/show-to' mechanism. In this configuration, database 'refreshes' manage the data linked across databases.

In all configurations, ManagePro is email-aware and can be configured to support a variety of common email transports. The email integration is useful for 'teaser' notification to connect Team Members as well as for communicating with 'disconnected' User/Stakeholders.

4.2 When used in project planning mode, is team communication supported?

Not applicable in the Solo configuration, although email interaction could be easily used as a 'collaboration channel' by the User during project planning.

In the Teamware configuration, collaboration is the norm. You can think of a Project as a collection of related Goals within the Goal hierarchy of the ManagePro database. This collection can be a branch of the hierarchy, or you can associate a group of goals using a field value, such as a user-defined 'Project Name' field. Goals, then, are the composite elements of a 'project breakdown'. Goals can have notes, to do items and progress reports attached to them. In Teamware mode, this makes for a fine-grained, goal-oriented team collaboration environment.

4.3 When used in project monitoring mode (more modest a target than project management), how is team member interaction handled? ('project-manager -centric' or peer interaction; is there an ad hoc issue management facility, etc.)

In the Solo mode, ManagePro is appropriately 'project manager'-centric. However, this should not imply that team communication and collaboration is not recognized and encouraged. Just the opposite. In the Solo mode, ManagePro works as a 'communication and coordination facilitator' for the Project Manager (the Solo User). Email together with on-screen and printable report views help the Project Manager plan, execute and follow-through on team communication.

The Progress Report subsystem is an effective ad hoc issue management facility.

4.4 What are the 'key indicators' used to keep project team members and stakeholders informed of the state of the project?

The default database configuration maintains a start date and due date for Goal/Subgoal items. The goal hierarchy can be viewed with a 'timeline' panel that graphically reinforces the mapping of goals to 'project elements'. ManagePro can filter and highlight Goals on 'time-context' filters such as 'past due', 'today', 'this week'.

Goals also maintain a 'Status' field which is associated with Progress Reports. A color-coded, hierarchical 'roll-up' Goal Status view gives a useful alternative view to the more conventional timeline view.

A Priority field allows sorting and filtering that takes priority into account along with date and status values.

A color-coded matrix view, the People Status Board, provides effective indicators relating People to Goals, Progress Reports, Feedback, Review, Recognition and Commitment collaboration exchanges.

4.5 Does the product or service's concurrency features facilitate or hinder team member collaboration?

Not applicable to the Solo configuration.

In the Teamware mode, ManagePro encourages dynamic collaboration and communication. In addition to all the status communications, file attachments are maintained for Goal, To Do and Progress Report items which help associate work requirements with the documents needed to perform, fulfill or communicate with regard to the goals, tasks.

Whether in Solo or Teamware modes, using mobile computing extraction and synchronization and using the Multi-link features introduces a reasonable extra level of user interaction complexity.

4.6 Security features

ManagePro maintains access control as part of the People records within the ManagePro database. The database administrator access to access control settings for each Person/User that determines what information the Person/User can access of whether and whether they have change rights, etc.

4.7 Reviewer Comments

5 Role Support [ All assessments, this topic ]

5.1 What is the 'person/role' model?

There are no Role model elements as part of the default underlying model of ManagePro; Goal/Subgoal/To-Do (G/S/TD) elements are associated with one or more People (Person/User) 'instances'. The default associations that can relate G/S/TD elements to People include 'Assigned to' (Who), 'Show to', 'Editors' (those with 'write' access). Users can define additional associations that relate People/Users to G/S/TD elements.

The reviewer is 'role-oriented' and has used customized ManagePro configurations to give a role-based flavor to this solution. ManagePro's configurability allows users to redefine terminology used throughout the program.

The 'Relationship' field of Person/User records includes a number of typical terms to relate People to Goal-oriented elements; Self, Direct Report, Boss, Peer, Customer/Client, Vendor/Supplier. These terms can be changed, deleted and expanded. By adding a 'Role' term to the Relationship term list, you can create 'shell People' which give all the filtering, context views and 'discrete assignability' that an 'actual Person/User' has. The Project Planner then can build a plan around Role abstractions that help structure the plan in ways that direct Person assignments lack.

In the 'Few Heads, Many Hats' management dilemma of a very small business, where few people fill many roles concurrently and sometimes sharing loads in 'informal load-leveling', this can be a very useful configuration. Since ManagePro supports one-to-many associations for its People-associating fields in its Goal elements, the Project Manager (or a shared self-organizing 'what needs to be done now' assignment procedure) can add 'Joe' or 'Jane' to a Role-assigned Goal to indicate that a 'real Person' will be the Actor of a specific Role assignment.

For example a To-Do, 'Mail press kits', might initially be assigned to a 'Campaign Manager' Role. When 'Jane' accepts this assignment, the Who field maintains the two-element list, 'Campaign Manger; Jane'. (By resisting the temptation of replacing the Role name with a 'real Person/User' name, you maintain the 'Role-context' views which would be diluted by assignment replacements; IOW, the Project can still be looked at through 'Role abstraction' pseudo-Person/User views built into ManagePro while the actual Users maintain all the Person/User-specific views which help to organize and facilitate their specific work assignments.

Since ManagePro does not provide advanced 'resource overload or load-leveling' features, these double assignments are not problematic. But since the Role 'objects' are Person/User data records with a 'meta-meaning' within the customized context, some of the advantages of separately modeled Role model elements are lost.

5.2 How are 'person/role' elements related to 'organization/group' elements?

Person/Users are rich, configurable data records as far the underlying database model is concerned. The default configuration assumes that Person/Users have a one-to-one relationship to a 'Company' or Organization. No separate model element is maintained to represent Organization elements.

Groups are named, arbitrary collections of Person/Users. The Project Planner/Manager has complete freedom to create Groups to organize or cluster collections of Team Members. Once created, the People 'data cloud' becomes a hierarchically-organized network data structure; individual People/Users are always at the 'top' level but may also appear in one or more 'sub-levels' of Team organization. Teams are a bit awkward because they are collections of elements that 'look and feel' like an element of the collection. This makes the 'behavior/use' of Teams consistent with Person/User elements, for example, you can assign a Team to the 'Who' field for performance responsibility. This single Team assignment 'propagates' the assignment to the views/reports for each member of the Team, so there is certainly a convenience factor to it. But the logical modeling contraction (is it a thing or a collection of things?) can lead to user confusion and limit extensions where the two elements would need to be treated independently.

5.3 Can one person fill many roles? Can one role be filled by many persons? (resource/skill pools, etc.)

Well, by default, no, since there are no built-in Role model elements. But using the 'Role as Relationship descriptor' extension discussed a section 5.1, yes, a Person/User may play many Roles.

5.4 Reviewer Comments

Just like AEC's FastTrack Schedule, ManagePro makes some simplifying assumptions to remain a practical and useable solution. In this case, ManagePro puts Person/User 'bandwidth' requirements outside its domain. While ManagePro provides configurable constraints on the work schedule for date-related computations, there is no built-in resource assignment conflict detection or load-leveling features. This is due to its design-point of being a goal-oriented, people-centric tool rather than a full-featured 'project management' tool.

It seems ironic to say that ManagePro ignores Person/User assignment conflicts and overloading issues yet is still 'people-centric'. This is because the People-strengths of ManagePro are oriented around communication and facilitating 'people management' through collaboration exchanges. The built-in tools structure performance reviews, issue management, skill development, etc. rather than provide 'nameless, faceless' resource management features such as load-leveling.

6 Concurrency [ All assessments, this topic ]

Concurrency is defined by the implementations locking and transaction model. As such, the granularity of the locking will determine the liveliness of the system. The finer the granularity of locking, the more lively the interactions may be. Another aspect of concurrency is in regards to work-flow and the transaction model, does the system support "conversational or long-term transactions" for example.

Concurrency is defined by the implementations locking and transaction model. As such, the granularity of the locking will determine the liveliness of the system. The finer the granularity of locking, the more lively the interactions may be. Another aspect of concurrency is in regards to work-flow and the transaction model, does the system support "conversational or long-term transactions" for example.

6.1 Single or multi-user

The Solo Edition is single-user. The Teamware Edition is multi-user.

6.2 What is the implementation technology supporting concurrency?

ManagePro's database engine is built-in and proprietary. This makes it for relatively transparent and intuitive use by users to use and sysAdmin folks to install and maintain.

The lack of support for Internet communication protocols limits its distributed applications in today's Web World, however the Multi-link features allow highly distributed WAN-based network configurations.

The 'extract/resynch' features for mobile computing were extremely innovative at their introduction. They still remain relatively advanced for an affordable project management offering.

6.3 Revision Management

ManagePro has a configurable archive facility for its databases. These archive features provide back-up and restore functionality at the overall database level.

In support of mobile computing and Multi-link distributed configurations, there is a conflict identification and resolution subsystem to help maintain integrity of ManagePro databases.

While ManagePro provides a rich set of Document attachment features, there is no built-in version control features within this attachment mechanism. People/Users have two choices for Attachment version control; 'roll your own' by adopting a 'file naming and multiple-attachment' procedure to maintain revision history, or simply attach documents whose applications provide their own version management features, such as is common among word processing applications today.

6.4 Reviewer Comments

7 Accessibility [ All assessments, this topic ]

7.1 Web-based

ManagePro is not a web-based service although its mobile-computing and Multi-link features give it some in-roads into WAN-based and 'loosely coupled' network configurations. (You can, for example, use a remote access facility like PC Anywhere in conjunction with ManagePro's mobile computing extract and synchronization features to provide collaboration interactions among a team of distributed members... but this is a "where there's a Will there's a Way" variety solution.

7.2 Interchanges support (MS Project, XML, RDF, etc.)

Version 4.0 has updated and expanded its data import and export feature sets. Import/export integration with Outlook 98 and 2000, and through Outlook linkage to Palm Pilot devices is supported. The range of email clients and transport mechanisms has been expanded and includes Outlook, Netscape and any MAPI-compliant applications and services as well as Notes Mail, Sendmail, GroupWise and Eudora.

7.3 Import/Export (MS Project, text, etc.)

Flexible data import and export is provided by allowing import and export operations to target 'to this view' and 'selected items' operations as well as 'entire database' data exchange operations. Field-mapping dialogs allow quick and easy import/export operations.

7.4 Mobile Users

ManagePro was one of the earliest Windows-based groupware products that supported 'loosely connected' mobile computing users. Fine-grained database data extraction and resynchronization features make it relatively convenient for Team Members to maintain collaborative, accumulative interactions despite the demands of today's 'Road Warrior' schedules.

7.5 Reviewer Comments

8 Project Proposal Management [ All assessments, this topic ]

8.1 Vision/Goals specification

Since Projects map to collections of Goal/Subgoal elements, there is a kind of 'de facto' tight coupling between project structure and goals. Extended and configurable description fields along with Note and file attachments mean that ManagePro's database can capture the data for and map to Project Proposals. ManagePro has a flexible and highly-configurable Reporting subsystem that allows dynamic document generation.

The reviewer has developed custom configurations for real projects where project proposals and similar complex documents were generated directly from ManagePro databases using the powerful Report definition and generation features within ManagePro. These reports can often be dumped directly to a printer, or they may be written to files or to a desktop window where they can be captured for further editing.

8.2 Business Processing Rules

Yes, but they are optional. ManagePro has a broad underlying architecture which supports a performance measurement, appraisal and personnel development system.

Managers can develop complex measurement, appraisal and development plans all within ManagePro. Manager-specific views help collect extensive historical performance-oriented data from within the goal-oriented project data. Formal and informal appraisal exchanges and feedback/recognition communications are supported.

Used in the extreme, ManagePro represents a broad, explicit Personnel Management business model. ManagePro has a 'Management Style' configuration setting which determines the extent that these non-project-goal-specific management features are included in the Person/User's user interface.

8.3 Implementation Specific Rules

As stated above, ManagePro is highly configurable to support personnel development and management dimensions beyond the basic project-definition and work-assignment features. These customized configurations apply to all data in a specific database. In the User maintains data for many projects within a single aggregating database, all projects within that database will be subject to the same set of business rule/process configurations.

If implementation-specific rules are required, the User would create and use a separate database.

8.4 Reviewer Comments

9 Requirements Management [ All assessments, this topic ]

9.1 Documentation Controls

The Goal/Subgoal composition of ManagePro maps nicely to the development and management of requirements-oriented data within a project. To the extent that data within the ManagePro database can be 'source data' in the requirements document(s) to be produced, the Archive feature provides back-up and a snapshot versioning capability for requirements data. The 'Show to' and 'Editors' attributes for Goal/Subgoal/To-Do elements provides control of read/write access to requirements data. When external documents are required to capture or present requirements data, the file attachment facility can be used.

9.2 Relationship to Task Management

Since the 'data cloud of what gets done by whom' is a composition of 'Goal/Subgoal/To-Do' elements, requirements-oriented data is modeled, captured and maintained simply as another 'branch' of Goal/Subgoal data within the database.

ManagePro has a 'paste linked item' feature that allows a subgoal elements to 'live' within an arbitrary logical decomposition within the Goal hierarchy while having a 'mirrored image' of that item show up in other places within the Goal hierarchy. This feature can be very helpful for creating 'Requirements Satisfaction' views which present Goal data in the context of their Requirements.

9.3 Implementation Specific Rules

As before with proposal-management related rules, customizations which implement User's refinement of the default ManagePro configuration apply to the entire database open at the time. You cannot have multiple projects open in ManagePro that implement project-specific customizations.

9.4 Business Processing Rules

As before with proposal-management related rules, customizations which implement User's refinement of the default ManagePro configuration apply to the entire database open at the time. You cannot have multiple projects open in ManagePro that implement project-specific business rule customizations.

9.5 Reviewer Comments

10 Task Management [ All assessments, this topic ]

10.1 What is the 'activity/task' model?

This is a gray area for ManagePro. By default, ManagePro's Goal hierarchy is a composition of Goal/Subgoals where To-Do tasks can be attached at any level in the hierarchy.

To-do items are supported by a number of convenient, User-specific views which notify the Person/User of To-Do assignment, upcoming Goals and scheduled Events.

To-do items, however, do not support Progress Report attachments. A To-Do element has a state which by default is 'To Do', 'On Hold' or 'Done'. In most other respects, there is little distinction between a To-Do element and a Goal/Subgoal element. The guideline among ManagePro users is that if you want to maintain progress report data for a project element, it is a subgoal. It the item is a fine-grained, done or not item, it can be a To-Do.

It is not unusual for ManagePro implementations to use an 'All Goal/Subgoal' approach to project data management without resorting to 'To do' elements. When ManagePro is used in the Teamware configuration, Progress Reports are an effective communication channel which suggests that the 'limited To-Do' use is preferable in these collaborative situations. Where the Solo edition is used to create and distribute work assignments reports or email communications, To-Do elements can be more effectively used.

10.2 How are roles related to activity/tasks?

By default, there are no Roles in ManagePro, so in this sense there is no relationship. If the 'Role as pseudo Person/User' technique described in section 5 above, Roles are assigned to Goal/Subgoal/To-Do elements in the same manner as Person/User assignments are made.

10.3 Is the product/service 'project-manager-centric' or can team members extend and/refine the plan within the realm of their own activity?

ManagePro supports public and private extensions to the Goal hierarchy. When used in a Teamware configuration using Multi-link features, ManagePro has the potential to be a ubiquitous 'organizing principle' through which the Person/User can structure both their private and their collaborative working environment. But again, ManagePro provides these capabilities without requiring their use.

When used in Solo mode, ManagePro is 'project manager'-centric, although this does NOT mean that it does not facilitate or encourage communication and collaboration. Indeed, the entire design-point of ManagePro is to structure and encourage effective, goal-directed, result-oriented communication and collaboration. When used in the Solo mode, ManagePro gives the Project Manager the data structure and organization and tools to facilitate the development and implementation of highly collaborative, 'learning'-oriented teams.

10.4 Views: Predefined, user-configurable or both

Both. ManagePro comes with an extensive collection of built-in reports and views. In addition, a collection of broad-ranging 'template databases' provide sample data and implementation-specific customizations which function as effective 'starting points' for new projects.

10.5 Status reporting mechanisms (percent complete reports, 'flag-raising' or issue management features)

See section 4.4 for details about the flexible 'key-indicator' reporting features in ManagePro.

The Progress Report messaging subsystem functions as an effective issue management system.

10.6 How are consumable/required task-specific resources handled?

By default, these are not considered. Database extensions can be added to the Goal hierarchy configuration to accommodate certain elements of resource assignment and requirements associated with Goal/Subgoal elements. However, you cannot add new 'first class' data elements to a ManagePro database, so resource management extensions are somewhat limited to 'field values' associated with the first class Goal/Subgoal elements.

10.7 Reviewer Comments

11 Task Constraints [ All assessments, this topic ]

11.1 Task Dependency Internal (intra-project)

ManagePro is decidedly weak in terms of traditional task dependency modeling. Goals and subgoals maintain start and due dates which gives a Goal/Subgoal elements a calendar duration. Subgoal durations roll-up to determine Goal durations, but there is no mechanism for setting Goal-to-Goal dependencies.

11.2 Task Dependency External (inter-project)

The same limitations on dependencies applied in the case were data for more than one project is maintained within a single ManagePro database.

11.3 Resource constraints (expressed as percentage)


11.4 User defined constraints

Not by default, but the creative use can do customizations which may implement such considerations.

11.5 Reviewer Comments

Don't look to ManagePro for date-related constraint modeling. The timeline view is a helpful visualization to relate 'when' to 'what' but it is not intended to compete with conventional project management systems which explicitly model the time elements and constraints within a project.

This underlying model-related difference should be among first order considerations as to whether ManagePro is a solution candidate for a particular application. Where teaming and communication within a broader goal-directed activity management need is to be filled, ManagePro is an excellent 'horse of a different color' solution choice. But when complex time and resource dependencies are needed to effectively model a project, a more conventional tool is probably the better choice.

12 Reporting [ All assessments, this topic ]

12.1 Pre-defined, user-defined or both

Both. ManagePro has a flexible and highly customizable report definition and generation facility.

12.2 Publisher-push by project manager or team member dynamic views?

In the Solo mode and as a supplement to the Teamware configurations, ManagePro can be used to capture and present just about any report the User would want. When used in the Teamware network configuration, all Team Members have dynamic, customizable views of project data.

12.3 Stakeholder-specific views?

Not by default, but the User can use Person/User and Team access configurations to create and assign Person/Users to various classes of Users with class-specific views and data access rights.

12.4 Multi-project analysis

If a single ManagePro database is used to maintain multiple projects, multi-project aggregation views and reports can be defined.

12.5 What-if analysis

Not really.

12.6 Security features

Person/User records maintain access control permission settings and password data.

Transparent database integrity checking and maintenance features keep the ManagePro database in good health.

12.7 Reviewer Comments

13 Multi-project Management [ All assessments, this topic ]

13.1 Role Template library?


13.2 Repetitive Task library?

A wide-ranging and helpful collection of 'starting point' template projects are provided.

13.3 Reviewer Comments

14 Post Mortem [ All assessments, this topic ]

14.1 Analysis and Reporting

While its facilities are more geared to Person/User performance appraisal and development planning, these features can be used to equal advantage for collecting Team Member effectiveness and 'lessons learned; assessments, etc.

14.2 Is there an interface to a 'reputation-building' rating system for team members? If so, is there a 'disputed assessment' system to resolve conflicting opinions.

Yes, definitely. As stated throughout in this assessment, ManagePro is unusual in the extent to which it provides facilities for goal-directed, performance-oriented management styles. While these features are most used in the conventional 'employment-based' context of personnel appraisal and development planning, there is no limitation in this regard. A team of peer collaborators and various stakeholders could use these features in an 'Open Book Management' model that would serve both reputation-building and applied skill development mentoring functions.

14.3 Reviewer Comments

The appraisal and development dimensions of ManagePro are unique in this category of project/service offerings. The reputation building and mentoring needs of self-organizing and self-managing teams/projects will likely be very different than those covered by our current conceptions of 'employee appraisal' and 'personnel development'. But the areas of overlap are there, especially when we are looking an innovative product within the current offerings. ManagePro should, therefore, be on the short list of 'look more closely here for inspiration' as we wrestle with the forward-looking, learning-oriented dimensions of project management.

15 Subjective Impressions [ All assessments, this topic ]

15.1 User Interface: Strengths/Weaknesses

It is getting dated a bit by today's standards, but ManagePro is an excellent example of a highly customizable packaged, commercial application. In its time, ManagePro respected and catered to the customer's interest and desire to have 'just the right tool'... to have the 'tool meet the customer' rather than require that the customer adopt the mindset and method of the tool.

While most applications limit users to configuring aggregation views such as tabular data windows, ManagePro provides a 'wrench' tool that these each User customize all views, including item-specific editors. These view customizations can be shared with other users or keep for 'my way' personalizations. The reviewers direct experience has been that this is one of the most powerful 'success factor' features when getting new users to accept the system. ManagePro views and 'become' what is comfortable and intuitive to the new user.

A particularly clever status reporting user interface technique in ManagePro is the 'red-yellow-green' color-coded traffic light cross-tab cells and tree-view nodes which give valuable 'head-up view' visualizations of various dimensions of project status. In the hierarchical tree views, these 'status-aware' nodes aggregate the state of their subordinate node states. This can be a powerful user interface metaphor for end-used configuration of complex status reporting computations.

15.2 Project Modeling: Strengths/Weaknesses

The lack of Goal/Subgoal dependencies constraints is the biggest missing piece in ManagePro. ManagePro is designed to be a collaboration management environment which is goal-directed and performance-oriented. Since it is not intended to be a Project Management tool, per se, this shortcoming is understandable.

15.3 Technology Platform: Strengths/Weaknesses

Windows-only puts ManagePro in a (large) corner in today's increasingly heterogeneous computing world. The lack of support for Internet communication standards keeps ManagePro from competing in an increasingly web-based world. For ManagePro to become more than a niche 'software plus service' sale for PST, they will need to make ManagePro web-friendly. If they did that, developed some Application Service Provider partnerships and took another look at their multi-user pricing, PST might move ManagePro modern, competitive product/service offering.

15.4 Overall 'Wow' factor: 1 (low) to 5 (high)


15.5 Reviewer Comments

ManagePro is an ambitious product. It is so full of 'good and different' ideas that you can't help but be impressed. I rate it highly, not because it is the most capable and appropriate choice for a project planning/management solution. Rather, I rate it highly for all the innovative things the design team brought into a product that truly is a 'horse of a different color'.

Too often, folks go looking for a project management tool when what they need are some tools to help the overall structure and implementation of a team of folks that share a goal-oriented, performance-oriented work world, like sales or personnel where discrete projects are not the norm. In these situations, a product like ManagePro can be a 'better fit' than a project management tool.

But when conventional project planning and management is required, expect to look to solutions which are designed to these more conventional requirements.

16.0 Reviewer Profile

16.1 Reviewer name: Jim Salmons

16.2 Reviewer email: [snip]

16.3 Reviewer URL: http://sohodojo.com

16.4 Evaluation performed: 12-13 August 2000

16.5 I DO NOT work for, or have an undisclosed relationship with, the author or publisher of the evaluated product or service: [TRUE or FALSE. If FALSE, please explain.]


16.6 Reviewer Comments: [Optionally tell us about your experience, interests or opinions about project planning and management.]


Version 0.9 - Draft
Version 1.0 - Final

### end of sxc24-m2-managepro-comparables.txt (Version 1.0) ###

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