AceProject is a new online project management software program designed to make project management that much easier for both budding managers and ambitious individuals who need to stay organized.
I've had a chance to review it and here's my verdict.
AceProject is an online program designed for use on anything that can access the internet, meaning it's a package for Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, or just about anything else that can get online. There's no Flash involved; just a straightforward no-frills interface with zero bells and whistles.
My first experience with AceProject was honestly pretty dismal. I logged into the website, started my free account, and I was immediately dropped into a website that looked daunting and complicated. The interface is just blue, white, and gray boxes and text, so as a Mac user accustomed to very minimal, easy-on-the-eyes, visually pleasing graphical user interfaces, I was taken aback and I wanted to retreat to my OSX haven of uncomplicated, friendly-looking buttons.
Alas, I had a review to do, so I forged ahead.
I read through the First Use documentation, a simple text file with just one font, some boldface, and a couple indentations parading as a PDF, and I felt like I was nowhere closer to being an avid AceProject user than when I first started. Things were not looking good.
Then I really sat down and played with it with the intent to learn how to use it at all costs. Surprisingly, some blind, semi-informed clicking and reasonable guesses actually had me doing sensible project management in less than an hour. At first face, the interface looks terrifying to someone who isn't used to this kind of software, but underneath the surface lies a powerful, useful, and rewarding program.
Here are the key takeaway points I think are worth sharing:
+ AceProjectis an incredibly meaty task management program. In it, you have the ability to create completely customizable projects, including your own definitions of task categories, task types, and priority levels. For instance, I just started some independent game development, so I created a project for it. In that project, I have Aesthetics, Programming, and Administrative as some of my categories, Planning, Learning, Practicing, and Doing as some of my task types, and the default Low, Normal, High, and Urgent as my priority levels. I just got this book that I need to read, so I made a task for doing so that's a Programming task, filed under Learning, and Normal priority. From there I was able to assign users to this task, estimate how many hours and dollars it was going to take to complete, and define a timeline. Once you have an idea of how this works, AceProject handles the rest incredibly well. I've used my fair share of to-do list programs, task management programs, and data trackers and I have to say that the level of user customization and functionality here is ideal for both personal and group project management.
+ The use of time sheets is a great addition to the functionality of AceProject. You are able to clock in to any task at any time to do active recording of when things are being worked on. This data is then stored with your project to give you an idea of when things are being worked on, by whom, and how actual practices are stacking up to budget. It sounds like a simple, no-brainer feature, but you'd be surprised how few task management programs actually have this sort of thing built in. Also, given that you can log into AceProject on mobile devices, the freedom to clock in on the go could be indispensable to some people.
+ The statistics tables are a great way to get a bird's eye view of what's going on with your various projects. This is the sort of stuff that managers drool over and it's great that AceProject included a data aggregation tool in their function set.
+ Compatibility with multiple platforms lets you seamlessly work between operating systems, both local and mobile. There are not enough good things one can say about this, especially when so many programs and companies lack the ability to do this. In a world where people use diverse operating systems in multiple contexts, it's really important that you can take your work from your Windows desktop to your iPad to your Macbook without skipping a beat and ACE Project delivers.
- The visual interface and presentation is not quite horrendous, but certainly not the most pleasant interface to look at. Using AceProject visually looks like being at a boring office job. Maybe it's just how reminiscent it is of classic, boring Windows interfaces and how accustomed to OSX and iOS I am, but I found AceProject to be incredibly bland and unappealing to the eyes. Despite all of the customization options on the operations end, there's nothing to be found in terms of aesthetic customization; Please correct me if I'm wrong about that.
- For such a long list of functions and options, there's almost no documentation to speak of. Some people may like that experience, but I feel like some could find getting started with AceProject to be intimidating. I'm a pretty avid computer user and I'm learning how to use new programs all of the time, so it wasn't too much of a problem for me and I don't imagine it would be for anyone who's used to that sort of thing, but I can see how the lack of user-friendly hand-holding instruction could be problematic to some, if not many.
- I'm glad that aggregate statistics are included, but as an information aficionado I really think that there need to be more ways to view the data. Give me longitudinal options for time and money budgets and uses over time, for instance. Let me split up data tables by day, week, month, quarter, fiscal year, and day of the week, for instance. Show me some histograms and pie charts! If the data exist, let me view it how I want to, not just as an extremely boring table. A lesson in visualization could be learned from such sites as 42goals.com, a productivity and data tracking websites which I believe handles this problem stupendously.
Overall, I would say that in spite of its aesthetic and instructional flaws, AceProject is an excellent program for handling project management. You might be able to find programs that look nicer or programs that are easier to use, but you'll be hard pressed to find project management software that lets you do this much in terms of customization and functionality.
[Editor's note: the CEO of AceProject just updated us that from April 15 - there will be a new Dashboard under the MyOffice tab so that presentation of data will be more attractive]
This review was written by Jake about the free version of ACE Project, found at ACEproject.com. Paid upgrades are available to increase online storage space, allow more project users, and more. While DigitalReviews.net has been sponsored to advertise and review ACE Project, this is an unpaid, unbiased review of the software.