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5pm offers Easy Online Project Management - with 50% discount for nonprofits

Lori Halley 12 May 2008 16 comments

Project management software is a tough and competitive field. With so many excellent choices out there, it's hard to know what tools will work best for your organization's needs. Do you want web-based or desktop application? Which features will you really use? How long is the learning curve — and will everyone in your organization be willing and able to take on the challenge?

For those who don't need the full muscle power of market-leaders like Basecamp and Wrike, the lighter-weight and user-friendly 5pm may be worth a look. Like Basecamp and Wrike, 5pm is web-based so there's nothing to download or install, and you can manage your projects online from anywhere with an Internet connection. It's billed as the "next generation web-based project management tool," presumably for its focus on ease of use.

I very much like 5pm's simple clean interface. It's as easy to navigate as your computer's own folder system, with all the projects right up front where nothing is likely to be overlooked or forgotten.  Drop-down menus and sorting filters, tree navigation and the customizable dual-panel display makes for efficient use of space, working equally well with both smaller monitors and wide screen LCDs. 

5pm screenshot"Everything is within a click or two," as the corporate website says. 

Most of all, I liked the fact that within just a few minutes I felt very comfortable using 5pm, as if I'd been using it all along — which has not always been my experience with other project management tools I've tried!

And yet, this is surprisingly full-featured project management software, complete with two-way email integration, RSS support, and iCalendar integration.

Add and assign tasks, share uploaded files, create and share progress reports, and track projects on a timeline. Organize your projects in groups that you define, sort information by user, and see at a glance how many days are left to each task's deadline. You can choose to hide certain projects, or to set access privileges, or to create client logins to bring others in to the collaboration process. Meanwhile, the "My stuff" tab gives quick access to your own tasks and items across all of the managed projects. 

Check out the full features list at www.5pmweb.com, watch a 2-minute video introduction, or login to the live demo to get a real feel for how the web application works.

Packages start at $14.95 per month for the 5-users level, with the "pay as you go" flexibility of a monthly subscription. A free 14-day trial is offered to get you started, and 5pm offers a 50% discount for nonprofits and educational institutions.

There's a lot of competition out there, in the area of project management tools, and 5pm has likely got its work cut out to differentiate itself from the others in terms of features. I must say, however, that the developers (QG Software) seem to be building a history of responding quickly to user feedback with a steady stream of updates and enhancements. For me, however, the big selling point is that friendly flexible interface — because what good is a project management tool if half of your project team is unwilling to try to use it?

It's just unfortunate that there's not a single-user version of 5pm:  I'd likely jump at it, for the help in keeping my solo projects on target.

Does your organization use a project management tool — or do you use one personally? Please, share your experience in the comments section, below.  Which features have been the most useful, and what's still on your wish list? Is there a particular project management tool you'd recommend to other nonprofits?

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 12 May 2008 at 5:30 AM


  • 5pm offers Easy Online Project Management - with 50% discount for … | Management said:

    Monday, 12 May 2008 at 12:33 AM
  • Martin Kain said:

    Monday, 12 May 2008 at 4:44 AM

    NOthing can replace Wrike for me. That the only tool that is really useful and that saves me time.

  • Eric Martin said:

    Monday, 12 May 2008 at 5:02 AM

    Finally an interface I can understand! As Rebecca mentioned, this is a selling point. I think 5pm is just straight better. Bacecamp just feels basic - a lot of clicks and the space is wasted. Wrike just looks plain and old-style. I don't know about "industry leaders", but it's just nice to have such a different alternative.

    5pm, on another side, is refreshing - just compare the websites and the products. One glance is enough.

    I also like their sense of humor (references to the "Office" movie).

    Definitely worth trying! Good find, Rebecca!

  • PM Hut said:

    Monday, 12 May 2008 at 5:16 PM

    I'm planning on reviewing several online Project Management Software on PM Hut. Most probably I'm going to include 5PM (it looks very neat).

  • Angela said:

    Monday, 12 May 2008 at 8:23 PM

    Based on looks I would say that most other female users will be drawn towards this 'pretty' application.

    The thing that concerns me the most is the fact that expensive high budget projects are being managed by this tool that is comparable to Barbies Email program (I just made that up btw!). I just can't imagine Project Managers and Executives standing around the screen and taking the information seriously.

    I did a search on other project management programs and thought Project123 might be worth mentioning. They seem to offer so many features in their base model. Mac users might also like GantProject which is an alternative to Project.

    Eric, I totally agree with you about the "Industry Leaders".

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 13 May 2008 at 5:51 AM

    @Martin, agreed: Wrike is a strong product, and the developers have a history of being responsive to users' "wish lists" for features.

    @Eric, I think there's room in this tough market for lots of alternative products at different levels. After all, sometimes all a small organization needs is a tool that's quick and easy for even the least tech-savvy of our volunteers to learn to use.

    @PM Hut, I'm looking forward to reading your round-up. Will you let us know when it's online?

    @Angela, thanks for your suggestions of GanttProject and Project123.

    For those interested in checking out the GanttProject software, you can find it at http://ganttproject.biz/ or   http://ganttproject.sourceforge.net/: GanttProject is a Java application and runs on Windows, Linux, MacOSX and other operating systems supporting Java. It lets you plan projects using a Gantt chart, using a XML file format, and "can export the project in HTML Web pages or PDF document (using XSLT) or image files."

    Project123 is a web-based project management tool: http://project123.com/. There's a 30-day free trial, after which the basic 5-user package is priced at $150 USD per month or $1500 per year.  The site describes Project123 as "a step up from the collaboration tools (Basecamp, Wrike, ActionThis) and a step down from the mid-tier project management tools (Daptiv, eStudio, iToolsOnline, MS Project Server)."

    There's no certainly no shortage of online project managment tools...

    I haven't tried this one yet, but for small organizations with small budgets another option might be DeskAway. The free (ad-supported) version allows 5 users and 3 projects, but with only 25MB of storage you might want to plan on using an online data-storage service as well. Paid packages start at $10/month.

    More suggestions, anyone? 

  • Aditya Gholap said:

    Wednesday, 14 May 2008 at 9:35 AM

    Hey Rebecca,

    I've actually tried Deskaway. It has all the features i could possibly want and for a throwaway price! i can get features like tracking of projects, archiving, real time activity monitoring, file sharing, analytics, centralized communication, sharing of everything else that comes to mind and also search! So its pretty awesome in my opinion. A similar project management tool has been created by Zoho (http://www.zoho.com). Zoho has a cool 'work is fun' brand but i think in terms of functionality and an intuitive interface, Deskaway wins hands down. On price, both are simlar.

    Zoho in my opinion has a brilliant CRM tool which is again not too expensive...

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 14 May 2008 at 5:21 PM

    @Aditya, thanks for the firsthand report on Deskaway: it does look like it's worth a close look. And yes, Zoho Projects would certainly be a good fit for a number of organizations, particularly if they're already using other Zoho apps for other aspect of their work.

    More good information -- Michelle Murrain and Laura Quinn have an interesting article over at Idealware.org, with case studies of three nonprofits who have used online project management software (Basecamp, Central Desktop, and Trac) to manage real projects. (Very topical, too, as Aspiration and Idealware will be hosting a big Nonprofit Technology Project Management event May 20-21 in California.)

    Any other recommendations for web-based project management software?

  • Sahil said:

    Sunday, 18 May 2008 at 1:19 AM

    @Aditya - Thanks, and glad DeskAway is providing you value.

    @Rebecca - We give a 30% discount to non-profits. In fact, we just had a non-profit organization signup up a few days back on the Plus plan.

  • Sergei (co-founder of 5pm) said:

    Friday, 30 May 2008 at 5:07 AM

    @Rebecca: thank you for this coverage

    About the single-user plan: we may introduce it in the future if there is a lot of demand for it. One group of people who can benefit from it are freelancers, since they can add an unlimited number of clients into their 5pm accounts. So this is something we keep in mind.

    5pm is a fairly young service, a bit more than six months (counting from the official release), so there is a lot of potential here. We are constantly working on new features and trying new ideas. The main things we are working on right now:

    * General Report/Data Export/Print View - we are building a new report, with the ability to filter and display data in different ways, with possibility to export it into files and generate a print view. This feature alone will cover a lot of requests we got recently.

    * Timeline is going to grow and become more and more powerful. Right now we are nearly done with weekly/monthly view. The present Timeline is just the start.

    Besides that we are working on a lot of small improvements. We also plan to create on our website a section where our users can help translate 5pm into different languages.

    I appreciate the feedback we are getting. It helps us deciding what features to add next.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 04 June 2008 at 5:56 PM

    @Sahil, I appreciate your mentioning the DeskAway nonprofit discount - I'd missed that the first time round, but on second look did find that note at the foot of your pricing page. Thanks!

    @Sergei, your responsiveness to feedback in growing 5pm is a promising sign for the future of a useful and user-friendly service, I think - thank you for stopping by to let us in on the background story! I'll be sure to keep an eye on the QG Software blog to see how it all develops.

  • Arturas said:

    Wednesday, 09 July 2008 at 5:26 AM

    Nice coverage Rebecca, you might be interested to take a look at our online project management tool - http://www.comindwork.com. Non profit organizations can apply for free base accounts and other big discounts.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 09 July 2008 at 1:55 PM

    News of a discount for nonprofits is always good to hear - thanks for this, Arturas.

  • Celeste said:

    Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 4:03 PM

    the screenshot looks nice, which is a good thing since it will make users WANT to use it. However, it is difficult for this application to compete with all the other free online tools out there like basecamp and santexq.  

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 4:24 PM

    Santexq is new to me, Celeste, but it certainly does look promising. What would you say the learning curve is like for your application, compared to the other options? As you know, for many of us, ease of use is a key feature in any software.

  • Heidi said:

    Friday, 11 November 2011 at 2:13 AM
    Yes, Project management software is a tough and competitive field. For me and my team, we use TABB. http://www.tabb.ca/
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