By Mike Riley on Mon, 02/07/2011
Given the broad number of Office-related productivity applications available on the iPad, especially those focused on time management, it's about time that a professional-grade project management application has been released. Developed by FourthFrame Technologies, SG Project Pro has delivered an application that will make iPad-owning project managers very happy.
FourthFrame benefited from earlier releases of project management sub-set applications like SG Action Log and SG Risk Log by building on them while incorporating customer feedback. This helped elevate the number of features and the polished, colorful presentation of data that SG Project Pro encapsulates.
The Portfolio Home view brilliantly displays the list of Projects, Owners and a snapshot of start/end dates, % done, tasks, action items, risks, costs and a reduced Gantt chart of view of the schedule. Each of these summaries can be selected to drill down on more detail as it relates to the project, as well as the ability to add/modify/delete data. Even for someone who is unfamiliar with project management software, the interface is easy enough to get productive with in minutes. Conversely, project management experts will rejoice upon learning that their iPad can now host a serious Microsoft Project XML file-compatible project management application. While SG Project Pro is not a full MS Project replacement (there are no calendar views, for example), its feature set contains enough of the essential elements to make it a must-have application for iPad-toting project managers. These views can also be accessed via a drop down menu in the upper left corner of the screen, containing menu items for Portfolio Home, Task Planning, Action Items, Project Risks, Project Report, Owner Report, Portfolio Report and an About screen. Each screen is laid out in a very readable and easy to select/navigate manner.
Another feature that will please project managers is SG Project Pro's variety of report view options. Headers, overdue and upcoming items, tasks, action items and risks can be activated or deactivated for report generation. Activities can be sorted by date or project. Reports are displayed on screen, looking as good as those created by popular report generators like Crystal Reports. They can also be shared via PDF email attachment or Microsoft Project XML file-compliant data. Airprint doesn't appear to be supported yet (same goes for Dropbox or other cloud-based file repositories), but it's easy enough to shuttle the PDF to an email box for later output and file transport. And SG Project Pro's developer says that Dropbox support is high on the list, so look for this to be incorporated into the application in the months ahead.
One of the really slick features of SG Project Pro that caught me pleasantly by surprise was its print preview pop-up window. Why more iPad programs don't feature such a powerful function is beyond me, since it adds tremendous value and an extra level of over-and-above polish that will set this application above other project management iPad solutions for some time to come.
The only (and very minor) criticisms I have against the product is that it uses a non-standard look for its windows, menu icons and overall layout. I'm not sure how these variants slipped past the Apple UI police, but it took me aback, since I was expecting a more iWork app-style interface. Yet even without the 'standard look' that most other iPad productivity applications display, the interface is intuitive enough to navigate, select and change data with. And whether or not the unique UI has anything to do with it, scrolling through data does lag at times. Again, this is not a showstopper, but its behavior does take some acceptance and readjusting to get used to the lack of silky smooth movement found in other iPad productivity programs. I suspect that as SG Project Pro is elevated to the defacto project management solution on the iPad, FourthFrame will target this for improvement in future iterations.
FourthFrame advertises that "SG Project Pro is comprehensive, real Project Management on the iPad." I couldn't agree more. For anyone who is a fan of Microsoft Project, this is the best Microsoft Project-compatible project management software available for the iPad to date. And considering the cost of Microsoft Project versus the price of this application, SG Project Pro is also a steal.
Title: SG Project Pro
Developer: FourthFrame Technologies
Rating: 4/5 stars