ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 review: A vanilla project management application

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 is a visual project management tool that is available for Windows
and Mac. In this review, I outline what I think the tool gets right and where
it falls short, especially in comparison to its primary competitors Microsoft Project, Microsoft Visio, and Mindjet MindManager.

Installation

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 costs $219 (USD) and will work on Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8 and Mac OS X 10.7/OS X 10.8. You can download a trial version, which is
bundled as part of ConceptDraw Office. I downloaded a trial copy for this review.

The download process lacks the
snappiness that trials of Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Project, and MindManager
got down years ago. For example, the trial version is bundled as part of a
larger ConceptDraw PROJECT trial (a bundle of all their applications), making
for a slow 339 MB download (at least via my cable broadband). The install
routine is also slow, and the installation progress dialog box lacks the crispness
that you see in Microsoft Project, Visio, and similar applications.

The trial version includes an optional
video tutorial about the download process. I accidently clicked on it because
the download instructions suffer from a confusing page design. Why a company
includes a video tutorial for a download page in 2013 is beyond me.

Once the install completed, I was able
to launch ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 directly, which redeemed them a little after a
rather frustrating sign up, download, and installation experience.

Visual tools

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6’s major strength
is its visual tools. The application makes a strong first impression when it
opens into a blank Gantt chart. The application is well laid out, and the
features are very accessible. Figure A
shows a Microsoft Project Gantt chart (*mpx) that I was able to import into
ConceptDraw PROJECT 6.

Figure
A

ConceptDrawProjectFigA_101613.jpg

Gantt chart (See an enlarged view of this image.)

Even better news is that the Microsoft
Project import is clean and expedient. Your mileage may vary depending on the
complexity of your Gantt chart, so I recommend testing imports of such data
during your trial period by using a cross section of your typical Gantt charts.

When I compare the Gantt chart features
in Microsoft Project and ConceptDraw PROJECT 6, there is still a parity gap. A
prime example is that ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 just launched enhanced options for
selecting resource types. While the implementation of resource types is fluid
and clean, Microsoft Project has had resource types for the last couple of
versions. 

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 also includes a resource usage feature. If the indicator for a given day is blue, the resource is less than 100% utilized. A dark blue bar means the team member is at 100% utilization. A red bar means the team member is over 100%.

Custom views

Another area that ConceptDraw PROJECT 6
gets right is enabling users to make custom views for their projects, which
makes it easy to show a cross section of tasks in each report. You also have
the option to save custom views for later use; these custom views could come in
handy for setting up views for particular team member roles. Views are a great
way of democratizing project management information.

Project Dashboard

The Project Dashboard (Figure B) is another highlight because
its layout pulls together project information for easy reference.

Figure
B

ConceptDrawProjectFigC_101613.jpgConceptDrawProjectFigC_101613.jpg

An example of a Project Dashboard (See an enlarged view of this image.)

No cloud integration

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 is missing cloud
integration out of the box. Microsoft Project and Visio are SharePoint and
SkyDrive friendly. Even MindManager ties into the cloud through Mindjet’s
ProjectDirector platform. The cloud is standard for enterprises and especially
geographically dispersed teams.

Printing improvements as key features in 2013

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 offers improved
capability for printing Gantt charts on large format paper or printing multiple
projects to one document. A requirement to print Gantt Charts on large sheets
of paper takes me back some years to pre-cloud and laptop days. It’s not for me
to dispute the feedback a developer gets from their customers, though this is
quite a contrast from today’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps and
environments where team members interact with project schedules electronically.

Solutions and add-ins ecosystem

When I saw the Solutions Park tab in
ConceptDraw PROJECT 6, I thought it could be the key to a treasure trove of
templates, add-ins, and such. I found no such thing in my trial (maybe I just
didn’t know where to look). However, some further research came across
solutions for agile and neutral project management methodologies and templates
for typical project manager deliverables.

Conclusion

ConceptDraw PROJECT 6 has an attractive price point and user interface, but overall it’s features strike me as vanilla. The lack of
cloud support and just getting around to adding improved resources and printing
support makes the product feel like it’s still playing catch-up with the rest of the
market, which is focusing on team collaboration and more interactive scheduling
options.