Manage IT projects and your SMB using Viewpath

A Small to Medium Business (SMB) is best served by taking their project management to the cloud. Viewpath,
a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based project management platform,
should enter the list of potential choices because it offers familiar
tools, accessibility, powerful reporting options, and can even serve as a
bridge into agile development.

Viewpath is available in three editions: Starter (Free), Team, and Professional (pricing information).
The good folks at Viewpath set me up with a trial of the Professional
Edition for the purposes of this review. I also had the opportunity to
speak with the company’s CEO, Dean Carlson, on two occasions to learn
more about the product.

Inside Viewpath

When you first open Viewpath, it gives you the option to follow an
interactive tutorial. The tutorial can be valuable if your plan is to
extend Viewpath to users outside traditional project management roles.
The tutorial was hard to read on a laptop, so you might want to increase
the tutorial’s font size (or at least put in that option).

The project timeline/Gantt chart in Viewpath (Figure A) shows
it got a lot of attention from the developers. Creating  and inserting
tasks into the Gantt chart is very fluid and easy to follow. Viewpath
also works well with constraints. The Drag-and-Drop scheduling available
in the Gantt chart should help bridge the gap for the novice or
occasional project management tools users.

Figure A

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An example of the Gantt chart in Viewpath. (See an enlarged view of the image.)

I really like the fact you can have multiple projects open at once in
Viewpath’s tabbed interface. When you add a new project, you have the
option to create a brand new project or create a project from an
existing project.

Importing Microsoft Project files is handled under the Projects tab. 
A test import of a large Microsoft Project (*.mpp) file was quick and
clean. I also give the import extra points because I was able to update
the year from 2007 to 2013 with a few clicks.

Reports and allocation

In the Reports tab, Viewpath users have many reports at their
disposal (reports democratize project management information, in my
opinion). You can run reports based on a number of scheduling factors,
including: Assignee, Start and Finish date and times, Complete,
Milestones, Backlog.

You have the option to save reports you frequently use or choose a canned report. Figure B shows a report of Overdue tasks across all the projects I created in Viewpath.

Figure B

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Viewpath Reports tab (See an enlarged view of the image.)

While the Reports UI is very clean and visually pleasing, it will be
interesting to look at Viewpath after a few more releases to see if they
can reduce the number of clicks it takes to access saved reports.

Lean project teams are the nature of the beast in many companies
these days, but people have their limits. Getting a view into personnel
allocation can be critically important to a SMB.  The Allocations tab
provides a clear view into how your employees are scheduled on projects.
Figure C shows an example of how over allocation appears in Viewpath.

Figure C

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Over allocation in Viewpath. (See an enlarged view of the image.)

Projects tab

The Projects tab (Figure D) is probably one of the most useful
views in Viewpath. In fact, I wonder why the Viewpath developers didn’t
make it the opening page of the application instead of the current
welcome page.

Figure D

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Projects tab in Viewpath. (See an enlarged view of the image.)

From the Projects tab, you can view the status of the project, a timeline, or Burn Down of the projects you have underway.

Timesheet

By tracking employee hours and billing effectively, an SMB gains two
more tools to prosper. The Viewpath Timesheet should be of interest to
any SMB that needs a better tool for tracking employee billable hours.
You need to be realistic and judicious about inputting project hours
into your schedules to get the most out of this feature.

Collaboration

Document storage and discussion threads are only available in Viewpath Team Edition. These features aren’t part of this review.

While you can share tasks in the Viewpath Professional Edition, you
must be using the Viewpath Team Edition if you want collaboration
features. I’m sure there is a reason behind this product feature
version alignment, but it potentially puts Viewpath at a disadvantage
against LiquidPlanner, Wrike, and Teambox, all of which support team
collaboration across all their product versions.

Agile tools

Viewpath supports Sprints, enabling your team to focus on development
tasks for a set time period (two weeks). Then you can use the Burn Down
chart to track actual work vs. planned work.

Viewpath is one of my top choices for an SMB or project team that
want to make the move to agile development because its toolset brings
the depth in features that can certainly aid in such a transition
without feeling like you have to scrap your toolset.

Final thoughts

The only major omission I see in Viewpath is the lack of a mobile
app. There are also some user interface areas to be tweaked, but it’s
nothing a few more iterations of the application can’t cure.

If your SMB is seeking a SaaS-based project management solution, I
recommend taking Viewpath out for a trial, especially if you want a
familiar set of tools and a move to agile development is in your future.