Update (II 26.9.16): Project Planning for PhD Project – Part II
September 13, 2016
Recently I wrote about my search for a useful project-planning software to structure my PhD-Project into milestones, tasks, timeframes and so on …
My first choice to test was smartsheet (http://www.smartsheet.com: see post). I liked the usability very much and smartsheet offers a lot of very helpful tools to manage a “single project” too (as project tools often focus on collaborative work and managing business projects etc.).
BUT: The customer “service” or “support” was lousy :-/ … first of all answers awoke the impression to come out of a “answer-toolkit”, they ignored given information in further mails and most suggestions were mere links to the website – information I am really able to find myself without contacting a support/service …
Second problem: After the trial period I nevertheless decided I would like to buy respectively rent the software even being disappointed that the company was not able to connect my request that scientific work I want to do is non-profit with their own offers/criteria for non-profit-“organizations”. As I do not have a credit card and do not want to use Paypal I asked for an invoice or a bankaccount to transfer the fee. First I was assured I can get an invoice. Later they told me, for a single licence they can not invoice … without creditcard or PayPal I cannot use the software …
Resümee: Especially when “renting” a software and using software as a service I expect to receive a service that earns to be called service 😉 … so “smartsheet” felt out of my options.
Next step was to ask my university if there is a reduced or free version of Microsoft project but there isn’t. Right now I am in contact with “Wrike” (http://www.wrike.com) and not only do they have a very informative website with plenty information, forum, faq, tutorials etc., but also, even before having tested the software itself, I receive a perfect, prompt, friendly and individual support to fulfil my needs. I will update this post as soon as I have been able to work with the software itself.
UPDATE 18.09.2016: Writing the above post I shared it (and the first one on my project-planning) with Smartsheet. Some days later I received a mail from the management, telling me they wanted to look into the discussion of the mails to improve their service. And they offered me a free student version, even if my university does not seem to have a contract with them. Meanwhile I am already testing Wrike and it is a great software. By now I am not yet sure if it is not even “too good” 🙂 for my project, as it offers a huge resource of tools for teamwork and collaboration, which I probably will not really need. On the other hand, for an external PhD they may become great and helpful. What I miss up to now is a field that shows me in percentage the progress of project-milestones, tasks etc. – but I am still exploring the tool and will participate in a free workshop next week.
So at the moment both, Smartsheet and Wrike are still considered to accompany my planning during the next 2 up to 3 years. I will post on news 🙂 – and I would love to get to know your experiences on it!
After “playing” with both, Wrike and Smartsheets, I decided that for my Project I will go on working with smartsheet. Regarding the tool itself, both are great but smartsheet focusses on Sheets, similar to Excell, which are easily customizable and they meet my way of working better than Wrike that focusses on cardviews and has (at least in the Student Version) no customizable Sheet. And – that was the most important reason – it is (my Impression) really “too good”, respectvely too complex for working “just” on an individual Project. For Projects with Teams working collaborately I would really recommend it, it has great and very easy to use Features for working together.
From the very beginning of my “test-Trial” I loved to work with smartsheets but as I wrote above was disappointed about the Service. Here I have to make a correction: I send links to my two Posts to Smartsheet as a Feedback and very soon I got an answer from the Management who wanted to know more about what went wrong. They appologized and offered me a free Student Version (nevertheless the Fernuniversität does not have any contract with them) which includes everything I need to do a really good and structured projectplaning within the time I will need for such a project. Fazit: Everyone deserves a second chance and I thank smartsheed for the free version and will go on telling you about working with it.