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Ultranet - UltraSynergy, LLC Print

These days, the geographically challenged company is pretty much the rule and not the exception.
Your personnel are no longer just down the hall, but they're in the next town, county, or country.
What's more, they're using various devices to perform their equally disparate tasks.

Get Together for the "Ultra-mate" Sharing of Information and Simplified Project Management.

Web site: http://www.ultrasynergy.com

System Specs:

  • Pentium based PC or better
  • 64 MB RAM, more recommended
  • Any operating system
  • Windows or Unix server
  • Internet connection
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 or later or Netscape Navigator 4 or later; later versions are recommended

Alternatively try

  • Standpipe Studios, LLC Vertabase Pro
  • Welcom WelcomHome
  • Program Management Group Hydra3 Webdrive
  • SiteScape, Inc. SiteScape Enterprise Forum 6.0
  • Projectplace International AB ProjectPlace.com
  • Inovie Software TeamCenter 3.0
  • Primavera Systems TeamPlay
  • Novient Inc. WebProject

{mosadsense4joomla ad_layout="A"ad_align=""}You know you need to find a method to better coordinate everyone's activities, share information and knowledge, and improve overall operations.
Standalone PM software does the job well and there are many packages to choose from.

Recently, though, there has been a surge in the appearance of web-based products. Many software companies and consulting firms have recognised the need for Internet-based applications to assist organisations with coordinating their staff, automating their workflow, and gaining a greater web presence.

One such company is Synergy, LLC. The Danville, California-based company is a division of the Fishman Consulting Group, LLC (FCG). Synergy was founded in 2000, and according to co-founder Michael Fishman, was "established to address the growing concern of Internet businesses and their ability to successfully gain a web presence."

With that goal in mind, Synergy went on to develop one of the latest entrants in the web-based project management product arena. Their product, Ultranet, was designed for companies that want to simplify their project management, provide easy-to-access information for departments, and still be easy to administer and use.

Ultranet is a web-based system that is deployed as an Application Service Provider (ASP) model or implemented as a company intranet. It combines project management with time/resource management, corporate communications, and technical support. Since it is web-based, users can have access to the system from anywhere in the world. All need they is a computer with an Internet connection. Ultranet also syncs with a Palm OS device, so access to important project information couldn't be easier.

Ultranet is comprised of customisable company and departmental home pages and a series of modules. These include a Calendar and Scheduling module (UltraCalendar), a Time Reporting module (UltraTime), a Documents module (UltraDocs), a Project Management module (UltraManage), a Support or Help Desk module (UltraSupport), and a Maintenance or System Administration module. UltraSynergy currently has two additional modules in development for training and integration with an Oracle ERP system.

Because it is a web-based product, Ultranet doesn't require a long list of hardware and software. In fact, there are few technical requirements other than a computer with a web browser and either a Windows or Unix server. The popular IE 4 and Netscape 4 browsers are sufficient, but the newer versions perform even better with this application. We were able to easily navigate Ultranet using IE 6 on a Pentium system using 224MB RAM when taking our test drive.

Your customisable company home page (Figure 1) will contain your individual company's logo. There are several interesting and unique features to the home page that we found really added a pleasant degree of personalisation. Under News and Tips, you'll find a scrolling selection of company news, tips, and information. On the right hand side of the screen, you'll be able to receive numerous occasions notifications that include Out of Office notices, birthdays, and anniversaries. A customisable stock ticker is also included.

Additional features of the main home page are the links to each department's customised home page, listings of newly posted departmental documents, and links to the remainder of Ultranet. Appointments, tasks, reminders, and messages for the current session can be viewed quickly and easily by clicking on any section.

Figure 1

 Image

As is the case with the company home page, the department home pages of Ultranet are also customisable. Each group can make its page relevant to its particular role within the company. The Profiles, Departments, and Users boxes as seen in Figure 2 allow you to decide who has access to published documents. Users can publish any document simply entering its title and location and allow for specific viewing restrictions.

Figure 2

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Ultranet's fully functioning Calendar and Scheduling module was easy to get to grips with. Every user has a calendar that also includes an out of office manager, reminders, a message manager, tasks, and a contact manager. Personal reminders and tasks were easy to keep track of, and schedules could be viewed by day, week, or month (Figure 3).

Figure 3

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We found this module to be exceptionally useful in its calendar management and scheduling capabilities. You can easily schedule meetings by either checking on participants' availability or by sending out a meeting notification. Further email integration makes sure those who need to be informed are. Participants can then either accept or reject the proposed time.

Ultranet's Best Time feature (Figure 4) was a welcome inclusion. Best Time will check everyone's accepted meetings to find the first available time for a particular meeting. Messages will then appear at the top of the screen to indicate the results. Coordinating meetings and their participants couldn't be made any less painless.

Figure 4

 Image

Ultranet's integrated Project Management module allows you to set up, manage, and complete your projects. Businesses can keep their project plans and all of their associated documents in a single place. A project can be set up to include its purpose, goals, schedule, and team members. Resources can be assigned to specific activities and their progress managed.

The My Stuff function (Figure 5) in Ultranet supports all standard PM methodologies. It shows all of your information, from your current projects and activities to your open issues and documents you have posted.

Figure 5

 Image

The Gantt chart feature (Figure 6) of Ultranet allows you to create, revise, or import a project Gantt chart. Templates are provided should you want to create a standard or near-standard project timeline. Alternatively, you can import a project plan directly from Microsoft Project or create one straight from scratch.

Figure 6

 Image

Ultranet's Document module allows you to provide company-wide document postings so that everyone within your organisation has access to the information they need. Authorised document access is based on user profiles, and departments can establish viewing control and set restrictions on just who can view specific documents.

The Ultranet Timesheet Reporting module (Figure 7) allows you to enter, track, and approve your project-related time and expenses for every team member. You can enter daily time and expenses on a project, right down to the activity-level. A handy timesheet template is available so that information won't have to be repeatedly re-entered. If any problems are encountered, an automatic email notification sends a message that a fix is required. Previous timesheets and expense records can also be easily retrieved.

Figure 7

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Ultranet's Maintenance or System Administration module (Figure 8) allows administrators total control of the application through the web interface. The FAQ feature is especially useful. This question and answer repository is accessible to all Ultranet users. The questions and answers are developed by your company's administrator, so anything you need to know about the system is directly at your fingertips.

With this module, administrators can add, edit, and remove authorised users. User profiles are set up here, and levels of security for those users can be established. Other functions include the ability to add customer information to the Project Management module, editing company news and information for the home page, managing links to other web sites, and managing the company's assets via the Asset Manager feature of the system.

A new aspect of this Ultranet moldule is the asset management section. This functionality enables you to inventory and track company assets throughout your organisation, even at different physical locations.

There are also several reference areas within UltraNet's System Admin module. The reference areas store information that is used in other sections of the application. Conference Rooms & Customers are two of these reference areas. The Conference Rooms maintenance is related to the rooms found in the Calendar section when you are scheduling meetings. The Customers maintenance is related to the projects that are initiated for your customers. There are also reference areas for departments and the scrolling New section of the home page.

Figure 8

 Image

If you need help with Ultranet, the Support or Help Desk module supports the entry and management of trouble tickets. You can make support requests and then track their status. The process of handling a problem is tracked via a threaded discussion between you and the technical support person assigned to you. Resolution progress is also provided by feedback email.

Ultranet is available for any size company, from those with single numbers of users to the largest enterprises. Pricing of this application is based on the number of users, as is an annual support contract. Companies of 1-10 users can take Ultranet on board for a set-up cost of $7,500 with yearly support costing an additional $2,000. The largest organisations will be looking at implementation costs of $50,000 for 1000 users or more with the annual support charge of $100,000. The set-up cost is a one-time only expense and includes customisation and deployment of the basic hub and modules plus user and technical support. Your user and technical support includes system administrator training and user training documentation. Additional user training is also available.

Ultranet has proved to be a comprehensive web-based application. We found it to be a very well-organised and developed package. If your company has team members scattered throughout every corner of the globe, Ultranet is a quality product well worth your "ultra-mate" consideration.

Ultranet
receives a PROJECTmagazine rating of
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5 bananas

2002 © Lee and James Appleyard

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