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ProjectDash - iDashes, Inc. Print
You never saw it coming…
Everything's gone terribly wrong. Your client's not happy and there are delays, overruns, and lots and lots of grumbling.

Didn't See it Coming?

Make a Mad Dash Through Your Project Monitoring

Web site: http://www.idashes.net/

System Specs:

For hosted service:

  • Internet connection
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher

Additional requirements for licensed installation:

  • Dedicated server: minimum 700MHz
  • 10GB hard disk space
  • 512MB RAM
  • Windows 2000 with Server Pack 2
  • Microsoft IIS 5
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000

Alternatively try

  • Rational ProjectConsole
  • ITeamwork.com iTeamwork
  • YellowZone, Inc. YZProject Manager

You meet with your project team and find out that no one seemed to know the status of the project until it was too late. The status reports are inconsistent, and when team members are asked to produce meeting minutes and status reports, all involved have files thicker than a California redwood. Everyone's dashing about because they can't find the project data they need right away.

Sound familiar?
If your project milestones, deliverables, and resources spell trouble, it's high time you started making things right. If online monitoring of these critical metrics is crucial for your organisation, you might want to stop dashing about with a solution appropriately named ProjectDash.

ProjectDash is an Internet-based service developed by iDashes, Inc. for capturing project status and communicating project performance. Established in 2000, the Rochester, New York-area company specialises in innovative and easy-to-use online performance management solutions.

According to iDashes VP of Business Development Dan Harper, ProjectDash was created to fill a specific need within project management. "ProjectDash is intended to help executives, stakeholders, managers, customers, and corporate teams stay informed on projects and provide them with early warning signals of problems. Everyone involved with a project is kept up to speed in real time, avoiding any unexpected surprises. Companies are able to meet objective, customer-defined expectations, and projects are delivered on time, within budget, and to much happier customers."

ProjectDash is an online service in the guise of an ASP; therefore, it's securely hosted through iDashes. We decided to take advantage of both a comprehensive demo and a series of four reviews accounts set up by iDashes in order to get to know the product.

ProjectDash is offered as a series of graphical dashboards that are used to convert numerous manual project processes and paper-based reporting systems. Upon entry into the service, users are met with the ProjectDash login page (Figure 1).

Figure 1

project management status reports 

You're first taken to the Master Project Dashboard (Figure 2). This digital dashboard gives you an at-a-glance view of all the projects going on within your organisation and their individual statuses.

Figure 2

project management status report 

Each project is represented by a colour-coded triangle that is subdivided into three major metrics tracked by ProjectDash: Deliverables, Resources, and Milestones (Figure 3). Green is used to denote favourable project status, while red indicates obvious trouble. Yellow tells that project status is falling somewhere in between.

Figure 3

project management status reports 

The text seen below each triangle is the project's status and comments as entered by the project manager. We found that throughout the entire system, input of data was easy and straightforward.

Clicking on any of those three elements will then take you to the Primary dashboard for that particular element (Figures 4 and 5). So, for example, if you click on the Milestones of the project, you will then be able to view risks, significant issues, and action items associated with the project. These are indicated in the form of clickable charts and graphs.

Figure 4

project management status reports 

Graphical drill-downs into milestones, deliverables, and resources also allow you to quickly assess variance versus plan, and all project updates are made in a matter of minutes.

Milestones are shown graphically with key project phases located on the Y-axis and dates and times on the X-axis. By clicking on the element, you can obtain the dates and days between major milestones. You can drill down on all of the elements to go another level further into minor categories, review the previous forecast made for the project, or input a new forecast.

Figure 5

project management status reports 

All of the graphs in ProjectDash are automatically generated. If you need to communicate project status by other means, the graphs can be printed or put into presentations.

What's beneficial about ProjectDash is its ability to constantly update the milestone forecast throughout a project's life. If milestone dates change, the Primary dashboard shows the change. As an added bonus, emails are sent to members of the project's distribution list on very same day.

ProjectDash also allows its milestone upload capabilities to integrate directly with MS Project and other third party project management tools.

ProjectDash is not about creating detailed project plans that list task dependencies and resource limitations. It was never intended to be the be all and end all of project management, and doesn't claim to be. There are other tools that offer those bells and whistles.

What it is about is ease of use and allowing communications between all those involved in a project. We found ProjectDash to be very easy to use and well organized. With its web-based interface, it was simple to work through projects and the updates to key milestone dates and resource sections were fast, only taking about 10 to 15 minutes overall.

ProjectDash is well suited to those companies who are seeking ease of use and clean, clear-cut project status reporting. It will work very well for smaller organisations that don't require complex, enterprise level tools but spent large amounts of time compiling, preparing, and presenting project status reports.

Since ProjectDash is an online service, all you need is MS IE 5 or better and an Internet connection. It's available as an annual subscription with up to one megabtye of storage. One account will allow up to 100 named users to access the system.

ProjectDash is priced at US$400 per project. A project six-pack is available at a cost of $1,440, reducing the price per project to $240. If you make the six-pack purchase and find you still need more, additional projects are available at $200 each.

If you have many users who need to access ProjectDash, 100 additional users can be obtained at a cost of $240 per project. An extra 1MB of storage will add up to $40 per project. iDashes provide volume pricing that reduces project costs to $165-185 per project.

iDashes also offer a ProjectDash license for installation within your own environment. It's sold on a per server basis and has no predefined user, storage, or project limitations. You'll need to be running Windows 2000 with Service Pack 2, a dedicated server with a minimum processor of 700MHz, IIS 5, and the SQL Server 2000. The single server pricing is US$30,000 per server with annual maintenance and service upgrades listed at $6,000 per year.

If you find yourself clocking up the manhours in project updating, meetings, and project status presentations, ProjectDash is one solution to meet your serious consideration. It's a godsend to those project managers and teams who are buried up to their eyeballs in workloads and don't have the time to continuously assess if they're still on track.

Are you asking yourself: did my project meet its objectives? Was its cost and timeline in line with customer and senior management expectations? If these questions are doing your head in, you should make a mad dash for iDashes ProjectDash.


iDashes ProjectDash
receives a PROJECTmagazine rating of

project management status reports5 bananas

2002 © Lee and James Appleyard

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