Project Management Software Review: 5pm


My boyfriend’s company recently switched project management tools and my boyfriend was so happy with the new program, 5pm, that he told me all about it (yeah, we’re geeks).  I quickly became very curious about the seemingly great features and so I signed up for 5pm’s 14-day free trial.

What is 5pm?

It’s a web-based project management and time tracking software that allows team members to log information on how they’re progressing on tasks related to a given project.

How does it work?  How do you use it?

  • A project administrator creates a 5pm site for his or her team (for example workawesome.5pmweb.com).
  • The administrator may sign up anyone using just their email, which I found a bit invasive because the notification email isn’t a request for confirmation of account setup but rather simply tells the recipient that he or she has been signed up for the website and gives them their password.
  • The administrator may create different types of accounts: user, administrator, external user and client, and there may be multiple administrators, who may then assign tasks to users and choose to hide tasks from clients.
  • Users can download a desktop widget to easily track time (more about it below).
  • Users may also go on their team website to check on the progress of any project at any given time.

Navigation is really easy!  There’s one landing page and all navigation is done through there (see a screen shot below).  This page contains permanent tabs through which users can switch among projects, timeline, reports and profiles.  Clicking on a tab takes a user into that section of their site, where the user will find a list of drop-down menus that make for effortless navigation among tasks, member profiles, different types of reports and other functions.  Administrators can also create different groups and invite different team members to each group.  All it takes to switch between groups is a click on the drop-down menu at the top of the page.

Users may also upload files so that everything related to a project is right there for all members working on that project to see.

The desktop time tracking widget is one of my favorite features.  Users download this widget and it stays on top of all windows (with the option to hide it).  To track time, users select the project and the task related to that project from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the timer then click the play button to start tracking time.  One annoying thing about the timer is that it logs time in increments of 15 minutes but only when a user goes over a 15-minute chunk, otherwise the user has to manually enter the time.  For example, if a user worked for 25 minutes he or she will need to manually select a whole 30 minutes from the drop-down menu.

The main other features include links to iCal and google docs, an RSS feed, a free mobile app and even the ability to import information from Basecamp.

The Downside

The price isn’t very friendly.  Unless you can afford to pay $175/month for unlimited space and users, you’re likely to find yourself out of space, as 5pm offers a low space limit.  The least expensive account costs $18/month and allows up to 5 users to work on up to 10 projects for a total of 1GB of space, which I can’t see working for a designer who might want to upload files for client approval for example.  The largest allocation of space other than unlimited is 12 GB for $88/month.

Prioritizing tasks doesn’t work well at all. Although there is an option to select the priority of a task, a user can only see if a task is urgent by going into the task and not by looking at the list of tasks in their project.  This might be a big problem for users who have many projects on their plate, since prioritizing tasks is essential to completing them on time.

The timeline is not very useful.  Though there are options to view the calendar of tasks by day, week and month, all that switching among views does is stretch or shrink the view of the monthly calendar.

Who is 5pm for?

The pricing was a bit steep for me, so I think some individual freelancers would be inclined to feel the same.  However, teams (remote or local) with a decent budget that are collaborating on projects and freelancers with small budget and files who want to send information on project progress to their clients would find 5pm useful.

If you’d like more information about the software you may visit its website.  5pm was developed by Quatre Group, LLC, an American software company and they had no involvement in my writing this review.


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Freelance writer, translator and copyeditor currently living in Amsterdam. Former stressed-out marketing and public relations person in NYC. Likes languages but really doesn't like flowers. Contact through GreenRabbitTranslations.com.

Discussion

  1. paul on the 11th August

    I use TeamBox for project management, it has a free plan.
    And for time tracking I use Toggl and Rescue Time

  2. Rachel Baker on the 11th August

    Ana,
    I am curious what project management software your boyfriend’s workplace used before the switch.

  3. Jacob Saaby on the 11th August

    Ana, try http://www.projecturf.com. More reasonable pricing, and I’m guessing from the article, very useful :)

    • Ana da Silva on the 11th August

      Thanks Jacob!

    • Summer on the 24th April

      I agree, Jacob. After seeing your post, I opted for trial account with ProjectTurf and it is one gorgeous and extremely intuitive product! Super easy to understand and navigate like a pro within minutes. The only drawback (and there always seems to be a few with each platform), is their lack of integration with other programs, and no task dependency feature : (

  4. izzy on the 11th August

    5pm looks fairly decent (although flawed in the ways that Ana has mentioned), but to me the price is incredibly high, nearing on the laughable.

    I’ve been using Todoyu for the last couple of weeks and it can almost do everything, however the interface and working around it can be quite chuggy and time consuming. I overlook these downfalls however because it’s open source, which is great!

    Collabtive is another open source option that is quite good and is definitely worth checking out.

    Finally, ActiveCollab is another great option, however you’ll be looking at forking over a couple of hundred dollars for a license if my memory serves. But like the 2 open source ones mentioned above it is feature rich and you can download it and use it on your own server which is the way I like to work.

    • Ana da Silva on the 11th August

      I don’t know what’s up with the pricing. A big company might not have a problem with it but for the smaller offices it’s just too much.

      Thanks for letting us know about these other programs!

  5. Clinton Paquin on the 11th August

    Thanks for the review Ana. I’ve been looking at several packages and I agree with you on the price issue of 5pm. If you’re looking for a cheeper (yet still slick and professional) option – check out http://www.projecturf.com/

    • Ana da Silva on the 11th August

      Thanks Clinton! I’m checking out projecturf because there’s no way I can do 5pm as much as I’d like to :)

  6. Fred on the 11th August

    We use 5PM where I work and we have about 30 people working here. 5PM is liked by some and tolerated by most. All of its features are great but where it really fails is in its users, not really a fault of the application. It can get very messy when so many people are applying their own organizational structure and you en up working with many of them. Confusion can overwhelm you with. Other than that it is a great system but perhaps would be stronger if there were pre-designed organizational templates that could be used.

  7. Tony on the 12th August

    You should check out Peerdrum. Uses a similar time tracker, but can also upload screenshots every ten minutes. The new video ad is pretty funny too:
    http://vimeo.com/14081718

  8. John on the 13th August

    I’ve heard of a lot of people switching out of Basecamp. It’s a great program for getting you off the ground and handling a simple workload, but many companies soon outgrow it. I’m not surprised they switched to 5pm at all. Another Basecamp alternative worth checking is Intervals.

    • Ana da Silva on the 16th August

      My boyfriend told me that one of the main downsides of Basecamp for his company is the difficulty in running reports so I’d agree with you, as companies and projects get bigger they need something easier to use and with more functionality.

      I’ll check out Intervals.

      Thanks!

  9. dave on the 14th August

    http://www.truetimetracker.com – is also good time tracking software!

  10. PM Hut on the 15th August

    @izzy,

    I’ve tried collabtive myself and I think it’s still unusable as a decent project management tool in its current incarnation. You get the feeling that you are working with an unfinished product…

  11. Dina on the 22nd August

    Thanks for this writeup about 5pm, interesting to find out more about them. I noticed that you said about not being able to prioritize tasks, and this is a critical feature for me and I could not get by day to day without it. I wonder if this makes for more confusion and frustration if team members have to take a few extra steps to make sure they are clear on their priorities.

    In my office, we have lots and lots of moving parts, projects changing priority all of the time. Thankfully I use LiquidPlanner (http://www.liquidplanner.com) to help manage my teams priorities. I just drag & drop the task up or down the list and it is immediately reflected in my team members task list. And the great thing about it is when a task is brought to the top of the list, the expected completion date of the other tasks below are automatically recalculated. So, if an exec comes up to you and says project A is suddenly super-top priority, then you will be able to show him/her how all of the other tasks are effected.

    I recommend checking out LiquidPlanner, might also be a good solution.

  12. Greg on the 27th August

    Ana, nice coverage of 5pm.

    It seams you just started to use it and missed some features, which is normal. So I’ll correct some of the things you mentioned:

    * The desktop widget can track time down to 1 minute increments (15 is simply the default) – just change it in Setting on your 5pm screen (in “more options”) – main interface and the widget share those settings.

    * The point about the price: web designers don’t really need the highest $175 plan and the majority start at $18. Clients are free users (you can have an unlimited number of them). For more disk space I recommend storing files on dedicated file sharing systems like Dropbox or Google Docs (5pm can import links from Google Docs). Though we offer customized plans (you can get more disk space, but keeping less users, for example), for very large files it’s cheaper to use special file sharing systems (with version control, etc). Also we increase the storage once in a while (we upgraded the plans two-three times in the past).

    * Prioritizing tasks is very easy. You do not have to open the tasks – you can simply add the Priority column to the main view. In fact you can totally customize your view. I recommend watching this video:
    http://www.5pmweb.com/videos/Customizing_the_Interface/Customizing_the_Interface.htm

    Also, you can change the tasks order by drag-and-drop, placing the important ones on the top as an extra option (and even “start” them).

    * Not sure what you mean by the Timeline comment – the monthly/weekly/daily view have the columns act as months/weeks/days respectively. So the tasks expand/shrink depending on it. There is still room for improvement there – we plan to add more features to our Timeline. Its main value is that you can drag the things around, to re-schedule the tasks or whole projects in seconds.

    Once again, our most popular plans are $28 and $18 per month. And custom plans are available – feel free to email us.

    I hope these tips will help – feel free to update the article with them.

    Once again – great coverage!

    -Greg
    http://www.5pmweb.com

    • Ana da Silva on the 25th November

      Hi Greg!

      I did just the 14-day trial so thanks for pointing out these features! Great work on 5pm.

      Ana

  13. Alex B on the 29th August

    We’re happy with our current tool (Wrike), but I’m always curious to evaluate some new apps. I checked out 5pm a couple of months ago. The functionality turned out to be similar to Wrike’s in many ways, but here’s what it lacked: no way to email a task directly to a folder; can’t set task recurrence; doesn’t support data import from Excel. These are important features for us and we use them a lot in Wrike. By and large 5pm looked quite good, but I still like Wrike better.

  14. Tony Mobily on the 30th September

    Hi Ana,

    I don’t suppose you’ve had a chance to look at Apollo? http://www.apollohq.com
    Apollo is project and contact management together, integrated.
    I am going to email you an invite code (if I can find your email address somewhere in this web site!)

    Thanks a lot 😀

    Merc.

  15. Jessica on the 20th October

    I switched from 5pm to Dooster. I highly recommend it. You can check it out here:
    http://www.dooster.net

  16. David on the 2nd December

    Hi guys,

    Nice discussion about 5pm (I didn’t know it).
    I would add to the list a new player : ProjeLead. It s a web based open source project management with some interesting features : reporting, timesheets, discussion forums, etc…

    http://www.projelead.com
    Enjoy!

  17. Lulu on the 3rd May

    Interesting reading about 5pm. I’ve heard very good things about it but only learnt about these project management tools when our boss got http://www.dooster.net in February. I really wasn’t enthusiastic about learning a new package but we were missing emails and messages and this was impacting on meetings and clients and the atmosphere in the office had become tense and frantic and there was finger pointing. Awful. Anyway. Since we started using Dooster.net things have settled back to the way they were before which is basically quite good fun a lot of the times except that we have been getting the clients and the business has been expanding. I enjoy using Dooster.net too. Just wanted to add to the discussion.

  18. Jack on the 11th August

    I work in a small size company. The Partners wanted to get Basecamp because the larger organisations like it and we were given the opportunity to comment on a few softwares including Zoho, 5pm, Basecamp, RTM and some others. I couldn’t tell the difference but the owners chose Dooster and are still pleased. It does seem to make a difference.

    • Summer on the 24th April

      Hi Jack! Basecamp has never quite been able to hook me. I don’t get why large corps love it. Yes, it’s easy – but it seems to lack the ability to capture details. I believe the details often make the difference between a solid, well developed strategy and a run-of-the-mill one. What do you think is vital to capture with a PM tool?

  19. Steven Levey on the 24th January

    I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet visitors, its really really good piece of writing on building up new weblog.

    • Summer on the 24th April

      I totally agree, Steven! This is quite possibly one of the very best product reviews I’ve come across. I love that it is a sincere, customer-experience review; rather than a review that reads like a paid endorsement.

  20. StephKrom on the 29th January

    Thanks for this review,
    Currently we are using VIP Task Manager in our office http://www.taskmanagementsoft.com/ – it is not web-based, but it has quite effective project functionality – scheduler, task planning and tracking, cost management, etc. But it doesn’t have time tracking tool (timer) to keep track of time spent on tasks. We are looking for some project management tools that are on-line – for our projects that will engage a big number of freelancers.

  21. jamie on the 21st February

    We use Dooster. It’s pretty good. I don’t think it could be expensive. They’re very cost conscious here.

  22. Summer on the 24th April

    Has anyone tried Microsoft Office 365? Please share your experience with me. This is one product I haven’t played around with much.

  23. Mary on the 21st August

    well, but what for to create a web-site? I think it is too long and there are other tools which don’t require any sites at all and which are cheaper at least. I use Comindware task manager. It is free and easy to use. Why should I pay more for the quality?

  24. Himali on the 22nd April

    Another great tool you can also take a look at is Brightpod, a project management app specifically for marketing teams. It takes the entire campaign planning & collaboration online so you don’t miss anything.

  25. Ben on the 23rd July

    I recommend Kanban Tool http://kanbantool.com. This is an online project management and time tracking software with support for real-time collaboration. Works great with Dropbox.

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