Why Does Product Management Software Suck?

I’ve been on the great quest the last few days to find a product management solution. I should really say a contractor management solution. I have no need for clients to be able to see this. I just need to keep the contractors working on my projects organized and flowing well. Sounds easy enough…

And then I started touring the hell that is project management software land. Some of these things could probably control rocket launches. I mean, seriously, maybe with a degree in computer science and a gift for being psychic I could actually figure most of these things out. And my god are some of the expensive. I could deal with the cost, but I need one I can actually work – and that my contractors will actually be able to figure out.

All I want is a project management software that can…

1. Allow me to task individuals with their duties for a project
2. Allow my contractors to see what needs to be done by them and check it off when it is done
3. Allow my contractors to track their time so I now how much to pay them at the end of a project
4. Allow me to run multiple projects
5. Be easily customized
6. Be worked by even a middle school student

And then I found it. Recommended by a friend, there it was in all its shining glory.

Basecamp.

So, we’ll hit down the list of requirements…

1. I can task people, task myself, set milestones, create training documents – easily and without hassle
2. Anyone assigned to a project can see what needs to be done and who needs to do it.
3. Allow people in my company to track their time on projects – and will even do it at the 15 minute level (most others stick to straight hours)
4. Depending on the plan, you can run 1 to an unlimited number of projects at a time
5. Customization was pretty damn easy. No HTML required – just grab the hex codes of your color scheme, upload your logo and you’re good to go
6. A middle schooler could not only use this, but they’d probably kick my ass on the speed at which they learned to use it

So, you’re saying, great Rae, why the hell do you sound like you’re going to bitch?

It lacks in a few areas. I know no software can be perfect for everyone, but there were a few features lacking that I felt really dampened the program…

1. Only people within your company can track their time. So, if you are using a designer or anyone else from an outside firm and list them as a seperate company, they can’t track time. You’d have to make them listed under your own company for that feature.
2. Anyone assigned to a project can see not only *their* tasks, but everyone elses as well. For me, this leads to a privacy issue. Maybe John Doe doesn’t want people to know his business isn’t going well and he is freelancing to pick up the slack. Maybe I assigned 3/4 of the content work to Charles and Mary realizes she didn’t get the bulk of the work and gets pissy. Anyone who uses various contractors knows why this could be a bad thing.
3. The dashboard shows you a listing of tasks and happenings – but it shows them all. Would be better if they only showed what was new so you could see added things at a glance without having to study it.

Of course, I went to their forums to express my concern – especially on the privacy issue. Seems the developers feel that openess is a good thing and they will never change the privacy features. I understand that not every product can be perfect for every person. But, this is a fundamental feature – and if users are willing to even pay extra for it, why wouldn’t you provide it? The makers of basecamp hide behind the “because the more features, the more bloated and we don’t want to turn into everyone else” motto. And I can understand that, but at the same time, privacy is a fundamental feature.

While I’d like to tell basecamp to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine, it still is the better of the products out there for those looking for *simple* project management who don’t have a need for 8000 features. So, I guess I’ll have to figure out some workarounds (aka take some of the organization and streamlining I was looking for away), unless of course someone has other recommendations. Sigh.

About Rae Hoffman

Rae Hoffman aka "Sugarrae" is an affiliate marketing veteran and the CEO of PushFire, a search marketing agency specializing in SEO audits and link building strategies. She is also the author of the often controversial Sugarrae blog. You can connect with Rae via Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Sugarrae runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

If you’re someone who doesn’t understand a lot of PHP, Genesis will give a ton of functionality that you wouldn’t be able to obtain otherwise with a simple control panel instead of having to alter code. For the advanced, Genesis has incredible customization possibilities via Genesis hooks.

The theme is not only highly customizable, but it has allowed me to run Sugarrae more professionally, with a much more targeted focus on monetization than it ever has been able to achieve before.

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