Cloud computing is evolving into a viable platform for businesses of all sizes. Even the world of project management benefits from cloud applications. Storing data in the cloud for ease of access by the project team is a handy option to have. Online project management software is making the applications that work with this data even more accessible.
Two cloud-based applications, Zoho Projects by Zoho and Basecamp by 37signals are the top choices by many project managers. Both products have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of which to use is as much about the style of project management more than anything else.
What You See is What You Get
The Basecamp interface is simple and clean, whereas Zoho Projects has many user interface customizations available. This is as much about company philosophy than anything else. 37signals believes its customers want the development effort put into the project management tools while Zoho believes its customers want flexibility. Both companies are probably right.
We Go Round and Round in the Project Life Cycle
Zoho Projects includes many more features than Basecamp to track development efforts for IT projects. They even have bug tracking and issue resolution applications. Basecamp is open to all types of projects, not just IT and software development, and chooses to not include functionalities that may only be useful in a specific type of project.
Getting to Your Data
37signals believes that less is more. Basecamp does not come with a hundred varieties of project management reports. You can get to your data and create your own reports from it. Zoho Projects gives the option to create many of the typically used reports, including a standard Gantt layout, which Basecamp does not. File sharing is easy to set up in both products to allow different members of the team to work with different sets of data.
Getting Your Message Out
Basecamp has good project and milestone tracking and it’s easy to update the people who need to know where the project is on the schedule. Both Basecamp and Zoho Project have email integration and good document management support.
Who Did What When and Where and How Much Did It Cost?
Time management is best done outside of either product, although Zoho Project includes time tracking functionality. This all falls under the category of budget management and these tools do not yet compete with other larger products that include full project accounting capabilities.
Project Management in the Cloud
Both Basecamp and Zoho Projects are capable products. They differ in their philosophy on what the project manager wants their tools to do for them. Basecamp focuses on a solid set of applications and functionalities that every project manager will use. Zoho Projects delivers a lot of functionality that may or may not be useful based on the type of project.
The good news is that both products may be test-driven for free. The best way to evaluate which is best for you is to pick a small project, roll up your shirt-sleeves and try them both out.