Omniplan vs Merlin vs Project 2010 project management software
I was looking for a mature, stable, easy to use, intuitive to learn, good value package. The table shows a very quick comparison of functions and prices. Below the table is a brief description of each followed by my overall verdict. Please feel free to comment and add your opinions. I gave myself around an hour for each package and would love to know if I’ve missed anything.
|Platform||Mac OS X||Mac OS X||Windows|
|RRP||$149.95||$210 Eu145||£519.99 (Project2007 price)|
|Trial terms||2 weeks free||Free up to 40 activities||2010beta free until Oct 2010|
|Import file as||MPX, MPP, XML||MPX, MPP, XML||MPX, MPP, XML|
|Export files as||MPX, XML, HTML, iCal, CSV||MPX, XML, HTML, iCal, CSV||MPX, MPP, XML, CSV|
|Export also as||Images (eg PDF, JPEG)||Images (eg PDF, JPEG)||Images (eg PDF, JPEG)|
|other||Meriln Web version available (Eu95)||Sharing via Sharepoint, server options|
|Resourcing||via inspect tool||‘drag-drop’ resources||via Resource tab|
|Levelling||Y – limited options||Y – a few options||Y – many options|
|Finance||Basic cost assignments||Basic cost assignments and reporting||Budget costs, Earned Value etc., etc.|
The Omnigroup, founded in Seattle in 1993 offer several products including Omnigraffle, chart drawing software for the Mac. Omniplan downloaded and installed without problems. First impressions are of a very crisp, clean interface.
My .mpp file was opened and appearance is good, if minimal. It is possible to add tasks, assign resources and do some basic resource levelling though it doesn’t appear possible to set user-defined parameters for levelling. The critical path can be easily highlighted using a button on the top menu bar. Budget information is limited to tracking if your project and tasks are on budget or not. Reporting tools are not included and multiple project use is not yet supported.
The cheapest of the three, at £100ish, is a neat starter package for minimal cost. It seems great for home use or for single projects in small scale organisations. Keep an eye on the Omniplan forum for future developments but for more ambitious PMs, it is probably worthwhile looking at other options.
Merlin, foundered in 2001/2 and are based in Germany. They produce two products, the single use product tested here and a web server version for collaboration and sharing across multiple projects and users.
First impressions of Merlin are a very attractive UI; it is easy to add in tasks and sub-tasks. Resourcing is handled in the Resources view – this is then replicated in the bottom right of the screen.
A particularly pleasing aspect is the ability to drag and drop a resource onto a task on the Gantt chart. Drag and drop is also possible with dependencies (e.g task ‘obtain hardware’ must precede ‘install hardware’). The useful report option can be used to generate Milestone/deadline reports and basic financial reports (but not Earned Value as far as I could work out – please correct me if I‘m wrong).
At around £150ish, this package is very good value and ideal where the use of MS software is not essential. It replicates all of the most useful parts of MS Project at a fraction of the price.
Microsoft have brought Project 2010 into line with the rest of the Office family incorporating the ‘love it–hate it’ ribbon task bar.
Tasks can be added in the normal way or a copied bullet point (eg from an e-mail) can be pasted into the task list retaining the formatting and hierarchy of the bulleted tasks. Scheduling can now be both manually controlled or left to the software to automatically schedule for you. A useful Timeline function is included which can be used to produce a graphical report on project progress. Collaboration is performed via the ‘backstage’ allowing sharing, collaboration and synchronising across multiple projects and users.
The price is likely to be around the £5-600 mark (and more for the ‘pro’ version). If you use all of the features then it’s probably worth it – you have to decide at what level you wish to manage your project(s)!