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February 2019
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Don’t go there. Don’t even try it.

Project Management Software for Creatives: A Review

The Sun also rises: but Marketcircle\'s Daylite tool lacks a major feature

Ok, here it is: my shiny new project is ready to set off on its journey from the depths of my brain to the bright light of reality. I have just come out of a first meeting with my friend and collaborator Rudolph, and we are all excited. This is great! This is going to fly! This is going to be a lot of work.

If I were an established artist in my late forties, the next thing I would do now is have a very long meeting with my chief of staff, producer or curator. I would patiently explain my vision and budgetary requirements. Then I would wander off into the sunset, return in five months’ time and expect everything to be ready. Alternatively, I could go and buy a pile of moleskine books, order a week’s supply of lattes at the local art student hangout and start scribbling.

The Omni Group\'s product \

However, seeing as my chief of staff is on a permanent holiday and too much coffee makes me fidgety, I decided I would have to help myself. Here’s where owning an Apple Mac, once again, is the source of all goodness. My first idea was to scrape together what I still remember of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, download one of these brilliant new project management tools and simply give it a try. My second idea, after about three days of staring at frozen Sync Services progress bars, was to give all of them a try. Here are the results:

The Spec Sheet

Admittedly, I am not exactly easygoing on this one. This is because I am spoilt by and at the same time fed up with Entourage. Though designed for Macs, Entourage has retained the typical features of a Microsoft product: it is relatively feature-heavy, bulky, and is propped up by a grumpy, monolithic database that does not like talking to anything that isn’t Microsoft. It also looks a bit pants. That aside, Entourage does its job.

What I wanted, of course, was much more than that. First of all, I’m out and about a lot slurping lattes. I therefore knew I wanted to view and edit project tasks on my iPhone as well as on my desktop or laptop, ideally within a GTD structure of projects and contexts. I also wanted contacts, events and appointments to sync smoothly between an iPhone and computers. I knew collaborating with Rudolph was going to be a bit tricky during the project run-up as he had recently followed the call of lavish arts funding to Dubai – I therefore needed the ability to assign people, files and weblinks to events and tasks, send invitations and share files online. On top of that, I needed to keep to track of resources and costs at any point of the project without turning myself into a full-time project manager.

What I wanted most of all, though, was a feature that to me seems so obviously brilliant that I wholly expect to be made an honorary guru of the international league of project managers within my own life time: I wanted the ability to assign different “child” tasks to different stages of the project from day one (a “parent” task is something grand like “complete development stage”. A child task is more along the lines of “call Rudolph”, which forms part of the parent). I figured if I could then display these tasks graphically on a timeline (or gantt chart, as the pros call it), I would have the power of persuasion on my side whenever it came to convincing Rudolph and his Dubai-based sponsors that this project was run about as efficiently as a German car factory.

So far for the spec sheet – it goes without saying, I suppose, that I expected all of this rolled together in one neat application for which I was happy to shell out about £150.00 (courtesy of Rudolph’s friends). Did I get what I wanted?

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