I also like the way you can customize the look of 5pm, simply dragging columns to change widths or resort data. 5pm can even integrate with calendars that support iCalendar feeds, such as Apple iCal and Mozilla Sunbird, so you can check on your project deadlines in the calendar app. You can import data into Google Calendar, but you won't get the automatic data synchronization provided for the Apple and Mozilla apps.
You can enter projects and tasks directly using the Web interface; alternatively, you can create them by sending e-mail to your custom 5pm address. You can also use e-mail to add up to 20MB of document files and update the percentage completion of a task. Parameters in your e-mail subject line let you specify more details such as start dates and deadlines.
5pm's e-mail integration makes it particularly easy to update project information using a mobile device. Even if your small mobile display is inadequate to show 5pm's Web interface, you can still tap out an e-mail to update a project's status.
5pm supports four types of users so you can fine-tune service access. Administrators can do everything; users can edit projects and tasks for teams to which you assign them; external users can view projects and tasks for their teams; clients can view and edit their own projects.
How 5pm Stacks Up
I've discussed other project management services in a previous column. 5pm handles more than the popular Basecamp, but still manages to be easy for a project management neophyte to understand. It doesn't, however, offer all the current capabilities of the higher-end Wrike, which recently added Wiki-like knowledge collaboration.
Five paid plans for 5pm are available, with costs ranging from $18 to $175 per month. The basic plan supports five users, ten active projects, and 250MB of data storage, while the high-end plan allows unlimited users and projects, and caps storage at 5GB. A 14-day free trial is available.
Basecamp still rules the roost when it comes to entry-level project management services. But if you'd like something a little slicker, then consider 5pm.
Richard Morochove is an IT consultant and writer. Send him questions about using technology in your connected small-to-midsize business via e-mail. PC World may edit your query and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.
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