Detailed Review of Project EMC2, a Project Management Tool

Project EMC2 is a free project management tool available on the Microsoft App Store. It is geared towards managing software projects and contains good task, requirement, risk and issues management functionality. It is available as a desktop or cloud-based solution.

Project EMC2 is reviewed against 200+ project management software requirements on a downloadable spreadsheet. Project EMC2 is scored overall for each of the ten project management processes. This post provides a summary of the key strengths and weaknesses for each of the processes.

Download Project EMC2 Scoring Spreadsheet

Click here to download the Project EMC2 Excel spreadsheet.

App Summary Findings

Project EMC2 would be a great option for a nonprofit or small business wanting to organize their IT and business improvement projects. It has a good task management tool. The tasks are supported by risk and issue management functionality. I really like that you can add supporting action items to all the objects like: project, risks, issues, tasks, etc.

Project EMC2 uses a waterfall approach and is intended for small to medium-sized companies with projects focused on human resource, business or system changes (i.e. implementations, reorganizations and process improvements).

It is not intended for large organizations with more than 100 projects or that have the following requirements:

  • Complex financial tracking
  • Complex performance requirements
  • Inventory control and scheduling
  • Automation and integration with enterprise systems
  • Automated workflows
  • Real-time interfaces

It also would not be a good option for construction projects or professional service firms. The scheduling tool does not have the advanced functionality required for a complex construction project. It lacks the cost and resource management functionality a professional service firm would require.

Project EMC2 Pricing

The desktop app is completely free! There is a small hosting fee for the optional cloud-based services. The cloud-based services require a user’s profile to be verified for access to project files, and provide in-use warnings if another user is editing the file.

Scoring Methodology

I’ve been evaluating project management software and sharing the results to help others save time in making an informed decision. I started the evaluation as marketing research for my own project management app: Project Lifecycle Pro. I’m doing my best to give a unbiased review, but you can download the Excel spreadsheet used for the evaluation to perform your own analysis. Here are detailed instructions on how to use the spreadsheet to weight requirements and compare multiple software packages side-by-side.

I structured the analysis around the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)© project management process. This is outlined in the PM Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)©. First, I listed the project management processes and then the activities within each process. Finally, I developed a list of requirements related to each of the activities. The list of requirements is based upon my thirty years of project management experience and experience evaluating project management tools for clients. When I come across novel functionality in the software I’m evaluating I add it to the requirements list. Of course, I’m sure I missed some requirements and welcome any suggestions.

I gave all processes and requirements equal weights, but you can adjust the scoring weights in the Excel spreadsheet to suit your needs. Each requirement was rated as either:

  • Yes – As Is – Meaning, the requirement is met with out-of-the-box functionality. This rating is awarded four points.
  • Yes – With Configuration – Meaning the requirement can be met with minimal configuration or no-code updates. Since, Salesforce is highly configurable I used this rating for simple things like changing picklist values, adding a field to an existing data object, creating a report, etc. This rating is awarded two points.
  • No – Not Available or Requires Customization – Meaning the requirement cannot be met without significant investment of time or money. I assigned this rating if custom coding would be required, or a new custom data object, or a new custom flow. This rating is awarded zero points.

Finally, the scoring spreadsheet totaled the ratings by process to show how the apps compare by process. Therefore, you can assess the apps based on which processes are the most important to you.

Communications Management

Project EMC2’s communications management functionality is focused on generating and distributing status reports to a list of stakeholders. In fact, the information tabs are designed to facilitate status meetings. The project manager just visits each tab from left to right and ensures the review checklist on each tab is accomplished.

Cost Management

It does not have any cost management functionality. So you won’t be able to control project costs or generate invoices for professional services.

Integration Management

Project EMC2’s integration management functionality is primarily limited to documenting decisions, issues and status reports.

Strength: Decisions and Issues

It has good functionality for documenting project decisions and issues. I especially like that you can assign action items to the decisions and issues.

Weakness: Project Access Rights

The options to control project access are limited to if a project team member can see all project tasks or just their own. However, you cannot control if the user has read/write access. It is sometimes useful to give project sponsors or other managers read only access to the entire project.

Weakness: Summary Project Status

Project EMC2 lacks project stoplights for status that are found on most other tools. This allows you summarize the project’s status as either green, yellow or red. This is helpful for a manager perusing the status of multiple projects.

Procurement Management

It doesn’t have any procurement management functionality, which is key functionality for construction projects.

Quality Management

Project EMC2 has strong and unique acceptance criteria functionality. However, Project EMC2 is not a test management tool. You’ll have to supplement it with other tools to document and track test scripts.

Strength: Acceptance Criteria

Project EMC2 supports documenting a list of individual acceptance criteria per requirement. You can even mark when an individual acceptance criteria has been met. This is a rare feature among project management tools.

Resource Management

It lacks the detailed resource assignment functionality a professional services firm requires to manage people’s time on multiple projects. It does have some basic functionality to assign people and stakeholders to the project.

Risk Management

Project EMC2 gets almost a perfect score in risk management! The only thing it lacks is the ability to create a detailed quantitative risk matrix. But to be honest, I’ve never found detailed quantitative risk matrices very useful.

Strength: Action Items Associated to Risks

Even some of the most popular project management tools don’t support the creation of action items for individual risks. Project EMC2 allows you to create specific mitigation steps or follow up tasks for each risk.

Schedule Management

I would classify Project EMC2 as a task management tool rather than a scheduling tool. It does support some advanced scheduling like dependencies in a limited functionality. However, it doesn’t have the breadth of scheduling features you would find in a Microsoft Project or some of the other popular cloud-based project management tools.

Strength: Assign Tasks to External Users

Since it is free, it would be ideal for a project coordinating tasks with multiple parties. You can assign tasks to people outside your organization at no additional cost. The feature to limit visibility to a person’s own task assignments would allow you to limit an external users view of the entire project, in case some tasks are sensitive.

Strength: Focus Filter Tool

Project EMC2 has a unique focus filter that can be applied to task and other lists to declutter the view. It hides items that are complete, canceled, inactive, far-future dated, etc. in a single click.

Weakness: Scheduling Functionality Gaps

Here is a list of the scheduling functionality it lacks, which are fairly common among scheduling tools. These are usually only required for complex or large projects, so they may not be a issue for you.

  • Doesn’t support all dependency types. Only supports Finish/Start dependencies.
  • Doesn’t support lag between dependencies.
  • Limited work breakdown structure. You are limited to a four levels of the schedule: phase, goal, activity, action item.
  • Doesn’t support effort-based scheduling. Meaning, the duration of the task doesn’t vary based on the number of people assigned to the task.

Weakness: Agile Functionality Gaps

While you can write the Project EMC2 requirements as user stories with acceptance criteria, it lacks functionality that most Agile/Scrum projects would expect.

  • No Kanban board
  • No backlog
  • No epics or themes
  • No sprints/releases

Scope Management

It doesn’t have any scope management functionality.

Stakeholder Management

Project EMC2 is unique in by offering a stakeholder engagement matrix. Most project management tools don’t offer any stakeholder or change management functionality.

Strength: Engagement Matrix

When you assign stakeholders to the project you can assign them a value from an engagement matrix. The engagement matrix determines how engaged the stakeholder should be on the project based on their influence and their interest in the project.

In Conclusion

If you are a looking for an inexpensive IT project tool, you should consider Project EMC2. You should especially consider it if its three key differentiators are important to you:

  • Ability to assign action items and mitigation steps to risks.
  • Ability to list and track detailed acceptance criteria for requirements.
  • Ability to assign action items to all project data objects.



Additional References

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