Needed: Project management tools for the remote Apple enterprise

If your business has migrated to Macs and/or iPhone/iPad, then you may be searching for a powerful project management solution to replace MS Project, particularly to support remote teams. Here’s some info that should help.

WFH means project planning is critical

The truism is that getting the best out of even the most well-chosen and motivated remotely distributed teams requires big investments in project planning. After all, when people aren’t present, team leaders must take responsibility for breaking overall tasks down into achievable deliverables.

With a flood of users migrating to Mac and iOS, I’m taking an interest in project management solutions for the new Apple enterprise. I spoke briefly with Antoni Cherif about why ProjectWizards and its Merlin Project software can be part of the toolkit for stressed-out managers attempting to figure out how to get on top of hybrid working environments.

Merlin Project isn’t the only game in town for Apple users; you can look to Wrike, MeisterTask, Zoho Project, and other solutions already jostling for your attention.

Software to support project management and team collaboration is benefiting from the move to remote enterprise. It’s a segment of the market expected to hit a CAGR of 10.67% into 2026, jumping from $5.37 billion in 2020 to$ 9.81 billion.

I’m planning to take a closer look at project management solutions (including Merlin) in future, so if you develop professional project management software for both Mac and iOS, let me know.

Almost 20 years working remotely

Cherif claims one serious advantage of his recently updated solution, in that his company eats its own dog food.

“We’ve been a remote company since 2002 and therefore we are very experienced in working from home,” he said.

“Since we use Merlin Project ourselves, we developed it to best suit our needs. This has helped us during the pandemic, and we think there will be a greater shift toward working from home in future,” he said.

The latter is good news for the developer, given that Merlin Project is designed to support project planning, executio,n and communication – in other words, it’s made for the specific challenge of managing remotely distributed teams and is already in use in critical enterprises.

Who is using Merlin Project?

Merlin Project customers work in the US and EU space industries, specifically at marketing, telecoms and media companies. The software is also used in architecture, construction — and even one of the biggest software companies uses it “in their Mac business unit,” Cherif said, though he declined to name names.

The solution also seems to scale effectively, making it accessible to both entry-level users and experienced project managers. It boasts powerful sync, synchronizing changes made by multiple users without data going missing, becoming over-written or generating conflicting files.

What does Merlin Project offer?

Natively written for Mac, iPhone, and iPad, key features of the software include work breakdown (gantt chart, netplan, and so on), Kanban boards for agile thinking, mind mapping, resource management, and resource pool tools. Merlin also offers employee assignment report generating, grouping, styling, and export/import tools.

The latter mean you can bring things in from MS Project, Microsoft Excel, MindManager, XML, OPML, and more (and export in those formats, too). It costs $149/user/year, or $69.99/user/year for the iPad/iPhone version, and you get access to almost every single feature on both iOS and Mac.

What insights does it provide?

In use, the it to help project managers build procedural structures that reveal the dependencies between all the activities within a project. That’s very useful as it empowers management to make more effective estimates around project duration, key targets, and strategic project deliverables.

Schedules, budgets, costs, progress, and change management can all be implemented within these plans, which can output project detail in a variety of reporting and workflow charts and templates. The ability to implement changes in the project plan is invaluable, given that almost every project slips.

Who isn’t it for?

Perhaps the biggest challenge with Merlin Project is its lack of Windows support. That’s something that likely blunts the product’s potential, as enterprises running multiple platforms are likely to require a solution that supports all of them. Enterprises that have standardized around the iPhone, iPad and/or Mac, however, will be right at home with this powerful project planning solution.

Individuals and small business users don’t need to invest in the full-scale app, as Merlin project Express is also available, optimized for small projects and available on a pay-as-you-need basis.

Up next

There’s little doubt that one of the big human resources challenges of the remote enterprise is the fast-emerging need for a new approach to management. The shift in working habits means managers must work harder to break projects down, planning and executing them for sometimes asynchronous distributed teams.

While this is more challenging — perhaps impossible for hidebound traditional managers — the rewards in terms of employee autonomy, job satisfaction and retention are recognizable. Remote employees managed correctly deliver better output, work longer hours, and gain a better work/life balance.

As with other project management solutions, Merlin Project appears to provide a powerful software tool to enable successful management of such distributed teams. As recognition of the need for tools of this type grows, it seems inevitable we’ll see some interesting evolutions in this space, particularly around remote workplace ergonomics and employee health.

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