AEC Software on Monday introduced FastTrack Schedule 9, a new version of their project management software for Mac and Windows. FastTrack Schedule 9 costs US$349, and $149 to upgrade from previous versions.
New to this release is a redesigned interface and enhanced integration with Microsoft Project and other project management software. Also enhanced is support for Mac-specific features like iCal and Spotlight.
“There are four things that make us compelling not just for project management, but also as a general productivity tool,” AEC vice president of marketing communications Ryan Kish told MacCentral : Ease of use, presentation capabilities, cross-platform support and price.
Multiple projects can be consolidated into a single master project file with this new release, and linking has been enhanced as well. Also improved is support for Microsoft Project files — users can now directly open, edit and save Project files as FastTrack Schedule files, without having to import them first. XML and MPX support is enhanced, and users can capture and store multiple project baselines.
Projects can be published as iCalendars, to remote servers, and AEC has added a larger library of pre-defined templates to suit a variety of project types.
“We’ve added more industry-specific templates,” said Kish. In this release, the company has also added new tutorials and examples developed for specific projects.
Kish also said that AEC Software’s sales team has seen an uptick in its Macintosh business in recent months. “There have always been outposts of Macs within larger organization, but the feedback we’re hearing is that more groups within these businesses have standardized on Macs.”
Tradeshows that focus on vertical markets are another area where AEC is seeing increased awareness and interest in Mac software. “We’ll go to these shows and people will approach us asking about the Mac version,” said Kish.
While project management software is commonly used in larger organizations, AEC’s focus is on the small to medium-sized business market. Getting managers in those organizations to use project management software can be more of an effort, according to Kish.
“Small business owners wear so many different hats, it’s difficult to get them focused [on project management] if the software takes them too long to learn or to integrate into their business. That’s been a challenge for us,” Kish said.
To that end, the company offers weekly e-training classes live from its Web site, using WebEx. FastTrack Schedule trainers offer three levels of classes on creating, managing and enhancing schedules.
For FastTrack Schedule users, it’s not just about getting organized — it’s about the presentation to the customer. “Our customers have told us, ‘Look, even though we’re a ten-person shop, we need to be organized internally and be more efficient. But the real value of FastTrack Schedule is to wow new customers and gain new business,” said Kish.