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Ultimate iPad Guide: Project Management Apps for Architects

Project management is an essential feature skill of what architects provide to society. Below you will find apps that will run on iPad that tie into various project management applications, some task focused others extensive online collaborative and project management (OCPM) systems.

Project Management Apps for Architects on iPad

New in 2.0

This group includes industry-specific and general industry project management and collaboration tools we have chosen to focus on. The latter is a huge category with lots of possibilities. These days the most important tools are cloud-oriented that have centralized all project data. Some of the best online collaboration and project management (OCPM) tools have developed in the general market as true SaaS (software as a service) options. Basecamp by 37signals is probably the most famous of these.


Speaking of Basecamp, this year Basecamp for iPad is a new app made for that device. However, it does not work with Basecamp Classic, which many architects got started with using and lends itself better for the AEC space. Another new addition is Autodesk A360 which continues the software giant’s push to cloud-everything. We felt it was worth adding OmniPlan 2.0 for those gantt chart devotees as this is another good solution in that space.

Mobility and the Cloud

Today the project management tool “success story” is not just a Web 2.0-only affair that isolates you within a standards based web browser. It has to involve the leading mobile platforms and native apps on those platforms. And right now the leader is Apple’s iOS platform. Let’s look at some of the offerings.

The first app we want to point out is 37signals’ Basecamp. This tool actually comes in two versions, Basecamp and Basecamp Classic. Classic is not supported within the native iPad app but is fully accessible via Safari on the iPad. With careful organization this general SaaS tool is highly useful to streamlining communications and centralizing documents, and many small to mid-size AEC firms are Basecamp users. (see image 01).

01 – 37signals’ Basecamp is the world’s leading SaaS online project management solution. Their iPhone iOS app runs on an iPad as well.

02 – Newforma users have a variety of task-specific apps for the iPad, like this punch list app.

03 – AEC Software’s well-regarded FastTrack Schedule comes in a Go version for the iPad.

The second tool we want to focus on is Newforma. This popular AEC dedicated system has a suite of task-specific iPad apps like the Newforma Punch List app shown here (see 02). We have added two new Newforma apps below in the list. Autodesk has several AECO ex-portal days platforms, including Buzzsaw, Constructware and its newer Autodesk 360 offerings. And Bentley has ProjectWise. Unfortunately, the mobile offerings for the older tools are not that feature rich—a problem endemic to this entire category of software. Hence, the focus on the more modern SaaS web tools which can run quite well on an iPad in the browser.

For schedule and resource management tools AEC Software’s well regarded FastTrack Schedule Go is a gantt-chart style project scheduling app that can also open Microsoft Project files. (see image 03).

The List (18 Apps)

Here is a listing of some of the most excellent general project management apps useful to architects on the iPad at the time of this writing as well as all of the dedicated AEC industry apps focused on online collaboration and project management (OCPM) which offer iOS apps that run on iPad. Again, if we have somehow missed an app that deserves to be on this list we would sure appreciate your email on the subject. It may also be listed in another category in our series. Without further ado:

  • Autodesk A360 (New in 2.0) — enables online and offline workflows to stay current and all changes to project status, view and track project activities, manage messages and uploaded photos and image files, design review and markup tools, 3D model navigation, search functions, view over 100 file formats. (6 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) Free
  • Basecamp for iPad (New in 2.0) — Basecamp for iPad is a dedicated version of the iOS app that hooks directly into the world’s #1 leading online project management tool. We listed Basecamp last time but it was the only iPhone-only app on this page. Now architects using Basecamp for their project management needs have a tool just for the iPad that provides a complete overview of their projects, statuses, to-do’s, uploaded files, et cetera. This is a general tool (not AEC) but is flexible enough for the architectural industry. Basecamp Classic also has features that might better fit AEC and runs in a mobile and standard version through Safari on iOS but not the dedicated app.  (10 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) Free
  • Buzzsaw — this app gives you mobile access to Autodesk Buzzsaw, where you can view BIM and CAD files as well as Navisworks models. It is more of a documents management tool than a full project management tool, with some built-in capture, annotate and sharing features. (11 reviews, 3 1/2 stars) Free
  • Constructware Field — this app gives you mobile access to Autodesk Constructware, an online collaboration and project management (OCPM) platform, connecting people, info and processes for the design and construction industry. (8 reviews, 2 1/2 stars) Free
  • FastTrack Schedule Go — this app by software AEC leader AEC Software, lets you take your FastTrack Schedule files with you on your iPad. Features Microsoft Project file support, Dropbox, iTunes, SkyDrive, Google Drive and more integration and of course it fully works with FastTrack Schedule 10 files from Windows or Mac. (19 reviews, 3 1/2 stars) 29.99.USD
  • Gantt Pro — this app allows you to carry your Microsoft Project plans on your iPad. You import these files into the app via email, Dropbox or iTunes. (19 reviews, 2 1/2) 5.99.USD
  • Liquid Planner — this interesting app is also a Gantt charter, scheduling, project management and collaboration app that works in conjunction with the web-version and is a rival to Basecamp. Works with importing Excel or Microsoft Project files. (40 reviews, 3 stars) Free
  • Newforma Field Notes — for users of the Newforma AECO project management system, this app is focused capturing notes in the field, in addition to marking up photos and audio notes.  (3 reviews, not rated) Free
  • Newforma Plans — for users of the Newforma AEC system, this app is focused on bringing PDF-based plans with you to the job site. Supports markup, email abilities and more. (2 reviews, 3 1/2 stars) Free
  • Newforma Punch Lists — for users of the Newforma AEC system this app is focused on punch lists. Like the other Newforma iOS apps this is a single-focused app that functions like a Newforma module on your iPad. (zero reviews, not rated) Free
  • Newforma Capture (New in 2.0) — for users of the Newforma AECO system, this app allows you to quickly capture information onsite and is ideal for construction observation or facilities review and inspection in pre or post construction states. (2 reviews, not rated) free
  • Newforma Tasks (New in 2.0) — for users of the Newforma AECO system, this app organizes your to-do lists so you and your team can be more effective onsite. To gather and assign tasks you use the Newforma Capture app. (no reviews, not rated) free
  • Podio — this app works with the extensive and growingly popular Podio collaborative work platform. Podio is now a Citrix company. It works by getting folks to construct collaborative workspaces, and enable those inside to structure those workspaces just the way they want. Podio works with Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Skydrive and more. Podio has been hailed as the new Basecamp or the Basecamp killer. (534 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) Free
  • ProjectWise Explorer Mobile — this Bentley app is for mobile access to Bentley’s ProjectWise project and document management system. Users can directly access their ProjectWise database on their iPad.  (1 review, 4 stars) Free
  • PlanGrid (New in 2.0) — this is one of the hottest apps in the AEC market and we include it for the first time in our guide. Arguably this is a CAD viewing and markup tool but it does a bit more so we have included it here. It features leaf-in versioning, cloud-based annotation system, RFI posting and submittal distribution, uploading and tracking of progress photos and more… ( 212 reviews, 5 stars) Free
  • OmniPlan 2 (New in 2.0) — this is another Gantt chart mobile app from an award-winning developer and supports MS Project file formats in various years up to 2010. It has an attractive interface and include critical-path views, PDF or HTML file export views, etc. (7 reviews, 4 stars) 49.99.USD
  • Oracle Virtual Desktop Client — this app gives users secure mobile access to their virtual Windows, Oracle Linux and Oracle Solaris desktops and Oracle applications. (6 reviews, 3 1/2 stars) Free
  • Oracle P6 Team Member — this app is now optimized for the iPad. With it you can tap into your company’s Primavera P6 Enterprise system to view active, overdue, starred and completed project-specific tasks, view task details, update start dates, communicate with other team members and more. (3 reviews, not rated) Free

The Gem in the Group

To be perfectly honest we do not feel there is an outstanding Gem in this group. We say this because the larger solutions from Bentley, Autodesk and Oracle are lack the simplicity, ease-of-use and clarity of a true SaaS app darling like Basecamp or a brilliantly clear mobile app like PlanGrid. The general problem for this category is that nobody makes a truly modern AECO-specific online collaboration and project management (OCPM) tool that will rock your world. We are still waiting for it! As such, there isn’t an iPad app made for such a solution yet.

We think Citrix’s Podio SaaS platform is very interesting and ripe for AECO specific focus. Last year we named it the gem in the group and we’ll stick with that this year too. We are definitely going to monitor this space more closely.

04 – Podio is often seen as the new Basecamp SaaS innovator and competitor. It’s iPad and iPhone apps get you connected to your customized Podio workspaces.

Podio has been called the new Basecamp. Yet, unlike Basecamp, Podio is more of a customizable workspace process platform. And get this–it supports custom development and has a growing Podio App eco-system where base Podio users can purchase customized Podio apps and create a toolset for their individual industry or company.

05 – Unlike Basecamp Podio features app extensions for sale inside of a Podio App Market.

For example, the base Podio product handles task management, document management, project meetings support with built-in Go-To-Meetings, and works with cloud storage leaders like Dropbox. Inside of the Podio App Market there are apps for vertical markets like advertising, consultancy, education, law, marketing, media agency, NGO, real estate, software development and others. There is no Architecture or AEC vertical defined yet and so the platform is ripe for the right developer.

next page : Annotation Apps for Architects 

series index page: Ultimate iPad Guide: Apps for Architects


[Last updated: 28 Sep 2014 – 2:00 PM EDT]

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