Apollo Review – Project Management & CRM

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Apollo is a project management system and CRM launched by Applicom in 2010. Apollo is a complete system that will allow you to keep track of everything that needs to be done and organised within your company. Its main modules are:

  • Overview
  • Project management
  • CRM
  • Calendar
  • Time management and interactive timers

Apollo is written as a single-page AJAX application. This means that Apollo is fast and responsive (only small bits of information are exchanged with the server). The Apollo team spent considerable amounts of time getting Apollo graphically polished, and worked hard to make sure that all supported browsers render its contents quickly.

Here is an overview of Apollo’s features.

Apollo’s Overview

When you open up Apollo, you will automatically see a feed with all activity for the projects you are part of. The activity shows comments, change of status, and when the event happened. The attention given to this screen makes it clear that Apollo was designed by professionals who polished every single detail.

 

From the overview, you have access to the “Jumpstart” menu — an intelligent list of projects and contacts you access the most that you are most likely to open.

Project Management

Project management is a very strong point of Apollo (which, remember, is a project management solution). An Apollo workspace can have several projects; each project can be accessed by the users who were granted access to it by an “admin” user. The project dashboard will show you all the projects you have access to, grouped by category.

 

 

Once you have opened up a project, you will see several tabs opened up:

  • Activity: the latest activity in the project. This is meant to be a down-to-earth, concise list of changes the project went through.
  • Messages. Each project has several messages associated to it. Messages work in a forum-like fashion, with messages that are most recently commented on coming up on top and with the ability to “pin” messages at the top.
  • Task lists. The heart of every Apollo project, with each one containing a bunch of tasks. Each task can be assigned to a particular person, or to a company in general.
  • Milestones. They can be assigned to several task lists, and are marked (and viewed) as completed when each task in the task list is completed
  • Writeboards. Most projects have “notes” and “bits of text” attached to them. Writeboards are used exactly for that: you have a Markup-based text editor, where you can write content, notes, names, and anything connected to that project — with a bonus: writeboards have versions, so that you can see exactly how each writeboard evolved
  • Files. A project can also have files attached to it. The “Files” section will also show any file attached to comments within the project.
  • Time. This is another crucial part of the project: used for billing, the “Time” section will tell you exactly who spent time on this project, and how long exactly.

 

 

Back to the dashboard (that you get before opening up a project), you have several tabs here too: Milestones, Task lists, Time, Archived Projects, Templates. The first three are the equivalent of the project tabs with the same names; however, they are very useful as they span throughout all of the projects you can access. Archived projects just shows you all projects marked as “Archived” (and which cannot be changed). “Templates” allow you to manage both Task List Templates and Project templates — which you can then use when you create a task list or a new project.

 

CRM

Apollo’s CRM is a simple, and yet powerful, CRM and contact management module that allows you to store people’s contacts, as well as companies, and write notes about them. Apollo’s main Overview is also available for contacts.

Once you’ve clicked on Contacts, and you have CRM permissions within your workspace, you will have access to:

  • Activity. You will be able to see who changed what, in terms of contacts. You will also see latest comments, changes to deals and cases, and so on.
  • Contacts. A great way to browse through your contacts.
  • Tasks. Your contact tasks will show up here.
  • Cases and Deals. You can add “Cases” and “Deals”, and associate them to existing contacts.

 

 

Apollo’s CRM also has email integration (you can Bcc your email to Apollo’s inbox, and know that the email will be stored as a note under that contact).

Calendar

Apollo’s calendar is highly interactive and feels very much like Google’s own powerful calendar. It supports drag&drop of events, recurring events, email notifications about events, etc. It also renders all tasks assigned to you (by due date) and milestones for projects you are assigned to.

 

 

The calendar supports multiple views (Day, 4 Days, Week, Month) and is available as an iCal feed, which means that you can import it into your own favourite calendar application.

Time Management and Timers

Apollo has strong time management functions. First of all, you can start an interactive timer anytime, clicking on the little timer icon on the left hand side:

 

 

You can then attach the timer to a project, to a contact, or to a task (which can be a personal task, a project task or a contact task). Apollo has thorough time reports throughout its interface: that way, you can bill your customers based on how long you and your staff spent on projects.

Users and Permissions

Users are divided in two groups:

  • Internal users. Are the users who are part of your own company. These users have access to the Calendar, Timers, and to the workspace’s contacts. Internal users can be given CRM privileges and admin privileges. They are able to see all elements (comments, task lists, messages), even if they are marked as “private”.
  • External users. They are users who belong to an external company. They don’t have access to the Calendar, to Timers and to the workspace’s contacts. They also don’t have access to all those elements (like comments, task lists, messages) marked as private.

This means that you can invite people who work for external companies to your workspace, and be assured that they won’t have access to sensitive information and contacts.

Other Information

Apollo is available as software as a service (SaaS). It has a monthly fee that starts form $14/month, up to $148/month.

Apollo is created by the guys at Applicom. You can reach them on TwitterFacebook or you can read Applicom’s blog

Apollo is available in several languages. All users have access to an advanced Translation interface, which allows users to translate Apollo or to suggest better translations for specific parts of Apollo. Languages fully translated at the time of writing this review (10th of May 2012) are: Czech, Dutch, German, Icelandic, Polish, Swedish (Spanish is nearly there).

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