It has been awhile since I reviewed a project planner so I thought I would take Planning Force for a spin.
On their main page there is an 8 minute video that gives a nice overview of the product and there are several other short videos on their YouTube page (I’m not sure why they want you to register to view their youtube videos on their own webpage or why many of their videos have no sound just a person clicking around in their application, or why you have to register to review their forums).
Their express planner is a free download (100 meg file). Many other applications like these are cloud based. The main issue I have with stand alone products are updating them.
After I had it installed I started clicking around and checking it out. Overall it is a very very basic project planner with resource allocation capability. The planner is pretty straight forward to use and the resource planner is too. It also will allow you to see the resources from multiple projects saved in one file (they must assume companies only have 1 PM running all of their projects?).
It has a resource leveling function that will give you options before you move forward with their suggestions. No clue as to how it works, but most projects I have ever worked on the resources don’t have the knowledge to jump in if they have some free time. It does have a calendar feature so you can track your staffs vacation (or holiday) time.
At the task level you can do some very basic things, number of days (or 0.5 for 4 hrs), start and end dates, predecessors (lead, lag if needed), percent completed, add notes to the task and the resource name. What it is missing from this section … costs for the task planned and actual (not all projects track this… but if you are looking to do a little earn value analysis…) and how about I can create a column and let me name it myself?
Pros to Planning Force:
- Resource tracking so you can see if you are over allocated across all projects (keep in mind all of your projects are in one file)
- Basic project planning
- has some basic KPIs
- Very very very basic
- Probably not that useful for projects with staff that work outside of your office (all projects have some basic documentation (SOW, charter, WBS, requirements, Risk log, budget info …) and this application doesn’t allow you to store that type information.
- No communication tracker … message board, or a newsfeed type of feature (@task has this and you will see more and more PM software adopting this soon).