Several months ago I asked the twittersphere for some Project Management app suggestions. The list included Zurmo, Apollo HQ, Project Pier (Open Source precursor to ActiveCollab), Wrike and Zoho. I even looked at using Omnifocus or Wunderlist, of course the list included ActiveCollab and the Industry Standard Basecamp.
I'll admit that I have never been a fan of Basecamp. I think it does a decent job of acting as a repository. It gives you a place to put tasks, messages, files and other odds and ends that make it a great way to keep a project organized.
But I wanted more...
I could easily have purchased another license of ActiveCollab ($500) or subscribed to Basecamp ($50 per month) and been done with it. History tells me that those apps don't get used after awhile. Clients' hate them and make adoption difficult. And I feel that they do a fairly poor job of helping with the Management of the important aspects of the project... namely what has to get done and how close we are to being on budget.
So with no real idea of what I was looking for but a list of websites to sift through I began my search. And here is what I found...
Planscope at it's most basic is a task list. Where it excels is what it adds to that basic functionality. You have the ability to create Projects, Create Tasks, Assign those tasks to a Task Group, and Set Milestones for those items. All of those items would be enough but WAIT there's more...
You have the ability to Assign tasks to members of your team. you have the ability to create sub-tasks.
Planscope also lets you estimate each of the tasks. You then input a budget and it give you a progress indicator for budget used / progress. And this was why I bought into Planscope hook, line and sinker. This ability to see where you are in relation to budget and progress is huge. It allows you to see almost immediately where a project is going off course and either correct it or go back to the client and have a conversation with them about the task item that threw the project off course.
Your client also has the ability to take part in the conversation. Clients are given access to their project which allows them to review items that have been completed, re-order tasks that have been entered or comment on tasks for clarification.
As if all of this is not enough...
Brennan saw fit to integrate Planscope with time tracking apps like Harvest. So when you click on the play button in Planscope it starts a timer for a Project/Task in Harvest. The workflow is really quite awesome.
I really like how Planscope helps me put estimates together. Plus, if I am still in the pre-contract phase and the prospect is amenable to it you can give them access and they can prioritize the items you've put together and adjust the project ,leaving some items off, so that they can stick to their budget.
When I was at EllisLab we went through a few apps trying to find one that would fit our needs for Scrum (Jira and Pivotal Tracker). I think Planscope would also work really well in a Scrum or Agile environment. You could easily enter in your tasks and move them into Task Groups. Instead of estimating in actual hours you could put in your point cost for items etc.
I know Project Management Software is a rapidly changing marketplace. Who knows what features will be released next week that we all think will save our projects and help us get work done faster. I'm happy with the choice I made as it gives me an immediate indicator of the health of the project (and ultimately of my estimating skills). Hope you'll check it out. Let me know what you think.