Project Planning: 3 Resources to help you out

It is amazing how much computers and software have democratized various resources and brought to the average consumer the ability to create content and do just about anything. Project Management is one of many activities that has benefited from the automation and data visualization that software can easily do. As a Mac user (though do I have Parallels and Windows 7), I am always looking for great software to help me out in my daily workflow and routines. Because project management is new to me, I did some quick searches for mac software and the number one result that came up was OmniPlan 2. You can download a trial version (sorry Windows users, it’s Mac only) to give it a try and see what it can do to turn resource allocation, budget projections, and ultimately timelines into a less mind boggling task. Check out some of the screen shots below.Image

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(Image Credit: The Omni Group)

You can start from whatever perspective you like, tasks from a WBS, a timeline, or the resources needed. I started by simply entering all of the tasks involved, added personnel, and simply assigned the individual task to a person. You can then set start/end dates, hourly rates or flat fees to help estimate a budget. You can also make tasks dependent on others. In short, you can dive into some pretty detailed and complicated features but at its most basic, you organize yourself pretty quickly. One of the nicest parts about the software is that you can export all of your data in various formats, the coolest of which is an HTML site that displays the task summary, Gantt chart, resource timeline, and even provides individual calendar files and milestone reminders for Apple’s iCal and Reminders apps. The individual only has to download their calendar file and can see what they need to do and by when.

The complementary mobile software from The Omni Group is their separate (but syncable) mobile app for iOS that allows one to do all of the same from an iPad, anywhere, anytime, and on to go. Check out the pics below.ImageImageImage

 

(Image Credit: The Omni Group)

 

The software is by no means cheap, however. It’s great to be able to give it a test run for free, and it is available for purchase in the Mac App Store, although it’s sold for $200. Should you be a student, involved in education, or looking for larger site licenses, the Omni Group sells the software direct from their web site for discounts, especially student discounts, that knock the price down by almost 50%. That’s a huge benefit to making their software affordable, especially for an MISDT student like myself.

 

The second resource I found also happens to be from the Omni Group, another app called OmniGraffle. It’s a diagramming tool that can easily accomplish all of your WBS needs. While this can be done in any graphics program like Photoshop or Pixelmator, they aren’t designed to make the hierarchical relationship of images (i.e. visualized tasks) or flow diagramming easy. This is really where OmniGraffle makes the process quick and allows a whole host of other features that I am assuming when learned, allow for some pretty power but quick diagrams.Image

 

If you own a Mac and are involved in Project Management in any capacity, it is hard to avoid the Omni Group. A third app, OmniFocus, is another powerhouse for task management. Their upcoming 2.0 update for the Mac is promising though as of this writing is unreleased. It’s newly released iOS 7 design is highly acclaimed as a truly powerful design that takes advantage of all of the new features of iOS 7.

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But you don’t have to take my word for it. I’m not an OmniGroup salesman. I have found their tools incredibly helpful as a student and I recommend giving their products a try for free from their site http://www.omnigroup.com.

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6 thoughts on “Project Planning: 3 Resources to help you out

  1. I’m a Mac user too and I hadn’t heard of Omni Group until now. Honestly, it looks like just the ticket. Thanks for your in-depth review. How was the learning curve?

    I downloaded Gantt Project 2.6 for our project and could not figure out how to do something as simple as changing the dates on a new document. It kept resetting itself to 2011. So frustrating! I’m always a bit over cautious on the learning curves of new software and apps, these things don’t come naturally to me. Thanks William!

    1. The basics (Creating tasks, adding resources, and assigning them) are pretty simple. In fact it is easier just to start writing all of the tasks and go from there in my opinion. I haven’t looked into doing complex costs for budgeting but it can do it all, and it will tell you if you have events that overlap or errors in your assignments by time or resource that you can then fix. The exporting feature is where it really shines to give access to even non-mac users through an HTML site which should be uploaded as a website ideally. You can try it out for free.

  2. I haven’t used a Mac for several years so it is nice to hear of and see what is available for Mac users. The screen shots really help get an idea of how the software can be used. I had tried to use the Microsoft Project software as suggested but ended up frustrated because it would never download correctly on my laptop. I ended up using a free trial of a PM software online I found. Sometimes it seems there are too many choices online and it makes it hard to find the one that works well for what we need!

  3. I don’t have a Mac, but I did enjoy your review and I thought your blog was well put together. I think it is very important to learn to use different types of project management software and other types of software and systems as well. I was looking up job listings for instructional designers and project managers last week, and that was the common thread. They all wanted you to be able to use a certain type of management software. What do you think?

  4. Hi William:
    I am also a Mac user and appreciate your wealth of knowledge and experience and appreciate the screen shots! I agree with your comments about the simple tasks and finding additional tools to help in budgeting and managing resources is ideal and looks like the Omni Group is a great place to start! I love playing around with new applications on my iPad or iPhone and appreciate your screen shots!

    Kim Houck

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