PlanDone has been around about two years, although the company says their concept for the software was formed in 1994. It’s a cloud based, hosted project management tool with collaboration features.
At the top level of PlanDone you have projects, which are basically the high level goal you are trying to accomplish. These break down into tasks, which further break down into action steps. The action steps are the bits you actually do.
When you log in you can see your projects and tasks on the left hand side. You also have a ‘My Top 10’ dashboard, which shows the main things assigned to you, colour coded by order of proximity, so things due in a day or less are coloured red, for example. This section breaks down what action steps need to be completed by you, and was included to help teams know what they should be focusing on – it’s an aid to prioritisation, which is useful if you have people on the project team who would rather do the cool tasks than the ones that are due tomorrow.
This does not have an element of workflow – tasks pop up into my queue and I don’t have the ability to accept or decline them. However, I would get an email if a new task was assigned to me, or if a task was about to reach its deadline, which is another good function, as project team members don’t spend as much of their time as we do clued to tracking and reporting tools.
A project’s information page allows you to label it with keywords, store information about milestones, risks, assumptions, details on the project team, and so on. It also has a ‘stats’ section at the bottom which shows you number of tasks, hours spent and progress as a percent complete, which is great summary, and really shouldn’t be hidden at the bottom of a long page under the ‘project goals description’ and ‘notes’.
It works on mobile devices, which is a great feature. I also loved the ‘recent changes’ section which shows you all the stuff that has been recently added to the site in the form of a wiki. The tool makes good use of colours by colour coding sections (the reports section is a lovely purple) so it is very easy to navigate and know where you are at any time.
Unfortunately, in real life it would be no good for me because it doesn’t yet have the capability to manage different currencies. And the Gantt chart is not very good at all.
Graphically, the Gantt chart view is attractive to look at. But you can only see tasks and not the action steps. As the action steps are the bits that are assigned to people, I find that odd. I also don’t like the way the dates are displayed, and if I remember rightly, you can’t change the date formatting. This is another reason why PlanDone won’t travel well outside of the U.S. We can understand the U.S. way of writing dates over here, but it does make things just that little bit more difficult.
Another positive from PlanDone is that they have put a serious emphasis on communication, and there are several ways that team members can work with each other using the software.
There is a comment feature that works much like blog comments – users can add a comment to a task or an entire project, and that sends an email to the rest of the project team. They produce a pretty straightforward running tally of things that have been said – another point that the development team have given consideration to is the fact that you need to capture conversations, as well as just have them. This is partly for the purposes of corporate policies, and partly because you need a way to remember what the team discussed three months ago.
There is a collaboration area which is wiki-based. Everyone can contribute on the same page, and this can be shared with external parties without giving them rights over all the plans.
There is a related files area, which allows you to upload documents. This saves having documents floating around on desktops or on inboxes, and means you don’t have to pay out for SharePoint.
Finally, you can see who else is online and chat with them. The benefit here is you don’t have to rely on external chat software where your friends are constantly popping up asking your opinion on the latest YouTube video. Apparently, this PlanDone chat keeps people focused on work – although of course it won’t stop them having Messenger open in the background. You can save the contents of a chat session to a project or a task, or to the wiki. I thought this was an excellent feature and it supports good e-policies at work too.
All round, PlanDone looks like a good tool.
Apologies for the poor screenshots in this post!