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 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.

 

(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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.