Businesses running primarily on Mac, iPad and iPhone can now use a powerful new project management tool with the release of OmniPlan 4 for iPad and iPhone.
What is OmniPlan?
OmniPlan is a well-crafted tool from one of the most experienced Mac developers in the world, the Omni Group. As a former consulting company NEXTSTEP, the company has roots in the Mac platform prior to macOS; it has introduced apps for Apple’s platform since day one.
Used by top Fortune 500 technology companies and in a variety of industries, including construction, OmniPlan 4 is a great option for project management. It combines interval tracking, recurring tasks, schedule planning and editing, a helpful project assistant, and many other tools and features.
It also supports dark mode, syncs automatically (and quickly) via iCloud, and does a great job helping project managers piece together complex tasks into Gantt charts. These graphs are not just images, but can host dependencies, so the tool becomes a working window on the entire project. This means that project managers can easily assess overall project status and also quickly focus on deeper project data to stay on top.
What OmniGroup says
I spoke with OmniGroup Founder and CEO, Ken Case, who explained to me the fundamental purpose of the software: “OmniPlan is designed for project managers, usually that’s their job role, sometimes it’s dedicated project managers – but it can also be someone for whom it’s one of many hats They don’t have a lot of time to spend on project management tools all day, they don’t want spend a lot of time when working with it.
“We wanted to make it easy for them to capture a project, get into it, and organize it to the level of depth they need – to grow through the project and become more advanced in using the app. as needs increase.
At the same time, Omni also wanted to ensure that its project management solution could meet the needs of complex projects. That’s why you’ll find increasingly powerful features built into OmniPlan.
“We didn’t want people to be limited because they felt the app didn’t have enough depth for what they wanted to do,” Case said.
In an interesting aside, Case noted that his father was an industrial engineer working for Boeing who made extensive use of Gantt charts using pen and paper as he managed large-scale projects. To help, he created a work-scheduling application for his father on his first computer, an Atari 800.
Make Complex Projects Simply Powerful
OmniPlan 4 is smart. What drives the app is the notion that initial use should be relatively accessible, while more powerful tools and the ability to zoom in to gain additional insight into project progress should also be available.
So, for example, if you’re working on a complex project and a component is late, you’ll receive a “violation warning” that lets you know so you can manage the impact. At the same time, it’s easy to ignore the more powerful tools – you’ll still have a great overview of what you’re working to achieve.
You can also sync your plan between your team members, as long as they are running the app. It’s useful, but what makes it more useful is that you can choose when you want to sync this data or share it in PDF or other formats. This makes it a bit easier to automate project management elements that you might otherwise overlook.
Already available for Mac, it’s now also available on iPhone and iPad in one integration, meaning you won’t need to re-learn the app’s behavior to use it on all supported platforms.
What are the strengths of OmniPlan?
To dive into project details, project managers can use a new view where the entire window displays the project plan. You can zoom out or zoom in on project status using the task rollup option, which automatically collapses subtasks and milestones into a single row in the Gantt chart. Manual task scheduling and support for recurring task scheduling (daily, weekly, monthly) should help project managers focus on what needs to be done.
The app also has a tool you can use to stress test projects, called “Monte Carlo simulations”. It is essentially a series of automated tests in which OmniPlan simulates what happens if parts of a project are delayed in order to provide a relatively believable assessment of the likelihood of the project being delivered on time.
If you’re like me, a tool like this is a useful way to make sure you don’t end up promising a schedule you just can’t meet. As Douglas Adams once wrote, “I like delays. I like the hissing sound they make as they pass.”
There are also powerful automation features developed with Apple’s former automation wizard, Sal Soghoian, while the iOS version includes Scribble support.
For an in-depth comparison, I work with a handful of project management solutions for Apple’s platforms. So I’ll briefly touch on what I love most about OmniPlan: the beauty of all of these features (save one) persisting in the Mac and iOS versions of the app.
- Simplicity: OmniPlan is easy to use – a little experience and you should be creating complex project plans and proposals in hours. The use of dependencies and (on the Mac) powerful automation features means that the application very quickly becomes a window through which you can gain deep insight into the progress of the project.
- Utility: Dig behind the veneer of simplicity and you will discover many powerful tools. I especially like the built-in cost tracking, which helps you manage and allocate project budgets. Not only does it track costs as a project progresses, but you can also assess qualitative values such as experience or productivity to give you a better idea of costs. You can have a senior developer providing work at twice the rate of any of your other employees; they may cost more per hour, but OmniPlan lets you know where in the project they might be best placed at any given time.
- Views : The Gantt chart, project plan, Network and Resource views really seem to help get a good overview of what’s going on in a project. The ability to edit and modify individual components in the plan is exactly what you would expect from a project management app. It is also easy to create reports using the Reports window.
How much does it cost?
You can buy the software with a universal app license, which means you buy it once to use it on Mac, iPhone and iPad. This is a big change and means that apps are linked to your Omni account so you can download the apps you own on all your devices once you access your account.
This also means that it is possible to buy the software directly from Omni Group’s online store and also from Apple’s iOS and Mac app stores.
OmniPlan Pro subscriptions are available for $19.99 per month or $199.99 for an entire year. If you prefer to purchase OmniPlan as a single traditional license, OmniPlan Standard is available for $199 or $399 for Pro. Discounted upgrade pricing is available at 50% off for customers on an earlier version.
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