Originally Posted by neilio
Well, I just gave OmniPlan a very quick test run and I have to say I'm pretty disappointed. The world doesn't need another full-scale Gantt Chart project management product. There are already a *ton* of applications that do go Gantt and manage resources and continue to make the whole ordeal of project management an arcane art suitable for PM specialists.
You know what? Maybe it does. So there. And :p . I'll explain below.
What we really, really need is something that makes project management for "normal people" (designers, programmers, writers, and people in the trenches). I'm talking about something easy, straight-forward, and as intuitive as the rest of Omnigroup's applications. I don't want to have to learn how to read Gantt charts and memorize the terminology of PMs. I just need to manage my projects.
I too just need to manage my projects. I'm in a very small development shop and we've been trying to wrangle a MASSIVE project that keeps sliding out of control. We need to give our boss and partner timelines, and we need to remember everything promised, and we need to see what actions depend on other ones being done.
We've tried using OmniOutliner to do this a couple of times. It's fast, its duration column type is nice, but there's no way to turn that into any kind of a timeline. And there's no way to look at this big document and peek at notes or extra columns to try to see if there are any dependencies that need to be worked on. Until now.
I hate using the P word, but what we need is a New Paradigm.
Maybe I'm just being selfish and whiny, but I don't think my needs are much different from many, many others. Here's a "top of the head in no particular order" list:
- Manage multiple projects with varying project lengths, multiple stakeholders, and multiple milestones
- 14-day and 30-day view so I can see all of the milestones and deadlines coming up
- Fully integrated with iCal and Address Book, linking emails from Mail would be great, too
- Provide a month-view so I can see what projects are scheduled and when their deadlines are
- Allow me to link files to a project so I can see at a glance what assets are connected to a project, and then let me double-click them to open them
That sounds a lot like the simple, but useful (to some) kind of project tracking that can be done with Entourage. Personally, I don't need that kind of view. We use iCal in our small shop as much as possible to track .. well, calendar based events (due dates, meetings, vacation, etc), and that generally works out. I don't need another calendar manager that can let me put in an all day event that says "Milestone Due" if iCal can do it for me.
Honestly, Entourage's Project Center alone probably does *ALL* of the above, out of the box.
- (wistful thinking) Simple versioning control for said files
- Full web export with .ics and RSS support so I can publish a project details / milestones to a server and have clients / stakeholders subscribe to it
- Time tracking and maybe some basic time / cash calculations (but *not* invoicing)
- To-do lists
Basically what I'm thinking about is similar to Basecamp reborn as a gorgeous Mac OS X application. The biggest drawback of Basecamp is all of the data is stored on a 3rd party server, which is verboten with many corporations and companies... but its simplicity, ease of use, and no BS is more what I was expecting from OmniPlan.
It sounds to me like you were expecting more of a personal organizer just so you could group a bunch of loosely related items together under one project, and maybe get a meta-view of them. That's not Planning. That's Something That Can Be Done With Some Intelligent Use Of Spotlight if you were to invest the time in it. Hell, the Finder, Mail, Address Book, and iCal pretty much do all of those things already.
Seriously, Gantt charts are great for true project managers who have training in managing huge projects with tons of variables, but what about us folks who just need something to help us get our work done?
What about those of us who already know how to use the basic tools available to group files and emails together and to put them on a central server in the office if others need to access them. What about those of us who are trying to understand the depth and complexity of a major project but who aren't project managers and barely have time to take a breath, let alone have to wrestle with the endless array of fields and dialog boxes and inspectors and awkward task entry schemes of MS Project and its clones? I want to say "well if this should take an hour and that takes three and this takes two days and I do them in order... and if you do those two things that should take three days and you're out of the office on thursday - where will be be on Friday?" I shouldn't have to study another field just to be able to answer that question.
I think that you have a lot of those tools you want out there already. Like you said, Basecamp does a lot of that. But Basecamp is a different kind of project management tool. It's more about collaboration and sharing. It's simple, and it's generally effective. But it offers no help to the challenge facing my organization.
I am not a project manager. When we were using OmniOutliner to try and think out this big project so we could keep track of our promises, so we could document details about what some of the promises meant, and so that we could provide a timeline to present to our boss, I said to my co-worker "you know what would be nice? OmniOutliner with project management stuff. You know, the kind with the little bars so you can visualize time and dependencies? This is a good document we have here, but it's impossible to visualize."
At that point I tried downloading some of the supposedly "many Gantt chart applications" out there. I had a hard time finding them myself (I probably wasn't searching on the right terms). The ones that I did find were much deeper in the "requires a degree in project management" spectrum that I had time to deal with.
I want OmniOutliner! I want to hit "return" in the Tasks view and be able to enter a new item! I want to be able to indent things by hitting tab! I don't want to have to wrestle with big dialog boxes to enter simple information! I want to easily drag things around! No other Mac OS X project management app does all of those things well. And the data entry side is crucial. I've also started evaluating the Merlin 2 beta. It's an impressive app, strong Mac OS X design (borrowing from Apple's newer Pro apps). But entering in actions is still just as awkward as any normal MS Project clone, meaning it's still far from the dream I had just a couple of weeks prior to OmniPlan's announcement of "OmniOutliner, but with those little bar things so you could like see time and stuff"
So I'm going to be selfish and say that everything that you want, my company has in the form of our Basecamp subscription and other tools already provided to us in the form of iCal, file sharing, iChat, Subversion/CVS, etc. Beyond that, I swear that almost most of your bullet points match the "Project Center" features in Entourage. No thanks, I have plenty of those things already, I need help turning brainstorms into plans and rough schedules that's as easy to use as OmniOutliner. Sounds like OmniPlan does the trick for me. Besides, I bet you could even wrangle Hog Bay's "Mori" or Circus Ponies' NoteBook into doing much of what you want... Or Tinderbox if you really care to get in deep. It's not a new paradigm - it's the age old desire to collect disparate bits of information together. There are countless solutions available, but none of them turn out to be clear winners (at its heart, it's a tough problem to solve. Outside of alternate operating systems like the Newton, Microsoft's WinFS (which they've been promising to delivery for more than ten years now, and they still haven't done it) is the closest thing I've seen that could do that. I saw an early Vista (before the name Vista) screen shot of "recent exchanges with a contact." Imagine opening up a contact in Address Book and seeing a list of recent emails, iChat logs, files sent, VOIP phone calls, active OmniPlan projects where that contact is a resource, reminders, etc. If the file system can ever get away from being about files and becoming more of a "Data Soup" (like the Newton's storage, if I recall correctly), then we could really see a new Paradigm take place.
But I don't need that right now. I just want OmniOutliner. But with those bars and arrows and dependencies and stuff so I can visualize the work / time involved for a project. :) Oh, it looks like I might have that right here now. Yay!