OmniPlan is a popular and powerful productivity tool for Mac that helps you visualize, maintain, and simplify your projects. OmniPlan is a project management tool that lets you break down tasks, optimize use of resources, monitor costs and manage your project in a convenient overview of your plans.
Unlike browser-based project management tools such as Wrike, Mavenlink, or JIRA, OmniPlan runs straight off the desktop through the Mac app. It’s ideal for collaborating with colleagues whether it’s changes to schedules, project plans, or simply just to chat with them about something you’re working on.
As you would expect from professional project management software, OmniPlan includes Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical path highlighting to give you complete control over your project. OmniPlan can be invaluable in helping you anticipate and eliminate problems by identifying bottlenecks, tracking budgets and distributing workloads amongst team members more fairly and efficiently.
Pimp your OmniPlan
OmniPlan has a clear, customizable interface which allows you to choose from a range of different views. It’s advisable to start by using the “simple creation” tool when you start planning as it strips down OmniPlan to just basic elements. When you’ve got the basics in place, you can then activate the more advanced functions to add refinement and detail to your project plans.
The Gantt Chart Timeline is where everything happens in OmniPlan, allowing you to see everything going on in your project. The timeline shows project duration by day, week, month, quarter, or year. It clearly shows task start and stop times, dependencies, resources, and resource usage by task.
You can edit any element of the timeline and create dependencies by dragging and snapping elements together. The most useful aspect of this is the ability to spot potential problems on critical paths. So, for example, if a schedule is going to clash with another or will have an impact on the completion of other tasks, OmniPlan warns you of violations.
Real time project monitoring
One of the best aspects of OmniPlan is how it simplifies the planning process and keeps all affected parties in the loop when changes are made. You can watch in real time as colleagues make updates to critical paths, monitor and check their meeting schedules or add new paths to existing plans. You can subscribe to certain parts of a project or specific colleagues for more details of activity and changes.
The change tracking function is particularly useful allowing you to see where changes have been made so that you can review, question or reject them. You can do this for individual tasks or select multiple paths or changes at once. Change tracking is incredibly useful for managers that need to check when and how problems occurred on a project timeline and takes the stress out of keeping tabs on how individual team members are affecting the outcomes of project plans.
Lots of import and export options
If you’ve already started a project plan in Microsoft Project or in CSV format, OmniPlan can import it – as it can, of course, from OmniGroup’s OmniOutliner, OmniGraffle. Likewise, OmniPlan can export to iCal, CSV, Microsoft Project, HTML, OmniOutliner, OmniGraffle and several image formats. If you just want to export to HTML so that you can share your plans online with anyone, OmniPlan allows you to create detailed HTML reports and even customize exactly which criteria and elements you want printed or exported.
It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into OmniPlan and that it’s a very professional project management tool that caters for the needs of businesses of all sizes. Despite the amount of features available, its not overwhelming to use and there are many useful tutorial videos if you get stuck at any stage.
One slight downside though is that OmniPlan doesn’t generate as many reports as you’d expect from a project management application so if you’re a reports junky, you may find it lacking in this area. It makes up for this is the number of ways you can export data though and it’s very easy to share project plans with anyone even if they’re not OmniPlan users. If you’re working in large teams on multiple projects, OmniPlan can bring efficiency and control to your workflows.
If you’re interested in alternatives to OmniPlan, you should check out the top cloud-based project management apps, since these will work through your Mac browser, as well as any other device. Do let us know which apps you prefer to run your projects on.