Saturday, February 9, 2008

Franklin Covey PlanPlus for Outlook v 5.0

This is like a placeholder post so you'll know I'm not gone.

I'm still trying to get PlanPlus for Outlook version 5.0 to work on my new (Vista) computer. It takes up all of my free time because I depend on that program so much. I don't have much free time, a couple hours a week. After I get it working and have my task list back, I am going to work hard to find an alternative, as the last few versions of Franklin Covey's productivity software have been horrible, and getting worse. Even some of the tech support pages admit to allowing data to be created (like a to-do task) that will not be retrievable because of how it was created. They apologize, and say they can't do anything about it because of the way Outlook is programmed. It's true that they can't make it retrievable, but it doesn't seem like it would take much to keep it from being created that way in the first place. There are other programming problems with it that allow data to easily get lost - not much of a feature in a program you're counting on to help you remember things.

As I write this I'm letting PlanPlus try to open - it took about two hours to load my task list after I got it to work right, then I re-booted and tried again to see if it would still work. It looks like it might be working, and it's only been 45 minutes! :-|.

This was originally meant to be just a placeholder post, but I guess it turned into a review of Franklin Covey's productivity software. On any scale from 1 to anything I give it a 1. On the thumb scale it would be two down. Because I have Google Ad-Sense on the site, there may even be an ad for this software on this page. PLEASE do not think I did that on purpose. I would recommend Franklin Covey's books, and their paper planners. But NEVER would I recommend their software. Any efficiency gains are more than made up for in installation and tech-support hassles - and don't forget the cavalier attitude about data integrity.

- Trevor.
Whitestown, IN
2008-02-09 (Happy Birthday to me...)

13 comments:

SeaSaw Mom said...

Didn't you have anything more fun to talk about on your birthday? :)
They don't get more fun as we age, do they?
But HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

CDM said...

Bummer. Not sure if you've solved it or not. Been using that product for many years (since first version). Just upgraded to a Vista laptop and the migration went smooth. I have had big problems with the older versions of the product however, so I feel your pain. fwiw, I'm also running office 2007. Hope all worked out for you.

^Carl.

Trevor said...

Not exactly solved, but a good enough work-around to be getting on with. Eventually I'll post a full review of the product. One of my PlanPlus tasks is to find a new program to replace PlanPlus :-).
I've been using Franklin Covey planners and software since the old program called Ascend (maybe 1997?), which also had some minor problems with data integrity - but not nearly as bad as now. Of course, that was a stand-alone product, and this is a plug-in.
So I'll post a full review eventually, subscribe with FeedBurner and you'll automatically get it! Of course, you'll get a bit of useless crap in the meantime, but even with the PlanPlus plug-in, Outlook still has a delete key! :-)
Thanks for your comment!
- Trevor.

kevin said...

WARNING: PURCHASE THE 30 DAY TRIAL VERSION!! AND KEEP EXTENDING THE 30 DAYS UNTIL THE TECHS AT FC GET IT RIGHT TO YOUR SATISFACTION!! Even then, using the program will require several annoying work-arounds, but, as there doesn't seem to be any other program on the market like it, what else can you do...

agvivino said...

Wow! I'm a little confused at the posts about the Covey Plan Plus software. I've been using it over a year now and have had a few small issues but nothing to complain about. Never any data integrity issues that is for sure.

I'm running Vista on a laptop. Did a migration from Outlook too. Everything moved over without issue.

Sorry you are having issues.

Carl said...

I've been using PlanPlus for a few months now and it's really a dog when it comes to performance. Believe it or not when I am in the software I can type faster than the computer so that's something!. I used to have Outlook open into the PlanPlus window but the performance was so slow I got tired of waiting. Now I only go into PlanPlus as needed.I don't understand why the performance is so slow except that it must be coded very poorly.

Dan said...

Hello Trevor

I am just planning to upgrade to FC PlanPlus for Outlook ver 5.0 and your story little bit confused me. I have been using FC planners now for 3-4 years (last 1 year electronical planning) and have been very satisfied with it. Now thinking: upgrade or no :)

Have you solved your problem with software of found something instead of it?

Best regards

Dan (http://www.mereblog.com)

Trevor said...

Thanks for all the comments, everyone. I have a more detailed review almost completed, but Dan's question sounded a tad urgent :-). I would *not* recommend upgrading - I only upgraded because the previous version was not compatible with Vista - which after all the negative press I was surprised to find I like very much!
My main problem turned out to simply be having too many tasks for PlanPlus to handle, eventually solved by simply never visiting the master task list except through the "Quick Prioritize" function. Then any tasks I want to work with I simply move to the current day, work with them, then send them to the last day of the month following the current one, and eventually use quick prioritize to move them back to the Master Task list. If that sounds like an incredible pain in the behind, especially in light of the fact that computers were specifically designed to do exactly this sort of thing and do it well, then we're on the same page. Opening the Master Task list directly takes anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours.
During the install that prompted the original post, I simply assumed that 45 minutes to two hours was an error, and that there was somehting wrong with the installation. When I talked to tech support and he said, "well, sometimes it takes a little while to open..." I realized that it wasn't a problem with the installation, but a problem with the whole *^$*blasted program, and devised the aforementioned work-around. I've since begun using Google Calendar heavily, and am looking for a decent replacement to the task list - hopefully one that integrates with Gmail - and soon I'll be dispensing with PlanPlus and Outlook altogether.

Look for the more detailed review (it explains preciesly what I meant by "data integrity issues") in the next couple of weeks.

Self said...

I agree with you.

I like the planning system, and I really love the idea of integrating that system with Outlook. I've been TRYING to use PlanPlus for Outlook for several versions now, but with every release it just gets worse. Specifically:

1. Performance is slow. Very, very slow.

2. Outlook keeps crashing when the FC add-on is enabled, making me very nervous everytime Outlook needs to "rebuild" my data file when it opens.

3. Unpredictable behavior, mostly related to performance, with screen redraws after trying to drop/drag a task or apt. Usually Outlook just crashes, but it's so unpredictable I'm at a point where I'm afraid to touch anything.

Time to uninstall and look for an alternative.

Looks to me like the Product Manager(s) got the right idea for a feature set, but something went horribly wrong in its execution.

DBVirago said...

I have been buying, downloading, installing, and using software for almost 30 years, and this is without a doubt the worst piece of software I have ever encountered. Outlook only loads after clicking through nine error dialogs, it creates 5 empty tasks and 5 error emails to support. If it loads, and that is only 30% of the time, most windows are flaky. For instance clicking on a new project opens a blank email. Any element of the Palm application will reset the palm.

DO NOT BUY THIS SOFTWARE!

Stew said...

Thanks for your comments here, as it saved me some money and aggravation.

I've tried FC software in the distant past (10+ years???) and found it to be terrible. It's sad to see that they haven't improved since then.

Reid said...

Trevor,

I have been a FC Plan Plus user for awhile.

I love:
- the A1, A2, B1 etc.
- the ability to prioritize by drag/drop
- the ability to drag an email and create a task by dropping it into my tasks.

BUT I HATE EVERYTHING ELSE:
- Slow
- will not sync with iPhone
- did i say SLOW
- data integrity stinks
- Must use Outlook which is a HOG

Has anyone found better software? I desperately want to throw Plan Plus out the window!!

Raymundo said...

To add my 2-bits worth - love the task priority aspect and the project planning but HATE that it won't easily sync with my laptop (except for a not insignificant monthly fee) - why can't they allow this to sync over my internal network???? Also, desperately need a full PlanPlus app for the iPhone - take some of the staff resources used to send me countless e-mails for useless paper and other products (really, I don't need a Franklin Covey bag!!)