Review: Planbox Offers Project Management In The Cloud

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A two-year old startup has hit the market with a cloud-based project management solution, which offers price and client scalability and the beginning of a decent expansion to the mobile web.

Planbox, based in Montreal, provides its solution of the same name with a free-entry level service for a two-person work team. It has designed this solution to guide workflow through “Initiatives” (the broader project) as well as “Items” (related, mini-initiatives) and tasks.

If you’ve used other, widely available project management solutions before, Planbox has a slightly different navigation architecture -- and at first blush appears less intuitive than, say, what you’d get from Microsoft SharePoint or Zoho. But the solution’s dashboard provides easy-to-follow tutorials for how to use Planbox and how to get your workflow going.

Planbox is based on “Agile Project Management,” an open-source (essentially, community-based) planning architecture originally created to ease workflow of software development. The basic concepts of Agile Project Management hold that people are more important than process or tools, the goal should be working software rather than documentation, bringing customers into the collaboration process and adapting to the need to change, rather than sticking with a rigid plan.

Planbox does its best to meet the Agile intent; in the process it also makes its solution worth considering even if you’re not a software developer.

The company advises that to make the best use of its project management solution, that the project manager should invoke five steps: After logging into the system, create the new project and customize the dashboard; invite appropriate team members; go to the Planbox “Manage” page to establish mini-projects and tasks; engage team members by providing them with “points” for each activity or completed task; archive, or “Move to History,” each completed project.

This is a browser-based, online solution; however, we checked it out on an iPad’s Safari browser and the browser of an Android tablet, and found it was consistent and just about fully functional on each. Regardless of which device or PC from which you’re accessing Planbox, it supports import and export of project data into .csv files -- which means the data is not locked inside the solution itself. That could be a very vital function to many.

As noted earlier, this is less intuitive than other project management solutions. However, if the point of Agile Project Management is to focus on the people rather than the technology, it could be well worth the initial pains of learning how the Planbox workflow operates.

Planbox makes the claim that the average company that deploys this project management solution will save between five percent and 10 percent per employee; or between $40,000 to $75,000 per year for an average work team of about 10 people. That may be a very liberal use of mathematics to reach that kind of ROI; after all, you still need employees who are productive by nature and who essentially know what they’re doing. Individual projects also have a lot of variables.

Pricing will run $20 per month for up to five team members, 20 projects and 20 GB of storage; $40 per month for 10 team members, unlimited projects and 100 GB of storage; $80 for 20 users, with unlimited initiatives, projects and unlimited storage; and $200 per month for up to 50 team members, with unlimited initiatives, projects and storage, private training. All paid accounts have email included and third-party integration with solutions including Zendesk. Planbox also offers 30-minute webinars for $99 per person.

The solution is sold direct by Planbox, but provides APIs for customization that VARs could use for customization.

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