Planisware Review
Scales capably, flexibly for even complex, long-term, R&D programs. Maintainability reduces cost of ownership.


Primary Use Case

Resource forecasting and demand planning. One can do both short-term and long-term planning. Generic resources and named resources can be structured according to corporate need. 

Using an integrated Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS; sometimes called Responsibility) distinct from the Resource Breakdown Structure gives substantial reporting flexibility out of the box. (Of course, each company has populate those structures with internal data.)

Improvements to My Organization

Planisware provides consistent, verifiable source of truth for project progress and costs. Its deployment helps avoid disputes over whose spreadsheet (or slide) contains superior data.

Valuable Features

The load array, in concert with native and composite cost curves, provides thoughtful, adaptable consolidation and drill-down for time-phased data such as capacity (resource availability) and demand (planned or archived hours on tasks). Load array, a feature that has been available since the 1990s, enables very flexible time slicing that surpasess reporting capability via Excel.

Planisware Explorer (PEX) offers enhanced capabilities for reporting. Developer license is available for extra cost. PEX requires extra training for operational proficiency, typically from multiple fee-based Planisware couses. After PEX reports are defined and validated for a given customer configuration, relatively few developer licenses are needed. PEX is now more stable in V6 than the initial release in the middle of P5.

Administration module in V6 opens a large variety of object types for Table styles that a super-user can create easily. Export to Excel then makes it convenient to extract data into worksheets, complete with headers. In earlier versions, the Pro developer made these tables visible. Not having the header connected with the data cut and paste (in Pro developer) is quite bothersome.

Planisware 6 is now capable of supporting Android tablets. This allows convenient access while on the road to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on projects along with data editing.

Version 6 also has fairly extensive documents management to centralize communications among project users and stakeholders. Because the documents are included in each Planisware enviornment/configuration, messaging and documents associated with projects are easier to access that being spread through normal corporate email.

Program and project roadmaps integrate well with PowerPoint. Slide elements are editable and dynamically linked (if so specified) to detail projects. Capability to drill down into project specifics is built-in to Planisware V6.

Room for Improvement

Historically, some releases--even with extensive delays from initial announcement--had minor, yet troubling glitches. Planisware now has sufficient critical mass to retain additional qualified personnel for improved regression testing.

Planisware downplays customer use of Pro Web (L2) by emphasizing that substantial configuration capability is available in Intranet Server (L1). With SaaS service agreements, access to L2 for production environments is essentially forbidden for customers in order to maximize contracted uptime.

In my experience and discussions with fellow Planisware customers for almost two decades, commitment to achieving and sustaining deep product proficiency is a key best practice. Availability of Planisware software as a service (SaaS) contributes to operational stability; your team still needs to keep the configuration responsive to evolving business needs. Each customer has responsibility for continuing  to grow "know why" as well as "know how."

In modest configurations, having access to Pro Web in test and development environment can be sufficient. SaaS provisions that Planisware provide in relation to security are superior to what smaller organizations can afford.

One downside is that operational changes have to fit into the Planisware SaaS queue. It can work okay when Planisware consultants work with your solution over extended periods.

Here is a longterm issue to weigh: When only Planisware's staff makes operational and development changes to your production environment, technical capabilities on the customer side may not mature, resulting in over-dependence on the vendor. If your company is prepared to pay a premium for ongoing consulting on your organization-specific configuration from Planisware, that may be workable for your specific circumstance. That cost is above and beyond the SaaS maintenance.

Planisware decision makers have not placed priority on product changes or evolution requests that are not customer facing. For example, in Pro Web, control-A highlights visible lines for copying, but in my experience, only 300 or so lines actually copy in one operation. This fragmentation is supposedly ample for developers.Waiting for Planisware resolution--copying like the Pro tool in prior versions--may take many years, if ever.

L2 features have grown during V6 releases, yet some longstanding legacy (L1) features, such as update and deletion macros, are not available apart from Web Pro.

V6 can be addressed via mobile devices; having large monitor(s) provides better data visibility. 

Use of Solution

More than five years.

Stability Issues

Stability, particularly with Linux hosting of Intranet Server, is consistently good. Most cases of stability problems traced back to incorrect data, such as schedule dates that are impossible in the real world. Identifying and fixing bad data resolved stability issues about 80% of the time. In one or two cases since 2002, a Planisware update (patch), in one incident received within twenty-four hours after reporting, remedied incorrect data handling.

Scalability Issues

Planisware scales effortlessly when hosted on a decent Linux Server with ample RAM and sufficient CPUs. Performance, in my experience, has been markedly superior when using dedicated physical servers rather than resorting to virtual servers.

In a SaaS environment, what Planiware determines is adequate performance by sevice level agreement may not align with your company's users over time. Be prudent in not locking yourself into the least expensive hardware.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

Very good overall. Planisware tries to be customer-centric. Their approach has been primarily reactive to customer questions and concerns, not proactive and comprehensively enabling. Customers typically receive better answers and solutions when they are politely aggressive with Planisware.

Technical Support:

Between good to excellent, depending upon the proficiency of the individual Planisware consultant who responds. In my experience, some answers via SupportUS have been incorrect. The majority of responses are both helpful and valid.

Previous Solutions

My first experience in 1998 was spearheading selection and adoption of a commercial, off-the-shelf project management package to replace a "home-grown" project management program that was not Y2K compliant. Flexibility and configurability of Planisware were compelling business advantages compared to the competition.

Other Advice

Establish a priority of gaining technical proficiency with Planisware's tools so that your company is not entirely dependent upon billable consulting time for ongoing operational improvements.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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