OmniPlan version 1.7 (for Mac) by the OmniGroup, is an aesthetically pleasing application for project management, with an ardent base of dedicated users. Recently I had the inclination to evaluate OmniPlan for my purposes, and I stumbled upon something that I couldn’t find in the help information. As soon as I installed OmniPlan and started a new project I noticed that the default task duration (effort) was set to one day (e.g., 1d).
I changed the duration for that first task to 30 minutes, but as soon as I created another task the duration was again defaulting to one day. Searching the OmniPlan help showed that “default” was not in their vocabulary. How ubiquitous is the notion of default values? Every programmer and computer user knows what a default value is, don’t they? If you use a computer for a period longer than a month, you are likely to be introduced to the notion of what a default value is, so I should be able to find some reference to it in the Help, shouldn’t I?
Some searching on the Internet revealed that task duration is a function of “Effort Conversion Factors” on the Project Formatting Inspector; and the confusing part is that it is a “function of.”
There is no simple label like “default task effort,” instead the interface seems to have been designed by OmniPlan programmers or technicians from their perspective, rather than from a project manager’s perspective. With repetition I am sure I would be accustomed to looking in the Project Formatting inspector to adjust the default task effort (or duration) but being new to OmniPlan, it was not readily apparent where to look. Some experimentation fiddling with the interface allowed me to enter the correct fraction of “hours per work day” that result in a default task duration of 30 minutes.
The other bit is that this change only pertains to this project, and new projects continue to use one day as the default task effort. What happens if a 30 minute task duration is the default you want applied to all subsequent projects? For this you’ll need to find and alter the “Empty Plan” template, called “Empty Plan.omniplan”. The Empty Plan template is buried within the contents of OmniPlan.app package, which means you cannot open the “Empty Plan” template from within OmniPlan. Why not? Because OmniPlan looks for OmniPlan files within your existing folders, and the finder utility within OmniPlan doesn’t allow inspecting files or folders, which is expected. Very few applications permit right-clicking on files when performing a file-open function.
You will need to use Finder to navigate to the contents of the application package and then open the template with OmniPlan (two-finder-tap the track-pad or right-click, with empty plan.omniplan selected, and select Open With OmniPlan from the context menu). Then use the Project Formatting inspector to adjust the “Effort Conversion Factors” as shown above and save the Empty Plan template (the following videos shows how to do this; there are two videos in order to keep video size below 10 MB in size).
My evaluation of OmniPlan is ongoing, and I haven’t yet made a decision what to buy, but I thought coverage of this pesky bit was not well covered so I blogged about it. Hope some finds it helpful.