Skip this project management project for one that makes life easier.

A successful project management program can help you pull together all of the pieces to ensure that a project runs smoothly from start to finish. PlanningForce Express Planner tries to be that program, but it suffers from a lack of direction and frequent error messages. It leaves a lot to be desired.

Red flags appeared right away when we started the program, or tried to: it wasn't readily apparent how to get started with PlanningForce. The program's Help feature only offered links to About and Welcome pages and a way to check for updates, and the Welcome Page link only took us to the page we were currently on. So we jumped in feet first and clicked the Import an Excel file button in the middle of the screen. But instead of importing a file, we were instructed to create a file using the Excel template that popped up. The template offered fields for Project, Task Group, Task, and Predecessor(s) as well as fields for Start and Target end dates and more. There was a button that displayed an Example tab so that we could get a better idea for what to enter. After saving our Excel template, we clicked on the Excel import wizard to add our file, but the error message that appeared didn't offer much in terms of an explanation. But despite the error, our test file appeared in a new interface that was just as unintuitive as the first. We could see our test file under the Task Manager tab, but we weren't sure where to go next. Another tab let us convert our tasks to a Gantt chart, but nothing appeared.

Overall, we just weren't impressed with PlanningForce. A project management program is supposed to make projects easier to manage, not create more headaches. PlanningForce Express Planner installs desktop icons without permission, but it uninstalls cleanly. We don't recommend this program.

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