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OWNER'S MANUAL

A Simple Cure for Project Management Headaches

Want to spend more time working on a project than managing it? Try this tool.

For a small business owner, collaborating on projects—especially ones with multiple users in multiple locations with a variety of employees, vendors, and clients—has never been easier.

But in some ways it's also never been harder. Managing a project can often take as much time as actually working on the project.

If the words "project management" give you the chills, here's a possible solution. PlanTasker is a Google app that provides project management and integration for Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and Google Docs. It also includes a Gmail Gadget that allows you to instantly add tasks to projects from emails.

Best of all, it's inexpensive. You can try it out for free on one project per month with unlimited collaborators. If you want to manage multiple projects, memberships start at $20 a month.

Here's how it works: PlanTasker takes existing Google data from your calendar, contacts, email, and documents. Then you can create and share projects with anyone. You can attach documents and files to projects, create tasks directly from Gmail, and track project, task, and milestone dates.

You can also set up alerts and reminders within Google Calendar, and use the project dashboard for quick progress checks and updates.

Sound like basic project management tasks? It is—except you can do all that with a few mouse clicks.

And since PlanTasker is a cloud-based app, anyone can access your projects from anywhere, and all your data is backed up daily.

I rarely recommend products, but I can endorse this one wholeheartedly. It's one of the few apps that allows me to forget about using the tool itself and focus on getting stuff done.

But don't just take my word for it: One of my most demanding and, shall we say, "attentive to detail" clients uses it, and loves it. (Trust me, he rarely loves anything.)

If you manage projects and need straightforward project management software that won't require you to spend more time learning how to use it than you will spend actually using it, PlanTasker is worth a try, especially since it doesn’t take long to decide whether it meets your needs.

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Last updated: Apr 2, 2012

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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