FranklinCovey Planning Software 8.0 review:

FranklinCovey Planning Software 8.0

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Comprehensive feature set; clean user interface, excellent tech support.

The Bad Potentially intrusive philosophical underpinnings; some glitches in PDA install.

The Bottom Line FranklinCovey's handy PIM makes an excellent choice for people who want to organize both their personal and business lives. Add points if you agree with the FranklinCovey values.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall

While most effective, professional-level PIMs on the market have fallen by the wayside, including Ecco and Day-timer Organizer, it's good to know at least one is still around. FranklinCovey Planning Software (FCPS) is a solid, well-organized PIM, with an impressive feature set and an easy-to-understand interface--if you don't mind its underlying motivational purpose. It's appropriate for almost any home office or small business that needs a full-featured, uncomplicated organizer. While most effective, professional-level PIMs on the market have fallen by the wayside, including Ecco and Day-timer Organizer, it's good to know at least one is still around. FranklinCovey Planning Software (FCPS) is a solid, well-organized PIM, with an impressive feature set and an easy-to-understand interface--if you don't mind its underlying motivational purpose. It's appropriate for almost any home office or small business that needs a full-featured, uncomplicated organizer.

Well-ordered lives
FranklinCovey is the product of the merger of two popular hard-copy planners: Hyrum Smith's Franklin Planner and the planner based on Stephen Covey's book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Both emphasize can-do optimism and efficiency; as a result, we're not surprised that FranklinCovey is a very effective organizational tool for harried people.

The PIM's main screen features a left-hand navigation bar that gives access to three groups of applications: My Planner, Info Manager, and WMM, which is short for what matters most. My Planner includes all of the major PIM apps, including Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Planner. These four applications offer a wide range of features that are easy to understand and use. For example, Planner displays all of a day's appointments, tasks, and, if you wish, your contact list, a daily record of events, or your Weekly Compass (a list of your general professional and personal goals). The Calendar includes daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly views, and the appointments therein can include notes, attachments, or links to client contact lists. You can categorize, color-code, and prioritize all entries--a good touch.

The second group of apps, called Info Manager, gives you a variety of ways to display less quantifiable information. It includes a Journal; Notes, for quick note-taking; Quotes, where you can drop in interesting quotes that you come across; and Turbo File, where you can store files, graphics, or other miscellaneous data. The number of note-taking apps feels like overkill, but users are free to ignore any that they don't want to use.

Underlying philosophy
The WMM module is for those who want to embrace the whole FranklinCovey shebang, including listing long-term goals, life roles, and the compass with which you are, presumably, to find your way more efficiently through life. You'll find directions for how to use WMM in the Multimedia Map, a series of videos that lay out the whys and wherefores of the FranklinCovey philosophy. If you find all this uplift a bit too, well, uplifting, you can avoid these features with relative ease. Unlike rivals Info Select and Electronic Assistant, FCPS does not come with an e-mail module, although you can write e-mail in FranklinCovey, then send them via another app, say, Outlook Express. The program imports various ASCII-character- and tab-delimited files; it also imports from dBase and other Franklin Planners, making it easy to grab contact lists from files created in other programs.

On the road
FCPS makes it possible for you to sync with your Palm OS PDA (Pocket PC owners must sync through Outlook, using the included third-party program TrueSync Plus). The process is relatively painless, and Palm OS data fits smoothly into the FCPS format.

If you have problems, the Web site offers e-mail help, a forum, numerous online FAQs, and an online chat on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT). We tried the chat for a problem we had syncing with a Palm OS PDA, and after a 10-minute wait, the technician quickly found an FAQ with the right answer. Telephone support is also available for either $19.95 per incident or $1.25 per minute.

All in all, we'd recommend this useful PIM for both personal and business use. As for the philosophical segments, those who subscribe to the WMM system will find them to be helpful additions, while those who simply want a solid, well-crafted PIM can, for the most part, ignore them.

Take me back to the roundup!

The FranklinCovey Planner app offers a well-ordered working view of your tasks, schedule, contacts and daily record of events; you can also display the Compass, which is an expression of the software's philosophy.

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