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Appfluence Priority Matrix Review – Windows

In this Priority Matrix Review we cover the Windows To-Do List App from Appfluence.  This task manager, based on the Eisenhower matrix, aims to provide the best of both worlds – a native windows application but with online syncing and collaborative team working features.

ProsConsBottom Line
Unique, multi-purpose quadrant interfaceExpensive for the functionality offeredAt present Priority Matrix is falling at the first hurdle in not having a robust, bug free program. This undermines the user experience, confidence in the app and it’s positive features.
Unique, multi-purpose quadrant interfaceNot robust and numerous bugs
Local AppSeveral options for task views, but none really excel
The Eisenhower matrix categorization can be readily replicated by other apps

 

Introduction

There is no shortage of internet based task management solutions that enable distributed teams to collaborate on projects, with HiTask, DropTask, Trello and Producteev  to name but a few.  However, they seldom provide a native Windows experience and are usually accessed via a web browser.  In this way Priority Matrix offers some advantage with local, fast usability.  Another novel feature of Priority Matrix is that it’s user interface is built around the Eisenhower concept where tasks can be subdivided into four quadrants depending on their importance and urgency.

Setting importance/urgency is a mainstay of many of software based task management systems, but rarely is it the centerpiece.  It will be interesting to see in this review how this change of emphasis can impact it’s application for day to day work and indeed for larger projects.  Also interesting is whether this concept can be wholeheartedly adopted not only by one user but all users in a given team using this software and how their concept of importance and priority would vary.  What is important for one team member may not be important for the next!  Anyway, let’s start this Priority Matrix Review with the User Interface.

 

Priority Matrix User Interface

The user interface is pretty much as would expect in this tool.  The left side of the main window is devoted to big picture elements such as changing the viewing panel and main projects listings.  The centre contains the task listings and the right side the details of the tasks.

Main screen

The User interface of Priority Matrix

 

At the top, search and filters are available – essential items when the task list starts to balloon to large numbers of tasks or when it contains tasks for several team members.  So, on the main screen, everything is pretty much straightforward and easy to find.

The party trick of Priority Matrix is the 4 quadrants in the centre of the screen with different combinations of “Critical”, and “Urgent”.  The difference with the Eisenhower matrix is that there is no “Not critical & Not Urgent”.  In essence, there is no place in this matrix for trivial tasks – so sorry folks, hanging around the water cooler does not make it into this task manager L  In it’s place there is an “Uncategorized”, quadrant for the items which have not yet been defined in terms or urgency or importance.  It is also possible to rename these quadrants as you wish – for example –  Kanban style as below, but whatever titles you use there will be the limitation of 4 quadrants for these categories.

Kanban style

 

The right side of the main user interface fulfills two functions.  The first is for additional task information and the second is to facilitate collaboration with team members.  The latter we come back to later under the collaboration section.

For the former, additional basic information can be added such as start & due dates, task effort, progress as well as being able to upload files and screen shots.  For the task effort, perhaps some re-calibration of the timescales would be useful here.  The minimum time that can be spent on a task is 1-2 hours which is too long and the longest task duration is “months”.  I have never seen a single task last months and for any planning purpose I am not sure how useful that would be.

In the “Notes”, section not only is it possible to write whatever comments you wish but also to drag files in there.  In this case the path of the file will be copied across enabling file links to be associated with tasks. This is important as it enables local files to be referenced for tasks.

 

Priority Matrix Features and Functionality

Priority Matrix is pitched at teams and distributed teams at that.  So, not only would the expectation be that the app enables personal productivity but also that it enables seamless working between team members and for the big boss upstairs keeping an eye on affairs, some overview or reporting functionality.

Views and Projects

OK, let’s start off with the features on the left side of the main user window.  Firstly, if you have an inherent dislike of the Eisenhower matrix interface then fear not for there are other views.  Namely,

  • Calendar
  • Master list
  • Gantt view

These are pretty much as expected.  The calendar view replaces the Priority Matrix with a Calendar which showing all tasks with defined dates. The master list provides a simple 1D listing of all the tasks, categorized by Quadrant.  I see another conundrum here.  Since the quadrants can be customized to whatever categories you want there could be some mismatch when viewed by quadrant.  For example, if the first project is organized as an Eisenhower matrix then the upper left quadrant is “Critical and Urgent”.  In the Kanban style Project listed below, the upper left quadrant has been classified as “Backlog”, so if not careful we could easily get a mix of different task categories just by viewing a certain quadrant.

Masterlist view

Finally the Gantt view, for Project Manager types, gives the expected project style view of tasks where the task bars indicating start date/finish date/duration can easily be manipulated as desired.  It seems task dependencies are not possible though with Priority Matrix and for serious project planning, it may be better to check out other tools more focused on such functionality.  In Priority Matrix, it essentially changes the view of the tasks but does not enable more advanced project management functionality.  I also note that the core function of Priority Matrix is absent from this view – the ability to list only urgent or important tasks.

Priority Matrix and Task Manipulation & Details

The centre of the main screen is devoted to the Priority Matrix.  Task entry is quick and easy, double click the quadrant and type the task.  To indicate the task is complete, select it and tick the box.  Personally I find this is one click too many – I would prefer the tick box be visible at all times.

One other item which creates unnecessary work is the ability to set the task details on multiple tasks at once.  For example, selecting several tasks and setting start and due dates for all of them is not possible.

Moving tasks is also pretty trivial, just drag and drop.  This functions not only between the various quadrants but also between projects.  But, I see another issue here.  When the list of projects is so long as to require a scroll bar the task can no longer be readily dragged and dropped.  It is a rather tedious procedure to drag the task and gradually nudge the list of projects down to find the one you wish to deposit the task into.  This may seem pedantic, but given that Priority Matrix does not really support hierarchies, large numbers of projects may be the norm and this scenario may emerge.

On the subject of subtasks, I do see one way in which this can be done within Priority Matrix by using the Get Link to Project, the last option in the right click menu and then paste this link into another project.  So, in a roundabout way, it enables a hierarchy to be formed.

Get Link to Project

 

 

Collaboration features

As with all Task management systems of this type – cloud synchronized, collaborative functionality is supported.  In the case of Priority Matrix, this collaborative functionality can be summarized in three points,

  • Tasks can be allocated between team members
  • Task oriented chat is possible. So, you can type comments which are linked to the task that all team members then can access.
  • A complete history is kept for the project and for all team members. So, you can open the team tab, click the team member and it will show all the activities that team member has done .

Although these can be summarized briefly the importance should be understated.  A task history can be very useful an no one’s memory is infallible and the chat essentially replaces email – so no more email searching for answers!

 

Task Search & Reporting

 

At present both the search and reporting functionality is rather limited but is due to be upgraded in the near future.  The features available under search include filtering by,

  • Assignee
  • Created by
  • Completed by
  • Finished/Open
  • Recently modified or due

The reporting functionality is pretty much like an historical view over the last day or week showing how many tasks have been added, completed or modified.

 

Collaboration vs. Eisenhower Matrix

The application of the Eisenhower matrix in a collaborative team setting may seem somewhat of a dichotomy.  This is because the very essence of the Eisenhower matrix is that one distinguishes between that which is Important, that which is Urgent and…..the leftovers.  But, this can be rather subjective and with 10 team members you will get 15 opinions of what is important or urgent.  So, for such a system to work either pre-alignment of the team members will be necessary to define Important/Urgent or some coordinator needs to make the call as tasks or added.  It would be interesting to see how this works in practice.

Integration

Priority Matrix is not only a Windows app, it also has mobile variants for IOS and Android and OSX is also supported so it pretty much spans all platforms and so the tasks you enter on one platform will be synced across the others.

In addition to the cross platform functionality or Priority Matrix, it also has some import/export functionality.  In case one is migrating from another program, it is possible to do a csv import of the tasks.  However, it allows only the most basic of task information – task title and notes.  No dates etc.

It also can link to Evernote in case this integration is desired.

 

Problems

I normally don’t have a “Problems”, section in my reviews but given the number and frequency of which problems emerged it needs to be mentioned.  First the more serious items,

  • Network problems meant that the local app could not sync tasks
  • Clicking area beside tags causes program to crash
  • Priority Matrix reported some tasks could not be opened
  • Errors reported for user identity and after installation

Some other areas of improvement included,

  • Cannot unselect tag box – have to use the more unorthodox clear tags “X” in the upper right corner.
  • Starring an item adds a start tag but this does not show up in the search/filter view
  • Dragging items from Inbox to a project does not work – had to use import in project
  • Advanced search too limited. Cannot enter defined dates for start/due but I understand this will be coming in a later version.
  • Gantt view was cumbersome to manipulate, first have to first drag the start date back before I can drag the due date forward
  • Reports are very simple, completed, modified etc. I also understand this will be improved in forthcoming versions.

From my research on this product I see that I am not the only one to face inexplicable issues – even the quite positive review below hit some bugs 6 minutes in.

Hopefully with time these issues can be addressed.

Pricing

The Business class for Priority Matrix comes in at $24 per user per month.  This includes the following features,

  • Personalized coaching
  • Gantt Charts global & project
  • Productivity Insights reports
  • All Our Platforms. All our features.

This sounds a tad expensive.  By comparison,

Trello Business class, $8.33 per month and Enterprise $20.83 per month.

Producteev Pro, $100 per month for unlimited users – Producteev Review

HiTask Premium $16 per month for 5 team members – HiTask Review

Droptask, from $6.50 per month – Droptask Review

Priority Matrix Review Summary

In this Priority Matrix Review I covered many different aspects but the one that sticks in my mind is the problems.  I feel that the app, as it stands, is not robust enough.  There are too many bugs there at the moment to really give confidence that one’s data is secure and the frequency at which the bugs emerge is sure to add frustration to one’s work.  I understand the developers are focused on addressing these so hopefully this will be fixed in the short term.

Looking beyond the problems, Priority Matrix has some points in it’s favour.  It is cross platform, collaborative and has a fairly unique Eisenhower matrix interface which taps into the current zeitgeist for this methodology.  But, there are also other players in this market with similar functionality, lower prices, and with arguably more stable platforms.  I would probably opt for one of these alternatives.

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