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Hyper Plan Review – A Visual, Two Dimensional Task Manager

If you find Todo lists, Kanban boards, task outlines and so on just a little too one dimensional for your taste then the visual task manager, Hyper Plan, may be for you. It displays your task list as a two dimensional matrix which gives another degree of freedom to slice and dice your tasks…with some interesting results. This Hyper Plan review covers the MS Windows version.

Hyper Plan
8 Reviewer
Pros
• Novel Workflows possible
• Reasonable price
• Highly configurable
Cons
• Limited to Windows and Mac
• Dated User Interface
Bottom Line
An interesting spin on the traditional task list. Hyper Plan's two dimensional task matrix offers a few novel ways to slice and dice task lists. However, it is a Desktop only solution and it's User Interface is dated compared to other offerings.

Introduction

Hyper Plan Review Banner

Hyper Plan with its superlative title, sets itself a high standard. It goes beyond good, great and even super. So what raises it up to these dizzying heights? The addition of another dimension to the task list my friend. Yes, who says task lists need be a bottomless pit? They can just as well be a widely distributed planar pit! This is where Hyper plan enters the fray. Hyper Plan, available for MS Windows and Mac, offers a native and user configurable two dimensional task display to handle your task list.

It displays your task list as a two dimensional matrix which gives another degree of freedom to slice and dice your tasks…with some interesting results

Applying two dimensions to a task list opens up a range of interesting possibilities when those dimensions can be configured to any task detail such as priority, status, responsibility and so on. Even more so when you can sum those details in both dimensions. For example, let’s take the traditional Kanban board which many are familiar with. Normally this has vertical columns indicating tasks that are pending, in progress and done or some derivative thereof. If you enter task durations, common for this kind of task management, Hyper Plan will sum those task durations in both dimensions.

Will this extra dimension to the task list be as ground shaking as when the earth gained a third dimension?

So, summing the columns will indicate the required effort to complete pending tasks, in progress tasks etc. summing the rows will indicate the workload for each person. This is a nice native feature to have which I have not seen elsewhere (not for both dimensions simultaneously anyway). Of course you can swap the columns and rows to any task detail so a lot of interesting scenarios emerge. But anyway, you get some feeling for what this extra dimension can bring to the party. Will this extra dimension to the task list be as ground shaking as when the earth gained a third dimension? Let’s see if that can be answered by the end of this Hyper Plan review.

In this Hyper Plan review we will see how this 2D task matrix concept has been implemented. Let’s kick off with the Hyper Plan user interface.

Hyper Plan User interface

Broadly speaking the UI is divided into two sections. On the left we have the settings and on the right side, the task view. For the latter, a few options different ways of displaying the tasks are available,

  • Traditional one dimensional task list. The flat earthers have not been abandoned, hooray!
  • The two dimensional task matrix, Hyper Plan’s raison d’etre.
  • Graph views. You can use this to view statistics about your tasks in histogram form.

Hyper Plan Review : User Interface

Hyper Plan’s Two Dimensional Task matrix

Let’s cover the side window that sports more options than you can shake a stick at. On this side window you can access search/filtering and view options.

The right side task view is where much of the action happens. I will skip the one dimensional task view in this Hyper Plan review because it has been commonplace since biblical times. Instead let’s go directly to the main course, the two dimensional task matrix.

To get tasks into the matrix you can either hit the little add card icon on the top menu bar or alternatively use a shortcut key to bring up the add task dialog window. The latter is always preferred as it is simply more efficient. To that end, Hyper Plan supports a bevy of keyboard shortcuts to enable efficient use of the tool. Having entered the task, preferably with some relevant filtering information such as priority, status, responsibility and so on we can do a bit of task manipulation. Tasks can be dragged and dropped around the matrix. In doing so, the task details will be updated. So if you move it between different people, the responsibility field will be updated accordingly.

So, that’s how tasks can be entered and manipulated in Hyperplan.

I saw one problem in how numeric values could be displayed in the 2D matrix. Take for example tasks that have significantly different estimated durations, even orders of magnitude is not uncommon. For example, you may note down to return a call which takes 1 minute. On the other hand, that report that needed to get done could take 3 days. When you include such widely diverging time scales the 2D matrix scales accordingly, see below. So how does Hyper Plan address such a problem? In this case, several solutions are possible, including,

  • Defining the bin width, so for example each bin could be set for 2 hours
  • Have a predefined time estimate which limits the number of bins
  • Only show bins when a card occupies it

Linear scales can have elongated results

All of the possibilities above have an option. So for whatever obscure scenario you may have, there is a solution! Actually, it reminded me of that scene on Star Trek when no matter what ailment Kirk was afflicted with, Bones was on hand with a needle to deftly apply the solution. It’s about 14 seconds into the clip.

 

In general I find the user interface to be logical and functional, but a little old school in appearance. Flair I can survive without, but it makes the difference between maybe utilising a tool and fully utilising it and even deriving a modicum of delight from that.

Hyper Plan Features and functions

I will break this Hyper Plan features section down a little to cover the main areas of interest.

Hyper Plan Task entry

Task entry is done via the task entry dialog window, which can be triggered with the defy application of Ctrl+I. This opens a window like that shown below. The task details can be entered and you can also append the task attributes with your own custom variables. Note that you can also drag and drop files into this window which will place a link to the file. This can be invaluable for tracking external documents as well as getting a quick start on your work simply by hitting the file links associated with the task to open all relevant files.

Hyper Plan Review : Task Entry

Hyper Plan Task Entry Window

Hyper Plan Task organisation

The one thing I had to get accustomed to with Hyper Plan was the absence of any task hierarchy.

It is flat. Completely flat


It is flat. Completely flat. This may present some difficulties in breaking down more complicated tasks into more manageable chunks. It also means that you will have to employ some form of filtering when dealing with larger task lists otherwise you may get an eyeful, see below!

Hyper Plan Review : Large Task Lists

How a larger task list looks in Hyperplan

This is not so much an issue if your work packages tend to be of a relatively consistent size and complexity or if you are coming from the likes of Trello where again you are dealing with one level of task cards.

Hyper Plan Import and export

Import and export is available in Hyperplan. I have tried this for a moderately sized task list and it seems to work reasonably well with all task attributes also imported. The only difficulty I seen during this Hyper Plan review was with the time units for task durations where days was not recognized.

Hyper Plan Stats

Statistics, woo hoo. Now we come to the science part. Hyper Plan does not offer full on reporting like you get in the likes of MS Project or even RationalPlan but it does give some nice histogram to analyze your task list. The x and y axis can be set to any task attribute and you can also group by a third parameter. In the example below, I have plotted by estimated time vs. responsibility and grouped by priority. There are numerous options how you could use this. One thing I noted was it did not account for the task status. Completed tasks are not accounted for when compiling the statistics.

Hyper Plan Review : Chart view

Hyper Plan Charts view

Hyper Plan Settings

All user functions and settings are available front and centre left. It can even be a little overwhelming at first to have these confront you. Never let it be said that Hyper Plan is lacking in settings. The main function areas are as follows,

  • Layout/Colour – you can change the 2D matrix x and y variables to any task attribute, such as responsibility, priority and so on.
  • Show Properties – within each task card in the 2D matrix, you can display any task properties that you desire.
  • Filter – Basic or advanced. You can do simple keyword searches or alternatively apply a bit of Boolean logic.
  • Stored views – as indicated in the task organisation section, larger task lists will need some configuring in terms of filters or defines views. Stored views means you can access those views from the click of a button.
  • Appearance – configure the 2D view using a multitude of font, colour and sizing options.

The myriad of Settings

Hyper Plan Search and Filtering

Basic keyword functionality or Boolean searches are possible with Hyper Plan. In everyday practice, this could very well prove essential in cutting down huge lists to something a bit more manageable. Moreover, these filtering options can be saved as a view for quick and easy switching between them.

Task breakdown by Project

Earlier in this Hyper Plan review I lamented about having to use one level for task management. But, I do see that workarounds are possible. For example, you can add another task attribute and use that to define the Project under which a task may fall. This task attribute can then be plotted just like any other attribute, such as in the example below. So, two level task management a la Nozbe is possible.

Hyper Plan Review : Project View

Using Task Attributes to define Projects

Hyper Plan platforms

At present Hyperplan is only supported on Microsoft Windows and Mac. So, this is for desk bound folk only. If you are seeking a solution that spans mobile platforms also you can check out some alternatives such as Trello, Priority Matrix or Todoist.

Hyper Plan price(*)

At the time of writing, Hyper Plan is available for $40, £25 or €33 Euro. Get Hyperplan link. This is a reasonable asking price but I think you will need to consider if you are really going to utilise the two dimensional task matrix feature before parting with your hard earned cash. Fortunately there is a seven day free trial period for you to evaluate that and I always advocate taking up such offers before settling on a final task management solution for your needs.

Hyper Plan Review Summary

Time for the sharp intake of breath and caressing of the chin as we come to the wrap up.


Time for the sharp intake of breath and caressing of the chin as we come to the wrap up.

Will Hyperplan be a plausible solution for your task management? If you are coming from a Kanban style of working you will likely feel completely at home with Hyperplan. It’s two dimensional task matrix complements this style to give some unique insights into your task list. If you tick that box and two others – no mobile solution needed, and local collaboration then it is certainly worthy of consideration, especially if you already have in mind an application that requires such a 2D task matrix.

On the other hand, if you need a mobile solution, or prefer need to break down work packages then Hyper Plan would not be the best solution. I have a couple of other niggling feelings about it. It does have a learning curve, as you have to adjust your workflow to the 2D interface – probably to be expected. For many, the killer application of the 2D interface may not be known before they have tried it for some time. Finally, the interface appears a little outdated compared to its modern compatriots.

In the end, I see potential in the configurable 2D task view and there are certainly some good applications for this. Hyper Plan is a step forward in that regard but the user interface in particular needs a bit of spit and polish to live up to this potential.

I hope you found this Hyper Plan review helpful. If so, make sure and share on your social network using the little buttons to the left. Cheers!

(*) If you purchase those items through my links in this Hyper Plan review I may earn a commission. Not much, but perhaps enough to get two sips of beer, cheap beer. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link.

Brendan Toner

Let me welcome you to this alcove of the internet. In this little productivity blog, I detail the trials and tribulations of trying to use my time more effectively utilising the latest productivity tools and techniques. I hope you enjoy the articles, cheers!
Brendan Toner, author of Done Before Brekky

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