- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2008

PlanPlus Online (www.planplusonline.com), which is the digital embodiment of the Franklin Planner made famous a number of years back, now supports mobile devices, and quite nicely.

The Franklin Planner, now published by FranklinCovey Co., is one of those things you either “get” or you don’t. In its paper-based version, the planner will present you with space to map out and record your day: appointments, to-do items, expenses, notes and so on. By encouraging you to prioritize your “daily task list,” based on your own values and goals, the idea is to organize your work into ways that advance your life, not just your list-completion skills.

Many large companies — Sprint and DuPont are two names that come to mind — adopted the paper planner in the 1990s, and the volumes remain somewhat popular today. However, so much is shifting to digital formats, and the FranklinCovey folks have moved right along with that.

Online, from a desktop computer using a standard Web browser, your screen layout is similar to the printed planner page. There’s a place for everything to be inserted; the key difference being that, since we’re talking keyboards here, you can probably read what you’ve written more easily.

On a hand-held device (my choice was the Apple iPhone 3G) the format is tailored for the smaller screen. You don’t lose much in the way of functionality here, and it’s nice to have the convenience of entering items while on the go.

Two nice differences are worth noting. Now, you can set up PlanPlus Online to text message and/or e-mail your daily task list and appointments every day at a preset time. Mine is at 7 a.m. The cost is built into the monthly service fee of $25, and it’s a nice option, a digital kick-in-the-pants, if you will.

The other feature of PlanPlus Online works better, I believe, with a desktop or portable computer — not a hand-held — and some training. You can customize the back end of the system to track and monitor just about any business process you might have. Since the company that developed PlanPlus Online with FranklinCovey is into the CRM, or customer relationship management, space, there’s an emphasis on sales processes. You can use these to track prospects, assign them to a team, make sure everyone is doing their part.

However, what if your business isn’t straight commercial sales, but rather a service or “influencing” business such as public relations or lobbying, let’s say. Those are two occupations with plenty of followers in this area, and it would be nice, I’m guessing, to have a way to organize all this.

That’s where the customization comes in: With a little training, you can turn that sales form into a lobbying contact tracking system. The data can be exported to a spreadsheet or database for tracking. Records can contain attachments including Microsoft Word documents, photographs and other files.

I’ll confess to a 16-year love affair with what is now the FranklinCovey system. This new iteration extends the franchise and might well snag your interest.

What’s on your calendar?

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