Just last week, Harvest unveiled its new resource forecasting tool called, appropriately, Forecast. We signed up that day. Eager? Yes. But we had reason to be. FINE has been using Harvest for a long time, and for even longer, we’ve evaluated dozens of options in search of the best agency resourcing tool. We’ve even gone so far as to create our own, which actually looks much like Forecast.
Judging by our quick action, we were more than ready to try something new, and we’re liking what Forecast offers.
- Resource ‘sketching’ without the painfully slow attachment to details
- It respects the knowhow of ‘professionals'; rather than enumerating every task, it allows pros to be pros.
- Editing of all elements in almost any view; something painfully lacking in other approaches.
- Integration with Harvest—pulls clients, projects, and team into resourcing. We’re looking forward to V2 project budget with resourcing combined.
- It’s high level, not down to the minute. One hour is the minimum time.
- It’s filterable by team and by person vs. project view.
- Adding time to people on projects is fast, easy, and ajax.
- Affordable – they don’t have fees per user/month. They recognize it’s important to have a whole team use a tool and motivate us to let a whole team in there.
- High-level vacation planning view. Though, we would like to see that support half days in the future.
- Nice color coding
- It’s not just a list of faceless ‘resources’. People’s faces are next to their name, through gravatar integration.
- High-level milestones on projects are nice, and provide a good core ‘schedule’ for a project without having to maintain a complex Gannt that is outdated the minute you hit save.
“Rather than starting where everyone else does and designing a tool that simply connects data, the folks at Forecast have wisely began at the other end… the user. We’re able to quickly sketch out resourcing schedules without being held back by the details. They’ve taken a confident step toward making the technology do the work rather than the person using the application. We’re hoping they keep the torch lit.”
— Kenn Fine, Principal and Creative Director
With all that said, there are still some critical improvements that we hope will be addressed soon, and some smaller suggestions that our team would love to see implemented.
1) We’d like to add the client name to the assign-to-project dropdown. In Forecast, the ‘assign-to-project’ dropdown in the people view (which is where a lot of our time is spent) is just alphabetized. This brings up a further issue, it’s sorted by project ID first – so it’s time consuming to find what you need.
Recommendation: 1) Move the automated project ID to the END of the project name so it doesn’t sort the list by number. 2) Add client name before project name automatically.
2) Because this is based on the day, and tasks spread over days, it’s really easy to have red days right next to green days. It would be nice to see the math for the week as a whole so you know your net over/under. It would also be nice for there to be 2 levels of red like you have levels of green; 1 hour over looks like it’s a huge sin while 8 hours over should really be more of an ‘alert’. It takes manually adding it up, or laborious reworking of the blocks, to prove that an employee’s whole week is solid green.
3) Add the ability to look at the project or team view with multiple categories, so we could effectively remove clients/projects that are in maintenance mode and do a few things a year. We could then look across project teams when a request spans a discipline.
4) Add the quantity of projects or people you see in a view.
That’s FINE’s wish list, but for now, we’re just happy to have found a resourcing tool that has the potential to keep up, and one that so easily integrates with programs we already use.