Detailed Review of Mission Control Salesforce App

Mission Control is subject of insanely precise free review by Japanese scholar.

Mission Control is reviewed against 200+ project management software requirements on a downloadable spreadsheet. Mission Control is scored overall and for each of the ten project management processes. This post provides a summary of the key strengths and weaknesses for each of the processes.

Summary of Findings

Overall, Mission Control (MC) is incredibly detailed. I believe this may be its greatest strength, as well as, its greatest weakness. Mission Control is a professional service administration (PSA) tool, so if you are a professional services firm that plans and tracks every minute of people’s time, then Mission Control is the tool for you. However, I’ve never found this level of planning realistic for internal software or business improvement projects. I think for general applications, project managers will find the level of detail in Mission Control overwhelming.

When compared to the project management process as defined in the PMBOK Mission Control has a coverage of 59% with some coverage in all the processes. As a PSA tool, it scores highest in cost and resource management. The table below shows the coverage of each process as a percentage basis compared to full coverage.

Mission Control
Total Score60%
Communications Management9%
Cost Management86%
Integration Management61%
Procurement Management50%
Quality Management25%
Resource Management67%
Risk Management58%
Schedule Management61%
Scope Management44%
Stakeholder Management33%

Download Mission Control Evaluation Spreadsheet

Click here to add the Mission Control Excel spreadsheet to your basket and continue reading. Visit the basket page to complete the download.

Mission Control Pricing

Mission Control pricing is straight forward it is $39/month/user with a five seat minimum. So it requires a minimum starting investment of $2,340/year. Just keep in mind that anyone who will edit or view any Mission Control project data will require a license. This will include anyone assigned a Mission Control task and will view or complete it in Mission Control or any manager who wants to view a project status. This user count can add up quick.

I don’t think users assigned a Mission Control task that synchs to Salesforce tasks will require a Mission Control license, but you should confirm this with Mission Control. I wasn’t able to test this as license requirements aren’t enforced in a sandbox environment. Here is what I mean: when a task (Mission Control calls them ‘actions’) is created in Mission Control, you have the option of also creating a duplicate Salesforce task which is synched to the Mission Control task. If the user is only going to view/update the Salesforce task, they should not require a Mission Control license. Therefore, you shouldn’t need to purchase licenses for people who are only going to be assigned project tasks rarely.

Mission Control Scoring Methodology

I’ve been evaluating all of the Salesforce project management software and sharing the results to help others save time in making an informed decision. I started the evaluation as marketing research for the Salesforce project management app I built: Project Lifecycle Pro. I’m doing my best to give a unbiased review, but I’ve attached the detailed Excel spreadsheet which you can use to perform your own analysis. Here are detailed instructions on how to use the spreadsheet to weight requirements and compare multiple software packages side-by-side.

I structured the analysis around the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)© project management process. This is outlined in the PM Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)©. First, I listed the project management processes and then the activities within each process. Finally, I developed a list of requirements related to each of the activities. The list of requirements is based upon my thirty years of project management experience and experience evaluating project management tools for clients. When I come across novel functionality in the software I’m evaluating I add it to the requirements list. Of course, I’m sure I missed some requirements and welcome any suggestions.

I gave all processes and requirements equal weights, but you can adjust the scoring weights in the Excel spreadsheet to suit your needs. Each requirement was rated as either:

  • Yes – As Is – Meaning, the requirement is met with out-of-the-box functionality. This rating is awarded four points.
  • Yes – With Configuration – Meaning the requirement can be met with minimal configuration or no-code updates. Since, Salesforce is highly configurable I used this rating for simple things like changing picklist values, adding a field to an existing data object, creating a report, etc. This rating is awarded two points.
  • No – Not Available or Requires Customization – Meaning the requirement cannot be met without significant investment of time or money. I assigned this rating if custom coding would be required, or a new custom data object, or a new custom flow. This rating is awarded zero points.

Finally, the scoring spreadsheet totaled the ratings by process to show how the apps compare by process. Therefore, you can assess the apps based on which processes are the most important to you. You can confirm my scoring using the Mission Control test drive or by installing the free trial into a sandbox.

Here are some links to help you research the app:

Download Mission Control Evaluation Spreadsheet

Click here to download the Mission Control Excel spreadsheet.

Communications Management

Mission Control (MC) is not intended to be used for change management and therefore, has little communication functionality. It does have a few unique features, and some of its weaknesses can be resolved with simple configuration updates.

Strength: Automatic Status Report

Mission Control can automatically publish a PDF status report and email it to stakeholders each week. There are also multiple configuration fields which allow you to customize which topics should be included in the status report.

While this is impressive functionality, it is so detailed without any summary information, I doubt it would ever get read. The standard status report is 6 pages long, and contains detailed metrics like the number of completed or overdue tasks. It does not have basic summary data like the overall project health (red, yellow, green) or key accomplishments for the week or key upcoming tasks.

Strength: Customer Access to Project Data

Mission Control creates an external website which the client can access to track the project status. There are configuration check boxes which allow the project manager to control which type of project data the customer can view.

Strength: Identify Stakeholders

Mission Control does provide the capability to identify individual project stakeholders that are either Salesforce users or Salesforce contacts. This stakeholder list can then be used for planning communication or training.

However, it only has the ability to identify individual stakeholders. Often, when planning communication or training you want to specify groups rather than individuals. For example: Atlanta call center. You might be able to work around this gap by using Mission Control’s ‘Asset’ stakeholder type or adding a new custom type.

Weaknesses

There isn’t any functionality for planning communication or training.

It boggles my mind, but there aren’t any standard fields to communicate overall project health. For example, red, yellow or green. Or to use stoplights for costs, schedule and scope. This can be corrected fairly easily by adding these fields to the project object.

Cost Management

As you would expect with a PSA tool, Mission Control has very strong cost management functionality. It has the ability to vary tax rates, to track and approve billable expenses, vary the billing types, etc. I only found a few minor functionality gaps, and these can be easily fixed by adding some custom fields.

Strength: Roll Up of Costs

Costs are associated to actions and then actions can be rolled up to projects and programs. Client-incurred costs are also summed to generate invoices. There are also checkboxes which control the summations. For example, you can check whether the cost is billable or not.

Strength: Route Expenses for Approval

Expenses can be routed to a manager for approval. This is especially important when expenses are being billed to the client.

Integration Management

Integration Management is the process of coordinating the overall project and the different project management processes. Mission Control has good functionality in this area. It is unique in that it provides a meeting planning tool and a tool for recording project retrospectives. It has the standard common functionality, such as, issues, risks, time entry, dashboards and task alerts. Mission Control is weak in the area of project-specific security and access.

Strength: Meeting Planning Tool

Mission Control has a unique meeting planning tool. It creates and object record for each meeting so the meeting can be planned and recorded. It includes an attendee list and can record actual attendance. It includes an agenda, and tasks can be assigned to the individual agenda items. Also, recurring meetings can be cloned from prior meetings.

There is one major gap. The meeting tool doesn’t show attendee’s calendars in order to pick a meeting time when all will be available. So, while it is good for recording the meetings, the meetings will have to first be scheduled in a tool like Microsoft Outlook.

Strength: Project Retrospective

Mission Control gives project retrospectives a high priority by providing a dedicated object. You can record the weaknesses and strengths identified during the retrospective and even share them across project teams.

Strength: Task Alerts

Mission Control provides two task alerts which are very useful. First, a person assigned to a task can receive an alert notifying them that they have been assigned a task. Second, when a preceding dependent task is completed, a notification can be sent to the person assigned to the succeeding task that the task can be started. There are also simply checkboxes that toggle these alerts on or off.

Weakness: Project-Level Access

It appears that Mission Control doesn’t provide any project-level access controls. Meaning, anyone with a Mission Control license can view all projects. You can control which data an individual user can view globally across all projects, but you cannot vary the data they can view between projects. At the role level, you can control the data displayed on specific screens, but I don’t think you can control their access to the underlying data. So you could assign a user to a specific role and then assign the role to the project to vary the data displayed on the screens for a specific project.

This would be a problem if you wanted to have confidential projects within your company. This could be important for a pending merger or a project which would result in staffing reductions. It could also be a problem if users fill different roles on different projects and you want to limit their data access based on their role. For example, a project manager will need access to financial data on their own projects, but you may not want them to have access to the financial data of all projects.

Weakness: Project Scope and Business Case

Mission Control lacks the ability to document details of the project’s scope and business case. It doesn’t have the ability to capture individual scope records, though changes are captured in change requests. It also doesn’t have the ability to capture detailed benefits and project savings to develop a business case.

Procurement Management

Mission Control has strong procurement management functionality in that it can forecast cash flows and capture the spend per vendor.

Quality Management

Mission Control doesn’t have any real functionality for testing software or processes. The only functionality it provides is documenting acceptance criteria for user stories and requirements. However, the acceptance criteria is a single text field, so you won’t be able to record which criteria passed and which failed when testing.

Resource Management

Resource management is Mission Control’s greatest strength, but could also be its greatest weakness if you don’t plan or track every minute of your resource’s time. It is primarily setup to allocate labor hours to every task, sum those hours and rates into a budget and then track and bill those hours throughout the project. This makes sense as this is the main function of a PSA tool.

However, after thirty years of project management, I’ve come to the conclusion that this level of planning is not necessary and is a unnecessary burden. I simply allocate a percentage of a person’s time to a project by week. I estimate the total hours required by estimating the deliverables, not be assigning hours to specific tasks.

Also, I worked at a large global consulting firm, and resource allocations were never planned at this level. People were assigned to a client at a percentage level by week. This gave the visibility needed for managing utilization and resource availability.

Strengths: Detailed Resource Planning

Mission Control has all the key functionality you would need to perform detailed resource planning. You can assign skills and plan by skill. You can assign holiday schedules to individuals or groups. You can measure utilization.

Resources and labor hours are assigned to individual tasks. Summary reports can should a person’s total allocated versus available hours by day, week or month. These allocations are updated as tasks are rescheduled.

Mission Control highly detailed task (action) record

Weakness: Project-Level Resource Allocation

Mission Control has a tool to do an initial labor forecast based on skill. However, the only method I could find for forecasting an individual’s labor allocation is to assign a person to a project role and then assign that role to tasks with individual labor estimates. I could not find any functionality where I could simply assign a person to a project at 50% for a month.

I suppose you could work around this restriction by creating ‘dummy’ tasks for each resource which represent their project allocation. However, this would then become problematic if you also assign them to specific tasks with labor estimates.

Risk Management

Mission Control has good functionality for recording risks. It only has two gaps that I could find. First, it doesn’t have a full-fledged risk matrix which would total all the financial or schedule impacts for a project. However, I find risk matrices to be a limited value. Second, only one task can be assigned to any one risk. Therefore, cannot build a detailed action plan for a risk.

Schedule Management

Mission Control has a good scheduling tool and Gantt chart. It should suit the needs for most professional services companies, but it would not suit the detailed scheduling needs for a construction project. The biggest gap is that the task hierarchy and work breakdown structure is limited to only three levels. You cannot simply create as many task groupings as you would like. Next major gap is that it does not calculate a critical path. Lastly, it does not support planning software releases.

Strength: Basic Gantt Chart Functionality

The Gantt Chart functionality is very similar to Microsoft Project and is easy to use. You can add new tasks and create dependencies by dragging and dropping. It supports all task dependencies except for Start-Finish (which is rarely applicable). You can quickly modify and re-order tasks within the Gantt view. It supports multiple predecessors for a task and lag for a predecessor.

The Gantt is rescheduled based upon dependencies when predecessor tasks are updated with either planned or actual dates. The rescheduling functionality worked in all but one case, as I was testing it. In one case the finish date or the preceding task was updated and the dependent task’s start date didn’t not change. So, you should thoroughly test this functionality for yourself.

Mission Control Gantt Chart

Strength: Inter-Project Dependencies

Mission Control supports creating dependencies between tasks on different projects. For example, Task 10 on Project B cannot start until Task 20 on Project A is completed. I’ve found that this is often not supported on other project management software.

Strength: Assign Multiple People to a Task

Multiple people can be assigned to a task in Mission Control and it handles the resource allocation. I’ve found this to be a differentiator on project management software.

Strength: Synchs with Salesforce Tasks

Mission Control created tasks will also create a cloned Salesforce task. These tasks are also synched so that when one is marked as complete, the other one is also updated. This is incredibly important functionality because it means that a Salesforce user can view all their assigned tasks in one place. They don’t have to view everyday tasks on their Salesforce home page and then have to open the project management app to view their project tasks.

Weakness: Three Level Work Breakdown Structure

Mission Control only supports three levels of tasks: milestone, task (called an action), and a checklist. Unlike Microsoft Project, you cannot simply indent a task to make it a child of the preceding task. This would be a serious handicap for me, but may not be a major issue for you. I can easily use five or six levels within my project plans.

Weakness: Doesn’t Calculate the Critical Path

Unlike most scheduling tools, Mission Control does not calculate the slack between dependent tasks and highlight the critical path which lacks any slack. As a project manager, I find this functionality extremely useful. First, it isn’t obvious in large complex project plans. Second, it helps prioritize which tasks to focus on so I ensure they don’t slide.

Weakness: No Releases

Mission Control doesn’t have a ‘release’ planning object. I would find this very problematic, especially with the limitation to a three level work breakdown structure. I plan the project build and change management around releases. Not having this capability would make it very difficult to forecast and communicate release dates. You could define a milestone as a release, but then you could not group the tasks any further by deliverable.

Scope Management

Mission Control has two strong pieces of scope management: it documents requirements and it issues change requests. The only gap is that it doesn’t have strong functionality for listing individual in-scope and out-of-scope items at the beginning of the project.

Stakeholder Management

Mission Control supports identifying stakeholders, but it doesn’t integrate this into a full stakeholder management solution to support communication and training (i.e. change management). You cannot identify the change impacts from an upcoming release and map that to the stakeholders that will be impacted, and the resulting level of support, communication and training that is required.

The other significant gap, is that is geared to identifying individuals as stakeholders, not groups. I believe you could work around this by using the ‘Asset’ classification of a stakeholder, but that wasn’t its intended purpose. While key executives need to identified as individuals, most communication and training is planned at the group level.

In Conclusion

If you are looking for a professional services automation (PSA) tool where you can easily manage your team and bill your clients, then you should seriously consider Mission Control. However, if you are looking for a more generic project management solution, I think you will find the detailed planning required by Mission Control to be stifling.

Regards,

Brian

Additional References

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