Detailed Review of Precursive OBX Salesforce App

Precursive writing in Japan as symbol for Precursive Salesforce project management software

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

Precursive OBX Summary Findings

This is a detailed review of the Precursive Salesforce project management software formerly named ‘TaskFeed’. The Precursive OBX app is a Salesforce project management tool available on the Salesforce AppExchange, it supports the onboarding process for professional services firms. There are actually two Precursive apps: OBX and PSA. This review only covers OBX.

Precursive OBX is a great Kanban board tool built natively on Salesforce. The main question is whether it is as good as the master of all Kanban boards (JIRA) and whether being native offers significant advantages over using the JIRA/Salesforce interface. When trying to make this decision, you also need to factor in the integration of OBX with PSA which provides full professional services automation (PSA) functionality.

In the end, the only scenario I can come up with for installing Precursive OBX as a standalone app, is if you want to customize it using Salesforce data or workflows. If you are a professional services firm looking for a PSA solution then you should evaluate OBX in the context of implementing the complete suite of Precursive products. If you are simply looking for a Kanban board to manage your sprints, then JIRA has better functionality, and there shouldn’t be a need to integrate with Salesforce. If you are looking for a PMO tool for internal use, then you should consider other Salesforce project management tools.

I’d also lean towards JIRA because it is cheaper. The first ten users of JIRA are free. JIRA is $16/user/month if you need their Gantt view, but only $8.15/user/month if you don’t need the Gantt view. OBX pricing starts at $20/user/month for a starter package, and then the minimum pricing is $40/user/month beyond the starter package.

Precursive OBX
Total Score33%
Communications Management9%
Cost Management3%
Integration Management45%
Procurement Management0%
Quality Management17%
Resource Management26%
Risk Management58%
Schedule Management60%
Scope Management0%
Stakeholder Management13%

Download Precursive OBX Evaluation Spreadsheet

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

Precursive OBX Pricing

The standard pricing listed on AppExchange is confusing. It states a starter package of $20/user/month ($240/user/year) with a minimum of 20 licenses ($4,800/year), but a minimum cost of $40/user/month ($480/user/year) as default pricing ($9,600/year).

Precursive OBX Scoring Methodology

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. WARNING: The video demos for OBX on the Salesforce AppExchange include PSA functionality, so you cannot rely on the demos if you are only interested in OBX.

Here are some links to help you research the app:

Download Precursive OBX Evaluation Spreadsheet

Click here to download the Precursive OBX Excel spreadsheet.

Precursive OBX Communications Management

OBX only has three basic communication features: project status, chat, and external access. The chat feature is simply the standard Salesforce Chatter. I’ll explain the others below.

Strength: Project Status History

It is the first app I’ve seen that records a history of the project status. You create a project health record with explanations for the health rating. There is also an adjacent tab that displays risks and issues.

Strength: Share Projects with Customers

You can give customers access to the project’s Kanban board through a Force.com website. There are advanced settings so you can control which boards and tasks are published to the external website.

Weakness: No Change Management

It isn’t built or intended to support change management (i.e. communication or training). If you projects have significant training requirements then you’ll want to consider a learning management system (LMS).

Precursive OBX Cost Management

OBX doesn’t have any cost management functionality.

Precursive OBX Integration Management

OBX has some basic integration management functionality (dashboards, risks and issues), but not any unique strengths. It has major gaps around: scope management, approvals and grouping projects into programs.

Weakness: Lacks Detailed Scope

It doesn’t documented detailed project scope and it doesn’t support creating or approving change orders.

Weakness: Can’t Group Projects

It doesn’t support programs or portfolios. Thus you can’t aggregate project information to an overall program or use portfolios for aggregated reporting.

Precursive OBX Procurement Management

OBX doesn’t have any procurement management functionality.

Precursive OBX Quality Management

OBX doesn’t have any testing functionality. You could add some custom fields to the tasks to document acceptance criteria and some test details.

Precursive OBX Resource Management

OBX only provides resource management functionality around assigning and tracking task status, as well as, controlling access to the project. It lacks the functionality to track people’s availability against existing allocations to staff projects.

Strength: Project Access Control

It has good functionality to control project access. All projects are confidential. Only people added as team members have access to the project. You can control whether the team members have read or edit access at the click of a button.

Weakness: Lacks Staffing Requests and Assignments

You can assign resources to tasks and assign hours, however, you can’t create staffing requests and fill the requests based on people’s availability.

Precursive OBX Risk Management

OBX supports documenting risks. However, you can’t assign tasks to the risks.

Precursive OBX Schedule Management

Precursive OBX has basic functionality to create and schedule tasks. It has basic Gantt functionality. It has three unique strengths. First, it has a unique interface which allows you to add task details within the Kanban board. Next, it has a unique feature to create milestone metrics. Lastly, you can synch Precursive OBX tasks with external calendars like Outlook or Google.

As for gaps, it lacks advanced scheduling functionality like different dependency types, critical path or constraints. It doesn’t support release or sprint planning.

Strength: Kanban View with Task Details

I really like its Kanban board that allows you to enter task details like dependencies and checklists, right within the board.

Strength: Milestone Metrics

Unlike most scheduling tools, you don’t simply set a task’s duration to zero to create a milestone. You actually define a separate milestone record and then associate it with a task. This allows you to measure the elapsed time between milestones. This would be very useful if you wanted to track key stages across all of your projects, like how long does it take onboard the team from contract signing.

Strength: Synch with External Calendars

I’m a strong believer in giving users one source for all their assigned tasks. If your company uses external calendars rather than Salesforce, then this is a big feature. When a task is created or updated in OBX, a task will be added to the assigned person’s external calendar. The only caveat is that the synch is only one-way. The user will need to log into OBX in order to update or complete the task.

Weakness: Lacks Advanced Scheduling

If you are looking for a full-fledged scheduling tool like MS Project, OBX is not for you. Here are some of the missing scheduling functions:

  • Only supports Finish/Start dependencies
  • Only supports ‘Must Finish On’ constraint
  • Doesn’t calculate critical path
  • Doesn’t support fixed work scheduling

Weakness: No Release or Sprint Planning

This is the biggest gap with JIRA. OBX doesn’t contain release or sprint objects, so you can’t organize your board tasks by release or sprint. Therefore, you can’t track progress against the release or sprint. I think you could work around some of this by configuring Precursive. You could have a separate board per release. You could add a custom field to assign tasks to a specific sprint.

Precursive OBX Scope Management

The only piece of scope management functionality supported by Precursive OBX, is that you can create a detailed work breakdown structure. I was able to create multiple levels of subtasks. Many PSA tools only support 1-2 levels of tasks.

Precursive OBX Stakeholder Management

Precursive OBX doesn’t have any stakeholder management functionality. You could configure the role types to add ‘Steering Committee’ or ‘Stakeholder’ values and add them to your project teams.

Precursive OBX Conclusion

While I like many features of Precursive OBX as a Kanban board for onboarding teams, I struggle to find its niche relative to other available products (JIRA). It might be a good fit if you want the flexibility of Salesforce to do a lot of customization.

It is definitely more of a specialized tool that a broad Salesforce project management tool. If you are looking for a PSA tool, you’ll need to consider the full Precursive suite. If you are looking for a PMO tool, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Regards,

Brian

Additional References

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