Pros & Cons of iPlanner
Pros of iPlanner
- Experience: iPlanner has been in the business planning game since 2007, so they’ve got a solid amount of industry knowledge and experience.
- Options: They’ve got two trademarked business planning services, Startup Framework™ and Strategy Designer™. This can be confusing when you’re navigating their site – to be honest, I got a bit lost myself – but it’s good to have options, right?
- Unlimited Users: All of their business planning packages allow you to have unlimited collaborators and assign people three different roles: Project Owners, Advisors, and Viewers.
- Cost: iPlanner’s rates start at only $49/year, which is much cheaper than many comparable services on the market.
- Modeling Capability: Their Startup Framework software has a business modeling section where you can design a business model canvas and strategize as much as you need before diving into your business plan.
Cons of iPlanner
- Commitment: iPlanner doesn’t have a month-to-month option for either of their services. Their Strategy Designer is payable only annually, while their Startup Framework is available for 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month payments. They also don’t offer refunds, which is a bummer since you’re locked into committing to a minimum of 3 months of their services.
- Clunky: Their website is pretty old school and tough to navigate. For example, initially we found it difficult to find the checkout page for the Startup Framework software. Their Strategic Designer page is a bit better, but still not super sophisticated.
- Trial: Unlike other business planning software, iPlanner doesn’t offer a free version or trial. However, you can take a tour of their Startup Framework software or view a demo of the Strategy Designer to get a feel for them.
iPlanner’s pricing model is a bit more complex than other providers since they offer two different software choices: Strategy Designer and Startup Framework. Based on their reviews, Strategy Designer seems to be the more popular choice, but we’ll outline both of them regardless.
Strategy Designer = $49-$4,990/yr
The Strategy Designer packages include custom business plan templates, a real-time dashboard, collaborative document management, integration with Excel, and more. The software can be purchased at six different price points:Much like their website, their software aesthetic is pretty dry, but it’s not such a pain to navigate. All your stats, documents, etc., are accessible via the drop-down list on the left. It’s not as sleek as some other software out there, but it gets the job done. You can still generate graphs and incorporate images and other files in your plan.
When to Use: I recommend this option for if you’re just starting out and looking for a cost effective option for a small team. Because you can have multiple users, it’s ideal for teamwork and collaboration.
Startup Framework = $55-$93/mo
Now let’s dig into Startup Framework. It’s their lesser-used software, but it has more to offer new businesses.
Startup Framework has two packages: Professional and Corporate. The Professional plan is designed for entrepreneurs and startups, while the Corporate plan is for business coaches and the like – hence, the Professional package is the one you should keep your eye on. It can be paid for in 3, 6, and 12-month increments, while the Corporate plan can be paid annually or biannually.
See the pricing model below:
I love that Startup Framework includes a business model canvas. Sure, you can create one for free through Canvanizer, but it’s nice to have everything in the same place for frequent referencing.
iPlanner also has tons of templates for financial plans, marketing strategy, business models and more, which you can leverage to make sure your reports look presentation-ready.
When to Use: I recommend the Professional Package for startups who want something a little bit more robust. The corporate package, as I mentioned isn’t really suited for a lot of our readers unless of course, you’re a business coach or mentor.
For most of our readers, I would recommend the Startup Framework package. The flexibility is fantastic, and I love that you can pick and choose which setup is ideal for you, whether it’s 1 plan or 100 plans. But, if you find yourself looking for more extensive tools like marketing strategies, it might be worth it to upgrade.
Moving into customer reviews, iPlanner has a good handful of testimonials, but that’s about it.
My team and I have done extensive google searching to track down all of the reviews we could find, which led to a few solid reviews from reputable review sites. From there, I’ve included everything we could find down below so you can see what the general consensus.
Customer reviews as of: 9-13-2017
- Capterra: 5/5, 8 reviews
- GetApp: 4.8/5, 8 votes
As you can see, there’s not a whole lot. But the ones they do have, are chalk full of praise. Customers found that their platform was easy and effective while still being great. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these reviews in the near future.
iPlanner is a reliable option, but it’s certainly not for everyone. iPlanner’s no-nonsense, html-style design isn’t the most user-friendly, but it works extremely well for some people. For comparison purposes, I’ve put iPlanner to the test by comparing it to a fan-favorite: LivePlan.
Pricing: It really depends on the package for this one. Because of the versatility that iPlanner offers and their yearly plans (as opposed to monthly), the comparison isn’t as direct as others. For example, for 1 team on their Strategy Designer package, it’s roughly $4/mo., which is considerably less expensive than LivePlan at around $11/mo.
For other packages with larger teams, the pricing shifts and LivePlan pulls into the lead, so I recommend that you go into these services knowing how intensive a setup you’re looking for.
Features: Features, on the other hand, are fairly balanced. LivePlan functions as more of a business plan creator, while iPlanner does this as well as a few other things.
The Startup Framework package is pretty comparable when it comes to features like financial dashboards, but most prefer LivePlan’s approach and aesthetic. Strategy Designer, however, combines business planning and some business modeling, so you end up getting a number of useful features.
Customer Service: I have to give this one to LivePlan. They offer phone, email and livechat support and we found their customer service reps extremely responsive. As far as I can see, iPlanner only offers email support, but we’ve yet to hear from them on any additional specifics.
Number of Businesses Served: Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how many users iPlanner has currently, but we can tell you that LivePlan has well over 500,000 active users.
HERE’S A QUICK VISUAL
Frequently Asked Questions
Are their services user-friendly?
It really depends on where you’re coming from. If you’re business-savvy enough that you don’t need much step-by-step help, and you’re fine with the html-style, no-nonsense aesthetic, you’ll probably have no trouble using iPlanner.
Is there a trial version?
Nope. They offer a free tour of Startup Framework and a demo of Strategy Designer, but only to give you an idea of what their completed plans look like. Think of it like a teaser version of the software.
What’s their refund policy?
iPlanner doesn’t offer any refunds, so make sure you do plenty of research before committing to their services.
What about ongoing support?
Email support only. Currently, their only Contact button (for desktop screens) is located at the bottom of their Strategy Designer page. Mobile users may have a little more trouble spotting it.
Based on all the things we’ve talked about, I’d give iPlanner a 3.4 out of 5. Although I think there are some alternatives on the market for a similar service, they do offer a cost-effective option for creating your business plan. If you’d like to learn more about iPlanner or to check out some alternatives, click either of the links below. Cheers!