Internet Marketing, Graphic Design Shops, Who Benefits from Project Management Software?
Computer engineers are coming up with all kinds of software nowadays that can help people of all professions to do their work. Scientists have always relied upon computers to make calculations and predictions, and those who work in medicine and law enforcement have software designed to help them solve problems. The one type of software that spans all businesses, projects and endeavors is project management software.
Everyone who has ever watched “The Apprentice” knows how frustrating and difficult project management can be. Many of those who were fired early could have done better if they had used project management software. Making a schedule of events and projects to be done is one task that specially designed software can help a project manager with. Charts can be constructed that show the relationships of the various projects and sub- projects to each other. The project manager can also make tables that show the order in which tasks are to be done, and how much time each is expected to take.
Computer software can also provide valuable information, such as cost maintenance, current workload, how long it will take to finish each task, warning of possible risks lying ahead, the ways in which past projects have gone, how the plans related to the way things actually turned out and keep track of all project resources which includes the time of employees. One item that is featured in most project management software is the Gantt chart, a type of bar chart designed by management consultant Henry Gantt about a hundred years ago to illustrate when each element in a project is supposed to begin and end. To this day, Gantt charts still have a vital role in project management.
Project Management Software Favorites in the Industry
Three programs made for project management assistance are Microsoft Project, ProTasker and SEER SEM. Microsoft Project— originally created for DOS in 1984— can do such things as use current resources to create a budget. Its most recent version, Microsoft Project Server 2010, makes prioritizing and execution easier than ever before. Project and portfolio management have been united into this unique and useful package (Comprehensive Application Programming Interface (API)), so that business resources can be aligned with each other; and the Project Server Gateway that formed part of the earlier package has been done away with and replaced by common data storage, portfolio selection capabilities localized, and SharePoint used in all applications. Price tag, expensive and not the best fit for smaller businesses.
Project Server Microsoft
Project Server has been a tremendous success ever since it was first implemented. Upwards of 10,000 companies and 20 million individuals, both American and over-seas, have tried it and have been impressed with the results. For instance:
– The University of Southern Mississippi and Marquette University are two institutes of higher education that have benefited from using Project Server. Marquette implemented both Project Server and Project Professional (see below) to prioritize and track its projects and improve resource management, having previously used an older version of Server (2007). “You don’t have to move or manipulate anything— it all works together seamlessly,” said the university’s IT Services Senior Director Dan Smith. And the U of S Miss. found that implementing Project Server increased the levels of productivity by 40 percent, as well as project risk being reduced. The IT personnel have also been making better decisions. Previously, work had been difficult for staff members, who had no centralized project and portfolio management system, and there were often over three hundred unfinished projects at a time!
– Revlon— the famous cosmetics company— needed a way for staff members to see all the data relevant to a given venture. Employees now spend thirty percent less time at meetings— communication and collaboration elsewhere have become easier— and were five percent more productive than they were before the introduction of Project Server into their company. Procedures for recording time are also more efficient, and team members have a greater sense of responsibility for project delivery.
– Amdocs, an Israeli- based firm that engineers software, has its staff based in different locations and wanted to improve the workflow among them. The old method of working had been “more like a mix-and-match than a methodology,” in the words of IT Development Manager Tomer Simon. Enter PS, and scalability has gone up— more ease in taking advantage of resources.
– The Aboriginal Affairs Ministry of the Province of British Columbia, Canada, has used it to manage the obligations of treaties with Indians on reserves. They developed a portal from which the department can monitor the progress of reserve projects. The Ministry has found it easy to customize Project Server to meet their needs. It has also become easier to remain up to date and not fall behind on projects, e. g. by setting up email notifications. Communications have become improved where they were once poor.
Microsoft Project has even used its own product to manage its developments before they were released! End user participation in all activities increased, as did accountability in planning. Microsoft Project Development Group General Manager Ludovic Hauduc called using the software to create itself “a tremendous experience.”
Two other Microsoft Project packages are available for sale— Professional 2010 and Standard 2010. Microsoft Project Professional provides novel ways of managing a wide range of projects; ZDNet’s Brian Sommers has called it “a big jump in capability.” User- controlled scheduling makes planning much easier. More can be done in less time. The copy and paste functions have been enhanced; a “Ribbon- user interface” has been introduced to monitor the user’s habits and accommodate them, by making it easy for him to find and use the tools he uses most often; a timeline view feature has been added to enable project managers to view the “big picture” and communicate it with subordinates, and also add “key milestones;” Team Planner makes it possible to see instantly what tasks are using what resources; and countless other planning elements have been similarly streamlined. The whole combination of new and improved features makes the software “flexible and powerful,” easier to view, share, and collaborate on. Standard 2010 has all of the same tricks and benefits as Professional, but unlike the latter, it is not available for free trial.
ProTasker Project Management Software
ProTasker is project management software that is making some waves in the community as they compete with the top developers. The software creates simplified collaboration which is ideal for any sized-business, but is priced with small and medium-sized businesses in mind. ProTasker not only had to beat the features and functionality of software like Microsoft Project, but they also had to beat the price. One way in which ProTasker has been able to compete is by offering a sixty day free trial. Obviously for a new startup or a smaller business with tighter budgets, sixty days of free trial software use can make a real difference.
ProTasker’s key features offer simplified task management, efficient employee management and the centralized client management that companies need to become and to remain successful.
SEER-SEM Oldie but a Goodie
SEER-SEM, originally released in 1988, is a form of algorithmic software for monitoring the resources required for a particular instance of project management and software development. It operates in four stages: estimating costs and other things that might complicate projects along the way; analyzing which course of action is most likely to achieve the desired results; planning resource allocation, risk management, and other elements in less time than it would otherwise take; and controlling, matching the plans against what is actually taking place. There are several packages available for different purposes— SEER for Software, for Manufacturing, for Hardware, Electronics Systems, and for IT. The company that makes SEER also holds training workshops and “webinars” to teach people how to use the programs.
Companies that have benefited from SEER include the following:
– AgustaWestland, manufacturer of army helicopters and other combat machines, has used both the Hardware and the Manufacturing modules and found that they have improved organizational efficiency, particularly their capacity to estimate.
– The Navy has used SEER for its satellite communication programs, including Advanced Extremely High Frequency, which it hopes will eventually replace its older MILSTAR system.
– Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems reports that the time needed to calculate costs has been cut down by three quarters— which amounts to a saving of 400 hours a month on making trade studies and proposals. It is also easier to search databases to find the history of a particular approach.
There are many project management “apps” that can also be downloaded to an iPad or iPhone, thus enabling the project manager to view and revise plans on the go. The top four for the iPad, according to Read Write Enterprise, are:
– Project Planner HD is especially good for making Gantt charts (described above). It can also be used for managing many projects at a time.
– Projector is ideal for those who wish to make project management easy but have no real knowledge of how such software works and want something that is easy to learn.
– SG Project 2 and SG Project Pro can be used to export and import files stored as Microsoft Project. Also has VGA projector support and Dropbox integration. Available in English only.
– Trackerbot, now Pivotal Tracker for iOS, can be used to create Pivotal Tracker stories and even comment on them.
Programs that are not specifically geared towards helping project managers can nonetheless also serve that purpose. For instance, calendar software can be used to create and maintain schedules, and spreadsheets such as those made with Microsoft Excel can be used to make calculations.
Project Management Software
Some experts are critical of project management software. They claim that a given software may not be equally suitable for every project. The use of computers to solve problems may also reduce the amount of time spent in contact with people. Indeed, the human element can never be replaced; humans are good at some things, and computers are good at others. The choice in project management software becomes very simple when it is a matter of pricing. Quality project management software like ProTasker which is priced to compete with the bigger names is obviously one of the best solutions for the budget minded business owner.
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