Are you looking for an inexpensive task scheduling application that will work in conjunction with Microsoft Office? This Excel add-in could save you a lot of time and money. Read on to find out more.
Overview of Project Manager for Excel Version 3.2b
Project Manager for Excel is a task management system that operates as an add-in for Microsoft Excel. The application is compatible with Excel 97 and higher versions, including Excel 2007.
While this tool may not include all the bells and whistles of some of the bigger names in the field, like MS Project, it definitely adds a new degree of functionality for those who are trying to manage projects using the more basic applications in the Microsoft Office Suite.
Installation and Setup
The Project Manager download file comes bundled with a self-installation utility, so it’s much easier to install on your system than many other third-party Excel add-ins. However, I did have to shut down and restart Excel three times before it recognized the software. After that, I had no problems.
As the add-in does use macros, you will need to make sure those are enabled before you’ll be able to use the application. In Excel 2007, this can be done by modifying the Trust Center Settings found in the Excel Options window. (For more information on how to do this, see Changing Macro Settings in Excel 2007.)
Ease of Use
Even if you’re only familiar with the most basic operations in Excel, you shouldn't have much trouble using the add-in. To add a task or project, all you have to do is click a button to bring up a dialog box that prompts you for all necessary information concerning the activity.
If you’re using the application to keep track of reoccurring projects with similar deadlines and task schedules, you can even save a specific project as a template so you don’t have to re-enter the information for every project. As individual tasks can be easily edited, this one-step template creation process can save lots of time and energy.
Features and Performance
The only real fault I found with Project Manager for Excel is that it leaves very little room for customization. Although the application is not intended to be used for much more than a task management system, I still would have liked to have the option to include additional fields in the task assignment area. I realize that this is not an easy thing to incorporate into an add-in, but I missed it all the same.
On the other hand, I was impressed with the built-in Gantt chart generator. While it is possible to create a Gantt chart in Excel without the add-in, the process can be tedious and time-consuming, especially if you are handling numerous projects. With this utility, you can create a Gantt chart with a single click, and you are even offered the option of exporting it to a new Excel file where it can be formatted and prepared for presentations and/or distribution.
Price to Value
Even though I would like to see more customizable options in Project Manager for Excel, I certainly can’t fault the price. The full price of the add-in is only $14.95. If you happen to have a previous version of the application, you can upgrade to this newer release for $7.95.
While there are a lot of free project management applications on the market, such as dotProject and Basecamp, I like the convenience of working in Excel, an application that I already know quite well, and I’m more than willing to pay $14.95 for that luxury.
All in all, I’m quite impressed with Project Manager for Excel. It may not have all the functionality I want, but for the price, it’s a real bargain. If you’re on a tight budget and looking for something that can be incorporated into your existing software suite, the add-in is worth a try. DJI Computer Solutions, the developers of the software, does offer a 21-day free trial of the product so you can test it out yourself before making the actual purchase.
Additional Microsoft Office Project Management Resources: If you are looking for more project management tools that you can use in conjunction with the Microsoft Office software suite, be sure to take a look at the Lean Six Sigma Gantt charts and other templates that you can download for free from Bright Hub’s Project Management channel.