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Software tools for project management are called “Upper CASE” tools. CASE means Computer Aided Ssoftware Engineering. This article discusses three important types of project management software tools that are indispensable to the modern project and program manager. Each tool is important for various reasons that relate to the functions of management such as planning, controlling, and communicating on projects.
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One of the most popular project management tools is Microsoft Project. Other products like MAC Project and Super Project are very similar in function and coding.
Basically, you load the project tasks and put them in time sequence and staff them with a resource. Then, you level the resources once you have everyone on the project working the right number of hours. If a project goes for one year, you give each person 2080 hours to work on the tasks you assign them. You need to also understand the watershed model and other types of project management models. Most project management software will automatically assume the watershed model.
Once all the data is loaded then you really start to have fun with it.
- You can draw GANTT charts and CPM network diagrams.
- You can identify the critical path in red.
- You can adjust the tasks of the project and all outputs look good in your reports to your client. You also can get a resources list of names and tasks and times to perform each task.
This is really good stuff for a project plan. I have seen it done many ways. One project manager called us in every week to update his copy of the project and he gave me a copy to submit my updates for progress. Another project manager used the output in his project plan and wrote the plan for the entire team in the start of the project. We were expected to follow his written plan to the letter.
As a program manager I often do multiple projects in the software and assign them to a person or keep them as guidelines to systems development or construction development. If you have a huge operation you can put a lot of information in the project tasks to keep track of progress. Monthly or weekly updates work well. Because so many reports are generated automatically, you can easily send reports to other people. Only problem is they have to have a copy of the project management software on their machine to load it.
The bottom line is that you have a way to manage projects online in a way that uses the standardized tools that the Project Management Institute (PMI) preaches. You do not need a certification to use Microsoft Project. You just need to understand the concepts and away you go!
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The second project management software tool that works well is the Excel spreadsheet. Financial data for projects can be very easily recorded on spreadsheets. Every phase of a project can be loaded into the spreadsheet and the funds can be tracked year by year or line by line.
We do this very effectively for all our software and construction projects on the highways. We also have many funds to draw money from for certain aspects of building highways and systems. Colors can be used to represent different types of funding. Multiple sheets can be used for different out years in the program. It is easy to control costs when using a spreadsheet because you can see the whole budget at one time over a number of years.
The problem is updating the spreadsheets demands detailed knowledge of the projects and figures that have been expended. In this regard, you would track expected costs and actual costs.
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The third software project management tool is the email package. Email is perfect for sending written messages and attachments that may be contract-oriented over the computer. You can not do this as easy with the phone and fax but keep them in reserve if you need them. Good communications depends on the clarity of your writing.
Your writing in emails is considered a legal record so this will help you if there are debates on the types of tasks delegated to contractors or other employees. It is hard to imagine not having email anymore for daily communications chores.
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If one takes the time to effectively use these software tools, then project management will be easier for the entire team. You have to share the methods with your team mates and have them control the tasks the same as you would. In this way, you build your overall team capacity to manage the project.
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Some Bright Hub Project Management Software Reviews
On Bright Hub's Project Management channel, our authors have reviewed several software programs that may suit your unique project management needs. Here are just a few:
- The Best Easy-to-Use Project Management Software
- Microsoft Office OneNote
- The Top 5 Project Schedule Software Options
To see a list of all active reviews, click here