Project Management Tools

Project Management Tools

Modern project management was first recognized as a discrete discipline in the late 1950s when large and complex projects began to require more than a simple flow chart to keep on track. The phrase “project management” was first used in the engineering and construction industries, but soon migrated into general corporate vernacular.

At the heart of every project is a project manager, the person responsible for ensuring that a project is completed on time, within budget, and at the specified level of quality. The project manager is a highly skilled professional who uses every tool at his or her disposal to plan and manage all aspects of a company’s most important projects.

Today, one of the project manager’s most important tools is a computer program. Project management software is a set of computer-based utilities that support the core tasks of project management: planning, scheduling, and control. The first project management programs were developed in the late 1960s for mainframe computers. Early packages focused on scheduling people and equipment, as well as managing costs. In the 1970s and 1980s, new microcomputer project management packages were released in a continual stream. By the early 1990s, there were more than 100 project management packages on the market.

Note 

For a list of modern project management tools and resources, turn to Appendix B.

A number of project management software packages still exist, but only a handful are widely used in the corporate environment. The one that is most often used is Microsoft Project; Project 2002 is the latest version of this market-dominating software. As you’ll see in the following chapters, Project 2002 supports many aspects of project management, including scheduling, budgeting, tracking, analysis, reporting, and communication. With Microsoft Project 2002, you can manage multiple projects, share resources among projects, import and export project data, and create reports to analyze and communicate project objectives and progress.

You schedule a project with Microsoft Project by entering basic information about the overall project, individual tasks within the project, and the resources necessary to complete these tasks. When describing a task, you enter the duration of the task, the task’s dependencies, and any constraints. Microsoft Project then calculates the start and finish date for each task, and combines all the tasks together into a master project. You can enter additional information, such as lead time, lag time, and so on, as available, and update tasks and resources as the project gets underway. Project will adjust the schedule automatically.

Project 2002 Editions and Architecture

There are two different versions of Microsoft Project 2002, as well as an accompanying program that enables enterprise-wide project collaboration. The version of Project you choose will depend on your own specific project management needs.

The basic version of the program is Microsoft Project 2002 Standard. Project Standard is the best choice for individual and small businesses and their project managers. It’s the logical upgrade from the previous version, Microsoft Project 2000, and runs on any standalone PC.

If you’re managing projects for a medium- or large-sized business, you should consider using Microsoft Project 2002 Professional. Project Professional is new to Microsoft’s project management lineup, and enables a team of individuals from across an enterprise to collaborate on their project management activities.

Table 1.1 details the differences between the Standard and Professional products.

Table 1.1: Differences between Project Standard and Professional)

Feature

Project Standard

Project Professional

Intuitive Planning Tools

  

Dynamic task scheduling

Yes

Yes

Gantt charts, calendars, and task sheets

Yes

Yes

Project Guide

Yes

Yes

Intuitive Planning Tools

  

Microsoft Office XP interface

Yes

Yes

Smart Tags

Yes

Yes

Integration with Microsoft Excel and Outlook

Yes

Yes

Resource Management

  

Resource pooling

Yes

Yes

Resource leveling

Yes

Yes

Resource availability graphs

Yes

Yes

Generic resources

 

Yes

Enterprise resource pool

 

Yes

Skill-based resource assignment and replacement

 

Yes

Collaboration

  

Access to Project 2002 Server

Yes

Yes

E-mail notifications

 

Yes

Web-based timesheets and reports

 

Yes

Document library

 

Yes

Issue tracking

 

Yes

Web-Based Analysis and Reporting Tools

  

Project portfolio views

 

Yes

Modeling and scenario analysis tools

 

Yes

Real-time reporting

 

Yes

Customization

  

Macros

Yes

Yes

Visual Basic for Applications

Yes

Yes

Enterprise codes and custom fields

 

Yes

Project data security layer

 

Yes

Storage

  

XML save and load

Yes

Yes

Database save and load

Yes

Yes

OLE DB provider

Yes

Yes

Enterprise portfolio

 

Yes

Enterprise templates

 

Yes

Microsoft Project Server accounts

 

Yes

Note 

There is an additional member in the Project 2002 family: Microsoft Project 2002 Server. This is a server-based product that enables you to implement project management across an entire corporation. Installation of Project Server is necessary to take advantage of all the enterprise collaboration features of Project Professional.

The versions of Project 2002 are discussed in more depth in the following sections.

Project 2002 Standard

Mcrosoft Project 2002 Standard is a stand-alone project management software package designed for individuals and small businesses. It can also be used in larger organizations if your collaboration needs are simple and can be accomplished via e-mail.

Project Standard includes everything you need to manage both simple and complex projects, including task scheduling, resource management, tracking, and reporting. The 2002 version uses the familiar Office XP interface—complete with adaptive pull-down menus and task panes—and a series of wizards to guide you step by step through a project’s creation and management.

Project Standard is recommended for individual users who manage projects from their own PCs.

Project 2002 Professional

 Pro   Microsoft Project 2002 Professional is part of Microsoft’s Enterprise Project Management solution. The program is designed for users in mid-sized and large organizations who want to collaborate on projects over the company’s network.

The key difference between Project Standard and Project Professional is that Professional enables sophisticated multiple-user collaboration over the company’s network. With Professional (running on Project 2002 Server), an entire team can access and collaborate on a single project across the network. This type of collaboration is enabled by the use of Project 2002 Server (discussed next), and facilitated by the use of Project Web Access that enables access to a project from any web browser.

Project Professional is recommended for organizations utilizing team-based project management.

Project 2002 Server

 Server   Microsoft Project 2002 Server is the necessary component to enable the enterprise-wide collaboration features of Project Professional. Project Server can be installed on any network running Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, and serves as the platform for team project management across the enterprise.

Project 2002 Server replaces Project Central, a similar component in Microsoft Project 2000, and includes many new features such as enhanced security and the integration of Microsoft SharePoint Team Services.

To fully implement all the features of Project 2002 Professional, an organization must be running Project 2002 Server.