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A Bridge to Enterprise Project Management, Part 1


Project Management Applications
Downloads and links for Project Kickstart and MS Project, Excel and Outlook.

Click to produce Gantt                       
charts in MS Excel Organizing a project's tasks, time and resources means organizing project information into plans in spreadsheets and scheduling programs.  These tips explain 1) how to produce Gantt-type schedules in Excel, though the method will work on most spreadsheet software, 2) scheduling tutorials and a free download trial version of Project KickStart, an easy-to-use scheduling program, 3) a host of project management extensions for MS Outlook, and 4) links to planning templates and a discussion group for MS Project.     

  1. Turn an Excel spreadsheet into a Gantt chart.

    Spreadsheets like Excel can be an excellent choice for organizing project information because most project planners r=are familiar with their use.  The main drawback has been that spreadsheets do not have Gantt charts which offer helpful, graphic views of project timelines.  This link explains how to develop a Gantt chart in Excel and a free Excel Gantt template can be downloaded here.
  2. View tutorials or download a trial version of Project KickStart.

    five tutorials about easy-to-use Project KickStart actually provide a quick course on project scheduling. Project KickStart is unique among project planning applications in that it guides the user through the project scheduling process step-by-step.  This product is ideal for anyone who has ever been intimidated by project scheduling applications Click here for a fully functional 30-day trial copy of Project KickStart.
  3. Project management extensions and tools for MS Outlook.

    MS Outlook is designed to manage information.  It acts as a mail handler for MS Project and generates automatic e-mail notifications.  It also offers task management features as seen at the right, but these are modest project management features.  However, several products are available to boost Outlook's project management capabilities, and here is a Microsoft blog with tips and user advice for extending Outlook into deeper project management applications. 
  4. Microsoft Project templates and blogs. 

    Microsoft offers planning templates that can be helpful for those getting started with MS Project.  Still, many find MS Project full-featured though not always easy to use.  "If only I could ask a question," which can be done among the MS Project bewildered and enlightened in this discussion group.

Managing projects means managing information which means having a repository of information.  Software to support project information management is readily available and the best place to begin is with products that are familiar, like Excel and Outlook, neither of which is particularly well known for project planning and tracking, but both of which offer options for project management, mainly through non-Microsoft sources.  What little risk there is stems from the fact that Outlook and Excel have to be enhanced to perform at project management tools.

Project KickStart and MS Project were designed to be project management tools.  KickStart is easy to use and MS Project is full-featured and robust enough to accommodate large projects.  KickStart can be used as a stand-alone scheduling tool or act as a front-end pre-planner whose schedules can be downloaded into MS Project when a project requires "heavy lifting."

PM Applications and PM Infrastructure
It is common for users to expect too much from their PM software applications.  Applications like MS Project are good for organizing project information, but people still have to manage the projects.  PM Applications can help them manage better, but for any PM product to succeed there needs to be a project management culture in the organization.  Training on the application itself is not well-suited to building such a culture.  Like a product tutorial, it can tell us how to use the product, but it can not tell us why to use it.  Building a PM culture is about why.  

The most important tip on this subject is that PM applications need to be brought into a project management culture.  There is an unusually high failure rate with PM applications because organizations, often desperate for project management support, expect PM applications to build their PM culture which creates a case of placing the cart before the horse. 

Project Managers and leaders can learn more about organizing tasks, time and resources and automate their project
scheduling in the
Project Scheduling Workshop or get Support for Project Management Applications Users.
Project Mentoring provides yet another avenue for support on MS Project and all other PM applications.

Developers can bring a project professional with product development experience
by using
Support for Project Management Applications Developers .    

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