The most widely used tool to manage projects around the world is… the simple spreadsheet. Most people are comfortable playing with a spreadsheet, using it to create a list of tasks and assigning names and dates against those tasks. And a spreadsheet works great for a simple list of tasks.
But if you are managing a more complex project, with dependencies and multiple activities happening in parallel, with people in different locations or different companies trying to point fingers at each other in the event of a slip, then you need a better tool to manage your project schedule.
The most commonly used specialist project management tool in use is MS Project, with close to 80% of the market. It is a powerful tool, allowing users to control large and complex projects. It will easily allow you to see the critical path of a project and lets you immediately see the impact on the end date if any part of your project slips. In my Advisory role with Aspira, I help companies to setup Project Management Offices, and carry out capability assessments of organizations’ ability to deliver projects on time/budget. I simply could not manage my team’s workload without using MS Project to keep track of each project and the resources assigned.
So why do some Project Managers prefer to use Excel to MS Project? We find that there can be a ‘fear factor’. I have met people who don’t use MS Project because they are intimidated by it, so instead they have developed really complex spreadsheets, with conditional formatting, pivot tables and macros, as an alternative. It would have been far easier for them to learn to use MS project, as even a very basic user can immediately access a range of functionality that would take an excel guru years to develop.
In an effort to demystify MS Project, I will deliver a live webinar on Weds April 22nd, called ‘Getting to Grips with MS Project’. It will cover topics such as:
- Setting up your first project
- Adding tasks and resources to a project
- Updating your project plan
- Creating calculated fields and custom fields
- Reporting and creating visual reports
Register here for this webinar: https://aspira.ie/events/getting-to-grips-with-ms-project/
I’ll also look at the roadmap for MS Project, and the exciting enterprise-level capabilities on offer from MS Project Online. For those interested in a more detailed walk through MS Project, Aspira regularly deliver training courses and I’ll be sharing a special offer to attend our virtual classroom 2-day course on MS Project.
Author: Damien Kearns, Senior Consultant, Aspira