Thursday, 22 November 2007

Using Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is a sophisticated Office application that can be used to plan, estimate, and monitor projects, tasks, and resources. It is fairly cheap for a piece of business software (£400 or so), although licensing may be an issue (there is a free Project Viewer to allow others on the network read-only access).

Inputting the data into Project takes some time, and this investment is best rewarded if the program is used for the whole life cycle of the project, rather than just planning or implementation. It is possible to use multiple installations across a network to share information about resource availability (so that allocating the same person to work on two projects at the same time would raise a conflict flag, alerting users that action was needed).

The usefulness of the program decreases if it is only employed on a single project; it should not be seen as way of drawing Gantt charts. It can do that, but if that's all you want there are simpler options.

On a final point, this application is unlike most Office programs in requiring professional training to make much use of: trying to teach yourself to use it is hard.

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