Software Review - Microsoft Project 2000

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12th Sep 2000
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For those of us IT Trainers who have trained any application as complex as project management software, know there is more to a product than simply allowing a user to work their way methodically through the menus, and setting a simple task to complete. Project Management principles are a must, or as is usually the case, you find that there are those that are thrown into a project at the deep end.

This results in both project methodology and software are tackled rather blindly at the same time. It is usually a month into the project that this person is then booked onto a project management training course rather hastily and also that the training provider is in a far stronger bargaining position.

Project Management applications have been around for many years, the earlier versions were developed for mainframe systems for use within larger organisations that managed major projects. Many applications that are now popular such as Microsoft Project have only been fairly recently adapted for use on a PC.

Having worked through a series of Microsoft Project upgrades, it is true to say as with most applications, that later releases are improvements and this certainly is the case with Microsoft Project 2000.

One of Microsoft Project's strongest features has been that when creating a project from the beginning, this task is made as easy as possible and taking into consideration all the elements of project management methodology. Microsoft Project 2000 has added some additional features such as traffic-lighting for task status, (which is a feature that has been available in other products for many years). This facility highlights tasks that are behind, on-time or ahead of schedule, as well as those resources that have run out.

One of the most significant additions is the Project Central, a web-based method of managing projects collaboratively from a centralised location. This feature should assist with those projects that can become quite complex especially when other plans are pulled in together to make up the overall project plan.

Gantt charts can be dynamically created, updated and then tailored in terms of format and layout to suit individual projects. Network diagrams can show the relationships between tasks. Individuals can now also manage their own parts of the project and feed this information up to a master project plan.

Microsoft Project is also now integrated with Outlook, so that people do not have to manage a separate calendar and a personal Gantt chart, this information can be held in a single location.

For such a product that has too many features to mention, the main aspect is it's ease of use making this application a necessary tool to assist in the successful implementation of any project.

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