My Project Management Expert

What is Microsoft Project?

Planning tools such as Microsoft Project are now widely used within Project Management. In fact this has almost become the de facto standard planning software in use.

Microsoft Project is probably used so widely because of it's immediate compatibility with Windows and Office. However you should note that it doesn't come as standard within Microsoft Office and instead needs to be purchased separately. Currently it is available in two versions: Professional and Standard.

Project Management Plan, which in this example details at a high level how a project plan would look and be used for project management planning

Features

Microsoft Project offers the following in helping Project Managers to plan including:

  • Developing plans
  • Detailing Milestones and Tasks
  • Assigning named Resources to Tasks
  • Managing Budgets
  • Tracking Progress
  • Analysing Workloads / Overallocation of Resources

Does it Calculate Budgets?

Microsoft Project can obviously be used to write a project plan, but it also automates the difficult job of managing the project budget where resources are concerned.

It does this by taking the inputs of project work multiplied by resource rates and then it allows this to be tracked when you update the project plan. Further assuming that you are operating in an environment where resources are matrix managed, ie where resources are shared between projects, well MS Project can work this out as well for you using Shared Resource Pools. This means that each resource can be quickly allocated to deliver numerous tasks in multiple projects quickly and easily.

Conclusion

I've used Microsoft Project on numerous projects without issue. However that maybe because I'm not the type of project manager who devises long and convoluted projects! I wouldn't say MS Project was the perfect project planning tool. However once you get used to it's deficiencies it's a very simple tool to use, as long as you don't expect too much from it!

What is Microsoft Project? - Tip

It is important to remember that your actual project success is not dependent on how well you can use Microsoft Project, but on how you actually manage and control the project. And don't forget that simply entering data into a project planning tool will never deliver a good plan. Good planning requires use of brain power and that element of intuition humans possess.

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