Define general data of your project
This is where the project starts. Usually a name and maybe a code are used to identify each project. If known, a start date can also be set (though you can get back to this step at any time to set/change it). A short, concise description of the project objective could also be useful.
Use notes and links to track project related information
For each project there are important details to be remembered. You can use the notes area for this.
For other important documents related to the project like the project charter, product description, project deliverables, project objectives etc. you can define links and attach descriptions that will help you to identify the link's target.
Define the project working time
Use calendars to specify working times for resources or to schedule project's tasks. Calendar editor helps to create custom calendars.
To define special days, click on Set holidays, days off and other special days tag.
Note the assumptions and constraints
Assumptions are factors considered in planning phase to be true, real, or certain and involve a degree of risk (e.g.: if an activity needs a special equipment, the project manager may assume that it will be available).
Constraints are restrictions that affect the performance of the project. The most popular constraint is the budget, which limits the scope, staffing and schedule.
Both assumptions and constraints are important issues to be considered along the project life.
Risk management is an important aspect of the project management.
Identify project risks and set the impact level and the probability to occur. Think about a risk response plan to reduce threats to the project's objectives and describe it in the Notes area below the table.
Create the project's work breakdown structure
A WBS is a deliverable-oriented grouping of project components that covers the total scope of the project.
First, you should identify the major project deliverables. Then, decompose deliverables into smaller components, until they are presented in sufficient detail to support definition of the activities.
Define the project activities
Human resources and equipment
Based on the project activities, identify the necessary personnel and equipment.
You can assign a calendar for each resource as well as define unique exceptions such as vacation, days off etc. Different cost rates can be defined for normal working hours and overtime hours.
Identify the necessary materials for the project. This is a pool of resources that will be shared between projects. For each of them, define it's price per unit and measure unit.
These resources may include costs with tools, travel expenses, training or management fees or other kind of fixed costs. When assigning a cost resource to a task you will be able to specify the cost value for that assignment.
Assign resources to tasks
For each task, select resources that will accomplish it and fill in the units of the resource-task assignment.
Level project resources
The Multi Project version allows you to share resources between projects (hence it is possible to have overallocated resources in one project due to its assignment on another project - it may be needed to view All projects in case of an overallocation over multiple projects).
Overallocated resources as well as resources that work overtime hours will appear in red, respectively yellow color. Check the time sheet area and zoom in/out to spot the exact period when the problem occurs. Both task and resource details are available in this view so you can easily reallocate resources or take other actions to solve the overallocation issue.
Manage costs distribution for tasks
Here is where you can add other tasks costs (except with resources) and their accrual method. Tasks costs distribution in time is available at the right side.
Track the evolution of the project
This view provides a way to monitor the project evolution while updating the schedule with the information about the tasks completion. The completed part of a task will be marked in the Gantt chart with a darker color.
You can also update tasks duration so the schedule will match the actual project's evolution.
Create and handle multiple projects
A new project can be added from virtually any view just by clicking the New button.
With the same ease you may change the current project.
Project Portfolio view was specifically designed to see all your projects in one place with all necessary details.
- Notes & Links
- Assumptions & Constraints
- Create WBS
- Schedule tasks
- Human & Equipment
- Assign resources
- Level resources
- Define additional costs for tasks
- Update tasks completion
- Project portfolio
RationalPlan – Multi Project
Multi project structure, handle project dependencies, share resources between projects
The product is specifically designed for project managers that need to handle the company's projects and resources in a centralized way. Besides all Single Project features, Multi Project version comes with additional ones when projects are interrelated by task dependencies or common resources, or if you just want to see all projects' data in one place.
Even more RationalPlan Multi Project can be used as a standalone application or to connect to RationalPlan Project Server. In this way project managers can have not only a multi project management system but also a multi user project management system. Concurrent access for multiple users is now possible through the use of the server architecture.
Concurrent user management
- Connect to RationalPlan Project Sever and work on a centralized data repository
- Create interproject dependencies (links between tasks from different projects)
Company Project Portfolio
- Analyze all your projects' data with Project Portfolio view
- Define company-wide resources - human/equipment and material - shared between projects
I recently downloaded Single and have found it to be a practical and well-design project interface. I've used MS Project, dotProject, JX Project, and MinuteMan, among others. RationalPlan is very usable and practical.