RationalPlan 4.14 – Increased Collaboration Using Comments on Tasks and Support for Polish Language

RationalPlan Project Management SoftwareRationalPlan 4.14 offers increased collaboration by adding comments on tasks and automatic email notifications to users. Additionally the desktop products were translated into Polish.

RationalPlan started as an easy to use and straightforward project management software but it evolved into an embedded and powerful system that is now available even as a project management cloud service both for individuals and for companies that need a distributed solution with concurrent access from multiple users.

Important changes for this version

  • Increased collaboration using comments on tasks and email notifications
  • Translated into Polish language
  • Send assignments by email in .ics format using task UID in order to avoid duplicate events
  • Added support for Vietnamese characters when exporting to MS Project .xml file and .xls file

Adding comments on tasks while managing work within the Cloud is a feature aiming to increase collaboration among users. Instead of using communication solutions like email, phone calls or other external software tools, users will be able to discuss different task related issues directly within RationalPlan by adding comments. Everyone that is interested on a certain task – like the project manager, a responsible or the assigned resources – will get notifications by email whenever a comment is added on that task. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Tips for Coming Up with Great Project Ideas

Some organizations, including small businesses, may want to start side projects to supplement their revenue, invest parts of their capital, or simply keep their employees occupied full time while waiting for a larger project to start. Coming up with a great project idea is not impossible, as not all great ideas have already been discovered, but it is not a simple task that a person alone or even a team can do over the weekend. Here are some tips for coming up with great ideas for projects:

Define what “great” means

Define what a “great” project would mean for your organization. A great project is one that is not too small, as the deliverables may not be valuable enough to worth the investment of resources, but not too ambitious either because such project would mean high investment, too many risks, complicated project management, and even not enough resources available. A great side project is one that is possible with the resources available in the organization right now. A great side project is one where employees feel that they are creating value and that they own the project. So, as a first step, great project ideas should come from the project team members themselves.

Take your time to find ideas

Give your team enough time to come up with great project ideas. In general, great ideas are not exactly “Eureka!” moments; it takes time to find them. But many people and many organizations are not willing to put up that much time, which makes great ideas, when they do surface, even more valuable. Read the rest of this entry »

Want to get project disciplines into your organization fast? Here’s how

Introducing Project Disciplines is hard work

Lots of companies find introducing project disciplines slow, difficult and not very exciting.  Staff often show resistance and it can be hard to get buy in and commitment at executive level where other stuff is seen as more important or pressing.

Well here’s some good news.  The best way to get some project disciplines in fast is to buy a project management package.

But before you get too excited and start reaching for the cheque book, you need to make sure that you chose the right package.

Choose the right project management software

Choose the right software and accompany it with a process for running projects and some training and you’re cooking on gas.

If you choose well, your project management package will do all of the following:

  • Provide the means for project managers to produce plans and keep them up to date
  • Capture time worked and optimise staff utilisation
  • Capture and track financials
  • Monitor project status and publish project status reports
  • Facilitate executive level reporting on all of the above

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The Genie of Project Management

Genie of Project ManagementThree men: a project manager, a software engineer, and a hardware engineer are helping out on a project. About midweek they decide to walk up and down the beach during their lunch hour. Halfway up the beach, they stumbled upon a lamp. As they rub the lamp a genie appears and says:

- Normally I would grant you three wishes, but since there are three of you, I will grant you each one wish.

The hardware engineer went first:

- I would like to spend the rest of my life living in a huge house in St. Thomas with no money worries.

The genie granted him his wish and sent him off to St. Thomas.

The software engineer went next:

- I would like to spend the rest of my life living on a huge yacht cruising the Mediterranean with no money worries.

The genie granted him his wish and sent him off to the Mediterranean.

Last, but not least, it was the project manager’s turn:

- And what would your wish be?, asked the genie.

- I want them both back after lunch, replied the project manager.

RationalPlan 4.13 – Documents Sharing, Automatic Email Notifications and Support for 1.5x HDPI Monitors

RationalPlan Project Management SoftwareRationalPlan 4.13 comes with new features within the web-based interface like the possibility to attach documents on tasks and projects, performance improvements, the possibility to see data from the entire portfolio of projects and automatic email notifications when assigning resources to tasks. For the desktop products it was also added support for 1.5x HDPI monitors.

RationalPlan started as an easy to use and straightforward project management software but it evolved into an embedded and powerful system that is now available even as a project management cloud service both for individuals and for companies that need a distributed solution with concurrent access from multiple users.

Important changes for this version

  • Added possibility to attach documents on tasks and projects
  • Performance improvement on Timesheet and My Assignments views
  • Possibility to see data from “All Projects”
  • Automatic email notifications when assigning resources on tasks
  • Allow users with Resource rights to access the Projects area
  • Added intermediary icons for 1.5x HDPI monitors

Documents management can be done easier with the latest version of RationalPlan. Users have now the possibility to upload and attach documents to tasks and projects directly from the view where they are working (Portfolio, Gantt) without the need to switch to Dashboard > My Documents area.

Attach linksUpload and attach documents

Performance improvements where made for handling assignments both for Timesheet view and for My Assignments view. For the special case where resources were assigned on a large number of tasks it resulted a very high volume of assignments. For this reason the application responsiveness was slow. With current version the computation of costs and work was optimized and actions like scrolling and drag & drop are done smoothly.

Portfolio management is an important feature for a project management software. For this reason the executive department needs to have an overall view across all the projects. It is now possible to have a bird’s-eye view while using certain views like Gantt or WBS. Read the rest of this entry »

RationalPlan Project Management Software Translated To Russian Language

Starting with latest version RationalPlan products are also available in Russian language. Stand By Soft company hopes to better serve Russian users regarding their needs for project management software and at the same time to increase the number of users. This is a new market where RationalPlan is aiming to become a significant player.

RationalPlan was created mainly for novice project managers by taking them step by step through the whole process of planning and managing a project. The application uses an embedded project guide that follows the recommended guidelines from PMBOK.

It is a project management software developed to assist project managers in creating plans, tracking progress, allocating resources, managing budgets and analyzing workload. Although initially designed as an affordable alternative to Microsoft Project – but with the advantage of being able to operate on various platforms including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux – it became a powerful project portfolio management system. Further more, based on user requests, RationalPlan team put the accent on collaboration features and now the product can also be used as a teamwork solution to increase productivity and it is no longer just a desktop application. It can be used as a cloud service by multiple users with live concurrent access on a common pool of projects and resources.

RationalPlan suite includes:

RationalPlan Single – an alternative to Microsoft Project and the perfect solution for novice or accidental project managers
RationalPlan Multi – a project portfolio management solution for those users that have projects interconnected through dependencies and share common resources
RationalPlan Viewer – a free viewer, the solution for anyone (from project stakeholders to team workers) to view project details
RationalPlan Server – a centralized place to manage the company’s projects while offering concurrent access to multiple users

Read the rest of this entry »

15 Best Practices for Project Schedule Management

Success through Proper Project Schedule Management

project schedule management

A few years ago I used to work with a Project Manager. He was very particular about the weekly schedule tracking meetings. He would nag everyone and ask all sorts of questions. He would pester each of his team members for minutest of the details. He would closely monitor each and everything lest something goes amiss. Sometimes we just wanted to avoid these meetings.

I wanted to write a small eulogy for our man, but after reading the above para, you might think otherwise. But don’t get me wrong. It is an eulogy. Let me explain.

After all these years I have realized the importance of regular & periodic schedule tracking. I have very high regard for this person. I have learned a lot from him. I think his persistence to remain on top of the things made him a successful project manager. Somehow, he had a knack for delivering successful projects.

I am sure you would have met some people like him. We may not like them because of their excessive inquisitiveness. But we know that close and regular monitoring is required to deliver successful projects. At the same time, I must urge you to be polite and respectful while monitoring and tracking. We should use good interpersonal skills while interacting with project team members and other project stakeholders.

In my previous article, I talked about 9 benefits of tracking project schedule. I hope that post has inspired you to track the projects regularly. If not, you should read that article. You should also read the previous paras of this article again. My only sincere suggestion is that you should properly manage the project schedule.

What is proper project schedule management? Let us understand it in detail.

The Best Practices

There are 15 critical tasks that you must do while managing & tracking the schedule. By doing these tasks, you will greatly improve the chances of project success.

1. Track Project Regularly & Periodically

You must track the schedule regularly at a defined frequency. The tracking period could be a day or a week or a month, or anything in between but it should be well defined. The tracking period will hugely depend on the size & complexity of the project and stakeholder preferences. A formal evaluation report should be prepared after tracking the schedule and circulated to all relevant stakeholders.

2. Compare Against the Baseline

One of the common ways of tracking a project is to just document the actual dates and forget about the schedule. This does not serve any purpose. You must compare the actual data (dates, expenditure, effort, etc.) against the baseline. A detailed comparative analysis will lead to better project schedule management.

3. Involve Others

You might be the PM but there are other team members who can contribute while you are tracking the schedule. You must involve others. It will not only reduce your burden, but also make others feel responsible & committed. Read the rest of this entry »

RationalPlan – Retina Ready Project Management Software for Mac OS X

Retina readyStarting with version 4.12 RationalPlan offers support for Retina displays on Mac OS X platform. The interface is now sharper and uses high definition icons as per the specifications required by Apple. No more blurry fonts or images.

RationalPlan is a project management software developed to assist project managers in handling their projects and to keep resources and costs under control. The product can be used not only on Mac OS X devices but also on other operating systems like Windows and Linux.

For those users that are working with products like Microsoft Project on Windows or with Merlin Project on Mac OS X, RationalPlan might be a simpler and easier to use solution but with a similar set of features. It was developed primarily to assist novice or accidental project managers but to also offer powerful functions for the more advanced ones.

RationalPlan suite includes:

RationalPlan Single Project – an alternative to Microsoft Project and the perfect solution for novice or accidental project managers
RationalPlan Multi Project – project management software for multiple projects, projects that are interconnected through dependencies and share common resource
RationalPlan Project Viewer – free project management software viewer, the solution for anyone (from project stakeholders to team workers) to view projects details
RationalPlan Project Server – a centralized place to manage the company’s projects while offering concurrent access to different users – solution offered either as a Cloud service or as On-Premise

RationalPlan is designed as an affordable alternative to Microsoft Project with some extra-features like multiproject management and it is covering project management area from WBS construction, project planning and scheduling to critical path management, over allocated resources detection, progress tracking, cost estimation, etc. Gantt chart support as well as various time line reports are also provided. Read the rest of this entry »

9 Benefits of Tracking Project Schedule

Are you Tracking Project Schedule Regularly?

tracking project schedule

There can be only 2 answers to the above question. Yes and No.

I am appalled when I hear PMs say No to the above question. I hear all sorts of myriad funny reasons for not tracking Project Schedule. Here are some of them:

  • Why should I track Project Schedule? The project is going on just fine.
  • Oh! The customer demanded to prepare a Schedule and we prepared it. Now, there is no reason to waste more time on it.
  • There was a project audit some time ago. We prepared a Schedule to keep Auditors happy. Otherwise developing or tracking it is not at all required.
  • Tracking Project Schedule is just a waste of time. It does not provide any tangible benefit.
  • I never track Project Schedule and I have been managing projects for donkey years.
  • Tracking Project Schedule is not a priority at this time.

But many other PMs say Yes to the above question.

It is true that many PMs do track Project Schedule regularly. But some of them do not understand how to do it properly. They would just enter actual dates and/or duration and be done with it. They do not analyse the Actual Project data to see the variances, modify Project Network as necessary, do forecasting etc.

A good PM must use a Project Scheduling tool like RationalPlan to develop and track Project Schedule. The tracking can be done without a tool also but a tool helps in saving time and improving productivity.

In the next article I will throw some more light on what is meant by tracking and how one should track the Schedule. But for now let us understand why Project Schedule tracking is important. Let us take a look at some of its benefits. Read the rest of this entry »

Gantt Charts, Timesheets, Working Calendars – Project Planning in Just Minutes with RationalPlan 4.12

RationalPlan Project Management SoftwareThe latest version 4.12 for RationalPlan comes with a significant improvement for online project planning. Users can now manage their projects directly from a web-browser. In just a few minutes everything is set including project details, working calendars, task planning and scheduling, resource definition and work allocation and the final step: time and cost tracking.

RationalPlan started as an easy to use and straightforward project management software but it evolved into an embedded and powerful system that is now available even as a project management cloud service both for individuals and for companies that need a distributed solution with concurrent access from multiple users.

Important changes for this version

For the online and server side segment the users will get:

  • Improved web-based project management module
  • Timesheets with work and cost distribution
  • Calendars to define the working time
  • Possibility to add links and attach documents on tasks
  • Possibility to import projects

Changes for the stand alone products:

  • HDPI images for Windows
  • Support for Retina display on Mac
  • Faster speed for computing the project critical path
  • Added baseline columns
  • Work with multiple rates per resource
  • Improved integration with MS© Project 2013 files

Doing project management online has the advantage of making things easier with a web-based interface. There is no need to install and configure anything and users have access to the system from any browser as long as they have an Internet connection. All it requires is to create an account.
Read the rest of this entry »