Project Management Tools For Project Managers

By | April 19th, 2011|Project Management Software|Comments Off on Project Management Tools For Project Managers

A well done project management is one of the keys to a projects success. Pretty sure every one of us manages projects using some kind of tools. But the right project management tool does not replace the knowledge and experience of a project manager. It only helps him in the process of managing a project.

The value of project management

So why do certain projects succeed while other projects fail? Clearly, it is not about luck although that might also help, it is not about the tools that are being used to manage the projects and certainly it is not only a matter of budget and dedication. The most important factor is the project manager, its experience, training and skills but research shows that projects which are designed and planned with care have a much higher success rate. So through effective project planning software there are better chances to reach projects success.

Over time project management tools have evolved from the classic pencil and paper method to software spreadsheets and now to dedicated project management solutions. There are several types of project management software. It may be a desktop application, a web-based software or it can also be a hosted software solution that allows access from remote locations through Internet or Intranet.

Tools & Techniques

It is a good practice to follow certain techniques to obtain the best results when managing projects. Among them it is worth mentioning: critical path methodology, task analysis, gantt charts, actions planning and closing the loop. For each of these techniques there have been developed dedicated tools. Any chosen type of project management software should offer a set of these basic tools. (more…)

When And Why Do You Need A Project Planning Software?

By | March 18th, 2011|Project Management Software|Comments Off on When And Why Do You Need A Project Planning Software?

Project planning is a process used to establish how to complete a project within a certain time period, under a certain budget and with a set of resources. To accomplish all these a project plan must be created. It will help you to plan the steps of your project and it will save you money while getting the project done on time.

The project plan

The project plan reflects the current status of project’s activities and it is useful to monitor and control the project. Many people in the company are using it:

  • the project manager – to establish the resources activities and to communicate the status of the project to stakeholders;
  • the team members – to better understand the work they are doing;
  • the senior managers – to verify that the project’s cost and work are under control;
  • the stakeholders – to make sure that the project is on track and that their business is safe.

Why do you need a project planning software?

Creating a project plan is the first thing a manager should do when taking any kind of project. Often project managers (especially those without too much experience) ignore a project plan in favor of going on with the work. They fail to realize the real value of a project plan in saving time, money, resources etc. It is a known fact that a good project plan can make the difference between the success or failure of a project. A project planning software will help to create these project plans and will enable users to take the best strategic decisions regarding them and to reduce much of the uncertainty surrounding the execution of the project.

Today, project planning process is often enhanced with the use of software tools to develop the general plan and to keep all team members aware of the project’s progress. Project planning software makes it easier to create the work breakdown structure, estimate the work effort required for each task from the WBS, establish the most logical activities sequence during the project scheduling phase and easily define and identify those risks which may impact the progress of the project.

In more complex projects it is needed to compute the critical path of the project. This is the optimal path to project completion and using a project planning software you can easily identify it.

A project schedule is created by assigning resources to tasks and determining the working calendar necessary for each task. Having the right people in the right place at the right time is critical for resource allocation. Additional costs for overtime work can be reduced when using a software tool. Further more the overallocation problem is also solved through resource leveling – a process too complicated to be done without the help of a software, not to mention the automatic leveling. (more…)

What Is A Project Portfolio Management Software

By | February 25th, 2011|Project Management Software, Project Portfolio Management|Comments Off on What Is A Project Portfolio Management Software

Manage multiple projects with shared resources within your company

PPM, short for Project Portfolio Management, is a term used by project managers and project management organizations (or PMOs), to describe methods that enables corporate and business users to organize a set of projects into a single portfolio. Project portfolio management software refers to a software product that allows users, usually management or executives within a company, to easily organize and prioritize the projects. It will allow them to review the portfolio and will assist them in making key financial and business decisions for the projects.

A closer look

But project portfolio management is about more than managing multiple projects. Each portfolio of projects must be treated as a whole and needs to be evaluated by its business value and adherence to strategy. As each project must reach its goal and produce its final deliverable in the same way a portfolio should be designed to achieve a specific business objective or benefit. Bob Buttrick summarized it like this: “Directing the individual project correctly will ensure it is done right. Directing ‘all the projects’ successfully will ensure we are doing the right projects.”

A growing number of vendors offer project portfolio management software, which has dramatically simplified the process of building a portfolio. But the first step is for companies to prioritize their business strategies. Portfolios can then be assembled and assessed based on how they meet those strategic needs. Once companies determine the business priorities they want their projects to meet, they need to break down the portfolios. Teams are assigned to different business units, and each of those teams handles a separate portfolio.

Previously, projects were approved and then managed independently. They were evaluated as a whole at the executive level only when it came time to put together annual reports. Nowadays with the latest project management software solutions project managers can better handle the portfolio using executive dashboards and other such tools. Working at portfolio level is about working with summary or key data and as less details as possible. It is important to avoid information overload. The detail of each project should be kept at the project team level, managed by the individual project managers.

The recent trend toward improved resource tracking and leveling functionality in PM software is a great boon to the portfolio manager. Actually, without the possibility of knowing what each human resource in the pool of project personnel is capable of and when they will be available to work, you cannot say that you are managing a portfolio. You need such a work management software in order to keep your project’s work balanced and avoid supplementary costs introduced by overtime working rates.
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New Features Added In Version 3.21 For RationalPlan Project Management Software

By | February 15th, 2011|Microsoft Project, News, Project Management Software|Comments Off on New Features Added In Version 3.21 For RationalPlan Project Management Software

The new version for the project management suite RationalPlan from Stand By Soft comes with additional features like better reporting capabilities, improved Microsoft Project integration, more undo and redo actions, online launch from browser and much more. And all these are now also available in Dutch language.

RationalPlan is a Microsoft Project alternative with additional features like multiple projects management, shared resources and email integration developed to assist busy business owners looking for a better way to manage their projects. For those companies that need a concurrent user project management system RationalPlan Project Server is a better solution by adding a server module that gives project managers concurrent access to a central project data repository.

Important changes added to this version:

  • Better reporting capabilities
  • Manage projects directly from browser when using RationalPlan Project Server
  • Improved dependencies rendering
  • Improved Microsoft Project integration
  • More Undo and Redo actions
  • Translated to Dutch
  • Possibility to reset passwords in RationalPlan Project Server
  • Added colors for tasks for tables
  • Added description to iCalendar items when sending emails
  • UTF-8 characters support for the server

Almost any view from RationalPlan can be printed either to the printer or to a PDF file. All the user has to do is to customize the way he wants that view to look (arrange and resize columns, scale to the preferred timescale, filter, etc.) and then print it. But there are certain reports that can not be printed this way by using a view. And for these reports an additional method was created which is independent of the current view from the application. Reports like the project status, project information, working calendars, etc. that were not available in previous versions can now be generated as PDF files.

One of the most important features that was added in current version is the possibility to launch the Multi Project product directly from the browser while using the Project Server. There is no need to install it anymore on each user’s computer. With this feature RationalPlan makes an important step in becoming an online project management software.

Other changes make working with RationalPlan easier. Dependencies are displayed in more details using not just the dependency type but also the lag amount if needed. This is the most visible in the Predecessors and Successors columns. More undo and redo actions will help users to safely return to an older state of the project’s plan with the minimum effort. Now the colours for tasks can also be used in the tables and not just over the chart. This gives a better insight over the project or a nicer way for reporting. Plus iCalendar support was improved by adding descriptions to each item.

Certain changes where also made to the project server product: password reset mechanism, support for UNICODE characters for languages like Chinese, Japanese, Russian, etc.

And all these are now available in Dutch language thanks to the great efforts and help from Cees Riedijk a trainer of project management software.

RationalPlan suite includes:

RationalPlan Single Project – project management software for single projects
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 management of company’s projects while offering concurrent/controlled access for different users

RationalPlan Project Management Software is available at http://www.rationalplan.com. It can be download from https://www.rationalplan.com/download.php.

About Stand By Soft

Stand By Soft was founded in 1997 as a software company specialized in building desktop applications and components. RationalPlan is a project management software that follows the general recommended guidelines from project management domain. MOOS Project viewer is a Microsoft® Project viewer that allows you to open, view in a dynamic way and print any Microsoft® Project file

Contact name: Lucian Ioan
Address: Aleea Parului, Nr.4A, Craiova, Dolj, 200346, Romania
Email: marketing@rationalplan.com
Phone: +40727159969

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Advantages and Benefits of Project Management Software

By | February 8th, 2011|Project Management Software|Comments Off on Advantages and Benefits of Project Management Software

Some time ago project management was represented by three things: a pencil, a piece of paper and a methodology. But the time flies and the technology evolves… so why stop here? Why not use the technology? Software industry has evolved so much and can do wonders. With the introduction of project management software a few years back, the tools a project manager has at their disposal has been greatly increased.

The new project management tools

There are many different versions and variations to what is available on the market, having many cost ranges including programs for small businesses and all the way up to programs capable of keeping a corporation in business. Managing a business is no easy task, however, and keeping track of everything is often the hardest part of owning a business. These software solutions can make it easier for businesses to communicate with employees, clients, share files and track the status of projects and assignments.

Project management software can be a lifesaver for busy business owners looking for a better way to manage their business. But just having this sort of software program in place won’t help project managers be more effective. It will only allow them to have access to more data, which may in turn make them more efficient. They still need to know how to communicate to the project head and be clearly able to delegate responsibilities to the project team members.

Project management software has a simple goal: to help those involved in managing projects to achieve their objectives. For individual projects, the objective is to deliver the expected output from the project on time, within budget and to the expected quality. However, for those that manage multiple projects, project management software must do a lot more and it often has a different label, such as project portfolio management software, or resource management software.

So how can project management software deliver such benefits?

Some businesspeople may wonder what project management software can offer that the old tried-and-true cannot. It is quite simple: project management software achieves its objectives by providing pertinent and reliable information that the project stakeholders have confidence in. So the starting point is to look at how credible information can be delivered from such a system.
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Work Breakdown Structure Made Easy

By | January 17th, 2011|Project Management Software|4 Comments

“Would you please help me print out this ‘WBS’? It won’t fit in one page. I have a status meeting with the Sponsor in 30 minutes!” a colleague of mine approached me and asked. “This is not a WBS! It is a Schedule in a form of hierarchal structure.” I said sarcastically when I saw her WBS. She listed all project deliverables, and listed all activities below each one. This is not what a WBS is intended to be used for. Does your sponsor or client need to know how you’re going to complete each deliverable? Do you really need to present a 100+ boxes on your WBS to get your sponsor agree on what’s included and what’s excluded in your project scope? Absolutely not.

The primary benefits of having a WBS in any successful project dictate the need to keep it simple. Firstly, a WBS depicts the boundaries of project scope. A client or a sponsor can easily sign off a well-structured WBS as it includes all project scope and excludes whatever out of scope. Secondly, it ensures that effort is not wasted on unnecessary or out-of-scope deliverables. That is, if the WBS lists a redundant Work Package, this would require extra resources, time, and cost. Finally, a good WBS can be used on a project dashboard to communicate scope (changes) without confusing stakeholders with scores of activities needed to complete deliverables. The latter point is actually the key to build a good WBS. A WBS does not include activities; it only lists deliverables down to the Work Package level. Leave listing activities to the Project Schedule. WBS is composed of tangible deliverables without activities whereas a Schedule describes all activities required to complete those deliverables outlined in the WBS.

From another perspective, a WBS represents the project lifecycle that is different from the PM Process Groups. WBS is not used to chart Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing of a project. These are process groups that describe how you manage a project from start to end but not what the project includes and what it excludes (scope). On the other hand, a project lifecycle describes the phases into which a project evolves to complete each of the agreed upon deliverables. Hence, one of the most commonly-used WBS’s is breaking down the project into phases, deliverables, sub-deliverables, and Work Packages that collectively constitutes the overall scope of the project.

If WBS represents the lifecycle, how should PM processes be represented as part of the project effort? Project Management is actually a phase in the WBS that has its own deliverables, sub-deliverables, and Work Packages. Taking a software development project as an example, the WBS shown in figure (1) is what is expected to represent the lifecycle and scope of the project (WBS in its initial structure for illustration purposes).

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Upgrade From Spreadsheets To Project Management Software

By | January 11th, 2011|Project Management Software|1 Comment

Spreadsheets are an excellent way to manage information on workplace tasks but if you would like to see the impact of one assignment over another then perhaps you should start using  a project management software.

This kind of software has been created to assist users in the organization of projects by analyzing the added information regarding the time and resources allocated to the tasks. A number of people all across the world rely on project management solutions to help assure the completion of certain projects. The best way to describe project management software is to say that it is a computer program which serves to smoothly run the process of a project from the beginning to the end. Over the course of this time, this kind of software can help to eliminate many of the mundane steps that are usually required.

Spreadsheets are a useful way to see how some aspects of the project impact on others, but for an all-round, more detailed understanding of the evolution of task users may like to use a project management tool instead. The applications are designed for effective project management and can reveal relationships between the added data, such as the impact of delays on the costs of the project, which is its main advantage ever spreadsheets like MS Excel or Open Office.

For example, it is likely that your budget is being used to fund a series of tasks throughout your project. This means that there are several areas where your finances may be affected, for instance if you are building a new product for a client and your source materials recently increased in value, this would affect the outcome of your assignment. A project management solution can calculate the impact of these changes on your overall funding and relate it to other information, things that can not be achieved using a spreadsheet. Basically, project management can be considered as a certain type of method to achieve goals and targets while staying completely organized.
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Resource Leveling – Manual or Automatic?

By | December 22nd, 2010|Project Management Software, RationalPlan, Resource Management|2 Comments

Many clients contact us and ask if our RationalPlan suite has the capability to level resources. The short answer is YES. But it seems that for many project managers this short answer is not enough and the discussion continues over the type of resource leveling mechanism.

We all know that there are two possible ways to do it using a project management software: manually and automatically. And from here it starts a very long debate that appears from time to time on various places over the Internet. One such debate that I read these days happened on The Project Manager Network a LinkedIn group for project managers.

The arguments are on both sides but to me it is more than clear that the only really useful method is the manual resource leveling. It is just impossible for an application to take into account all the possible conditions and restrictions from the real world projects in order to produce good results through an automatic leveling. It is true that in certain simpler cases the results can be satisfactory but this is just good luck. No matter what project management application you use and what method you choose the project managers must always check by hand the results of a resource leveling action.

These being said and based on the answers of other project managers that I have read it seems that automatic resource leveling is not helping to much and for this reason it is not used. The preferred solution is to do it manually.

RationalPlan – a feature-packed and ergonomic project management suite

By | December 15th, 2010|Project Management Software, RationalPlan, Reviews|Comments Off on RationalPlan – a feature-packed and ergonomic project management suite

The editors from 3d2f.com published a review for our RationalPlan suite that we shall publish in this post:

If you are a project manager, you know well that the success of any project heavily depends on your ability to interpret the client’s requirements, efficiently communicate them to the team, assess risks and factor them into the cost and duration estimates, closely monitor tasks on the critical path/chain, as well as to create detailed project plans that are easy to follow and hand over to another project manager, if need be. All of the above requires a great deal of skill and knowledge, as well as reliable and easy to use PM tools. So if you’ve got everything a good PM has, but are still on the look for the right software, check out RationalPlan!

RationalPlan is a convenient project management suite covering every aspect of the typical PM process. With RationalPlan, you can keep the company’s resources and the project budget under control using built-in cost estimation and cash-flow monitoring tools, tackle such issues as delays and buffer overflows, keep track of the overall project progress using key indices and even simulate various project evolution scenarios! The program offers a wide assortment of PM tools, from Gantt charts to WBS trees, and minimizes the familiarization time with the help of a clean and intuitive user interface.

If you are seeking a project management tool that will help you get your work done more efficiently than ever, don’t miss RationalPlan!

RationalPlan Project Management Software Version 3.20 Is Officially Launched

By | December 8th, 2010|Microsoft Project, News, Project Management Software, RationalPlan|Comments Off on RationalPlan Project Management Software Version 3.20 Is Officially Launched

Stand By Soft announces the new release of RationalPlan Project Management Software. The new version 3.20 comes with many new features like filters on tasks, better Microsoft Project integration, increased execution time, easier to use interface and the list continues. Plus by the end of the year RationalPlan Project Server will be offered for free to all users.

RationalPlan is a Microsoft Project alternative with additional features like multiple projects management, shared resources, email integration developed to assist project managers in creating plans, tracking progress, allocating resources, managing budgets and analyzing workload. RationalPlan Project Server is a concurrent user project management software developed to improve the existing RationalPlan suite of project management products by adding a server module that gives project managers concurrent access to a central project data repository when creating plans, tracking progress, allocating resources, managing budgets or analyzing workload.

Important changes added to this version:

  • Added filters for tasks
  • Better Microsoft Project integration including external tasks
  • Execution time improvement while in Gantt Chart view
  • Added default work-driven, fixed-units and resource forced-working values per project
  • Added new columns for tasks like ID, predecessors and successors
  • Improved the possibility to create dependencies using task IDs
  • Added new units like months and years duration and work
  • Added a User Account page and the possibility to change password into RationalPlan Project Server
  • Possibility to handle large files
  • Memory leaks fixes

At users requests the new version offers support for task filtering in Gantt Chart view and includes many types of filters. Among them it is worth to be mentioned:incomplete tasks, late tasks, tasks with deadlines, milestones, completed tasks, tasks with calendar, conflicting tasks, tasks with calendar, a.s.o.

While previous version added support for opening MS Project 2010 files in RationalPlan current version offers a better integration for external tasks. This includes representation of external tasks with gray color both on Gantt chart and in the task table. MS Project users will be able now to port their projects to RationalPlan Multi Project to see and manage them in a multiple projects software environment.

The resources now have the possibility to also filter the assignments using a late task filter. This will allow them to see all the tasks with completion date before current date that is all tasks that are late or behind the schedule. These assignments are rendered with red color to suggest the importance of these tasks. Another useful feature for resources is the ability to update the percentage completion of the assigned tasks. This way it is easier to keep the project evolution up to date since the project manager delegates the work of updating tasks completion to the corresponding resources.

Many changes where made to the application that makes working with RationalPlan more easier. Users will now have the possibility to create tasks by default as work-driven, fixed-units or to force assigned resources to work based on the calendar of the task. Also columns for ID, predecessors and successors where added for an easier tracking of the plan. The ID column is also useful when creating dependencies. Sometimes it is more easier to add predecessors or successors based on the task ID instead of its name.

Certain changes where also made to the project server product allowing users to easier manage the database: password reset mechanism, automatic version upgrade notification, etc.

Some memory leaks problems where solved and the execution time while in Gantt chart was improved allowing RationalPlan to run faster and work with larger files.

RationalPlan suite includes:

RationalPlan Single Project – project management software for single projects
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 management of company’s projects while offering concurrent/controlled access for different users

About Stand By Soft

Stand By Soft was founded in 1997 as a software company specialized in building desktop applications and components. RationalPlan is a project management software that follows the general recommended guidelines from project management domain. MOOS Project viewer is a Microsoft® Project viewer that allows you to open, view in a dynamic way and print any Microsoft® Project file

Contact name: Lucian Ioan
Address: Aleea Parului, Nr.4A, Craiova, Dolj, 200346, Romania
Email: marketing@rationalplan.com
Phone: +40727159969

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