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Who cannot live without MS Project here ?

I'm really bad at Project Management and I'm trying to improve my skills there.

o What are the negative points of MS Projetcs ?

o Is it a package which is hard to master ?

o If you want to synchronize MS Project on a Pocket PC, is it a free feature or you have got to cough up some $$$ for an add on module (Any recommendation there would be appreciated)

o Beside MS Project what are the other solutions available ?

o Would you say that you would not be able to live with MS Project nowadays ?

CycleBurner
Monday, December 08, 2003

> Beside MS Project what are the other solutions available ?

From the source: Planner is a tool for planning, scheduling and tracking projects for the GNOME Desktop. Planner is an open source project aiming at being a better alternative than the available proprietary tools.

http://planner.imendio.org/

Evgeny Gesin /Javadesk.com/
Monday, December 08, 2003

I use a combination of Project and Excel. While Joel says you can use just Excel, http://joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000245.html.

Using just Excel may make using a PDA easier. I'm not sure if PDAs have a program for working with Project files.

Michael Sica
Monday, December 08, 2003

Never make the mistake of assuming a software tool will teach you anything. Just as owning a level will not teach you carpentry and picking up a stylus will not make you a writer, software (no matter how good it is) can teach you nothing that you don't already know.

Personally, my recommendation would be use a cheap tool (like Excel) and pick up some good books on project management. You'll get a lot farther for your dollar. And maybe, next year when you've mastered the fine arts of risk management and requirements analysis, you will find a tool like MS Project a valid investment.

Dustin Alexander
Monday, December 08, 2003

I briefly used Project the past, but have since switched to basic Excel spreadsheets.

One factor is that I'm a developer, and I prefer to spend my time in code rather than learning a complex management system like Project.

I'd say if your job is project management, and you'll be spending a lot of time on that, learn a sophisticated tool like Project.

If you are a fellow developer, use something simple and effective (like spreadsheets).

Walt
Monday, December 08, 2003

I agree with Walt's comments.  I've worked with MS Project in the past and found that I was only using the basics which I could just have easily accomplished in Excel.  Whenever I tried to delve into the resource leveling and other advanced features it would always screw up my schedule someway and I never had the time to really get into it, so I stuck to the basics.

Wade Winningham
Monday, December 08, 2003

I second Wade's comment.  If you are getting it to do something more complicated than what you were going to do in Excel, the basic rule of thumb from my experience (and others) is that you'll spend more time trying to undo what it just did than trying to work out what your tasks are, or how they are divided into phases, or who is working on them.

The gantt chart looks nice though.

Konrad
Monday, December 08, 2003

MS Project is so popular because the other commerical alternative, Primavera, is so awful to use.

pdq
Monday, December 08, 2003

At the risk of saying "me too" ... I've tried Project in the past and it just doesn't work for me.

Having Gantt charts is okay if you're doing a summary of work and presenting it at a higher level. For day to day stuff, where it's broken into 1 or 2 day tasks, I just find it unreadable.

I use Excel for my plans and I've had no problems with them so far. It's great for making up a "todo" list on Monday morning so I can see what's planned ahead for the week.

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

And another me too I'm afraid, I completely agree with PDQ, Primavera is the biggest pile of crap I've ever seen with respect to scheduling and time recording.  It is truly disgusting, and I'm amazed they are able to sell it.

Konrad
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Last time I tried to use project I found it was really bad with scheduling overlapping skill sets:
i.e.
Alice and Bob can write SQL
Bob and Charlie can write C++
Alice, Bob and Charlie can write VB

Now schedule a project with tasks that can require those three skills in various quantities.
I think in the end last time I tried I ended up creating a .75 SQL person, a .75 C++ person and 1.5 VB person to get the overall timings to come out "kinda" right. 

It was worse when I did embedded software as some folks can't write device drivers to save their lives and some hardware engineers can't write software.

Personally I'd use it to organise the tasks and create dependcies then sort out the mess by hand afterwards, finally keeping track in Excel.

Peter Ibbotson
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Yes, it's a pain. Yes, its advanced features are almost always more trouble than they're worth.

As Konrad said, though, the Gantt charts look good.

More imporantly, they look good to clients and/or management types. Really, really good.  As in, they make great proposals -- I use them for this all the time.

I have also occasionally used them very effectively to pound sense into people who otherwise can't seem to grasp cause and effect.

We're late here, and here.  We have n programmers, and n*2 work.  This component is on the critical path, and will be late, so everything after it will be late no matter what.

Somehow, a nicely laid out Gantt chart seems to convince people who are otherwise in a complete state of denial that time does flow and there's only so much of it between now and then

Mongo
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

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