Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Considerations When Buying Project Management Software

There are a wide variety of project management software packages available for your company to choose from. All the packages have the capacity to produce eye-catching charts and graphs. Software packages, that will run on your PC or network, are available in varying levels of complexity and at prices ranging from $25.00 to $10,000.00 or more.

Project management software packages can perform many tasks that, in the past, have proven to be very labor-intensive. Depending on the package your company chooses, the capabilities can be limitless.

The introduction of project management software packages helps companies reduce the amount of time and money spent on project monitoring and control. Since the software provides information more quickly, less personnel hours are required for these tasks. Therefore, personnel can concentrate efforts in more constructive, beneficial areas.

There are a number of other benefits to using software, including:
  • the ability to track planned versus actual dates
  • the ability to forecast effects of schedule changes
  • the ability to calculate mathematical analysis and resource leveling
  • the ability to examine schedule alternatives early
  • the ability to design, simulate and enhance schedule control processes
  • the ability to monitor multiple projects simultaneously
Project management software ranges in price from $25.00 to more than $10,000, so you will want to know what type of user you are before you go shopping. The most basic questions to raise before you shop for project management software are:
  • How many projects is your company managing at one time?
  • How much time and money does your company have to invest in a software package?
High-end users manage multi-projects, and schedule and track many people simultaneously. Packages range in price from $2,000.00 to $10,000.00 or more and require a lot of time to master the features.

Mid-range users may have two project running at once. Projects can have up to 2000 tasks. The cost can range from $200.00 to $500.00 for packages that offer a range of planning, scheduling and tracking tools.

Low-end users can automate the basics for under $100.00. The basics would include tasks like developing plans, occasionally preparing status reports, and producing simple Gantt and PERT charts.

In addition to knowing what kind of user you are, you also need to know how you will plan and manage your projects. Is your company one that emphasizes work or durations? Having this information on hand will affect how easy a software package is for you to use.

Consider resource-driven scheduling when you want to plan and track using detailed work estimates. For instance, if a project will take 592 person-hours to complete, you will need to purchase software that provides scheduling based on work.

Consider schedule duration if you want to focus on the duration of the project. For example, if the project will take an employee 2.5 months to complete, you will need to ensure that your software provides efficient handling of durations.

A key point to keep in mind is that your company's needs will dictate the software you choose. To ensure your time and money is spent wisely, decide on your user type and management style prior to making this investment.


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