Using Software to Facilitate Your Project

Consider the following questions when determining whether you need project management software:

  • How many people are involved in the project?

  • About how many tasks are involved?

  • To whom are you responsible? (Is the only one involved yourself or does this project affect the entire company?)

  • Are tasks being done simultaneously or one at a time?

The key is to know your strengths, and how well you can initiate, organize, schedule, monitor, and complete the project effectively. If a simple to-do list will work, use your word processing program and type it out. If two-dozen people simultaneously handling sixty-five different tasks are involved, it might be easier to invest in a project software package. Keep in mind that many projects were completed well before software packages ever existed. However, there's nothing wrong with making life easier, is there?

Don't make the common mistake of depending too heavily on your software programs. They are there to help you facilitate the process, but they cannot do the project management job for you. Every project needs human input.

Software programs are designed to help, but you are still in the driver's seat, especially when it comes to weighing various options and making decisions. You, not your software, are responsible for maintaining integrity. For example, the software will not tell you that someone has entered brochure copy that they've plagiarized from another brochure. Likewise, your software won't tell you why a key team member missed the morning meeting or that a shipment from a vendor is delayed because someone neglected to order it on time.

Let's look at what you want from a good project-management software package. You want the software to:

  • Be user friendly so you don't need to spend an excessive amount of time figuring out the program or entering data. If repeated data entry is slowing you down, then the program may not be beneficial.

  • Store, sort, and retrieve all key information on the project

  • Assist you in tracking, monitoring, and updating the success of the project

  • Provide tips, pointers, warnings, analysis, and other best-or worst-case scenarios based on the data you have input

  • Help you by producing charts, graphs, reports, and other project documentation

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