Project Management Software AN ASSESSMENT With Spreadsheets for Managing Projects

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Spreadsheets will be the king of project management support tools because they're the most convenient tool to use and the most commonly used tool. How do they compare to project management software? What are the benefits of each so when should you make the switch to project management software? While only you can make the determination as to once you should make the switch, this article will walk through the advantages of each and provide some guidelines.

Based on which research you depend on, the market for project management software is between $1.5 billion and $3.5 billion. That is for software that is specifically designed to support project management. Most organizations that have made significant efforts towards effective project management have recognized that it is very difficult to manage a lot more projects and people, or a larger project, minus the support of technology.

Yet there is no tool for project management that's more popular or widespread than the spreadsheet, even though spreadsheets are not designed to be project support tools. Even in organizations having an established project management tool, spreadsheets are used. There are obvious known reasons for this. A spreadsheet program is on nearly every computer in every organization, people are familiar with spreadsheets and how to use them, and folks are pre-disposed to utilize these "office" forms of software tools to resolve problems. And I am right there with them. I really like using spreadsheets to track all kinds of data. It really is easy, convenient, and I admit ego-boosting to show off what I can do in a spreadsheet.

arts alliance With that in mind, let's look at a few of the differences between these two different types of tools. For the purposes of the article, I selected six criteria by which to make the comparison. These were selected from the feedback of customers and prospects as well as learning the most important thing for the successful adoption and implementation of project tools in a organization.

Data Mining

Data mining is really a huge part of project management tools. The complete reason for having a tool is to collect data, so that you could look intelligently at that data, make sure your processes are performing as advertised, and make good decisions. You should know which projects and tasks are slipping through the cracks so that you again react. You should know when you won't have enough resources to meet demand to enable you to allocate them properly or manage the demand. You have to know which issues are lurking to enable you to address them now before you lose the favor of a crucial customer. And you have to see how your processes will work so as to continuously improve your processes.

In today's economy, competitive landscape, and accountability standards you must have the data. Managers are receiving blindsided because they have no idea what is coming and what is going on. This is where the proper project management program shines and spreadsheets fade. An excellent project management tool will be database-oriented and should enable different types of ad hoc reporting across multiple projects. This permits the mining of all kinds of data. You simply cannot do that in a spreadsheet at exactly the same level. In the event that you really, really know what you are doing you'll be able to tie spreadsheets together and generate some integrated data. But that's not the same thing. You merely cannot, on a whim, mine into the data represented in your multiple spreadsheets. And in the current environment, that is critically important. Gone will be the days when not having the right data is acceptable.

Advantage: Project Management Software

Ease of Use

You can find project management software systems which are easy to use. However, spreadsheets clearly have an advantage here. Most people are familiar with how to use spreadsheets; they're comfortable with them, and also like using them. A big reason is because spreadsheets have no structure. People are not usually "forced" into how exactly to use them. They are free to use them nonetheless they want. Of course, you will find a downside to this. It is extremely difficult to standardize a process or have any sort of standard data structure if you find no structure in the tool itself. However, from a strict simplicity standpoint, spreadsheets cannot be beat.