Project management can help increase the productivity of small companies (with at least a few employees), as well as mid-sized and large businesses. Microsoft Project 2002 is one of the top products on the market for project management, but is it right for you? Read on to find out.
Microsoft Project Standard 2002 gives you the ability to intricately plan projects from an internal perspective. It’s a very powerful program (as it should be for the price!) with many tools, including:
- the ability to document project tasks,
- assign those tasks to particular resources (people and groups) and
- assign an expected task completion date
…to name just a few.
With Project, you can also track and create reports on project costs, equipment, time spent and many other project related variables.
You can create graphs and use GANTT and PERT charts. You can even schedule recurring tasks. Project’s Web exporting feature allows you to easily convert project information into an HTML format, ready for Web upload to your own server.
Streamlined Tracking and Communications
One of the most useful features in Project is the ability to streamline and automate your tracking and communication efforts with the resources in your project, over the Internet. This allows you to easily keep the members of your team updated with the latest information on your project. Microsoft provides two key methods to accomplish this, which, as described in the User’s Manual, are as follows:
"Microsoft Project Server: Microsoft Project Server and its Web component, Microsoft Project Web Access, are companion products to Microsoft Project and allow you to share the details on your project with the other members and managers of your team. They can even create new tasks for the project plan, and delegate tasks to others. As the project manager, you can receive task updates and textual status reports.
"Email: If your team collaboration requirements are simple, you can just use your existing MAPI-compliant, 32-bit email system to exchange basic task and status information with team members. Once connected electronically, you and your team can use special email generated by Microsoft Project to assign tasks, send task updates and submit textual status reports."
So, as you can see, Microsoft Project 2002 has exceptional project collaboration abilities.
The Learning Curve
One of the "downsides" to a program of this size is that it has a large learning curve.
This is a massive application and it takes a serious time commitment to learn and use it to its full potential. In the beginning, you might have a tough time, but you’ll eventually learn the basic features and you will be able to utilize them.
As you continue to use the program, you’ll discover the more intricate parts of Project and believe me, there are plenty of them! You may find it helpful to buy one of the many Microsoft Project 2002 help books available; they’ll probably speed up the process a little for you.
Just don’t buy this program for a project you need to plan tomorrow, and expect to be able to plan that project using all the tools that this software has to offer. Given the size of the program and its many capabilities, this just isn’t reasonable.
Not For the One Man Band
This program really isn’t for the one man band or very small business. It has features that you can use, sure… but if you are a one or two man business, you’re likely to spend more time learning to use the program to plan projects, than you are actually getting the projects done.
If the product’s price hasn’t already made this clear, this is a piece of software that is intended for businesses with (at least) several employees — businesses that can benefit from planning and tracking their time, whose staff need to know what they, specifically, are to do on a project that your company’s undertaking.
If you don’t have several employees, you’re probably better off just sitting down in Microsoft Word or a pen and pencil, and outlining your own project tasks, their completion dates and the responsible parties. l probably be more efficient — and cheaper!
When it comes down to it, Project is not even close to being a joy to learn or to use, and it is overpriced. It is a powerful program, there’s no doubt, but if you’re the average business person, it’s anybody’s guess actually when you’ll discover and be able to use all of this product’s features.
If you really need project management software and budget isn’t a concern, then Microsoft Project 2002 is probably worth it. Otherwise, it probably isn’t.
Patrick O'Keefe is the founder of the iFroggy Network, a network of websites covering various interests. He has been managing online communities since 2000 and is the author of "Managing Online Forums," a practical guide to managing online social spaces. He has been responsible for the cultivation of communities. He blogs about online community at ManagingCommunities.com and more at patrickokeefe.com.