16 October 2009
Make the most of your resources
There are many resource programming tools on the market, with some simpler to master than others.
A long time ago my first introduction to project planning was a programme called Plan & Track which used to run on a Macintosh Classic (circa 1990). It allowed users to easily and intuitively draw Gantt charts to map out project milestones and task timelines. However, its ease of use was directly linked to its main drawback. Being an entirely graphical tool there was no ability to analyse and interrogate the resource programming. So while you could quickly sketch out a resources schedule there was no ability to attribute costs, analyse critical paths, etc. Plan & Track has long since disappeared into the mists of time, but is there a new resource programming tool that is appropriate to be used by anyone?
Microsoft Project is the de facto standard software for project/ resource management, and costs around £480 plus vat (http://office.microsoft.com). But many regard it as too complicated for use other than by dedicated project managers. FastTrack Schedule 9 (www.aecsoftware.com) offers both Windows and Mac compatibility and does so at a lower price of £282 plus vat. However, given that it offers a similar level of functionality to Microsoft Project, it too may be found by some to be over-sophisticated. SharedPlan Pro (www.sharedplan.com) is a simpler cross-platform project planner. At just $99 (£63) per user it can be used as a standalone tool or combined with a server application it can also provide a collaborative team solution.
There are several free cross-platform, open-source project management software tools. OpenProj (http://openproj.org/openproj) achieves a high level of functionality almost comparable to Microsoft Project and FastTrack Schedule 9. Its user interface does, however, lean rather heavily on a spreadsheet-style interface. At the other end of the functionality scale GanttProject (www.ganttproject.biz) is a fairly basic open-source solution which is reasonably intuitive and visually clear. Allocation of resource costs and customisation of resource availability is very basic and likely to become a frustration if these aspects are critical.
Head in the cloud
In the SAAS sector (Software as a Service), otherwise known as "cloud" computing, web-based project management is an established offering. Clarizen (www.clarizen.com) and Daptiv PPM (www.daptiv.com) are two leading generic project management tools. They use the advantages of a web-based product to make the project management an intrinsic part of the workflow of all members of the team, but in doing so potentially duplicate existing systems.
Of all the tools I have looked at the one I liked using best, Omniplan (www.omnigroup.com) was also one of the simplest. Unfortunately it is a Mac only product, but I found it was intuitive to set up and edit projects, tasks and resources, and the interface was much more visually appealing than the "clever spreadsheet" look of other products. It is shy on features compared with others but after spending a couple of hours inputting a project you do at least feel you have mastered the software.
For more information:
- Spotlight Archive
- Rendering can help build a better picture
- Ojeu tenders website gets a makeover
- Could Newforma Project Centre clean up your desktop?
- Is wireless networking the best choice for your architecture firm?
- The software generation game
- Shine a searchlight on your site
- New year forecast looks cloudy
- What can ebooks do for your firm?
- How to kit out your home office
- A new bite of the Apple
- Making the best of software upgrades
- Conference points to design's virtual future
- How to navigate the cad file pile-up
- Getting it together
- Get the best from the 3D explosion
- Free yourself from computer slavery
- Making a virtual out of necessity
- Taking the first bite of Apple Autocad
- Bim adds an extra dimension
- Apple Autocad software looks fruitful
- Where did all the time go?
- Make sure you're not storing up trouble
- iPad has the right touch for Architects
- Know your building's carbon footprint
- Working Prototypes: 2010 Smart Geometry conference in Barcelona
- Time to explore the world of browsers
- Taxman will pay you to innovate
- Is Google Apps the solution startups are searching for ?
- Beware the pitfalls of new broadband
- What are the odds of defeating spam?
- Make the most of your resources
- Who says backing up is hard to do?
- Breaking away from the slideshow presentation
- Are architects ready to tweet?
- The paper chase is over - what now?
- Vector programs give 2D drawings the edge
- Smart Geometry 2009
- How to budget IT as recession bytes
- Let’s get physical, physical... rapid prototyping helps bring your projects to life
- Searching for the best tender search
- PDFs ready to enter the third dimension
- There's life in the old fax yet
- Don't let your computer catch a malware malady
- Don't forget your backups
- Where has my broadband speed gone?
- 2D or not 2D? Architectural modelling packages that offer you more
- How smart devices can make the office more efficient
- How green is my PC?
- Lomas Davies Twitter