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Project Management Software applications help Project Manager to track Schedule, Performance, Cost and Resource utilization.
We had already featured GanttProject last month, which is a cross-platform desktop tool for project scheduling and management.
KPlato (part of KOffice on K Desktop Environment-KDE) is a project management application for Linux. Open Workbench is an open source desktop application that provides robust project scheduling and management functionality.
Great list, free and open source are definitely desirable attributes when it comes to online project management tools. Though not an open source application,Planning Force has many useful tools to make your project management easier.
I’ve already checked some of these products, their functionality looks great, but just overhelming for our current business needs. Open Project probably belongs in you list because it purports to be a project management tool. I have used Paymo and Replicon Project Tracking Softwares for tracking my project statistics such as time, bills, project advancements, handling employees performances, etc. We start off this chapter with a tongue-in-cheek collection of "axioms" that sum up some of the more critical realizations we had during numerous projects. Whether the suppliers are outsourced services or actual manufacturing suppliers, they always remain significant to the project because they participate just as much in the result as any other resource. Internal engineering or process design generates the concept and out-sources to the supplier with appropriate supporting information. Selection of a supplier relies on numerous factors-many of the evaluation criteria depend on the economic performance and the stability of the supplier. In the case of services, obvious presentation of requirements in the form of mechanical drawings makes no sense.
The supplier evaluation does not select the supplier; rather, the scores developed during the acquisition process provide an ordinal list of supplier capabilities.
In the case of software acquisition, internal methods of selecting suppliers often do not evaluate the supplier in key software practices.
Developers use the capability maturity model integrated (CMMI) method in evaluating software or engineering suppliers.
Initial scope containment actions identify those activities needed to ensure the scope of the project does not submerge within the processes of the project.
The work breakdown structure (WBS) takes the top-level deliverables of the project and functionally decomposes these items into a hierarchical representation of the final product. Additionally, the team can match the work packages against available resources to provide a more complete assessment of the feasibility of the project. Identifies tasks for support plans such as configuration management, quality assurance, and verification and validation plans. In order to perform effective estimation of the duration of a task, the project manager needs an in-depth understanding of both the requirements and the required actions.
Work package estimation occurs more quickly with the use of a complete WBS-these atoms simplify the process of estimation because they depict small, comprehensible actions. Note that we posit work package estimation as a dynamic process designed to produce meaningful results.
After the planning team creates the WBS, the project manager in concert with the team will identify and assign the resources needed to undertake the individual work packages, identifying skills and assigning responsibilities. It may be naive to believe that people assigned to the project work solely on their project tasks. The project manager should be wary of cases where an individual with a penchant for overwork takes on all tasks and fails-the principal defect of infinite-loading models. When the project manager estimates a project with his team, he can usually estimate cost and schedule while setting target values for quality. As each phase terminates, the project manager and team revise or recalculate estimates with additional information from the previous phase.
If upstream management interferes with the project by dictating a compressed schedule or a reduced budget, the likelihood of a successful project diminishes.
Additionally, crashing (or reducing) the schedule generally fails to account for the effect of random variation on the project plan. While some elements of a project may recur from project to project, such as a well-defined software release process, many elements occur as "one-off" activities. Asserting the duration of a non-recurrent task as a single value implies extensive foreknowledge. Note that the formula hints at a potentially unjustified normal distribution around the most probable scenario.
We define the critical path as the longest duration path in the network diagram-the longest cumulative, connected, slackless lead-time through the project-which means it represents the shortest period of time in which the project can be completed.
The critical path approach suggests that management of slack becomes crucial to the success of a project. The critical path approach may focus too much on problems as they arise, and less on preventing potential problems. For planning purposes, the network diagram becomes more important than the more common Gantt chart seen in software programs that support project management. The failure to properly connect the network diagram is probably the single most common scheduling failure by project managers. Figure 7 illustrates, in general, the relationship between the project phase risk probability and financial effect.
The project manager can estimate multiple risks by multiplying estimates if he assumes independent events.
In this example, the probability of achieving the objective of having the specification completed and reviewed amounts to 81 percent. When there are many variations of the system under design, or when the system under design has to interface or is part of a system with many variations, simulation can reduce the logistics around obtaining each of these variations for verification. Virtual simulation is used to develop requirements by getting feedback on the proposed design solution.
Constructive simulation is just that, simulating the construction of the proposed solutions. Any verification of the product, process, or service will provide some data about these products. However, the purpose of material and process prototypes lies in the reduction of risk to the production of the product or service. Validation further reduces risk by examining the product or service under more realistic conditions and at a further stage of development. In addition to verification and validation, the team may opt to stress the product or service beyond design limits to characterize performance. Reliability testing attempts to assess the behavior of the product or service at some specified time.
The payback period is the amount of time it takes to return the money spent for the project. Return on investment (ROI) in its simplest form is the ratio of the return or income from the project undertaken to the investment in the project.
Internal rate of return or IRR, is the annualized compounded return rate for the investment. Sometimes projects are not undertaken for a particular dollar amount, such as a ROI or IRR. The results may be more difficult to quantify than ROI and IRR; however, given the investment, it has tremendous significance for the future of the enterprise. The cost control procedures define the process interactions and the tasks needed to manage the delivery of the project costs. Some organizations do not have tight controls over the hours recorded by employees nor do they have links to the WBS. Let's assume that the project team has identified the scope, tasks, and estimates for the project. The schedule performance index (SPI) is the ratio of the work performed to the value of the work planned. Example: We plan four weeks to execute a given set of tasks and constrain planned cost to $16,000. Cost variance (CV) is the dollar amount difference between actual spending and planned spending at specific points in the project.
Schedule variance is much like cost variance in concept; however, in this case the dollar amount represents the specific amount spent in relation to the project schedule.
This simple equation provides a back-of-the-envelope check to see if the program is on, over or under budget. Variance at completion (VAC) provides the dollar amount of the difference between what was originally planned to accomplish the project to new realities discovered as a result of project execution.
Now, the example project will require an additional $100,000 to complete, if nothing else changes (for example, scope or feature reduction). The project team may create custom tools due to pressures from within the project, a simple matter of creativity matching needs.
At a critical point in the late stage of developing a new product, a key participant can leave the team or the enterprise. The subsequent counterproductive arguing added no value to the product or project and had a negative impact upon team morale.


The launch or change process had no control point in this portion of the process (control points generally involve inspection of work), so the error propagated through the system.
This redundant and costly situation was avoidable by using a design review at the system or metalevel. In the course of a postproduction cost evaluation and improvement exercise, the project manager of the supplier made statements regarding the cost of a particular component (a liquid crystal diode or LCD) within the product. 2Defense Acquisition University Press, Systems Engineering Fundamentals, (Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Dau 2001) p.
From Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems: Ensuring Product Integrity and Program Quality by Kim Pries and Jon Quigley. You don’t necessarily have to manage a social media project in order to recognize the benefits of using the tools of social media project management.
In order to really reap the benefits, social media has to be a fully integrated and planned part of your project’s communications management strategy. Microsoft Project is the industry leader and a proprietary software that costs significant amount of money. It supports resource allocation, work breakdown structure, critical paths, Gantt chart and many more. OpenProj is a complete desktop replacement of Microsoft Project and other commercial project solutions. Already the scheduling standard for more than 100,000 project managers worldwide, Open Workbench is a free and powerful alternative to Microsoft Project. Its new approach to project planning and tracking is more flexible and superior to the commonly used Gantt chart editing tools.
Could anyone here please suggest a product that is not so heavily featured as MS Project (or its alternatives), but has the following critical points in its arsenal – collaboration between people, work planning, real-time work results tracking, and some kind of communication between users (it could be free or semi-free software, or probably something not so expensive as MS Project).
It was created by amateurs however who have no clue what the elements of project management are or how to do pert or cpm calculations.  Basic omissions like no estimated and actual start and end dates on tasks. The network diagram has more importance than the Gantt chart because it more adequately represents the relations of the tasks and deliverables.
All functional managers must deliver a complete plan no later than the planning gate of the project. Measure plans according to the standard metrics as defined in chapter 15 of Kerzner's Project Management, 8th or 9th edition [Kerzner 2001]. The project manager should create plans at as fine a granularity as possible so that the completion of tasks becomes a binary choice and the percentage completion indicator of the Microsoft Project software actually means something.
All of the consensus management areas are the responsibility of the project manager, not just arbitrarily laid out in the schedule. Build slack into the time line from the start of the program and manage it with great care. In some cases, the corporate customer may dictate the choice of suppliers, which can lead to major problems when those suppliers become unreliable. A service company may need to create a specification or a statement of work to provide enough information for an outsourced service to provide a quote. For each category, there may be multiple choices to quantify the supplier's capability with respect to project requirements. In the automotive industry, a group consisting of representatives from the Supplier Quality Assurance (SQA) function, technical expertise from the design staff, and the acquisition function (for example, the purchasing department) performs the supplier evaluation. Instead, the review or critique relates more to the supplier's financial and production constraints. The model purports to assess the maturity of various tasks within an organization-not only software-and applies a score. In fact, the SPICE effort in Europe probably influenced the older capability maturity model (CMM) to evolve into the CMMI.
Decomposing cost centers to some atomic level, for example, where we have estimates between eight hours and eighty hours usually improves the accuracy of the forecast.
Therefore, the estimates should flow up from those resources that execute these tasks; that is, the team members and their managers provide their own estimates. Sometimes, the team member (executor) does not estimate, but rather a technical expert or the project manager will estimate. Having the project manager dictate the desired schedules to the team while ignoring contributions from team members demotivates the project team.
A resource allocation matrix (sometimes called a "bill of resources"), Figure 2, can help to convey the areas of responsibilities to the project team.
Personal efficiency and normal interactions consume part of each working day, implying full utilization as impossible even under ideal circumstances. These assumptions allow for more accurate predictions and also give visibility to the actual workloads. The project manager can apply this method when the historical project attributes resemble the current project.
Once the project manager and team assign a duration and cost to each task, the project manager compiles this information into a schedule and a budget. Unrealistic due dates degrade the quality of the schedule and unrealistic budgets degrade the value of project costing.
In retaliation or expectation, some project managers react by padding their estimate; that is, inserting safety lead time to increase the likelihood of task completion. An even worse situation occurs when the upstream managers begin to assume the project managers padded the budgets and routinely call for schedule and budget attenuation. The project manager can use recurrent elements to enhance the accuracy of the forecast due to the reduced uncertainty of the estimates. Describing the task duration as a range of possibilities reflects the uncertainty of project execution.
However, if the project manager assumes the estimate of time follows a normal distribution, then he can refine or broaden the estimates.
Modern project management software can calculate the critical path quickly and represent it graphically. It is possible to develop an association between the activity, the person conducting the activity, and the organization processes. Barry Boehm and a team of others have created mathematical models for just this sort of estimation methodology on a grand scale with a process known as Contructive Cost Model (COCOMO), and COCOMO II.1 This model is very complex and cannot be adequately handled within a section of a project management book. However, this kind of preliminary quantification provides managers with enough information to make a decision. These tools allow the user to run Monte Carlo simulations of the sequences of events and earned value.
Simulation allows for testing theories and product possibilities without making the actual part. In these simulations, the situations or ambient environment is simulated allowing the system to be checked out under various operational situations.
The project manager must understand that the product, process, or service is a prototype that may not represent the result. If the embedded team has the software product built, it can model the defect arrival rate with a Rayleigh model and provide the program manager with a statistical basis for final release.
The typical criteria are return on investment (ROI), internal rate of return (IRR), or other financial requirements (see Figure 9). If the enterprise spends $100,000 and it makes $20,000 in profit on the product every year, it would take five years to return all of the development monies incurred by the project with the assumption of no effect from inflation.
If a project's rate of return is better then the alternative uses of the funds, the project is deemed to be a good investment and acceptable.
Projects can be a useful tactic for grabbing market share from a competitor or for achieving a long-range organizational strategy. Even when the project evolves into a strategic initiative, the board of directors will normally require a link to the long-term profitability of the enterprise-board-level governance of corporations usually requires a rationale for an initially unprofitable strategy and is frequently a regulatory obligation. The team will need to deliver the product and process within the identified cost boundaries. The most common name for these variables is planned value since it shows expected expenditures for any given time. The calculation provides quick feedback on whether the project spending occurs according to plan.
This includes informing those stakeholders whether the present budget to complete the project is profitable and elucidating any significant trends. This person may have been responsible for the design of the printed circuit board for a high-profile customer. The square component was a device that converted the signals from one type of data communications to another. Metalevel reviews provide an opportunity for developers of embedded software, services, or manufacturables to reassess their work in light of a higher-order systems approach.
The customer had identified a supplier of the LCD as having a component of similar quality for much less. Barry Boehm, Bradford Clark, Ellis Horowitz, Ray Madachy, Richard Shelby, and Chris Westland.
Furthermore, being a social media project manager is more than simply publishing a few project updates on Facebook.
If money is a constraint, then don’t think again because there are equally good Project management software applications that cost nothing! OpenProj shares the industry’s most advanced scheduling engine with Project-ON-Demand and provides Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams (PERT Charts), WBS and RBS charts, Earned Value costing and more.


It has already been successfully used in many projects and scales easily to projects with hundreds of resources and thousands of tasks. It provides an option to add fields, customize your homepage and add widgets like “what is new this week” to the dashboard. I appreciate your help, and also I hope to find something installable if possible… thanks in advance!
However, while the acquisition function selects the supplier, the project manager should know and assess the risk involved with each part or service and with each supplier. The evaluation team will associate a score with each of these possibilities, particularly in the case of government contracts. Team members should participate in this evaluation in order to provide the project manager with a preliminary understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the supplier. The choice of software supplier based solely on financial data can be myopic and reflective of insufficient technical involvement in the acquisition activity. Department of Defense (DoD) vernacular, the WBS provides cost centers for cost and schedule tracking of the project. Bringing in a "pinch hitter" adds little value to the derivation of good estimates-the person who will complete the task should perform the estimates!
If a person works half-time on a deliverable, one can assume it will take at least twice as long to complete that task.
Keep in mind that the cost and schedule assumptions represent a model of what the project manager desires.
If an instrument cluster development project always costs $2 million then this amount would be budgeted and distributed among project phases, distributed in the proportions suggested by past projects. Individual team members participate in the bottom up approach, while higher-level managers and the project manager have editorial responsibility over the estimates, providing a filter against wild inaccuracies and simple mistakes. Higher-level interference can destroy the sense of ownership in a team by shrinking the perception of participation and demeaning the contribution of team members.
The program evaluation and review technique (PERT) uses a network analysis based on events defined within the project and addresses one-off durations; it allows the project team to express durations as a span of likelihoods. The PERT estimation technique also provides the project manager with a glimpse of the uncertainty of the estimates. Taking the individual estimates to the one, two, three, or six standard deviations (sigma or ?) spreads the available time and improves the probability that the estimate lies within the range of dates. Estimates with substantial variation should be removed from the critical path or receive risk mitigation.
Software that calculates multiple critical paths treats the project as a metaproject composed of other projects. If the program manager does not connect the tasks based on dependencies, A must complete before B can start, then the software will inaccurately represent the critical path (see Figure 5).
Compiling this information over time allows the project manager or the line organization manager to be able to make some qualifying statements about the validity of the estimates. However, we provide the list below (not exhaustive) to get a perspective on the number of variables that impact the estimation process.
However, consider the longer the time the project runs, the more is invested in terms of time and money.
Let's say it becomes necessary to write the specification for the product before a review with key personnel.
If the enterprise has a policy of retaining historical data of various projects, the project manager can choose the appropriate distributions to represent various activities in the project (note: not everything follows the so-called "normal distribution").
This means it is possible to learn about the product, before much money, time, and opportunity have been sunk into the product (see Figure 8).
The operator's physical interface with the system is duplicated, and the simulated system is made to perform as if it were the real system. Under special conditions, the team can model the rate of degradation and predict the life of the product or service. The sooner this payback happens, the more quickly the company makes a profit on the product.
Will we make more money investing in this project then another, or even another type of investment (bank or stocks)? The figure does not present an exhaustive list but, rather, core tasks identified in the automotive industry action group (AIAG) advanced product quality planning (APQP). In addition, the green component worked with a number of data busses and had the hardware on board the micro-controller to handle the bus interface. The prospect of using a much less expensive component while maintaining the same level of performance and design requirements excited the customer. It is very popular and crossed more than a million downloads in the few months since its launch. However, often a gap exists in the evaluation standards, particularly for embedded software development.
However, little research supports this model as a significant evaluation tool for assessing the software development of a supplier; that is, the project manager or team can assess maturity of the development process, but it cannot directly assess the software itself. In so doing, the team increases the likelihood of commitment to that task; participation in the estimation process encourages ownership of the results, converting the players on the team from victims to participants. In this case, the team assumes little or no disruption in the transition from the other tasks, a possibly unrealistic option.
As events consume the forecast, the project manager replaces vague estimation with real data and the remaining forecast improves in quality. However, the range of values (Pessimistic-Optimistic) provides a strong indicator of the certainty used by the estimator. Alternatively, an independent task has no dependencies and the team can execute it immediately. Further, the more decisions are made and directions taken, the fewer alternatives or solutions are possible.
To achieve the delivery date, he must have the specification written in a specific period Risk1 and have the review Risk2 within a certain period also. If he does not know the distributions or knows them poorly, the project manager can estimate some worst-case scenarios and apply a random walk approach to the Monte Carlo simulations by modeling to uniform distributions. Simulation allows you to adjust the product to better meet customer needs without great tooling costs. However, sometimes the enterprise will drive a project for a new strategic relationship with a customer, while not meeting financial expectations. Payback period provides a quick means for assessing the cost of a project especially if the payback period calculates to less than one year. It is just as important that those working on the WBS elements know the accounts to which to bill the effort and do so. The tool evaluates the project schedule and cost expenditures against the planned time and cost to determine the status of the project.
Software would be required to make these components work together and omit the $30 module from the vehicle build while retaining the functionality (see Figure 11). This cost reduction should have been available earlier and would have been less than the cost to develop two different components to meet the functional requirements.
After a quick investigation of the actual cost by the supplier, the money saved was much less and would not have been cost effective to change within the product considering the cost of product qualification (testing, FMEA review, etc.).
The decomposition of tasks needed to produce the project objectives allows for detailed estimations of project costs. The project manager will convert this value into the task variance using the equation below. The critical path possesses no slack time (the amount of time an activity can be delayed without delaying the early start date of the next task).
Therefore, while risk may go down as the project progresses, the consequences of those risks have more at stake.
Still, starting earlier, clarifying concepts and requirements means this is a wonderful tool to help produce the product in a timely fashion and at the desired quality. Understanding the rationale for a project allows the project team to comprehend the purpose of the project.
Inflation, taxation, and other accounting period-related issues become less significant for short durations.
In short, any time the project team makes a change, the total cost of change is a significant consideration. The team weighs its classifications with the heaviest weight going to the most probable scenario.
The advantages of simulation are great and allow for risk and cost reductions early in the project. Rather than finger-pointing, it would be more productive to focus on recovery instead of squabbling about responsibility. Additionally, the team should review the impact of purchased components on the supply chain, given the difficulty of planning for items with weeks- or months-long lead times.
Please contact us using the contact us page of this website for reporting any issues with the content. The project manager must ensure that the people doing the work record their time accurately.



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project management tools comparison youtube



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