Using a project planning and control software only as a visual representation of the planning status is a waste of time. A few tips have to be followed and MS Project and Co are also very useful for project monitoring and control.
I often hear from prospective project managers, but also from experienced project managers, that a project management tool such as MS Project is not practicable. It is too complicated and the actual control is not really possible.
If you consider the following tips nothing will go wrong anymore:
- Set in the options that MS Project or the tool of your choice will base the planning on “fixed work”.
- The availability (hourly capacity and holidays) of resources/qualifications must be entered in the project calendar.
- Do not set a manual date (fixed date), except project start or finish date.
- For each task / work package, a predecessor (at least the project start milestone) and successor (at least the project end milestone) must be entered.
- Do not enter a duration, only the effort for the task / work package.
- Only one resource/qualification should be entered for each activity.
- Always display the critical path in the schedule (Gantt). This must be displayed throughout the entire project duration without interruption. Otherwise there is an error, e.g. manual date set.
- Only plan detailed for a maximum of 2-3 months in advance (resources and effort).
And the last obstacle is again and again that your company does not invest an MS Project license for you. Then get ProjectLibre as Opensource or another freeware.