Anna Preston

Project Planning Software - Is It Worth It?

As a project manager, you will rely on many tools to help you deliver your project on time and on budget. But is project planning software worth it or just another piece of clutter to cloud your thoughts and activities?

Just as project management qualifications change and evolve, so too does the project management tools we use. As more come to the market, it is easy to become lost in the myriad of features project planning software purport to offer the user.

Why consider using project management software?

Using project planning software is something that most, if not all, project managers use in the digital age. There are many reasons why we use such software but mainly because we find it useful.

Or we should find it useful. Considering that everyone on the team, from managers to director, should be able to access and use the software, there are some basic features we would expect in the package;

* Users – project planning software should allow the users to drill down tasks to see who is responsible for what (and when)

* Managers – the use of planning software can allow managers to see where there are bottlenecks in progress as well as shortcomings. In other words, this software provides two pictures: the bigger picture of the project as a micro version, allowing key parts and processes to be magnified.

* Directors – overseeing the project in one clear dashboard is key, and something that no matter what version of software package you use, should be clear, concise and informative.

When project planning software really works

It may come as a surprise but not all project managers use software for every project that they lead on. It comes down to the project in hand as well as working styles but in the main, the use of planning software is beneficial in a project where;

* Routine is highly sequenced – in other words, requirements and deliverables are known with the success of the project hinging on a structured and controlled system of both planning and delivery.

* Detailed planning beforehand – the expert team at Parallel Project Training work with project managers and apprentices to plan in detail, projects on which they will be leading. This including detailed planning before the project starts and where more formal project management methodologies and tools are being followed.

In other words, where there are formal and set structures to a project, a piece of planning kit will be useful in setting out a roadmap of the journey the project will take. In other instance, social collaborative tools could be just as beneficial.

Which software to use?

There is a growing market for project planning software, all of which will market themselves as saving a project and its managers, directors and users money and time. In some situations, planning software is worth it but in others, less so.

And then there is the thorny issue of which one will fill the project needs exactly…

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