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Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Sixth Edition by Robert K. Wysocki

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Using Application Software Packages to Plan a Project

Before I begin discussing the tools, templates, and processes needed for project planning, I want to spend some time on the software packages and why you might or might not use them. I have always been an advocate of using the appropriate tools to plan a project. My experiences have ranged from the back of the napkin to the use of sophisticated modeling and prototyping tools. The size and complexity of the project has a lot to do with your choice of software packages. The larger the project, the more you will need to depend on software packages. But what about small projects or projects that are done in some incremental or iterative fashion? The answer is not always clear, but the following section describes my approach.

Determining the Need for a Software Package

Project management software packages (at least those priced under $1000 per seat) are both a boon and a bust to project teams. On the boon side of the ledger, they are great planning tools and allow the project manager to investigate several alternatives without the accompanying labor of having to manually adjust the planning parameters. On the bust side, they have not been very helpful in managing resources and in fact have had some rather bizarre results.

Schedule updates are also a troublesome area. The problem lies in getting reliable estimates of percent complete and estimated time to completion from each task manager. Garbage in, garbage out. These data are essential ...

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