Project management software
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Project management software has the capacity to help plan, organize, and manage resource tools and develop resource estimates. Depending on the sophistication of the software, it can manage estimation and planning, scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, collaboration software, communication, decision-making, quality management and documentation or administration systems. Today, numerous PC & browser based project management software solutions exist and they are finding their way into almost every type of business.
The origins of project management software are rooted in the 1950s when Dupont Chemical collaborated with mainframe computer maker Remington Rand (Univac) to devise the Critical Path Method of network scheduling (CPM). This method was tested in 1958 with the construction of a major new chemical plant. In parallel, the US Navy working together with Lockheed Aerospace devised the automated Project Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) for the Polaris Missile program that ran on the IBM mainframe. Mainframe and Mini computers dominated the project management software arena until the early 1980s when PC computers began to proliferate across business and government circles alike.
Tasks and activities
One of the most common project management software tool types is scheduling tools. Scheduling tools are used to sequence project activities and assign dates and resources to them. The detail and sophistication of a schedule produced by a scheduling tool can vary considerably with the project management methodology used, the features provided and the scheduling methods supported. Scheduling tools may include support for:
- Multiple dependency relationship types between activities
- Resource assignment and leveling
- Critical path
- Activity duration estimation and probability-based simulation
- Activity cost accounting
Project planning software can be expected to provide information to various people or stakeholders, and can be used to measure and justify the level of effort required to complete the project(s). Typical requirements might include:
- Overview information on how long tasks will take to complete.
- Early warning of any risks to the project.
- Information on workload, for planning holidays.
- Historical information on how projects have progressed, and in particular, how actual and planned performance are related.
- Optimum utilization of available resource.
- Cost maintenance.
- Collaboration with each teammates and customers.
- Instant communication to collaborators and customers.
Project management software has been implemented as a program that runs on the desktop of each user. Project management tools that are implemented as desktop software are typically single-user applications used by the project manager or another subject matter expert, such as a scheduler or risk manager.
Project management software has been implemented as web application to be accessed using a web browser. This may also include the ability to use a smartphone or tablet to gain access to the application. Software as a Service (SaaS) is also web-based and has become a common delivery model for many business applications, including Project Management, Project Management Information System (PMIS) and Project Portfolio Management (PPM). SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.
A personal project management application is one used at home, typically to manage lifestyle or home projects. There is considerable overlap with single user systems, although personal project management software typically involves simpler interfaces. See also non-specialised tools below.
A single-user system is programmed with the assumption that only one person will ever need to edit the project plan at once. This may be used in small companies, or ones where only a few people are involved in top-down project planning. Desktop applications generally fall into this category.
A collaborative system is designed to support multiple users modifying different sections of the plan at once; for example, updating the areas they personally are responsible for such that those estimates get integrated into the overall plan. Web-based tools, including extranets, generally fall into this category, but have the limitation that they can only be used when the user has live Internet access. To address this limitation, some software tools using client–server architecture provide a rich client that runs on users' desktop computer and replicates project and task information to other project team members through a central server when users connect periodically to the network. Some tools allow team members to check out their schedules (and others' as read only) to work on them while not on the network. When reconnecting to the database, all changes are synchronized with the other schedules.
A common problem in project management is a difficulty with both viewing and understanding large amounts of fluctuating project data. To tackle this, some project management softwares utilize information visualization, so that users can more easily find, analyze and make changes to their data. To avoid information overload, the visualization mantra of “overview first, zoom and filter, then details on demand” is often followed. Examples of project management software where project data visualization is the key approach include Assembla, DropTask, and Targetprocess.
- Calendaring software
- Comparison of project-management software
- Comparison of development estimation software
- Capital program and project management software
- Construction collaboration technology
- Program Evaluation and Review Technique
- Project accounting
- Project Management Information System Software (PMIS)
- Project management simulation
- Project planning
- Project portfolio management
- Time-tracking software
- Workflow management system
- History of the Critical Path Method by Maria Kielmas, Demand Media
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