Package Types

Project management-related software tools are generally divided into the three categories of project management software, process management software, and time accounting software. Project management software packages perform scheduling, as well as limited project tracking. They do this by allowing project managers to enter project WBSs, assign inter-task dependencies, allocate resources, and assign effort/work estimates for each task. Once these basics are entered, the tool calculates and displays the project schedule, often graphically, via either Gantt charts or PERT/CPM (program evaluation and review technique/critical path method) network charts.

After initial project schedules have been created, the tools allow project managers to baseline the original schedule, and track the project's progress against that schedule. Since some of the project management tools are better at such tracking than others, organizations must weigh how important the tracking feature is to them when analyzing and selecting a particular software package. Evaluation of this feature is particularly important because tracking is critical to future project planning.

Low-end project management packages include MS-Project from Microsoft and SureTrak from Primavera. Low-end packages cost approximately $500 and have adequate scheduling features, but tend to have less robust tracking features.

Mid-range project management packages include Project Scheduler from Scitor and CA-SuperProject from Computer Associates. Mid-range packages generally have better schedule-modeling features, better tracking, and better output capabilities, but the purchaser pays for it. They range in price from $1000 to $2000.

High-end project management packages include Primavera Project Planner, usually called P3. The high-end packages include the features of the mid-range products, but also feature better multi-project handling capabilities.

Rather than focusing on project scheduling and tracking, process management packages allow project managers to more easily plan their projects. Typical process management packages come with standard, yet customizable, templates for a wide variety of information systems projects. However, unlike the templates that come with some project management packages, these templates suggest dependency relationships between tasks, suggest the type of skills needed to perform each task, and generally also provide a variety of estimating techniques and metrics. Process management packages include Process Continuum from Computer Associates, which includes Process Engineer.

The third type of project management-related software is time accounting software. These packages allow individuals and project managers to charge actual hours back to project tasks. They do so by creating online and hardcopy time sheets, listing each team member's tasks. The team member then keeps track of the hours spent on each task, and, usually, the date that each task was started, as well as the date that each task was completed. This information is then transferred to whatever project management package in use at the organization. While time accounting software can be used without integration with project management packages, when integrated, it can greatly simplify the sometimes difficult tracking functions in project management packages.

An example of time accounting packages is TimeSheet Professional from Timeslips.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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