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Chapter 1. The Power of Microsoft Projec... > What Can Microsoft Project 2000 Do f...

What Can Microsoft Project 2000 Do for You?

Microsoft Project 2000 helps you achieve your project goal on time and on budget. Computer software can aid significantly in project management as a tool for recording, calculating, analyzing, and preparing presentations to help communicate the details of the project. However, Microsoft Project cannot produce or even guarantee a successful project plan any more than Microsoft Word can produce or guarantee a successful computer book. Still, Microsoft Project can be invaluable in planning and managing your projects:

  • Microsoft Project helps you develop a better plan. Because the software requires you to specify precisely the tasks necessary for meeting the project goal, you must think carefully about the details of the project. The discipline imposed by entering these details helps you organize a better plan.

    The screen views provide an organized presentation of the details of your plan, which can improve your ability to visualize, organize, and refine the plan.

  • Microsoft Project makes calculated projections easier and more reliable. Based on the data you enter, the computer calculates a schedule that shows when each task should begin and end and when specific resources are scheduled to perform specific tasks. If you have provided the necessary data, this schedule also shows the probable costs of the project.

  • Microsoft Project makes it easy to test various "what if" scenarios to search for the optimum project plan. The computer lets you experiment with different elements of the plan to arrive at the best plan for your organization.

  • Microsoft Project helps you detect inconsistencies and problems in the plan. The computer detects when resources are scheduled for more hours than they are available or when deadlines are impossible to meet given the constraints you've entered. The computer helps you find and resolve resource over-allocations and problems with deadlines.

  • Microsoft Project helps you communicate the plan to others. The software provides printed reports and Internet HTML displays that make it easier to get the customer's or upper-level management's approval for the plan. Similarly, it makes it easier to communicate the plan to supervisors and workers, and that simplifies getting their approval and cooperation. The ease with which you can produce useful reports has been one of the main selling points for Microsoft Project over the years.

  • Microsoft Project helps you track progress and detect potential difficulties. After the project is under way, you replace the projected dates for the tasks in the schedule with actual dates as work on the tasks is begun and completed. The software revises the schedule to incorporate these actual dates and it projects new completion dates and costs. This new projection provides you with valuable advance warning of potential delays or cost overruns, so you can take corrective measures if necessary.

    If external circumstances change after the project is underway—for example, when new pay rates go into effect or your organization is subject to new regulations—the software makes it easier to adjust the plan and see the consequences.



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