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Chapter 1. The Power of Microsoft Projec... > What Microsoft Project 2003 Can Do f...

What Microsoft Project 2003 Can Do for You

Microsoft Project 2003 helps you achieve project goals on time and within 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. Still, in a number of ways, Microsoft Project can be invaluable in planning and managing 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 solid plan.

    The screen views provide an organized presentation of the details of the plan, which makes it easier for you to visualize, organize, and refine the plan.

  • Microsoft Project makes calculated projections easy and more reliable— Based on the data you enter, Project calculates a schedule that shows when each task should begin and end and when specific resources (which includes people, equipment, facilities, and so on) 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— Project lets you experiment with different elements of a plan, to arrive at the best plan for your organization. This is a particularly strong feature of Microsoft Project 2003 Professional.

  • Microsoft Project helps you detect inconsistencies and problems in the plan— Project 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. It helps you find and resolve resource overallocations and problems with deadlines.

  • Microsoft Project helps you communicate the plan to others— Project 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, Project makes it easy 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 of Microsoft Project over the years.

  • Microsoft Project helps you track progress and detect potential difficulties— After the project is underway, as work on the tasks is begun and completed, you replace the projected dates for the tasks in the schedule with actual dates. 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 under way, Project helps you adjust the plan and see the consequences— For example, when new pay rates go into effect or the organization is subject to new regulations.



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