If you are about to embark on any form of project, it can be really helpful to have some project scheduling software, simply because it can help take some of the headaches out of project planning and scheduling and allow you more time to get on with the project in hand.

For Project Managers one of the key tasks is maintaining their project to schedule and cost – in medium to large scale projects, if your not organized this can take an awful lot of time and get messy really quickly. You could also argue that Project Management fundamentals are not exactly exciting and if they have to be done manually, can often be quite time consuming as well as dull. So that is why a project scheduling software application can really help.

Different Types of Project Scheduling Software

There are a whole host of project scheduling software applications around and while undoubtedly Microsoft Project has the market share there is no one package that simply leaves the others standing. Primarily this is because there are lots of different types of projects and so different applications are relevant to projects that vary in size and in their nature.

Perhaps the most instantly recognisable software application is Microsoft Project. This is a package that is available at a reasonable cost, in either a standard or a professional version. The good thing about this package is that it is quite easy to pick up if you have previous experience of any other Microsoft Office software however it has sufficient depth and complexity to be of use to project professionals.

The system is very well integrated, which means that you can very easily keep tabs on a whole host of different variables and you can also produce Gantt charts to keep the timeframe of the project up to date and reviewed with ease. Various other types of diagrams can also be produced with very little effort.

This is actually quite important, because it is often the production of reviews, updates, charts and diagrams that can be quite time consuming. If you are lucky enough to have good admin support then these tasks can be duly allocated, but if this is not the case, then production of charts and diagrams may fall down to the project manager and their production can take up a lot of time.

Primavera P6

Primavera P6 is the next best-known scheduling software. Although it is very flexible and can easily handle all sorts of different tasks one thing that you do need to bear in mind is that it was designed for use within large companies to handle large projects and it may not be wholly suitable for use within a small project.

But if you are working on a larger project then this package can be very useful, not least because it has a good capacity and is able to fulfil most requirements.

ZOHO Projects

Zoho projects is a package that is actually a web-based system which can be very useful simply because you do not have to make sure that you have installed the project scheduling software on each PC that you use, so you can actually work remotely and still gain access to the software.
One great thing about Zoho is that if you only have one project then you will be able to use the software for free, but more than one project means that you have to pay.

The only frustrating part of Zoho is that although you can easily use it to create Gantt charts, some other diagrams can either not be created or are very difficult to create.

OPEN Proj

Now owned by Serena Software – Open Project (part of the Star Office suite) has the advantage of being cross platform and similar enough to Microsoft Project that those seeking project software but on a more reasonable budget should give it a try – certainly for those running Apple Mac’s this is definitely worth a look.

Downside To Project Scheduling Software

The main downside to project scheduling software is that it can take time to learn (which will probably involve training for all those who will be using it.) Particularly in the early stages of a project, taking time out for training can seem like too much effort, but the rewards of having a good system will far outweigh this inconvenience.

The other downside is that the software itself can seem quite regimented and it can be difficult to adapt to projects that are not standard.

But scheduling software can really help and if you want to buy a package then it may be worth trying several out on a free trial basis, to see which will suit you best.

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