The lowdown project management software

What is it? Project management software provides a range of automated tools to track resource allocation, project milestones and costs, all with the goal of keeping projects well-organized, on schedule and under budget no matter what obstacles'such as material shortages or personnel changes'pop up.

What are the benefits? Good project management tools not only show where things are going wrong, but make it easy for managers to see where additional resources are needed and where they can come from without causing a change in the project completion date.

What types are there? Every project has specific and often unique parameters, but in some general categories such as construction and software development the project management applications have been tweaked to emphasize the most critical needs of the user.

For a really big project, you should consider buying a project-specific program or at least one that supplies templates for your job. For most office tasks, a general-purpose project management program is the best bet. There are even free tools available as well as templates you can download for a small fee.

Must-know info? Web-based or network collaborative project management emphasizes the importance of keeping all team members apprised of progress and allowing some or all participants to make adjustments in the project. If properly coordinated, this technique can ease the management burden and help improve the overall quality of the project. When improperly applied, it can be a real mess.

Some Web-based programs only post project charts and progress reports on a Web page or e-mail them to staff.

There are also outsourced project management services, as well as ones that are hosted on Web servers, but if project management is as critical as vendors say, then the question arises: Should a manager be willing to outsource such a critical function?

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