Excel Formula To Figure Out Hours From A Time Span Project Management System Evaluation Checklist

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Project Management System Evaluation Checklist

“An elegant solution to the wrong problem solves nothing.”

– Bryce’s Law

introduction

Professional project management systems (PM) have been available since the early 1970s. As PCs spread to the workplace, PM software, which also brought an easy-to-use element to project management. A multitude of PM products are now available in the market, some expensive, and some very reasonably priced. However, to say that all PM packages were created equal would be a gross exaggeration. Each has a specific niche that they address in project management or target a specific industry.

As I explained in my article, “Why does project management fail?”, One of the main reasons for failure is because there is a lack of consideration for the magnitude and complexities of project management and, consequently, there is a natural tendency to attack piecemeal. As a result of the bulletin, I have been asked what criteria should be used to evaluate the PM package. Consequently, I have developed the following checklist for evaluating a PM package in its former form. I hope this will benefit you.

General requirements:

A project management system should…

  1. Support any type of project – big or small; Not limited to a specific part of the business (eg, IT applications). As such, it must be flexible in application and accommodate any and all methods of work effort (new development, maintenance, and modifications/improvements).
  2. Distinguish between direct, indirect, and indirect activities.
  3. Promote the “mini-project manager” concept.
  4. Provide an integrated approach to support all project management activities, not just some; This includes planning, estimating, scheduling, reporting, and controlling.
  5. Promote and implement in-house project management standards; For example, use of standard methods, labor rates, time reporting, detection of estimates/schedule overruns/underruns etc.
  6. Provide a globally applicable calendar and allow for the specification of a standard reporting cycle.

Plan Support:

A project management system should…

  1. Support a variety of Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) – not just a single methodology. This includes the controllable levels (number of levels of detail) of the WBS. Also, provides a library facility for reusable methods that can be automatically loaded on request. Ideally, the WBS can be tied to specific information sources (such as systems, programs, files, etc.) thereby enabling the ability to record and monitor time for a specific information source.
  2. Support internal project dependencies (task phase-to-task phase) and external dependencies (project-to-project).
  3. Allow for multiple projects, multiple human resources (both internal employees and external contractors), and multiple tasks for a single human resource. (“many-to-many” relationship between project and HR).
  4. Provide a skills inventory to track skills and competencies.
  5. Be able to manage project priorities and backlogs of user service requests (business objectives). A “preference modeling” tool to study the impact of change is highly desirable.

Estimate support:

A project management system should…

  1. Provide both detailed estimates (for a particular phase of the project) and order-of-magnitude (for the entire project).
  2. Allow multiple versions of estimates (after all, estimates will inevitably need to be revised).
  3. Provide a means to maintain estimated guidelines and generate provisional estimates accordingly.

Schedule Support:

A project management system should…

  1. Provide for automatic calculation using “Effectiveness Rate”.
  2. Allow multiple versions of the program (project programs, like estimates, will change over time).
  3. Provide facilities to manage resource allocation. This includes monitoring estimated and actual project assignments, as well as “effectiveness rates.”
  4. Be able to calculate critical paths of projects.

Reporting support:

A project management system should…

  1. Provide facilities to record and verify time on project assignments.
  2. Provide for the recording of “estimates” (the amount of time left on a given assignment). Note: This is different from “percent complete”. For background information, see:
    [http://www.phmainstreet.com/mba/pride/pm40.htm#etd]

  3. Maintain historical time data to use in history reports and update forecasting guidelines.
  4. Allow the recording of “out-of-pocket” project expenses.
  5. Provide scratchpad facility to record project notes as well as formal reports (eg project proposals, cost/benefit analysis, project audits, etc.).
  6. Provide a standard facility to generate various project reports (a “report writer” facility is ideal).

Control Support:

A project management system should…

  1. Post report time to projects and human resources. Also, post times to information sources to monitor activity. For example, 2,342 hours were reported with the order processing system when it was created in 1985; 335 hours in 2000; and 246 hours in 2004.
  2. Provide various summary reports to analyze both project and HR by project and department.
  3. Provide the ability to bill end-users for project costs (chargeback). It involves charging back multiple users at different rates.

Computer-Related Ideas:

A project management system should…

  1. Be easy to install and test on a computer.
  2. Implement as a cross-platform solution (functions the same on different computers) thus providing machine portability and independence from hardware manufacturers. It should be easily accessible by all people participating in project management activities (ideally the whole company) as an integrated approach.
  3. Be easy to learn and use. It should be based on industry design standards (eg, GUI design standards, on-line help, use of the operating system clipboard, etc.).
  4. Performs reliably and productively according to specifications.
  5. Provide multi-languages ​​and multi-cultures such as adapting to local customs for expressing dates, times (am-pm vs. military time), monetary values ​​(dollars, pounds, yen, etc.), and foreign languages ​​(including). Asian Double Byte Character Set – DBCS).
  6. Provide standard utilities for: System monitoring and management. Security – Login to both administer the system, and input data. Import/export data in different formats (ideally an open interface should be provided). File management – to purge obsolete data, and backup files.
  7. Offered by a vendor with a reliable reputation for training, service and warranty.

I have described a beautiful integrated system with robust features. As such, a cost/benefit analysis should be prepared to compare the cost of the system against the cost to the company.

This assessment checklist should be used as a template and modified to suit in-house needs. May luck be with you.

For more information on “PRIDE” project management, see:

[http://www.phmainstreet.com/mba/pride/pm.htm]

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