List and describe five ways in which a software tool can help with planning a project:
1. Help to provide visibility of a project plan
2. Can be easily interfaced with organisational systems
3. Can enable collaboration in planning
4. Can support ‘what if’ modelling (used to simulate different scenarios)
5. Can easily recalculate and represent changes and new plans
Visibility is provided through representation of activities against the time taken to complete the tasks, for example, the production of a Gantt chart via a software tool enables the graphical representation of the time taken to complete activities, dependencies, critical path (the longest time to the end date of the project) and key milestones or deliverables. This information enables the team to be better informed regarding the plan of the project and can also improve the quality of planning.
Software systems can be interfaced with organisational systems. Often planning and progress needs to be communicated to senior management of an organisation so that they can make key decisions, support the project manager or be more informed about risk. Software systems can improve the quality and speed of which information is transmitted throughout the organisation. In this way, software systems can help improve the time it takes for the organisation to provide feedback to the project manager regarding project plans / decisions.
Software systems can enable collaboration through the ability of multiple users to utilise the system. With greater understanding of how the plan is developed, the quality of the team input may be enhanced leafing to a greater chance of the overall quality of the plan.
A software system can usually support ‘what if’ modelling. This means that different manipulations and inputs can be made into the system, in order to demonstrate potential scenarios, should a project manager make a decision to change the plan. There is an advantage to understanding the implications of changing a plan before it is actioned, for example changing resource loading for a particular task.
A software tool can be used to recalculate changes quickly, for example if a prospective deadline is missed or delayed, this data may be inputs and knowledge of the implications can be gained.