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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Project v. Other Workflow Apps (MS Project 2002)

    The facilities department here is looking to purchase a project management application. We are an MS Office/Windows organization. Our users are not particularly techno-savvy.

    The facilities department is looking for an easy to use application to: organize date/times of work; appropriate use of resources; location reservations; expense accounting; departments within organization with whom they are working. They want to be able to keep track of 20-30 projects at a time and run reports (calendars, mostly) of what is going on when.

    I have no experience with MS Project or any other application. I am hoping some of you out there have experience and can either help know what questions to ask the facilities department to help move them in the right direction; know if Project will help best or if there are other applications out there with better support/use; etc.

    Thank you, as always, for your assistance with this!

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
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    Re: Project v. Other Workflow Apps (MS Project 2002)

    One thing you need to consider is that a scheduling tool is just that, a scheduling tool. An accounting system is used to track expenses. Trying to make your scheduling tool act like an accounting system will give you a headache. One thing you can do is import data from your accounting system into the scheduling tool to better track actual costs, however, that is another project.

    Saying that, there are numerous scheduling applications out there that can be used to track projects, workflow, starting and ending dates, using resources, etc. You just need to know how to set them up and maintain them.

    I have used MS Project, Primavera, and other scheduling tools however find that with the proper training and knowledge, both tools (and others) can meet your scheduling objectives. If you are able to program, then the sky is the limit with what you can accomplish.

    Our program is currently using MS Project to track various programs. For a program management tool, we are using MS Access as a data warehouse that keeps track of our scheduling milestones, Contract, Financial, and earned value data. This allows many users that are not familiar with scheduling, earned value, or accounting tools, to review all of this data using a user friendly MS Access interface.

    Back to your original question. MS Project should suffice in your scheduling needs. If you want, have you department post their objectives such as;
    1. Ability to track departments
    2. Ability to determine if projects are behind schedule....

    .. and we will see how we can help you make your decision.

    BTW - are you going to be elected to maintain the project(s)??
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

  3. #3
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    Re: Project v. Other Workflow Apps (MS Project 2002)

    Gary,

    Making a list of objectives is definitely the right way to start. One of those things where it is so obvious, someone needs to mention it to you in order for you to see it as the right thing.

    I didn't realize that these project management apps didn't keep a cost count. I'll have to run that by the interested department.

    And, luckily, no...I will not be involved in this project beyond assisting in researching the various options available.

    Do you think it would be possible to create a DB in Access that would provide both a project management and expense account tool?

  4. #4
    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
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    Re: Project v. Other Workflow Apps (MS Project 2002)

    Meredith,

    Just to clarify. Your scheduling tool can be used for budgeting purposes and track earned value against the budget as you schedule the project. Scheduling tools do not keep track of costs as an accounting system does such as tracking your expenses. What you would do is use your scheduling tool to budget the costs and then your accounting system to track actual costs. You would then load the actual costs into the scheduling tool so you could track your budget vs actuals and derive other calculations to check the progress of the project.

    Regarding your question, is it possible to create a DB in Access that provides both a project management and expense account tool? Anything is possible if you have the time and knowledge to do it. However, why spend the time when other tools such as MS Project are available for use. I couldn't even begin to develop a scheduling tool like MS Project for the cost to purchase and use it. Why reinvent the wheel?? I would suggest you take a look at the tools you have available. MS Project is quite capable of scheduling most projects and I am sure you already have an accounting system in place. (Mind if I ask what it is?)

    You could create a database that consolidates this data for personnel's use but stick to the tools for scheduling and accounting that already exist.

    HTH
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

  5. #5
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    Re: Project v. Other Workflow Apps (MS Project 2002)

    Gary,

    I think the budgeting capabilities will be fine. The facilities department will have to figure out their own accounting system, if they do not already have one in place. (To answer your question, I have no idea what accounting they are keeping track of or how. I do know our Accounting Department has begun to use Lawson; if that helps. I don't know too much more about it as it has its own support staff.)

    I, too, am not interested in reinventing the wheel. It is my position that the facilities department ought to use a project management application. If not MS Project, then something similar. The only reason I would suggest Project to them is because the rest of our daily business apps are from MS, so it would seem to me the learning curve would be reduced.

    I am going to forward to that department the URL for the MS Project Online Demo, and see what they think.

    Thanks for the help, Gary.

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