One project in which I’m involved requires a small amount of project management for a team of 3 resources plus an outsourced software development group. The project lead is the owner of the company and needed a high-level project plan with a simple interface for maintaining items in the work breakdown structure. Sounds like we could use MS Project, right?
The owner uses a Mac, for which MS Project is not available, and has no experience with PM software to boot. MS Project would probably be overkill, but the project is of sufficient scope and duration that a basic project management tool is needed. In the interest of keeping things moving forward and finding a low- or no-cost PM tool, I began hunting for simple templates. Why reinvent the wheel if someone else has already created something that works OK?
In general, all the templates I found offered at least one, but not all of the following:
- Simple task dependency tracking (start-to-finish)
- Gantt chart generation from a WBS
- Color coding of task status
- Tracking by the hour
In the interest of meeting the tight time deadline, I decided that we needed one that could create a simple Gantt chart (no dependencies needed) and handle start/finish dates, percent completion and resource assignments. I found a great set of them at http://www.hyperthot.com/pm_excel_gantt.htm . I picked the Gantt chart with auto-bars version.
Here's an example of what the Gantt chart looks like with some tasks filled in:
We’ll see how this works.