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Limitations of Gantt Charts on Spreadsheets
Lots of project management experts are ditching spreadsheets for Gantt charts due to their unreliability and quality issues. There are a number of drawbacks that are pushing away these engineers and project managers.
Clunky Spreadsheets: Most Excel spreadsheets can prove to be excessively large and unsightly to work with. Trying to make it smaller or more appealing will push the limits of what Excel is designed to do. When working with large organizations or major projects the amount of data will simply overwhelm the spreadsheets. This, in turn, hinders coordination, decision making, record keeping, and workflow. That’s why it’s far easier to shift to dedicated programs such as MS Project or Primavera P6. We have trained 100s on these two programs, since 1990!
No Task Linking: Unless you are an Excel expert, the standard Excel has no no way to have predecessors and successors (task links).
No Critical Path Analysis: The key to any project is to constantly monitor Total Slack (Float). Any Negative Slack means that your project is in trouble. This is not possible in Excel.
Spreadsheets are static: Your spreadsheet data is only as accurate as your most recent entry even if that entry was three months ago. This makes it hard to derive quick solutions from the data. Spreadsheets aren’t designed with the capability to have real-time data automatically entered into your documents. You may, in turn, use Google sheets and Dropbox but these are simply storage devices, not one-stop shop repositories for all your project content.
Lower Data Integrity: A study by a business school found out that as much as 94% of project spreadsheets have manual errors. Human error is the biggest drawback to working efficiently with spreadsheets. Excel’s flexibility is its strength, but it’s also restraining weakness. It is even harder to detect these errors unless two to three people do a manual run through. That becomes tough, especially when dealing with huge volumes of data. That’s why it’s simply easier to shift to bespoke software..
Double Data Entry. Most companies end up doing repetitive work by capturing the data in the field than having to transfer it manually into spreadsheets. This consumes time, staff-hours and cash. It also amplifies the possibilities of human errors in the data entry. In fact, this accounts for the huge number of errors found in most spreadsheets data. Capturing and entering the same data in spreadsheets within an organization is counterproductive and inefficient, to say the least.
Acknowledgement to Lenkor.
What is Microsoft Project?
Microsoft Project was the company’s third Microsoft Windows-based application, and within a couple of years of its introduction it became the dominant PC-based project management software.
It is part of the Microsoft Office family but has never been included in any of the Office suites. It is available currently in two editions, Standard and Professional. Microsoft Project’s proprietary file format is .mpp.
Project creates budgets based on assignment work and resource rates. As resources are assigned to tasks and assignment work estimated, the program calculates the cost, equal to the work times the rate, which rolls up to the task level and then to any summary tasks and finally to the project level. Resource definitions (people, equipment and materials) can be shared between projects using a shared resource pool. Each resource can have its own calendar, which defines what days and shifts a resource is available. Resource rates are used to calculate resource assignment costs which are rolled up and summarized at the resource level. Each resource can be assigned to multiple tasks in multiple plans and each task can be assigned multiple resources, and the application schedules task work based on the resource availability as defined in the resource calendars. All resources can be defined in label without limit. Therefore, it cannot determine how many finished products can be produced with a given amount of raw materials. This makes Microsoft Project unsuitable for solving problems of available materials constrained production. Additional software is necessary to manage a complex facility that produces physical goods.
The application creates critical path schedules, and critical chain and event chain methodology third-party add-ons also are available. Schedules can be resource leveled, and chains are visualized in a Gantt chart. Additionally, Microsoft Project can recognize different classes of users. These different classes of users can have differing access levels to projects, views, and other data. Custom objects such as calendars, views, tables, filters, and fields are stored in an enterprise global which is shared by all users.
What is Primavera P6?
Primavera is an enterprise project portfolio management software. It includes project management, product management, collaboration and control capabilities, and integrates with other enterprise software such as Oracle and SAP’s ERP systems. Primavera was launched in 1983 by Primavera Systems Inc., which was acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2008.