When I posted about the Project Management behind building the Death Star last Thursday, I didn't realize that it would appear in Revenge of the Sith. As far as I can tell, approximately 20-couple years passed between Attack of the Clones – where we see the plans for the it – and A New Hope – where we see it mostly functional, so the project is even more monumental than I believed. Yet, I digress.
After browsing through some recent comments, I found one that piqued my interest discussing the true value that one person found from various PM tools and dotProject specifically. He describes that the single biggest and most important feature of dotProject is the ability to print high quality Gantt Charts. I've been pondering this and I've agreed with this for quite a while even without realizing it.
Within CaseySoftware, we use 3 major aspects of dotProject more than anything else. First, we use it to build Project Plans. We define tasks, make our estimates, lay the tasks out on the calendar, and go as far as including the resulting Gantt Charts in our proposals. [As a side note, our proposals have won out nearly 85% of the time when the contract is actually awarded.] I sincerely believe that a solid project plan that someone can track completion against goes far to calm customers' fears.
Next, we use dotProject heavily to track all of our time spent on tasking. Through the existing reporting in place, it is simple to calculate hours used or even generate simple invoices of Hour Logs with notes from developers. I'll be the first one to admit that some notes are better/more useful than others, but customers always seem to appreciate having a vague idea on what is happening on their project.
Finally, we use the “To Do List” constantly. I use it to keep an eye on all overdue, current, and future tasking and it comes in quite handy to keep that open throughout the day as I'm working on the tasks.
So this is where I need your help. What features of Project Management tools do you use/need/appreciate more than anything else? I know that Microsoft Excel is the most commonly used and recommended PM Tool, but I'm looking for specific ideas and features.
Please feel free to comment here and/or drop me an email at webmaster@… You can probably guess the website. Thanks.