As you may know, our motto is “Seeing is Planning.” The truth behind the motto is that a visual interactive tool lets you work with and understand a plan with phenomenal ease. You don’t need a lot of explanation. You don’t need a scheduling professional to tell you exactly what it’s showing you.
One of the biggest advancements in NetPoint 4.1 is the addition of Global Edit Mode [GEM]. It allows users to easily manipulate all the different elements of the plan. Consistency is even better, and placement is even clearer now. Although we haven’t had an official commercial release, we know that the users who have seen it have been very, very happy with the improvements.
Essentially, when you’re working on a NetPoint plan, you add a start date, activities, activity duration, and end date. Those are all elements of an object. GEM allows you to turn the whole screen into a flexible canvas on which you can move any of the elements related to any of the objects really easily. While trying to make your picture look better, you can move any element.
It used to be that things were done in very separate steps:
- The information would be prepared, possibly written on note cards or sticky notes.
- The cards would be placed by different participants in a collaborative effort onto some sort of time scale.
- The team members would move things around and hope they had their math and dates correct.
- Then, the project plan would be handed to somebody else who would complete it and maybe use a CPM tool.
- Sometimes the overseer would take another step to make the CPM plan more visually pleasing and easier to understand by using a tool like Visio.
We have put all of this into one step that integrates the visuals and the calculations. The product can be used immediately to explain the plan in clear terms. You don’t have to take it somewhere else to generate a graphic that’s user-friendly.
This is a huge time saver. It would probably take a few days of interaction and extraction to achieve what GEM produces in a single day. Aside from that, the quality of the output is so different and people’s understanding of the interdependence of the different vertical groups has been largely improved so the difference is even greater.
Issues that were abstract become concrete. You used to have an 80- or 100-page business plan. Nobody really understood how the parts were dependent on each other for hand-offs and completion dates and what impact changes would have on the overall commercialization plan. Now GEM helps easily show those relationships and interdependency.
One of our clients is a major theme park organization that has been using GEM for a few weeks. The client’s team members cannot stop talking about how great it is. We’ve received feedback that people wanted a feature that made it easier to see the various moving parts and how they related to each other. People wanted better import capability from Excel into NetPoint. People wanted graphic representations of schedules and plans. We listened, and we answered that call with NetPoint 4.1 and GEM.