Adoption of Microsoft Project in IT Versus Construction: Different Animals, Same Cage?

two-animals

The application of Microsoft Project as a scheduling tool within the construction industry is limited, although it is growing. Historically, Primavera (now Oracle Primavera) has dominated the construction scheduling industry, while Microsoft Project has gained much greater acceptance in the IT and Product Development marketplace.

I wonder about the difference in adoption rates between these two dominant software tools for project controls and scheduling. I was told by a senior Microsoft Executive that MS Project is a billion-dollar-a-year business for Microsoft, with over 40,000,000 copies in circulation. I also wonder what percentage of these licenses are accessed on a regular basis, and about the underlying quality of schedules developed using MS Project.

In both IT and construction, there’s a body of knowledge describing the proper methods to use when planning a project and creating a schedule. However, while it is common practice in the construction industry to create a detailed baseline critical path schedule, it is not common practice in IT. In all of my interviews, I found the application of critical path scheduling to be minimal in IT projects and ubiquitous in construction projects. Scheduling seems to be one of the areas of project controls which differs greatly between the two industries, which begs a deeper analysis. Why is a tool which is considered essential in planning and reporting progress on construction projects virtually unused in managing IT projects?

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Why I’m Dumping my iPhone 5 for the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear

I’ve had an iPhone since the first one came out.  I’ve said for years that the iPhone would be the one tech device I would keep if I could only keep one.  Apple definitely raised the bar on smart phones with the first iPhone.  But, they have not kept up the pace and Samsung has overtaken the iPhone in terms of functionality and value.

Feature

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

iPhone 5

Device in General

Battery Life

Great

Poor and unpredictable

Screen Size

Great (baby boomer…)

Small for my old eyes

App Stability

Great

Really poor

Expandable Memory

Unlimited

No

UI

good

Good

Device Reliability

Great

Poor and unpredictable

Platform Reach

Wide

Narrow

Amazon Integration

Great

What?

Google Integration

Great

What?

Music

Good

Good

Voice Command Integration

Great

Good

Samsung Gear (wrist watch)

Answer Calls and talk

Yes

Na

Know when you walk away from your phone

Yes

Na

Receive and respond to text messages

Yes

Na

Get alerts from Facebook

Yes

Na

Get alerts from twitter

Yes

Na

Fitness integration

Yes

Na

Integrated Camera

Yes

Na

Integrated Voice Memo

Yes

Na

Specific Apps I use

Google Music v iTunes

Good

Good

NPR

Great

Unreliable

MapMyRun

Great

Unreliable

Kindle Reader

Great

What? Can’t see it…

Kindle Audio Books

Great

Available

The biggest issue for most iPhone users switching to Android / Samsung will be losing iTunes.  I thought this would be a big problem but it turned out not to be.  One of the great features of the Galaxy is the mini SD slot.  I bought a 64 Gig mini SD card from Amazon Prime (on my note 3 browser) and got it the next day for $50.  I copied by iTunes library onto the SD card, plugged it into the Samsung and opened up my Google Play Music App, it saw the music right away.

I also love the Android swype keyboard.  It is so fast and intuitive. I still need to figure out how to spell words with two letters in a row.  Although the voice recognition is great as well, come acoustic surroundings preclude the effective use of voice recognition.

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A Comprehensive Standard in Project Planning – Theory of Constraints

Project planning presents the first opportunity to identify and address bottlenecks and constraints. We have to be a little careful in using the term “constraints” in the construction and planning industry, because this is also a term of art in the world of scheduling. When creating a schedule, the scheduler or planner can set a time constraint on an activity. For instance, a SNE constraint requires that an activity can “Start No Earlier” than the date specified by the scheduler. Because of the algorithmic limitations of CPM, constraints must be used to hold a date later than the calculated early start date. While each of these constraints should be considered in light of a TOC project evaluation, they are only one small aspect of the application of TOC in construction projects.

blog-bottleneck

Goldratt’s theory is comprehensive – it holds the overall project to a higher standard. In TOC, the ultimate measure of system effectiveness is throughput. What is throughput?  It depends on the organization’s goals. For a manufacturing company, throughput is how efficiently product has been designed, produced, and sold and paid for, and at what cost. For a professional services firm, the equation is a little different, because in the world of professional services, the work cannot be produced and sold, but the consultants are inventory (a very costly asset when not productive, or, more cruelly, meat with an expiration date at the butcher counter).

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