excel-jail

Excel Jail?

The Path To Commutation Is Just A Click Away.

Life is hard enough without needlessly committing to systems that make what we do for a living hard also. Planning behind the grid lines of a tabular existence is one of those unnecessary experiences that we can opt out of. Even with the comfort of formulas. Even with the sophistication of VLOOKUP, it is still drudgery.

Planning and scheduling is far too elegant for the confines of Excel. How can one paint a picture of a plan with numbers? How can dependencies and timescales be articulated in a world of A1 to C3?

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fail

Top Ten Signs Your Planning Software is Failing

It’s unfortunate that some planning professionals don’t realize that they aren’t running according to plan until the project is over. It’s not until hindsight that they can clearly see the impact on both their staff and finances. Because not all software is created equal, I’ve outlined some signs that can help you mitigate the risk in working with subpar software.

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Netpoint 5 Beta Review

alogoSantosh Bhat at Australasian Project Planning recently got a copy of the beta version of Netpoint 5. Here what he had to say…

 

Introduction

For those not familiar with Netpoint or the Graphical Path Method, refer to more information on the Australasian Project Planning website here, or go direct to the source of all Netpoint and GPM information at PMA Technologies.

Background

Back in October 2014, I started a LinkedIn Group for Netpoint users and made a post of enhancement suggestions for Netpoint. Unbeknownst to me, the PMA technologies team were well into making the next major release of Netpoint.

At the Netpoint & GPM  Conference in January 2015, the features of Netpoint 5 were presented, and now having had a chance to trial a Beta release of Netpoint 5, I’ve put together the following article reviewing some of the main new features to help those who may be moving from earlier releases – or those who may need just a little nudge to try Netpoint for their organisations or projects.

Disclaimer

As can be expected, there are some limitations of this review,  Netpoint 5 is still in Beta release, no doubt there will be further modifications before a final release. Also, NetRisk was not a part of this Beta Trial, so some of the enhancements to NetRisk are not reviewed.

Activity Sizes and Patterns

Netpoint 5 now allows setting of sizes and patterns for activities.

ACTSIZE

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Quality is the biggest risk in Construction Project Management

 

quality-pma

What if you have carefully planned a project, and skillfully designed its construction, but your contractor does not have the capability to perform the work in a quality manner? That is a risk to your project.  The PMI diagram only used to refer to the elements of time, cost and scope. However, as of late, quality has also been included in the triangle.

In an IT project, poor quality usually manifests itself in the software crashing or producing unreliable output. In construction, the project creates a physical object –  a building, a bridge, or a subway tunnel – so the risk posed by low quality is much greater than in projects that create intangibles, such as business process transformation or software. When construction fails, people may die. On the news, we hear about developing countries where buildings collapse and hundreds or thousands die, but construction quality problems resulting in loss of life are not limited to the developing world. I’ve been involved in the aftermath of two fatal construction quality problems during my career, and both were well-funded, professional construction projects in the United States. While no devastating consequences come close to death and injury in terms of quality problems, there is at least one other that has devastating impacts on both cost and schedule: re-work.   Read More

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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