One of the tools I have been using for some time now which can really help you create a beautiful visualization of your Gantt chart for your projects is Office Timeline – https://www.officetimeline.com/
Office Timeline is a third party paid for tool that alows you to synchronise your data from an Excel document or MS Project file to create visually awsesome Gantt charts for your projects. I have found the synch feature that allows you to make changes in your MS project file, save your file then click the synch button within Power Point under the Office Timeline ribbon just…..awesome.
One of the tools I use often on projects is the DevOps integration with Excel in order to gain a better visual of To Do, In Progress and Done Tasks associated with each Product Backlog Item. The Azure Integration Tool for Office 2019 allows you to link your Excel Spreadsheet with your Azure DevOps Queries.
I wrote a post earlier in July 2019 about Smartsheet here and some of its features. After using Smartsheet for some time it is obvious that it has some benefits over Microsoft Project but it also has some limitations that may be a showstopper for you. I know for me that (at least on certain projects) it was. In this post I want to attempt to briefly unpack a key benefit and shortcoming so you can make an informed decision on which tool is right for you my fellow PMs.
So lets start with the main reason I am still using Microsoft Project. Resourcing. Resourcing. Resourcing. Smartsheet does not have a way to capture your resources(teams) capacity for the duration of the project for single user plan types. This means if your resources are not 100% resourced to your project you most likely will be sharing this person with another project manager and another project. You will need to know how many hours he or she is realistically available for each week so you can plan out how much work is likely to get done to meet your projects deliverables. With MS Project you are able to do this in the Resource Sheet view as well as the Resource Usage view which I personally find essential to planning project schedules effectively.
I am finding my self using MS Project to create my project plan then importing my MS project file(.mpp file) into Smartsheet(via the web browser) in order to gain a visual gantt that I am able to share with clients and stakeholders. Any change however to the project schedule I would then adjust in MS project and then re-import into Smartsheet. Not the best use of essentially two tools that are competing in the same market. This is time consuming but until the gap is bridged (or an Enterprise License is utilized at your organisation) between fully collaborative fully featured project planning tools for the single user I will continue to pursue extreme transparency and visibility with all clients and stakeholders by hacking together any tools available for the best outcome.
So have you been working on projects where some of your team members are in different time zones? I have. And its super annoying opening my outlook calendar and thinking to myself…okay, if I set a meeting at 13:00 then what time would it be in Sydney? (Being based in Wellington, New Zealand)
So here is a a super simple site that I found pretty useful that has a slider for selecting the current time and displays the time zones across different cities – https://everytimezone.com/
Recently I have tried out Smartsheet on one of my projects. To sum it up, it is a web based collaborative project management tool similar to Microsoft project with a few noticeable differences straight off the shelf. Check it out here: https://www.smartsheet.com/.