From Primavera Systems, Inc.
This month we thought it was about time we took an over due trip to Primavera Systems.
This latest journey of the Dynamic Duo into the PM software scene presents SureTrak Project Manager 3.0.
Primavera is one of the largest software companies in the US, and is quite rightly regarded as one of the world leaders in project management software, as we are sure many of you old project management hands are already well aware. Their client list reads as a Who's Who of the world's biggest companies and includes Honeywell IAC, Ford, Exxon, and Weston Hotels and Resorts.
If you have never heard of them, well listen up at the back, we'll tell you everything you need to know.
SureTrak Project Manager 3.0 is designed to combine total simplicity of use with a range of highly extensive and comprehensive project management tools. It enables users to deal with all of their important project tasks, from brainstorming ideas right through to project completion, right on schedule and on budget (hopefully!).
SureTrak really could not be easier to get into. As project management tools go, it is certainly one of the easiest we've ever looked at.
Right from the get go, life just couldn't get any simpler. Project Manager utilises the very familiar Windows based interface, employing the point and click, drag and drop technology we all know and love.
It might be slightly harder to get to grips with if you have never used a project management application before, but if you've used any Windows application in the past, SureTrak really shouldn't cause you any problems.
However, if you do struggle, you still shouldn't be in much trouble because this tool is highly wizard based. You'll be taken step by step through each project management process, and there is even a getting started wizard especially for those who really don't have a clue about what to do next.
If you're still struggling - and we very much doubt you will be - there is a tutorial included as well as an extensive online help feature to guide you past any problems.
All this makes SureTrak ideal for newcomers to project management. Some have said it is an ideal introduction to Primavera's extensive project management stable and can be used on your way up to some of their more advanced packages like TeamPlay or Enterprise.
That's not totally true though, as there is more than enough here to keep even the most advanced project manager satisfied. After all, who can complain when their life is made easier, right?
The operation requirements are pretty basic and won't send you scrambling to run out and buy an entire new system. Our Mac friends aren't slighted by the failure to include them in all the fun just because they're Mac happy either.
If you're running the common OSs, you can take advantage of this Primavera on your PM dining plate. The range of features in SureTrak really is quite impressive. The whole application is set up to take you through project management step by step.
The most amazing feature is one of the first you will encounter and is called the Project KickStart Wizard. This feature is designed to help with one of the hardest parts of any project: coming up with the initial idea and forming it into a workable plan.
Very often, this is a frustrating process, and quite often the cause of much hair pulling (no wonder there are so many bald project managers!).
This nifty wizard takes you through eight steps of project planning, enabling you to define phases, create goals, anticipate problems, and decide who is going to do what. When completed, you should have the perfect project framework and an ideal foundation to build your future project success upon.
Each activity is then given a code that is totally customisable and can be based on person, location, task, responsibility, etc. These activity codes can then be called up, then grouped and filtered at a moment's notice, enabling you to quickly see who should be doing what, what is going right, and even what is not.
There is also a range of drill down or zoom features that enables you to highlight and zoom in on particular tasks and phases of the project for additional detail. You can also see what has to be done tomorrow or on each day of the following week, while viewing the rest of the time in months or years.
This enables you to combine short and long term project views and keep totally up to date on what is happening now, as well as have an idea of what is coming up and where any potential hazards might lie.
Scheduling tasks and sticking to them is highly important in any project. SureTrak has the ability to create schedules in either Gantt or PERT forms. The PERT view allows you to quickly insert activities, move them around, put them in sequence, list them by timescale or activity, and link activities that rely on each other. This really helps to visualise how actions in one area might affect other areas of the project.
The progress spotlight is an excellent "moment in time" feature that enables you to visualise exactly what is being done, what needs to be done, what problems are occurring, and where resources are needed most at any particular point in time.
Resource allocation and keeping on top of it is one of the hardest tasks in project management, but SureTrak includes a resource-levelling tool that really does help level the playing field.
With this tool, you can track resources, compare predicted completion dates with the original schedule, target dates, costs, and budgets. Scheduling can be altered around resource needs, and resources moved to where they are most needed. Future resource needs can be predicted so that you can always keep ahead of the game and hopefully never run short so that your project does not come to a grinding halt.
We all know that projects can be fluid entities, sometimes appearing to have a life of their own. They alter constantly as circumstances, timescales, needs, and resources change. SureTrak is designed to meet these changes head on, help you deal with them quickly, keep ahead of the game, side step problems, and keep you on the right track. It is important though that you keep your project members and superiors up to date on any changes, so that the whole team is still pulling in the same direction. SureTrak has even attempted to answer this problem. All project information can be emailed to anyone who needs it via the Primavera Post Office.
Alternatively, you can use the Web publishing wizard to post project information on a web site on the Internet or company intranet.
It is also important to put project information into a report, but this can be time consuming, so SureTrak includes a range of report templates. You can even create your own if you so desire.
Alternatively, SureTrak supports Primavera's .P3 file type so that data can be incorporated into any other Primavera product. It also supports .MPX file types so that your data can also be utilised by MS Project. This means that SureTrak can be used as a stand-alone product or combined with some of your existing project management tools. You can also add other Primavera products to SureTrak as your needs dictate to build a comprehensive and highly personalised project management solution.
As a rule, project managers can trust the Primavera name when struggling to find the software solution that suits them. SureTrak Project Manager does nothing but enhance their already impressive reputation. They have been working for some time to combine that difficult mix of sophistication with simplicity, and they have just about done it. Some absolute novices may struggle a little, but if you have some idea of how project management software works and understand Gantt and PERT, then life really does not get any easier than with SureTrak. The range of wizards, guides, templates, and help features means that even a trained chimp should be able to manage a project in no time and quite a detailed one at that!
Price wise, SureTrak doesn't get any better. It retails for around $499, so when compared to some of its rivals, doesn't even come close to offering the same all around quality. It is an absolute steal and is certainly well worth putting on top of your Christmas list.
To put it in perspective, SureTrak may not have all the whistles and bangs of a Welcom Open Plan, but it does combine top of the line features with the ease of use of MS Project to give users the best of all possible worlds, and you can't even beat it on price.
In the future, should SureTrak prove insufficient for your needs, just look at what else Primavera has to offer. Few other companies have such an extensive range of project management tools to meet all needs. Combine SureTrak with one of their other offerings, and you have an almost unbeatable project management combination.
If you want to take a sojourn of your own, venture out into Primavera World, you won't be disappointed.
Primavera SureTrak Project Manager 3.0
receives a PROJECTmagazine rating of
You just can't find that same blend
of simplicity, sophistication, and price anywhere else.
2001 © Lee and James Appleyard
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