There are plenty of software options for Project Management these days. As our tools has evolved, the hand-scrawled checklists and desk calendars of yore have evolved to trackings logs and gantt charts. Software vendors continue to add bells and whistles for greater functionality, but oftentimes at the expense of usability. Any focus on one feature like schedule management or budget control usually means a lack of focus on another. As a result, we are generally forced to choose a separate tool for each of the elements of project management.
For scheduling, Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project fight for market share. For cost tracking, software packages like Prolog and CMiC allow for very robust budgets that are locked down to ensure no penny is out of place. For a megaproject full of complexities and accountable to dozens of entity stakeholders this might make sense. However, for the vast majority of projects the Owner just needs a simple budget and a milestone schedule with enough detail to plan from but with the simplicity and flexibility for he or she not to have to hire additional staff just to keep it up to date.
Simplifying for most project managers brings us back to a simple grid or spreadsheet. While excel may work fine for one person to control and update, Smartsheet is built for teams. Owner, Architect, Engineers and Contractor can collaborate on one cloud-based platform with automatic updates available over email. Also, Smartsheet is powerful in offering a variety of views. Line items can be clustered to provide a simple rolled up summary view or a detailed list over several pages. Any list with dates can be shown in calendar view or as a Gantt chart. There’s also a card view for those who prefer the Kanban style of pushing cards through a sequence of status columns. The history of each cell can be tracked and a log if comments can be kept for each row. We usually start each project with one budget sheet (cost), one schedule sheet (schedule), and one task list (scope) and can link calls in each one together as appropriate. Additionally hyperlinks can be utilized to draw in views from Bluebeam or Revit but generally our project management platform is consolidated to one platform providing one source of truth for the entire project team.