Tools of the Trade – Planning Software

Tools of the Trade – Planning Software

On most occasions planning software will be dictated within the contract. If it isn’t then your free to choose which software is used for the project. Despite being able to use multiple planning software I certainly have my own preference but understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each software is important.

It’s also important to not only be able to use the software but understand how it runs the calculations to achieve the end result as different software’s or settings can return different answers.

I recently came across issues where the end clients planner was converting a Primavera P6 file into Microsoft Project to check the programme. They were unaware that this conversion process is not seamless and on most occasions errors with logic or calendars will result from the conversion process.

This prompted a discussion with a colleague about software choice the other day and I used the analogy of a skilled trade such as a carpenter. You tell then what you want as an end result, the tools they use to get to the end result is for them to determine. This is not always the case with planning as often the client will have brought into a package like P6 and will therefore want files produced in that format. This is understandable after all, why buy a package then have files converted when this can import errors, why not just make people use the system you have brought into.

This brings me onto another point that I got asked the other day. Why don’t I write or teach how to use the software. All of my Blog posts and my online course are all about planning as a process and not how to use the software. That’s simply because I see the software as a tool to get to the end product. You don’t ask a carpenter how to use a saw if you want to know how to build something.

The tool is a means to calculate and present the end product, teaching people to use software does not make them planners and having the ability to use a piece of software does not make a planner. In the same way that an estimator is not someone that knows how to use Candy or Causeway, these are the tools of the trade.

Each tool has its quirk, each piece of planning software is customisable in different ways and need different solutions to get to the same goal. Some are also much quicker to use than others (in my opinion) and each can be used to show information in its own way.

A recent job I had was to demonstrate the amount of disruption encountered by a client during the delivery of works which had been impacted by multiple CE events and frustrated access. I used a feature in Asta Powerproject to show this in summary to highlight the disruption encountered by simply showing the periods of time CEs and Permanent works were undertaken aswell as the periods in which access was unavailable. This was a high level task used to identify the scale of the disruption encountered but the feature in Asta allowed it to be showed in a visually simply way.

As we use multiple software packages we are able to select the most appropriate to the task at hand.

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