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Extending Project Efficiency with ConceptDraw Office

Project managers rely on many tools to help them manage the task of executing this vision

By Matthew David

Project execution is created when a team of people have a shared vision. To deliver on that vision that group must complete a lot of interlocking tasks. Projects become complex because someone, somewhere, is trying to enable a large group of people to come together and share a common understanding for a single vision. The following image shows the different milestones an idea must go through to become a complete reality. This is the project life-cycle.

Project managers rely on many tools to help them manage the task of executing this vision. The main products include software packages such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project and email. Sometimes you will find project managers will use additional mind mapping tools, such as MindMapper, or network diagramming tools such as Microsoft Visio. ConceptDraw, a Ukrainian software company, is delivering a project manager's office suit. The single goal: deliver the software that can deliver the vision.
Leveraging ConceptDraw Office

The ConceptDraw Office is made of the following products:

  • ConceptDraw MINDMAP
  • ConceptDraw PROJECT
  • ConceptDraw PRO

Many projects begin at a white board or on a sheet of paper. The goal of ConceptDraw MINDMAP is to emulate that piece of paper. Mind mapping is a great technique where you start with a central idea and build outwards the dependencies to that idea. ConceptDraw MINDMAP has easy to use, drag and drop icons to place on the screen allowing you to remain focused on your idea and not on the tool.

Each element that you create in the mind mapping process with MINDMAP can be directly exported to ConceptDraw PROJECT. If you are familiar with Microsoft Project, then you will find all of the tools in ConceptDraw PROJECT that you are already using, including gant charts, network charts and resource management. Unlike Microsoft Project, ConceptDraw PROJECT will also allow you to open multiple projects and easily cross reference resources. These types of Project Portfolio Management techniques are only accessibly through high end PPM tools.  
The final stage in a project is communicating your vision. ConceptDraw PRO allows you to build Visio-like illustrations visualizing the process defined by the project.

ConceptDraw is not creating a me-too set of products. While Microsoft owns the Office market, it is missing key products, such as Mind Mapping, for a project manager. Other products, such as Project and Visio, are standalone solutions not fully integrated into Microsoft Office. ConceptDraw Office is strong because the products do build on top of each other. You do not have the disconnected approach Microsoft gives you. You have a single set of solutions that work together, addressing the needs of the Project Manager.

Integrating with Microsoft Office on Windows/Mac
Whether you like Microsoft or not is irrelevant when you are working with a large team. It is almost a given that the users you are working with will be using Microsoft Office somewhere during your project. To compensate for this, ConceptDraw Office allows you to easily open and edit Microsoft Office documents and to save to those file formats, too. In addition, popular third party project manager tools such as Mind Manager are also supported by ConceptDraw Office.
One additional feature that is a bonus is the support for Apple OS X. While Apple only commands a small percentage of desktops, that percentage is still large enough that you will have people on your team with a Mac and you will have to share documents with them.

Next Steps
You can find out more information on ConceptDraw Office at http://csodessa.com/ At only $499 you get all three products for the same price as one copy of Microsoft Project. It is certainly worth checking out.

Matthew has written four Flash books, contributed to a dozen Web books, and has published over 400 articles. He is passionate about exposing Internet's potential for all of us. Matthew works directly with many companies as a business strategist coaching IT architects and business leaders to work tightly with each other towards common goals.

Related Keywords:project execution, office applications, project collaboration, network diagramming ,

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