Microsoft Project 2000 Extends Project Management to Entire Teams

LAS VEGAS, Nov. 15, 1999 — As companies increasingly reap the benefits of teamwork to achieve greater organizational success, it is becoming essential for them to find efficient ways for entire groups to manage projects.

To meet this need, Microsoft this week announced Microsoft Project 2000, the latest version of its project management software. The software includes Microsoft Project Central, a new Web-companion product that enables teams of all sizes to help manage projects without having to become project management experts.

“What we’re seeing in the market is a movement from standalone, project-by-project planning to cross-project and cross-organizational planning,”
said Kris Tibbetts, Microsoft Project product manager.
“This means the audience of people getting involved in project management is also expanding, and they need tools to support that involvement.”

In addition to Microsoft Project Central, Microsoft Project 2000 includes improved features to give project managers greater flexibility in how they analyze data and deliver reports, Tibbetts said. The product also performs faster than previous versions, and is more scalable, meaning that it handles large projects as efficiently as small ones.

“We’ve taken care to make this a product that can serve everyone, from small organizations all the way up to the largest enterprises,”
Tibbetts said.
“Many small organizations grow into large organizations, and this product will grow along with them.”

The beta version of Microsoft Project 2000 is currently available from the Microsoft Project Web site free of charge to the first 5,000 customers who order it, Tibbetts said. Thereafter, Microsoft will charge a small shipping and handling fee.

Microsoft Project Central is an easy-to-use tool that can be used by employees who aren’t familiar with traditional project management methods to provide and obtain vital information about projects as they’re developed, Tibbetts said.

It typically works like this: the project manager can use Microsoft Project 2000 to develop a broad outline of the project plan, and then make it available to team members via the Web using Microsoft Project Central. The team members can then use the product to identify missing tasks, reassign tasks that are better accomplished by other workers and provide more accurate estimates on the time required to accomplish various tasks.

Once the plan has been developed, team members can use Microsoft Project Central to share updates with their colleagues and submit status reports to the project manager, Tibbetts said. And they can use the product to review project details needed to carry out their work.

“Microsoft Project Central takes team collaboration to an entirely new level by providing individual team members with much more insight into their own tasks and how they fit into the big picture,”
Tibbetts said.
“It gives them both an easy way to input information into the plan and access the information they need to get from it.”

Microsoft Project Central takes all the feedback team members submit and consolidates it into a single report for the project manager, Tibbetts said. The project manager can then share this information with senior executives who need to track many company projects at the same time.

“Senior managers can use Microsoft Project Central to get the level of information they need and get it on a real-time basis,”
Tibbetts said.
“It allows them to check on the status of multiple projects without ever having to install Microsoft Project 2000 on their desktop.”

Microsoft Project 2000 also comes with several new features to provide project managers more flexibility over how they analyze information and compile reports, Tibbetts said. For example, project managers can use the product’s
feature to manipulate data based on the specific needs of the project. And they can use its wide selection of
“graphical indicators”
to flag aspects of a project that aren’t advancing as planned.

“We added much richer analysis, viewing and reporting features because we wanted to give our traditional audience — core project managers — much more flexibility over how they ‘slice and dice’ their data,”
she said.

Tests performed on Microsoft Project 2000 show it is substantially faster than Microsoft Project 98 — and substantially better at handling large organizational projects, Tibbetts said. For example, Microsoft Project 2000 saves a 10,000-task Microsoft Project file to a SQL Server or Oracle database 71 percent faster than with Microsoft Project 98. And the software is an average 98 percent faster than Microsoft Project 98 for 1,000-task projects sharing a common resource pool.

Microsoft is offering the
“Microsoft Project 2000 Technical Guarantee”
to users who want to purchase Microsoft Project 98 between now and April 30. The offer guarantees customers who buy Microsoft Project 98 a free copy of Microsoft Project 2000 when it becomes available during the first quarter of next year. Microsoft must receive requests for the upgraded version by May 31, and will charge a small shipping and handling fee of $5.00 in the U.S. and $7.50 in Canada.

Tibbetts said Microsoft Project is the best-selling project management software on the market because of its ease of use and its versatility in handling projects of multiple sizes. The product has the same look and feel as Microsoft Office applications, reducing the learning curve for users, and it manages large projects involving thousands of tasks as effectively as small projects consisting of only a few tasks.

“Microsoft designed Microsoft Project 2000 to be the total project management solution for companies,”
Tibbetts said.

It’s flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide variety of knowledge workers, regardless of the size of their organization or their level of expertise.”

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