ConceptDraw PROJECT: The SCOPE-PAK Plan
Yes, I do have a copy of Microsoft Project. And yes I have used other software such as the very expensive Primavera (someone else's copy). I used it for analyzing complex scheduling situations for purposes of resolving issues in cases of post-project litigation (and paid for by one of the litigants). In days gone by we've also used Time Line, by Symantec; and its sibling, On Target, which I rather liked because of its greater flexibility and simplicity; and Project KickStart for its library of project activities.
I also like Milestones Simplicity, for just that - its simplicity because it is really a graphics program designed specifically for producing colorful bar charts from a host of lines, patterns, and relevant icons. But none of these are, or were, cross platform. The best you could do is save your work as a PDF file and send it out on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.
Given the foregoing constraints, I was quick to put ConceptDraw PROJECT to
the test. As a quick example I settled on my own SCOPE-PAK exercise to see what
it would look like. You can see my first attempt in Figure 2.
And, of course, you can read all about SCOPE-PAK here.
Figure 2: The SCOPE-PAK brainstorming exercise
Once I had found my way around the menus and short cuts, this chart took me about 15 minutes to create. The beauty of this software, apart from the fact that I am using a Mac, is that you can either type in data or play around with the bars and links directly in the graphics panel. That is you can stretch or shrink and shunt bars around to suit your intuition. Its simplicity derives from the fact that the program is unencumbered by heavy and rigid background network logic constraints.
You can see in this illustration that, with a small brainstorming group of five to six people and a computer, you can actually create a real project plan in 60 minutes. It is better still if you are hooked up to a projector and screen. Yes, I know you don't believe it, but I've organized such groups many times.
But let's not be satisfied with that arrangement. If you decided that some parallel working would be in order then you can split the team in two for parallel working, with the result as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: An accelerated version of the SCOPE-PAK exercise
This illustration shows that, if you really try, you can do the exercise in 45 minutes - and, yes, I've done that, too!
By the way, changing that diagram took less than a couple of minutes.