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It is easy convenient and I admit ego-boosting to show off what I can do in a spreadsheet. With that in mind let s look at some of the differences between these two different types of tools. For the purposes of this article I selected six criteria by which to make the comparison. These were selected from the feedback of customers and prospects as well as learning what is important for the successful adoption and implementation of project tools within an organization. Data Mining Data mining is a huge part of project management tools. The whole reason for having a tool is to collect data so that you can look intelligently at that data make sure your processes are performing as advertised and make good decisions.
Here was a spreadsheet that had been created by someone with a good knowledge of formulas and functions. But... it was not obvious at first glance what to do with it. Do I click on one of these buttons? Do I need to enter some data? Where do I enter the data? On closer examination these were the problems that made it difficult to use: - There was no heading or title. - It was very dense in terms of the number of cells showing on screen. - Ranges of cells were formatted in five different colours. What did it all mean? - Help provided was limited to brief comments in some cells and some of these were in hidden columns. - The sections for data entry and the sections for results were not clearly separated. - Macro buttons were square in shape.
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Yet there is no tool for project management that is more popular or widespread than the spreadsheet despite the fact that spreadsheets are not designed to be project support tools. Even in organizations with an established project management tool spreadsheets are used. There are obvious reasons for this. A spreadsheet program is on almost every computer in every organization people are familiar with spreadsheets and how to use them and people are pre-disposed to use these "office" types of software tools to solve problems. And I am right there with them. I love using spreadsheets to track all kinds of data.
Look for a font that is without serifs as they are easiest on the eyes. I would stick with black type but if a cell calls for more emphasis you may want to use a different color to signify a positive or negative. Use bold and italics when appropriate to let this information stand out from the rest. These features are outstanding for titles and headings. Try to make the font as large as you can to fit in the cell. Ten point is a good and readable size. There s nothing worse than having to squint to read the information on your spreadsheet. If you can t read it chances are good that the people you re preparing the spreadsheet for won t be able to read it either.