In a nutshell
Planning is a crucial aspect of any business or service. To optimise productivity and ensure efficiency, it is imperative to put in place a solid planning strategy and use the appropriate tools to monitor progress and manage tasks. This article explores in depth the nature of planning, the planning strategies you can adopt in your department, the tools you should use to plan your projects, the choice between software or an online application, and finally, the effectiveness of Excel for planning.
What is planning?
The planning strategy to adopt in your department depends on the nature of your work, the number of people in your team, the size and complexity of your projects, and many other factors. Here are some commonly used planning strategies that may be useful:
What planning strategy should your department adopt?
- The Agile method :
This method emphasises flexibility and adaptability. Instead of planning the whole project in advance, you plan and execute the work in small sections, called sprints. This enables your team to adapt quickly to changes and respond to problems as they arise.
- The Waterfall method :
This is a more traditional approach that is well suited to projects with clearly defined requirements and few expected changes. You plan all the stages of the project in advance, then carry them out in the planned order.
- The Kanban method :
This method focuses on visualising the work and maintaining a constant workflow. Each task is represented by a card on a Kanban board, which is moved through different columns as the task progresses.
- The Scrum method :
This is a form of Agile method that involves daily meetings to discuss the progress of the project and identify any obstacles. This helps maintain open communication and resolve problems quickly.
- The Lean method :
This method aims to minimise waste by concentrating only on tasks that add value to the project and eliminating anything that does not.
To choose the best strategy for your service, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each method and to evaluate them against the requirements of your project. You can also combine different methods to create a strategy that best meets your specific needs.
What tool can you use to plan your projects?
The choice of tool for planning your projects depends on a number of factors, including the type and size of your projects, the number of people involved, and your specific project management needs. Here are some popular options:
- PlanningPME :
This planning software offers a wide range of functions, including task management, resource planning, time management and project tracking. PlanningPME is particularly appreciated for its flexibility and ease of use, as well as its ability to integrate with other tools, such as Excel.
- Microsoft Project :
It's a robust project management tool that offers a host of features, including task planning, resource management, cost tracking and reporting. It is ideal for large-scale projects, but can be excessive for smaller projects.
- Trello :
It's a cloud-based project management tool that uses a dashboard approach to task management. It is ideal for small projects or for teams who prefer a visual approach to planning.
- Asana :
It's a project management platform that lets you plan and structure team work, define priorities and deadlines, and track the progress of tasks.
- Excel :
Although not strictly speaking a project management tool, Excel is often used for project planning because of its flexibility and ease of access. It can be used to create task lists, schedules, Gantt charts and other useful visualisations for planning purposes.
Each of these tools has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice will depend on your specific needs. We recommend that you take the time to evaluate each option in terms of your project planning requirements.
Planning: software or online application, what's the right choice?
Whether it's better to use traditional planning software or an online application for planning depends largely on your specific needs, the size of your team and the nature of your projects.
Traditional planning software, such as PlanningPME, is usually installed on a company desktop or server. These tend to offer a wider range of features and can be more powerful, allowing more detailed management of projects and tasks.
These tools are often more appropriate for larger organisations or for complex projects that require detailed management of resources, dependencies between tasks, and a variety of visualisations and reports. However, they can require more time and expertise to set up and maintain, and are not always as accessible as online applications.
Online planning applications, often cloud-based, offer the advantage of easy access. They can be used from anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection. This can be particularly useful for teams working remotely or in geographically dispersed locations.
These tools are generally easier to set up and use than traditional software, and they require less maintenance, as updates are generally managed by the service provider. However, they may not offer the same level of functionality as traditional software, and their use may be limited if the Internet connection is unstable.
In short, the choice between planning software and an online application will depend on your specific needs. It's important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each option, depending on the nature of your projects, the size of your team and your IT capabilities.
Can I plan well with Excel?
Yes, it's perfectly possible to do good planning with Excel. This software offers many useful features for project management and planning. You can use Excel to create task lists, schedules, Gantt charts, track progress and more.
However, although Excel is a powerful tool, it also has its limitations, especially when compared with specific project management software. Here are a few points to consider:
- Managing complex tasks :
For simple projects, Excel may be sufficient. But when it comes to managing complex tasks with numerous dependencies, Excel can quickly become difficult to manage. Project management software is designed to manage this type of complexity and can automate a large part of the process.
- Teamwork :
Excel is not designed for real-time collaboration. If you are working on a team project, where several people need to be able to access and modify the project plan at the same time, an online project management solution may be more appropriate.
- Monitoring and reporting :
Although Excel has monitoring and reporting functions, they are not as comprehensive or as easy to use as those offered by many project management software packages.
- Mobile access :
Excel is not designed for use on mobile devices, which can be a disadvantage for teams who need to access their project plans on the move.
In conclusion, although Excel can be an effective tool for basic planning, it may not be the best choice for all projects or all teams. If you manage complex projects or work with a large team, specific project management software may be a better option.
Internal or external hosting?
Internal and external hosting each offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on the specific needs and capabilities of your business.
Internal hosting :
In-house hosting means having your servers and IT infrastructure in your own company. This gives you total control over your equipment and data, and can deliver better performance if your infrastructure is well managed.
However, in-house hosting can be expensive in terms of hardware purchase and maintenance, energy costs, and the staff needed to manage and maintain the infrastructure. What's more, you are responsible for the security of your data and the implementation of disaster recovery plans.
External hosting :
External hosting, or cloud hosting, involves using the services of a third-party supplier to host your data and applications. This can be more cost-effective, as you don't need to invest in expensive hardware or employ staff to manage the infrastructure. In addition, cloud hosting providers generally offer tools to facilitate backup and disaster recovery.
Hosting in the cloud also offers greater flexibility, as you can easily increase or decrease your use of resources according to your needs. However, you are dependent on your provider for the security of your data, and you need a stable Internet connection to access your resources.
In conclusion, the choice between internal and external hosting will depend on factors such as your budget, your technical skills, your needs in terms of data control and performance, and your ability to manage the risks associated with each option.
The Eisenhower matrix is a useful tool for identifying priority tasks. It enables tasks to be classified according to their importance and urgency.
PlanningPME offers a range of advanced features for task management, progress monitoring and reporting. It is ideal for managing larger, more complex projects.
Although Excel is an accessible tool for planning, it can be difficult to manage for large quantities of tasks and complex projects. It also lacks some of the advanced functionality offered by specialist planning tools.
The choice depends on your needs. If you need a lot of functionality and manage complex projects, planning software might be more appropriate. If you need easy, mobile access, an online application might be a better choice.