Formal training and software packages are the two major tools used for managing projects throughout industry. Here we discuss a few solutions designed to help project managers, but there are many available throughout the industry.
Choose a software package or training program that best suits your specific industry, but make sure it is not too narrow and can be used for future projects that might differ from the current one. Most solutions will allow for this as part of built-in expandability. Many training companies allow for follow-up training to solve this problem.
Galorath Corp. offers SEER® manufacturing-specific software for projects. The software is a detailed electronic modeler for new products. The company says that the main benefits include its ability to calculate cost estimates and manage financials all along the project’s life. SEER® uses templates and pop-ups to allow the user to design projects, asking questions and suggesting the next move. According to the company, this package comes with an extensive library of management tasks and the ability to access more online.
Another manufacturing-specific software package is Exact MAX, designed for food processing, medical device and electronics manufacturers. It is designed for manufacturing resource planning for mainly short-term orders, which is ideal for project management that must be done quickly and smoothly, and under budget. Managing all the resources in a plant includes the supply chain, personnel and logistics. MAX boasts an ability to interact with smart machinery on the floor, and can be used in highly regulated medical environments.
This brings up a good point about compatibility. Every company owns software that is in some manner proprietary and therefore mixes poorly with other brands. It’s always possible to combine projects software, that is, use two or more simultaneously. Managers must be aware of any conflicts in the way the software operates, and it is likely that duplication of effort could waste time. Always evaluate the simplest approach first, and then add layers only as necessary.
If a program is detailed enough for your particular business, it should be accurate and complete, including items that help tie up any loose ends. For instance, if you were in the forestry business producing lumber, the software should include state and federal forestry replenishment law, land use and retention rules and clean air rules. These are probably not necessary for a plastics molder or electronics builder.
Training programs are available at local schools and universities, as well as online from organizations like The University of Phoenix, Villanova University and Georgia Institute of Technology. The most common training is a professional certificate program. Certificates are issued upon completion. Georgia Tech offers classes leading to Project Management Professional certificate, or PMP®. This set of four-to-six courses includes an exam at the end.
There are trainers who will send a team to the plant location to train in-house, as well as consultants who provide initial training and follow-up or refresher courses. These are generally regional and local organizations, and are best contacted that way.
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