"PSNext 2.5: A web-based project schedule, resource and cost management tool with portfolio and programme management features"
Download the full press article:
Project Manager Today Magazine, February 2008 (pdf - 0,4 MB), by Steve Cotterell.
This application was developed by the Sciforma Corporation in 1980. Most users are in the IT industry but there are also customers in the contract management, industrial and public sector fields. SNCF (French Railways), who use it to schedule train maintenance, is one of the biggest non-IT customers in Europe. PSNext is Web-based and uses a central database, which makes maintenance easy – update the server installation and the clients are updated automatically. It runs under Windows and other operating systems and can be self-hosted or supplied on a software as a service basis. [...]
See what you want
PSNext is entirely configurable – views, colours, logos, data fields and so on can all be tailored to your requirements. [...]
Starting at the beginning
Using the ‘Project Control’ module, you can enter the basic details of a request for a new project prospect and allocate it to a category of your choice. This would, typically, be done by sales staff working on aprospect, but the project wouldn’t progress into the planning stage without an approval system being followed.
Portfolio and risk management criteria can be entered. An "average risk" indicator is calculated according to a configurable formula. Financial information such as man-days and cost can also be entered at this stage.
Projects can be saved as templates that can include task and resource information.
The Report Builder screen is divided into two. On the right-hand side is the report and on the left is a ‘Content Builder’ list showing the data available. New reports can be created from scratch or existing reports can be copied and amended . Different categories control various levels of report security . You choose the report type and the data to be displayed, configure the display, filters and sorts to be applied and label any axes. Multiple graphic types or report elements can be included on the page. Reports can be constructed on the fly, with data on multiple projects being included and excluded so that, for example, assignments can be shown for a single project or for several projects in various combinations . Reports can be saved. Static reports can also be configured for automatic production. There are 15 set reports included with the system. The Effort Histogram can show when individuals are engaged on projects and also a combined (all or several people) histogram showing the levels of work across a period. You can drill down from the entire organisation through teams and departments to the individual’s name. This histogram can also be displayed by skills. The Risk Versus Strategy Level report uses the information entered at the initial project set-up to plot a comparison of risk and benefits onto a bubble chart.
You access your timesheet via the "My Work" module. You specify the time period (weekly or monthly). The tasks to which you’re assigned are listed below each project, detailing the hours (or days or weeks, etc) planned. Below that are fields to receive actuals and you can add explanatory notes and your estimated remaining duration. People can be given the right to book time against projects that they’ve not been assigned to. There’s a configurable list of "buckets" for the collection of non-project time. Each day you can save the updated timesheet and, at the end of the period you submit it for approval. Once submitted, you can’t edit your timesheet. The approving manager would have the ‘Approval’ module and would review the figures and approve or reject them. Expenses can also be collected via an optional extra line on the timesheet. The approving manager can change the figures, can return the timesheet for the originator to amend it or approve the non-project work. It then goes to the project manager(s). The project managers can’t see the non-project work but each sees details of the work done on their own projects. They can change, reject or approve the figures. They then post the data to the system - either actuals, remaining durations, or both.
Progress can also be entered manually via the Task Form .
Having posted progress, you can update the overdue tasks that haven’t yet started, moving them up to your progress date. Up to 14 baselines per project can be saved .
If parts of the project are being handled by different managers then it can be split into "work packages". PSNext enables you to assign a different manager to each work package . Work package managers can be restricted to viewing just the data relating to their own work packages, whilst the project manager still sees all of the project data,including that relating to the work packages.
Different "Environments" (views) can be created for different people, for example, a senior manager may only want to see milestones. Using the normal project set-up dialog, you can also create a ‘Master Plan’ suitable for use by, say, programme or portfolio managers. You type in a line for each important project task or milestone that you want to include and then create a link to that task or milestone in the destination project file. You state which data fields you want to include. The result is a read-only Gantt chart displaying the selected tasks from all of the projects that you’ve connected to. Senior managers can "interlink" to a task in a project manager’s plan so that the link appears on their Gantt chart as two upward pointing arrowheads (signifying that the information displayed is coming from below). If the senior managers decide that the task should start (or finish) on a different date, they move the task on their own Gantt chart. If the project managers then link their tasks to those on the master plan, the new dates appear as pairs of downward pointing arrowheads on their plan (the information is coming from above). It would then be up to the project manager to take the necessary action to re-align the tasks with the dates required by the senior manager. If a task is moved, the senior managers will see the new pointer position of the task when they refresh their interlink. I found this procedure too complicated. The project manager’s link should be automatically created at the time the senior manager’s link is established and should be automatically refreshed (at least) whenever the file is reloaded. [...]