Project management software encompasses a range of software solutions to suit the variable need of individuals and groups working on a variety of different types of projects. The software may be used to complete tasks such as: planning and estimates, resource allocation, budget management and cost control, scheduling, quality control and documentation, administration and communication. These various tasks may be addressed by a single software package, individual integrated systems, or stand alone products. “Projects” can be as simple as planning a child’s birthday party to designing a multi-unit residential and commercial real estate complex. Needless to say, there is no one “best.” software package to suit every project management situation.
Simple projects that only require a few potential tasks may be addressed by commonly used software packages. Software suites generally include the ability to interface between address books, scheduling, writing and desktop publishing tools. These include popular products such as Microsoft Works, Microsoft Office Suite and Open Office Suite. More complex projects are commonly addressed by using more advanced suites or vertical market software solutions. Vertical market software is developed with ready made templates that are industry specific solutions and may include such industry specific areas like court calendaring for law offices or building materials management for construction project management.
In a plaintiff’s personal injury case the attorney is looking for two events, the legal statute of limitations date and the time when the client has reached maximum medical improvement. These two dates do not always coincide. In that event, the case must be entered into court before medical treatment is concluded. After the case is entered into court, then the court specific calendaring system must be generated. Pleading and discovery responses need to be sent out on a regular basis in accord with the jurisdictional schedule of pleadings. This again is automatically generated by the case management software. In order to comply with the discovery process patient care reports need to be requested from each medical care provider. This is completed through an interface between the medical care provider contact information system and the word processing system. When the case finally comes before the court the client management software generates the index for the trial notebook so that the paralegal and the attorney can assemble the full trial notebook, and the attorney can proceed to the court hearing confident that all the details of the case are present and ready to be submitted into court.
Having case management software in place in a law office is such an asset that the attorney’s malpractice insurance provides a discount to law offices using it. On the other hand, one of the big disadvantages of project management software occurs when the data entry system is so cumbersome that it more labor intensive than is justified by the complexity of the project itself. The value of “form over substance” applies in these circumstances. Other potential difficulties that can be caused by project management software are; when the software focuses on the wrong sequential aspect of the process, or it is not sufficiently diverse to address all aspects of a large project.
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