In all my years as a project manager I always faced the same problems when setting up a project plan. The problem was not the plan itself but the tooling to create the plan. Project after project I started with the personal goal to master MSProject and plan and report the whole project status based upon the one MSProject sheet. After the first plan was created all went fine till the first changes appeared. Extra work that influenced the planning was approved and the tool problems began. Due to complex settings and advanced intelligence every change was followed by a lot of automated actions that messed up the whole plan. After a few weeks I returned to managing my project the old-fashioned way in Excel spreadsheets.
Recently I tried a planning tool called OpenWorkbench. Open Workbench is the open source alternative for MSProject. And ss the manual states:
"Many people grumble about the amount of time spent managing a project schedule via Microsoft Project, well, WorkBench is no different, apart from the fact that we no longer have to pay Microsoft for the privilege."
My experiences with OpenWorkbench are positive. It is easy to use and the default settings are logical. It does not mess up your planning unexpectedly (it is capable in messing up the planning but you have to try harder ). Open Workbench limits the possibilities when creating a project and forces you (the project manager) to create a structured plan based on Phases, Milestones, Activities and Tasks. For fast planning in straightforward projects the functionality of OpenWorkbench is more than enough.
In both tools common (planning) knowledge is required to realize and control a project planning. And remember. In excel everything works. Even the worst plan everâ€¦..
See : http://www.openworkbench.org/
Idiots Guide to OpenWorkBench.pdf –> http://www.openworkbench.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=12&Itemid=26