Before the personal computer can really take over its role as an industrial strength development environment, it needs the same kind of tools that have been available for the mini and mainframe. And this is why project management tools for Windows are beginning to be launched. Symantec Corp based in Cupertino, California has jumped into […]
Before the personal computer can really take over its role as an industrial strength development environment, it needs the same kind of tools that have been available for the mini and mainframe. And this is why project management tools for Windows are beginning to be launched. Symantec Corp based in Cupertino, California has jumped into the fray with Time Line for Windows 1.0. Symantec took over the Time Line product in 1987 when it acquired Breakthrough Software and the company now dominates the MS-DOS project management market with 39% world market share according to International Data Corp. So far, however, the company has not managed to penetrate very far into the UK market. Andrew Layman, Symantec vice-president and chief technologist of the project managment group, explains that this is because the company’s UK operation was set up only in 1989, and many potential customers had already made buying decisions by then. But now that the market is about to be shaken up by the arrival of Windows, Symantec thinks it can capitalise on the situation by having a product out quickly. Indeed, IDC is forecasting that the market for MS-DOS project management products will grow at 35% each year for the next five years. Layman says that Time Line for Windows is not simply a Windows-compliant version of the existing MS-DOS product but has been re-engineered for Windows with the following design goals in mind: users should be able to get it up and running in one hour; there should be access to the project management engine and it should provide the ability to communicate effectively and easily. One of the main distinguishing features of Time Line for Windows is its Co-Pilot, which is like an artificial intelligence feature that sits in the engine and monitors what the user is doing manually. For example, if you schedule something to start just after something else finishes the Co-Pilot will prompt you in English asking if there is a relation between the two tasks. If there is then it will ask if it can automate the relationship and will then create a logical dependency link between stages of a project. The Co-Pilot is a basic set of rules coded in C designed to help sort out abstract relationships, dependencies and sequences. The product also has a Connect Tool to enable users to draw a line on screen to define task dependencies and assign resources to tasks. It also has an Icon Bar giving access to 32 activities, Info Boxes, AutoScale, which automatically sizes schedules to fit onto one page on any printer or plotter supported by Windows, and a monthly Calendar Report. Customers with a local network implementation can relate independent project management files and co-ordinate them. Time Line for Windows also supports object linking and embedding clients that can be launched via hypertext. Realistically the package requires 4Mb to run and costs UKP500 for stand alone and server versions and UKP400 for each simultaneous network node. Until April 30 registered individual users of Time Line or On Target – Symantec’s general business project management product – can upgrade for UKP90. Those using a competitors’ project management package can upgrade for UKP100 Symantec says that it is particularly looking forward to hearing from users of Microsoft Corp’s Project.