capsule review

FastTrack Schedule 7.0

Most of us have to do some form of task scheduling as part of our daily work, but we don't necessarily want to learn planning theory, a prerequisite for using traditional project-management software. FastTrack Schedule 7.0's simple interface will have even novices organizing project tasks into graphical timelines within minutes of launching the program, while experienced managers will appreciate the increased precision of its scheduling functions.

Demystifying Project Management

Even if you've never used a project manager before, the new Calendar view will have you producing high-quality schedule charts in no time -- just click on the calendar to add tasks or revise their duration. Like its predecessor ( Reviews , June 1999), version 7.0 helps you depict tasks graphically by placing bars and milestones on a timeline, but new dockable palettes make it even easier to connect tasks and change bar styles.

FastTrack Schedule 7.0 also offers more-efficient ways to build complex plans, as well as finer control over schedules. As you outline projects, you can easily assign multiple resources and view task details using a single data-entry form. The new Editable Links option determines the amount of time during which tasks can overlap or that must elapse before the next activity begins. Once you link tasks, FastTrack highlights the critical path for you.

Multiple Ways to Collaborate

FastTrack Schedule 7.0 bests its predecessors with improved support for collaboration. It can read the PC version's files; exchange data with Microsoft Project 2000; and when used with the $99 FastTrack Schedule 7.0 for Palm OS, synchronize schedules with Palm organizers.

It can also convert schedules to HTML pages, but that's where its Web capabilities stop. If your clients and remote employees need to access and update real-time project data, elite.com's Web-based project-management application, Worksolv ($19.95 per month), may be a good alternative. Though it lacks high-end resource-management functions, the service is easy to use and promotes better communication and collaboration.

A Project Manager's Delight: FastTrack Schedule 7.0's improved palettes and task-linking features help you outline projects and determine task workflow.

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