I don’t like Microsoft Project. Allow explanation.
MS-Project is great when one starts planning for an initiative. Especially if it is a large and complex one. The software allows a lot of control on task planning, resource allocation, levelling etc. Moreover, your boss possibly wouldn’t sign off until he has actually seen a MS-Project. Boss agrees, champagne’s popped, Pizza sauce stains boss’s $125.95 Lilly-white shirt. Much happiness flows. Then things start turning bad.
After a few months into the project, boss asks how likely are we to ship the software on the 25th of December? Umm…see…of the ninety four tasks, eight are in red and there were a couple of unplanned activities that came by, Jeff ate a really bad Turkey on Thanksgiving and couldn’t check himself (leave alone his code) in for a good week…so. The trouble is, you still don’t have a number – like “Chief, we are shipping on 25th December with a 19% probability”. And that is why MS-Project is useless other than to clip-board carriers who come at status meetings.
You want a statistical estimate of shipping probability? Simple, just ask the Product Managers and Engineers to bet money on their dates. I am serious. Convert the money pools into odds and that is the best estimate you will ever get.