Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 139 / APRIL 1992 / PAGE 114

GrandView 2.0. (project management software) (Evaluation)
by Peter Scisco

>From its inception as an outliner and personal information manager, Symantec's GrandView 2.0 has successfully garnered faithful followers who use its tools for tasks ranging from personnel management to brainstorming. Count me among those who have found the program's unique blend of outlining, categorizing, and printing to be a worthwhile addition to the desktop--even if these same tools can now be found in spreadsheets, word processors, and other productivity applications.

In its latest incarnation, GrandView emerges as a full-blown project management tool, minus the Gantt charts and other features that many managers find too complex or rigid to use in managing day-to-day affairs at the office.

The program's many new features could easily fill a book. (Actually they fill two--a Reference Guide and a User's Manual--and a couple of topic-sensitive booklets: one detailing GrandView's use as a presentation tool and the other a well-designed guide to using the program's most effective features.)

The latter booklet is an excellent introduction to the program, and I recommend it highly to all users--no matter how familiar they are with the program's earlier version. By presenting the program's features as a step-by-step guide to productivity, Symantec effectively conveys the power that lies in this tool.

Whether you're managing a to-do list or a complex project, GrandView gives you just what you need to track important tasks, assign responsibilities, make reports, and present ideas. Tasks, ideas, people, and dates can be linked in a variety of ways to give you the flexibility and the insight necessary for effective management.

One particularly striking feature about this version of GrandView is its expanded presentation and display. With version 1.0, users could view tasks by category, by people, and by date. But the design of the software didn't capitalize on those links--you had to do a lot of the connections by yourself. In 2.0, GrandView makes better use of the computer's ability to balance disparate bits of information and then presents that information in ways that make more sense or that provide a new perspective.

As an example of how GrandView juggles all of this information, look at how you can use the program to manage a project. First, use GrandView's excellent outlining features to define the separate tasks that go into the project. Then, group tasks together by common features--some may be the responsibility of the marketing department, for example, or some might be consigned to customer service.

You can rearrange the tasks and the rest of the outline material quickly and effectively with the program's various editing commands. Once you've completed your outline, you can proceed to assigning each of these tasks to a person, giving each task a priority and a due date.

>From here on, you can check the status of the project and communicate necessary information about it from within GrandView, using separate views to investigate your assignments and writing summary reports using the program's templates.

The templates are a fine addition to this already excellent program. New users can get immediate results from using them; experienced users will find that the template designs suggest different ways of using information.

GrandView isn't without its faults, however, and chief among them is the interface design. Rather than adopt the now-almost-standard DOS-specific technique of granting access to the menu bar through an Alt-key combination (such as Alt-F for the file menu), Symantec insists on using the F10 or backslash keys to activate menus. Few programs use this interface anymore, although those few are well known (Lotus 1-2-3 and older versions of The Norton Utilities, for example). In this GUI world, when it seems that the entire software industry is racing away from DOS applications, it makes better sense to design a consistent interface so that users who haven't opted for Windows will at least not have to re-educate their fingers when it comes to using a keyboard.

Effective project management, no matter what the scale or variety, is key to effective and creative work. With its emphasis on outlining and its support structure of categories, priorities, and responsibilities, GrandView can manage the information you need to get the job done right.