Project Management Tips

5. How to train new users of Project KickStart

While no training is necessary for Project KickStart, some clients still request it. I do a brief demonstration of Project KickStart in several project management workshops and as part of a project management certification class I teach at Portland State University. I have also done some hands-on training with the software for clients who have bought it. So, here are my suggestions about training new users of Project KickStart.


Generate your sample project with Project KickStart's free trial.


  1. Whenever possible, use a real project (or projects) as the training example. Students seem to relate much quicker to a project that has actual implications for them in their work. Project KickStart is such an intuitive program that it is very easy to get people started with it. I usually solicit project ideas from the group and then have them select the project (or projects) we'll use for the training. For a hands-on computer training, I try to have no more than three people working on one project. Individual work or two-person teams are really best since everyone gets more hands-on practice.

  2. I try to have a sample project, for demonstration purposes, that is relevant to the group. For example, if it is a high-tech group, I'll develop a sample project that is high-tech in nature. If it is a service-business group, I'll build a sample around a service-related problem, etc. (An alternative is to use one of the projects nominated for the class exercises that didn't get selected.)

  3. Step through the program in its own sequence. Start at the very beginning and have participants determine how they want to "think about their projects." Do they want to start with tasks or resources. Do they want to begin with goals or obstacles? I don't usually let them use one of  the templates that come with the program but I do talk about how every project they develop and save will become a template for a future, similar project.

    Since the program requests information in all of the initial categories, everyone will eventually work their way through all of them. I show them how to use the Libraries to "drag-and-drop" items into the developing plan.

    Then, I usually let them work on their projects for a while. The length of time depends on the size and experience of the group. A small group of beginners gets more time. A group of intermediate or advanced users  requires less time.

  4. Once they have the basic structure of their projects in place, I usually demonstrate the remaining features and give them an opportunity to utilize each one of them. This includes the "Export to Microsoft Project" feature but only if they actually need to use that program. Most of the people I teach can manage their entire projects using Project KickStart without ever having to go to MS Project. They leave with a copy of their project on disk and printed output of any of the reports they feel are important.

Project KickStart is such an intuitive program, it almost trains itself. The manual is a useful reference but, frankly, most people don't need it if they pay attention to what's on the screen. The real key to training Project KickStart is hands-on practice with the software. It is also useful for students to have a basic understanding of what project management is and how it works. That's where my workshop comes in.  It gives them a context for using the software.


If you or someone you know is new to Project KickStart

and wants to give the software a spin,

you can download the free trial here.



Jeff Crow is a Portland, Oregon consultant and trainer. He conducts seminars and workshops on project management and organizational development for corporations and through the Professional Development Center at Portland State University.

Find out about Jeff's on-site workshops.

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