We strive to make project management software easy to use, even if the person using the software is not a certified, fancy-titled project manager. However, I believe there are certain things that everyone who is using project management software for scheduling should know in order to use these tools effectively. Here are three things that I think everyone should know.
There are many people that have used a tool like Microsoft Project and understand how to setup a dependency. There are also many people that do not have a clue what a dependency is or (more so) how to properly use them. This is essential to make a project management software scheduling tool, such as a Gantt chart, work for you and not the other way around. A fair number of people open up a tool like that and start manually entering start and finish dates. If you want your project management software implementation to be successful, and for people to gain value out of it instead of being frustrated by it, provide some basic training on dependencies and scheduling.
2. Work Breakdown Structures
Work breakdown structures (wbs) are so fundamental to planning a project that it is essential for everyone to understand them. You may not actually go out there and go through a work breakdown structure phase in your project planning, but your schedule will still be built on one. You need to understand how to breakout work, the difference between summary and detail tasks (or parent / child tasks), and their implications. This will make it far easier for you to understand what is going on.
3. Duration and Effort
You should also know the difference between duration and effort (sometimes referred to as work). I would not say that everyone needs to be an expert at this, but everyone needs to at least have a fundamental understanding of these. If you do not, there is no way that you can do effective resource assignments and resource planning of any kind.
Make sure that you have at least a basic understanding of these. If you are tasking people with using project management software tools (at least anything that tracks a schedule), make sure they understand these as well. You will not get the value out of it unless they do.
What else would you add to this list?