ProjectDSMis an intuitive windows-based application that uses wizards in common English. You can customize project templates and the look and feel of the application. ProjectDSMguides you through the project planning process with the help of a five-step Data Entry Wizard. Guidance hints and tips are provided for each step of the wizard. Each completed step is highlighted with a green tick and the active step of the wizard is highlighted in red font.

Following good project planning practice, you are asked to firstly define the project scope in form of a project statement, outcomes (deliverables), constraints and project elements. The process is flexible and you can be as detailed as you wish. You can also attach documents during the project definition step that expand on the project scope summary, objectives and constraints.

Project definition

TheNew Project Wizardguides you through the steps of setting up a new project.

A number of project templates are provided that you can use for both system architecture and system analysis projects and for task based projects using user configurable descriptors and labels.

Project element and task entry can be done either by building a project tree (Work Breakdown Structure) or by using a mind map style entry format to build the project structure.

Project estimation

The project definition step is followed by the project estimation step during which the effort and resource costs are defined, as well as the anticipated rework effort and cost for each element if rework of this element will become necessary. This information is then used for calculation of the project cost including the overall rework cost of iteration / rework cycles and enables justification of rework contingency budgets.

Project element based resourcing allows budgets to be developed from the bottom up.

Interaction definition

The estimation step is followed by the interaction step. Dependencies are entered and defined in a specific dependency definition wizard that guidesyou through the process of identifying input and information dependencies for each element. You are guided to focusing on the information and input dependencies instead of only logistical time based dependencies.

Dependencies are automatically transferred into the Design Structure Matrix and the matrix is automatically sorted and optimized. Dependencies between project elements that are involved in iteration loops and potential rework are visualized in Design Structure Matrix format and also as a network diagram.

Project Structure Analysis

A problem solving sequencing advice wizard guides you through the process of developing ‘What-if scenarios’ and salve them as new projects. This allows you to test which one of several sequence optimization options could best simplify rework and reduce time or cost of project delivery, depending on your requirements.

Project assumptions that are made when optimizing project element sequences are recorded for targeted assumption verification, risk management and incorporation into the final project schedule as specific assumption verification tasks.

Related Videos

What are dependencies

Types of dependency

Defining dependencies in a task project

Using the dependency matrix

Simplifying iteration blocks

Verifying assumptions


Managing iteration blocks in the schedule

The final user-optimized element sequence is based on the critical information and input requirements and dependencies of the project elements. It is this input dependency based optimized sequence that forms the basis for the automated scheduling step.


Scheduling is enabled for all task based project templates. System architecture projects can be converted into a task based project template for scheduling after they have been optimized. This allows the design activities for each of the system elements to be scheduled in an optimal sequence.

The project schedule is viewed as a Gantt chart that shows the critical path, float of non-critical tasks, dependencies and also highlights clearly the elements that are involved in potential rework loops so that they can be monitored by the project manager.

Exporting, importing and reporting

Microsoft Project plans can be imported into ProjectDSM for defining input and information interdependencies between project elements, identification of rework loops and subsequent sequence optimization. Optimized ProjectDSM plans can also be exported into Microsoft Project. Software outputs such as the Design Structure Matrix, the dependency map, assumption, task lists and the Gantt chart are automatically generated and can be used for clear communication with project stakeholders. They can be printed and where appropriate exported to Microsoft Excel. Project plans can also be exported to Microsoft Word.