Remember that time you established a new goal, knowing that a solid plan would help you accomplish it, but not knowing how to start? Industry-leading software app, Microsoft Project, has many great qualities, but getting your project off the ground may not be one of them. Enter Design Flags: the simple, visual tool that can help you navigate through your project challenges especially when it comes to getting started. Design Flags use recognizable patterns meant for large whiteboards, as well as small desktop icons.
According to PCMag.com, Microsoft Project “doesn’t come with clear tutorials for getting started. It assumes familiarity with both big concepts and fine details of project management” (1). Think of the countless potential Project clients, many of whom already work in a Microsoft house, intrigued by the product, but without the experience to use it. PCMag.com explains, “you really must have a certified project manager on board to drive the software” (1), and unfortunately not every business can make that claim.
Let me introduce you to something adventurous that can help you brainstorm, narrow focus, and chunk projects into steps with concrete objectives. Design Flags are a valuable enhancement tool for project management apps such as Microsoft Project, in more ways than one. Here are six things you can do, using the Design Flags system, to supplement your Project initiatives:
1. Brainstorm with Precision
According to PCMag.com, In Microsoft Project, “for every task, you can enter a lot of detail” (1). But where do you get these details? A good source is a Design Flag filled out while brainstorming with your team, as different flags are specific to different tasks.
2. Align Tasks and Talent
Mark Stringer, Director of Project Management for Aston Martin, says he uses Project “to allow different people in the business to have their own isolated plan of activities” (2). Design Flags can help you determine which activities are best for which team members.
3. Standardize a Visual Formula
Microsoft reported, in a study of Cardiff University’s implementation of the Project software, “Instead of relying on a variety of systems and methodologies, Cardiff University set out to standardize project management” (3). Design Flags can standardize each step visually, so that you can follow a recognizable formula when adding details in Microsoft Project.
4. Create a Custom Roadmap
In a case study for Brookdale Senior Living Solutions in Tennessee, it was reported that the Project software “supports IT projects, non-IT projects, and strategic road mapping” (4). Design Flags can become a canvas for that roadmap, by visually organizing information that will help your team reach their destination.
5. Give Graphics Premium Parking
Sherweb.com says of Microsoft Project, “team dashboard is crucial… add multiple graphs, charts, data presentations, and other graphics” (5). Any graphic created with Project will need a place to park. Using Design Flags as parking spots will ensure audience engagement with your visuals. These bite-sized compositions, now with additional graphics, will make sure your process is self-explanatory when on display.
6. Tie it all Together
Sally Leathers, Chief Engineer of Aston Martin, says “Microsoft Project is the thing that glues everything together, it really allows us to describe the steps that need to happen” (2). Similarly, the Design Flags technique ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, and that everything is tied together across 16 specific steps called “The Project Grid.”
A review of Microsoft Project on PCMag.com claims that to use the software, “the number of projects your team manages and their level of complexity should be quite high.” That said, consulting with Design Flags before, during, and even after the Project process will make using the software easier for your team—and easier for your audience to understand when presenting.
Download all 16 Design Flags for free at LohmeyerDesign.com/flags, or order the book WAVE THE FLAG: Project Management with Mr. Lohmeyer’s Design Flags (2017) on Amazon.com. Then, wave your flags loudly, proudly, and persistently… and let me know how these concepts worked for your team!
1- Staff, Editorial. “Inspired by Flag Designs.” Westfair Communications, 8 Aug. 2018, westfaironline.com/105567/inspired-by-flag-designs/.
2-Phil Lohmeyer screenshot, 9 Aug. 2018
3- Marchant, Robert. “Greenwich Educator Matches His Passions for Design, Teaching.” GreenwichTime, Greenwich Time, 30 July 2018, www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Greenwich-educator-matches-his-passions-for-13117775.php#photo-15941379.
5- Lohmeyer, Phillip L. “WAVE THE FLAG: Project Management with Mr. Lohmeyer’s Design Flags (2017)” 9781720915508: Amazon.com: Books.” Amazon.com, CreateSpace, an Amazon Company, 10 July 2018, a.co/5bUArn9.
6-Phil Lohmeyer video screenshot, 24 July 2018.
(1) Duffy, Jill. “Microsoft Project.” PCMAG, PCMAG.COM, 10 Jan. 2018, www.pcmag.com/review/358181/microsoft-project.
(2) “Customer Stories: Aston Martin” Project Management Software | Microsoft Project, products.office.com/en-us/project/project-customer-stories.
(3) “Customer Stories: Cardiff University” Project Management Software | Microsoft Project, https://query.prod.cms.rt.microsoft.com/cms/api/am/binary/RE1XwvQ
(4) “Customer Stories: Brookdale Senior Living Solutions” Project Management Software | Microsoft Project, https://query.prod.cms.rt.microsoft.com/cms/api/am/binary/RE1z8o0
(5) “7 Microsoft Project Features You Need to Use.” SherWeb, 12 Mar. 2018, www.sherweb.com/blog/o365-7-microsoft-project-features/.