I wanted to wrap up a series of posts that started in August 2017 with the article about over-booked and mismanaged resources. In total, we looked at six common issues in project management. Just as the posts on incorrect use of MS Project stand-alone, this series centered around best practices and was based on the experiences I have as a consultant in the Project and Portfolio Management world.
The posts were created around processes a Project Manager would get in touch with. Let’s take the post titles one at a time and give you a little extra information.
In the first article I wrote, we talked about optimal use of resources in organizations. We discussed the underused resource and how he/she can be just as challenging as the over allocated resource.
There is a feature in Project Online called Resource Engagements, which gives you an easy way to create resource demands and lets team managers know about the needs in the organization. Team managers can allocate a specific resource based on a generic demand. The best part is that all this is done without the need for an actual schedule or assignment!
I like to describe Resource Engagements as a “contract” between the Project Manager and the Team Manager. This contract gives the PM permission to utilize resource X in his/her project within the timeframe and hours associated in the engagement.
At Projectum, we created the Team planner app that leverages the Resource Engagements functionality and gives it a highly user-friendly interface with convenient drag-and-drop functionality.
In this article, I talked about sending documents using e-mail to multiple recipients and thereby creating different versions of the document. We covered how to combat such situations and give people one document instead of different versions of the same one.
I’d like to point out that Microsoft has a new product called Teams. It’s an application that combines chat and document sharing, as well as connects with other applications such as Planner and Power BI.
With this application, users are able to view and interact with each other and with shared documents/files from wherever they have an internet connection. There is a great mobile app available for Android and IOS, as well.
Remember the application called Lync that turned into Skype? Well, Skype functionality is included in Teams and Teams will (in time) replace Skype. In my opinion, Teams is the future of documentation and team collaboration. That’s why it had a prominent place in the webinar I did in December of 2017.
This post stirred up a lot of response, and it was great to read all the comments and respond to them. I like the platform of blogging because it gives people the ability to respond and add to the content of the article. If you have an opinion on any of the articles on MPUG (or my own blog), don’t hesitate to respond, it really improves the article when more people contribute.
One thought bubble I wanted to raise here as a follow up to my original article is that of micromanaging an Agile/Scrum team. Is that possible? I would love to hear your feedback on this. I thought it was very much possible because of all those stand up meetings, but I haven’t been active in Agile teams that much to see it happening in real life. I did find this enjoyable “microblog” from the guys at Mountain Goat Software, which is supportive of this conversation.
While we are on the subject of Scrum and Agile, did you know that Microsoft has added the new Agile feature in the Office 365 version of MS Project?
Setting progress on Agile “schedules” is just as important as on regular projects, and there are specific reports available in this tool that help you share the status with management.
In the last two articles I wrote, I shared a number of best practices related to Reports and Templates. Here’s an extra thing to keep in mind when creating reports: Set the right granularity on time, work, and costs.
This advice is closely related to the “avoid data overload” best practice. With Microsoft Project you are able to create reports that are specific on a day to day, hour to hour, and dollar to dollar basis. That’s because the data is in the file, but consider if you really need that kind of data in a report.
Make sure you report regularly and set the granularity accordingly. Do you report once a quarter? Perhaps you want to set the granularity to monthly. Do you report each month? Set the granularity to a two week period.
There’s a lot that can be said about templates. They can make the lives of PM’s easier when created correctly, but they can also frustrate when created incorrectly. Here’s something to keep in mind when creating templates: Don’t use constraint dates in templates.
This advice comes from my very first article on MPUG, date related planning. If you create a schedule and want this to become a template later on, make sure all constraints are removed.
These constraints hold no value in a template. Just imagine a constraint stating “should not start earlier than 1-1-18”. That’s a date that is already passed, so there’s no reason to keep it in the file.
A constraint like this can also interfere with the creation date of a schedule when you save it to a Project Online environment. If you create a schedule with a specific start date, the software will create a schedule with the original template start date instead of your actual start date.
Thanks for Reading
I wanted to close this article with some stats: there were a total of close to 7,600 words written on the topic of Common Issues in Project Management spanning a duration of half a year. This series has had several thousand views already with a total of 20 comments. I hope you will join me again soon.
Erik van Hurck
Webinars (watch for free now!):
Share the Knowledge: Integrating Your Project Lifecycle Methodology with Microsoft Project
Shared Understanding Among Project Stakeholders: A New Methodology for Agile Project Management