Let me clarify that: Microsoft Project, on its own, is not a good project management tool. This was bought into sharp focus for me again yesterday when I was supporting a rock-solid business unit leader struggling with the weight of too much to do. He is not a formal ‘Project Manager’ but he and his direct reports recognize that much of the business unit’s workload is about managing multiple, competing mini-projects. Boy oh boy was there a lot of learning in that session!
Before we get to the learning list I think it is important to recognise that we do offer one of the most practical project planning training programmes on the planet as a PMI Global Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) and we also offer an excellent Working with Microsoft Project training programme. MS Project however is not always the most appropriate solution to managing multiple projects.
Here’s the learning list that this hardworking manager created at the end of our time together:
- New tools are no substitute for good process. Reaching for an additional tool rather than researching the process is too easy and rarely satisfying! (More ‘productivity tools’ gather dust than do meaningful work for most people)
- You can not really create a project plan in MS Project.
(Even Microsoft says that MS Project should not be used without an executable project plan being created. Furthermore, there isn’t even a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) functionality built into MS Project to facilitate this element of planning.)
- MS Project is not great for communicating and sharing project progress.
- So – Use fewer tools and integrate them better.
- Agree a Team-Based approach to sharing workload through the use of Outlook Calendar, Task and Categories. Agree email protocols specifically for team project communications.
- Check how the team feels about Mindmapping for project plans (after seeing how we integrate Mindjet Mindmanager with Outlook)
- Apply Richard’s processes across the team.
- Book Richard (Yippee!!)
I’m curious to know how you manage multiple mini-projects across your team. What works for you? Join the debate below.
To assist with ‘Strategic thinking and planning’ why not contact me to discuss how we can tailor a programme to your exact needs.