Browsing Posts tagged project management

CommunicationsEffective Project Communications

Click here to RSVP for the webinar on this topic on Thursday August 20th from 2-2:30pm (eastern)

Communication is critical when working on a project, but how do we best gauge how much is enough? Too much? In person or in writing? By groups or individuals?  Routinely scheduled or ad hoc? The answer depends on the size and nature of the project, the preference of the team, and organizational requirements. And all of this is determined as you create your communication plan.

Your project communication plan can be as simple or complex as you need. It’s purpose is to document how various information within a project will be communicated. Some common methods of communication you’ll see in communication plans are:

Project Reports: Probably the most important communication, reports are usually listed specifically by name. You’ll also want to document the recipients, the sender, and the schedule of delivery. Oftentimes we’ll set variances for reports as well. For example, a standard budget report might suffice, unless the budget exceed 10% of the plan, then perhaps we would want to also include a detailed budget report, and escalate the recipients.

Meeting Notes: You’ll want to determine how to best distribute meeting notes. Options might include saving a document to a shared folder, sending and email, or making an entry in a SharePoint site.

Contact Information: If you are working with a diverse team, especially those outside your organization, it’s great to get everyone’s contact information in one place.

Meeting plan: I like to document a plan for scheduled meetings in my communication plan. I’ll list who should attend, the nature of the meeting, and the options for participation. For example:

Meeting Cadence Attendees Options for attending
Working level meetings Weekly or as needed TBD In person or phone
Status meetings Bi-weekly Resources with active and upcoming tasks In person or Skype call
Project review Monthly Entire project team In person

 

Go to resources: I also like to list resources that are specifically responsible for certain things that might impact my project. For example, who should we talk to if we need elevated access rights? What about after hours supports, is there anyone available for that?

I typically like to have some conversations during the beginning of the project to determine what would work best, and then go over that plan before the project starts (or during if need be). Your communication plan doesn’t have to be formal. It’s purpose is to help document who needs to know what and when. Sometimes it’s as simple as emailing meeting notes and providing a weekly report. And sometimes it’ll be more involved. The most important thing to remember about communication plans is to customize them to meet the needs of the project. You don’t want to over communicate – your team will start to ignore your emails if they receive 50 a day. But not communicating enough can impact the project. So have some conversations about communications needs and preferences and you’ll set yourself up for an effective, well informed project team.

Join us on August 20th for the Project Management webinar on Project Communications. We’ll look at some of the reports available in MS Project and Project Web App and discuss getting the right information to each person on the project team.

Microsoft Project is really great for managing one project schedule, but what happens when you have more than one project to manage? Sure, you can view the project indivually, but did you know Microsoft Project Online has views to show consolidate project information? Sorted, grouped, sliced and diced however you’d like!

Click here to RSVP for the webinar

Project Online is a cloud based solution, similar to Microsoft Project Server (the on premise solution). It’s designed to help you manage multiple projects, resources, budgets, etc and get an overview view of all your projects.

You can still start off by creating a project in MS Project or Project Online. Project Online has the capability to create new project schedules, so if you don’t have the full version of MS Project, it’s no problem. Think of it as a scaled down, web based version of MS Project. It has the basics to get you by, but if you’re doing a lot of schedule development, you’ll want MS Project Professional.

Once you have your Project schedules created, you can view their status on your main Project Online page, called Project Center (shown below).

 

 

 

You can also process task status updates from your resources in one place. So if you are managing several projects, you have one central screen to accept and reject all status updates.

 

 

 

 

Remember our PM topic last month, Risk Management? Using Project Online, you can manage risks (and issues) in multiple projects.

 

 

 

 

One of the key metrics we want to track when managing multiple projects, are resources, right? Resource availability and utilization to be exact, across all projects. Using Project Online, you can clearly view and report on project resources quickly and easily. One the mage below, I’ve collapsed Bob’s project so it shows a summary, and I’ve expanded my tasks so it shows all the detail.

 

 

 

 

 

The Resource Availability graph is also great – It has four options for viewing Resource information:

  1. Assignment Work by Resource
  2. Assignment Work by Project
  3. Remaining Availability
  4. Work

Below I’ve selected the third option, Remaining Availability:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s very clear which one of us has availability in this demonstration :-)

If you’re interested in diving deeper into managing multiple projects, please join on July 16th for this month’s Project Management Webinar. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to win a free copy of Microsoft Office 2013!

Click here to RSVP for the webinar

 

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Managing project risks using Project Online

Did you know that Project Online is more than just project schedules and status reports? Yep, you can manage your project risks there too, and it’s pretty easy. Don’t miss our monthly PM webinar where we’ll talk more about this, details below.

When talking about project risks, oftentimes people will tell me that their project doesn’t have any risks. Or they don’t want to waste time tracking risks, because the project is a “must do” so it doesn’t matter anyway.  I disagree; there are a lot of advantages to tracking project risks, especially in Project Online.

“My project doesn’t have any risks.” Well, that sure would be nice, but every project has some risks associated with it. Let’s take a simple example – moving your offices. Your company has relocated and you are managing the project for the move. What are some risks we should consider?

  • Movers could be delayed/arrive late
  • Damage to equipment
  • Lost files
  • No utilities at new location
  • Injured employees
  • Something might get left behind

 

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s all fine, but we have to move anyway so why bother with risks?” Project Managers know the value of a good plan. “Fail to plan, plan to fail!” By identifying the potential risks in projects, we can now take steps to better manage them. We can add them to our Project Online Risk Repository to increase visibility and keep everyone updated on the status. There’s a lot of information we track when adding and managing risks:

Owner/Assignee The person/people responsible for tracking the risk overall
Status Active, Postponed, Closed
Due Date Sometimes there may be a specific date associated with the risk, sometimes not.
Probability The likelihood that the risk will occur (1%-100%)
Impact The magnitude of the impact should the risk actually happen.
Cost The cost that will be incurred when the risk occurs
Category Custom categories for your organization
Description The likely causes and consequences of the risk
Mitigation Plan Actions to reduce the probability or the impact of the risk
Contingency Plan The plan of action if the risk does occur
Triggers Indicators that the risk has occurred or will occur shortly

Once the risks are identified and all the information is entered in Project Online, you and your team will have one central place for tracking and communicating risks. In the example of moving day, if the movers are delayed, your team knows exactly what to do to keeping moving. Plus, you’ve taken many steps to mitigate any delays, by providing clear instructions and directions, several contact numbers, and completed a walk through before the actual moving day.

And, when you start tracking risks for multiple projects, you can then begin to do some analysis across all projects. Does the same risk occur over and over? Which mitigation plans have been successful? Which contingency plans have failed? You’ll even be able to balance the risks and determine when the best time might be to start a high risk project vs. a low risk project.

Join us on for the free monthly Project Management Webinar (we’ll be giving away a copy of Office Professional 2013 courtesy of Microsoft)!

  • Topic: Managing project risks with Project Online
  • When: June 18th at 2-2:30 (eastern)
  • Where:  Online
  • Click here to Register

We’ll talk more about Risk Management and demonstrate how to enter and track risks in Project Online.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Image of a risk in Project Online

 

 

 

Project OnlineBob here.  For those of us who love and adore Project Management tools (and who doesn’t love managing 21st century multi-layered projects involving resources spread around the world in completely different organization with tools and metaphors designed nearly a century ago so assembly lines could make bombs faster?), I’ve got great news!

As many of you know (especially if you pay attention to our Blog), Microsoft recently released their first Beta (whoops, customer Preview) of Office 2013.  Now, it stands to reason that part of the Office 2013 upgrade will involve integrating it with Office 365.

Well, it goes deeper than that.  Microsoft recently announced that Office 365 will now include a version of Project.  Project Online.

Of course, it’s not as simple as “oh, there’s the new version, let’s play!”  This is Microsoft we’re talking about.  Several additional versions of Project that directly or indirectly work through the web are part of this packaging, in addition to the standard version of Project that we know so well (Project, Project Server, Project Professional).

For more information about Microsoft’s Project strategy, see Mary Jo Foley’s article here.

For information about Project Online, including how to sign up for it now, click here.