I am looking for a project management system, for a small development company (5-6 developers, 2-4 designers, 2-4 customer relationship managers)

Some constraints are:

  • projects have "fixed" and usually "tight" budgets
  • there are more than 40 concurrent projects, at the different stages of development. (in development or waiting for feedback from customer)
  • also there can be some "quick fixes", that require 1 man/day at most. (for earlier projects)
  • some project deadlines are really strict, but some are really loose.
  • one major problem is, sometimes a project can wait for customer feedback for indefinite time. For example project A can wait for 1 day, but B can wait for more than a week.

What I need:

  • change project priorities in runtime with as little negative effect as possible.
  • predict and calculate total cost of project. (after done)
  • predict and alert if a project will pass deadline as soon as possible

Any methodology and/or software suggestion will be great.

  • Is there perhaps an answer to your question here pm.stackexchange.com/questions/974/… or here pm.stackexchange.com/questions/955/…? – jmort253 Mar 24 '11 at 5:15
  • More help could be found within the answers to this question pm.stackexchange.com/questions/1167/… – M0N4K0 Mar 24 '11 at 10:39
  • I think you are not getting many answers to this question because it's not clear if you are asking HOW to manage 40 concurrent projects (is there a process specifically that will help me manage...), or if you already know how and you are looking for a tool to make the processes you have easier. Knowing this will help make your question answerable. – DaveParillo Mar 30 '11 at 21:54
  • @DaveParillo, the main problem is, IDLE projects waiting for feedback from customer for "unknown time", I am trying to solve (at least make it better) how to handle customers, and finish projects with minimum delay – Deniz Mert Edincik Apr 2 '11 at 10:30
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Short answer, this sounds like a great case for applying a Kanban system, as described by David Anderson in his book "Kanban: Successful evolutionary change for your technology business"

Long answer, I feel the most important first step is to select some means of visual control over the entire process. If your team is all located in the same location, a physical board describing the various stages and the current status of each project, along with who is working on which one, is probably the easiest answer.

From here, consider tracking the priorities through explicit policies. Effective use of impediment tracking will make it clear what information is blocking (and which customers are causing problems).

Once you have the visual control and an understanding of how to flow the higher priorities, you will start seeing the cycle time and lead time associated with different types of requests, allowing you to pass this information more meaningfully to your customers. It will also allow the development team to focus more energy on finishing rather than starting, making management of the whole system easier.

You may also wish to check out Don Reinertsen's "The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development." It provides a lot of background material that may provide perspectives about how you plan for the many concurrent projects you face.

Finally, there are a number of low-cost SaaS tools available for supporting the management of the many work items associated with having this many projects. However, I find it valuable to define and try the process first and then select the tool that supports it.

  • 1
    I have a very similar problem (although less projects, yet still a fair number, and some blocking for a longer time). I switched to a Kanban like approach, using our internal release planning tool. I arrange projects in what our CM tool calls "components", so I get them grouped. Big projects I keep in a separate release plan altogether (if the project actually requires it's own sprints and such). – Thomas Jan 31 '12 at 0:16

I suggest trying Verax APINI:

  • Entering budgets is obligatory and you can see if meeting them is in danger
  • Project status is comfortably presented with dashboards
  • Quick fixes require reopening a project and booking hours on it; alternatively you can defy change requests
  • Deadlines are obligatory however you can change them (baseline and modified concept)
  • I suggest entering customer review as a task assigned to customer so you can easily control progress. (Tasks can be suspended too.)
  • Priorities can be changed in runtime.
  • You can always see planned cost of a project (baseline and modified) as well as its real cost.
  • Deadlines which are in danger are highlighted; email alerts can be added on demand.

IBM Rational has a number of products that may help you.

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