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Current status:

  • 30 open projects competing for a fixed pool of R&D resources and workers.
  • Stakeholders from within the company spread among different areas of the company (Production, Tech Support, Sales, ...) but working on-site.
  • A timely-reviewed road-map with the date in which each project starts (and the estimated time to completion).
  • Possibility that some of the workforce or the resources of a project could be needed to solve a recently raised critical issue (e.g. problems in a client's plant).
  • Each Project Manager deals with several projects at the same time. PMs meet weekly to share status update.
  • Each Team deals with only one project at the same time, but some help from any individual member could be needed to solve an issue that prevents progress in some other project.

I think having a system so everyone could visualize any time how ongoing projects are sorted based on priority for the company could:

  • Help the PM and the team in making easier day to day decisions on how to prioritize.
  • Help manage stakeholders expectations about what amount of progress can they expect, depending on the "current ranking" of their project.

I can't count on each individual reviewing a software tool on her own, and I am looking for something easy to update and understand.

What do I need to implement so I can help this visualization of relative priorities between projects?

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I would strongly suggest the KISS approach to start. Don't start with a tool, instead start with the data you need to track. A simple Excel spreadsheet can do everything you need. Once you are tracking and reporting what you need, then you can see how to automate it.

Real World Example: In one of my prior companies, I was brought in to start a PMO for a small division of a massive company. The division was using PowerPoint to track status, badly. A 100 slide, 20MB deck that took probably 40 man hours (including 4-6 from a VP) per week to compile. One of my first tasks was to interview all the key stakeholders and find out what mattered to them. I then took this data and created a simple, two tab Excel spreadsheet. It had just the bare bones data, but it tracked every project we had running (which would grow to around 30 a quarter). Over time I tweaked the spreadsheet to meet the needs of the team and stakeholders. It grew to be a four tab spreadsheet. It was very easy to update. I had a weekly program team meeting with all the project leads and we reviewed the status. I updated most stuff in real time. After the meeting I'd make final updates and then print out copies for the top stakeholders as well as hang it outside my cube and email it out.

We never ended up automating because it was simple enough to do in very little time.

Many times, online lifecycle tools can make things more complicated than needs be.

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