8

This is the situation in our office and I would need a recommendation which tool to you to facilitate our work. At the moments, things are slowly slipping out of my hands.

What we have:

  • many projects with its own tasks
  • many people working simultaneously on multiple projects and tasks
  • people are paid per project and per tasks, but we also have internal milestones

How to track all of this? Which tool to use?

Please let me know if you need more details as I am not sure what else to say.

  • Who is managing these many projects? Does each have an assigned PM? – Stephan May 10 '12 at 10:03
  • @Stephan No, I do it all. – ben_fff76 May 10 '12 at 17:30
  • Ben, who's driving/deciding these internal milestones? Who's deciding project/task priority? Who's directing team or allocating tasks? – Trevor K. Nelson May 11 '12 at 14:46
  • @TrevorK.Nelson Me, me, me :) && :( ! – ben_fff76 May 11 '12 at 15:17
5

In your situation I would use Kanban and a physical board for visualizing the current situation. Have a look at this board (I don't have a good picture at the moment so I'm using David Jellison's board):enter image description here

On the left side you can see the new work items. The rows are the so called "swim lanes" and they define projects. So you can track multiple projects at the same time. The different colors represent different kind of tasks. I think the rest is self-explanatory.

Since all the available information is there it is very easy to know what is going on. You can extend your board with avatars so that you can see who is doing what:

enter image description here

As you can see two colleagues were working on two different tasks when the picture was taken.

If people are paid per finished task, just write their name on the work item and sum them up at the end of week. This is what I'm doing.

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  • We're not located in the same room :(. It's virtual office and we're working from different locations. Any suggestion in the light of new info? – ben_fff76 May 12 '12 at 14:31
  • Actually it can work if somebody helps the information sharing and updates the table. One of my friend set up a webcam so that everybody could see the table in real-time. If nothing works you can go for a virtual board. – Zsolt May 12 '12 at 14:37
  • yes, virtual board. any recommendation? – ben_fff76 May 12 '12 at 14:42
  • My recent favorite is trello (trello.com). It is easy to use, highly customizable you can assign people to tasks etc. – Zsolt May 12 '12 at 14:54
  • Here's an example of a really good use of Trello by uservoice uservoice.com/blog/founders/… – br3w5 May 17 '12 at 12:47
3

Assuming I'm reading the situation correctly, I'm going to follow a bit on Pawel's response, and say that you may be putting the cart before the horse.

It sounds like you might first need to wrap your arms around the projects and priorities, and then find a way to better allocate the tasks based on priorities.

Before you start managing multiple projects, make sure that you have a solid plan for each project as a stand-alone entity. Once you have those, then you can start merging them and adjusting priorities based on how the various milestones (internal & external) interact.

Do this, then figure out where you are in relation to this plan for each of the projects (current state), and what remains (should be).

From there, allocate tasks based on this plan. Don't let external demands dictate the work process. I realize that some of your people are paid per task, but I would stay away from letting their availability dictate when tasks are released. That's the fastest way to lose control, and it makes the project planning process pointless.

Once you've done this, pretty much any tool will help you track these. The kanban board is a good suggestion, provided the project complexity and resource allocation between projects isn't too restrictive.

And if I've misread the situation, I apologize in advance. :)

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  • Actually, this is a very good suggestion. You made me think. Any tools you recommend? Especially the one which can deal with adding priorities to tasks. – ben_fff76 May 12 '12 at 14:30
1

From your description it follows that the tool itself is not enough. You need to implement a project management methodology. You can then select the appropriate tools to support established processes.

In your case the most suitable is agile approach as Scrum or Kanban. People are paid for tasks and projects, so with this approach, engagement should be very good. In addition, dividing the work into areas you'll be able to manage the involvement of individuals in separate projects.

When it comes to tools, it is good to start the simplest, like todo lists, schedules, simple charts. But in my opinion the best tool is an taks board (both physical and electronic). Properly constructed allows a very efficient way to present the state of the project, and information about the time of implementation, priorities and other key indicators can help monitor what is happening and to draw conclusions for the next stages of the project.

As for the management, You will need tools such as MS Project, or any other offering similar functionality. Here you can track the progress of the project, and plan many different scenarios.

I can see that there is a big challenge in front of you - good luck.

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1

You can use the humble MS Excel to track projects, tasks and resources. With a few formulas and/or pivot tables you should be able to see a variety of reports.

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