PM Clinic: Week 14 Summary
Topic: Tools of the trade (scheduling)
This week we had a semi-redundant topic: Tools of the trade (See week
7: tracking programmers). What software have people used to manage projects and
what's good/bad about them? What are your biggest complaints with what you're currently
using? How big an impact on you ability to manage projects do you feel these tools have?
Would you be so kind as to offer a review or two on project management software you've
Berkun advocated lightweight hallway stuff again. "I've always installed a whiteboard
in our hallway, and every Monday I'd write up a list of what everyone was doing that week
- high level, top 2 or3 work items. It always
helped the test team know what was going on that week, helped me to stay sane, and helped
programmers stay focused. It didn't take that long to do either.". The implication
was that informal lightweight tracking requires no overhead, is easier to see (it's
in the hallway), and has less of the stink of bureaucracy than most PM tools do.
Sharepoint came up as an easy to
set up workspace tool. (Apparently the latest version of Sharepoint is much better than
earlier versions. We'll see). It provides simple tools for people to upload specs, simple
database backend ("list") that can be used to provide overall project level
views. Sharepoint isn't right for big dependency trees or larger projects, but for small
teams it can work.
Gwynne and Neil both mentioned custom internal tools that combine (in the most generous
sense of the word) bug tracking and content management (specs). But it seems no one
is ever really happy with these things. (Is there anyone that LOVES their tools for
tracking things? it just doesn't
The trap is always about updating - the more elaborate or detailed the tool, the more
daily maintenance required to make it useful. I suspect this is why most of these tools
fail: when PMs set them up, they put in waaaay too many levels of detail, generating
way more overhead and maintenance than they really want to do, and then in a few weeks
the whole thing is out of date, and everyone gives up. This is yet another reason for
lightweight, small team tracking - odds of it being maintained consistently are much
higher, since the overhead is much lower.
Good project management references,
including a list of PM software.
See week 7: tracking programmers.
Neil Enns, Gareth Howell, Eric Voetberg, Gwynne Stoddart, Scott Berkun (editor dude)