PM Clinic: Week 14 Summary

Topic: Tools of the trade (scheduling)

Compiled: 2/5/2005

The Situation:

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 tried?


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generating way more overhead and maintenance than they really want to do, and then in a few weeks the whole thing is out of date, and everyone gives up.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)




All content copyright 2005. Scott Berkun. RSS Feed