Advice on Methodology/Tools for Small Personal Projects

This forum is for members to share and gain knowledge of Project Management. Got a question about project management? Need help with a problem? Wish to offer tips and advice? Post here.
Post Reply
New Member
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri 05 Feb 2016 5:36 pm


I am head of a bioinformatics/biostatistics unit at a biomedical research center. I have been trained as statistician and bioinformatician, but I have no experience in project management.

I lead a team of five technicians who do "studies" that I need to manage. A brief description of these studies is as follows:

Most of the time they consist of some data analysis and are done follow a standardized process:
  1. Interview/Service request-->
  2. Study Proposal -->[After 1-3 weeks]-->
  3. Do study -->
  4. Write Report -->
  5. Present to customer
  • Usually one study can take from 2 to 4 weeks. Extraordinarily this can be more
  • Every technician can be working on 2 to 4 studies simultaneously
  • It is possible but unusual that two or more technicians are involved in the same study
In summary, I find myself with an average of 10 to 20 studies of each, which can be at a different stage and requires a follow-up at the same time. Some go out of time or out of the budget, and I would like to have some visual tool that allowed me to check the state of every study as well as the workload of every technician.

I have looked for project management tools. I have looked at courses (in Coursera), books, templates, but I am overwhelmed by lots of information that I can't prioritize well. Besides this, most of the things I look at seem to suggest that "projects" are something bigger than my "studies", but I do not find where these "small-sized-projects" should fit.

Ideally, I would like to have some tool -preferably free- that could be used on the web with any OS (we work mostly with Linux, but we also have some Mac or Windows users). In any case, I am open to any suggestion :-)

Thanks in advance for the help.
User avatar
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 495
Joined: Sat 19 Dec 2009 4:39 pm
Location: London

Hi Sanplaale,

Project manager and trainer Simon Buehring wrote a useful article about managing small projects that might help you. In the article, he talks about the two person project team - the project manager and the person doing the work.

Simon discusses planning and says,"for small projects I find that creating a bar chart in Microsoft Excel is the best. It is simple and more than adequate for small projects. Just make each column a sequential date, write your tasks in the first column and fill in the cells to represent the time the activity takes."

He includes a section for tracking and reporting progress as well as other relevant project management topics. Overall, it's an excellent article for anyone running small projects.

Read the full article here: Managing Small Projects

I hope it helps.

New Member
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu 18 Feb 2016 6:27 am

Have you ever tried Trello?

There's a lot of flexibility in how you set up, but one simple method involves 3 columns: To Do, Doing, and Done. In each column, you can create a card for each task you need to complete, and within those tasks you can add subtasks and checklists, attach files, and communicate directly with your team regarding questions and status updates. The 3-column format makes it easy to see at a glance how your projects are progressing, but you can also view individual cards in more detail if you're interested in one particular task. If you want to track time by task, Trello integrates with Toggl, which is free for teams of up to 5 people.

To me, the visual interface of Trello makes it a lot easier to wrap my head around the status of my personal projects than Excel charts. I hope you also find it useful!
Post Reply