Loose work teams and project management approaches and tools

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davideps
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Hello,

Please forgive the layman's terminology in this post. I am relatively new to project management and am looking both for background reading and software relevant to my current working environment.

I work in a small office with five people. We all work on multiple projects at once that require the skills of anywhere from one of us to all of us. The projects are subdivided into subsections that are interrelated in complex ways (many dependencies). Project duration ranges from one week to one year. Short duration projects usually take precedence, but progress still needs to be made on longer projects. Some projects have inflexible deadlines, others have flexible deadlines. We have a collaborative work style without a dedicated project manager. Everyone uses the likes of Microsoft Outlook. We are looking for project management software, preferably open source, that would integrate with Outlook's calendar system to show project related deadlines and meetings--and if possible--automatically insert text into the calendar items that remind us of relevant dependencies.

I look forward to reading your suggestions.

-David
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kwalford
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Hi David,

Welcome to the board.

Regarding software, I cannot help but we also rely on Outlook for resource scheduling. Our process is very labor intensive (i.e. manually adding a calendar entry and inputting the work package details) as we have never found a more efficient method. I would also be keen to see what software integrates with Outlook.

I appreciate Outlook is the status quo for you but have you though of switching to Ms Project and hosting it for global access? This will allow multiple people to access project files and keep them updated if you have various people managing the same project.

You mentioned 'reading'. If you are looking for a project planning and techniques book, then I recommend the newest version of Rory Burke's Project Management Planning and Control Techniques.

Thanks
Kit
davideps
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Thank you for your thoughts Kit. I'd prefer an open source solution if possible rather than becoming more dependent on commercial products. I also heard that MS Project is based around the idea of an empowered fulltime project manager and none of us have that experience, authority, or time. We are fulltime data anaysts and collaborative, part-time project managers.

I'll check out the book you recommend.
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dhaughey
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Take a look at Evernote, my team and I use the free version. It's very popular amongst the people I work with and many use it for managing their project tasks. It syncs with all your devices, so you can use it across smartphones, tablets, Macs and PCs.

There is a paid feature called Project Coordination that claims to allow management of projects without email.

I'm interested to know what you think, as I'm considering using it.

Duncan
davideps
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Thanks Duncan. I've looked at Evernote for my personal notes, but not for project management. I'll look again. I'm surprised that people are recommending creative use of general purpose tools (Evernote, Outlook) and not use of specialized project management systems.
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dhaughey
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My guess is that people want something simple they don't need to spend time learning. Most of my colleagues believe project management software is complicated and difficult to use. They simply want to be able to prioritise and collaborate on tasks, see progress, understand dependencies and receive reminders.

In terms of background reading, I recommend Scrappy Project Management by Kimberly Wiefling. It takes a practical look at project management in an easy to read style.

Duncan
rexdean01
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There are so many project management tools available out there. Some have bare minimum features, some are overloaded with features, some require a great learning curve, while others are quite simple to use. But in order to choose the one which perfectly suits your work and projects, you have to invest time and effort in searching and reviewing various tools available on the internet. You can find some good reviews of the tools done by various technology experts and these can guide you in selecting the right tool. Comments of users in which they have told their experiences about using various tools can also help you out.
TedAldrin
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Hi David,

I think you should try your hands on eResource Scheduler Software by Enbraun. Me and my team are using this software for better project management. It is loaded with features that are easy to use and understand. For example:
  • Drag n drop Scheduling (my favorite)
  • Configurable Reports
  • Recurrence Booking
  • Filters etc.
To evaluate its features why don't you opt for free trial or request for personal web demo. I am sure you will definitely like it.

Good Luck :-)
nandini
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You might want to check out Proofhub for project management software. It is a web based tool that offers features like Gantt charts, milestones, to-do lists, file sharing, discussions, notes, labels, subtasks, integration with Google Drive and Dropbox, recurring events and much more.
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