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Project Management and Daily Logs Needed for One Man IT Department

By dball@cityofsacramento. ·
Just recently my manager wants me to keep better track of my projects and daily work so that they can look at my progress as they need.
In the past I've always just did my own thing when it came to projects. Creating a project timeline seemed like a waste of time to me becuase I am the only resource in the office. Maybe I'm wrong, I'm not sure. Lately I've had some trouble completing projects in a timely matter because I've just been overrun with too many things at once. I'm trying to manage 27 ongoing projects by myself.
So can anyone recommend something cheap that I could use to manage and share my projects/notes and a way to track and log my daily work?
Some of the things that I have considered and have access to;
Remedy (Central IT department uses this)
MS Project
Access database
Sharing docs directory with notes and information
Groupware folder share
Cheap software package or freeware

Thanks
DBall

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Try DevPlanner

by scnsoft In reply to Project Management and Da ...

Hi, I'm using DevPlanner (http://www.devplanner.com) for similar things. In addition to various project and weekly reports it helps me staying organized. I have to work on few projects, like You (however less than 27).

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Many tools...

by GSG In reply to Project Management and Da ...

I'm a PM, and I find MS Project difficult to use. You can do a lot with Excel, Word, and a folder on a share on the network. I also find Microsoft SharePoint invaluable. I have a project web for each project. Here are some tips:
1) Have regular project meetings, but only when they are needed.
2) Keep detailed notes with the date of the meeting, who attended, what was discussed, action items, and when they are due. Keep these in a folder titled "Meeting Notes" for easy access.
3) Keep a task list for each project. I even resort to my whiteboards for this so they stare me in the face all day.
4) In the beginning summarize the project. Log the start date, the problem, the goals, the expected outcome, the expected end date, and any resources that will be needed.
5) On that same form, make out your project budget.
6) Have all involved parties sign off on this as an agreement that this is what you will deliver.
My projects might last from 1 week to 2 years. I wouldn't got into this detail for a 1 week project, but would go into even more detail for the 2 year project. Don't forget to do status reports on a regular basis, both to your customers, and your superiors. This may prove that you need help!

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Agree - MS Project is a pain

by mckinnej In reply to Many tools...

MS Project is a bit too structured for daily use. I don't know about you, but I've never been on a project that wasn't somewhat fluid. Requirements change, tasks come and go, etc. (Yeah, yeah, better requirements definition would fix this, but I'm a defense contractor. The inability of the government to define requirements is the stuff of legend.)

Back to the point, like you, I prefer simpler tools. Sometimes paper and pen is all that you need. I usually start with that and escalate from there as needed. I only use Project as a last resort or if it is required.

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Just Enough Project Management

by Too Old For IT In reply to Project Management and Da ...

By Curtis R. Cook is a great resource.

The first time you have the charts and can confidently tell some "manager" that his super-wonderful project has a start date 8 months out, and after completion of all the CxO's projects is empowering!

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Onenote by Microsoft

by CBUTLER In reply to Project Management and Da ...

Onenote by Microsoft is a fairly simple solution for keeping track of small details that can be later be added to a more detailed version in Word, Access, or Project. It is especially helpful if you have it installed on a laptop. Go to Microsoft's website and try the trial version. Don't forget to download the Project templates as well. Good luck!!!

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Some Options

by pptmagic In reply to Project Management and Da ...

Microsoft Office Online has some excellent templates you can download and use:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/results.aspx?Scope=DC%2CEM%2CES%2CFX%2CHA%2CHP%2CQZ%2CRC%2CTC%2CXT&Query=project+management

I agree MS Project is a PITA for most projects, so I typically use Word, Excel and PowerPoint organized into a shared folder for each project.

I also have available some free online tools that you might like at: http://www.pptmagic.com/projectmgm.htm

The Earned Value Analysis tool might particularly meet your need if you need to present that type of info to managers.

Thanks,
Glenna

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Consider

by Tig2 In reply to Project Management and Da ...

All you really need for daily logging is your calendar and journal functions in your email client. If you use Outlook or Notes, those tools are readily available.

It sounds more like you are trying to resource plan. I use a quick and dirty Excel spreadsheet to plan my time into the future and use the categories in Outlook to label my time allocations.

If you prefer to use somethign a bit more indepth, there are several downloads available from Ten Step (www.tenstep.com) and through Gantthead (www.ganthead.com). Or Google "project management templates" and try some of the suggested links.

Good luck!

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KISS

by headsmitty In reply to Project Management and Da ...

It sounds like to have a lot of small projects. Agree with most of previous posts.

I'd try and keep it simple for most of the projects and avoid MS Project (etc.) unless it is a major project especially if involving other people. I have one ledger book I carry around with me to take notes on all projects so I can refer back to it later. This or PDA or whatever works for you is fine.

Make sure that you spend time up front for each project to get clear and agreed upon requirements and priority against other projects. Keep this prioritization in visual format you can easily review with boss and other management.

If you have timesheet program that you're already having to use, maybe it can track time spent against each project. Don't forget to track time spent in meetings with boss and others to show where some of your productive time has gone.

Best of luck.

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Microsoft Project -- The Way It SHOULD Be

by 01chevy In reply to Project Management and Da ...

I too am a one-man project "team" for an IT shop. I can be managing 40-50 projects in various life cycle phases at any given time.
Like you, I too had access to all the programs you mention, but wanted something simpler to work with, and easy for a non-technical manager to understand and interpret. (i.e. executive project sponsors)

I settled for a solution called simplyPM (avail for evaluation from simplypm.com) because it had a similar look 'n feel like Project, but was MUCH, MUCH easier to use and understand. And, before anyone asks, NO, this is not intended to be a PLUG for them -- only an honest evaluation based on personal experience with their product.

The program is web-based with is a real plus for us in terms of accessibility, since our company has many locations throughout the state, and I don't have to tote around a laptop whereever I go when hosting a presentation.

Total costs were about $1K for the program and their tech support was very helpful and easy to work with. The program has many useful and informative reports (something mgmt. always likes) and all reports can be downloaded and viewed in either Excel or straight into Project if you need to take advantage of some of its advanced features.

For me, the most important advantage has been that I've been able to train my IT co-workers to log into the program and monitor and view their project's progress. They can append any info to tasks I've created (such as attached scanned files & other supporting documentation) and, because they're mostly in the field, they can view important project-related info such as meeting dates/times and plan their schedules accordingly.

Hope this helps!

Matt

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A fool with a tool...

by jtheires In reply to Microsoft Project -- The ...

Along with the other comments, I would suggest that you need an effort/resource planning methodology, more than you need a tool. If your projects are becoming late, you probably need to focus more on estimating the effort and (more important) time/schedule.

Once a solid, defensible estimate is produced for a project, all 27 projects can be scheduled according to a priority system, to give each project stakeholder/sponsor a better idea of when their project will be started and completed.

This approach takes some discipline and, frankly, some guts, since you will likely be challenged by the project sponsors that find themselves at the bottom of your priority list...

Hope this helps,
James T. Heires, PMP
President
James Heires Consulting, Inc.
Home of EZ-Metrix code counting utility
ezmetrix.com

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