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  • Need help with staff and projects

    I'm hoping someone out there has some ideas that can help me. For years, I have struggled with how to keep up with the workload of my employees to make sure that we do not fall behind on tasks. Our job involves working with up to six different Project Managers on as many as 15 different projects, each with their own independent timelines, customers, and Microsoft Project schedules (hint - Contract Pharmaceutical Manufacturing).

    Trying to keep abreast of all those schedules during the Weekly Review drives me crazy! The PM's do not talk to each other or try to integrate their schedules into some sort of Master Schedule. I'm looking for something simple of my own that pulls from those schedules into one for my own use - but don't want to spend hours each week struggling with Microsoft project.

    The other great thing is that our company does not allow us to install any special software outside the corporate standard, so I'm tied to the standard Microsoft Office suite.

    Any ideas anyone has would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Why do you need to synchronize these schedules?

    Why do you need to synchronize these schedules?

    Comment


    • #3
      Would you like to track the projects your PMs are doing?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Nitengayle View Post
        I'm hoping someone out there has some ideas that can help me. For years, I have struggled with how to keep up with the workload of my employees to make sure that we do not fall behind on tasks. Our job involves working with up to six different Project Managers on as many as 15 different projects, each with their own independent timelines, customers, and Microsoft Project schedules (hint - Contract Pharmaceutical Manufacturing).

        Trying to keep abreast of all those schedules during the Weekly Review drives me crazy! The PM's do not talk to each other or try to integrate their schedules into some sort of Master Schedule. I'm looking for something simple of my own that pulls from those schedules into one for my own use - but don't want to spend hours each week struggling with Microsoft project.

        The other great thing is that our company does not allow us to install any special software outside the corporate standard, so I'm tied to the standard Microsoft Office suite.

        Any ideas anyone has would be greatly appreciated!
        Since you stress your desire to integrate timelines into a Master Schedule, I do think it would be worth the overhead to learn MS Project. It really is the tool you need. It's often a struggle to learn new stuff, but you are managing PMs and 15 concurrent projects. You need a sophisticated tool that can handle the complexity of your job.

        If you merely want to track the status of multiple projects, you can use MS Outlook. You should make liberal use of the Contacts field in Outlook Tasks. This way you can create your own views that allow you to filter by Contact. You will enter the PM's name in the Contact field.

        Comment


        • #5
          Everyone,
          I need to synchorize the schedules so that I have a good overview of when things are due that my people are responsible for. Our work involves creation of documents that have to be routed and approved before they can be executed, so the prep work needs to start in advance of when the task is actually due. Right now most of it is in my head, and I want it out!

          Moises,
          I am fairly proficient with the basics of projects, but is there a way to copy out of multiple schedules into one without recreating all the predecessors? The contacts approach might work best for me, but with the project as the Contact. Right now I have configured my Outlook to the "Total Daily Control" model, a variation of the GTD approach.

          Comment


          • #6
            First, I would think that the Gantt chart capabilities of MS Project would be of great use to use. For any date, you could view your status with respect to multiple deadlines.

            If you don't want to spend all that time keeping MS Project up to date, then why not make heavy use of your calendar, and maybe a tickler file? If Document Y is due in 3 weeks for Project X from Manager Z, put that in your calendar one week before it's due.

            Comment


            • #7
              Alternatively...

              How about a really big sheet of paper, or a big whiteboard? Chart it out on that. Once it's all worked out, you can print it up nicely and hang it in your cube or what-have-you.

              I've been thinking about documentation like this recently. I may be wrong, but I think a lot of folks get the wrong idea about schedules and specs and designs. They think that those things should be updated all the time. In my opinion, they should be rewritten frequently.

              Real life tends to snarl up schedules and designs. I've found that at some point, your spec or schedule gets hopelessly out-of-date. Folks struggle to fix these documents, when it would take less effort to create a new, clean one.

              So, why not take a little time to create a new schedule, knowing that it won't stay perfect? You'll be able to tweak it as time goes on, of course. But I think we'd all experience fewer headaches if we let go of trying to make our documentation exactly match reality at all times.

              And there I go, reading the tea leaves on a simple question....

              Comment


              • #8
                Reading the Tea Leaves!

                Brent,
                You're right - I think that's part of my frustration with Project, as soon as the project schedule is created, it's obsolete. The board is a good idea through, I have one with movable magnets on it that would cover an entire year. Thanks!

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                • #9
                  White board's are great for tracking ongoing tasks within a department that are changing. We have a couple of them in the office and one is solely used for tracking the next pending deadlines and project milestones.

                  Yes these may be next actions also but they are my department's next actions and not mine directly so I dont track them individually in my GTD system, but rather have a @waiting for action setup for the project with whoever it is delegated to and they themselves track their next actions using GTD and MS Project.

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                  • #10
                    When MS Project is done I would suggest that:

                    - you copy all deadlines and milestones into your Calendar;

                    - at Weekly Review plan follow-ups to meet those deadline and milestones;

                    - update your Calendar based on daily or weekly meetings with your PMs.

                    Or you can just rely on your PMs that they control everything themselves and you just meet with them regulary to check if they are follow the due-dates. If not you can change their work priorities for the day or week.

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