I have already discussed my overall approach to successfully deliver projects.
I must stress, there can be no guarantees in the delivery of a project. There is so much potential for things to happen that you cannot even imagine.
This does not mean that projects cannot be delivered successfully, in fact, quite the opposite.
What I am trying to do is provide you with a toolkit that will help provide you with the greatest chance of success.
In this installment, I am going to discuss some of the tools that I use to manage the project tasks.
Today we benefit from cloud-based tools that allow us to freely or cheaply perform tasks that a few years ago would not be possible or required computer systems that were extremely expensive.
I always think that you should look for new and innovative ways of performing required tasks whilst not disregarding existing tools that are tried and tested. You really do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water!
My preferred choice is a combination of Gantt chart and Kanban task management for task and resource management. The reasons for this are as follows:
- A Gantt chart is a great way of seeing the overall pathway and dependencies your plan takes from beginning to end. I really do not understand how any project can make sense without this basic due diligence
- Kanban “cards” to manage the detailed tasks required to complete the major task as defined in the Gantt chart
- Kanban cards also allow you to define priorities
- Kanban cards provide sufficient flexibility to change, add or remove tasks to keep on track
- Some Kanban card tools provide you with the ability to limit WIP. If it is available in the tool you use then it can prevent task overloading.
Using just these two tools I believe that it will allow you to manage the multitude of situations that you find yourself in.
Sometimes you can find Gantt and Kanban in a single tool, other times they are separate but can exchange data with each other. SOme are just stand alone.
The first two are OK, the latter, I’d avoid.
There are a number of cloud-based solutions, some of which are free (Yes really) and others for a relatively modest monthly sum.
Those that are free require some level of technical competence from the user to set them up, whilst those that are paid for do not. As an added benefit, with some limitations, the paid for can often be free!
So, what is my approach?
- Create a fairly high-level Gantt chart, with reasonable estimates of time and dependencies. Do not get into too much detail.
- Start building up the details tasks that contribute to the key Gantt tasks, estimate their time, define the level of importance and assign owners.
These tools do allow a high degree of collaboration, such as on-the-fly messaging, notifications when tasks have progressed or completed. Via workflows, completion of one activity will automatically notify someone else to do something.
All of these tools and features are fun, incredibly useful but never should be used as a route to avoid that regular human interaction.
The following list details some of the different tools I have tried. They all have their pros and cons. I suggest that you try a few out and adopt the one that fits well with you.
- Kanboard – Free. Limited by not having the ability to connect dependent tasks.
- Redbooth – Paid for but free with limitations
- Orangescrum – Paid for but free with limitations
- Smartsheet – Paid for
- Trello & Elegantt or Teamgantt – Paid for but free with limitations
- Projectplace – Paid for
- Asana & Instagantt – Paid for but free with limitations
As ever, if you would like some assistance please contact me via the contact form on my website https://doppioclick.co.uk/site/contact/