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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

Sizing Up the Right Project Management Tool

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 @ 04:18 PM

In addition to the project management tools that we teach at People-OnTheGo, such as Microsoft Project, Microsoft SharePoint, Google Sites, Asana, and project wikis, our guest blogger will shed some light on additional PM tools for various project sizes.

projectmanagement tool software people onthego

Guest blog post by Jose Maria Delos Santos

Initiating a project needs adequate preparation. A significant percentage of projects have failed because of the lack of it. Aside from the necessary project management skills and processes, people also need to use the correct tool for the job. As projects come in different sizes, it is also important to use the right-sized PM tool for the project.

The defining line whether a project is small or medium-size can be difficult but is generally relative to the sponsoring organization. As such, PM tools for small and medium-size projects sometimes fall into one group. However, a PM tool having more core PM functionality, such as project tracking, task dependencies, time and expense tracking and resource management, is better suited for medium-size projects. Large projects have a bigger impact in terms of duration, resources, cost, risk and deliverables, and therefore need a PM tool that has a comprehensive set of integrated and sometimes customizable features.

PM Tools for Small Projects

Producteev is a web-based social task management platform that is well suited for small projects. The first interface is called the Workspace, and from this page, the user can create and complete tasks as well as invite people for collaboration on the task. It is available on many platforms such as a PC, Mac, mobile devices, and even just with an email.

Teambox is a project management and collaboration platform that is relatively easy to use. All communications of the team can be organized by projects for easy reference. The discussion may be converted easily into tasks and tracked for progress through a workload view, calendar, or Gantt chart.

ProofHub is an online PM tool that offers cloud-based storage, flexible pricing, and unique inbuilt chat and proofing tool that improves work efficiency greatly. For example, team members and clients alike can use the online collaboration tool that is faster and more powerful than email. All chat history is then stored for easy reference and update.

PM Tools for Medium-size Projects

AceProject is an online application that has strong project management features including Gantt charts, project tracking, time and expense tracking, document management, reporting, and mobility. It also has important human resource management features critical for medium-size projects involving a greater number of people. It can include external collaborators to the project while maintaining security and integrity with access rights. Since projects always involve resources, their availability and their assignment, AceProject’s time tracking, expense tracking and reporting features become indispensable.

LiquidPlanner is an online PM and analytic tool that has more than just a built-in project collaboration feature. It also has the important scheduling and organizational features that can be set by priority. It also has time tracking and approval features that make it easy for team members to fill up their timesheets and for project managers to approve them.

Intervals is an online software that helps users take control of their time, tasks, and projects. Many businesses in over 100 countries are using it, which resulted in successful projects and expansion of their business. It has powerful reporting features that allow the project manager to see how the projects are advancing, what the workload is on a team member, and how well within budget is the project costing.

PM Tools for Large Projects

EPM Live is a work management platform for managing projects. Aside from project management tools such as scheduling, collaboration, timesheets, and reporting, it also has portfolio management, cost management and work management features. It has powerful workflow automation features that can be implemented across the organization for the total picture of project performance. It may be deployed online through the Internet or on-premise within the company.

Project Insight is a customizable online PM software that boasts of a long list of features but still retains ease of use. It is flexible as well to be deployed online or on-premise. It has the needed features to support project scheduling and resource allocation. It also has issue tracking, MS Outlook and Office integration, and portfolio management features.

Genius Project is an enterprise project management system that has all the needed PM features and more. It has project portfolio management, invoicing, demand management, risk and change management, and Agile SCRUM support. It can be deployed as software-as-a-service or hosted on-premise. It also has integration with IBM’s Lotus Notes and Domino.

Conclusion

Web-based PM tools are being adopted more by SMBs because of low initial costs, scalability, and rapid deployment that have increased their ability to compete with larger competitors. Security issues that have made bigger enterprises hesitant to adopt cloud services are now being addressed by on-premise deployments of these same PM tools. Clearly, whatever the size of the project or organization, a PM tool now exists with a right fit.

About Jose Maria Delos Santos: Jose is a freelance article writer for Project-Management.com, a website dedicated to provide PM articles, detailed project management software reviews, and the latest news for the most popular web-based collaboration tools.

Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: virtual teams, document collaboration, Microsoft Project Training, Microsoft SharePoint Training, Technology, management, collaboration

3 Ways to reduce the e-mail overload using Microsoft SharePoint!

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, May 19, 2011 @ 07:13 AM

E-mail overload! We all complain about it, but many of us are addicted to it, and the question remains whether we are taking the necessary steps to reduce it. Microsoft SharePoint can help tremendously reduce the e-mail overload and just as importantly enable information sharing, allowing us to harness the collective knowledge within our team and organization instead of keeping this knowledge buried in people's mailboxes.

Here are 3 ways in which Microsoft SharePoint can help!

First: Managing documents in Microsoft SharePoint

It is so easy to e-mail documents, and no wonder that most of us do it. The question I always ask in our Microsoft SharePoint workshop is "if you have a team of 5 people, and you are creating a marketing plan for instance, and you go through 10 revisions to finalize the document, how many copies of this document will be in your inboxes by the time you are done?"

The answer is anywhere between 50 and several hundreds. However, the more serious implication of e-mail documents is the confusion that is likely to happen when people aren't sure who has the latest version, who changed what, and not to mention the utter chaos that happens when two different "branches" of the same document are accidentally created.

With Microsoft SharePoint, the document can reside in a document library, and everyone has access to the same version. A revision history is automatically maintained for future reference. And when multiple people attempt at editing the same document at the same time, the second person will be gently notified and prompted to take one of the following actions:

SharePoint File In Use

Second: Managing meetings in Microsoft SharePoint

"Who has the latest agenda?  Did you add my agenda item? What happened to the design document that I sent out to everyone before the meeting? When are you going to send the meeting notes?"

These are only a few of the questions that come up when managing meetings via e-mail. Meetings and meeting workspaces in SharePoint allow us to have one central repository and again, it is not just about storing information, it is also the collaboration aspect. Everyone involved can contribute to the agenda to the background material, and follow-up material; all happening smoothly and in real time!

This is some of the information that the meeting workspace can hold:

SharePoint Meeting Workspace

Third: Managing tasks in Microsoft SharePoint

This is especially useful for tasks that involve multiple people; where each person contributes their part and then hand over the task to the next person. Managing such tasks in Microsoft SharePoint keeps everyone informed and up-to-date at all times. And coupling this with the alerts capability, each person can be notified as soon as a task is assigned to them.

Alerts are easy to setup in SharePoint:

SharePoint Alert

Additional Resources

Topics: document collaboration, emerging technology, Microsoft SharePoint Training

Question and Answer: How can I see my Microsoft SharePoint Calendar events in Microsoft Outlook?

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 @ 01:50 PM

Microsoft Office 2007We get this question often which makes perfect sense. After all, if you are using Microsoft Outlook, and have the benefits of the Outlook Calendar, doesn't make sense to want to view your SharePoint Calendar events in the same Calendar and not have to go to SharePoint to manage these events?

The answer is yes you can view your Microsoft SharePoint Calendar events in your Outlook Calendar and it is simple to set that up. Below are the steps that are involved in connecting your SharePoint Calendar to your Outlook Calendar, however, keep in mind that if you are using Outlook 2003, this would be a one way connection. You will be able to view the events but not edit them or add new events. However if you are using the Microsoft Office 2007 suite of applications, you will be able to make updates in Outlook 2007 and these updates will show up in SharePoint.

Here is the process of connecting your Microsoft SharePoint Calendar to your Outlook Calendar

From your SharePoint Calendar, select Action, and then select Connect to Outlook

microsoft office 2007

As soon as you do so, you will be prompted for your user name and password and a new calendar will be created in Outlook:

microsoft office 2007

And now you can view this Calendar in Outlook and if you are using Microsoft Office 2007, you will be able to update it from Outlook.

More Resources

 

Topics: Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft SharePoint Training

Question and Answer: When should I use Microsoft SharePoint and when should I use a wiki?

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 @ 11:48 PM

document collaborationThis question comes up often during our workshops. Participants see that both platforms can help with document collaboration and information sharing, and they start to wonder which platform is more appropriate for their needs.

While this can be a long discussion, I am only going to provide a few key insights here, and please add your comments below so others can benefit from your experience.

What is SharePoint best at?

  • More appropriate for managing "documents."
  • More appropriate for managing calendars and tasks that are structured.
  • More suitable when you want to setup several levels of user permissions.
  • More suitable when you are using Windows and so is your team/company and therefore integration with Windows, with Microsoft Office Applications, and Exchange/Outlook is desired or mandatory.

What are wikis best at?

  • When you want to co-create content at a more granular level (quickly and easily update sentences and paragraphs, expand and branch into new pages).
  • When you are at the early stage of an idea or a project and flexibility and innovation is more important than structure.
  • When everyone is on equal footing and involvement/engagement are key as opposed to having a hierarchal structure and a structured review process.
  • When users are using a variety of platforms (Windows, Macs, others).

Having said the above, it is common to see teams use both tools. Some projects and initiative require the flexibility and ease of use of a wiki while others require the more structured approach that SharePoint offers. Sometimes it is easier to start a project using a wiki and then when the project develops further and formal documents start to take shape, SharePoint can then be introduced.

More resources to check out

Topics: document collaboration, emerging technology, Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft SharePoint Training

3 ways to get rid of e-mail--Using Microsoft SharePoint

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, Nov 17, 2009 @ 11:10 AM

Microsoft SharePoint TechniquesWe all seem to complain about e-mail, and that we get too much e-mail, and yet we all seem to contribute considerably to this e-mail mess! How do we sent our documents? Via e-mail. How do we setup meetings and coordinate events? Mostly through e-mail. How do we ask questions, answer questions, and share information? via e-mail. This needs to stop, if we want to get a handle on e-mail.

How can we change this? By using better collaboration tools such as blogs, wikis, and Microsoft SharePoint.

Let us consider Microsoft SharePoint for a moment which is one of the tools that we have been using, evangelizing, and teaching for years--as an effective way to help streamline collaboration and information sharing while easing the e-mail overload instead of adding to it.

Here are 3 ways to get rid of e-mail, using Microsoft SharePoint

1. Instead of e-mailing documents around and filling these mailboxes with attachments, how about storing these documents in document libraries in SharePoint. While I am editing a document in SharePoint, if someone else tries to edit the same document, they will be gracefully notified and given the opportunity to take control of the document as soon as I am done with it. Most importantly at any point in time, I can see the revision history, and review each of the edits that were made to this document along the way.

Figure 1: Notification that user receives if they try to edit a document that is in use by someone else

Microsoft SharePoint Techniques


2. Instead of coordinating the next meeting or event via e-mail, and sending these supporting documents and action items back and forth, how about creating a meeting workspace in SharePoint and customizing it to enable tracking meeting tasks and a list of things to bring. This may rid of a few dozen e-mails and avoid these endless confusions about who is doing what.

3. Instead of answering the next question you get via e-mail (relating to your subject matter expertise), how about your start a blog in SharePoint where you share the answers so that everyone on the team can benefit from them.

Join us at the Microsoft SharePoint Techniques webinar and learn more!

 

Topics: Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft SharePoint Training

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