Tuesday, 24 November, 2020
Thoughts and views on project management and the tools required.
Things have changed since I began managing projects twenty years ago, mostly the tools we use, but somethings have stayed the same, like the need for good organisation, communication, requirements gathering and resource management skills, along with the capability of simply being able simply say No!
When I sign up for a project I consider myself part of my client's team, I champion their project, I root for their success and get to know their business. In short, I do everything I possibly can to support them. This isn't out of kindness, I want my clients to succeed because I want them to see my worth and rely up on me.
- The Telephone - In my opinion there's no substitute for a quick catch-up. Short scheduled chats are best, but informal queries can work too.
- Face to Face - Site-visits and meetings are useful when projects first get underway to build relationships, gather requirements, for important presentations and demonstrations, or signing off on project milestones. For almost anything else I prefer to use the telephone or video conferencing (Skype, Zoom, Hangouts). It saves time.
- Organisation - Email, Shared Drives (Dropbox OneDrive, Google Drive) and MS Office compatible documents (MS Office, Google Docs) are fine for small teams; Larger teams, with multiple stakeholders - agencies in particular - need something more. I recommend BaseCamp to manage and keep track of all the interactions and documentation in one place.
- Development Teams - Tracking tasks, issues\bugs, release cycles and developer schedules is best managed using Kanban boards, Trello is my favourite. For management types, who can't understand Kanban boards, I write-up regular status reports.
- Bug Tracking - Occasionally User Acceptance Testing (UAT) or public facing issue trackers require something beyond Trello boards. In these cases I favour either the default source control provider's tools or self-hosted solutions such as BugZilla or Mantis.
- Acceptance Testing - When necessary I provide staging and testing servers for clients and their UAT teams. These may take many forms but are usually installed on environments similar to the Live Production system for reasons of fidelity.
I know many blue chip organisations requiring ISO 9001 compliance or following software project management strategies - such as Yourdon's approach - require more, but in my experience small to medium software projects simply don't need it.