The Efficiency Trap

I encourage Project Managers to use tools that are portable from project to project, from team to team, and from company to company.

The common denominators are MS Project, MS Excel, MS Word, and MS Visio, MS SharePoint, and MS PowerPoint.

I use a combination of MS Project and MS Excel for the project schedule. MS Project may have the high level plan or the plan for the entire project and I may use Excel to show lower level tasks as the project enters various phases or get closer to the Go Live date.

The Project Management Plan is a narrative about how the project will be management and for that I use MS Word.

For graphics such as timelines, I use MS Visio.

For presentations, I use MS PowerPoint.

Finally, in most places these days, SharePoint is the standard tool for project documentation repository. You can also create fancy workflow processes for different things like managing requirements, issues, risks. You are only limited by how much time you devote to automating these things. I try to use the basic functionality as much as possible.

You will find these tools in 90% of the environments out there. Anything beyond these is a bonus.

As a Project Manager, I try to resist the urge to fall in love with tools and become dependent on them. It is likely that your next client, employer, or vendor never heard of your favorite tool and they have no interest in buying or leaning it.

Bottom line: try to stay an “all-terrain” PM; one that can be dropped in any environment and they can hit the ground running. More importantly: avoid the efficiency trap when making decisions about what software to use for managing your projects. It is not about how efficient you are. It is about how well you manage people.

What is your take on software for project managers? What tools do you use or recommend for project managers?

11 Responses to The Efficiency Trap
  1. Eli Rodrigues
    June 14, 2013 | 4:20 pm

    This is a subject I´ve been very concerned about!
    I´m not sure if its better to keep portability or not. My main concern is to help “tool makers” to improve their usability. In my opinion, this is the future. Intuitive (and hopefully portable) tools.
    Anyway, I still fall in love by tools and, even knowing we´re always changing caps (jobs), I often prefer to use them.
    best regards, friend.

    • samad_aidane
      June 14, 2013 | 5:30 pm

      Eli, I think as long as we follow a balanced approach to using tools, there is nothing wrong with falling in love with them.The problem is when we spend too much time in the tool and the tool becomes the focus vs. actually leading. Most importantly, because we need to be in service of others, we need to use the tools that will serve them better rather that the tools that we think will me us PMs efficient. Thanks Eli for your insight.

  2. Dave Gordon
    June 15, 2013 | 11:22 pm

    While I certainly agree that these are the common denominator for creating team documents, I also bring along other a few other tools.

    1. KeePass, to securely store my logins and passwords
    2. A programmer-quality editor, because sometimes Word is too much and Notepad is too little.
    3. Adobe Acrobat, so I can freeze our project documents as PDF files.

    I use others, but these are the ones that I use every day, on every project.

    • samad_aidane
      June 17, 2013 | 2:18 am

      Dave.

      Thank you for your contribution. These are great tools that are portable and don’t require any overhead as we go from project to project or from company to company. Thank you.

  3. […] Samad Aidane shows us his project management tool kit and interviews Jennifer McNulty and Rafa Ballesteros on managing localization projects. […]

  4. Diego Santiago
    June 18, 2013 | 9:45 pm

    I’m used to manage small teams in startups; I’ve worked a lot in startups and, in the end of the day, here in Brazil, often I could see that small companies haven’t these Microsoft solutions (belive or not)

    To adapt myself for this reality, I needed to start using on-line “cheaper” tools. So this is my actual set:

    General Documentation – google drive (docs, sheets)
    Brainstormming – mindmeister.com
    Wireframming – mockflow.com
    Base Schedule – smartsheet.com
    Task Schedule – basecamp.com
    Fluxogram – create.ly

    As I’m used to hire people in India and Pakistan, generally this tools raise the “shareness” of the project

    Have you already used this kind of on-line tools?

  5. Simon
    July 4, 2013 | 5:21 pm

    Hi Samad,

    Very good article and fully agree.

    I have seen an ever increasing push towards enterprise project platforms or cloud based SAAS. However, these all come at a high cost and are not portable.

    While using tools based on MS Office, etc gets a bad name. I find that in the majority of cases they are the right answer.

    It also means that a contract or consultant PM has a ready made toolkit with which to wow the client.

    I would also like to add that I find services such as Dropbox and Evernote very useful when I need access to my template catalogues across the globe.

    Thanks

    Simon

    • samad_aidane
      July 22, 2013 | 1:46 am

      Simon,

      Yes, I too use dropbox and evenote. They are very good tools that complements the others. I am finding that evernote is so versatile that you can use it for a lot of things. The latest for me is using it to track to-do lists. I also use it emails feature to send notes and emails that I want to read later. Very cool.

      It would be great to hear how you use evernote.

      Thank you again.

  6. Joe
    July 17, 2013 | 1:30 pm

    We use our own PM solution, TrackerSuite.Net, in house. From a vendor perspective, we’ve worked with many customers that were using an assortment of applications and spreadsheets to manage their processes. While this can work fine for smaller projects, as the project portfolio and team sizes begin to swell, they become less efficient. Several times, we’ve had clients with internal departments utilizing their own, individual solution-collections, which created issues for these organization in collating data and sharing business intelligence effectively across the enterprise.

    P.S. : Sam, shouldn’t it be “Efficiency” rather than “Efficienty”?

    • samad_aidane
      July 22, 2013 | 1:44 am

      Joe, thank you so much for your contribution. And thank you for the correction.

      I totally agree with you that when you are dealing with complex projects, such as those involving vendors, it is critical to use robust tools for tracking things like issues and defects. Would love to record a demo of TrackerSuite and the features you find useful in complex projects. Let me know if you are interested in collaborating on a demo. Thank you again.

  7. Joe
    July 30, 2013 | 6:02 pm

    That would be great Samad. I’ve sent you an email.

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Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://www.guerrillaprojectmanagement.com/the-efficiency-trap/trackback

The Efficiency Trap

I encourage Project Managers to use tools that are portable from project to project, from team to team, and from company to company.

The common denominators are MS Project, MS Excel, MS Word, and MS Visio, MS SharePoint, and MS PowerPoint.

I use a combination of MS Project and MS Excel for the project schedule. MS Project may have the high level plan or the plan for the entire project and I may use Excel to show lower level tasks as the project enters various phases or get closer to the Go Live date.

The Project Management Plan is a narrative about how the project will be management and for that I use MS Word.

For graphics such as timelines, I use MS Visio.

For presentations, I use MS PowerPoint.

Finally, in most places these days, SharePoint is the standard tool for project documentation repository. You can also create fancy workflow processes for different things like managing requirements, issues, risks. You are only limited by how much time you devote to automating these things. I try to use the basic functionality as much as possible.

You will find these tools in 90% of the environments out there. Anything beyond these is a bonus.

As a Project Manager, I try to resist the urge to fall in love with tools and become dependent on them. It is likely that your next client, employer, or vendor never heard of your favorite tool and they have no interest in buying or leaning it.

Bottom line: try to stay an “all-terrain” PM; one that can be dropped in any environment and they can hit the ground running. More importantly: avoid the efficiency trap when making decisions about what software to use for managing your projects. It is not about how efficient you are. It is about how well you manage people.

What is your take on software for project managers? What tools do you use or recommend for project managers?

11 Responses to The Efficiency Trap
  1. Eli Rodrigues
    June 14, 2013 | 4:20 pm

    This is a subject I´ve been very concerned about!
    I´m not sure if its better to keep portability or not. My main concern is to help “tool makers” to improve their usability. In my opinion, this is the future. Intuitive (and hopefully portable) tools.
    Anyway, I still fall in love by tools and, even knowing we´re always changing caps (jobs), I often prefer to use them.
    best regards, friend.

    • samad_aidane
      June 14, 2013 | 5:30 pm

      Eli, I think as long as we follow a balanced approach to using tools, there is nothing wrong with falling in love with them.The problem is when we spend too much time in the tool and the tool becomes the focus vs. actually leading. Most importantly, because we need to be in service of others, we need to use the tools that will serve them better rather that the tools that we think will me us PMs efficient. Thanks Eli for your insight.

  2. Dave Gordon
    June 15, 2013 | 11:22 pm

    While I certainly agree that these are the common denominator for creating team documents, I also bring along other a few other tools.

    1. KeePass, to securely store my logins and passwords
    2. A programmer-quality editor, because sometimes Word is too much and Notepad is too little.
    3. Adobe Acrobat, so I can freeze our project documents as PDF files.

    I use others, but these are the ones that I use every day, on every project.

    • samad_aidane
      June 17, 2013 | 2:18 am

      Dave.

      Thank you for your contribution. These are great tools that are portable and don’t require any overhead as we go from project to project or from company to company. Thank you.

  3. […] Samad Aidane shows us his project management tool kit and interviews Jennifer McNulty and Rafa Ballesteros on managing localization projects. […]

  4. Diego Santiago
    June 18, 2013 | 9:45 pm

    I’m used to manage small teams in startups; I’ve worked a lot in startups and, in the end of the day, here in Brazil, often I could see that small companies haven’t these Microsoft solutions (belive or not)

    To adapt myself for this reality, I needed to start using on-line “cheaper” tools. So this is my actual set:

    General Documentation – google drive (docs, sheets)
    Brainstormming – mindmeister.com
    Wireframming – mockflow.com
    Base Schedule – smartsheet.com
    Task Schedule – basecamp.com
    Fluxogram – create.ly

    As I’m used to hire people in India and Pakistan, generally this tools raise the “shareness” of the project

    Have you already used this kind of on-line tools?

  5. Simon
    July 4, 2013 | 5:21 pm

    Hi Samad,

    Very good article and fully agree.

    I have seen an ever increasing push towards enterprise project platforms or cloud based SAAS. However, these all come at a high cost and are not portable.

    While using tools based on MS Office, etc gets a bad name. I find that in the majority of cases they are the right answer.

    It also means that a contract or consultant PM has a ready made toolkit with which to wow the client.

    I would also like to add that I find services such as Dropbox and Evernote very useful when I need access to my template catalogues across the globe.

    Thanks

    Simon

    • samad_aidane
      July 22, 2013 | 1:46 am

      Simon,

      Yes, I too use dropbox and evenote. They are very good tools that complements the others. I am finding that evernote is so versatile that you can use it for a lot of things. The latest for me is using it to track to-do lists. I also use it emails feature to send notes and emails that I want to read later. Very cool.

      It would be great to hear how you use evernote.

      Thank you again.

  6. Joe
    July 17, 2013 | 1:30 pm

    We use our own PM solution, TrackerSuite.Net, in house. From a vendor perspective, we’ve worked with many customers that were using an assortment of applications and spreadsheets to manage their processes. While this can work fine for smaller projects, as the project portfolio and team sizes begin to swell, they become less efficient. Several times, we’ve had clients with internal departments utilizing their own, individual solution-collections, which created issues for these organization in collating data and sharing business intelligence effectively across the enterprise.

    P.S. : Sam, shouldn’t it be “Efficiency” rather than “Efficienty”?

    • samad_aidane
      July 22, 2013 | 1:44 am

      Joe, thank you so much for your contribution. And thank you for the correction.

      I totally agree with you that when you are dealing with complex projects, such as those involving vendors, it is critical to use robust tools for tracking things like issues and defects. Would love to record a demo of TrackerSuite and the features you find useful in complex projects. Let me know if you are interested in collaborating on a demo. Thank you again.

  7. Joe
    July 30, 2013 | 6:02 pm

    That would be great Samad. I’ve sent you an email.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://www.guerrillaprojectmanagement.com/the-efficiency-trap/trackback

The Efficiency Trap

I encourage Project Managers to use tools that are portable from project to project, from team to team, and from company to company.

The common denominators are MS Project, MS Excel, MS Word, and MS Visio, MS SharePoint, and MS PowerPoint.

I use a combination of MS Project and MS Excel for the project schedule. MS Project may have the high level plan or the plan for the entire project and I may use Excel to show lower level tasks as the project enters various phases or get closer to the Go Live date.

The Project Management Plan is a narrative about how the project will be management and for that I use MS Word.

For graphics such as timelines, I use MS Visio.

For presentations, I use MS PowerPoint.

Finally, in most places these days, SharePoint is the standard tool for project documentation repository. You can also create fancy workflow processes for different things like managing requirements, issues, risks. You are only limited by how much time you devote to automating these things. I try to use the basic functionality as much as possible.

You will find these tools in 90% of the environments out there. Anything beyond these is a bonus.

As a Project Manager, I try to resist the urge to fall in love with tools and become dependent on them. It is likely that your next client, employer, or vendor never heard of your favorite tool and they have no interest in buying or leaning it.

Bottom line: try to stay an “all-terrain” PM; one that can be dropped in any environment and they can hit the ground running. More importantly: avoid the efficiency trap when making decisions about what software to use for managing your projects. It is not about how efficient you are. It is about how well you manage people.

What is your take on software for project managers? What tools do you use or recommend for project managers?

11 Responses to The Efficiency Trap
  1. Eli Rodrigues
    June 14, 2013 | 4:20 pm

    This is a subject I´ve been very concerned about!
    I´m not sure if its better to keep portability or not. My main concern is to help “tool makers” to improve their usability. In my opinion, this is the future. Intuitive (and hopefully portable) tools.
    Anyway, I still fall in love by tools and, even knowing we´re always changing caps (jobs), I often prefer to use them.
    best regards, friend.

    • samad_aidane
      June 14, 2013 | 5:30 pm

      Eli, I think as long as we follow a balanced approach to using tools, there is nothing wrong with falling in love with them.The problem is when we spend too much time in the tool and the tool becomes the focus vs. actually leading. Most importantly, because we need to be in service of others, we need to use the tools that will serve them better rather that the tools that we think will me us PMs efficient. Thanks Eli for your insight.

  2. Dave Gordon
    June 15, 2013 | 11:22 pm

    While I certainly agree that these are the common denominator for creating team documents, I also bring along other a few other tools.

    1. KeePass, to securely store my logins and passwords
    2. A programmer-quality editor, because sometimes Word is too much and Notepad is too little.
    3. Adobe Acrobat, so I can freeze our project documents as PDF files.

    I use others, but these are the ones that I use every day, on every project.

    • samad_aidane
      June 17, 2013 | 2:18 am

      Dave.

      Thank you for your contribution. These are great tools that are portable and don’t require any overhead as we go from project to project or from company to company. Thank you.

  3. […] Samad Aidane shows us his project management tool kit and interviews Jennifer McNulty and Rafa Ballesteros on managing localization projects. […]

  4. Diego Santiago
    June 18, 2013 | 9:45 pm

    I’m used to manage small teams in startups; I’ve worked a lot in startups and, in the end of the day, here in Brazil, often I could see that small companies haven’t these Microsoft solutions (belive or not)

    To adapt myself for this reality, I needed to start using on-line “cheaper” tools. So this is my actual set:

    General Documentation – google drive (docs, sheets)
    Brainstormming – mindmeister.com
    Wireframming – mockflow.com
    Base Schedule – smartsheet.com
    Task Schedule – basecamp.com
    Fluxogram – create.ly

    As I’m used to hire people in India and Pakistan, generally this tools raise the “shareness” of the project

    Have you already used this kind of on-line tools?

  5. Simon
    July 4, 2013 | 5:21 pm

    Hi Samad,

    Very good article and fully agree.

    I have seen an ever increasing push towards enterprise project platforms or cloud based SAAS. However, these all come at a high cost and are not portable.

    While using tools based on MS Office, etc gets a bad name. I find that in the majority of cases they are the right answer.

    It also means that a contract or consultant PM has a ready made toolkit with which to wow the client.

    I would also like to add that I find services such as Dropbox and Evernote very useful when I need access to my template catalogues across the globe.

    Thanks

    Simon

    • samad_aidane
      July 22, 2013 | 1:46 am

      Simon,

      Yes, I too use dropbox and evenote. They are very good tools that complements the others. I am finding that evernote is so versatile that you can use it for a lot of things. The latest for me is using it to track to-do lists. I also use it emails feature to send notes and emails that I want to read later. Very cool.

      It would be great to hear how you use evernote.

      Thank you again.

  6. Joe
    July 17, 2013 | 1:30 pm

    We use our own PM solution, TrackerSuite.Net, in house. From a vendor perspective, we’ve worked with many customers that were using an assortment of applications and spreadsheets to manage their processes. While this can work fine for smaller projects, as the project portfolio and team sizes begin to swell, they become less efficient. Several times, we’ve had clients with internal departments utilizing their own, individual solution-collections, which created issues for these organization in collating data and sharing business intelligence effectively across the enterprise.

    P.S. : Sam, shouldn’t it be “Efficiency” rather than “Efficienty”?

    • samad_aidane
      July 22, 2013 | 1:44 am

      Joe, thank you so much for your contribution. And thank you for the correction.

      I totally agree with you that when you are dealing with complex projects, such as those involving vendors, it is critical to use robust tools for tracking things like issues and defects. Would love to record a demo of TrackerSuite and the features you find useful in complex projects. Let me know if you are interested in collaborating on a demo. Thank you again.

  7. Joe
    July 30, 2013 | 6:02 pm

    That would be great Samad. I’ve sent you an email.

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