The 3 facets of Project Management
And the best tools to address them
If you look up “project management tools” on your search engine of preference, you’ll find listicles and “Top X” articles. This is not one of them.
I personally tackle project management with wary hands and a reserved attitude. I’m not a good project manager. But the people I work with are. Dragos is an awesome Product Manager and Emil is brilliant at making big projects seem small. So YArooms’ founding members have Project Management tamed and subdued.
We’ve gone through many a change when it comes to using software to help with our tasks, but the ones I’ve selected for this post are the ones we seem to have stuck with the most.
Before we delve into what each of them does best and why they should be used in conjuction with one another, I’d like to dissect a bit what I believe is the threesome nature of Project Management. The tools come and go, but the underlying needs they fulfill stay the same.
Huge projects are difficult to handle. The team never knows where to begin, the work is not very rewarding and losing interest can be a real problem. What good PMs do is take the goal of the endeavour and split it into several smaller ones. They then take those and repeat the process, until people like me know that by the end of the day they need to produce 3 articles like this one, 4 headlines and a couple of other materials. The tasks become tangible, measurable and trackable. They can fill GANTT charts, which help PMs negotiate deadlines and (if needed) set reminders and avoid micromanagement.
Even more than that, this creates a sense of accomplishment. You feel good about something you crossed off the list, rather than think of all the things that are not yet dealt with.
So at the very core of Project Management is the Work Breakdown Structure. The WBS. But, on its own, it doesn’t fare well. It needs...
It’s crucial everyone knows what their roles are. What shoes they’re supposed to fill on each project. In startups, everyone wears multiple hats - so clear-role attribution on each project is a must, if work is to be efficiently done. Big companies also benefit from this, as their teams tend to mix depending on various circumstances.
The list of responsibilities also helps new project managers to get a better grip on projects unknown to them AND account managers keep a clear view over what happens without having to ask. This brings clarity to the work process, which can only benefit the team.
The Responsibilist is the list of responsibilities. Simple as that - you take a project, map the goals that need to be achieved, create the roles to achieve them and assign those roles to people in a list.
The Task List
Now, this is something everyone is familiar with. The laundry list of all tasks that need to be completed, along with their deadlines. Worker bees’ jobs are simple - go out of the hive, find flower, gather polen, come back to hive, make honey & wax. There are still jobs that can be broken up in a simple pattern like that one, day in day out. But, then again, those don’t really need Project Management, do they?
Ok, so what do we use?
For the WBS, Smartsheet is one thing that can do wonders for your operation. You have all the benefits of creating your WBS in a spreadsheet - simplicity, speed, ease of editing and it automagically creates your gantt charts for you. You can also assign responsibilities from within the app, although it won’t help you much. That’s why we complement Smartsheet with...
This app has been around for quite some time now. Originally one of many products the devs cooked up, it quickly gained popularity and stole the limelight. The guys behind it devote 100% of their time to creating an awesome task-management product. Projects get tasks & people assigned to them, while tasks can have a due-date and a comments section. It can get crowded, though, so we make use of…
You can consider Trello Basecamp’s little cousin. They do mostly the same things.
So we use it to keep track of the big things in projects, add quick notes/memos, attach resources and guidelines to each project. It’s more of a transitioning app between Smartsheet and Basecamp. You can leave it out, of course, but you probably shouldn’t.
What Do You Use?