Project Management Simplified For Technical Groups (Part 1 of 2)
Many technical employees will need to run some type of project during their career as more and more companies are driving visual metrics throughout their departments. Whether you are involved in a small or large company, time is almost always at a premium, and hiring additional employees is rarely the first choice with senior management when the activity levels pick up.
Managing people resources, as with time, is a very important aspect of project management. Most of those employees are very technically competent, but typically lack essential project management skills for Gantt charts. Each task needs a time duration and potential linkage to other tasks or milestones, which can become overwhelming due to their lack of training, experience, and the complexity of programs like MS Project software.
For the trained professionals that choose to work in the Project Management field, MS Project is great software. Loading a large project and finding dual critical paths with a few clicks of the mouse is great. But not all projects are large, extremely complicated, or run by highly trained employees.
For manufacturing, quality, and facility engineers, as well as lab personnel, finance, IT, HR, and other support functions, a simpler type of creating and displaying their projects with a visual status indicator for weekly reviews seems appropriate.
A timeline ‘master’ generated from MS Visio may just be the software you need to provide a solution. See the sample project timeline below.
Visio is usually used for process charts, organization charts, workflow diagrams, and others similar needs. It works great for those applications as well as a timeline template. By creating a master template for others to customize their projects, uniform timelines will be easier to read, all the necessary information should be there and properly filled out, and the project status indicator is great for quick glances to see how projects are doing. This type of project status, with a single timeline, also shows well in meetings or teleconferences due to its simplicity compared to a multi-task Gantt chart.
For companies that already use MS Visio, the templates are there for you to customize for your needs. This software is much less expensive than MS Project and has other uses mentioned above that are typically needed in the medical device arena. For Part 2 of the Project Management blog, I will discuss why the template contains the information it has and why it is important to list these items.