In our July 24, 2012 blog post “Using Hashtags in Microsoft Outlook as a Project Management Strategy,” I discussed strategies we employ at Sector Learning Solutions to manage smaller, internal projects using tools such as Microsoft Outlook.
In that post, I mentioned that we manage our larger client-based projects using Microsoft SharePoint 2010. Our management team prefers to use SharePoint for administrating projects because when it comes to collaboration, SharePoint is the Leatherman of multi-tools. Sure, Outlook is comparable to a Swiss Army Knife- reputable, reliable and familiar- but when it comes to selecting a place to store and locate “one version of the truth,” it tends to fall short.
“Email is a victim of its own success,” says Sector Learning Solutions’ CEO Gerry Brimacombe. “I get so much email, spam and legit[imate], that it is really not a good place for me to store or even receive information. By creating and using SharePoint sites to store project documents and project team members’ contact information, it helps me to breathe easy to know where to find the information I need, and know that it is the latest version.”
“And let’s face it; we use a lot of subcontractors who (like me) often work from home offices. Having a “home page” for every project, which all team members can access, just makes life easier and more efficient for our clients”.
When discussing Project Management tools, Microsoft Project certainly deserves a mention. It is a super powerful tool – yet using it often feels like using an angle grinder to file your nails. Sure, it works and boy does it get the job done, but its overkill – and over-complicating a situation can be dangerous. “Sometimes the overhead of using a powerful tool just doesn’t always pay off,” says Gerry. “I know several senior project managers that choose to not use MS Project, or they use it to plan a project but not manage it.”
MS Project is certainly the right fit for your needs when planning projects that require tracking dependencies, managing costs, and calculating Earned Value, yet when it comes time to manage the project by sharing information and communicating tasks, deadlines, issues and risks its functionality is moot.
According to the Gartner Group, the number one reason that projects fail is due to communication issues. Since MS Project doesn’t directly help project communication, a strategically planned project requires additional tools to allocate tasks to project team members to ensure deadlines and budgets are met.