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Thread: project/task managment help needed

  1. #1
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    project/task managment help needed

    Some of you may have some experience in this area so I am looking for some input.

    I need to track progress in several projects. I have tried project management software review searches and task management software reviews. I may need better terminology for search parameters.

    As an example: to track the progress of the house build, I would need to be able to develop specific templates to fill in and then to display the progress maybe as a bar chart. I also would want it to populate calendar task dates and deadlines, and alert decision points in the process. There appears to be many bull pucky artists to mucky up the waters about what is needed and when.

    To further the example, I would like to be able to input the county requirements in multiple areas to create a task group with the above features.

    Another project is the tractor project that I need to track. This way when I am out and about there maybe things I can pick up on the way elsewhere, saving me a special trip.

    I do not expect a piece of software out there that will do what I would like, let alone being able to afford it! So something kind of open and able to customize it with a really low price tag - like free is good.

    Better Google search terms would really be helpful!

    Asking for a lot, I know. But if I don't ask, I will never know. Some of you may work with something like this on your day job, so your input is invaluable.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  2. #2
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    Take a look at https://app.asana.com/

    I know my boss likes it.

    I haven't gone into it in all that much detail, but I think it could help.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  3. #3
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    Thanks, Brent. That one is team based. There is just me. Logging in to review the thing rubs my fur the wrong way. Shout's 'expensive' to me. Sounds full of itself. I expect using software to alter the way I do things, but I want a choice in that area. Not gonna change my whole life and the way I am comfortable getting things done to become a slave of a software program. I just want to know where I am in the process for each project.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  4. #4
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    Well, You could be a team of one. It's free for teams of less than 15.

    All software comes with a learning curve, which requires effort.

    Knowing you, I'm really thinking you'd be better off with some graph paper and post it notes.

    Actually, Sharon and I use our french door with divided windows as a 'project management' system with postit notes.
    We have sections setup as to do, in process, and completed. It actually doesn't work that bad.

    Sometimes, trying to do things on a computer requires more time and effort than it would other wise.

    And trust me, any project management software you look at will require you to not only alter the way you do things, but also the way you think.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    ...And trust me, any project management software you look at will require you to not only alter the way you do things, but also the way you think.
    This bears repeating.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
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    I'm not even kidding about a whiteboard and post it notes.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  7. #7
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    It has its merits, Brent, but no room in the motorhome. I need to go digital.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  8. #8
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    Here are a couple in the right price range. Personally I find most of them rather cumbersome, and mostly use a spreadsheet or (more commonly) a whiteboard.

    Project libre has a Mac version and is closer to the ancient versions of ms project that mostly provides a slightly more advanced gant chart. If you want something relatively simple and cheap and Brent's window of postits or the whiteboard isn't cutting the mustard this would be IMHO one of your best bets.

    http://www.projectlibre.org

    Open project has a lot more features and complicated plugins, I haven't used it since near its inception so I can't really say what the current state of affairs is. Probably overly complicated. It also requires a Linux install (or at least I don't see a recent Mac build).

    https://www.openproject.org/download/

  9. #9
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    Well i use MS Project. I purchased the package and recommend it to each of my clients as part of their digital bundle to use in planning all sorts.

    You dont need to use it to the fullest extent possible to get the benefit out of it.

    You dont need the latest version if you look around you could probably find a version of MS Project 2003 .

    I find the issue in application of this kind of software is that people get too anal on the issue of the time period being managed. No point in planning in hours and having events that are going to overun in weeks. Implying one is going to micro manage some tasks and abdicate control of others.

    The other thing is it can become what i call a fat frog sitting in the corner that demands to be fed worms in order to function. But it cannot work miracles either so one has to upfront acknowledge that its a form or admin just like a workshop set of draws that if not kept organized once setup then its purpose will become null and void.

    So one has to have the discipline to devote time to it and maintain the project plan when things change and then take action to keep project plan on track.

    This implies a few things.

    In essence for the real value to be derived, one has to recognize some of the basics of what a project is and ask what is important in this project.

    A project has a start and an end. In between are a set of multi disciplinary tasks that all have a duration and require resources.

    The object is to organize and schedule the tasks, assign resources to them, and track the various tasks progress towards completion.

    Part of the process of organizing is to link tasks together in order to get a gantt chart established which will show you a graphical picture of the project. By linking the tasks one then can establish the end date and from that the critical path through the project.

    The critical path is the key to focus on if the project end date is a "drop dead" date. Meaning it cannot be moved or where there is little desire to see it move.

    Some of this plays a greater role when big money, cash flows, and penalties are included in the terms and conditions of the projects scope. Think in terms of corporations looking to launch a new product etc within a specific time frame to have a desire impact on the financial year.

    In a situation where the end date is not movable then the issue of resource really comes into play to "buy time". Think here of something like the build of a shopping mall that has a desire to open its doors just prior to a major shopping period in order to give new tenants a boost and have a successful launch. In this case if one is the project manager there is a very definite drop dead situation and one will often hear the term come up near the end "open the vaults" at which time the trades rejoice because serious overtime comes into play to achieve specific objectives.

    In essence resource = money, because you either buying the time of a contractor or buying material or equipment.

    When money is involved the very next issue is cash flow and in that case you looking to avoid laying out cash until you definitely need to.

    Consider here something like building a custom home in a high interest rate environment. Assuming there are some expensive fixtures going into a fancy custom home one does not go order and store for the duration of the project the fixtures upfront and end up paying the supplier for them and then having the interest rate clock begin ticking way before one needs to.

    The same thing can equally apply in a situation where you are perhaps looking to fund the project from earnings and therefore cash management becomes a critical part of the project and so timing and scheduling of tasks is critical rather than how long the task takes or what impact to the end date is if the task were elongated due to payments milestones.

    I think project management is one of the best professions around in my opinion. Have completed a project management diploma way back in time and used the management technique in a multitude of different businesses and industries.

    The thing that i find upsets the use of the practice in companies is the lack of recognition that inevitably it results in a matrix management style and what is needed is for the line management to allocate the resource to a project and to accept that the project invariably is representative of the customers needs.

    If more of the professional trades used this kind of management style they would do a better job of making money and of meeting customers needs resulting in exceptional reputation and the ability to command better pricing.

    Once again i don't believe in free software for this or SAAS (software as a service) for this. There is no point for a project of your kind to insist on sub contractors having to learn and subscribe to specific software to work on your project where they do the updates themselves. So there is fundamentally no need for collaboration. BTW that is done in some cases when you wish to work with big general contractors on multimillion dollar projects. It becomes a pre requisite of your bid being considered.

    There is also an app which is one of the few that i run on my samsung phone that will read a MS project file .

    One other valuable tool on the project management side which may be a winner for you given your working hours, is the project calendar. I presume if you looking to plan the house, incorporate into that the cash flow and being able to attend site meetings at a convenient time from a personal work point of view as well as contractor or inspector point of view then being able to schedule and manage all these events automaticall via the project calendar would be a huge bonus to you as you could put your work side into the same project and run work as a sub project with you being the resource and defining the time you need to be at work as non free time. This would then reflect in the main project building the house.

    It can serve as a single location where you keep contact detail for all the resources to be used in the building of the house, so you have a single place where the whole lot is stored in one file but integrated together.

    In your case unless its vital for some or other reason i would not focus on trying to do a planned versus actual tracking of the project. This is a great deal of work especially for someone new to a package that has a broader planning need rather than a drop dead date need.

    Email me if you need more. I see Amazon has the old 2003 version available new for around $130. I run it on win 7 and have no issues todate. I don't use it like i used to back in the day when i had 7 project managers reporting to me and managed projects for a corporate entity.

    I have no idea what is available for apple products in this case. My two cents would be consider buying a dedicated cheap windows notebook if thats an issue and just use it to run the project.

    I also have not upgraded my project management software to 2007 or 2010 as i have done in the case of office so i have no idea if integration between the project package or 2007 / 2010 office package is available.

    I generally use this to help clients schedule activities that are tied to their annual budget and demonstrate to them that its not the money availability that delays growth its the capacity to get the task that will create growth done and done in a time frame such that it impacts the financial period desired. Its a game changer to me for small business but they need to learn more than their trade to get the benefit.
    cheers

  10. #10
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    That may be the single longest post in history!
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