Please note, new blog at http://www.acheron.org/darryl/

Project management using spreadsheets

I've recently been given more responsibility for managing projects and people's time at work. In previous roles I've used Microsoft Project a fair bit, but unless you've got Project Server, then it is a little difficult to manage multiple projects across an enterprise. What I've come up with are a series of shared Excel spreadsheets.
  1. Project Summary and year planner: Lists all projects, current and previous, and shows the current status, the project manager (we have more than one), sponsor and expected start/end dates.
  2. Project tasks: Lists all tasks within a project, showing the status of each task, the expected hours, actual hours and general comments (and in some cases instructions). The idea is that each task can also have an accompanying Word document that is the specification. A seperate sheet within the workbook displays sub-tasks for a particular task using the same format.
  3. Team member tasks: Lists all tasks that have been assigned to a team member based on tasks within the Project task spreadsheet. Each team member has a seperate sheet. Tasks here can optionally show the ID of the related task in the project task sheet, meaning a project task could be split into multiple individual tasks.
What does everyone else use to manage projects and tasks? My solution is really quite "cheap", but there is of course a manual overhead.

By Anonymous Mujeebur Rahmansaher, at 1/08/2006 09:56:00 am  

Have you tried using an appication for Project Management.Take a look at this Free Open Source you can make use of...

http://netoffice.sourceforge.net/demo/general/login.php



By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/08/2006 10:32:00 am  

you have to try this, especially useful if the team is split up geographically

http://www.basecamphq.com/



By Blogger Darryl Lyons, at 1/08/2006 11:00:00 am  

Thanks. I'll check them out. The beauty of using the spreadsheets is that I can distribute to most of the enterprise without any licensing issues. Open source however is something that is worth looking into.

Eclipse plugin would even be better :)



By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/08/2006 12:49:00 pm  

I just read an article about exactly the same thing...

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000245.html

Note the date :)

Jim



By Anonymous John, at 1/08/2006 02:26:00 pm  

was jsut gonna post the same thing. Not exactly a new discovery :)



By Anonymous Scott Barnes, at 1/08/2006 03:51:00 pm  

Excel works fine, as unless you want to adopt a project management methodology (and they can be long winded) its probably the safer bet.

You might want to look into this book: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/appliedprojectmgmt/index.html for information on project management techniques, in that its one thing to use excel to "record" status, but another to manage it ? ie .. code reviews, estimations and all that crap.

Its a really good book and really makes you stop and think about various PM software and how they relate to Coldfusion + Other technology development.



By Blogger Darryl Lyons, at 1/08/2006 06:33:00 pm  

Scott, yeah, I guess that was my point in the end. Recording and managing are two different things. All I am trying to do is record what needs to be done on a project by project basis.

Even with Project and other software systems, there will always be a manual component. It's what the software brings to the process that I am ultimately interested in.



By Anonymous Aaron West, at 1/09/2006 04:39:00 am  

Hey Darryl, have you checked out DotProject? It's dubbed as a project management tool but it does much more than that.

See what you think:
http://www.dotproject.net/



By Anonymous Scott Barnes, at 1/09/2006 06:26:00 am  

Darryl,

Yeah, task management is an art hehe.

You'll do fine though, right man for the job and all.

Good luck



By Blogger Darryl Lyons, at 1/09/2006 07:50:00 pm  

Dot project looks interesting. I'll play with it a bit later.



By Anonymous Mujeebur Rahmansaher, at 1/10/2006 03:46:00 am  

http://proj.chbs.dk/

Take a complete list of these !



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By Blogger Joe Piekarz, President ACTUS Technology, at 10/03/2011 01:05:00 am  

Have you looked at www.timeXchange.net? It's inexpensive like a spreadsheet, yet robust like an application.



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By Blogger Kylie Wilson, at 7/03/2014 09:55:00 pm  

To stop making avoidable mistakes in project management one can also try attending good PMP classes conducted by any of the PMI registered REP's for gainig expertise best processes of project management. Any good PMP prep course will provide students with lots of actionable insights in project management along with preparing them for PMP certification.



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