People often question why we advocate for managing projects online. I like to reply with an example from my own experience, and say I wasn’t meant to be born any earlier than I was, for I’ve been able to enjoy the fun of the disco era and now the benefits of the technology age. We can laugh over those back-in-the-day disco queen stories, but talk about what that era meant for project managers and you quickly understand it was not a picnic. When I first started managing projects I would build my schedules, timelines and milestones on big wall calendars. We actually used to put task on them as well, but when changes occurred it was disaster. So we learned to not write in permanent ink on the calendar and to create our own little pieces of paper and stick them to the calendar. Those were the days before dry erase boards and sticky notes, so when they came out we thought it was the greatest thing. The point is that when changes occurred it was a nightmare—processes, task, deliverables, dependencies, critical paths, GANTT charts, can you imagine? A single process might look like a series of steps that indicated to go look at a book here and process there. It was just this long process of task deliverables and dependencies and I used to spend countless hours/days/weekends changing it all around. So while I enjoyed the benefits of the disco days, I did not enjoy the lack of tools and technology. So for me, being a technology woman now, I love being able to manage projects online because of the many benefits and efficiency it brings to my work.
If you are still asking yourself whether or not offline is better than online, and are still using some of those tools and techniques from a former era, rest assured that while they may work, there is an easier way.
- Online allows you to track everything real-time. You can drag and drop, delete, edit and track instead of managing all of that information offline. Your team members, stakeholders, etc., can go in and track their expenses, time and status real-time also.
- Online allows you to create customizable reports and dashboards. Your project team members may need to look at specific details or only their task and deliverables, or want to customize their own dashboards. You can create your own schedules, timeline, milestone reports, and allow your executives, stakeholders or change control board members access to create their own dashboards so they can see what they want to see. You never have to worry that you are not bombarding them with too much detail, or not providing enough detail.
- Online allows you to manage versions. How many times have you found yourself in nightmarish situations only to learn that you are working from an old version, it’s not the right timeline, or the right task or deliverables? With online that doesn’t happen, and people have real-time access to the current version.
- Online allows you to collaborate. You can post issues, risk, have people review documents and leave comments. You can collaborate real-time with people all over the world.
- Online allows you to recalculate and rebaseline, which could be the difference between a successful or failed project.
- Online allows you to share documents. Again, this reinforces the benefit of version control.
Over and over again I interview executives, and what they say makes them happy is a project manager and team who can mobilize, socialize and globalize quickly. That means having templates ready to go, getting your project up and running and team members on board immediately, collaborating with all team members to get inputs and ideas real-time, and giving global access to everything online. Whether your team is international, cross-country, or just in a different floor of your building, online gives you the ability to mobilize, socialize and globalize.
If you found these tips from Jennifer Whitt, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.
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