Which tool, which tool

One of the challenges we face as project and program managers is the lure of new and bigger tools. And, while I do like saving time with cool new tools, I have learned to ask more questions before diving in.

  • What problem are we solving with this tool?
  • What is being automated?
  • What were the pros and cons of the old way? Versus the new way with the new tool?
  • Who are the stakeholders? And what are their needs?
  • Is this the most effective tool for the job? Why or why not?

On a very practical level, I would like to share a lightweight “tool” that I’ve found to be quite effective for smaller projects, and for sharing release level status wit stakeholders of many types.

It’s called the one page project plan and is described in some detail in this book www.oppmi.com .

Here is a version that we created for the PMI Agile teams. In this case, we called it a dashboard … you can view an example from one of several teams here (google drive /google docs /anyone with the link can view).

For scrum, I’ve found that the most effective tool is stickies on a wall for a co-located team. And Word or Excel printed as one page dashboards for stakeholder communication. For distributed teams we’ve used SeeNowDo. And are migrating to Jira + Greenhopper. For backlog management we’ve used Rally. None of these tools is perfect – including my favorite – stickies on a wall. 

My main point is not to sell you these or any other tool. But rather to encourage you to think differently about the tools that you are currently employing, and the ones that you hope to introduce soon.

Start with the simplest version that works,  start lightweight. Then layer on complexity as needed. 

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