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  • Program or portfolio management

    I am a recent convert to GTD and have found it incredibly useful. I have a question about how to use this approach to manage multiple projects that my team are working on. How can I use GTD to assist me in keeping up to date with the progress of possibly up to 25 projects that my team are working on at any one time?

    I am also a big fan of MindJet's Mindmanager and have used that and GTD to assist me in strategising, planning and getting on top of most of my work, my last unanswered area is this program or portfolio management of multiple projects that I am not personally managing but am accountable for via my team. Your thoughts and ideas would be most welcome.

  • #2
    I've been through some of the courses and webinars, looking for answers to that myself. Some of the recommended solutions involve either prefixing your projects with an area of focus (or a program/portfolio in your case), or even using multiple Projects lists, such as one Projects list for each program/portfolio aside your own personal Projects list. You can also have a "Projects - Delegated" list. Kind of like a waiting for list for projects where you are accountable, but not directly involved.

    Hope that helps!


    • #3
      Originally posted by Mksilk View Post
      How can I use GTD to assist me in keeping up to date with the progress of possibly up to 25 projects that my team are working on at any one time?
      Hmmm. Interesting. Without knowing anything really about what you're up to, I would suggest considering this opportunity within the framework of the Workflow. That is:

      1. Collecting
      2. Processing
      3. Organizing
      4. Reviewing
      5. Doing

      If there's a problem in any one of these steps, then there's going to be a problem overall. But if those are all working well, then I can't really see any way for a problem to exist. I'd consider them in this order, too; sometimes something will look like an Organizing problem when in fact it's a Processing problem that is trickling down.

      To get you started: Collecting -- are you receiving enough data from the team members and other sources to be able to succeed? This is necessarily a prerequisite for everything that follows.



      • #4
        How I do it (and it works!)

        Hello MK,

        I also am relatively new to GTD. I had been reading about it, and listening to anything free I could find online, ever since I heard in interview with Allen on NPR - everything he said made me say "whoah! this is what I need!". So I scoured the internet - and, to be honest, implemented GTD without buying the books (or anything). Of course, that was 2 months ago, I now have Making It All Work and Getting Things Done, and I have to say, both books are necessary in my opinion, to fully grasp each concept, and implement.

        So anyways, here is how I do projects with GTD. First of all, Projects as defined by Allen are things with more than one step, and that is fine. For work purposes, there are things that have more than one step that I could call projects, but then there are also REAL projects I do for my company as a business analyst.

        Simply put, a project just needs a name. I do ALL (personal, work, every horizon, from oil change to skip/trace projects to meditation to my relationship with my wife and kids) on one, single tab in excel. My columns are: Project List, Sort, Type, Project Status, Desired Outcome, Tickler Date, Next Action, Context, Next Action Status, Date Completed, and Notes.

        Here is how I use it, and I am surprised Allen does not mention GTD in this context: I use it not just as a tracking tool...but a REPORTING tool. When my manager asks how "project x" is going, I can sort my giant list to only show me "project x" - then I see ANYTHING that is project x - each task, each "wait for" item, each next action, etc. I can even choose to not show anything marked "Done" so I only see my outstanding stuff - or the opposite = show only what has been done, along with the date completed. This has REVOLUTIONIZED my project management, as I am perpetually involved in multiple long and short term projects, some have teams, some are just me, some start as me, and evolve into giant corporate initiatives. So haveing this big tracking system is extremely helpful.

        Here is how I use the columns:
        Project List - where I name the project (each project might have 20 rows - I do a new row for each action)

        Sort - this is so I show only what I want from these categories: next action, project, waiting for, SDM. ~ SDM = someday maybe

        Type - kind of like areas of focus - these are my sub categories, I currently have: home, work, self, finance, car, education, family. I use this kind of like Allen's context, but also as an area of focus...I can select "work" and see only things pertaining to my job. I can select "self" and see only things I want to do in my own mind or for myself (i.e. meditate, workout, buy cool gadget, etc.)

        Project Status - this is where I have: deferred ASAP (do as soon as I can), Delegated (Gave to someone else), Waiting for, Deferred Tickler (meaning it is either in my physical tickler file, designated by a due date, or in my outlook tickler file I made (literally just a folder, send myself an email, and the subject line is the due date and a short I can sort by subject and see my tickler in date order). Of course, there is also "Done".

        Desired Outcome? - this is the most important part to me, and really helps guide focus - this is the only one I let be fully expanded so it shows the entire column/cell

        Tickler Due Date - if tickled for later on, and it is on this list, then the date I want to look at it is in this column

        Next Action - literally a description of the next action, here is one of my real next actions: get recorder out of the car, get new batteries, make sure it works

        Context - this is the more traditional "David Allen style" context list: phone, internet, office, home, in meeting, yard, people, anywhere, stores, specific to task. "Specific to Task" tells me to look at the next action - example of where I would use this is if the next task is blood mobile, donate blood...I would put specific to task, as this is a special circumstance, and I prefer to keep my context list simple.

        Next Action Status - project status has the status of the project itself, this is the status of just this next, while the project itself might be ongoing, one task of the project might be delegated (I gave it to someone else) while another task is mine but I am waiting on data from someone (This would be a wait for task) - this way, I can look at all of my "wait for" next actions for instance, and follow up on them all in under an hour.

        Date Completed - normally not a need in GTD, but like I said, I use GTD as a reporting tool. I literally have been copying/pasting my GTD list for all of my projects, big and small, and also for my yearly scorecard, which determines my yearly raise - and I can tell you, it is already paying dividends, I expect to have a great review for 2013, even though only the final months did I start using GTD.

        Notes - this is where miscellaneous ancillary data goes about the task - this is part motivator, as I put what "happened" here, but also as a little reference place to store things that dont fit into the previous columns. For instance, I had to call to cancel my freescore subscription...put it off forever, because I hate talking to people on the phone. I did it, and put in my notes: called; got transferred; they cancelled it, and only question was "why" - easy, under 2 min.
        Now - I did that because, I am now building a list of "done" calls, and all the notes look good, very successful and easy. So now, when I sort by "phone", I am psychologically like "yeah, I can knock these out, the others were so easy, let's do it!".

        I will also use this for things like "contacted Alicia about call data - Alicia seems scattered - will need consistent reminding to get me the data I need" - just little things for myself so when I sort by project, I get all my "peripheral thoughts" too.

        I have attached my excel version of GTD, blanked out. You could use it/modify it if you want, or at least, see how someone is doing it, as that may help.

        There are 4 tabs in this excel document - this document, my physical reference file, physical tickler file, physical inbox at home, and my outlook - are my "buckets" - basically the only places I need to go to find anything at all. And for the most part, everything in my life is on one tab...the GTD tab.

        Here are the four tabs:
        Overview - just key GTD things I like to see, to keep me on track, more like an "inspirational/reminder" tab.

        GTD - this is what I described above - I do EVERYTHING out of here, seriously everything.

        Weekly Review - this is my own guide to my weekly review, kind of like my trigger list of trigger lists!

        References - just like it sounds, I find cool stuff, I put it here. I also have a simplified "day planner" - this I use on the fly...example: if tomorrow I will try to do 5 things from my list, I will place them on here, try to figure out when I would do them...realize that I cant, get rid of one or two...then adequately schedule the rest, and this is so I wake up with an idea of what I would be doing and when - I only use this when I know I have a lot of free time, and need to figure out how to run the "Free day" I have.

        Well I hope this helps you,


        • #5

          Interesting. I'll give it a try in work environment.


          • #6
            Delegated Projects - very work specific

            The solution to this will depend very much on the nature of your work and your relationship with those to whom the project is being delegated.

            There is some great food for thought in the previous posts. I, too, use an Excel sheet for tracking my delegated projects (and by "project" I mean a well-defined process here at work - the widgets we crank out). I currently have 232 delegated projects that have a very well-defined beginning, process, and end. They can take from 8 weeks to many years to reach completion and are very often in the state of waiting for input from others.

            If you really only have 25 delegated projects you may find keeping a Projects-Delegated list in the same system as the rest of your personal GTD works just fine. But when I first started implementing GTD I tried to keep them all in my own personal GTD system and found it was overwhelming.

            In my case, I sort the Excel list by who I've delegated the project to and print it out when I meet with them to discuss the progress of each project and anything causing delays, interruptions etc.

            Anything that I personally have to do outside of the pre-defined process that relates to one of these projects will still be on my list. For example, if I have been requested to provide notes to senior management or the media on the status of a project, that becomes either a project or next action for me. If I ask someone to provide me with a summary of the issues, it goes on my waiting-for list.


            • #7
              Spreadsheet file.

              Am I missing something, or do I just not see the file attachment. I'd like to look at your blanked out template please.



              • #8
                Yes Sorry! Size limit got me

                Yes sorry about that - looks liek the file size is my issue - I will try to scrunch it down, then repost it (or, post one tab at a time).

                Originally posted by Cognitor View Post
                Am I missing something, or do I just not see the file attachment. I'd like to look at your blanked out template please.



                • #9
                  Excel Tabs

                  Here you go

                  Originally posted by Cognitor View Post
                  Am I missing something, or do I just not see the file attachment. I'd like to look at your blanked out template please.

                  Attached Files


                  • #10

                    Originally posted by ChrisCooper View Post
                    Here you go
                    Nice template. Thank you so much for sharing. Happy New Year!


                    • #11
                      No problem!

                      Thanks! Happy New Year to you as well!

                      If anyone has any questions on how I use it or anything, feel free to let me know - everytime I explain it to someone, it helps me further customize/improve it. When I explained it to my boss with my first draft, he ended up giving me so many cool ideas with his questions that I arrived at what I have now.

                      Originally posted by Cognitor View Post
                      Nice template. Thank you so much for sharing. Happy New Year!