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Options for tracking delegate projects...with a catch

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  • Options for tracking delegate projects...with a catch

    I have no problems tracking delegated projects (well, OK, there are some problems), but have an interesting issue I will admit I'm having a challenge resolving.

    I supervise a staff of four. Not only do I need to know what they're doing, but we all need to know, to some extent, what everyone else is doing. When one of the four is out sick, the big boss will often come to rest of us wanting to know the status of a certain project. Or, Chris was supposed to write a response for politician Smith, but Chris isn't here today and where's the letter? Politician Smith wants to make sure his letter was sent and that Politician Jones received it.

    We got tired of saying, "Uummmmm...I don't know."

    I don't always control the assignments my people get. So the system cannot be managed from the top down.

    We've moved to storing all of our work files on a secure server so we at least have a shot of finding the Smith letter if asked.

    What we don't have is a way for me to get a snapshot of what everyone is doing and where they are at with their projects. We are required to use Lotus Notes and it sucks. For calendaring and e-mail, it's fine. But for this type of work, it's lacking.

    I'm getting ready to launch a secure forum (like this) that we can use. Each thread would be a project with everyone in my department posting the due dates, description, status, file location on server, etc. Once the project is completed, it will be archived.

    But, I'm hoping the productivity gurus here may have some alternate solutions. I like things to be as simple as possible so people will keep the system current.

  • #2
    Re: Project Tracking Options

    This may not meet your needs, but here's $.02 from the trenches.

    I used to manage a Kinko's, and the situation you described (multiple projects from multiple channels) is the norm. Anyone can take an order, anyone can work on an order, anyone can be asked "where the hell is my order!?"

    The solution we used was two-fold:
    LO-TECH tracking slips with project description,parameters,whatever ... always with the project so all notes on the project are in the same place.

    HI-TECH database of all projects recently completed and in the works. It tracked how the project originated, due date, etc ... but the big deal was it also logged the location and status of said project. Someone calls on the phone, says "I'm Bob Smith, how's my project coming?" ... 2 clicks later I have Bob Smith's general details up on screen ... if he had more to do or a question that required detail, I knew just where to look.

    Your forum idea sounds like a possibility for the tracking system, but you may need to add Project Files as well, a file folder, hard drive folder, excel spreadsheet page, even an Email with specific Formatting (like a Subject of 'PROJ UPDATE: Project Name') to track the annoying details like "the word file is named ... the REAL fax number is ... I left a message on Tuesday)

    I guess my final input would be to make sure it is searchable.

    Don't know if this helps,

    Bill Kracke
    Ex-Copy Guy


    • #3
      Notes can very easily handle this kind of thing, if you're willing to let it. It's practically what it was designed for - it's not called Groupware for nothing.

      Investigate the Teamroom template for a start. And get a *good* Notes consultant in to help set things up. Their knowledge of what's available in the system and how to set it up so that it works for your specific situation will more than repay the initial outlay.

      Let me know where you're located and I'll see if I know anyone I'd recommend in your area. (I'm in Australia so the commute's probably a bit far, if I'm correct in assuming you're in the US.)


      • #4
        Take a look at BaseCamp. Unlike some of the web-based project management apps out there, BaseCamp is very simple to use, has a great interface, and doesn't overwhelm with lots of complexity or rarely used features.

        It essentially uses blog-like messaging and also has to-do lists, milestones, and file sharing. The dashboard views are great for getting an overview of where multiple projects stand. For our company, this is the perfect tool for self-management among a small team (at least until we finish writing our own intranet apps).


        • #5
          We did try working with TeamRoom and were not able to make it work after four months of a dedicated effort.

          I do use Basecamp to manage a business I run, but that is not an option for this business since I'm just an employee here. I tried earlier, but management didn't see the need to spend the money when we have Notes.

          Our IT people were willing to let me play with PHPbb since it was free.

          ssoymonoff, if you could point me to any case studies with TeamRoom, that would be great. Our Notes administrator is not that familiar with TeamRoom and the IT folks have only used it as a document review application among different work groups...not a project management application.


          • #6
            I'll see what I can find for you...


            • #7
              The book called Domino Designer Release 5 Template Guide can be viewed online or downloaded at this address on Notes.Net:

              Template Guide

              It includes an intensive review of three productivity templates in R5: Discussion, Document Library, and TeamRoom.