Behind this deliberately provocative title lies a legitimate question about how relevant traditional project planning and scheduling are in a world where change is the norm rather than an anomaly to be dealt with. If you have ever tried monitoring the progress of a project using an “up-to-date” schedule during a steering committee meeting, you know just how tedious and fruitless it can sometimes be. Slideboard, the new project management tool by One2Team provides a much better alternative.
Schedules in a nutshell
Of course, schedules still have their uses. They are especially useful at the inception and in the early planning phases of a project, when activities can be neatly organized in a chart of cascading, carefully estimated tasks. They provide a way to:
- Estimate the overall duration of the project and its main deliverables;
- Assess factors that should be optimized to shorten the duration of the project;
- Identify critical-path tasks which, if delayed, would impact key project milestones;
- Enable managers to pre-plan specific tasks in their schedules;
- Balance the schedule if some resources are likely to be overloaded at a given time.
During the project, the visual layout of schedules enables project managers to monitor tasks to be completed by a certain date, tasks that are in progress and tasks that are behind schedule. Schedules are also a shared tool that can be used to align the entire team by alerting key contributors of their progress vs. their colleagues’ progress.
However, the denser the schedule gets, the more pages it requires and the more difficult it is to use. Suddenly it becomes impossible to understand at a glance what is going on and what should be done. The conventional approach to scheduling shows its limitations.
Schedules and their limitations
Even today, too much management time goes into managing cumbersome schedules. For example, any time a new task needs to be added to a plan, that requires adjustments to the schedule that may be non trivial. What if that happens several times a week? How many times is the schedule actually updated? Is the printout you are using in your meeting or the file you received via email last week up to date?
Indeed, updating schedules is tedious, regardless of any effort made by developers to improve the user interface of scheduling tools. In addition, any time spent updating schedules could be time better spent planning or working on the new task.
Finally, when a schedule is over three-pages long or needs a large screen or an poster-size print to be visualized in its entirety, that becomes quickly impractical. And, for those who are not project managers by trade and are not used to read schedules, they can be a nightmare to grapple with.
Slideboard is a new way of visualizing complex projects and programs that makes it easier to monitor progress, anticipate issues and take effective and fast decisions. Think of it like managing a project with Post-It note, just a little more sophisticated.
Slideboards provide an easy-to-use and intuitive way of viewing relevant data and hiding superfluous details so that the amount of information available to a user is always “manageable” at the current level of detail. By manipulating filters, views and timeframes, a project manager can change the shape and content of the Slideboard to perform different tasks, for example:
- View all the tasks in progress;
- Visualize the workload distribution by team or by individual worker;
- Reallocate resources from one team to another;
- Highlight which kind of tasks represent the highest risk;
- View delayed tasks;
- Isolate activities that require special intervention;
- And much more…
Slideboard can also be put to uses which schedules simply cannot:
- Monitor the deliverable approval process with custom status tags such as “sent for approval” , “internally approved”, “approved by the customer” and so forth;
- Track financial metrics of a project when tasks trigger billing, payments or accounting transactions;
- Create process-driven workflows which are triggered and controlled by interacting with the Slideboard;
- Assemble status reports in real time.
This last capability is particularly valuable when large, distributed teams of operators, vendors and subcontractors are involved. As they go about the business of working on their individual tasks, they simply check them off their punch lists and, in doing so, keep all project data updated in real-time. Slideboard then uses that data to visualize progress with no need for the project manager to call or remind folks to send in their reports. Managers can focus on managing, not reporting.
Visual, simple and intuitive, One2Team’s Slideboard is revolutionizing the way managers monitor operations and projects. Slideboard enables you to monitor, prioritize, allocate, plan, notify and modify your tasks effortlessly, in a single tool. It works as well to share documentation, to collaborate and as a decision-making tool during meetings, due to its ergonomic, intuitive UI.