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Mastering Project Management Tools



Kirjoittanut: Thais Santos Araujo - tiimistä SYNTRE.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.

KIRJALÄHTEET
KIRJA KIRJAILIJA
Learning Agile: Understanding Scrum, XP, Lean, and Kanban
Andrew Stellman
Jennifer Greene
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 5 minuuttia.

Introduction  

The duty of a project manager includes many qualities. They need to have a holistic understanding of the project, track teammates’ performance, follow tasks’ statuses, and ensure nothing is stuck along the way. The managers need to ensure there is no miscommunication between the stakeholders of the project’s ecosystem. Not so easy to describe the project management role, and neither easy to perform the same. Besides the explicit tasks, the duty itself involves a lot of responsibility and time management. Many tools in the market try to support these professionals’ performance to be more friendly and deliver better results. It is hard to keep track of so many small tasks and keep up a smile while unexpected hiccups pop up and they are also trying to meet a deadline. 

There are four steps to building any project: planning, build-up, implementation, and review (Alexia, 2018). I like very much to use the platform Notion as my main tool for project management, but I needed to learn Tasks by Planner and To Do from Microsoft and Trello for work matters.

 

Step by step­

Planning is the most important phase of a project. It is the opportunity for the team to define schedules, tasks, goals, and stakeholders’ expectations. Independently of the used technique, writing down the information discussed is vital to move forward to the next step: buildup. During the buildup, the team receives the plan prepared in the planning step as a cake recipe and discusses further the budget and expectations. The implementation is probably the most known step by any team in Proakatemia because we are used to getting our hands dirty quite quickly during our studies. The review step is often forgotten, even if it is again an essential step to guarantee a great project performance. Only by reviewing the project results is it possible to evaluate what worked well or not.  

Using any of the project management techniques, the main target is to map what needs to be done and what resources are available to do so. Along all the steps, many tasks and micro-tasks come up and they need to be tracked somehow. So what platform is the best for your project?

 

Trello 

Trello is a powerful platform with wide free functions available for small teams. Workspaces, templates, and more. The tool has great usability, so it is very intuitive to know where to click and how to get things into the right place. So far, the best use of the platform Trello has been for applying the scrum agile method. Working as a software developer, most of my first clients used the Trello board for project management matters. The use of Kaban interchangeably with scrum results in weekly and daily meetings supported by a graphical powerful view of the tickets (tasks) ongoing and the status they hold.

 

Figure 1 – Simple Project Board template from Trello

 

I won’t get into the detail of how Kanban works, but it’s worth saying the Kanban method will not tell you how to run your project (Stellman, Greene 2014, 321). Kanban offers practices for improving how the project runs. The method will provide variations from project to project.

Figure 2 – Example of Setting WIP limits for every column on the kanban board (Stellman, Greene 2014, 356)

 

Kanban will give your team a workflow visualization, and it’s up to you to find the right columns that apply to your project in the best way. Trello is perfect for this use. It is okay to create a first workflow based on the experience of working on the project of the team and update later on the columns if it could be improved.

 

Planner and To Do from Microsoft

 

Very similar to Trello, Planner is a tool that can be integrated into Teams by Microsoft. Columns can be created and renamed to what works best for the project team. The main positive side has been the whole integration of the team members and the notification system we already get from Teams. It has been the most efficient tool to get things done with other team members from Proakatemia. I have personally tried Trello and Notion. Even if they are great tools, it’s hard to get people to create an account, learn how to use it, and keep working with it in the long term. Due to it, a great tool for working with other Proakatemia community members.

Figure 3 – SYNTRE’s Marketing team to-do list using a simplified version of Kanban

 

Notion

Finally, Notion! The Notion platform is by far my best project management tool. It not only covers functionalities for using Kanban, but it is also a powerful writing notes application. To-dos, Kanban, embedding content, tables, database, great styling options, smart date, calendar view, list view, integration with slack, Twitter, google drive, etc. It is a long list of all the amazing things Notion can do. If your team is excited about getting the best quality of syncing and management tool, Notion would be the tool to go.

Figure 4 – Personal ToDo list in Kanban format on the Notion application

 

If this is not your first essay about project management you have read about, you have probably already heard about the Gantt chart. There are many applications that offer this kind of view, and it is possible to apply it even in an Excel application. It is an amazing technique for a time-oriented project view. Well, in 2021, Notion launched a brand-new feature called Timeline View that covers this project management technique as well! The best part is that you can use a database you have already created in the platform.

Figure 5 – Personal Gantt Chart for new project Pikku-Brasilia

 

Conclusion

I believe it’s clear my preference for Notion. I have used the platform since its beta version, somewhere around 2017 or 2018, and followed its improvements. Many things have changed since it, but I still haven’t found a better tool for my personal and professional information. After all, which application would I choose to work with a Proakatemia community member? Planner and To Do! Without any excitation, I would suggest the team use Planner. Everyone already has an account and is used to working around the Microsoft environment. I have used it for SYNTRE’s marketing team and, more recently, for the IRT podcast team. Tasks are well organized and documented; team members receive the notifications as much as they receive from their other responsibilities within Proakatemia and so on. Just like Kanban, you should find what works for you, for your team, and for your project. There is no ideal tool that can be applied for everyone to achieve the same result. I hope my experience can help you take the first step in trying different tools and finding the perfect match for your project!

 

Bonus

Microsoft is preparing something really similar to Notion, if not exactly the same. If you have already used Notion and wonder, what do I mean by exactly the same, take a look at their advertising video and let me know what you think:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-loop?ms.url=microsoftcommicrosoft-loop

 

References

Alexia, 2018. Read on 11.10.2022 – How To Become A Project Management Master With Trello. https://blog.trello.com/project-management-power-ups  

Andrew Stellman, Jennifer Greene, 2014. Learning Agile: Understanding Scrum, XP, Lean, and Kanban.

 

 

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