RE: Project Planning (Was Creative Technical Writing)

Subject: RE: Project Planning (Was Creative Technical Writing)
From: MList -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 10:52:49 -0400


We use MS Project just for the pretty pictures. :-)

Really, we have a set of requirements and dependencies for
each project, and we make the little colored bars represent
the durations of activities, and we put people's names on
the little colored bars, so we can see who's getting double
booked.

And we revise those pictures every couple of weeks, or even
more frequently if things get intense.

At most, we have 7 or 8 milestones in a project, where one
group's work must be done in order that another's can start.

But, the planning chart that I have on my cube wall also has
several projects on it, so it gives important visual cues
about how events and demands on people's time are spread
across multiple projects, simultaneously. Even as a small
company, we don't have the luxury of doing just one project
at a time.

When those projects have documentation components (most do),
I get to see at a glance when I'm going to be dancing really
fast. Since there's only the one of me, and since it would
take almost as much of my time to edjumacate a contractor
as to just do the work, I use that visual aid to negotiate
changes to the timing. Sometimes that works, sometimes I
work nights for a week or so. Sometimes, I get to plan
and actually take a week off.

I'm the only writer, and I need to know when projects are
going to reach stages where I can usefully start work on
them, and when I need to hand off to reviewers and to
the final build person. Visual depictions of parallel
timelines work for me.

Anyway, I don't think we use most of MS Project's capabilities
and encumberances, and we could just as easily use any other
such software, but the chart depiction of everybody's estimated
time-blocks, per project, are extremely helpful. When we talk
about having "the big picture", that's the picture we mean,
fluid though it might be.
For senior managment and biz development, well they look at
a different "big picture".

/kevin

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