If Projects are like cars and gasoline – what octane level of tools do you need?

Recently I had the opportunity to present at a conference of business professionals about project management tools. Unlike professional project managers, who have a background that encompasses many of the tools available to facilitate project management, this audience included practitioners across a wide spectrum of business areas. So, for that presentation, I wanted to talk about project management tools from the 50,000 foot level. (If you know me I could have talked all day on different aspects of this topic!)

The metaphor I chose for the presentation was how to select the most appropriate project management tool octane in order to get the right balance of cost and power. There was a side benefit to the metaphor — some useful concept matching graphics; always a plus when your slides will be displayed on large projection screens. The take-away I was striving for was an appreciation that there is not the one best PM tool, but rather the PM needs to match tool capabilities to project size and complexity.

So, here is my “octane-based” categorization of projects:

 

Unleaded:

    • Small project with 3 to 10 staff
    • Short duration — between one and four months
    • Part-time project manager — 6-10 hours per week
    • Needs PM tools to develop and track
  • Charter and scope
  • Tasks and schedule
  • Status reports

Regular:

    • Dedicated staff of 10 to 30 people
    • Medium duration — usually less than one year
    • Half-time PM
    • Needs PM tools to develop and track
  • Charter and scope
  • Project plan
  • Schedule
  • Assignments
  • Risks and issues
  • Status reports

Super/Premium

    • Large, strategic project
    • 30+ full-time staff
    • Long duration — 12 to 24 months
    • Full time PM
    • Needs PM tools to develop and track
  • Charter and budget
  • Project management plan
  • Detailed schedule
  • Assignments
  • Risks and issues
  • Quality plan
  • Cost controls
  • Status reports with metrics

Over the next couple of weeks, I plan on talking about the type of PM tools that support the needs of each octane level of project. I will focus on commonly used PM tools. Some of my thoughts are based on the Resource Management survey conducted by Cognitive Technologies Inc., in 2012 (Tools for Resource Management – The Survey Results).

You can find the rest of the series here:

Part 2 –Tools for Small Projects  

Part 3 – Tools for Medium sized Projects 

Part 4 – Tools for Large Projects 

Part 5 – Hybrid tools 

 

2 Responses to “If Projects are like cars and gasoline – what octane level of tools do you need?”

  1. Mike Drew Says:

    Having worked at several companies of differing sizes. I have to agree with your assessment that there isn’t one-size-fits-all project management tool. Some projects I undertook really needed nothing more than Excell, while others required a more serious level of PM tool. I’d be interested to see what tools you recommend, and for what level.

    Mike Drew
    HappyTODOS Project Management
    http://bit.ly/zmuFvk

  2. Matt Stone Says:

    Very interesting opinion and comparison. I could just recommend comindware as a great tool for PM for medium-sized development projects.


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