Posted on 06 August 2007
Project management is very important for the entrepreneur. There are so many things going on at once, it is essential that you manage your time. It is also critical that you manage other people and hold them accountable for their projects and deadlines. However, using a project management program can be as time-consuming as completing an actual task. I cannot tell you how many different types of project management tools I have used. The last two programs I tried were from Basecamp and Microsoft Project. While I thought Basecamp was one of the best programs I have ever used, it was still was one more program that I had to remember to log into and update. I found the only way this program was really going to keep us on track was to dedicate someone at the company to add new projects and update existing ones. Even then I found that it still was not being used as much as I wanted it to be. The bottom line is that sometimes when you are in start-up mode, using project management software can be more of a curse than a blessing.
However, projects still need to be completed and it’s important to be able to follow their progress so that you can keep people on track. I, like most people, use Outlook religiously. If you have Exchange (which all small businesses should have), then you are able to share contacts, calendar, and tasks with your fellow employees. Since I was logged into Outlook all day, it only made sense to use it as my project managing software, so I started to use some of the features that came with Tasks. You are able to sort all your tasks to see what is due in the upcoming week and/or what tasks are overdue. To my surprise, Tasks was such a simple way of keeping track of projects and because I could see anybody’s tasks simply by adding their Tasks as a favorite, I was able to quickly and efficiently keep track of all projects.
With Microsoft Tasks, you can enter the start date and due date of the assignment, set a priority rating, add the status, and show the percentage completed. You can also set a reminder to pop up on someone’s screen and assign an owner to the task, whereby that person will be emailed the assignment. You can even make the task recur as often as you want. I found that I was getting a lot more work done using Microsoft Tasks, while at the same time still having the ability to track and manage projects, and all from the comfort of the same program I use anyway on a daily basis. Also, because I have a Blackberry, I was able to add tasks from the road where it was synced up with Outlook.
All in all, if you are looking for a way to manage projects yet you are exasperated with the management part, start looking for something a little closer to home and check out Microsoft Tasks.