Project tracking and reporting tools

Finding the right tools to manage a big project can be fraught with politics, price constraints, and just what you are ‘given’. Sometimes is just comes down to what the PM is familiar with. Sometimes it is proprietary software that is mandated to be used either by the implementer or record, the PMO, client or a particular department. Certainly, there will be a mix of MS Project, multiple versions of Excel spreadsheets on a SharePoint site, maybe some powerpoint and a bug tracker tool. It seems that the choice is usually ‘what we used last time’ or ‘there is no budget for a software solution’.

Well, I am checking out ProjeQtOr to see if it is up to the job. All in one program, it does the project planning, manages resources, costs, risks, quality tracking, bug tracking, task and bug assignment and progress tracking, and it installs on a Windows server. Oh, did I mention that it was free & open source (sure to fit in anyone’s software budget)?  And before you say, ‘training cost’, look me in the eye and say you are not going to have to spend some time training someone on MS Project, share point or all those Excel spreadsheets. And there is the cost of all those licenses and IT time to install and manage security access. Then there is all that time spent each week updating status’, generating reports, managing file versions, recalibrating milestones with change orders…..I think you can get the picture.

Fair & Open disclosure: I have no connection or receive any benefit from the software developer….other than maybe a future project that is a little better tracked & reported on. Then again, we all benefit from that.

Happy Monday


Having gas in the tank

Sometimes the best thing we can do is rest. When we rest, it clears the mind, gives an opportunity to get perspective and improves our stamina.

If you are so busy and feel like the hamster on the wheel, you have not taken time to rest. You will find the answers will come to you quicker after you rest.

Whether you are celebrating on July 1 or 4, I wish you a great time.

Setting up Item Master the hard way… or the easy way

The Item master is one of the foundation stones for all the Supply Chain products in any ERP suite of products. By the way, you don’t need the inventory module to use the item master! The number of items in the Item Master depends on the nature and size of business. The count of Items in an organization’s portfolio could run from few hundred to hundreds of thousands. I have personally seen some clients with item masters in the 300,000 to 500,000 active items range.  Every Item Master needs periodic cleanup and updates at some frequency based on the needs of an ever-changing business. Some industries could demand the daily activity of adding new Items and modifications of the attributes of existing items. The cleaner the Item Master the less chance of mistakes and the wrong product pulled for internal or external use.  Adding Items and maintaining correct and up-to-date attributes is part and parcel of Inventory management.
If done manually (we are talking potentially 25+ pages), maintaining the Item Master is a cumbersome activity for inventory Managers.  Errors in Items or attributes could mean a loss of inventory value, unwanted stock or Inventory shortages of required items. At some point, internal audits may trigger a recommended item master clean up  to weed out the redundant items from the “active” list, a review of alternate items that truly are a substitute or replacement for a requested item and several other Item-related issues that need addressing. In most organizations this is a planned activity Inventory Managers will do on a regular basis and dedicate resources to review the content of the Item Master list and make the necessary corrections on a regular basis.
These are the key indicators that item / inventory management needs to reviewed:
  • item is not available in a lookup for a location or a particular user
  • nobody can find who the last supplier for the item
  • ‘what did we pay for it last time? When did we order it?’
  • the item is in the wrong unit of measure
  • reconciliation of the value of physical count of inventory to the general ledger is a month long exercise
  • standard practice to inactivate the old item and create a new one to solve an urgent need

Item templates can make creating new items more efficient, provides consistency in setup, dependable ordering by purchasing at a competitive price, auditability for year end and makes the end user experience more consistent (for the better!).

Check this out for using item templates

Understanding Configurable Item Templates

The Starbucks moment

Saying thank you to the project team members every once in awhile helps remind them that the project they are in the middle of, is worthwhile, is needed by the company, and that every team member’s contribution is appreciated.

This can be done on reaching a milestone, a date circled on the calendar or spontaneously by the PMO when the going gets tough (storming phase anyone?). The starbucks moment could indeed be just an hour in the boardroom with a premium coffee and nibbles, a T-shirt, a gift card or maybe a even catered lunch.

Giving the team a pat on the back, a bit of time to talk about anything other than shop and a token of appreciation will go a LONG way at brushing over the rough spots in a project. You never know, maybe that team member who was thinking of transferring/quitting might stay longer.

That Starbucks Moment

Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On?

This article gives you 12 measures to self assess your capabilities as leader…with or without the title. I have worked with many people who I would call key influencers on projects who made them successful and they did not carry the title of project manager, director or vice president. They would likely score highly on all EQ capabilities.

Happy Friday.

Emotional Intelligence

wages stagnant while unemployment at its lowest level

Supply is affected by two dimensions….investment in capital and labour…this is first year economics. The cost of capital is interest (lending rates). When we invest in capital or labor we increase supply. The balance is between adding capital (long term, it will take months to order/build a new machine) and labor (short term, I can hire another guy next week) vs what I can sell my widgets for. Here enters two more dimensions…efficiency and time. We have tweaked our existing capital to get maximum output and have now hit the wall using all the labour in the market. One of two scenarios are going to play out now. 1) Investment in new capital (because interest rates are so low) but few assets are available so the few go to the highest bidder (prices will go up/ inflation) or 2) there will be more jobs than potential employees so we will see rising wages / signing bonuses and foreign workers competing for jobs.

The opportunity for government to invest in infrastructure (crumbling bridges, roads and ancient subways) at historic low interest rates for the last decade will soon be gone.

Here comes the prophecy…take heart, wages will soon be going up.

Lithium and economics 101

Lithium is the key ingredient to batteries today. Its extraction, refinement, and entry into the supply chain is wonderful example of economics 101 with three countries holding half the world’s deposits. This is a fascinating story on multiple levels.