Thursday, 16 December 2010

Web Community Champion Tips on Managing Projects

Daniel Rae, Web Community Champion
Gael Ltd
Daniel Rae has been Web Community Champion for Gael Ltd 3 years and is responsible for Gael’s online community, supporting Gael’s online strategy, and is involved in IT web projects to improve online presence. This has included the creation of new websites in addition to a complete restructure of the current website. This involved splitting the Gael corporate site from the current product specific Q-Pulse site, as well as migrating sites that use different content management systems (CMS) to a single CMS.


In his time at Gael, Daniel has developed the Gael community from scratch. The community is an interactive online community for users of Gael's software and services and currently has over 3000 users. It encompasses multiple active discussion forums, a variety of blogs, and is the first stop for Gael's customers' support needs with its in-depth product knowledgebase and support case management. He also has responsibility for prioritising and actioning changes and improvements to the main company website.  


Daniel’s job title is not project manager but he recognizes that that's exactly what he has had to do to ensure delivery of his projects to management both on time and to budget.


Here Daniel shares his tips for managing multiple projects:


“I work across multiple projects both small and medium sized, and with varied durations of 1 week to 3 months with no real room for error due to tight delivery timeframes and the impact an undelivered project has on other projects I need to manage. The key thing I have discovered is that I must plan for success each time, which means that I must know exactly what needs to be done and how it will come together. I am confident we have the skills and experience to deliver our projects but I know from experience that the unexpected can cause problems. Here’s my process for managing projects:


Firstly, I will get the team together to brainstorm requirements and identify everything that needs to be done. This allows us to benefit from team experience and knowledge, and ensure there are no surprises later. If the group stalls or hit a wall, we can apply different methodologies and questioning techniques to ensure we elaborate on key points to achieve a rounded view which helps us to minimize risk.

Fig. 1 Brainstorming example graphic
Please click on image for full screen view
Here is an example of tasks identified as we discussed finding and implementing a new content management system (CMS).

The next step is understanding how the project will come together and after the brainstorming stage is finished, I can develop understanding on the key points by adding structure to the ideas. This allows me to visualize the phases of the project and the tasks associated with each stage.



Fig. 2 Design Phase
Please click on image for full screen view
Here's what the design phase looked like

We continue to use team experience for working out who's best to do what, and an estimation of timings. We used the Gantt view during this process to get a visual representation of phases and tasks which gave us a clear picture of the tasks involved and how they impacted on others.



Fig. 3 Design Phase as a Gantt view
Please click on image for full screen view


Here's what the design phase looked like as a Gantt view

I then presented the overall plan back to the team so that everyone is clear on what is required. I also produced specific resource centric views of each person’s tasks.


Fig. 4 Resource Centric View
Please click on image for full screen view
We’ve taken the project to the stage where we are ready to deliver it but we’ve minimized risk via following this process and concentrating on our planning. This leaves us confident we can deliver on time and to budget.

Before being introduced to MindGenius, I used MS Excel for project management but I think that using a tool like MindGenius allows us to spend more time planning and be more agile in delivery. MindGenius has played a pivotal role throughout the brainstorming of ideas for the projects and the Gantt view gave a clearer view of all tasks involved in the project, and how these impacted on each other, along with how the project team needed to work together on the assignment."

Download Daniel's Go Live Checklist

Take a look at the Gael Community: http://www.gaelcommunity.com/  

2 comments:

aj said...

Interesting. We have just bought a farm in Botswana and as u can imagine lots of projects will be planned and implemented given much needed resources.
Unfortunately I am unable to upgrade to the latest MinGenius software which is quite cool but am glad that at least I do have Mind Genius.
Thanks for the insight re project management.
Here's to future succeses.

Kelly Robertson said...

Hi AJ, thanks for your comment. I'm really interested to hear more about how you use MindGenius on your farm. Could you possibly get in touch with me at info@mindgenius.com and we could have a chat about this?

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