Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Summary Execution with Microsoft Project

After having explored the benefits of Master Projects / Sub Projects in Microsoft Project I thought I'd introduce a way to tackle a similar problem from a different angle. In the immortal words of Monty Python:

And now for something completely different.

While there are many master projects with embedded, self-contained sub-projects, there are just as many, if not more, really large projects that span the deliverable in its entirety but baffle the team members with its complexity. We designed the next version of IntelliGantt to not only manage large projects in its user interface, but to also help manage large projects using Microsoft Project as well.


Because-- and I'm happy to admit this-- you shouldn't use IntelliGantt to build a nuclear power plant. Or an advanced airplane with all carbon-composite parts. For these types of projects you need the power of Microsoft Project and its million features to aid in the billion permutations that will happen along the way.

However, with IntelliGantt you can apply one of the simplest, most effective strategies-- Divide and Conquer.

V3 IntelliGantt Plus introduced the concept of identifying a summary task in Microsoft Project and working the project in IntelliGantt Plus. This worked fairly well, but customers told us we needed even more integration so that results could be written back to Microsoft Project when needed. Furthermore, reading new input from Microsoft Project was required to support big change events in the over-arching project plan.

The result is probably the richest integration of Microsoft Project of any application on the planet. With version four of IntelliGantt you can ask MS Project to open a project plan, select a summary task as your scope of operations, work with just the pieces that you need for and, finally, update the orginal plan with your results.

This gives you and your team several benefits

1) You work with a limited set of information thereby reducing complexity
2) Your team works with only the information they need
3) Nobody sees information they don't, or shouldn't, need
4) You can increase througput by having multiple project managers execute their pieces and letting IntelliGantt coordinate the updates
5) IntelliGantt let's you share project data with people that wouldn't normally have access-- like consultants outside a firewall.

We most definitely like Microsoft Project to be responsible for the heavy lifting when working with large projects. But IntelliGantt's rich collaborative abilities along with its nonpareil MS Project integration let's you open up the pieces to your project plans in ways not possible before.

Instead of working with one giant project en masse, IntelliGantt lets you work with and complete task groups defined by summaries. The best part is the bigger the project, the more effective dividing and conquering can be.

And yes, we have an excellent screencast showing this cleverness in action.


Steve Bumbalough said...

Excellent functionality, John! Is this available for the MSProject Add-in as well?

John Milan said...

Yes, the same functionality is available, but the means are a bit different. The MS Project Add In works with Master/Sub projects to do the same thing.

For example, say I create 3 projects and share them to 3 different locations. Next, I create a master project and insert the previous 3 projects as sub projects. IntelliGantt will recognize these three sub projects and adjust its menu accordingly when these sub projects are selected.

You do have to individually select the sub projects and choose 'Update', but the effect is the same-- multple 'projects' within a master all hooked to different sharepoint task lists.

The previous post gives you all the details-- and a screencast.