Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance (Book Review)

Overview

  • This very popular book looks at the relationships between success, failure, and improvement.

  • Drawing from approaches used by aviation and sport, it suggests ways to improve how we think about our experience to learn how to do things better.
  • Unusually for a book review on this blog, this book is not aimed at project management professionals particularly, but falls more into the category of “general self help”. I reviewed it because so many of my project management professional friends told me that I should read it (including the PMO Flashmob Book Club night)!

Continue reading “Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance (Book Review)”

How to trace predecessors and successors in MS-Project ®

Part of a series on customising Microsoft® Project® to make working with project schedules more useful.

How to trace predecessors and successors in MS-Project

This post describes how to trace predecessors and successors in MS-Project using a clever little VBA macro.

Continue reading “How to trace predecessors and successors in MS-Project ®”

How to set up time-boxed look-ahead views in MS-Project ® using compound task filters

Part of a series on customising Microsoft® Project® to make working with project schedules more useful.

How to set up time-boxed look-ahead views in MS-Project using compound task filters

This post describes how to set up time-boxed “look-ahead” views in Microsoft® Project® (schedule extracts showing upcoming tasks), by customising filters to use an OR operator between criteria.

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How to set up custom Gantt chart views in MS-Project ®

Part of a series on customising Microsoft® Project® to make working with project schedules more useful.

This post describes how to set up custom Gantt chart views to present schedule extracts based on the Live project schedule data, filtered and formatted to suit particular stakeholder audiences.

So why would you want to use this approach, how do you do it, and what’s in it for you as a result? Continue reading “How to set up custom Gantt chart views in MS-Project ®”

How to create PDF Gantt chart extracts with dynamic labels in MS-Project ®

Part of a series on customising Microsoft® Project® to make working with project schedules more useful.

This post describes how to generate universally-readable “soft” PDF Gantt charts to circulate to stakeholders, with dynamically generated labels that provide them with useful information about the view, and provide you with useful information about how you might re-create the view.

How to create PDF Gantt chart extracts with dynamic labels in MS-Project®

So why would you want to use this approach, how do you do it, and what’s in it for you as a result? Continue reading “How to create PDF Gantt chart extracts with dynamic labels in MS-Project ®”

Bedtime Stories for Project Managers (Book Review)

Overview

This book encourages project management professionals to reflect on and interpret their experiences, using (more or less familiar) bedtime stories as inspiration.

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How to diagnose schedule management problems in MS-Project ®

Part of a series on customising Microsoft® Project® to make working with project schedules more useful.
So you’ve created a useful programme schedule, and you are now working on keeping it on the right track. You’ve set up fields to calculate RAG status, but what if you want diagnose schedule management problems without having to study the baseline vs. forecast dates and % complete, working it out in your head line by line?

This post describes how to customise a Text field to display a very compact schedule management commentary to diagnose schedule management problems by explaining why a project schedule item should be Red or Amber.

So why would you want to use this approach, how do you do it, and what’s in it for you as a result? Continue reading “How to diagnose schedule management problems in MS-Project ®”

How to calculate RAG status in MS-Project ®

Part of a series on customising Microsoft® Project® to make working with project schedules more useful.
So you’ve created a useful programme schedule, and you are now working on keeping it on the right track, reviewing the plan regularly with the Programme Manager and Project Managers. You will probably review the programme schedule regularly – focussing on on items with Red or Amber RAG status –  but how do you use MS-Project® to ensure that you don’t skip items that probably should have been marked amber or red?

How to customise MS-Project® text fields to calculate RAG Status

This post describes how to calculate RAG status in MS-Project ® by customising a text field to performing some simple tests and calculations with dates.

So why would you want to use this approach, how do you do it, and what’s in it for you as a result? Continue reading “How to calculate RAG status in MS-Project ®”

How to diagnose schedule setup problems in MS-Project ®

Part of a series on customising Microsoft® Project® to make working with project schedules more useful.
So, you’ve inherited a set of project schedules that you need to combine into a useful programme schedule. How do you set up a framework to enable you to quickly find and diagnose schedule setup problems, without having to deduce and apply complex combinations of filters?

How to customise MS-Project to diagnose schedule setup problems

Here is an approach I have used successfully on several programmes. Continue reading “How to diagnose schedule setup problems in MS-Project ®”

6 PMO productivity pointers for Microsoft® SharePoint® Team sites: Libraries

Top tips drawn from experience

SharePoint tips - Libraries

To create an project or programme information hub, you could do a lot worse than setting up a SharePoint team site as suggested by Dux Raymond Sy’s definitive book on the subject. If SharePoint is already used in your organisation, it’s virtually a no-brainer.

SharePoint document libraries represent a great way to share documents across teams, giving you features like metadata classification, automatic version control, and more efficient document management. Julian Maynard-Smith outlines the benefits of a proper document management system in this great post.

However, there are some things that I have discovered for myself over several years of creating and using project management libraries on SharePoint sites that I would like to share with you. Continue reading “6 PMO productivity pointers for Microsoft® SharePoint® Team sites: Libraries”