If you’re at all successful in your job and work for a company that looks towards the future and wants to do more, you’re going to end up with more projects than you know what to do with.

I find it most helpful to not store all that project data in my email program.  No matter how good your email program is, it is not a project management system.  I subscribe to the concept that I should “clear” all of my email whenever possible.  For me, that means I have them all marked as read.  This is the fastest way for me to recognize things that I still need to do something with in one way or another and those that have been handled.  Some people actually go so far as to delete emails once they’re done with them but I often find that I need to reference emails days, months, or even years later.  Some people also actually file those emails into separate folders or tags but I would spend all day doing that.

So what do I do with all this project data?  Use a project management system.  If you’re working in a team it will be important to share critical pieces of that project with your team members.  There’s lots of project management software out there, and I’ve used a few of them here and there.  For my day-to-day work at DT, we use a system I created called “Kirkland”.  It does everything we need because we made it ourselves.

Side note: since I’m a programmer, I see the world through a programmer / engineer’s viewpoint.  If I look around and don’t find the tool or system I want, I make it myself, hence why we have our own project management system at DT.

Your project management system should at minimum if used by only yourself:

  • Be easy to use
  • Support multiple updates per project
  • Support categories or tags, or clients, or some way to group projects
  • Support sorting and/or prioritization
  • Have statuses and filter by them

In addition to the items listed above, if you’re working with a group of people your software will need to:

  • Support multiple users
  • Have at least one user assigned to a project, an “owner”
  • Support some kind of communication method to encourage people to write their updates in the software

Why is all of this important?  If you have so many projects you don’t know what’s going on and/or you loose project details because they get lost in email, you’re an ineffective programmer.  Keep your stuff in order and you’ll be more sane and therefore will get more productive work done which will make you feel better.

August 12th, 2013

Posted In: How to Work

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