Process Improvement

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Macro to Micro Task Management
Hi all,

Frequently in project management it is necessary to deal with long term planned activities and daily tasks that arrive ad-hoc on a daily/hourly basis. I find existing tools often struggle with these two different scenarios.

Task management falls into two camps, project management that may span months/years and day to day task management. Neither is particularly appropriate to represent the other. Project planning has little concern about hour long tasks, and daily to-do lists certainly cannot forecast if your present hour long task will mean completing the project on time.

Frequently people find themselves in the position where we must juggle both. This may mean dodging in and out of different systems, glancing/reviewing project plans and taking tasks from one system to another. It can be both complex and time-consuming and lead to frequent contemplation of project plan tasks and their relation to present actions.

I think there is an elegant way to handle this using a single system. The features of this system are the following:

It combines project tasks with ad-hoc daily items under a single framework
Since project/daily tasks are under one system, daily/weekly review of project lists can be removed
The basis of scheduled activities is a project plan so important projects tasks are covered by default
It allows for taking project plan tasks and breaking them down into actionable tasks that are conducive to daily work
It is quick to both enter new tasks and determine which tasks to execute

To get such advantages, I try to utilise the strengths of different methods of task management. I merge three different approaches (Waterfall, SCRUM and GTD) to create a unified approach to task management that spans project activities spanning years to daily tasks in the order of minutes. I outline the approach here:

So, this is my attempt to try and deal with the conflicting situations of long term and short term management. Am happy to hear how others manage these conflicting situations.
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Very good article. Just in these weeks I''m trying to find a method to manage macro to micro task and I was thinking to adopt an approach like that you have proposed. I''m happy to see that someone have just tested with success this approach.

I would also hear how others manage these situations.

Thank you for sharing your approach. I tend to use my email inbox to manage my smaller tasks, rather than re-creating them in another tool. Using the priority flag, I can easily manage what needs to be done.

Much like Stéphane, I use email to manage smaller tasks and reminders. Specifically I use Outlook flags to set follow up reminders, and Outook tasks for small to-do's, as well as a folder structure.

I sometimes use the 'Post Reply to Folder' option to resend myself the email with a note that describes the action I want to take on the email, if it's not a simple follow up. This gives it a different message type in your folder (inbox) so you can sort by these. It helps keep me organized. An example of how I use Post Reply to Folder is as reminders of email content that I want to include in my weekly report. I do a Post Reply to Folder with a subject line 'For Report'. It puts it back in my inbox with this new message type. I can sort by message type and easily find them all on reporting day.

Following up on this thread, I am interested in learning about your opinions on using MS Outlook for task management, i.e. assign a task (To-Do), task monitoring (% completion), etc.

In my opinion, most PM tend to Outlook for e-mail and Agenda purposes, and have the feeling that this SW has further potential that is often overlooked. Would you agree?

I, for one, Eduard, prefer not to use Outlook tasks for tracking project activities. The reason is simple: if I have a project with more than 100 activities, I could quickly swarm my inbox. A better choice is to use Microsoft PPM which integrates the email replies - status updates - right into the schedule database.

Can you imagine trying to update your schedule to reflect all the activity updates you've received? That's not a job I want to get into.

Thank you for your answer, Stéphane. I typically use MS Project for tracking Project activities, which works just fine

I am currently assessing the feasibility and pros/cons of integrating Project and Navision. If successful, I believe that it would provide a robust and lean project management approach, and make life easier for Controlling & Finance department

Nice article. Good attempt in trying out GTD.
Thanks for sharing. We use different tools based on our project & client requirements.

Thanks for the article! I am starting to learn GTD and actually have a book on my desk right now, OneNote - Essential User Guide to Getting Things Done. I have been using email mostly, and the Win 10 Sticky Notes with OneNote as my main repository of information.

I use MS outlook and MS OneNOTE(a common place for everything I keep, minutes, todo lists, references, agendas etc) in combination of tasks and to-do lists.

Thanks for sharing your experience.
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