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PM Tools for Professional Services

I work for small and fairly new IT hosting and support company. With our fast growth we are seeing more and more the need to establish a more formal project management process. I'm starting from basically scratch here and would be grateful for any guidance on how to get started. For example, a project charter and a timeline for sure - for each of our clients. What we have is more of a waterfall than an agile process - with focus being on client site transfer to our hosting services and launch and then transfer to our support team. However, there are some obvious sprints that do emerge.

Thank you in advance for any thoughts/advice.
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For timelines Ms Project or Primavera should do, I am not sure f there is any standard layout for a project charter as this would differ with what it contains according to the size of the project and the performing organization

For a starter I would start with MS Project. It is a very good tool.

Given your example, you can incorporate both MS Project and Jira; that should cover your situation.

Organizations are open and adaptable systems that interacts with the environment through the defined functions/process. Functions/Process are defined from strategy. Strategy is about add value to the environment as a mean to survive, growth and develop. Then, forget about to focus on Agile or not Agile, MS Project or Xcel or any other type of things like that. Concentrate your thought in defining: how we will add value to the environment through project management?. Think about your definition of client. In our case, client is the next in the process so there is not classification about internal or external. With all that on hand you have to decide about what process you will put in place. Take the PMBOK as a guide or checklist to take into account what process if you want. The next step is the way those process will be executed (life cycle) and the tools that will support them. My recommendations is take a close look to new PMBOK Version where all these stuff is well explained.

I, too, was thinking MS Project and JIRA. From a process perspective, you can look to create a visual end-to-end workflow to start with a high-level view, then drill down as needed. Determine must have artifacts with any other specified documents based on project size or client deliverable requirements. Be flexible in determining what works and doesn't.

MS Project is a great tool for a quick startup and execute projects with ease. It has built-in templates, scheduling tools that will help you and your team stay productive with least effort.

MS Project is of course the standard, but has the downside that sharing is quite limited, if the other person has not also MS Project.
So I would consider using smaller tools like Open Project. That's just fine for a timeline, if you would not that much be in ressource allocation and KPIs.
If your client is one of those, who uses Excel for everything - that's fine as well for most purposes.
But Sergio Conte is right, it's not about the tool itself.
For me, the most important factor is communication and exchange with the client - and other stakeholders. Agility helps a lot, but is not a must. Try tools like Trello (for basic planning and tasks lists), the already mentioned Jira (if you would like to describe Requirements, Tasks, Issues more into detail), Slack (as communication tool) and alike. Since Scrum and other agile methods emphasize this, many tools come from that direction, but are nevertheless usefull in other surroundings. Especially in "classical" projects, transparency is the clue to a successfull relationship between client and project team.

The key to your tool selection is one that allows you to economically add customers to your project management/collaboration application. As Guido mentioned, tools like Trello and slack are inexpensive and provide collaboration and task management. The beauty of Trello is the Kanban/ card style of task management that does not take much effort to maintain. With Trello it is backlog, in progress and done. A more all in one solution would be basecamp.

One approach or strategy for customer projects is to focus on the customer touch points.

Like others, I would recommend Project Pro but I would also add Project Online. The Project Online "Professional" license gives you a license of Project Pro.

I could go on for a long time about the benefits of Project Pro and Project Online but I'll be brief with... easy to get started, templates for charters and repeated project plans, portfolio view to easily keep an eye on all of the projects, built in metrics to keep you on schedule and under budget, comprehensive set of agile features, integrates with Jira, comprehensive management of resources across a weak or strong matrix organization, document management... OK, I'll stop there.

If you want more information, take a look at Send me a message if you have any questions.

PMBOK is the guide to refer to while we talk about PM processes and pick the ones/customize them accordingly to the needs/requirement of your project . There are templates available on and you may choose the ones by PMI ( only if you are a paid member ) .

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