Most organizations that conduct projects repeat the same general steps to manage that work, steps some might call a workflow. Ideally, a project initiation or proposal workflow includes a risk review (to the company, to the customer, to the project etc) as well as a benefit forecast so organizations can decide how to best allocate their scarce resources efficiently and productively. Microsoft Project Online can easily help manage risks and issues as lessons learned.
Use built-in Project Online functionality to define workflows and project detail pages (PDPs) where you can define the data that users must provide as they navigate a workflow. It is not difficult to use in terms of programming or engineering skills needed. You will need to take the time to think through, and document, how you want your workflows to work before setting out on the journey to modify your PPM environment this way.
Add-ins such as PS+ automate methods of capturing data needed from workflows out of the box (OOTB). Again, this technique is not difficult. It does require PS+ (click here for more information on PS+ or to set up a free trial). Your simplest answer is to create a plain and simple #AmazingPM OOTB workflow in Project Online using this checklist:
- Define workflow discrete steps followed
- Determine what must be included and which parts happen sometimes
- Decompose steps into data points – determine when data needs collecting (inputs) and when it needs disbursal (outputs)
- Put pieces into phases and stages – for more defined modelling and potential interaction with other work flows
- Define custom PWA entities such as data content type and format
- Build, test, and deploy in PWA – modify existing objects to leverage Project Online’s power
Use the OOTB issues management capability from Project Online to create a lessons-learned database. A workflow analysis shows three major phases of leveraging lessons, learning lessons, and listing lessons. After we modify the OOTB issue category list to accommodate a “lessons learned” category, we can use the OOTB filter on the Issues page to create a view or report of the lessons learned.
So, in effect, only change two OOTB features slightly and get a powerful tool to improve an organization’s project and program management by actually learning from previous project issues.
To revise the OOTB settings needed, follow these steps:
- On the project site issues page, click the List Settings icon in Settings section of the List ribbon.
- Click Category and then, on the category column settings page, in the Type each choice on a separate line: field, enter the label you wish to use for lessons learned and click the OK button.
- When closing out projects (or at whatever frequency you think useful) identify lessons learned on the Issues page of the project site by setting the Category to the lessons learned choice.
Use the Category field to sort or to filter and you can easily find actual things that happened on projects that you’d like to pay attention to when planning activities that could be impacted by new, similar issues or by issues that repeat themselves. Project Online is a powerful tool that can help you build #amazingPM and even more powerful tools to improve your PPM success.