Right now I’m involved in at least 4 different projects for my client. For two of them I do most of the delivery work (coding, QA, administration) for the rest I get to play architect. The fun aspect is dealing with the interactions between projects. All of the projects share dependencies on resources. I have 3 people including myself that can do delivery work (coding, configuration, etc). The others are analysts and project managers. I’m not really counting the infrastructure side but they are also seriously resource constrained.
Resources are not the only dependency we have though. We also have dependencies between projects in things like deploying ISA server so that SharePoint can expose portals to the internet without us leaving gaping holes in the network. Then our KPI stuff is dependent on us getting BizTalk setup so we can have BAM to collect the metrics that make up the KPIs.
So how do you manage all this crap so the CFO and CEO don’t get out chainsaws and go all Friday the 13th on the IT staff? The easy answer would be to deploy Project server and get all those projects loaded up. That way we’d be able to show how all of the staff is way over committed (like 600%). We’d also be able to draw attention to the scheduling of the projects so that things would get done in the right order. For example: deploy ISA before the SharePoint portal. We’d also be able to show the impact to other projects when the hardware for the ISA server arrives late.
That way when the CIO shows up in your cube asking questions you don’t do my standard Shaggy impersonation squeaking out a “rutro” when he asks “why isn’t the BOD portal live yet?”.
So you don’t have Project server and no budget to get Project server, what then? Rosary beads and running shoes perhaps? A CHL (just in case you see the CEO carrying in a box with a STIHL logo on the side)? There are SAAS tools available that might help, I’ve not checked in to them yet. Another option might be a really big white board and post it notes. Put the tasks on post its, make swim lanes for the projects and position the notes in the order they need to occur. It’s caveman tech, not ideal and won’t work for IT shops doing really big jobs (complete transformation), but it will at least give you a prayer of keeping some type of track on what is going on.
In all honesty though if your shop is doing something really big like my client is they really need to budget in the cost of something like Project server. Trying to manually track all the moving parts simply isn’t realistic.