Friday, December 12, 2008

Organizing projects

What is the structure and behavior of your organization? was the first in a series of 5 questions to ask yourself when evaluating project management tools, a post in which Paul mentioned the distinction between project-driven and functional-driven organizations.

The structure of an organization strongly influences the way its projects are organized and in this post I'm writing about some options you have when doing this structuring.

Image by Thomas Hawk

Generic or specific projects

The project-driven organization may be more inclined toward creating more generic products, while the functional-drive one may opt for more specific ones.

Some examples of generic projects:
  • Product development
  • Website
  • Wedding photo assignments
Examples of specific projects:
  • Search engine optimization for blog
  • Photo assignment - Clara and Brad's wedding
  • Library lawsuit
In any case, depending on the current needs, it's a good practice to try both specific and generic projects to see which works better in a certain situation.

Naming the projects

If you deal with multiple projects or if you decided for a more granular approach, the names of the projects must follow some rule to allow easy scanning and referral.

One way of doing this could be to name a project as following: the initials of the company for whom the project is done, the year when it was started, a numeric index and description:
  • IMA - 08 - 012 -Web pages optimization
  • KD - 07 - 010 - Staff management
This naming convention is also useful if you put labels with the same identifier for written documents, like invoices. This way it becomes more easily to find a certain paper a few years after the project completion.

The granularity of the projects

The complexity and the level of activity in a project is also a factor on how it should be organized. Here are some variants you may take into account with Teamness:

Granular projects - a small project might be created for a part of your work. For instance if you want to launch a business for selling t-shirts, you may divide this big activity in 3 smaller ones: a project for the administrative process of the business, a project for your website and one for an eventual blog.

Groups in a single project - if you feel the granularity described above is too intricate for your activity, then you may create a single project in which you create groups for the processes: a group for sales, one for marketing, one for the website and so on.

Mini-projects with milestones - a milestone with tasks and messages tied to it might be regarded as a mini-project or, if you prefer, a sub-project. Going back to the blog example, it can be seen as a sequence of milestones for posting activities, with tasks tied to each representing the ideas for posts and messages containing drafts.

Projects durations

Some projects are perpetual, like the maintenance of a product, while others have a limited time span.

In Teamness it is possible to archive a project and you may want to do this with a project that doesn't have any activity anymore, due to its termination or if it's in a paused state. Archiving a project will free up another spot for a new project within the current plan limits.

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