Managing Small Projects
Illustration by Neil Webb

Organizing your project files


From:

Managing Small Projects

with Bonnie Biafore
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Video: Organizing your project files

Whether you're working on a team or on your own, you can make your projects run more smoothly by organizing your project files effectively. Very small projects with very small teams might be able to track project information in single files. For example, a spreadsheet for change requests another for issues and another for risks. As far as which type of file to use if you're going to spend a lot of time editing the content of the document such as defining specifications, go with a word processing document.
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Watch the Online Video Course Managing Small Projects
1h 37m Beginner Jan 17, 2013

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Have you wondered how to make your small projects run as smoothly as possible—without building in so many steps that they get cumbersome? In this course, author and project manager Bonnie Biafore shows how a successful small project starts with planning: documenting goals, identifying risks, measuring success, and confirming decision makers. The course also covers organizing your files, estimating time and costs, building a solid team, scheduling work, and getting the project underway. In addition, you'll explore how to hand out and track assignments, communicate with the team, work through issues, and bring your project to a close. This course follows the relocation of a small business as the sample project, but the course's strategies apply to a wide variety of small projects, including those in marketing, business development, product development, software development, freelancing, and the like.

This course qualifies for 1.5 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.

Topics include:
  • Defining the life cycle and scope of small projects
  • Identifying the project customer and other stakeholders
  • Determining the right level of management
  • Collaborating
  • Scheduling work
  • Managing risk
  • Keeping things moving
  • Evaluating the project
  • Getting sign-off and tying up loose ends

  • The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
Subjects:
Business Education + Elearning
Author:
Bonnie Biafore

Organizing your project files

Whether you're working on a team or on your own, you can make your projects run more smoothly by organizing your project files effectively. Very small projects with very small teams might be able to track project information in single files. For example, a spreadsheet for change requests another for issues and another for risks. As far as which type of file to use if you're going to spend a lot of time editing the content of the document such as defining specifications, go with a word processing document.

On the other hand a spreadsheet makes it easy to sort or filter entries in a long list and you can also perform calculations such as adding up the hours for all the approved change requests. If your project produces more information you might end up with multiple files about tasks or change requests. In that case you create folders for each category of information such as tasks, risks, changes, issues and so on.

When files change overtime you also need to keep track of the changes to your documents. If you use a program that can track changes everyone can edit the file and see everyone else's changes. However, if edits occur in sequence you can use filenames to keep track of the current version and the person who made the edits. A handy naming convention is to add the date and initials to the end of the file name. So if I edit the issues file on October 17, 2012 the filename might become issues_121017bjb.

By entering the date as year, month and day your files will appear in chronological order. To keep the current versions of documents in the spotlight create a subfolder called old versions in each folder you use. Keep the current version of the file in the top folder then move all previous versions to the old versions folder that way older versions will be out of sight, but easy to retrieve if you need them. Suppose you work on a project with five other people from three different small companies.

Each person is in a different city, two team members use Windows PCs and the other three work on Mac's. What technology might you use so that everyone can collaborate and share information about the project? Email is an easy common denominator for communicating and it's easier than phone calls and conference calls. An online storage service can reduce issues between Windows and Mac machines. If files are simple you could use a service that let's everyone work online and review the files at the same time.

Whatever technology you use organizing your project files effectively will go a long way to keeping your hair attached to your head.

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