PM Tech Corner: Helpful (and free) PM Productivity Tools
Welcome to the Technical Corner for PMI Portland Chapter. This section is designed to help Project to Portfolio managers leverage tools, technologies and best practices in delivering stellar value in your daily work activities.
My name is Tim Runcie and I have spent the last 20+ years working with both technologies and methodologies supporting Project, Program and Portfolio managers globally. You can say it is a passion at our company Advisicon, helping our customers and community or practice practitioners achieve better ROI with the blend of both tools and technologies.
As a Gold PPM partner with Microsoft, I welcome hearing requests for improvements on Microsoft tools, so feel free to communicate those with my team or me anytime. I can be reached at Tim.Runcie@Advisicon.com.
In this month’s article, I wanted to showcase some great tools that Project Managers use regularly to help them in their daily work activities. There is a quote from an unknown author, “You can’t expect to meet the challenges of today with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow.”
So true. You should be evolving your toolsets (approaches, processes, technologies) as you go along, as tomorrow’s challenges force us to review and or innovate the tools we have or don’t have.
Now if you go out and do your own search, do be careful about what you download. Generally free means that there is a catch if you are not on a common location (like TechNet or Apple Downloads). Just be aware that some free products have advertising or even tracker software built in. That is why I only review and download from a safe platform or location (and do a little research on a utility before I download it).
Have you ever been frustrated by the fact you have to repeat instructions or creating FAQ (Frequently Asked Question Documents) or training guides takes hours. If we think about how people learn (seeing vs. reading), and also how knowledge transfer is both moving to the digital age and there is less and less content that being written out in book form, then this little tool is a gem to speed up your productivity.
I find that referencing or documenting a workflow or process or even step by step instructions for others can be simplified and captured in an easy to follow process using this tool. Just record it and share it!
This little tool records the entire screen or just a single window and saves the clips into a WMV format. It allows you to even add audio, so you give people the walkthrough while they watch what you are doing.
You can find this tool referenced all over TechNet at Microsoft. It was designed by one of their engineers (Burak Uysaler) as a free productivity tool and I have found it much easier to pick up and use than other more costly (and powerful) video editing tools.
Here is a link to the blog post & file on TechNet: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2009.03.utilityspotlight2.aspx?pr=blog
One of my favorite tools and one that I find helpful whenever I am teaching, doing demonstrations or presentations to even just working with a team in an online meeting, is the Zoomit tool.
This tool actually was created in Windows 3.0 (that was the first Windows release that some of us older PMs remember... ). It helped to blow up the screen so people could see better, especially when projector technology was still in its infancy.
This utility now allows you to zoom into any part of your screen, draw in different colors and emphasize or underscore anything you want to share or present. It is part of the Sysinternals tools that Microsoft uses internally and is super handy.
You can create a hot key shortcut to launch it anytime, without having to go and run the application and have seamless zoom in and out capabilities while working with anything that is on your screen.
Here is the link to the TechNet version (the only version I recommend doing a download from): https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/zoomit.aspx
Trello (and soon by Microsoft Planner)
Trello is for managing tasks visually. You can create your own working board and arrange task cards and assign them to people. This tool is great for visual planning and projects that are short or not overly complex.
The concept is simple for light weight task management. Simply drag and drop cards between lists to show progress. Add as many people as you need and drag them to cards. Add and reorder lists as you need.
You can personalize the work space, the graphics and icons as needed and then even have conversations around the tasks with people who are assigned to it.
This is a visual management tool and really helps with personal or even small project planning activities.
For those of you that are in O365, Microsoft about to release their own version called “Planner”. I have had the privilege of testing and using this over the last year and it really provides task management a better tool than using some of the more powerful Project or Work Management technologies that are out there.
Trello is a completely independent product from Microsoft, but has a great following. Here is the link to their site: https://trello.com/
There are many others, but these are some of the great utilities that one can leverage with little to no effort and help increase your productivity.
Warmest wishes for your work and do reach out to me at Tim.Runcie@Advisicon.com for questions or other techniques/tools and blended methodology approaches. Happy PM’ing!
About the Author
|Tim Runcie is the president of Advisicon (a Gold PPM Company), a 20+ year project, program and portfolio expert and member of the Microsoft Advisory council. Tim is also the author of over 36 books on technology and project management and a 12+ year nominated and awarded MVP at Microsoft. Tim and Advisicon offer webinars, classes and customized training for all your project management needs.|