Project Toolkit Gone Awry

Horror Story No. 4
This collection of project horror stories would not be complete without a tale concerning: MICROSOFT PROJECT

Listen now to the saga of The Project Toolkit Gone Awry

TNTWe were expanding, and expanding FAST.  Not five, not ten, but 200 stores were to be built-out, and it was my job to create a project plan for each store, and then roll them all up together into an overall Master Project Plan.

I was younger then, and fairly new to project management.  So it seemed like a logical move to invoke the PM tool of choice, Microsoft Project, to handle it all.

The Horror: At first, everything seemed to be going fine.  I set up a template to serve as a starting point for each store.  I then customized the plans as needed to reflect the specifics for each location.  No problem. 

Then it happened.  I put in the dependencies and connected them all together to create the Overall Master Plan: And a monster was truly born! 

Frankenstein MonsterAs I tended to the care and feeding of this creature of my own making, I was soon crushed by it’s sheer size and burden for daily updates and weekly reporting.  My struggle continued to grow as managers who did not use MS Project insisted on updates in Excel.  So to meet the demand, I added a custom menu with macros to “automate” the conversion process.  But this did not go over so well with my team members who had to then install these macros on each machine.  Needless to say, I wasn’t making many friends with such an ugly monster on my back! 

Finally, I went in one day to update a few dependencies, and threw everything off.  What a Nightmare!  So I chucked the whole thing and went exclusively to Excel.  My good intentions and lack of experience cost me – and the company – a great deal of time and anxiety.

Scary Lessons: Microsoft Project has way too many features and functions.  When I use it now, I only use about 10% of what is available.  I also learned to never create something so complicated that it takes over your life!  Get help.  And beware of scope creep when it comes to the tools, bells and whistles that you use.

When my friend related this tale to me, I told them they were not alone.  I had a similar experience early on in my career, as perhaps you did too.  It’s sort of a rite-of-passage into the world of project management.  The good news is that through experiences such as this, we grow older and wiser, and acquire a healthy respect for the AWESOME POWER (for both good and evil) of ALL the tools that we use.

Atomic Symbol

Doug Bedinger

Helping individuals, project teams, and whole organizations work better together.



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