Home > Technology > Project Mgt. in Outlook

Project Mgt. in Outlook

So, once we’ve organized our email and are able to find necessary items quickly the next question to answer is: Are we able to use all the information we generate, can we identify trends over a period of time, can we control and influence what is going on? Specially if everything is done on emails. Can we make sense of the multitude of projects going on at an individual as well as aggregate level, all within outlook?

I personally deal with a lot of projects, change requests, proposals and issues as pieces of work. What I have done is to create a custom outlook “post” form. Within this form, for every work piece I’ve created some fields, such as work type, description, start date, target date, actual complete date, stage/phase, status (traffic light) and so on. Some of these are to be fed in and some are auto calculated. These also differ for each work type.

Having set up this form I’ve assigned this form to all outlook folders which store my project, proposal and change request emails and then populated the forms with necessary data.

Next I set up search folders based on the fields within the form I just described. These are different “views” for all the work that is going on. For example, one search folder could be all projects that are in different stages/phases of completion.  One could then further filter and sort within this search folder, for example, the projects that have been delayed or the number of days to go live (alerts). We can also create links to the folders which house the project emails.

Voila, there you have all projects lined up together which you can then monitor, influence and control. It could also help you minimize the time to search for information, understand what is going on and take informed decisions. The fields with relevant information can also be exported to excel using a free outlook add in such as code two (www.codetwo.com) to further play around and present the information. One can also use this approach to manage issues within projects. The only investment required is to fill the “form” or “project card” for every new piece of work. The search folders automatically add the new piece of work to create an updated view you originally set up and the system/process works!

If one would like to craft some business intelligence out of the above data, create some project dashboards and drive some useful decisions one can look a the free version of a BI/Dashboard tool such as Inetsoft’s Style Scope Free Edition (www.inetsoft.com). What’s amazing is that it can import the excel data derived from outlook and drag and drop these “fields” into graphs to generate visual reports. These can also be exported to several formats such as pdf and powerpoint.  One can also look at kidasa milestone software for generating project reports (www.kidasa.com). Amazing.

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