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When does a project become unwieldy?

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    Trevor Tollefsbol

    This is a great question and something we have experienced and continue to as we advance and refine our project templates.  One thing we struggle with is parallel tasks not starting early enough because a lag time was used in the dependency.  We use typical task durations based on past experience, but every project is different.  While lead/lag times and multiple dependencies look fancy on a Gantt chart, they can create a massive amount of schedule management to keep things falling in place as workload and task duration varies.  I had a manager who frequently used the phrase, "A process should work for you, you shouldn't work for the process."

    Admittedly, our first project template in Wrike covered every single task necessary to complete a product development project.  This turned out to be about 90 tasks!  Can't believe we thought it was a good idea to load 90 tasks for every project, when we run about 30-40 projects a year.  We've since dialed that back to about 10 tasks per project and created custom workflows to use as status updates for each high-level activity.

    The biggest help (for the way we run meetings) is creating Spaces relevant to our weekly meeting discussions.  The tasks are filtered into these spaces by assigning a category to each task in a custom field.  For example, we have a space to discuss Packaging, Development, Artwork, etc.  In each of these spaces, we only show the tasks from our collection of projects that have the appropriate category assigned to them.  Using this method, we can quickly review packaging status for every project without having to sift through the other noise that comes with complex project templates.

    We gave up on sub-tasks and trying to separate the projects to match a stage-gate system.  Originally, we created a folder within the project for each stage, but that created really messy reports.  Then we used a high level task with a series of sub-tasks to represent each phase/stage, but this created a lot of tasks that were completely meaningless to us.  Ultimately we've settled on custom workflows and minimal tasks/dependencies to give clean reports and clear view of actual project status.  It also allows us to move individual task dates around without affecting other tasks.  This has been a learning experience that shows us what actually are dependent tasks in our project duties, and it's much less than we had originally thought.

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