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Visualizing All the Work in Your Project Portfolio

visualizeCIOs rarely have one project going on at a time. It's even rare for a project manager not to have their time split between multiple projects at any given point. Keeping all projects that you're working on visible is hard enough, but what about the projects that are upcoming? Or reviewing the projects you completed a month ago? More importantly, can you articulate to clients and upper management the amount of work you have on your plate and how that work fits into other projects? Johanna Rothman approaches these questions starting with a simple solution: visualize the work. By simply making the projects you have visually apparent, you're more likely to communicate to your team and your clients just what is happening (and what is slated to happen), and what kind of workload is expected in the coming months. Rothman uses the example of an IT client she is currently consulting for and what they needed to present to their management:

 They have big projects that they want to show in a calendar-like fashion so their management can see how the majority of their time is spent, just as in the image to the left. In this case, the project rank is implicit. And, they have many small projects that come into their group by email, by conversation, by randomness. I suggested they need to visualize the work, so  someone  can rank the work. One of these clients is an engineering firm, who has a electrical engineering group, a software group, and a mechanical engineering group. We think a kanban board is a good first step, so this is what we set up.

The kanban board, a simple post-it note solution, allowed for a better discussion on work being performed, work that was completed, and work that was upcoming. Rothman recognizes that visualizing is only the first step. Once visualized, the conversation on whether certain projects are valuable enough to have at all can take place, potentially removing low priority, low value projects and giving the team more time to spend on higher value work.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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