Project Facilitators, Managers, and Stakeholders, please read on…
If you’ve been charged with managing project changes, there are many Microsoft solutions that may be used by a wide array of users with varying degrees of technical experience.
When the project team members are not comfortable with “technology”, MS Word may be as adventurous as you can get.
Your stakeholders believe each of your change requests have their own story to tell, and the story should be told in MS Word. Each of the Change Requests (CR) contain the ‘story’ of the item as well as an appended comments for each of your meetings’ notes.
The solution is a beast to manage if the product/process is used for more than a month, i.e. in an ongoing basis. Details of the CRs can easily fall by the wayside, as well as prone to human error for the evolving descriptions and historical audit trail in the comments section.
NOTE: Free form text, excluding organizing data into Word tables.
MS Excel is a step up from Word, but is still susceptible to similar issues. On the positive side, tables have the ability to be sorted, and filtered. The content/tables may be exported into an email, MS Word doc, etc. Both MS Word and MS Excel alone do share an additional issue, Change Requests (CR) are not version controlled at the record level. Both Excel and Word files can be imported into a document management system, e.g. SharePoint, and the docs will have a check in/out audit. Adding/Changing text on new/existing CRs becomes problematic, and prone to errors, and inconsistent audit of comments.
Send them a PDF of the Project Plan. Companies have few licenses of MS Project, and sharing a project plan with the team is most likely done by exporting the Project Plan to PDF. When reviewing / updating the project plan in real time with the team (e.g. SMEs, Stakeholders), they collectively see the effect of adding tasks, updating duration, and dependencies. Itemizing tasks of the team, and grouped by parent activities will help the team stay ‘on task’. The non-PMs do not need access to the Project Plan for edits; this is performed 1:1 or in a team setting with the PM facilitating.
SharePoint is a document and workflow management system among other things. ‘Out of the box’ capabilities enable users to track a project, Gantt charts to task management, most everything needed to manage a project, including N number of personalized views of the project data,. The SharePoint platform, out of the box, seems to cater to the laymen as well as the technical savvy.
5. Team Foundation Server (TFS)
TFS covers the entire application lifecycle, part of which enables the team to track their backlog items. Backlog items may be correlated to other ‘objects’, such as test cases. All aspects of the project such as development, builds, unit test case execution, task tracking, and backlog items reside in TFS. For the tech laymen, i.e. business sponsor, little knowledge transfer is required for using the solution for backlog management.
6. Office Access
Yes, I’ve seen a UI on top of an Access database to manage change. Actually, I’ve built one way over a decade ago. It’s a lot of maintenance, just like any solution built from scratch. With so many options out there, this would not be my first choice.