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Team work schedules

Team work schedules

Team work schedules

(OP)
My team is faced with a constant barrage of requests to perform work. They come from several sources in the company and the scope varies widely. Keeping track of who is doing what, when they'll be done, and how/when the next new thing will be done is a major challenge. Let's say we have 6 people in the team, averaging 2-5 tasks per day.

I've never been a rigorous scheduler for myself. I've been keeping some track of this in my head and relying on processes but it's not enough. I need to step up.

Interested in your methods for managing team schedules. It doesn't need to be digital. The method needs to be fast, flexible (constantly changing priorities and timelines) and preferably portable. I need to have a picture of workload at a glance.

A whiteboard would work but it's not portable. A planner book is portable but it's not flexible and visible to all. A digital scheduler might be right for this but the ones I've seen take too much effort to keep current. A perfect tool might have myself and team members both contribute to keep it accurate.

RE: Team work schedules

Check out Smartsheet. It's basically a cloud-based excel spread sheet.

RE: Team work schedules

Evil Corp. (Google) has cloud-based spreadsheets and calendars, as well as a project-planning add-on for their spreadsheets:
https://gsuite.google.com/learning-center/use-at-w...
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/projects...

Chrome store also as a bunch of stuff:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gantter-...

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Team work schedules

Take a look at Todoist. There's an app and a browser page, and multiple people can be included in multiple projects.

Husband uses it to keep all his minions organized and it works well. He and I use it to keep up with the grocery list, which also works well.

Please remember: we're not all guys!

RE: Team work schedules

Software development, with the whole 'Agile' methodology, seems to have made more progress in this area than others. There is always a tradeoff between being able to update schedules and allocation versus the effort involved to keep it up to date.

A shared calendar can probably do some of the work (allocate tasks to people, or at least indicate who is busy, and to a certain extent, on what). Other options might include some sort of ticketing system, so that when requests come in they can be prioritised and reallocated.

Project is ok, but usually ends up being labour intensive to update, and unless you're running the expensive versions with central resource allocation, it gets really difficult to make sure all resource allocations are up to date. There are a number of collaborative cloud based tools around, SLTA has mentioned one, another one is Podio. The cloud based platforms end up easiest to be able to keep everyone up to date quickly, but licencing (or subscription costs...) and access to the platforms can be problematic. I have a task manager I use for personal stuff, but it doesn't work well for team based stuff. I'd have a look at Podio (or Todoist) and see if there's anything like it that would suit.

EDMS Australia

RE: Team work schedules

To be honest, the best and simplest system I ever worked in was a whiteboard where every person had a different colour Post-it note, and the board was divided into Inbox, Ongoing, Review and Completed. Every morning the team gets together and spends no longer than 15 minutes reviewing what was completed and what's upcoming (basically Agile/Sprint, or whatever name you want to call it).

There are digital ways to do this, but I always preferred the post-it note version. Was very visual and gave an easy to see. Currently we are doing the meetings, but just with an Excel task list with a column for expected time and start/finish dates - that way management can see tasks that are ongoing in the short-term.

Excel seems the easiest to me - whatever system needs to be as flexible as possible because you'll be updating it probably multiple times daily.

RE: Team work schedules

I just found Teamup, a shared/synced calendar for multiple devices and multiple users:
http://www.teamup.com
A small team could evaluate it indefinitely for no money.
It gets fancier if you pay for it:
http://www.teamup.com/pricing/
I have no relationship with the company.
I am pleased that I didn't have to jump through hoops to find the pricing.
I have not tested it yet, but it looks interesting if they haven't screwed it up too badly.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Team work schedules

So you need a list of projects per person, and the projects need to be easy to shuffle both in priority and possible to/from people.

Excel may not be ideal - you could get away with another format where each person has their own 'table' that can be shuffled or tasks moved from one person to another.

The other way is all tasks, assigned person in another column and then prioritization in another column but prioritization gets messy.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
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RE: Team work schedules

+1 whiteboard

RE: Team work schedules

One of my mangers liked https://asana.com .

It was quick, easy and accessible if you needed to look at it from different locations. It worked good for regular progress meetings.

The software ones are integrated into the workflow and know when things have been started, who is working on them and when they are done. Some PLM systems can do this. Physical tasks don't have that luxury and require manual updates.

I do NOT recommend a spreadsheet for teams because of the problem with multiple people all wanting to change it at the same time. Google may make that easier but a shared Excel file on the network is painful.

Has anyone used Onenote for this?

RE: Team work schedules

Google spreadsheet and share with all

RE: Team work schedules

Check out Basecamp, though it has a small monthly fee to it.

RE: Team work schedules

(OP)
I appreciate all of the suggestions.

Our ERP system has project management functionality and from what I understand its (much) more cumbersome than MS Project. And I know enough about Project that it will be too much time investment. I know that if I get into any real heavy software, I'll be driven into using our ERP's module.

I'll try the Post-it whiteboard method for a while with an aim to keep track of 2 weeks. I expect the team members will like having their commitments and priorities right there for all to see (cutting down unnecessary "are you busy" "what are you working on" "when will you have time" conversations) as well as having an instant storyboard when a VP wanders in and wants to "push through" new order xyz. With the entire schedule in hand I can let the disruptor help decide where to fit that in and contribute to solving the problem they've created.

RE: Team work schedules

If a whiteboard or post-it notes "almost" work for you, try any of the following products, which use a kanban model common to software development:

https://trello.com/
https://kanbanflow.com/
https://products.office.com/en-us/business/task-ma...
https://blogs.office.com/2016/06/06/microsoft-plan...

Trello, in particular, is a flexible tool that many use for task and team management. Others use it for managing editorial calendars, for example. Check out this nifty writeup: http://blog.trello.com/moved-to-published-using-tr...

Microsoft Planner has a more traditional project management focus and includes features for tracking workload (and overload).

I don't use Trello to manage my client projects (which are typically capital equipment or electro-optical device development). But I use Trello for a host of personal and strategic purposes. I love the visual white board/post-it note/parallel list metaphor for these. My Trello boards include:

  • Planning-Weekly, Daily, Ideals - Documents the planning and review processes that I run through on a daily and weekly basis
  • Pipelines - My sales pipelines
  • Outsourcing Lists - Tracking things I don't like to do, I can't do, and I shouldn't do if I want to optimize and scale my business. This also has lists of tasks I would like to automate or outsource organized by function, such as IT, bookkeeping, and design.
  • Business Dashboard - The metrics I use to measure the health and trajectory of my business, the methods I use to track them, and the results over time
  • Personal accountability - A very high level view of the things I want to accomplish in the next week, month, quarter, year, and five years in both life and business
- Rob Campbell, PE
Learn precision engineering at practicalprecision.com

RE: Team work schedules

I used to be responsible for product support over a two shift operation (back in the mid-90s) and faced a similar issue crossing shifts

We used a 'virtual' whiteboard that allowed multiple users to see and modify the same document

Worked well to keep people from working on the same tasks and provided a place to post 'the answer' in case second shift tried to get a different answer than first shift

RE: Team work schedules

If you get the white board I recommend a magnetic one. It is worth the additional cost.

Tape out the grids you want. Print labels and put them on magnets for what you need like peoples names.

You can even stick documents on the board with the magnets.

There are even people that will custom print a whiteboard for you if that turns out to be the best solution.

RE: Team work schedules

I lead a team of 3-6 engineers also. I have tried a few different methods. The one I am using right now is a simple PM software that can link to an App or Browser. It's called Wrike.
You can very easily assign tasks and track the time it takes. It also give you metrics back.
Cheers,

RE: Team work schedules

when they'll be done

That's my personal favorite.

Keep reordering the deck, keep people from getting focused and finished, but make sure there's a solid finish date.

RE: Team work schedules

one of my most organized clients uses basecamp.......as mentioned by others above.

my least organized clients seemed to use .....nevermind

RE: Team work schedules

I'll put in a second vote for Trello. We used it for almost exactly what you are describing. Can use it from the desktop (browser-based), or mobile app. Typically we would have a Board for each person and "To Do", "Doing", and "Done" lists on each person's board. Its easy to move items between lists and boards as well as add notes, attachments, and due dates to items.

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