We’ve now got an array of tools available to us that are part of our suite of apps in the University that we can use to manage projects. That’s what I really want to just come across today. First thing, I apologise if I am telling people or teaching people how to suck eggs. But if there are things in here that people don’t know about, then I’ve only got ten minutes today, so please get in touch with me. Drop me a Teams message or an email or whatever. I’ll be happy to spend some one-on-one time with you. I’ve said my bit. I’ll share my screen. I will share screen 2, hopefully.
Microsoft Planner [00:45]
This set of apps is available to us obviously on the Office 365. We can get to these additional apps by logging into an Office 365 account office.com with our MWS credentials. What I’m going to do today, I’m going to talk about Planner. I’m going to go into Gantt Charts and Excel and then I’m going to talk about something outside of that remit, which is Mural. Hopefully you’re all going to get something new.
The first thing: Planner. Planner is an app which is like the stage up from… For example people might be managing projects and tasks using Microsoft Outlook. Or they might be even writing them down on a to-do list – and that’s absolutely fine. There’s nothing wrong with them. Planner is like the next level of tech for managing your projects and your tasks. To get to that, if I click on click on Planner and then create a new plan, a new plan is essentially your project, so whatever that might be. I’ll just put a test in here and hopefully no one’s already got a test one.
Whatever that project might be, that will be your plan. Then once that’s been created, in here you’ve got a very simple interface where you can start to create tasks. It does get a bit more interesting than just assigning tasks. Some of the work streams in your project might be, for example, to do some stakeholder mapping. I’ll just put stakeholders in there and then I’ll add another bucket, which might be finance. Then maybe something around comms. Now I’m beginning to break down my project into the various components of what they are by just adding a new bucket. In a new bucket I can have various multiple tasks.
Now I’ve got those stages of the project and I’ve mapped all those out already, I’m now at the point where I can start to add those tasks in. If I just create a task in here in stakeholders, for example, and do something around; say I’m going to create a stakeholder map. Once I’ve added that task and I now click on that task, I get some more detail. This is where you’re getting into that project management sphere because not only can you set the progress and the priority of those tasks. You can assign those tasks to other people.
Right at the bottom there – I should have done that before, actually – I could’ve assigned that to another member of a team, to a manager, to whoever it is within the organisation. Not only can I do that; I can add a checklist to the item. If that that task is fairly big there are going to be lots of sub-tasks to create in a stakeholder map. It could just start with a phone call, for example. One of the checklists could be: call, I don’t know, Sue for some other reason.
Then you start to really break down these things; you break down these tasks into their individual components. Obviously you can create attachments there and you can do all the bits in there and make comments. As they start to get completed, you can start to update the completion status.
For this one I’m just going to add in progress at the moment. Then I’m going to close that down. One other slight thing; you can call a code and you can change the name of those calls, should you so wish. I’m going to add another task in here which is going to be; I’m going to set this task to be an overdue. I’m just going to put create report. I’m going to set the due date to overdue, and this time I’m going to assign it to myself and add that task. There’s nothing else I need to put in there. I could add some extra detail like I did before, but I don’t think I need to on this.
So you can see now we can build up a list of tasks related to a component of your project. Then we get to the nice stuff. In here now, once you start to get some tasks going, they’ve been assigned to other people, you start to get some metrics back into this dashboard field. Once you’ve got, say, ten or 11 tasks in here you can start to configure these graphs. You might want this as a bar chart etc. You can start to change the features of these; what’s urgent, what’s overdue so it gives you that very clear indication at a glance of what’s overdue, what hasn’t been done yet and so on.
The schedule is just the same as it would be in Outlook. It’s a calendar view but it does show the tasks that I’ve put in there and then when they are due or when they need to be completed. Just as an aside, you’re project managing whatever it might be. You’ve got a group of people; when you start to assign them their tasks in Planner, they will start to have email notifications that they’ve been assigned a task. It’ll appear in their dashboard so they’ll get an overview of that project that’s been created at the same time. They’ll be able to see what tasks are for them or what tasks are for others.
So very quickly you can build up a pure project management methodology just by using Planner. I think Planner is really cool. I really like that but it doesn’t go quite far enough. By the way, all these down here, these are plans that I use regularly. I assign tasks. Not everybody does the tasks that I assign them on time, but that’s another issue.
You need a stage further. Sometimes when you’re project managing, and like you guys will be, you might have multiple things on the go at the same time. You’re going to want a bit more of an overview of that. So this is a very simple spreadsheet. You can create Gantt charts on various templates out there. You can create a Gantt chart on PowerPoint if you wish. You can use those more expensive programmes. You can download Trello and so on. But if you want something that’s really quick and easy and you want a very quick visual glance of the progress of your collection of projects – which would be normally called a programme – here’s a real example of what I’m working on at the moment, where I’m up to, how long these projects are due to run for. You can see here for example the induction module is not yet complete and I’m overdue on that induction module.
Here is your overview of projects. Like I said, you’ve got that Gantt chart. You’ve got that reporting mechanism for all the projects now. Very easy to set up. What I’ll do with this, if anyone’s interested in using this, I will drop the file either in the Zoom chat. I’ll drop a link to the file either in the Zoom chat or I can put it somewhere shareable. This is just a template that I created and then changed to fit with the academic year. We run from August for a couple of years along there.
There’s your overview. Let’s go back to that stakeholder thing in here and where we had an element of the project, which was create a stakeholder map. What if you want to do that? We’re all working remotely and not all of us are back on campus yet so there’s a big divide at the moment. You might have people on campus and off campus.
One of the best tools I’ve come across since being in lockdown is Mural. Mural is external to the University, but being an educational establishment we get free access. I would recommend everybody sign up for a Mural account; it’s fantastic! I’m going to give you a very quick whistle-stop tour of Mural. It’s a collaborative tool that can be used just like this and Zoom calls or Team chats, where everybody collaborates on the same document at the same time synchronously. You can all see each other’s activity as you’re going along.
It works through whiteboards, I guess similar to Padlet and apps like that, but it’s a bit more in-depth. One of the great things is, you get access to templates. Here are some of the things that we’ve been working on recently in the team. You can see some of these are filled in. I won’t go into them because it might have somebody’s names and so on and so forth. Let’s say I’ve come to this place now and I want to get a meeting together and I want to do some stakeholder mapping.
Mural has lots of templates and you can see here the fourth one across is a stakeholder mapping template. Perfect. I’m going to click on that and I’m going to use that template. What we’ve got here, just like I said, you’ve got a whiteboard essentially which lots of people can work on at the same time. Let me just create the Mural from template so you get a real version of it. Once you’ve created this from a template, I can now share it out to whoever and as many people as I want just by using the invite link.
Then we can get those people into Mural and start working on things at the same time. During meetings during lockdown, we’ve been working on various different things. Just for the purposes of the example here I’m going to just zoom right into the identify stakeholders template. Let’s say people have got ideas about where these things can be; they can drag around the Post-its that are there, or they can add in their own Post-its. So what I’ve done in the past is, I’ve said, ‘Can you guys use blue? We’ll use yellow’ and you can start to then very quickly just drag in, make some comments. I want Sue in this one. I want, I don’t know, Bob in here so very quickly you can drag in that. You can start to work collaboratively on that stakeholder mapping process.
Right at the bottom you can see there’s a little symbol there; it’s myself that that’s working in the Mural. So when you get more people you’ll get other little circles; nine, ten, eleven people all working on it at the same time. People all have the same rights, so they can drag in their own stickies, they can do whatever they like. They can start to make connections between what people are saying. I might say, ‘Yes, that makes perfect sense to me.’ I think, yes, I agree with Sue on that; you can make those connections.
You’ve got loads of icons in here so I think, yes, Bob’s idea was great, I’m going to put a couple of flames on Bob’s idea! Or maybe it wasn’t so great. We can add in different elements in here straightaway. We can add grids in and so forth and we can add in images. It’s a great tool for project management. It’s a great tool for collaborating all at the same time and generating those ideas.
Like I said, it’s not part of the University’s suite of things but it is free for educators. All you need to do is sign up with a free account, run the free account for 30 days and then move that across to an educational account. There’s lots more to Planner, there’s lots more to Gantt charts on Excel and there’s a lot more to Mural than I’ve currently shown.
Like I said, if you’ve got questions, please feel free to get hold of me. I’m sure the guys in the Prosper team will do all the signposting that they can. Thanks for your time.
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