The List – keep yourself on track

Ship it! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects, the book I introduced couple of days ago, introduces something called The List. The List is your task list that tells you what tasks you have, how long they would take to get done and when one or another task should be done.

Choosing software

I have used The List almost all the times although in different forms. One can consider Excel or plain text file. There are also other simple to install and use solutions like Windows SharePoint Services, dotProject and more.groupware. My current favourite is dotProject as it is lightweight and pretty powerful. You can use it also for your team or teams.

dotProject - tasks for today

dotrProject supports also task hierarchies and dynamic tasks (time estimates and schedules are computed using child tasks). Also project managers should be happy because there are also nice Gantt charts. You can try dotProject out in dotProject demo site.

Starting with The List

The List should be the tool you use everyday. I suggest you to track the following things:

  • tasks,
  • time estimates,
  • working hours per task,
  • daily activities,
  • deadlines.

Time tracking is very important because it lets you make more better estimates later. You get also better knowledge about your skills on different topics and based on that you know what things you must learn most to be better on your project.

NB! To be successful with The List you must use and update it every day. If you insert data only once per week then The List is not accurate anymore and will be useless or dangerous to you and to your success in your project.

Deploying The List

If you work in conservative team where new ideas are not welcome you don’t have to be good politician to make other people also use The List. Start using it by yourself and as soon as you have results introduce these to others. People like success stories and people trust  stories told by real experience. Also people like if you show them what and how you are using.

You must have your project manager in same boat as you are. Show him or her how he or  she can use The List to get better overview of team results and you have strong speaker on your side.

Gunnar Peipman

Gunnar Peipman is ASP.NET, Azure and SharePoint fan, Estonian Microsoft user group leader, blogger, conference speaker, teacher, and tech maniac. Since 2008 he is Microsoft MVP specialized on ASP.NET.

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