Project Management - Microsoft Project (Part 1)

Last year our small legal ops team of 4 shifted onto Microsoft Project.  Now in year 2 with over 30 active projects we have the features down and are seeing benefits:

1.  Setting Leadership Expectations: We have a clear picture of how our time is used and reserved.  Because attorneys tend to be on call for issues, they tend to test high on urgency and low on planning. For this reason, I have not had much success over the years negotiating project schedules based on availability. However, when a new project lands it does help us to communicate effectively the timeframe impact on projects underway. 

2.  Team Coordination:  Each Ops Team member has projects s/he runs solo and others for which we are coordinating closely together.  Looking at the dashboard together once a week as an agenda item and task scheduling helps to keep those common touch points within our sight lines and included in our daily communications.  

3.  Self-Management: Of those 34 active projects, almost 50% are core job responsibilities that we set up as maintenance projects.  We aim to follow (at minimum) an 80/20 rule.  At least 20% of time should be reserved for projects that move the needle on both your learning trajectory and more efficient and effective process for the department as a whole.  The dashboard helps us to surface and course correct if we find ourselves from time to time over relying on our comfort zone.

 Typically, we spend 15 minutes a day on project maintenance and once a month an extra hour or two closing out old work and updating project schedules. Altogether that amounts to about 7-8 hrs each per month. 

In a follow on, I'll focus on best practices for Microsoft Projects that we've learned, as well as some of the other tools out there.