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Keeping track of a project

  1. Nov 15, 2015 #1
    Hi all,

    I'm a researcher at a university and I got an important project with a company. For the first time in my professional life I need to cooperate both with a PhD student and an industrial partner and I should mostly coordinate the project. I want to perform well and to do this, I think I need to constantly have a clear picture of the project status with all the needed tasks, the not clear information and all the incoming things. Is there any way to carry out this? Is there any software able to carry out it? Any suggestion is welcome.

    Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 15, 2015 #2

    SteamKing

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    Well, you are no longer just a 'researcher' anymore. You have now become that dreaded beast known as a 'manager', to use one of the more polite appellations.

    There is an art to managing well, which takes some time to acquire. You can use software to help you with the drudge work on management, but there is no 'management app' you can load on your phone to take over running this project.

    Without knowing more about this project, like how big or how small, you must stay in contact with your co-workers, but not so much that no work gets done. If you spend all your time in meetings and marking up managerial charts and whatnot, who's doing the work?
     
  4. Nov 15, 2015 #3
    Hi SteamKing,

    I have just started to be a manager buy I avoided this work because I really like to do practical research! :)
    I'm considering to just stay in contact with the involved people, but I believe, that for me and my group is important that the knowledge of any PhD student is available to anyone, otherwise when any PhD leave the institue, his knowledge is totally lost. Also for this reason I'm searching for a way to keep track of the projects. I'm using a kind of customized GTD approach implemented in Onenote that is really good but it doesn't provide any way to get the global picture of the project. Moreover, I don't want to impose a method, otherwise they will not fully accept it.
     
  5. Nov 15, 2015 #4

    jim mcnamara

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    MS project is a good choice if you do not know much about project management. Generally GOOD PM requires keeping track of an awful lot of disparate things: working time minus meetings, coordination of processes like material requisitions -> PO -> package tracking -> receiving. You should be able to say where each process, and know when stuff you do not have - which can include working times for your student, vendor time if necessary to set up equipment, your time, etc. - will become available.

    It is not just about deadlines, it also requires knowing about resources well before they are required. One surprise can cost you unplanned weeks of downtime.
     
  6. Nov 20, 2015 #5
    MS project seem to be a good idea and we have a license at work. I see it is possible to introduce to do list, that is really important for me. It is also possible to create a task template, or a group o of tasks ? For example, the task might be "acquisitionon machine xy", so there is the consequently sub tasks, for example:
    -> check the wires;
    -> calibrate sensors;
    -> preparare the acquisition software;
    -> install sensor on a machine
    and so on.

    In case MS project does not provide this feature, do you know any sw able to do it and to work with different users?
     
  7. Nov 20, 2015 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    MS Project does this, but having the software is no substitute for learning how to do project management. MS Word doesn't make you a writer either.
     
  8. Nov 21, 2015 #7
    For sure, I just want a system to keep track of the activity of my phd students and starting a system might automate the managing process
     
  9. Nov 29, 2015 #8

    Dr Transport

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    The dreaded weekly group meeting is the methodology that should be used. If you make your students put together a couple of slides for a meeting once a week, you''ll keep track of their progress. The three-times a week stand up for 10-15 minutes in the morning is also a necessary evil. I use both, and I am able to keep track of the progress of all of my co-workers progress.

    try these before launching into some electronic tracker like Project, it is powerful but you can get lost in the details very easily.
     
  10. Nov 29, 2015 #9
    We already do it once every two weeks and it is really effective and they cannot substituted by anything else. I would like a method that for especially for my own review. I believe that with a sort of task list, students can have a better ideas of their duties, isn't it?
     
  11. Nov 29, 2015 #10

    Dr Transport

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    In a research environment, there is less a task list and more a do as it needs to be done. This is not to say that it can't be broken down to that level, but if you're working with a bunch of graduate students, their job is to figure it out and learn, not just go down a check list and do. Increasing the frequency of the meetings and getting them to provide a list of their accomplishments for the week is a better way to go.
     
  12. Nov 29, 2015 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    Maybe, but this isn't somewhere software is going to help you. MS-Project is good for understanding schedules with a lot of dependencies between tasks, and how this affects the schedule: e.g. "I can't start testing sensors until January, but need to finish by March."
     
  13. Dec 2, 2015 #12

    f95toli

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    Remember that students are just that, they are not "normal" employees. The goal is for them to become increasingly independent and towards the end of their project they should really be managing it more or less of their own and you shouldn't have to get involved at all in the day-to-day stuff.
    Hence, I would argue that students should not have "duties" as such; they should have goals and as time progresses these goals should increasingly become of a more "high level". nature.
     
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