So recently I tried out a new-to-me Online Project Management site.
There was a 30-day free trial so I figured I would try it out. I set up a “dummy” project (my daughters Halloween Party) and started work.
Access and set up were fairly straightforward and easy to understand. The only problem I came across was when I realized I was inputting Tasks for Milestones, oops. I could not find a way to easily remedy this, so I had to delete and reenter the tasks as tasks, sigh. That took a while, but once things are set up in the project area it is fairly easy to add people and assign them responsibilities in the project. It was not always clear, however, how tasks were to be signed off as completed. This took a little fiddling and looking around. I did finally figure it out and it was easier than expected J of course. As the PM I had all access and I could request a daily or other time-period report of the project from the site. The reports were concise and showed all the info one would need at a glance to ensure the project is proceeding well, or not. As a worker on the project I got emails of the tasks assigned to me and, when they were due, a reminder popped up when I was getting close to the due date, so that worked out well. There is also a nice place to add the client info so they can also receive activity emails and reports as needed.
The subscription fee is not outrageous and the customer service is responsive and polite. There are a variety of packages available, surprise, and they are different enough that they cover a wide range of activities. I was pleased to find one that is “personal” with 5 projects per year. This is perfect if you are in a small group that does limited events each year and want to make sure everyone is apprised of the project and how it is coming along (this is my situation and I will bring it up at our next meeting).
I really enjoyed working in this format and will be exploring other sites as I learn of them.
If you are curious, my daughters Halloween party went very well and all items were completed in a timely manner according to my PM, despite having to move the whole thing indoors due to inclement weather.
It is January, it is cold outside and I am curled up on the couch online. My little darling enters, “Mummy, shouldn’t we start planning my birthday party soon?” “Sure sweetie, “ I answer (her birthday is the end of May). I immediately begin to look up venues that are reasonably priced and can take all the hassle out of a large group of 6/7 year olds on cake. Sweetie mentions, “I want a Skylanders birthday party this year.” “Oh, um ok sweetie.” This is my own fault entirely. Last birthday party was Harry Potter themed, I turned the house into Hogwarts, had classes, magic, heraldic banners, Quidditch, and Platform 9 -3/4 to enter the house the whole nine yards. She expects that there will be islands floating somewhere near the ceiling I am sure. Maybe a ship to travel around in, sigh.
I love planning things. I love doing research to find out what is fun for the age group involved, I love making the pieces that will eventually decorate the venue, and I especially love the delighted look on the faces of the participants when an event goes well. As my child might have indicated-plenty of pre-planning and lots of lead time is the BEST way to have a great event. It is not always possible, so having a few plans in your hip pocket to fall back on in an emergency doesn’t go amiss. This go-round I will concentrate on the “lots of lead time” model. It is, after all, my favourite.
When I start planning for an event I like to open a document and just brainstorm ideas. To keep things clear, I mean ANY ideas on location, activities, dates, times, food, guests, prizes, gifts, staff, etc. keep this list it may come in handy if something falls through and another idea is needed. Once this has been done go through the list and pick out the best ideas and put them aside for consideration. Put these ideas on your timeline and assign dates to them so you know when they should be completed. I love this second list because this makes me feel like I have gotten a lot done and the event is practically planned. The hardest part after this is choosing a date and a venue. Once that is out of the way your creativity can take over.
I have been lucky in my latest planning ventures to have a very easy-going taskmistress (Sweetie) so no worries there, but if the person you are working for is demanding it is important to keep them in the loop. Even if the news isn’t great. Having been on both sides of the equation it is really difficult to not know anything more concrete than “oh, everything is on schedule” or the even more vague “no problems, everything is fine.” to deal with. Even if all of your communication is over email and text, let your tasker know in a short “report” (maybe a paragraph or two) that you have completed this or that and are now onto the next thing and the plans for X are in place. Also let them know if any problems have arisen and how they were dealt with. They will appreciate being informed without having to ask.
So you know, the Party went great. There were fun hats and a search for keys and Skystones were played and treasure boxes were found and everyone had fun, even the helpers.
Sabrina loves it when her plans come together. With a young child in the house there are even more opportunities to plan and execute fun, stay tuned for all the details.