A simple start to project management

Being able to track your work efficiently is a very useful skill. For years I completed my work but rarely tracked my work in a project management professional (PMP) sort of way. Sure, I’ve done the weekly reports, sticky notes, Outlook tasks, and Outlook calendar block scheduling, which are all useful. However, simple project management skills help create a consistent and straightforward approach to managing time, resources, and tasks. I’ve seen organizations take an all guns blazing PM approach to a nothing at all approach. Sometimes you’ll see IT subject matter experts resist PM due to the “I’m too busy” or “It takes too much time” statements, but in reality, basic fundamental project management is not that difficult.

Here’s an example of how you can model behavior and start to implement some basic PM skills. I recently had a team reach out to discuss a new project that would require infrastructure resources. The team pulled up a draft diagram, and we began our dialog. I started to ask peering questions, and the diagram began to transform. Once I was comfortable with understanding what we were trying to accomplish, I shared my screen with the team and opened up OneNote. I began typing each major task that needed to be completed and here’s what I came up with:

Work breakdown schedule (WBS)

Start date

Completion date

Assignment

Additional resources

~hours

Site A Start

Review existing firewall DMZ networks for possible reuse

New External DMZ VLAN creation

Setup new VLAN HP infra chassis/VC setup

Setup new Vsphere virtual switch

New Ext. DMZ subnet/routing (plan for 5 hosts future, + 3 F5 LB)

Request 2 VMs

New Ext. DMZ IP addresses

New Ext. DMZ setup on F5 LB

New Ext. DMZ firewall rules (internal)

F5 – VS creation for (internal)

New Ext. DMZ firewall rules (external)

F5 – VS creation for (external)

External DNS creation

Now all I have to do is work the timeline out and gather my team resources. Then I’ll collaborate with each of my team members to come up with project time availability and make sure that I can fit everything into an expected timeline. Of course, there’s lots more to a project, but this example can provide an excellent introduction to creating work breakdown schedules. This project also has some HA requirements, but we started the testing phase without HA. This table could be duplicated for Site B, C, etc. for the HA build. You can use Excel or tables within OneNote to get started. I would suggest looking atĀ Gantter via www.smartapp.com which is free and easy to use if you like gantt charts. If you’re looking for more sophisticated tools, take a look at MS project, Teamdynamix, or Smartsheet.

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