Open Project Management - Project Extranet

Even though written documentation is a poor form of communication, it's one of the few ways we have of capturing information. On every project, there will a series of documents and materials that will be required by different members of the team over the entire lifecycle. Before I decide to create Project Extranets for every project, the amount of time I spent searching for documents and emailing copies to different people was beyond the pale. People kept losing copies and worse, some documents would get lost altogether. Having a single repository for all assets for the project, from designs to progress reports, is an invaluable asset for every project.

Creating and maintaining a project extranet doesn't have to be an onerous task. Although it may seem like overkill at the start of a project, it always proves to be more than worth it in the long run.

The key elements of a project extranet include:

  • Meeting notes

  • Documentation

  • Progress Reports

  • Tasks

  • People

Meeting Notes

It doesn't matter if the meeting notes are captured in a Word doc and put on the extranet or actually entered by hand, what matters is that the meeting notes are captured and everyone on the team can seem them. It's a basic principle of open management that everyone has access to all the information. Sure, the Designer might not care about what happened in the meeting where the Developer discussed data integration, but if they want to find out, they can, and they won't feel left out (even if they might want to, at times!).

Progress Reports

Once the progress report is done, post it on the extranet for everyone to see. You should also email everyone once it's been posted.

Documentation

This is a great way to make sure no one can make the excuse "I haven't got a copy!" It covers any document that has been created for the project, design concepts, specifications, project plans, budgets, reports, etc.

Tasks

I color code tasks to make it easy to see what's been done (green), what's in progess (blue), and what's late (red). As this is public information, it's pretty obvious where the fault lies if the project is running late. Especially if the task is a deliverable from the Client!