how to use teambox for project management…

May 1st, 2010 by Sebastian Leave a reply »

In the last weeks I was looking for an open source web based project management tool and I’ve found teambox.com – A very good pm-tool with twitter like communication functions that can be installed on your own server :)

In this article I wanna show, how to use teambox for management of an IT infrastructure project. Therefor I’ve created an example project which is called “application delivery infrastructure” which goal it is to implement Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop and Access Gateway with Provisioning Server and XenServer – A real IT infrastructure project ;-)

OK, before we speak about project management, we have to define what we wanna manage. In theory project management includes the following dimensions:

  • requirements (or goals) management
  • problem management
  • tasks/time management
  • ressource management

Unfortunately I didn’t find a way to use teambox for real ressource management, that means there is no way to check if a ressource is overbooked and there is no way to show that a planned parallization won’t work :(

But all the other things can be done very well. And if you think of real IT infrastructure projects that implement a new technology, you usually don’t have that much ressources, so you can do that part with an excel sheet or project file.

So let’s start with the requirements management – which is the most political part of project management in IT infrastructure projects (We all know the head of IT, that tells us, that this and that feature has to be implemented before the project is done…). So, for requirements management there are so called pages in teambox. Pages are Wiki like websites were you can add structured text and files very, very easily.

The screenshot above (click on it for full size) shows the requirements of my project. Usually you generate a list like this in the presales appointment but sometimes you have to build it by yourself because the salesman didn’t need to ask a real consultant ;-)

In both cases it takes literally no time to create your req page in your teambox project. With this req page all project members always have the chance to look at the goals of the project, which helps to create a culture of open communication in your project team. Keep in mind, that you as the project manager have to maintain this list until the end of the project. And keep in mind (double) that every change in project requirements usually changes the time and budget aspects of your project. So you might wanna show the req page to the project owner (customer) from time to time…

Additionally to the requirements management you have to deal with orders and receipts:

So if you put them on a second page in your teambox project you always have access to all the details of project hardware, software and service.

Now we come to the most hated topic among IT infrastructure specialists – documentation. I’ve experienced that it helps that you as the project manager structure the documentation and let the specialists fill in the technical details. This task can also be done with a teambox page very well:

As you can see in the screenshot above I like to structure the documentation files into lists, written documentation and product documentation. However you can use teambox pages in various ways to structure your documentation ;-)

Let’s talk about problem management. Which is something that is usually done by email. I’ve experienced that this is not always usefull, because not everybody is reading cc-emails and often questions are repeated by different team members. That’s why it makes sense to do the problem management with a …(you guess it?)… right – teambox page:

A page divided into open and closed problems does the job perfectly. Don’t forget to add the solution to the problem if it is solved and the solution is not obvious (like in my example). After solving a problem you can easily drag it to the section for solved problems.

After creating all this pages you might get lost – But therefor there is a built in pages overview:

Now it’s time to start the most important topic – tasks and time management. In teambox tasks are managed by task-lists and tasks (Who have thought that?). First you should create all your tasklists (without tasks). You can easily do that by using the headlines from your req-page. When you’ve added the tasklists you should set the beginning and the end dates of each tasklist (on the right side you can see a helpful gant-chart ;-) ):

After you have created your projects tasklists you can start filling them:

Fortunately that is not all you can do with teambox – For further details take the teambox tour! One more hint: Try out the discussion function with your team…

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3 comments

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  2. Juanj says:

    I found this post very helpful, thought I prefer to use a task list for problem management.

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