How-to: Cross-company scheduling with RPLAN Connect
In this article, we describe how you can get started using cross-company planning with RPLAN Connect. The goal is to significantly improve the quality and efficiency of your project management. Read on to find out the steps you’ll need to take to plan and manage projects across company boundaries.
As project manager, you are responsible for a project, while your project team and external suppliers are all project participants. In order to actively involve all project participants in the planning process and connect them together for the duration of the project, you can use RPLAN Connect. Responsibility should be assigned to the people or persons responsible for implementing a particular part of the project, making each project participant accountable for his or her sub-plan.
In contrast to past projects, you want to avoid project plans or to-do lists being managed in separate, isolated solutions or maintained in MS Excel or MS Project. The plans should not only function as targets to be fulfilled, but should show the actual status of planning. Above all, as a project manager, you want to maintain an up-to-date overview and ensure adherence to deadlines. The project plan should remain manageable and should be broken down into clear, reasonably sized sub-plans. Changes to a particular sub-plan should not give rise to uncontrollable chain reactions throughout the rest of the plan. The project plan should remain in your control at all times.
Creating your project plan
In RPLAN Connect, you can create your project plan and add tasks and milestones. You also have the option to enter the duration and order of tasks and to display them at-a-glance. You can see which tasks are to be carried out in parallel vs. in sequence and what the status of each task is. You can also save project plans as templates and copy them to enable you to create new projects quickly.
Creating a team and inviting contacts
If you click on your name at the top right-hand side of the screen and then click on “Teams”, you’ll get to the Teams page, where you can create new teams and invite team members. In our example, you see the internal teams “Design”, “Development” and “Project Team”. Users belonging to the external supplier are invited to join the “WebZe Team”.
Under “Contacts”, you’ll find an overview of all the users who are already collaborating on the project. You can add new users directly here. As soon as you have invited a user, you can begin to assign them tasks.
Assigning and sharing tasks and projects
Once the project has been created, you can share the project with individual users or teams. The permission system guarantees that only authorised users will be granted read/ write access. The following permission levels are available:
• Reader: Read-only access to shared projects, tasks and folders.
• Editor: The user can add and edit projects, tasks and folders, but cannot add or remove users or teams.
• Manager: The user can add and edit projects, tasks and folders and can add or remove users and teams.
In our example, you can see that we have shared the entire project with all teams, then assigned tasks to the respectively responsible persons. This automatically gives them editor permissions.
Linking projects across company boundaries
RPLAN Connect makes it possible to link projects with each other, regardless of whether these projects are external or internal. In our example, the development phase is carried out by one supplier. We have shared the project (with read permissions) with the supplier and assigned them as responsible for the development phase.
Now, the supplier has the opportunity to plan their own project. As soon as they have finished planning, they can display the shared project and their own project in the same view, and the two projects can be linked together. Conflicts or dependencies become immediately obvious. If changes to dates and deadlines are made, any knock-on effects can be calculated and displayed automatically, removing the need for project plans or deadline changes to be emailed manually.
Tracking progress and maintaining an overview
The challenge with linked project plans is to maintain an overview of the project over its entire lifetime. Changes to deadlines can have implications for the entire project plan. To prevent any confusion, RPLAN Connect offers two linking options: “manual linking”, whereby subsequent milestones and phases are not altered automatically, and “automatic linking”, whereby changes are applied immediately and subsequent milestones and/or phases are shifted.
Try it out for yourself and create your first plan in RPLAN Connect for free!