Perfect Project Harmony:

Solving the Classic Project Dichotomy with My Tasks

A dichotomy is two things that are opposed or even completely different. Anyone who has led a project team, and been on one, knows that there is often a dichotomy between the project manager’s view of the world and the worker’s view of it.

A project manager is beholden to the customer or a manager and so their focus is on managing expectations. A worker is beholden to the project manager and their focus is on meeting those expectations. A project manager might say “I need that yesterday (ha ha)”. A worker will say “I actually need two weeks to get that done”.

The dichotomy develops. Worst case scenario: it becomes a chasm as project managers make promises they can’t keep and workers are pushed to the breaking point. Disharmony is a polite way to describe the situation. Irritation and even loathing are commonplace. With every extra weekend that is worked, the loathing increases for the worker. With every additional promise that is not kept, the self-loathing increases for the project manager.

Is a Perfect Harmony Possible?

Does it have to be this way? Is there a way to bridge this dichotomy and unite project teams? Can there be a perfect harmony despite the dichotomy? Absolutely! The key is choosing the right tool for the job. Ever try to hammer a nail into the wall with a light bulb? Ouch. Thus the expression: The wrong hammer for your nail. This is particularly true when it comes to project management software. But what tool is the right one?

To answer this question, let’s look a little closer at the dichotomy and how it develops. Project managers are focused on Gantt charts, due dates, critical paths and dependencies. The big picture. Now, look at your typical worker. They are usually focused on one thing: what they have to do today and maybe tomorrow and next week. The small picture.

Recognizing this reality, RPLAN Connect now includes a My Tasks page to serve as a bridge between the world of the project manager and the worker. So a perfect harmony is within reach. Let’s take a closer look. First, from the view of the project manager and then from the view of the worker.

The Project Manager Side of Things

A great project manager is like a great movie director or a symphony conductor. If he or she hires the right people for the right job and then manages them well then everything falls into place. RPLAN Connect enables you to do this. It is first and foremost a project planning tool that enables project managers to see the big picture: who is doing what, when it is due, what the dependencies are, what the critical path is. Photos of your team right in the project plan make it more friendly than most project planning software you have seen:

The same information displays visually on the right side of the screen in the Gantt view:

Perfect for the project manager: the simple and elegant user interface gives you a true overview in that all the details are hidden from view so you can focus on due dates, resources and the critical path.

The Worker Side of Things

The fine-grained detail of the Task View and Gantt View is ideal for a project manager. It enables you to stay on top of every task through the entire lifecycle of the project. Now try sharing this level of detail with the developer responsible for this task. Here is where the dichotomy develops. Typical responses might be:

  • Huh?
  • Information Overload! Tell me what I need to know.
  • So what exactly do I do next?
  • Why are you showing me this?
  • Argh!!! I just want to do my job so just tell me what I need to do by when.

The solution: My Tasks. A simple view of the project from a single person’s perspective with just the current status and the due date:

And magically: no more dichotomy. No more chasms. This person is on a ‘need to know’ basis with the absolute minimum information available to them in a single convenient list. All tasks with a status of Done are automatically removed so that only In Progress and Planned tasks display. In Progress tasks are automatically sorted by due date so that the prioritization is clear. Planned tasks are sorted by Start Date. Bottom line: the work plan is clear — both for tasks that are currently happening and for those that are coming up.

Of course, that’s the happy path, but as project managers know, sometimes the happy path becomes the not-so-happy path or even the really-unhappy-path. Not to worry. We know you’ve got enough stress when things get a bit behind schedule so we help you keep track of all the slippage. RPLAN shows you In Progress tasks that are Overdue in red, including the number of days that they are overdue. It also shows you Planned FINtasks that with Start Dates delayed in red, including how many days it is delayed:

Alright, let’s stay in our happy place and resume the happy path. The synergy created by My Tasks is ideal, but now comes the harmony. All the information can be modified by the worker in MyTasks and it flows automatically back into the project plan. For example, you can easily change the due date just by clicking on it:

And then you can change to any date you like, for example, two days later: February 15. Next, right-click on the task to return to the Task View and you can see that the due date change is immediately reflected in the overall plan:

So, workers can now view the complete project plan with all tasks for all team members, and with the ability to isolate their own tasks, using My Tasks, the big picture now has more meaning for them since their piece of the overall puzzle is now clear. Additionally, by providing direct input to the plan, the worker feels more empowered and the project manager is kept up to date. The circle is complete.

Towards a Perfect Harmony

Project management is a complex science, or perhaps an art form. There are a wide variety of tangible and intangible skills required to be a great project manager. More than anything else a project manager requires empathy. Empathy being the basic ability to see things from someone else’s point of view. A lack of empathy is undoubtedly one of the causes of the classic project dichotomy.

We can’t control the level of empathy that a person has. That is up to you. However, we have added the MyTasks feature to RPLAN Connect with empathy in mind. Project managers need to deliver, but worker’s enable that. Project managers are under pressure from their own managers and the customer. Workers are under pressure from their project manager. Project managers want to complete the project. Workers want to complete their tasks. Project managers want to work on the right task with total focus. So do workers. Now, with MyTasks, everyone gets exactly what they want.