Imagine this - over a year ago, I raise my hand after our company Annual Planning session and volunteer to help with a major project our company was taking on. We set out to write a book of case studies where each consultant would write a chapter featuring one of their clients and how they were using Rhythm to achieve success in their company. When I raised my hand in that meeting, I couldn’t have imagined how complex it would turn out to be to manage a book with 9 authors, 11 clients, editors, publishers, and stakeholders in our sales and marketing team to please. Without the help of an awesome project management tool, I don’t think we ever would have gotten this project done.
While Rhythm is primarily a tool for managing large scale, strategic initiatives, the enhanced features in Rhythm 4.0 make it a great tool for project management, too. I know first hand because this is the tool that I used to manage our very complex book project.
Here’s How to Use Rhythm for Project Management Success:
- Make It Part of the Plan: For me, the biggest advantage of using Rhythm for managing this project is that it forced us to make it a priority for our team. It wasn’t just a side project - it was on our dashboard as one of our top 3-5 priorities for the team for the quarter, for as many quarters as it took to get it done. This forced us to say “no” to other projects so that we’d have the bandwidth and energy to get it done. And, in Rhythm 4.0, it was easy to manage the priority over multiple quarters.
- Enjoy Increased Visibility: Writing our book has been an effort that involves pretty much all of our departments. Our consulting team is doing the heavy lifting of writing, but our sales and marketing team has been heavily involved from the start to help with things like researching common problems mid-market companies face so we can tell the right case study stories and helping us with the right messaging. Also, our marketing team has been working on a strategy to promote and sell books when it is launched, and our finance team has been involved from the start on the budget for the project. For projects like this that just about everyone is working on, it can be hard to get a holistic picture of how the work is going in different teams. With Rhythm, I could see with just a few clicks who was doing what and how the work was going; this eliminated the need for me to chase people down over email or sit through countless project status meetings. Here’s how it worked:
- Patrick, our CEO, set up a company level priority to “Promote and Publish Predictable Results” that spanned multiple quarters.
- I set up a team priority for the consulting team to “Manage Book Project” that was linked up to Patrick’s priority. Each author had an individual priority for the chapters they were writing that were connected to my team priority.
- The sales and marketing team and finance team also linked their priorities related to the book to Patrick’s priority at the company level.
- If any of us clicked on Patrick’s priority, we could go to the Project View tab and drill in to see every linked priority with its status and every connected Action. As the project manager, I always had visibility into whether we were on track to hit our deadlines and who I might need to contact to offer help.
- Use Connected Comments: Each week, I had to coordinate with our editors and the authors on the work being done and what was left to do to stay on track for the project. Rather than trying to keep track of back and forth emails to everyone or spend valuable time in our Weekly Adjustment Meeting on status updates, I used comments in Rhythm to communicate these weekly updates. I added all the relevant parties as followers to my priority, made comments weekly or anytime something came up that I needed to communicate about the project, and their replies were captured right there in Rhythm. So, instead of hunting through my emails, I could just open my priority in Rhythm and see all the relevant comments right there on the project detail. And, so could anyone else on my team. I never had to worry that I was forgetting to communicate something to the right people, because everything was right there for the team to see.
- Organize Actions: Managing the timelines for each chapter was a real challenge - there were so many steps in the process and so many people involved. And, in addition to the work we had to do, I also had to manage deadlines from our editors to ensure we had the deliverables on time to hit our print schedule. I can’t imagine trying to do this without Actions in Rhythm. For each chapter, I could establish a set of Actions so that I knew we weren’t forgetting any of the critical steps. And, I could use the Calendar View to see when we had due dates looming from our editors and if we weren’t on track to hit those deadlines. For instance, I could see if we had Actions for the chapters that were set to be finished after the deadline, and I could work with the author to get those done sooner or with the editor to see how flexible we could be with the deadlines. This ability to see dependencies was far more helpful than a static to-do list.
- Integrate with Attachments: The last piece of the puzzle that Rhythm really helped bring together was managing different versions of the files. We used Google Drive to collaborate with our editors and clients on the text of the chapters, and we were able to add a link in Rhythm to the chapter file in Drive. That way, the work we were doing on the chapters themselves was all integrated into our project management tool. If Patrick wanted to see the latest version of a chapter, he didn’t have to try to find the right folder in Drive or look through emails for the most recent attachment. He could just go to the priority for that chapter, click the Attachments tab, and the link to the correct file was right there. Again, I can’t imagine trying to manage the versions of these files over email… being able to integrate the files right into our project management system was a huge time saver for the team.
I hope these tips for using Rhythm to manage your next big project are helpful. And, I hope you enjoy our new book, Predictable Results, coming in the fall!
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