Project Manager’s Guide

May 6, 2019

These notes outline how to launch and manage a project in i-lign. If you are new to i-lign, we recommend you read our information on Overall Navigation before you start.


Launch your Project

Set up a New Project from the + icon on the blue top level navigation bar. See this Project Launch information for the key steps. Don’t forget to save before you exit the screen.

Import a Project Template (if relevant)

If there is a similar project already set up, you can save time by importing key information from this project, as long as the project is tagged as a Template. Your organisation may also have set up some standard projects as Templates. Navigate to the project you have launched and import the project Template as outlined in this Project Templates information.

Toggle between the Value and Delivery views of your project

There are two views of your project in i-lign. As a Project Manager you’ll spend most of your time in the Delivery view as this is where you’ll manage day to day work. The Value view is a higher level view of your project intended for people such as Business Owners, Managers, PMO teams and Stakeholders. You’re likely to spend less time in this view, though you’ll probably need to add some information there when you set your project up.

When you’ve navigated to your project, your current view is shown in the top left hand corner of the screen in larger white type. The other view is in smaller light blue font. Select this alternative view by clicking on it.

Add your Project Objective

Your project Objective outlines what your project will achieve. Note that this has a different focus from the project’s Description which is a more general summary of content of your project. For example, the Food & Beverage Professional Development Project has the following Objective and Description:

Objective: To improve professionalism of staff.

Description: Project to encourage Wellington based food & beverage staff to enrol in relevant NZQA qualifications. If successful then this work could be extended to other Wellington and Auckland based teams.

You add your project objective from the Value view, see this Objectives information.

Add Project Benefits

Benefits are the positive outcomes expected as a result of the project work being carried out. For example a Benefit may be increased staff engagement or increased customer loyalty or increased profit. These Benefits can be financial or non financial in nature. They may have measures attached which help track how well they’re being achieved. Benefits in i-lign are assigned a gold, silver or bronze value. This value estimate enables you to compare the relative value of Benefits of different types.

Your organisation expects that your project will generate Benefits of some sort, otherwise why would you be carrying out the work. While Project Managers aren’t generally accountable for the realisation of Benefits, they are accountable for making sure that work being carried out by the project ensures that the Benefits can be realised. In i-lign, we use Benefit Reviews to support this. Benefit Owners are accountable for reviewing the feasibility of their Benefits regularly. (Project Managers may need to encourage them to do this.) You, as a Project Manager, are responsible for taking account of these regular Benefit Reviews and making changes to the Project, as appropriate.

If your Project has a Business Case or some sort of Project Initiation documentation, then you will probably find information on your Project Benefits. To add Benefits and Measures to your Project, see this Benefitsinformation.

Add your Deliverables

Your project’s Deliverables are the key outputs required to complete the project eg products or services. For example, the Deliverables for the Food & Beverage Professional Development Project are:

  • Qualifications of current staff identified.
  • Relevant local training institutions identified.
  • Relevant NZQA qualifications identified.
  • Staff enrolled in trainee programme.
  • Study incentives developed.
  • Support structure for trainees developed.

Most projects have 3-6 key Deliverables. Deliverables are a critical part of a Project. If you can’t clearly define these, then you project is unlikely to succeed. Deliverables are often listed in a project’s Business Case or other Project Initiation documents.

To add Deliverables, navigate to the Delivery view of your project. See here for information on how to add Deliverables. Once you’ve added your Deliverables, you’ll need to update them from time to time, to keep track of progress.

Add your People

Navigate to the Delivery view of your project to add your project team and other people involved in leadership or governance roles. It’s best to do this before you start adding much detail to your project to make it easier to allocate people to other items such as Tasks. When you add people to your project you also define their roles on the project and decide what level of access they will have to your project information.

See here for information on how to add People.

Add your project lifecycle

A Project Lifecycle defines the series of generic stages a project goes through during the course of its life. An example of a very simple project lifecycle is: Initiation, Delivery, Benefit Realisation. Organisations often define the lifecycle(s) to be used by their projects. Approval is generally required to move to the next stage of the lifecycle.

If your organisation has set up Project Lifecycles, you can apply the relevant Lifecycle to your project. You then update this Lifecycle information as your project moves through the stages.

See here for information on how to add and update your Project Lifecycle.

Add your Milestones

Your project’s Milestones define a significant point or event. They represent a moment in time so have no duration.

Be careful of adding too many Milestones as this can be overwhelming. Just add your key Milestones, particularly when you are setting up your project. As a general rule, don’t add Milestones for information which is already included in your project in some other form. For example, you don’t need to add Milestones for the completion of individual Deliverables - you’ll have already entered due dates for your Deliverable. The same applies to Tasks - you don’t need to add Milestones to show the completion of individual Tasks.

See here for information on how to add Milestones. Once you’ve added your Milestones, you’ll need to update them from time to time, to keep track of progress. For more information on the various views you have of Milestones see this Tasking Tab information.

Add your Tasks

Tasks are time bound portions of work used to organise and schedule the work of your project. In i-lign Tasks can be used for some or all of the following functions:

  • Scheduling portions of work (Tasks) and identifying the people who will carry out this work.
  • Allocating percentages of people’s time to your project.
  • Recording the time people have worked on your project.

How you define your tasks, depends on which of these Task functions you use. For example if you want to use Tasks for all three of the functions above, we’d suggest the following:

  • Set up one Task or Task Pool (see next section) to allocate people to your Project and record the time people have worked on your project. (This reduces the overhead involved for you and your staff).
  • Set up individual Tasks to define the work you need to do (when you allocate people to these tasks, allocate them at 0%).

If you are running an Agile Project, we’d suggest the following:

  • Set up a timesheet Task for each Sprint and use this to allocate people’s time and to record the time they actually worked.
  • Set up individual Tasks to track the individual pieces of work each of your Team Members are carrying out in the current sprint (when you allocate people to these Tasks, allocate them at 0%).

See here for information on how to add Tasks. Once you’ve added your Tasks, you (and others managing Tasks), need to update them regularly, to keep track of progress. For more information on the various views you have of Tasks see this Tasking Tab information.

Add your Task Pools

Task Pools are simpler to set up than Tasks and show on the Timeline (Gantt chart) as a different shade of blue. You can use these to allocate percentages of people’s time to your project and record the time people have worked on your project. You can also use them to manage overhead work such as project management admin, as a way of distinguishing these tasks from other project work.

See here for information on how to add Task Pools. Once you’ve added your Task Pools, you’ll need to update regularly, to keep track of progress. For more information on the various views you have of Task Pools see this Tasking Tab information.

Add your Cross Project Dependencies

Cross project dependencies (XPDs) in i-lign can be incoming or outgoing. Incoming XPDs are Tasks or Milestones in other projects which need to be completed for your project to succeed. For example, you are developing software which cannot be deployed without a server and this particular server is being built by another project. Your project is dependent on the other project to build the server. In the context of your project, the server build is an Incoming XPD. Outgoing XPDs are Tasks or Milestones in your project which another project is dependent on.

When you identify another project’s Task or Milestone as a Cross Project Dependency (XPD) it will show up in your project as an Incoming XPD. This Task or Milestone will show on your project’s Timeline (coloured yellow). If the other project alters the time frame for this Task or Milestone by more than a week, then an issue will be automatically generated in your project. See here for information on how to manage Cross Project Dependencies (XPDs).

Review your project regularly

Reviews report on the current status of a project. It’s good practice for Managers to carry out these reviews regularly eg once a month or at the end of each sprint. Reviews are a fundamental aspect of project management. They’re also important in i-lign as Review information contributes to rolled up information throughout the system.

See here for information on how to add Reviews.

Manage your Risks

Risks are uncertain events or conditions which, if they occur, could lead to undesirable consequences. These risks may threaten successful completion of your project or they could threaten the health of your organisation in some way. For example, risks for the Food & Beverage Professional Development Project could include:

  • Project budget overspend.
  • Solutions developed not being fully implemented.
  • Disengagement of staff unable to study.
  • Escalation of staff costs.

Project Managers generally identify key Risks at the beginning of their project. They then review these risks and add additional ones on a regular basis throughout the life of the project.

See here for information on how to manage Risks.

If you already have Risk information contained in a spreadsheet or document, or have a large number of risks to add, see here for information on how to Import New Risks into your project.

Manage your Issues

Issues are events or conditions which have occurred and could lead to undesirable consequences. Issues may threaten successful completion of the project or the health of your organisation in some way. For example, issues for the Food & Beverage Professional Development Project could include:

  • A key team member is no longer available.
  • Project budget is overspent.
  • Insufficient staff have enrolled in the trainee programme.

Adding issues to i-lign as they arise and reviewing open issues regularly will help Project Managers manage issues effectively. If your issue is related to a risk you’ve already identified, you can convert the risk to an issue.

See here for information on how to manage Issues.

Manage your Decisions

Decisions are used to identify and track Decisions which need to be made for the project to progress effectively. Note this excludes Change Requests which are managed separately (see below). You can add Decisions which need to be made, invite people to assess them and record details of the final Decisions made. Recording Decisions in i-lign helps Project Managers keep track of decisions and avoid having to relitigate them later on.

See here for information on how to manage Decisions.

Manage your Change requests

These are requests to make changes to the project which are outside the authority of the Requester. For example you might need to request more budget or change the scope of the project significantly. You can add Change Requests which need to be considered, invite people to assess the Change Request and record what decision was made. Change Requests are generally managed by the Project Manager or Sponsor. Using this process provides the Project Manager with an audit trail of change requests.

See here for information on how to manage Change Requests.

Conversations

You can use our online Conversations to exchange information and discuss ideas relating to your project. If you start these Conversations in your project, then they will be linked to your project and visible to people who have access to your project.

See here for information on how to create and respond to Conversations.

Reporting

You can report on your project by:

  • Linking to key online views.
  • Producing customisable PDF reports.

See here for information on Reporting.

Help side panel

Don’t forget to use the Help side panel to see definitions and links to tutorials related to the Tab you are currently viewing. To access this Help, click the ? icon on the right hand side panel.

Project navigation

See here for information on how to navigate around the Delivery and Value views of your project.