An open source project scheduling tool for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

Managing Follow Up Items

GanttPV offers a powerful, simple tool to track and prioritize all of those necessary details that keep a project moving forwards.

What are Follow Up Items

Follow up items are anything that the project manager has to remember to follow up on. These can be:

  • Issues - raised by the customer or the team members.
  • Action Items - identified during meetings
  • To Do List Items - identified by the project manager during personal planning sessions
  • Administrative Tasks - assigned by management
  • Or anything else - that must be remembered and fit into the project manager's already crowded day

How to manage Follow Up Items

Here are some considerations that can simplify the management of Follow Up Items.

  1. Just one list.
    • Put all follow up items on the same list regardless of their type or source.
    • Juggling multiple lists is not "simple".
  2. Make it quick and simple to add and edit items.
    • Don't use separate edit and list views. Shifting modes distracts from immediacy and quickness.
    • A simple spreadsheet-like view is best.
  3. Minimize forms and fields.
    • Don't create separate fields for everything that "might" be useful. Re-use fields where convenient. (For example, keep status notes in the resolution field.)
    • Just one description field. Don't have both brief and long descriptions.
    • Refer to other documentation, don't repeat it. The long description is just another summary of the real description that was (or should have been) published elsewhere.
    • Define only the necessary reports/views.
      • One for each project and one for all projects.
      • Any required custom reports, such as "Issue Tracking" (which is just another Follow Up report with non-issues hidden).
  4. Adjust tracking rules based on need. Don't use the most restrictive rules for all types of follow up items.
    • Flag special items with the "Category" field. For example, labeling an item as category "Issue" is enough of a reminder to record the final resolution and to keep a history for reporting purposes.
    • Leave fields blank unless it serves a purpose.
    • Don't bother to record a resolution just to "be consistent".
    • Delete follow up items when you are done with them. Only keep history when needed.
  5. Prioritize by project, then prioritize for performance.
    • Review follow up items for each project. Save "All Projects" until last.
      • Identify new items. Delete obsolete ones.
      • Sort them into priority order (where "Priority" is a balance of importance and urgency).
      • Make sure nothing important is missing from project's list.
    • Shift to the "All Projects" view and reconcile priorities.
      • Add in follow up items that are not project specific.
      • Adjust priorities with a focus on work for the next few days.
      • Return to the project lists as needed to rework priorities.
      • If important items resist moving up the list, break out a small, high priority piece into a separate follow up item.
  6. Work the list.
    • Focus on one priority item at a time. Finish it. Move on to the next. Repeat.

Step-by-step with GanttPV

The following describes the mechanics of managing Follow Up items using GanttPV.

  1. Confirm that GanttPV version 0.2 or later is installed.
  2. Start GanttPV and ready your project file.
    • GanttPV starts with an "empty" project file. (The default contents is the same as is created by the "New" command.)
    • To add Follow Up tracking to an existing file, open the file with "Open..." from the "File" menu.
  3. Select the "Install Follow Up Tracking" from the "Scripts" menu.
    • If "Install Follow Up Tracking" is not in the file menu, download and install the most recent Scripts release from the GanttPV web site.
  4. Add additional projects if needed.
    • Select the main window.
    • Click the "New Project" button.
    • Click the project row and select "Edit Project Name" from the Scripts menu.
    • Enter new project name.
    • Repeat for all other projects.
  5. Add Follow Up reports to each project.
    • Select the main window.
    • Select the "All Projects" row and click the "New Report" button.
    • Select the "FollowUp" report from the pop-up menu.
    • Click "OK"
    • Repeat for all other projects.
  6. Add follow up items to each report. Save the "All Projects" report until last.
    • Select first "Follow Up" report.
    • Open report by double clicking report row or pressing "return" or "enter"
    • The first time you open a report, insert the necessary columns.
      • Click the "Insert Column" button.
      • Select all of the desired columns from the pop-up menu.
      • "ProjectID" and "ProjectName" are only needed for the report under "All Projects".
      • Click "OK"
    • Insert several blank rows by clicking the "Insert Row" button.
    • Edit the fields
    • Sort rows into Priority column order by selecting "Sort By Priority" from the "Scripts" menu.
    • Insert, edit, and sort until done.
    • Repeat for each project

To insert an new item in the middle of the list, select a row and click the "Insert Row" button. Normally the new row is inserted above the row you selected. Sometimes, due to a small bug in GanttPV the new row will be inserted above the location you specify. This is because GanttPV is thrown off by "deleted rows" when it is calculating the position. The work around is this: before you delete a row change its Priority to something very low, like "zz" if you are using an alphabetic priority scheme. If you forget, you can change them later after making them visible with the "Show Hidden" toggle button.

Follow Up Data

These are the Follow Up tracking columns:

  1. ProjectID This is the number that GanttPV automatically assigns to each project. "All Projects" is always #1.
  2. Project/Name This is the name you assign to each project.
  3. ID This is the number that GanttPV automatically assigns to each Follow Up item.
  4. Priority This can be whatever you like. Try rating items as "a", "b", "c", or "z". ("z" just pushes the items to the end of the list.) Today's tasks might be "aa" while tomorrows are "ab". Use what ever scheme works.
  5. Category Use this to flag items for special treatment such as "Issue", "weekly", "Confirm", etc.
  6. Who The person who was assigned the action item. (new 041218)
  7. Description Brief reminder of what the Follow Up item is.
  8. DateAdded Helps identify stale items. Usually you can type the two digit date and let the rest default.
  9. Resolution Officially this summarizes how the follow up item was resolved. But it can be anything from recent actions to next steps.
  10. DateResolved Officially this is the date an "Issue" was resolved. Use as desired.
  11. Reference This indicates where any additional detail on the follow up item can be found.