Over the past 20 years as an IT consultant implementing gigantic applications, I learned a lot about project management.
I worked on some really cool projects, too. From the new drug application for Allegra™ to the United Nations hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after 9/11, to indexing the Coca Cola advertising archives, I've been retained by some great clients for interesting gigs.
By far the least interesting part of these jobs was scoping out and estimate the work, particularly the tools that I had to work with. I noticed that my colleagues at these organizations also struggled with finding effective ways to manage their projects.
The Power of the Quick Start
Many of these projects were indeed unique. However, most of them had very common threads that were part of every single engagement. There was the kick-off meeting. Installing and configuring the software. Identifying data sources. Indexing some subset of the content and building a prototype user interface.
We saw this early on, and created a services offering called "Enterprise Search Quick Starts", and it became wildly popular.
A Quick Start is essentially a recipe for churning out results with a fixed price and a fixed scope. They are designed to get you up and running in the most methodical and efficient way possible.
Since they were fixed price, they flew out the door. Since they were fixed scope, projects didn't get out of hand.
After a brief stint as a platform for personal action plans, AnActionPlan took the whole "Project Plan in a Box" concept and built a solution around it.
AnActionPlan is the best way to track your projects from start-to-finish.