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Project KickStart: A Palmtop Project Planner

Project KickStart: A Palmtop Project Planner

Plan a project in 30 minutes, anywhere, anytime, with your HP 100LX Palmtop PC and Project KickStart

By John R. Franklin

Writing and project management offer one common challenge for me -- getting beyond the beginning. The hardest part in writing has always been sitting down to write. Over the years, I've come to rely on outlining tools (like fastLINE!, etc.,) to help me systematically decompose the subject matter into a logical procession of thoughts and ideas. I use these tools to sort of "kickstart" the writing process, then complete the work in my word processor or desktop publisher.

Kickstarting a project

I've found a similar tool for project management: Project KickStart. It's an effective "project outlining" tool for the person who suffers from "planner's block." Starting from the basic project idea, the program helps generate a task list and assign resources quickly.

Project KickStart's Main Menu looks like this:

Main Menu Screen in KickStart: Graphic

 The menu gives you six techniques to develop tasks:

  1. 1. According to project phases;
  2. 2. Based on project goals;
  3. 3. Using similar projects;
  4. 4. Anticipating other people's views;
  5. 5. Anticipating obstacles;
  6. 6. Breaking tasks into smaller tasks.

  7.  

     

You have the option of using any, or all of the techniques to develop your task list. You can create objective lists and action plans for individuals or teams. After tasks have been defined you can assign people to each task. Task lists, assignments and goals can be stored, printed to paper or a file for further editing with a word processor, or viewed on the Palmtop display.

Task Display Screen in KickStart: Graphic

 You can also transfer the KickStart data to more sophisticated scheduling programs like: InstaPlan, Microsoft Project for Windows, Project Scheduler, On Target, Primavera, ProTracs, SuperProject, Time Line, and Lotus Agenda. KickStart is designed to take you quickly from the raw project idea through a well-defined process to task and personnel lists, defined goals and obstacles, giving you an overall definition of the project. Project schedulers are designed to implement, schedule and manage all the details, resources and changes required to complete a project after it has been defined.

Setting up and running Project KickStart on the HP 100LX

You'll need around 400K free on your C drive or memory card. Copy the following files from the Project KickStart installation disk to your HP Palmtop: PKS.EXE, PKS.GEN, PKS .MOD, PKSLIST.EXE, and XXI.EXE. There are three ways you can start Project KickStart:

  • From FILER -- highlight PKS.EXE in Filer and press (ENTER);
  • From DOS -- press (&...) (MENU) Application Terminate All to go to the DOS prompt. Change to the appropriate directory and type pks;
  • From AppManager -- press (&...) (F2) to set up an application. Key in the name of the application. Add |256 at the end of the Path statement (PSK needs at least 256K of System RAM to run). Add any comments you wish and select an icon. Highlight the new item and press (ENTER) to start. When you first launch Project KickStart, you'll be asked some questions relating to its configuration on the Palmtop. At this time Project KickStart creates two new files on your Palmtop: a 512 byte configuration file named PKS.OPT and an "ANSWER" file that stores the project information you enter. The default name for the answer file is PKS.DTA. Whenever you start PKS, you are given the option of entering a new answer file name to start a new project. Every answer file you create occupies 74K. To conserve disk storage space, remove .DTA files from the 100LX when you no longer need them.

  •  

     

When you get to the main Welcome screen, you are given the option of taking a "three-minute tutorial." Take it! It's a good way to "kickstart" your understanding of the program.

Using Project KickStart

The most difficult phase of a project is the beginning. When launching any new project (large or small), I always begin by spending the first 20 to 30 minutes in Project KickStart. Once I "kickstart" a project, I move my files over to my desktop PC's project management software for tracking and reporting.

Project KickStart on my HP 100LX provides a powerful and portable "project planning assistant" that is always with me, everywhere! When I lead project planning meetings, the unintimidating presence of the 100LX helps me to direct orderly, creative "brainstorming sessions" with my workgroups. Project KickStart captures the workflow details, while I focus on group interactions and the high-level processes. When the two- hour planning session is over, I download my "project profile" into Microsoft Project for Windows, then print a first draft of the project resources and proposed workflow. My boss gets a project report before the meeting minutes are distributed!

With Project KickStart and my HP 100LX, I'm in control of the planning process, my workgroups are more quickly and accurately informed, and I'm able to steer the project according to plan. With all this extra time on my hands, I might just take up golf!

iPhone Life magazine


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