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A Simple Project Manager on the HP Palmtop
Appointment Book provides basic project management already built into the HP Palmtop.
By Rich HallIn recent years, extremely sophisticated project management systems have evolved to track what is to be done, who is to do it, how long it will take, etc. Some of these systems will even work on the HP Palmtop, letting you schedule projects and manage deadlines on the go. (Please see the Product Index on page 51 for references to Project KickStart, Project:Vision, and ProTracs, three Project Managers that have been mentioned in past issues.)
Sophisticated project managers are great, but if your project management needs are simpler than that, you already have a program that will suit your basic needs. The Palmtops built-in Appointment Book lets you enter repeating appointments (tasks) and document them fully in the spacious Notes field. Then you can view tasks involved in the project from Appointment Books Week and Month view.
The general strategy is to create a separate Appointment Book .ADB file for individual projects, enter your milestones (concrete things to accomplish) on specific dates and describe the task involved in the Notes field. Alternatively, you can keep all your projects in one .ADB file, or merge the individual Appointment Book files into one .ADB file to compare timelines and see how your projects relate.
Producing an issue of The HP Palmtop Paper
An example will help clarify this approach. Lets look at how we could have used this approach to track the production of an issue of The HP Palmtop Paper. Specifically, lets look at a simplified version of the schedule we used to publish the 1995 Best Tips issue.
Work officially began on the 1995 Best Tips issue on January 23, 1995. Below is a simplified version of the steps involved in producing the Best Tips issue, with a time estimate for each step, and the initials of the person(s) responsible for that step:
Step 1: Preliminary selection and prioritization of tips from past issues (5 working days) RH PM.
Step 2: Preliminary layout to determine the number of pages of tips we have (3 days) RH.
Step 3: Decide upon size of completed issue (1 day) RH HG.
Step 4: Eliminate low priority tips (1 day) RH PM HG.
Step 5: Update remaining tips (10 days) RH PM.
Step 6: Final tip selection (2 days) RH PM HG.
Step 7: Layout/proofing (5 days) RH PM.
Step 8: To the printer (on 1 day) RH.
Step 9: Issue received from printer (1 day) TG.
Setting up the Appointment Book project manager
Well open a new Appointment Book and key in part of the schedule.
After you've entered the sample project described above (or your own project), press (F5), key in 1/27/1995 and press (F10) to go to that day in January. Then press (F8) to display the Week view of your new Project Management Appointment Book. You'll get a display that looks something like the one shown second from the bottom of this page. Note that three lines of information appears for each appointment. You can press (Fn)-(Spacebar) to toggle between one, two, or three lines of information.
Press (F7) to get a Month view of the project that looks something like the one shown at the very bottom of this page.
If you keep separate .ADB files for each project, you might want to set up System Macros to quickly switch between Appointment Book files. As mentioned earlier, you can keep all your projects in one .ADB file, or merge individual .ADB files to get the big picture.
Merge .ADB files as follows:
Don't forget that you can press (MENU) File Print to print out a copy of your project, along with task descriptions from the Note field. In addition, you can use the SmartClip feature to create custom reports with information displayed the way you want it. (See page 31 this issue for more on creating SmartClips.)
Need a more sophisticated project manager?
The Appointment Book works well as a simple project manager because of its ability to display weekly and monthly views. However, the individual appointment data card was not designed for project management. Most of the additional data related to a project has to be stored in the F3 Notes field. This makes it a little bit harder to access.
If your project management needs are more exacting, you could use the Palmtops DataBase application to create a custom project management database. I believe you would still have to integrate a custom DataBase with Appointment Book to display timeline information. Maybe a Lotus aficionado could do the same thing with a spreadsheet, displaying timeline information as a graph.
There are dedicated Project Management programs galore. However, most of the newer ones are written for 386 computers running Windows, and are not suitable for the Palmtop.
The Product Index lists three Project Managers: Project KickStart, Project:
Vision, and ProTracs. In addition, there are older programs written for
DOS that may work on the Palmtop. Whichever you choose, good luck managing
your projects with the HP Palmtop.
Copyright © 2010 Thaddeus Computing Inc