Merlin Project 5 is Available

The team and ProjectWizards has been busy creating it's magic with Merlin Project 5. The beta is now over and the new version is available for download (external link to ProjectWizards download). Regular updates continue to be published.

We've been using the newest version for some time and are really enjoying the "Group By Status Field..." function which is what the Kanban view in Net Plan is based. There are countless views possible based on the project file and fields available. This works well with project teams to convey both progress and work remaining. 

There's the traditional Kanban and several other built in examples to choose from. Setting up additional views is straightforward. Since our current project teams are not Kanban, we've tailored the views to be meaningful to the team members and have received positive response. 

As a summary, the major new features are:

  • Kanban Board
  • The Resources Pool
  • Groupings
  • New Style Editor
  • New design

Drop us a note via the contact page with your thoughts about the new version.

Merlin Project 5 Beta Released

An updated version of our favorite Mac based project management software is now available for public beta...Merlin Project 5.

The upgrade brings many new features including a bridge into the Agile development realm with Kanban style boards. The new features include at a high level the following items:

  • Kanban Board - this is the view of the file utilizing Kanban Board. There are also several pre-defined arrangements available or custom arrangements can be built.
  • The Resources Pool - ever need to manage a group of resources across separate projects? In reality, this is very much the norm. The Resource Pool provides the capability to see the resource utilization across several projects that utilize the pool.
  • Groupings - this allows for various views of the project schedule so that PMs can get additional insight into the project. This is an analytics feature showing the tasks in a different light which could prove beneficial.
  • New Style Editor - Now both individual selections as well as groups or rule based styles can be edited and customized.
  • New design - A refresh of all aspects of the UI.

Since this is still in beta, PMs may want to keep this version separate from their production version of Merlin Project.  

For more information on the new version and to download the beta, please visit ProjectWizards website.  

As always, please contact DawsonReed with your Merlin Project questions.

Publish to HTML in Merlin Project

Merlin Project has many useful features. One of these is publishing. This is the ability to publish files automatically or on demand in a particular file format such as calendar, HTML, image (e.g, PDF, JPG, etc), mind map, MS Project, and more. 

Publishing files to HTML is a great way to share specific project views (read only) with colleagues or clients who might not have Merlin Project. This will work with PC, Mac, or other OS users as long as they have a browser. You could publish to an FTP server if you have one or save it to dropbox or a file share on your local network for colleagues.

HTML publishing is just one example that we've illustrated, but it will show you the basics of publishing which you can explore to find other publishing options. One way we use publishing is to have an automatic backup to an XML file in case we need to transfer the main data to another program, such as back to Merlin 2 as we did when we were testing Merlin Project. 

If you've used Merlin 2, be sure to check out the expanded publishing capabilities in Merlin Project including more file formats, methods, views and autosave options. 

This "how to" documentation is available on our Downloads page or by simply following this link to How to Publish HTML in Merlin Project.

When to clarify project team member roles

This post is part of the Clarifying Project Team Roles series of posts. In these, we'll look at project role definition in detail.

In part 1, we looked at why team member roles should be clarified; here we explore when.

Part 2: When should project team roles be defined?

The most obvious answer is at the start of the project, however that's not always possible, nor is it the only option. Projects often start before the PM is involved. Odd as this may seem, it is often reality in managing resources and specifically when dealing with contracted PMs.

Since we can't always define roles at the start, a better answer to the "when" question is "to define roles whenever there is a change to the project team." Take a moment to digest that statement. "Define roles whenever there is a change to the project team."

Roles should be reviewed when a team member is added to the project. Same for when a team member leaves the project, whether during the project or as the team shrinks towards project closure.  

If a PM joins the team after the initiation phase, then roles should be reviewed with the team. (This is also a great way for the PM to understand the team dynamics and the work of the project.)

The start of the project is also a change to the project team. Even though that may be the best time to review roles, many of the team members are yet to be engaged with the project.

Use this rule as the best practice for when to define project team roles. Any change to the project team will impact the team members' roles thus making it necessary to review and clarify them.

As a PM, define roles as soon as possible when starting an engagement. It takes time to gather information about roles, people and project specifics before this can be completed. Proactively planning role clarification for known or anticipated team changes is also a best practice.

There is one more "when" relating to defining roles. That is when the team isn't following the currently defined roles. If this occurs, review the roles as defined with the team and consider modifying them if necessary. Keep this in mind as it may help offset additional problems later in the project.

About the Series

This series focuses on defining roles on a project or project team and the importance of doing so.  Search for Clarifying Project Team Roles to see the related posts for more information role definition.

Why clarify project team member roles?

This post is the first of the Clarifying Project Team Roles series of posts. In these, we'll look at project role definition in detail.

Part 1: Why clarify project team member roles?

Everyone involved with a project plays one of two roles. They either contribute to the success of the project or they don't. Some people play both roles at different times and very few, if any, play both roles at the same time.

That is a bit of an oversimplification and is likely not helpful to actually defining team member roles on your project. That being the case, we'll look at role definition in a more practical manner through the posts in this series of articles.

Why define project team member roles?

The project manager’s goal with respect to peoples' roles is to make sure they contribute to the success of the project. This can be achieved in many ways and one of the best ways is to make sure everyone involved knows what they are supposed to do and where to go if they have questions.

When roles are left undefined, it opens the door for people to, well, be people and cause all sorts of turmoil. Some will be superheroes going above and beyond to deliver the project and make it a success and others will be "doormats" in term of the project, working on other unrelated activities but still likely appearing busy.

Defining roles creates accountability. Accountability brings either results or identifies issues that can be addressed. All this leads to being able to manage a project and determine if it's on track or off.

About the Series

This series focuses on defining roles on a project or project team and the importance of doing so. Search for Clarifying Project Team Roles to see the related posts for more information role definition. 

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