It’s always good to find out about new project management tools and tips, so it was good to spend a few hours the other week at a training session introducing the One Page Project Management (OPPM) approach.    OPPM was something that I was vaguely aware of but not something that I knew too much about, and I probably started from the view of being slightly sceptical that it was possible to encapsulate everything you needed for reporting on your project onto a single page.  Well, not at A4 size anyway.

The training, run by David Sommer, was based around the One Page Project Management idea from Clark Campbell (you can see more information about OPPM and download a free version at their website  I understand David runs the UKSG Practical Project Management courses.

One Page Project Management website screenshotThe training covered the ideas behind the concept and then concentrated on working through the template establishing your project and showing how you use it on a day to day basis. It was good to then be able to run through a real project and try to fit it into the template.

The template includes a header with things like the project goal and completion date, then a set of 5 or so objectives, a number of tasks and a list of people.  The template forms a matrix a bit like a gantt chart that shows progress with your project.  So you start with open circles in each time period on the timeline for an activity and then fill in the circles when that activity for that time period has been completed.  The template also lets you assign people and denote their roles and we had a bit of a debate about how we used the notation in that area.

Also in the template was space for some more subjective measures that essentially capture ‘confidence’ using a Red/Amber/Green traffic light system to denote how confident you are that the project will deliver on time for example.  There’s also a section for a couple of measures that might be cost or staff resource or % of content ingested for example.  And finally there’s a small box for a commentary.

A few things struck me during the session.  It’s interesting that it makes you think really carefully about your objectives for your project, and there was a tip about thinking about your objectives in the past tense, e.g. website usability testing completed.  It looks quite good at being able to get people to focus on the key information and where there are key decisions to be made.  Often there’s a tendancy in projects to focus on what’s been done rather than focusing on what is still to do.  I’m always in favour of ‘exception’ reporting where you get attention to focus on the things that are going off track or have changed or particularly where they need some action to get things back on track.  It looks like OPPM might be helpful for that.

Using OPPM as a focus of project meetings is also an interesting idea.  It was said that what tends to happen is that people become more focused on making sure they have done their tasks by the time of the meeting.  That’s a perpetual bane of a project manager’s existence so I liked that idea. I also liked the suggestion that you should print out your OPPM plan out in A3 size and stick it on the wall.  People passing could then see how your project was going at a glance.  And maybe steer clear if there were too many uncompleted tasks.

Overall it was a good day’s training session, quite practical and concentrating on working through the template and seeing how it works in practice.  We’re planning on adopting it for our project reporting proceses so it will be good to see how we get on with it.  Across our teams we’ve several projects running so it will be interesting to see how it copes with the different types of projects that we have.  But first impressions are that it does pretty much what it says in giving you a method of encompassing the key messages about the progress of your project in a single page.