Project managers today are asked to take on increasingly challenging responsibilities. In an era of limited budgets and risk averse organizations, project managers (PMs) must be able to cut costs while managing many complex projects and multiple staff members while adapting on the fly to challenging business conditions. If you can relate, Xcel Project Manager (XPM) is for you.
There are software systems that attempt to do what XPM can do. Unfortunately they are often expensive and have too many varied tools to be practical for the average PM. XPM is is perfect because it is simple in its construction and is highly adaptable to new staff, changes in salary and cost, and changing resource assignments. Through this course you will make a complex yet simple tool that you can refine to your needs over time.
If you don't have time to take the course right now, you may download the finished product in the last section and use the videos as a tutorial for how to use it!
What XPM can do:
The following is a course outline:
Section 1: Welcome!
Section 2: Create a weekly project tracking spreadsheet
Section 3: Create a staff resources accounting spreadsheet
Section 4: Tie weekly project tracking spreadsheet to accounting (staff cost sheet)
Section 5: Establish summary project and staff resources spreadsheets
Section 6: Add new projects
Section 7: Improve readability (and attractiveness of sheets). Also manage staff resources and project budgets. Learn to manage a project proposal.
To take this course you only need a willingness to learn and access to Microsoft Excel (I use 2016 but 2013 is very similar).
Thank you for taking the course! I will be responding to questions and keeping track of any issues that students may have. This course should establish skills that will be immediately usable for all project managers in any field.
Ian Dowdy, MBA
Project Managers have always been challenged to balance technical skill with financial and human resource stewardship. Without the proper tools this can be very challenging. XPM was designed by me to address this issue. Through this course you will learn to create your own project management tool that will allow you to excel and reduce your workload!
Welcome to XPM! In the next six sections you will create your own program in Microsoft Excel that we call XPM, or Xcel Project Manager! This section will take you through the outline of the course.
XPM connects time and cost. Any Project Manager (PM) will know that their greatest responsibility is to accomplish the needed task within the cost estimate and on time. This section will teach how to assemble a header that can track projects on a weekly basis.
In this section, the project spreadsheet will be equipped with rows that can be used to account for how much time that staff resources will allocate to the project on a weekly basis.
Human resources have costs. In this section, the student will create a sheet that will house the costs for each staff member or other expenses that can be allocated to projects.
In this section, students will be connecting the costs spreadsheet to the project sheet in order to allow XPM to calculate the total costs of the resource allocation on the project or task.
When staff work on multiple projects, it can be difficult to maintain a balance between their level of effort on each task assignment. Occasionally, there will be a miscalculation of how much time and effort is allocated to a staff member, resulting in low morale, increased costs through overtime, and a misunderstanding of actual resource needs. This lecture will teach the PM to create a spreadsheet that will allow, at a glance, a quick summary of the total commitment on all projects.
On one hand it's nice to see the total commitment based upon projects as in the Project Summary Sheet. In this lecture we will learn to make a sheet that tabulates the level of effort committed by staff person. In this way it will be easier to avoid over allocation.
While assigning resources in the project sheet, it is nice to know at-a-glance what the commitment is for each staff person. These rows will allow the PM to quickly see and resolve any issues with over- or under-allocation.
Have a new project? Cool! Just add it to the XPM tool! Here's how!
Numbers can be confusing to read and small errors can create challenging issues for PMs. In this lecture we will learn how to assign conditional formatting as a way to catch errors and ensure accuracy.
PMs have to create reports and presentations to argue for more resources, address challenges, and communicate effectively. This is easier if the XPM is attractive enough for simple exportation to other programs. This lecture will teach how to "pretty up" the spreadsheets.
If you are fortunate enough to work on a project proposal this is the lecture for you! Use XPM to calculate the proposal costs, staff commitments and even make the case to hire new employees!
Now you have a new project, new staff, and continuing projects. Learn how to use XPM to balance resources and make the case for new hires or (sadly) force reductions!
If you happen to have a spreadsheet that doesn't look quite as pretty as mine, or is not as functional. Here's your chance to download a complete and final version!
Ian Dowdy, AICP, MBA is a highly accomplished program director with a mid-sized non-profit based in Arizona. He manages a staff of dedicated and skilled professionals along with multiple projects that total more than $500,000 annually. With an MBA from Arizona State University, he has learned to adapt to the complexity of responsibilities by creating his own tools that have made him an effective and successful project manager and program director.