Professional project manager: reporting status to customers
Hi, new to GTD (week two) and I have been struggling to find a system which meets a job requirement.
I am a professional project manager. (For this post, I will refer to Customer-Project and David-project since they are different uses of the same word).
My customers expect from me a weekly update of all the activities occuring on their Customer-Projects, detailing the activities which for the most part (90%) are being done by staff who are not me. I am, of course, ultimately responsible for all these activities.
So I have these documents, pretty well constantly updated, showing, Customer-Project activities, which, by David's definition, are pretty much all "David-Projects" of their own right.
I have thought of the following organization tools:
1) Print out each of these documents and add them to my PROJECTS list. When I do my weekly review, consider each documented activity as I would a David-Project, but also take the time to update them for my customer's report.
2) Build a list for each Customer-Project. Put task items in each folder for the project. This does not work at all because each activity is really a David-Project, not a task. It also spoils the context-based arrangements of tracking tasks. This option, explored early, is was essentially a no-go.
3) Build tasks for each item, but since they are mostly being done by other staff, add a huge list of tasks in my "Waiting for..." or tickler file -> which would reflect my role as being responsible to document and see that they get done.
4) Seperate GTD and my project reports entrely, and consider them two seperate things. Make "do your weekly project report for customer X" simply a task that I got to do. When I do it, write the update for the customer based on what I know, using my GTD systems as a reference as necessary. This might mean digging through my lists to see where things are, if I happen to not have the activity-information in my mind at the time.
5) Keep them seperate. When I get something in my inbox that applies to a customer-project, then take the time to update both systems. Update my GTD lists, and also update my customer's report. This is like when a database updates multiple indices when getting a new record. Two sets of books. Somewhat daunting.
Have any other project managers found a system to combine GTD with managing and statusing active customer projects ? What systems have worked well ?
This issue has me pretty muddled. GTD is working great in managing the things I am responsible for, but it would grow enormous if I had to use it to manage others. And yet seperating them is working okay, but I seem to be duplicating effort. Having lists based on context is good, but pulling together a concise status for a given customer across all the lists is ineffecient. So is the dual-bookkeeping idea.
Projects vs. higher altitudes.
It sounds like you have a reasonable approach. What can be confusing is what we call projects in a GTD sense. A GTD project can be either "change light bulb in desk lamp" or "Build Saturn V Rocket". My suggestion is that it is probably a better idea to keep your GTD projects more on the "Change Light Bulb in desk lamp" category. "Build Saturn V Rocket" is a much higher altitude objective. And there are probably several GTD projects that will need to be completed in order to meet the higher level objective or long range goal.
You might want to think about your Customer-Projects as GTD "Meaningful Objectives" e.g. 20,000 ft while the individual tasks on the work break down structure (whether done by others or by you) others as GTD projects. This isn't strictly necessary, but a task on a project gannt chart may take several individual steps and multiple weeks to complete. There are probably multiple Next Actions that you will need to complete for each Customer-Project task.