The main Project Management tool I recommend is a cloud-based tool like SmartSheet to develop and collaborate on the typical PM documents of Project Plan, Risk Log, Issue Log, and Decision Log.
In this article, I will share tips on how to use SmartSheet to effectively manage a NetSuite ERP project.
Why use a cloud-based tool like SmartSheet to manage your project?
Prior to the advent of cloud-based tools, a Project Manager would use standalone documents to manage projects. These documents would reside on someone’s laptop and updates would be shared via email. Later, the documents would be deposited on a shared file repository that would allow others to view and possibly make updates to upload back to the shared repository. The problem with this approach is that only one person at a time could make document updates.
With cloud-based tools like SmartSheet, the documents reside in the cloud and multiple people can make updates to the same document at the same time. Only the creator of the document needs a SmartSheet license and the creator can share the document with any person via email address and set what permissions to give to that person, i.e. view, edit or edit/share.
What documents should be created to manage a NetSuite project?
I manage NetSuite projects with the key documents of a Project Plan, Business Use Cases, and an Action list that includes risks, issues, and decisions.
Traditionally, Project Managers used Excel to create project plans that include tasks and sub-tasks which is easy to define in Excel. If there was a need to add dependencies or show a critical path, Project Managers used a complex tool like MS Project which has the capability to include task predecessors, i.e. task B needs task A to complete before B can start. This means that task B is defined with a predecessor of A.
I need to show dependencies and critical path on a NetSuite project. However, MS project is expensive and difficult to master or share with others. The solution to this problem is SmartSheet which includes the document type of “task list” which has all of the features/functions I need to communicate a project plan. With the “task list”, I can show either a grid view or Gantt chart view. These views allow the use of predecessors and lag time which I need to effectively manage the project. With SmartSheet, I can share the plan with anyone via their email and I control the level of permissions that I share, i.e. viewer, editor – can share or editor – cannot share.
I create SmartSheet templates that I use for each new project. The templates are based on common tasks for small, medium or large projects.
I also create weekly project status reports using an MS Word template and include images from the Project Plan to show progress and upcoming tasks/milestones.
Business Use Case
The purpose of the Business Use Case is to document business requirements and list how NetSuite will handle the requirement. This is a simplified alternative to a Business Requirements Document (BRD) and works well for projects where a client is on NetSuite and is ready to implement a new business unit. Another good use of this document is for a new NetSuite customer with a very limited scope like Financials only. Some of the key fields (columns) in this SmartSheet includes Process Area, Use Case Title (in business terms not NS terms), Business Role, Task Description, Open Questions, Answers, Initial Solution Notes, NetSuite Solution, Phase of Project, NetSuite Instruction (menu path),Testing Notes, Client Owner, UAT Signoff Date and Status.
I filter on status and Process Area to report progress on the weekly project status report. This document can also be used as the User Acceptance document.
Action List – includes tasks, risks, issues, and decisions
This document is multi-purpose and includes detailed tasks that can support a project plan, projects risks, project issues (could later turn into a task) and key project decisions. A field titled “Type” is used to define if the document row is a task, risk, issue or decision. This document is created using the document type of “Task List” using the grid view. I added columns from the grid view and named/used the fields of Type, Description, Project Plan Area (project phase), Created By, Date Entered, Due Date, Assigned To, Status, % Complete and Comments.
I filter the list on “Type” and include open tasks, risks, issues and decisions on the weekly project status report.
SmartSheet is a great cloud-based tool that can be used to help you effectively manage a NetSuite ERP project.