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Managing complex projects Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Some of my workload consists of multi-month projects, which I manage in OmniOutliner. A typical project outline contains many pages of deeply-nested non-action reference data which make it inappropriate to develop the outline in OF. There are, nevertheless, many actions distributed through the outline. Some are undated and parallel. Others are hard-dated deadlines. Still others are contingent upon events rather than dates.

I've tried putting a single item in OF and linking it to the project outline. That keeps me on track for the project kickoff, but leaves me with no reminders for subsequent tasks. I've tried doing double-entry, putting the actions in both OO and OF. But except for the deadlines, the project is a moving target. I keep track of all the changes in OO, but then must remember to go back and duplicate the changes in OF. The simplest solution would be the ability to attach alarms to line items in OO. I've suggested this to OmniGroup, but they don't plan to implement it. I assume that it's too much feature bloat for a tool intended to be an outliner.

I would be pleased to hear how more experienced OF users manage complex projects.

Sorry for the long post. I tried to get some feedback in July and got zero responses, which I took to mean either that it was an intractable problem, or that I hadn't explained adequately. This is an attempt to address the latter possibility.

Thanks for reading.
 
Reference material gets kept in paper folders and in nested directories on my hard disk by project. Big projects get split into sub-directories as needed.

Actionable items get placed into OF as projects. Groups of related projects get grouped together in in folders in OF.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dschaffner View Post
Reference material gets kept in paper folders and in nested directories on my hard disk by project. Big projects get split into sub-directories as needed.

Actionable items get placed into OF as projects. Groups of related projects get grouped together in in folders in OF.
I'm nearly paperless, but that seems irrelevant. Whether paper or digital, you're still looking at double entry. The actions need to be tracked in the project tool, but also in OF. Some sort of Linkback-type capability would be cool. Thanks for the feedback.
 
Not sure it this helps, but you could use OmniFocus as your outlining tool. This would only work though if the outline did not need columns and other outlining features not available to OmniFocus.

The outline could be exported and/or printed for distribution before and after tasks were completed. With the filter settings set to allow completed items (Availability Filter set to "Any Status"), you could then export/print that list as an update.

The reference material you mention would then be listed separately in the Finder with a link from note fields of tasks or projects. To do this, drag the file while holding Control to create a link. To import the actual file, hold Option.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kourosh View Post
Not sure it this helps, but you could use OmniFocus as your outlining tool. This would only work though if the outline did not need columns and other outlining features not available to OmniFocus.
Thanks for the idea, but unfortunately, that's the heart of the problem. I do execute simpler projects entirely within OF. But the outlines of the projects to which I'm referring exceed OF's outlining capabilities.

Regarding the reference material, I do occasionally keep some exclusively in Finder. But one of the huge advantages of OO is its ability to allow me to corral a vast amount of diverse material and adjust the views as needed.
 
Have you tried OmniPlan?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eurobubba View Post
Have you tried OmniPlan?
I use it for projects that have many milestones and dependencies, But I have the same issue with it as with OO. To my knowledge, it doesn't sync in any way with OF. My problem isn't with project management. Between OO and OP, OmniGroup has my project management needs covered. My problem is the inefficiency of having to comb through the project tool (be it OO or OP), identify next actions, reproduce them in OF, then mark them complete or alter them in both the project tool and in OF as the project progresses.

I know that this seems unreasonable. It is unreasonable if you think in terms of the types of projects used as illustrations in the tutorials and videos. Because of the medium, those projects are necessarily simple. But if you imagine a project that spans an OO document 25 pages long and contains several actions per page it may help to illustrate the nature of the problem.
 
OF and OP integration has been listed as a future enhancement, but only a very few know when.

I use OO extensively for content but often wish each line had a URL--a link which could be copied and pasted elsewhere for quick reference, although this is not as clean as a true sync. Currently you can control-drop from OF to OO to past a link back to the OF task but not the other way around. OG has Link Back support, it would be great if OO and OF and OP had full support also.

More to the problem at hand: what unique feature of OO is critical to your workflow?

Last edited by pjb; 2010-11-22 at 05:38 AM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pjb View Post
More to the problem at hand: what unique feature of OO is critical to your workflow?
- Project outlines typically include Points of Contact, Request for Quote, Scope of Work, Policies, and other elements that I hoist, convert to PDF, and email to contractors.

- Outlines sometimes contain two columns.

- Different formatting depending upon row level isn't, strictly speaking, critical to my workflow, but certainly makes the outlines easier to read and manage, and makes the aforementioned PDFs look more professional. The logo in the header is also important for professional communication.

- I pull emails, diagrams, and downloads into OO outlines. Theoretically, I could do this with OF, but it isn't as handy.

- I've purchased OO for the relevant people in my department. The ability to share and edit project files provides a modest collaboration capability.

Now turn the question around. What features of OF are critical? Syncing is important, but I need access from my iPhone. It's already pretty slow to sync with just the action items in the database. I'm pretty sure it would go belly up if I tried to pull in an entire OO project outline. And I don't typically need to see the entire outline when I'm on the move. So I definitely see the need for two distinct tools. I just wish that they could talk to each other.
 
Be sure to email the support ninjas with a vote for full Link Back support as well as to urge them to get OO on the iPod and OF syncing with OP.
 
 


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