Yesterday, I wrote about a gadget to help you with implementing Getting Things Done (GTD) in Outlook, and pointed out that it also had Project Management capabilities. Today, I am writing about a dedicated gadget for adding robust Project Management capabilities into Outlook.
This product is called “Missing Link Project Center,” and its special purpose in life is to turn Outlook into a full-fledged Project Management tool. The integration is very polished, and takes advantage of lots of information to make your life easier.
The product’s author, Kevin Moore, claims this is “The Easiest Project Management Tool for Microsoft Outlook” which is indicative of his philosophy in building the product.
Extending Outlook to align with the needs of Project Managers
Missing Link Project Center (MLPC) does a lot to make Outlook your single pane of glass for projects. It can seamlessly integrate a view that incorporates a project calendar, associated files, associated emails, tasks, and other elements of the project (click the example screen to the right for a larger view). Project status can also be indicated using a red / yellow / green status indicator so everyone can tell at-a-glance whether the project is on track or at risk.
The integration also occurs into other aspects of Outlook, such as Contacts. For example, one of the things you typically do in project management is assign tasks to resources, or assign resources to tasks. If your resource is a contact within Outlook, MLPC extends the contact record so you can add “meta data” about the contact to make reporting and tracking easier.
Furthermore, you can send an email and associate it with a task in one step, since the add-in embeds Project Management-specific fields on the email form (as show in the screenshot at left).
The same kind of form extension is also present on Task forms so you can auto-associate them with projects as you create new tasks.
The integration also tracks versions of associated project documents, so you can report on the full history of the project at any point. This makes it easy to analyze based on a historical accounting of project scope changes, requirements that have been adjusted, the disposition of tasks assigned, and much more.
If you use “traditional” project management tools and either find them to be overkill, or realize you are spending most of your time trying to find project related items in Outlook, it will definitely be worth your while to try the free, 30-day trial of Missing Link Project Center. And, if you like the product, Kevin’s offering a very attractive introductory price of $49 available right now – a great price for an impressive project management tool.
So how do you decide between the GTD Add-in I wrote about yesterday? I think it’s fairly easy:
- If you are a GTD adopter who needs a bit of project management for your personal projects, the GTD Add-in is your likely choice.
- If you’re a project manager over projects that involve others, then MLPC is your likely choice.
And, of course, both of these require Outlook, which means you’ll need to be in an “Outlook shop” for either of these.
As always, let me know if you have your own mojo to share on these topics (either by comment, trackback, or link).