The PowerPoint Pothole: Another obstacle to project management
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The PowerPoint Pothole: Another obstacle to project management
Jim Bratsakis Posted by Jim Bratsakis

Jim Bratsakis relishes sharing knowledge and ideas that result in productivity gains for individuals and corporations.

A cousin to the magic spreadsheet is the PowerPoint pothole—a place to bury mission-critical information. And often, people think PowerPoint is the ultimate tool for project management.

The NASA space shuttle blew up a few years ago because there was a problem with heat as it related to ceramic tiles. This very issue was listed in a PowerPoint slideshow on slide 48, bullet 12, buried among other paragraph bullet points. How could NASA have missed that, you wonder?

A PowerPoint show is not a project management tool

A PowerPoint model doesn’t work for project management. In its basic form, a PowerPoint slideshow is a presentation tool. It works best to reinforce what a speaker is saying.

It is not a word processor. It is not a training manual. It is not a project plan.

Yet, we see all of these assumptions about PowerPoint. Much like the magic spreadsheet, someone has developed a PowerPoint that details all of the company’s analysis regarding [insert topic here]. The PowerPoint suggests responsibilities, too. What PowerPoint lacks is an enforcement button—although some people contend the PowerPoint doctrine contains a tacit enforceable code.

How DOES PowerPoint help you with project management?

Think one word: communication. First and foremost, a PowerPoint should accompany a good presentation. You should have no more than four to six bullets per slide. Keep each the bullet point under eight words.

But don’t try to make your presentation substitute for project management and accountability.

Why you need a real project management application

Where and how you consolidate and track all information related to your project? If you’re thinking you’ll do it in PowerPoint files—consider this: An array of disjointed PowerPoint slideshows will wind up existing independently. You’ll have no cohesive, data-driven project plan.

Many senior management directives fall into the PowerPoint pothole. Then, we are forced to live with substandard communiqués from substandard communicators. It doesn’t work.

A great project presentation

Presentation tools should be simple, easy, and standardized in a way that allows everyone to relate information. A PowerPoint can help propel your project forward through visualization. It can serve as a catalyst for better project reviews.

But using PowerPoint shows as detailed status-reporting tools should go away. They don’t work. Rather, they’re a solution for a simple, consistent, and easy way of supporting you when you talk. From there, your project management software should take over.

Can you sidestep potholes in your project management process?

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