Training on project management? (Not tool-specific)

Hi folks, has anyone created a training deck for students on the basic project management process? I’ve been mentoring for 4-5 years now, and our team seems to consistently run out of days long before we finish the build. Generally because the initial plan isn’t monitored or updated. So I want to take our build director and board president through the basic project management principles and looking for something FIRST-specific to rip&reapply cuz I’m lazy/efficient like that :slightly_smiling_face: .

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This Might not be exactly what you need, but it helped us

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Mentoring and guiding a team through project management is quite the journey! Creating a training deck for basic project management is a solid move. Have you explored project management software for nonprofits? It streamlines tasks, ensures updates, and aligns perfectly with FIRST-specific needs. I get the “rip & reapply” strategy—efficiency at its finest! When training, emphasize the importance of ongoing monitoring and adapting plans. Visual aids, case studies, and real-life examples work wonders in these decks.

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I had the same thought recently and thought it could be a good video for FUN to host with best practices from mentors and applications by students/team members. I think it varies so much, team to team, so the wide perspectives would be useful. We use many of the tools in PM but it tends to only be the leads that find it useful, when we could do a better job of explaining it to everyone for knowledge transfer.

@Tyler_Olds would love to see a feature on this as our team is starting a “JV” team and it would be nice for them to learn these skills before college

Thanks for the suggestion. We are actually in process of re-vamping FUNdamentals which focusses on education type content and this would be a good fit for what we are looking at doing. I sent the suggestion to the team members for consideration.

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We employ SCRUM/Agile methodologies complemented by our custom-developed tools for project management. This approach enables us to categorize tasks as tickets, facilitating effective oversight of our build season activities in weekly intervals, known as Sprints. Our team includes a comprehensive guide on this system, and some of our students have achieved SCRUM Master certification. This might be of interest to you. In our system, only team leaders are responsible for inputting tickets, but the analytics derived from our tools are instrumental in conducting “Sprint Retrospectives.” These retrospectives are crucial as they help us evaluate the successes and challenges of the past week, allowing us to continuously tailor our strategies to better suit our team’s dynamics. Not only can this help your team but it also helped us win EE twice, one being at District Champs.

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It’s cool to know that your team uses SCRUM/Agile methodologies in building robots since these methods are often used in software development. Are there any major differences when using SCRUM/Agile in building robots compared to software development?

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It’s tough to get kids on the team to go and claim tickets, so ticket completion is on a team basis, and the interaction between the team and our SCRUM software of choice (Jira) is mainly done by our documentation team. We use the framework and schedule directly and our metrics as guides at the team’s administrative level. Our software team loves it; however, our manufacturing team wants nothing to do with it. It’s a tricky balance but extremely useful for team planning and time management.

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One thing that helps is making a schedule at the start of the season to plan what you are doing each day. It does not need to be very detailed, just saying that today is for prototyping and stuff like that. This lets you know at a glance if you are on schedule. By making a schedule it is straightforward to check it every day and see if you need to finish a section and move on or spend extra time to keep yourself on track or to catch back up to where you should be. If you need to organize what people are doing then Trello is a great resource for that.

It sounds like you’re on the right track by focusing on project management principles to improve your team’s efficiency. Have you considered using software like Asana or Trello? They offer user-friendly interfaces and can help you create and track project tasks, deadlines, and progress. Plus, there are companies that offer monday free trial, so you can test them out and see if they meet your needs without any commitment. It’s worth giving them a shot to see if they can help streamline your workflow and keep your projects on track.

+1 for Agile project management. I posted our agile writeup for this year and I really think teams would benefit from adopting some of our practices. We were just like you not being able to finish our robot in time but this year we were done way before week 0