Excel BTS Project Tracker – New Date Format

So far in this series I’ve written 4 articles building our Project Tracker.  I’ve set up the Updates table and created progressively more complex Pivot Tables by using Lookups, Synthetic Data and Bucketization.

But let me stop for just a moment to talk about where I’m going with this.  I’ve written before about Excel Dashboards.  In Stop Monthly Reporting Madness I described a 3-step process for Excel automation: Update, Refresh, Share. This 3-step process works for Trackers and Dashboards and just about any Excel Workbook for managing a fixed dataset that accepts changes over time.  Exactly how you realize this 3-step Mantra really depends on the nature of the underlying data and your own creativity.

Generally, when I create a new Excel project, my objective is to do as much of the work as possible up front, when I’m creating the workbook.  Once completed, the workbook shouldn’t need to be changed, only data added.  The workbook just reliably does what it was setup to do.  Day-in, day-out, as I use the workbook, it is as simple and as automated as possible.  That 3-step process is always my goal: Update, Refresh, Share. Continue reading “Excel BTS Project Tracker – New Date Format”

Notes From Spectrum Futures 2017

This week I attended Spectrum Futures 2017, sponsored by Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) at the Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit on Asoke Montri Road in Bangkok. The conference was rather lightly attended, which allowed for a very collegial, clubby atmosphere to prevail.  Gary Kim and the PTC Events Team did a super job organizing and presenting the conference.

I can appreciate the paradox conference organizers face, wanting enough participants to make the conference profitable, while not destroying the right mood for collaboration and discussion.  I don’t know the finances of the event, but PTC definitely got the atmosphere right.  There were several outstanding presentations during the conference.  For me, the best part of the conference was the level of audience participation and interaction.  During many of the presentations, audience questions often led to continued discussion and further questions.  It was a very positive feedback loop. Continue reading “Notes From Spectrum Futures 2017”

Excel BTS Project Tracker (Date Buckets)

What kind of Engineer are you, how would you describe yourself?  Are you the kind who uses a straight edge when you write so the lines will be beautifully aligned, or do you scribble something barely legible to get done and to move on to the next thing?  Do you calculate cell boundaries using 8-digit precision, or do you close one eye and squint through the other to make your best guess based on the data and your experience?

I know that it takes all kinds to make the world.  There will always be a need for the beautifully aligned, 8-digit precision types.  For myself and the work I do, I always preferred the scribblers and the guessers.  I’ll take a Master of the Pareto Principle (https://goo.gl/P63YH5) over the i-dotters and t-crossers any day.

No slight intended to those people.  They do fine work, and there are times when that is essential.  Like rocket launches, aircraft manufacturing, pharmaceuticals.  But in my experience, Telecoms never respected that quality of work and the time required to do it.  Most of the time, whatever work we did today, ended up being redone, with a slightly different set of requirement, within a few months time.

The point I want to make is that there is a time and place for everything.  As Engineers and Technologists, we must maintain our situational awareness to know what kind of effort is required.  Know when the absolute best is required, and when going a little faster is more highly valued.  Put cavalierly, “Don’t make the Best the Enemy of Good Enough“.  There is a time and a place. Remember that. Continue reading “Excel BTS Project Tracker (Date Buckets)”

Spectrum Futures Conference in Bangkok, 18-19 September 2017

Just a quick note to encourage all my friends in Thailand to attend Spectrum Futures 2017 conference next Monday and Tuesday.

The conference will be held at Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit next Monday and Tuesday.

I’ll be a panelist Tuesday morning at 08:40 for Moving Up the Stack: Where and How Can it be Done? 

Please find me to say hello if you make to the event.  It’d be a pleasure to meet you.

Excel BTS Project Tracker (This Technique is Much More Useful)

I’ve been writing about how to create a BTS Project Tracker using Excel.  Let me tell you a bit about why.  Frequently in my career, my teams have had checklists they needed to perform at every BTS or Site in the network.  These checklists were of a manageable size.  I couldn’t justify a dedicated Program Manager.  Nor could the cost of a full-blown project management software.  Besides, for smallish projects like these, use of project planning software like Microsoft Project would be overkill.  So I had to rely on my team to report and track their progress themselves.  All too often I found that few of them were skilled enough with Excel to do this well.

But these types of projects are very common.  I realized that I should be teaching my teams how to do these things for themselves.  Not only did this seem like my responsibility.  But training the team would also serve both our interests. They would acquire new skills for their careers, and I would get a more capable team, besides the better updates I would get on these projects.  It was a fabulous win-win opportunity.

None of these techniques is very challenging.  And all of them use basic Excel functionality that can be used every day in many other circumstances. Please join me as I work towards a complete project tracker with a comprehensive dashboard. Continue reading “Excel BTS Project Tracker (This Technique is Much More Useful)”