Meet the MPUG MVP: Interview with Nenad Trajkovski

Nenad Trajkovski is a renowned project management expert and a long-time contributor to MPUG. With extensive experience in Microsoft Project and a deep understanding of project management methodologies, Nenad has been a valuable resource for our community, consistently delivering insightful content and practical advice. In this interview, Nenad discusses his journey in project management, his contributions to MPUG, and his upcoming series on Project Management with the new Microsoft Planner. Let’s dive in!

MPUG: Welcome Nenad and thank you for taking the time to share your expertise with our MPUG community! You have been a regular contributor to MPUG, covering a wide range of topics related to Microsoft Project and project management. To start off, can you give us an overview of the types of content you’ve created for MPUG over the years?

Nenad: Thank you for having me. It’s my pleasure to contribute to the MPUG community and share knowledge around Microsoft Project and project management best practices.

Over the years, I’ve created a variety of content for MPUG, including webinars, articles, and lessons. The topics have ranged from very specific technical tips in Microsoft Project to broader project management strategies.

Some examples of the webinars I’ve done include how to run Scrum projects with Project for the Web, modifying Project for the Web using custom fields, and defining calendars in Project for the Web using PowerApps. I’ve also covered topics like organizing your workday as a project manager and different ways to track project progress in Microsoft Project.

In terms of articles, I’ve contributed to MPUG’s 99 Tip-Mania series, sharing tips on managing projects and clients. And in the lessons format, I’ve taken deep dives into subjects like task types in Microsoft Project, explaining when, why and how to use them, and how they behave with different calendar types.

MPUG: That’s an impressive array of content! Can you tell us what got you interested in project management in the first place?

Nenad: My interest in project management actually stemmed from my early career experiences in developing and implementing enterprise systems. I realized that the success of these projects relied not just on the technical aspects, but also on effective planning, coordination, and communication. I saw project management as a critical skill set that could make the difference between a project’s success and failure.

As I took on more project management responsibilities, I found that I enjoyed the challenge of orchestrating all the moving parts of a project. I also realized that there was a real opportunity to make a positive impact by helping teams work more efficiently and effectively towards a common goal. From there, I made a conscious decision to focus on developing my project management skills alongside my technical expertise.

MPUG: That’s a great insight into how you got started in this field. Now, with your years of experience, what is the most important thing you want new project managers to know?

Nenad: The most important thing I would tell new project managers is that project management is as much about people as it is about processes and tools. You can have the most detailed project plan and the most sophisticated tools, but if you can’t effectively lead and communicate with your team, you’ll struggle to achieve your project goals.

Take the time to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and motivations of your team members. Invest in building strong relationships and fostering a culture of open communication and collaboration. When issues or challenges arise (and they almost always do), having a team that trusts and supports each other can make all the difference.

Of course, having a strong grasp of project management methodologies and tools is also crucial. But don’t underestimate the importance of the human element. At the end of the day, it’s people who deliver projects, not tools.

MPUG: That’s sage advice. Now, for our more experienced project managers in the community, what is something you’ve learned in your career that took you a long time to understand?

Nenad: One lesson that took me a while to fully grasp is the importance of adaptability in project management. Early in my career, I used to think that the key to successful project management was creating the perfect plan upfront and then executing it to the letter. But over time, I realized that even the best-laid plans are subject to change.

Whether it’s shifting client requirements, unexpected technical challenges, or changes in the business environment, there are always factors that can disrupt even the most carefully crafted project plan. The key is to be adaptable and responsive to these changes.

This means regularly reassessing your project plan, being proactive in identifying and mitigating risks, and being open to adjusting your approach when needed. It also means being transparent with your team and stakeholders about any changes and their impacts.

It took me a while to become comfortable with this level of flexibility, but I’ve found that embracing adaptability actually leads to more successful projects. By being responsive to change, you can keep your projects on track and aligned with evolving needs and goals.

MPUG: That’s a valuable lesson, and one that I’m sure many in our community can relate to. Thank you for sharing that. Now, let’s shift gears and talk about your upcoming series on Project Management with the new Microsoft Planner. What can our community expect to learn from this series?

Nenad: I’m really excited about this upcoming series. As many in our community have likely experienced, managing projects, tasks, and plans can be challenging due to the variety of tools available, such as Microsoft To-Do, Microsoft Planner, and Microsoft Project for the Web. However, the new Microsoft Planner aims to integrate these tools into one comprehensive solution.

In this series, I’ll be sharing an overview of the new Planner and covering the differences between To-Do, plans, and projects. In the first class, participants will learn how to create new tasks, plans, and projects, which fields are available, and how to create custom fields for specific project needs. I’ll also demonstrate how to create a project from a template, customize it, copy the project, and delete it as needed.

In the second class, we’ll dive into assigning resources to project tasks, creating groups, and applying filters on a project. We’ll also cover creating notes and attaching files to tasks. Importantly, we’ll explore how to create a project right from Teams and how Microsoft Teams is connected to Project for the Web. There’s a lot of potential for collaboration here.

The third class will cover additional features and tabs like boards, Goals, Timelines, People, and exporting plan to excel, creating new plans from existing one, and last but not least, importing projects from old project desktop applications.

Throughout the series, I’ll be sharing tips for using the new Planner effectively. For example, being cautious about what you want to do and choosing features accordingly, applying the proper calendar template, being aware of Microsoft Groups settings, and using the associated Teams channel for communication.

MPUG: This series sounds like it will provide a comprehensive guide to the new Microsoft Planner. One last question – of all the content you’ve created for MPUG, do you have a favorite piece or topic?

Nenad: That’s a tough one! I enjoy creating all the content, but if I had to pick, I would say the webinar on running Scrum projects with Project for the Web stands out. Agile methodologies like Scrum are becoming increasingly popular, but not everyone realizes that you can manage these types of projects effectively in Microsoft’s cloud-based Project for the Web tool.

In that webinar, I was able to demonstrate how to set up and manage a Scrum project, highlighting the advantages and limitations compared to the traditional Microsoft Project desktop client. I think it provided a valuable perspective for project managers who are considering or transitioning to agile approaches.

But honestly, I learn something new with every piece of content I create, so they’re all special to me in that way. And I’m really excited about this upcoming series on the new Microsoft Planner – I think it’s going to be incredibly valuable for our community.

MPUG: Thank you, Nenad, for the fascinating insights into your journey in project management and your work with MPUG. We appreciate your ongoing contributions and look forward to this new series on Project Management with the new Microsoft Planner.

Nenad: It’s my pleasure, and I look forward to continuing to support the MPUG community in any way I can. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts today, and I hope to see many of you in the upcoming series!

See More of Nenad’s Work

5 Tips for Project Managers Using Project for the web

Mastering Calendar and Working Hours in Microsoft Project for the web

How To Modify Microsoft® Project for the Web Using Custom Fields – Top User Frustration Answered

Learn with Nenad Live

The New Planner: From Zero to Hero (Part 1 of 3)

Wednesday, August 7, 12:00pm – 1:00pm ET

Written by Nenad Trajkovski
Nenad Trajkovski, born in Zagreb in 1963, is an accomplished professional with a background in Electrical Engineering. With expertise in enterprise systems (ERP) development and implementation, he has served diverse sectors including banking, casinos, automotive, wholesale, and oil industries. Nenad excels in business process management, IT, and financial accounting. Currently, Nenad is a seasoned consultant and Project Manager, specializing in business systems implementation. He is also a respected trainer for Project Management and Risk Management at the Microsoft Innovation Center in Varaždin. Nenad's speaking engagements have earned him recognition, including being named the best speaker at WinDays08 and ranking among the top speakers at various Microsoft conferences. Nenad holds multiple certifications including Certified Accountant, PMP, PMI – RMP, MCP, MCTS – Microsoft Project 2010, and MCT.
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