Last update: 13th November 2018
Reading time: 30 minutes
Humans have created all types of tools to make life much simpler. Since the Internet, the way the world interacts had a 360 degrees shift towards a closer sci-fi way of living. Nowadays, we have a new organ that seems each time is molding deeper our lives: smartphones!
Today, we have the chance of breaking stereotypes on how work needs to be. Now, it goes beyond waking up early in the morning, driving to the office, working an 8 hours shift, driving back home and do the same the next day. But how we get out of this cycle? Well, stepping out of our comfort zone!
Yes! Throwing ourselves to uncomfortable situations, embracing uncertainty and the most important: coming back to our humanity. History has given us many lessons on how we treat ourselves and others impacts our quality of living. But please don’t panic! You’re not alone, many of the brightest minds that have impacted the world, have had a very strong team behind them.
This is where a Project Management Software (PMS) comes in, to give you that hand, to allow you to release all the extra in your mind, to clear the path for your decision making. This article’s intention is to open your mind to develop your vision, goals, projects, and dreams, in a way you enjoy the development itself.
This means that a Project Management Software, gives you space, to have an extra minute or even hours to breath freely, to build trust among the people that surround you, while chasing dreams or simply working in a regular company and why not making work seems less like work. Do you get where this is going?
When you have resources available and you use them to provide a service, it doesn’t matter if your mind is on the profit or not, a proper management of them, will increase the chances of continuing for a longer time and/or give you the chance to make decisions on what you want to do with what you have.
Thanks to the effort of many people around how to make project management (PM) easier, a spectrum of tools, guides, directions is now available for everyone. Students, teachers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and basically everyone who looks for ways to organize and visualize their goals in an easier way can do it now.
There are all kinds of projects: simple, complex, big or small, and many of them follow the same logic. Take a look at these 9 steps and learn how to manage (almost) any project.
Every project needs a goal, or a set of goals, that have to be accomplished in order to finish the project. This goal needs to be settled in objectives that can be measured so we can know where we are heading to and what we need to get there.
Defining the goal is the first step in every project management process. Start by developing SMART objectives (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely), that you can keep track on to see if the project has been completed successfully or not.
After you’ve defined the project objectives and goals, you can then determine. The scope will allow you to clearly define all activities and resources that are needed to achieve the specified objectives and goals.
So, remember, if you don’t have clear goals and objectives, your project is most likely to fail.
Every project needs to have a finish date. In fact, this is one of the main characteristics of a project, and what differentiates it from an ongoing task.
Once you know what your goal is you need to put a finish date so that everyone can be clear on what is expected and by when. This completion date is crucial for determining what resources (people, software, money, etc.) the team needs in order to accomplish the goal in a timely manner.
So, start by defining the finish date so you can identify the tasks that need to be done and assign a specific date for each one of them.
Once you know what your goal is, and when you need to accomplish it, you need to set up a list of activities that need to be executed. These activities, usually shown as tasks, need to have an order, dependencies (what do I need to finish before I can start a new task, for instance), due date and someone in charge for the task.
Don’t ignore any activity, as small as it seems, because the monitoring and control of the project depend on the fulfillment of these activities. You will track the whole projects progress based on the progress of these tasks.
Now that you know what needs to be done, and when, it’s time to define what resources are needed to complete your listed activities. Think of resources as all the things that you physically and virtually need to make a task happen (team members, software, equipment, facilities, documents, templates, etc.).
Define the resources for each activity with its quantity and description, and place it in a visible place so that everyone in the team is aware of what they have available for accomplishing each task. Keeping control of the available resources is the best way to ensure the project stays within scope and budget.
Now that you know what every task implies in terms of resources, is time to estimate duration and cost for each activity. You already have a due date for each task, so try to identify how much time it will take to complete each of these tasks. Ask questions like “How much time of the team members is this task going to take?”. With the duration of all tasks and the additional resources needed in mind, estimate a cost for each activity.
You need to have clarity on how much the total project is going to cost, so you can measure, in the end, if it was successful or not. Having a cost per activity, allows you to easily control the performance of the whole project, and make decisions based on what’s working and what is not.
So you are done with the planning. Well done! Planning a project can be the most difficult part of the project management process. If you did a good job, you shouldn’t have problems with the implementation. But be aware that projects don't always go according to plan, so the better you plan it the more you’re prepared to make well-informed decisions during the process so you can still have a cost-effective project, even if changes are made in the road.
When implementing a project plan, we suggest you use a tool or platform where everyone in the project can have access to all the information available. Simple tools like “Notes” or “Google Drive” can help, but a Project Management software would be ideal.
As you implement the plan, it is important that you monitor the progress of the activities of the project and the resources used. Monitoring will give you the information you need to see if the project is being executed as planned or if there are important variations that can have an impact on the final outcome.
What isn’t measured can’t be managed. So if you want to properly manage your project and ensure a successful outcome, you need to measure as much as you can. Having a tool or software would be helpful since it will automatically measure items like time progress or money investments.
Once the project is finished, it needs to be properly delivered. Make sure you save all the information related to the project in one sole place that you can share with the project owner. Remember to share usernames, passwords, documents, software available, etc., just everything that the owner needs in order to take control of the final outcome and be able to go back if he needs to.
Finally, once you deliver the project you need to finalize all the tasks that were completed during the process so you can formally end the project. Analyze what was planned vs what was actually achieved. Is it the same? Is it better? is there something missing? Explain the reasons for the final outcome and come up with a list of what worked and what didn’t. Conduct a Lessons Learnt meeting to identify the important lessons that were learned during the whole project process, in order to effectively learn from them and avoid repeating the same mistakes twice on any future projects.
The purpose of this final stage is to assess the project, give it closure and get feedback to see what worked, which lessons you learned and the best practices that can be applied in future projects.
Maybe you’re wondering if it's worth spending your time on this topic. So, I will explain to you how it fits everybody, and actually can make you a greater leader, that is capable of handling all types of situations
Maybe you're a wizard when it comes to communication, staying on top of other people's work, and happen to have the energy of a thousand suns to steer multiple projects to successful completion. That's impressive.
But, if you're like most humans, staying organized and ensuring other people both remain on task and deliver on time can result in rush jobs and heaps of stress. If you’re tired of searching through messy email threads or meeting notes and wish you didn't have to notify your team every time the next task is ready to be undertaken, then a project management platform is exactly what you need.
PM software is a better way to centralize your team’s communication and have greater project supervision at the same time. It's the most effective tool to help project managers and their teams get their respective jobs done without any confusion, forgotten tasks, or communication mishaps.
For project managers, PM software helps organize, supervise, delegate, and keep a project on course. By using such software, project managers can:
Create projects with tasks, sub-tasks, and deadlines
Add team members to specific projects
Assign individual tasks to specific team members/collaborators
Check on your team’s progress
Upload and share files
Identify and meet project milestones
Create clarity and limit confusion among team members about who does what.
Project management software revolutionizes the way teams work together. By centralizing communication, tasks, and deadlines, everything you and your team needs is in one place. It's simple and straightforward.
There are numerous choices when it comes to selecting project management software. Platforms range from simple (basic assigning of tasks/sub-tasks, deadlines, and progress tracking) to comprehensive, (including project accounting, invoicing, real-time analytics, and custom reporting).
Which software solution will suit you depends on the structure of your organization and its needs. However, there are five key features to look for when making your choice. Ensure the platform you choose:
Has an easy-to-navigate dashboard
Allows for file sharing
Utilizes time tracking
Allows team collaboration
Meets all your project planning and scheduling needs
Most premium PM software offers Gantt for project scheduling. Gantt charts sometimes make people panic inside because they look confusing. However, they’re actually very simple to use and make project planning much more efficient and clear-cut.
Basically, Gantt charts provide project managers with a visual view of tasks over time. It’s the 1000-foot view of your project. It shows you what work is scheduled to be done on a specific day, who is working on each task, when tasks are started and finished, and how long each task will take.
It’s a really great tool for PMs to show their own managers, follow colleagues, and clients how the project is progressing, when milestones are achieved, and visually outlines the critical path of your project.
Introducing a new project management platform to your team can have its challenges since people need to get used to new ways of organizing their workflow. It can be even more challenging when you frequently work with freelancers or collaborators outside of your organization. Everyone is always using something different.
At Workep, we wanted to deliver a project management tool that was already intuitive to users and could easily be adopted by team members, freelancers, and other collaborators; something to suit the modern workplace.
Our PM software integrates with Google Apps. These days, practically everyone has a Gmail account and is familiar with Google. For those already utilizing Google docs, spreadsheets, and Google Drive, Workep is a no-brainer to bring everything together seamlessly.
But that’s not it, as technology keeps impacting everything in the world, it has allowed the evolution of PM in terms of data analysis, growth, marketing, management and communication among others. Artificial Intelligence has helped break schemes of what we are now capable of doing. Maybe you will be able to step up your game by innovating on the way projects are developed and businesses are made.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is causing ripples in the business world. In it, some are finding big opportunities to achieve greater height while others see it as a big threat. To those who are excited by its capacity to transform business, reduce cost and increase efficiency, it is the best thing to have ever happened in the world of technology. To those who feel threatened by its discovery and development; business and world, in general, will never be the same again. They are crying foul, machines are invading their territory and soon the world may be taken over by these gadgets.
Data interpretation is one of the biggest challenges that face project managers, its sheer volume and the urgency at which decisions need to be made within a project environment means that the process will be affected. With AI, half if not two-thirds of this problem is solved. Based on the available data, the system can prompt project managers to take measures which will improve project delivery.
The system can provide information on when a particular skill is required, inform when some supplies are required among other tasks which may take a long time to complete when AI is not available. Experts see a promising future of AI in project management, already there are some project planning software being developed to enable automatic resource assignment, give feedback, offer real-time data and solutions among others.
When all these are combined with predictive analytics it will be easy to identify risks and opportunities and take the necessary measures, therefore, increasing success in project delivery.
In an article written by Oliver Yarbrough, an expert in Artificial Intelligence Project Management, the following areas in projects were laid out as ready for automation. Requirements collection, budgeting, resource planning, risk analysis, monitoring and evaluation, quality control and response planning.
These are some of the tasks that project managers normally find time-consuming and most have confessed that they do not like them as they are just routines. Any project manager would welcome any takeover of these tasks by machines. It is widely accepted that they are necessary, in fact, crucial in the success of a project but they consume most of the project manager's time. Automating them would free up the project manager's time allowing concentration on other tasks. In the long run, the time required to complete the project would be reduced drastically.
Although AI can increase efficiency as far as performance of some tasks within a project is concerned, those project managers fearing job loss or being rendered redundant, should not worry as evidence shows that there are some areas that AI will struggle. These areas include some of the most important tasks in a project, those that highly dictate the direction which a project takes.
Talk of leadership, negotiation, communication, emotional intelligence, and public speaking. All these areas will require humans as they have the capacity. In fact, as one expert pointed out, project managers should be happy that AI is taking over the boring stuff in project management. Very few people finding fun staring on a plan or a budget spreadsheet for close to three hours; this is a time that can be used in building a relationship with team members and key stakeholders.
AI in project management may be at its entry or initial stages but it is here to stay, project teams need to embrace it rather than see it as the enemy, the system will take their jobs. Far from it, AI is coming to enhance project delivery, increasing efficiency and making the whole process enjoyable.
Given that we are just witnessing the beginning of bigger things that AI promises, we need to embrace it, get ready and if possible enjoy it. We can start by developing our literacy in this area. Doing this not only helps us incorporate the technology in project management activities but also builds our competitive advantages as managers. We will be in high demand when clients who are seeking AI literate project managers come knocking. The following steps as recommended by one AI project management expert can help along these lines.
Learning the terms and jargons
Selection of a small goal to work on: This ensures that you remain focused and motivated
Get feedback from the experts, this can either be an in-house professional or an external consultant.
Share what you have learned with other team members; this helps you gauge your level of understanding and also impart the much-needed knowledge and skills to your team.
As a project manager, AI presents more opportunities than challenges, embrace it and you will see significant changes in the way you run and deliver a project. As they say, you cannot stop an idea whose time is ripe, its AI time and all that we can do it let it flow.
It’s important to get to know what tools is the world offering us, to take advantage and be able to adapt fast and frequently, so you can minimize the effect of staying behind because it's cost maybe really hurtful for your projects. The Internet of Things is nowadays, allowing to turn the everyday objects into modern tools, that can enhance the way we develop our goals. Let us explain you why.
The Internet of Things refers to the billions of physical devices that are connected to and share information with the Internet. Devices are connected via wireless networks and processors which are getting smaller and cheaper every day. This means it is possible to turn almost any device into one that is connected to the Internet and make it smarter.
Something as simple as a light bulb, that can now be controlled with your smartphone is an example. Any physical object that can be connected to the internet and then controlled.
A door with a smart security lock that can be controlled via your smartphone motion sensing lights that turn on or off after detecting movement. Something as simple as children’s toys may be connected to the internet or something as serious as driverless cars that depend on information being received through their sensors and depends on geo-location for accurate driving.
The term Internet of Things would usually be used for things that weren’t originally designed to be used with the internet or weren’t meant to communicate with the internet. This means something like a computer or even in some regards a TV and smartphone are not considered Internet of Things devices. Smartwatches or wearable technology are considered
IoT devices have fundamentally decreased the time it takes for a project’s execution. Communication is a huge, if not the most important aspect to a project’s well-being and communication can make or break a project’s execution. And this is just communication amongst human employees.
If devices are included, devices that would not normally have communication capability, a project can be completed much faster. Here are a few ways IoT devices directly affect project management:
Time is money and the projects can decay when you’re waiting for reports to come in. Devices connected to the internet can generate results, data, and reports considerably faster. Devices may be automated so a sequential generation of data and reports may be possible. This makes the project and its phases independent from other parties where before, projects and their phases would be stuck waiting to get analytics for their own systems.
Say, for example, you want to run a test of a car’s tire. Before, you had to depend on other devices, such as a motion camera and sensors on the drive path or an entirely localized field where you could run tests. Now, the car and the tire itself can be fitted with sensors and communication devices that can send real-time results back.
In the same sense, project managers can now observe project phases and their results in real time. Before, the state of a project may not have been apparent until it was too late to change it. An
Using devices fitted with sensors and wireless connectivity, the scope of observation increases tenfold. What can be observed can be changed as well and thus connectivity of devices provides the opportunity for projects to become agile.
Projects often use data from previous or existing projects done on the same subject. To access this data and to store your own data for later use, it must be archived. With IoT, data that you use or generate may become immediately available and extremely helpful for cross-referencing.
Before, accessing data and recording it, from the contents to the tags was extremely time-consuming as all of it had to be done manually. To store data, you need data and storage and companies have to be careful for when they run out and need more to store.
With the speed at which data can be collected and handled, data can be observed to create predictions and possibly, solutions to problems. Just the speed at which IoT produces information can be conveyed to team members instantly and thus creates a sense of familiarity amongst team members.
Data analysis is an important aspect and is used as an important resource.
There are no longer excuses for delays. Data is created and communicated instantly. Projects have never been faster and never been considered to deliver at a pace that they are now. Companies adapting to the IoT trend will be the ones to see success and the ones ignoring it will be left far behind. It is a level playing field now where a lot of power falls into the project manager’s hands.
Project managers should be aware of all the technologies that are available that can aid the project. It should be the responsibility of a project manager to implement technology into their projects and to have employees keep up with it.
The Internet of Things creates a possibility of effective and quick project life. Any project manager who wants to create an environment of quick results should look into IoT as a solution. The competition will eat you up as IoT is becoming ubiquitous in our culture of future living. Project management suited to Agile and bigger projects who adopt agile is also adapting the technologies associated with it.
The bottom line that integrating IoT means faster communication, faster results, better data collection and archiving and thus faster project life its ability to be changed as well during its life.
Projects can have different levels of complexity. Depending on the level of uncertainty and ambiguity of the project objectives, you can establish whether or not you have a complex project on your hands.
According to the Australian Government's Defence Material Organization (DMO) complex projects are those that are characterized by uncertainty, ambiguity, dynamic interfaces, and significant political or external influences; and/or usually run over a period which exceeds the technology cycle time of the technologies involved; and/or can be defined by effect, but not by solution (Hass, Lindbergh, 2010).
Not being able to identify the complexity of a project can cause tremendous harm to the project itself. The general consensus within the PM community is that project failure is usually caused by one of these 4 reasons:
There is poor project management
Lack of clear understanding of the project objectives
Poor stakeholder management
Lack of proper identification of project complexity
Understanding your projects complexity dimensions can help project managers select the appropriate management techniques. Furthermore, it can also help them design and build business solutions that are highly adaptive to the complex environments they live in.
Duration: less than 3 months
Investment: less than $250 k
Team members: 3 to 4
One business unit
Duration: from 3 to 6 months
Investment: between $250k and $750k
Team members: 4 to 10
More than one business unit
Some problem ambiguity
Duration: more than 6 months
Investment: more than $750 k
Team members: more than 10 team
Complex team structure
Large-scale organizational change
Group of related projects of varying complexity
Each project is unique and has its own level of complexity. Project managers should always be conscious of what levels of complexity and uncertainty they are working with because implementing PM methodologies that don’t fit well with their projects could have detrimental consequences on the overall success of the project.
It’s no mystery that the bigger the project, the more alignment is necessary. The role of a project manager is not to do everything for everybody, but being able to know the state of each aspect that impacts the project is very important. This is just a glance at why is a Project Management Software (PMS) a great tool.
Each company, no matter how big or small is constantly on a race of efficiency of resources such as time, money, quality, etc. Any worker acknowledges the importance of the good use of what they have, but sometimes is not enough with having the wish of wanting it to last forever. PMS, allows you to keep tasks under control, and give you the information about dependencies and how time is being used, among many others.
All this information is useful when making decisions because you can trust on why you’re making what you’re making, you stop being blindfolded to the reality, and start connecting with that part of you that is full of wisdom … Yeah! Because on business it's also vital to trust on your guts, no one can explain why, but it's a part of us that is full of light, and we can build great things of it.
One of the most effective skills you possess is efficient time and resource management. When you know how to manage your time and resources well, you know you will excel in your tasks.
Here are 10 tips to keep your tasks, time and resources under control:
When you set goals, there is both a right way and a wrong way to do so. If done correctly, you will achieve your goals easily but if not, then you will lack having the proper target that can affect your performance and get you off track.
One of the most important tips for you to manage your time is to find yourself the right system. Use a good time management system such as quadrant-time management system. It splits your tasks into four quadrants according to their importance and urgency.
Do a time audit for yourself for seven days a week. Assess how you spend the time you have on your hands. Record it in a journal or even your phone. Split your time into portions of half hour or an hour. See what you get done in that certain time block. Were you able to achieve something or did you just waste time? Tally all of it at the end of the week and see on which tasks did you spent most of your time? This way you will know how much time you are using on what tasks and whether you should increase it or reduce it to focus on other tasks.
Before we go on to discuss tips regarding allocation and managing your resources, you should know the scope of your project. Is it big or small? Short term or long term? Once you have determined the scope of your project, you can make a better decision with the knowledge of which of the resources you will need to complete the project. The clearer you are, the better is your resource allocation and management.
Once you know the scope of your project, its goals, and the tasks that need to be completed to get the work done and that too, on time and within budget, get your resources. See which equipment you need to need or purchase, the place you need to complete the project etc. Before the allocation of resources, it is important that you HAVE them. Make a list of the resources you need which fit within the budget of your project.
Without the right knowledge, you cannot manage efficiently. Know your resources along with their skills and experience and then choose according to your project. Create a profile for them and the more you know about them, the better you will be able to allocate them.
Sometimes, you are so focused on your process that you neglect to see what is going around you. And it is more than checking the estimated progress against the actual progress of the project. Although it is extremely important to measure performance as well.
You should have the real-time and truth about the state of your resources such as their schedule, are all present, is anyone or leave? If yes, do you have a backup? What is more? Always contingency plans in place. You have to look at the whole project not at just pieces or parts of the projects.
Problems come along the way and both the variable and conditions change while you are doing a project. The best thing is to be prepared and have backup plans for some issues. Adapt to the changes accordingly and proactively that is only possible with having a contingency plan.
Using a project management software is a great way to manage your resources. And if you have an online tool, you can also get your project data updated instantly. With a project management software, you can manage your resources more productively.
You can use a color-coded calendar to see where and how your resources are allocated. Also, you can set up notifications as well so that you can know if you are lagging behind a certain task so that way you have a solution at hand. You can automate your email notifications so that your resources are on schedule, do their tasks timely and you do not have to micromanage them.
Sometimes, managers lack the right planning skills and over-allocate their resources. There is a risk of team burnout with over-allocation and both the time and budget of the project suffers because of this. Stay vigilant and when you allocate your resources, it should be done after a proper and thorough consideration of your resources. Re-examine your resource plan and then make use of it to allocate the right people for the job.
Another important thing for the effective time and task management is set the goals within a realistic timeline. You would surely want great results and want to aim for the high goals but, have a realistic and achievable timeline for winning or reaching those goals. This way, your team has enough time to brainstorm, get pumped up for the project and come up with great ideas. Break down the project into smaller and manageable task each having a due date of its own so that
You can spend hours and hours planning the perfect project schedule and plan but if there is no input from your team members, it can get off-track or disastrous. It is important that you involve your team members and make sure that they understand both the schedules and deadlines of the project. When your team will see themselves being a core part of the project, it boosts their self-esteem making them more productive and accountable to the set project schedule.
With these tips in mind, you are good to ace your project!
Now that we have touched the point of making decisions, we want to explain to you that decision making is something you can develop. Maybe you feel you’re not the best at it, but it doesn’t mean you can’t become the best at making it.
One cannot stress enough on the importance of time while doing a project. Efficient use of time leads to efficient task management. Efficient time management is the key component of successful project delivery.
When time is well managed, more is accomplished, and time saved. What’s more, you can use that time on some other tasks that might need some extra focus or attention. Or you can say it leads to a snowball effect. Each minute that you save on a task, builds up into more time which you can use on the project.
That is the main idea behind efficient time management. A project involves various operations and functions. If you spend considerable time on each of the steps, you can complete your tasks. But you will be on a tight schedule. You will be more bothered with the timely execution rather than going over the things once again. Poor time management leads to a waste of resources and often, poor performance.
Managing and completing projects is no easy feat. It takes a lot of knowledge, experience, and expertise to manage a project successfully. With enough time on your hands, you can perform much better.
When you have time, you can ponder over your decisions. It is always worth going over your decisions more than once. With time on your hands, the power is in your hand to make a more productive decision that brings optimum results.
When you save time, you save on other resources as well. There’s a lot of truth in the saying ‘time is money’, parts of your project that you thought on leaving to others, now you can do on your own and save some cents. Focus your energy on doing as much as you can with the time you have and don’t forget to prioritize, working at random never brings good results.
Using a Project Management Software allows you to use your time more efficiently. This software is designed so that you can not only complete your project but manage your time as well. That means that in less time, you can accomplish a lot more. When you know that you have a specific time frame in which you must complete tasks, you become more focused.
With the help of Project Management Software, you can efficiently allocate your resources, use them well, and get a lot done in much less time. On a whole, the ultimate effect of using a project management software not only lets you manage time efficiently but boost the profitability of the company as well. So, what are you waiting for to get one?
Is much simpler to see what's going on in real time, who's making what, what tasks are behind schedule. Acknowledging how your project is going and being able to see exactly why and how the execution of the project is at its pace, allows you to start making decisions, that even if they are simple but taken at the proper time, can have a tremendous impact.
Project management software helps your team improve their effectiveness. This software is used to track the implementation, progress, and completion of a project or series of projects, and it becomes a great medium to share knowledge by encouraging and facilitating proper documentation throughout the organization.
As the adage says, different folks, different strokes. Different Project Management Software, different features. However, we stick to the notion that all project management software should offer some "must-have" features.
In this blog post we’ll take a look at 5 of the main features any project management should have:
We believe project
Coming second, we'd give it to documentation. Since managing a project involves lots of documentation, it’s only standard for project management software to have a seamless documentation setting. Project management software should be capable of assisting your team in simplifying the processes of documenting progress, from phase to phase of the projects. Also, it should allow team members to easily create shared documents and have access to them when needed.
We can't help but emphasize an accurate and self-explanatory dashboard. Project management software is not complete without a self-explanatory panel, which comes in handy for accurate reporting. With a good dashboard, your KPIs will be accurately reported. The dashboard should let the team members know what they have to do during the day, their expired tasks, the teams, and projects they belong to, among others.
Then we have seamless and hassle-free communication systems. Teamwork can't be complete without proper communication. Any decent project management software ensures that department-to-department and person-to-person communication is easily initiated, followed-up, and executed. Allowing comments and interactions within the project will facilitate the progress of the tasks and the rapid answer to bottlenecks and problems.
Finally, we have collaboration and updates. Project management software should be able to alert or notify the team members of any recent updates concerning an on-going project.
Remember, if you’re a project manager with one or more projects in your hands, you will most likely need a PM software that facilitates your job and allows you to control your tasks and the tasks of your team members.
When choosing a PM software make sure it offers all the features that you need to do a better job. We just enlisted 5 features that we consider a must, but according to your projects, you may need more sophisticated features like time-tracking or a Gantt chart. Choose wisely and don’t give up on the search, there’s a tool out there for you.
Ok, now that we’ve cleared the path to understand the features that are basic to any PMS. Now let see the power that provides to start using and merging PM methodologies into projects!
Effective and smart project management is a prerequisite to the success of a project. Project managers have diverse tools at their disposal and knowing which tools to use when is an important aspect in ensuring a successful project management process. Over the years, these tools have undergone a transformation in line with technological advancement and changing needs in the management of projects.
Kanban methodology, an approach emerging out of the need to improve efficiency and Gantt Chart, a tool which helps in tracking the progress of a project, are some of the tools that project management teams have utilized to run their projects. These tools have proved effective for their ease of use and flexibility.
This article attempts to explain what Kanban methodology is, exploring its history, principles and use while also looking at Gantt chart and its importance in project management. The article also explains how Gantt Chart can be integrated within Kanban Methodology.
Kanban methodology has gained prominence just recently. Having originated from the manufacturing sector, precisely the Toyota Production System (TPS)in the 1940s, software developers have come to claim it as their territory and soon has been recognized in several business units.
Kanban methodology is based on the manufacturing concept of “just in time” where production is mainly based on a pull system where the demand dictates the amount to be produced rather than relying on the push system. Push system involves producing a certain amount of goods and pushing them to the customers.
This unique production method gave rise to lean manufacturing, where the main purpose was to increase efficiency and minimize wastage without compromising the productivity of a firm. The main aim of this adoption was to create more value without necessarily spending more in terms of production costs.
Kanban is a Japanese term which can be loosely translated as visual signal or signboard. A simple Kanban board contains three columns, namely: Requested, In Progress and Done. When the board is constructed, managed and working well, it plays the role of a real-time data store pointing the challenges within the process as well as anything else which might interfere with smooth working.
Early in the 21st century, players in the software industry borrowed the concept from the automotive industry and used it to enhance efficiency and advancement in computing technology. This is the period when the concept moved from the motor industry and became widely used in complex environments of industrial and commercial sectors.
D.J. Anderson, one of the pioneers in the field of Kanban, formulated this methodology as a process for incremental systems change and evolutionary approach for knowledge among work organizations. The approach was broken down into four main principles and six practices. They are:
Starting with what yo do now. It can be overlain with already existing systems and processes without interfering with work already done. It naturally points out what needs to be addressed, assessing and planning changes such that their implementation does not disrupt as much as possible.
Agreeing to follow incremental and evolutionary change. The method is made in such a manner that it meets minimal resistance, encouraging continuous incremental and evolutionary changes to the existing processes. Basically what is done here is to discourage sweeping changes as there is a likelihood of encountering resistance mainly due to fear of unknown.
The approach recognizes and preserves the current processes, titles, responsibilities, and roles. It does not prevent change, but it is designed to promote it, encouraging incremental change without interfering with processes in a manner that can bring fear and resistance.
Encouraging acts of leadership. It recognizes that leadership is not only for employees at management level and should be encouraged at all levels.
For the successful implementation of Kanban methodology, David Anderson asserts that these six practices need to be at the core of the process. The core practices are:
Visualizing workflow. It starts with understanding what is needed to move an item to a deliverable output, understand the current workflow and then make the needed adjustment. One will be required to have a board with cards and columns each presenting a step in the workflow. Each of the cards will be representing the work item. As the production process continues, the card is moved across the column, namely “to do”, “done” etc. In such a manner it becomes easy to monitor progress as well as to spot the challenges.
Limiting the Work in Progress (WIP). Where there are no limits, you are not practicing Kanban. The approach involved includes limiting WIP, ensuring that a card is only moved to the next step when capacity is available, such a move ensures problems are identified quickly and resolved instantly.
Managing workflow. The focus is to avoid micromanaging, focusing on work processes and how to get work through the system quickly. It involves reducing cycle time and avoiding delays.
Making sure that the process is well defined and familiar to all. This ensures ownership and making it easy to manage change
Holding regular meetings, carrying out reviews and giving feedback.
Ensuring that there is a shared understanding and target to improve collaboratively.
Technological advancement has made it possible to come up with a digital Kanban board where issues of remote working and teams have been overcome. Kanban software also permits sophisticated analytical processes to assist in tracking detailed performance, discovering challenges and implementation of necessary changes. It is also easy to integrate with other systems such as a Gantt chart.
This a tool used in project management, mainly for tracking tasks and events. It is normally presented in the form of a chart, where on the left-hand side, we have the list of activities and at the top header, a suitable timescale is shown. Each project activity is represented by a bar, where the length of the bar shows the duration of the activity, reflecting the start and end time.
With such details, it is easy for the project management team to visualize the whole project. A well presented Gantt chart gives a lot of details about the project, including the tasks, when they should be started, the progress and when they should end. It also tells which project team member is responsible for a given task as well as showing when there is an overlap between tasks.
In a nutshell, Gantt chart tells you what activities need to be done and when. It basically attempts to answer the following questions:
What are the start and end date of the project?
What are the project activities and tasks?
When does each activity begin and end?
How long is each activity supposed to take?
Are there any activity overlaps and by how much?
There are a number of benefits to be derived from using Gantt chart in project management:
Gantt chart allows the project management team to track the project, see the project progress, determine areas that are lagging and where more attention is required.
The tool promotes efficiency in the project, as time will be managed effectively and resources will be utilized well.
Its flexibility makes it easy to manage changes even when the project is running.
There have been arguments that Kanban methodology has killed Gantt chart, but this is far from the truth given that each of the approaches when there is integration, can supplement the other leading to more benefits for the project management team. In his article where he is comparing the two methods, Andrew Stepanov argues that both tools are good choices for a number of projects and can be easily combined to give great visualization and show a clear status of the tasks in projects.
The use of Kanban allows the project team to see where they are at any given time. This is especially beneficial where scope and resources are at a limited scale. However, with complexity and increased scale or desire to have a more formal approach and achieving an efficient process, a more detailed view is required, and this is provided by a Gantt chart.
Integrating Gantt chart with Kanban methodology is a great way of achieving an actual worker especially where high-level overviews are required. While Kanban gives a detailed overview of where the project is at a given time, Gantt charts provide the best way through which a project team can get a high-level overview. They are appropriate for demonstrating to business leaders where the project is at and comes well with a management reporting tool.
With this integration, the deficiencies of each tool are addressed. For instance, Gantt charts are relevant in keeping track of activities and elements in the project. There are some details which are not essentially included in the Kanban board but with the incorporation of the scheduling tool, these elements are clearly shown providing a better project management platform.
In an agile software environment, some details including processes around contracts, agreements may not be important in the Kanban board, but they are details which need to be captured. The Gantt chart provides a perfect platform where such details can be included.
The beauty of integration is that it allows users to get different levels of details. For example, when Kanban falls short in terms of the level of details required, users can turn the task list milestones into Gantt chart and therefore access the required information.
Project managers can benefit from integrating project management tools as such a move leads to supplementation. It also allows the manager to get details which might have been omitted if only one method had been employed. Kanban methodology and Gantt chart, though similar in approach, can supplement each other by taking advantage of the level of details provided by each.
As you can see, a Project Management Software is a tool that can help you simplify your work, allowing you to focus on what really needs your attention, developing strategies, solving problems, building your vision towards your goals and dreams. PMS becomes the catapult that throws you as high as you allow the ceiling of your mind to be.
PMS brings uncountable benefits to the development of the individual who uses it. Now the impact of an entire team taking advantage of this way of developing any project brings big opportunities to change the course of any company.
When having a constant relationship with big teams, a PhD. is not what will turn you into a great leader. Leaving knowledge aside, working on your skills like emotional intelligence and resilience, will make a huge difference when leading a project.
As a project manager, the responsibility for the success of a project lies in your hands. You are the one to take the project from A to B. To do this well requires several strong skills. While you may already be familiar with some of the hard skill or technical skills required, like contract management and procurement, documenting approved scope, deciding utilization of funds and creating a schedule, there are also less obvious skills needed to become a great project manager.
Let’s discuss some of these not-so-concrete skills, called ‘soft’ skills, and why they are important as a project manager. Soft skills are non-technical abilities, they are primarily people and interaction focused. They include things such as communication, leadership, dealing with difficult situations and other interpersonal abilities.
As a project manager, you might be wondering which soft skills are most important and how can you work on strengthening them. Here at Workep, we have identified the following as key soft skills that most effective project managers have honed:
Good communication isn’t just about talking and writing, it’s about listening. Listening is the first step to great communication. As a project manager clear expectation are critical, and to get there, everyone needs to be on the same page. This means the client, your team and you. Managing a project isn’t unlike running a small city and good communication will help make your whole project go more smoothly.
Take a moment and reflect about some of the problems you have faced with previous projects? Was poorly defined scope, or connecting with a geographically diverse team part of that struggle? If so, then improving communication will undoubtedly help you in the future. And as a side perk, it will help you in life in general.
So how do you get better at communication? Well, as we mentioned, communication starts with listening. Ok, so how do you become a better listener? Improving your listening skills through techniques like active listening or listening with all your senses and focus (not just preparing what you will say next in your head) will help you.
You can learn more about building your listening skills through some of the free resources provided by the non-profit organization International Listening Association: https://www.listen.org/Listening_Resources_New
As a project manager, you already know that time management and planning make the foundation of your project. Everyone is counting on you to plan appropriately and manage not only your time but also estimate their time accurately as well to meet your project deadline.
These are skills that as a project manager you hopefully already consider yourself to be good at, but can always improve. To do that, you will need to continually get better at estimating the time required for tasks that make up a project. Workep can help you with this through our hassle-free time tracker. Start with yourself by estimating your time with a task, tracking it and see how close you come to your estimate. Do the same with your team. You’ll begin to learn that perhaps, you regularly take 1.5x the amount of time you estimated. This is valuable insight because it provides you a rule of thumb for estimating more accurately in the future.
Ok, so you’ve listened to the client, you’ve mapped out the project plan, you feel confident that everyone is on the same page and the project is now underway. Even the best listener, communicator, and planner are going to run into unforeseen issues and challenges over the course of a project. How you deal with and manage these situations can make or break the success of your project.
Perhaps, a team member falls ill or leaves unexpectedly. Maybe the client identifies a new need and wants to change the scope of the project. This is where flexibility comes in. The ability to adapt in these tough spots will keep the train on its tracks towards your destination of a successfully delivered project. You will need to use your position to look at the overall project, from that vantage point and with a flexible frame of mind you will be able to find creative solutions to barriers to success.
Just as being flexible physically allows people to obtain a range of motion beyond normal limits, so too will developing a flexible mindset allow you to move past normal limitations. You will be able to recover faster from setbacks and find solutions to problems that others might overlook just by being open-minded.
One way to begin improving your mental flexibility is to identify when you are not being flexible. Do you have a knee-jerk reaction to a suggestion or request from a team member? Rather than responding immediately, try to take a little more time to reflect and see if there is room to be more flexible.
Have you ever started at the beginning of a project and then felt like everyone on the team ran out of steam before delivery? This is common and is a symptom of lack of motivation. Being a project manager requires the motivation to achieve the project’s goals, it also requires you to keep the team motivated as well. How can you help keep your team fired up?
Using your improved communication and listening skills you will be able to get to know your team and ensure they have what they need to be successful. This will keep everyone motivated. Make sure that project progress is visible, how is the work of one team member helping the whole?
The above soft skills are a great starting point to becoming the best project manager you can be. Building strong skills will undoubtedly benefit you in your career and in your life.
When you start developing these skills, and start implementing them with your team, at some point you’ll find with a part of the human connection, that either strengthen the relationship or trembles everything, because it shows you a part inside of you that goes deep and needs to be faced: Trust.
Regardless of a project’s nature, scope, and duration, as a project manager, it is your responsibility to build trust among the team members as well as between yourself and the team members. Trust is the foundation upon which you and your team members can contribute in a productive and effective manner.
Without trust, there is no team but only a group of individuals working together and performing poorly. Trust means that you rely on someone else to do the right thing while having faith in their strength and integrity. Trust is essential for a team to work effectively or else they would fight over the tiniest things, not share information or cooperate with each other. Trust offers a sense of safety and when the team members feel safe with each other, they feel comfortable and take the appropriate risks. Each of the team members feels stronger as they consider themselves an integral part of the team whom the rest of the members trust to do their job. A team is able to achieve their goal when they trust each other.
It is up to the project manager to foster trust within their team. The best way to build trust among the team is to lead by example. Always communicate the truth even if it is hard.
Here are some other tips to build trust in your team:
Be honest and communicate the truth. Always. Sugarcoating a few facts for a while might make it easier for you but when things get bad, it will be a lot to handle. If there are going to issues or problems in the completion of the project, let them know. When you hide things, your team will see it as deception. So, always be truthful about the reality so that they trust you and respect you for maintaining honesty with them from the beginning. Share updates often and be transparent. The channels of communication should always be open. This is necessary because when people don’t know anything, they make their own assumptions. If you have limited information, pass it on and let them know you will update them when you know more.
If you want to do something and have told your team members that you will do it with no exception, then fulfill your word. Be wise in your commitments. As stated earlier, lead them by example. If you do this, your team member will do the same. You have to be the example to tell them the behavior you want from them.
Schedule individual meetings with your team members and ask them how they are doing. This would not only boost your relationship with them but also show them that you care for your team members. It will go a long way to assist them in trusting you. It also creates a rapport between you and your team that creates an honest relationship. They will feel themselves at ease with you and share their views easily.
You can be wrong sometimes too. Sometimes, your way will not be the best option to go with. A team has people with a variety of talents and diverse experiences. They might also know things you don’t. Encourage the team members and boost their confidence. Let them demonstrate their knowledge to you. If they think they can try a different approach or method to do something, let them try. This gives them confidence that you respect and trust their talents.
The best thing you can do to show your team that you trust them is to ask for their ideas and insights. Show them that you value their opinions, concerns, and input. At the same time, be honest with your feedback. This creates an honest relationship between you and your team. Honesty boosts trust. Give constructive criticism in such a way that motivates the team members.
Your team should see that you work too. If you just give orders and don’t do any work, you will come off as an arrogant project manager. There is no harm in getting your hands dirty every now and then so that your team can not only see but appreciate that you work alongside with them. Spend some time with them and help them along the way. This way, they can see that they can rely on you when the going gets tough.
Things fall apart sometimes. Your ideas won’t work and you might have to think of another suitable alternative in the last minutes. Sometimes, you get negative feedback when the project is about to complete. When things go wrong, you should be able to take responsibility for that and show support to your team. When you show solidarity to your team, it is the best way to show your team that you care and they are able to trust you more. They will trust your judgment and take the news with an open mind if they find out that they have to more work at the last minute.
If the team has become disappointed due to some reasons and lack trust, here are some tips to rebuild trust:
It takes a long time to rebuild trust. When the team gets disappointed, you will have to work harder to regain their trust. Realize that the process will take time.
Admit that you were mistaken. Let go of all the excuses and clarification. Tell your team that your judgment/decision was wrong. Admitting where you messed up is a big step.
Fulfill any commitment that you make. Do what you say you are going to do. When your team sees fulfilling your promises, they will gradually begin to trust you again.
Trust is a fragile thing. It takes years to build and a moment to break. Whether it is personal or professional, trust is the foundation of every relationship and when there is trust in a team, the goals are achieved effectively and efficiently.
And last but not least, we are giving you 7 solutions to problems every project manager finds at some point.
Project Managers are like octopuses: they need 8 hands to do everything they have to do to manage their projects properly and keep everything under control. But even if they had 8 hands, there are common problems that arise during the project planning and execution phases. Problems that are difficult to avoid, but easy to solve.
If you’re a good manager, you know that planning is one of the most important stages of any PM process. However, sometimes project managers don’t spend enough time in this stage and they try to jump immediately to the solution of the problem, rather than stepping back, planning and strategizing the most effective ways to solve the problem.
Better planning means you have more control over the project. So, never start a project before analyzing the problem, taking a look a the possible solutions, coming up with the best solution to the problem, and planning all the activities and resources needed to solve it. Always keep in mind the risks that could possibly affect the project, and come up with alternative solutions if some of these risks appear.
And remember, long-term projects require more detailed planning. Short-term, on the other hand, needs a more practical and agile approach.
It’s very important to have a clear scope of the project before starting to execute it. But even if we did a great planning process, the scope of the project can change during the execution. Scope creep is dangerous because it can make the project drift and miss deadlines.
When this situation arises, first focus on the objectives and the real need: did the objectives change? Was it because of the planning or the execution? Is it really necessary to change the scope? If the answer is yes, the sponsor of the project needs to have a meeting with everyone involved so they can all find the easiest and most practical solution.
Take the time to refocus the project, reallocate the resources, create new tasks, reschedule them, and let everyone know what happened. All the documentation needs to be updated so that everyone is working under the same terms.
You planned the project, you defined the resources needed, and therefore, the final budget for the project. So if you did such good planning, why is it that you’re exceeding the budget? This could happen for 3 reasons: there was not a good planning process, there was not a good monitoring and control process over the execution stage or your project was affected by external sources (environment, currency exchange, etc.).
When your project is exceeding the budget you need to find out what happened, and try to reallocate the resources left so you can keep on track maintaining the same expenses. Remember, a good practice when planning the project is to define a small budget for surprises, this means, having a reserve in case some contingencies, out of your control, come up.
Poor communication leads to unresolved conflicts, which could have an adverse effect on the project. A project is executed by a team of members, each one is responsible for some tasks and deadlines. If one member is not aligned and the rest of the team doesn’t find out, the project is, for sure, going to experience delays (and some bigger issues if the matter continues).
Having recurrent meetings, minutes of these meetings and primary committees, among others, is a great idea to keep everybody on board and in agreement.
In a project, tasks depend on other tasks. Some of them can’t be started if a previous task is not done yet. So basically, one missed deadline could turn into 1.000 missed deadlines, and ultimately, late delivery of the project’s final outcome. That’s why time management is crucial in a project.
When you’re experiencing delays, first analyze if the overdue task is part of the critical path. If it isn’t, check for other tasks that can be advanced, and reallocate resources so you can keep the same final date. If it is in the critical path look for new resources that can be added to the project without having a big impact on the budget.
I once heard “When there are two responsible, there are no responsible”. This means each task needs a sole responsible: one person that is accountable of a specific task and everything that’s involved in its completion.
A project manager needs to clearly define the responsibilities and decision-making power of each team member. And the expectations of the stakeholders.
It’s crucial to keep everybody updated on the project status at all times. Not having accessible, available and truthful information leads to errors and delays on the project. Multiple versions of the timeline sheet, different folders for documents, lot’s of emails can lead to decentralized information which is confusing for everyone at the team.
A solution to this problem is using software that helps coordinate employees across multiple locations and time zones. A Project Management software centralizes all the information of the project in one sole place where all the team members can access in real time.
Workep is the best project management platform if you use G-Suite (or Google Apps for Work as it was called). Period. Not just that. It has many features that will simplify and centralize your work. It will make your team unstoppable and will increase your productivity.
Workep, as other platforms created with G-Suite in mind, fits perfectly into the family's spirit of the Mountain View-based company.
It provides you with a project management platform with an amazingly beautiful and easy-to-use interface while it centralizes and automates the use of a variety of tools from G-Suite as part of a slick experience.
So, for example, if you want to create a task associated with a Google Docs document, you can create it right there with a click, without the need of long procedures to get it done.
The tool has a free version, but if you want to get the best out of the platform, Workep offers two Premium plans.
Our basic version of Workep is for teams that are just getting started.
Up to 1 team
Up to 10 team members
Unlimited project, tasks, and files
You’re part of a team dealing with a complex project with many variables to measure, you should try the Gantt chart view.
You need a Time Tracker to measure how productive you and your team are.
You need to assign roles.
You want to create multiple teams.
You need to create multiple projects with the same or similar structure.
You want priority support.
You need custom features.
You need to control access rights and permissions per user.
You need to manage data encryption and data backups and recovery.
You need to build personalized integrations or automation.
You want a personalized design.
You want personalized training for your team
What better option to show the best features of Workep than showing you our best features using animated gifs! You will fall in love with Workep if you haven't already.
We are so excited to announce our new Workep version. We’ve heard you, and by mixing your feedback with our extraordinary ideas we’ve come up with a new Gantt, a
We know you love Gantt. Is the best way to visualize your project and measure its progress in real time. That’s why we focused most of our efforts on improving this feature. What will you find in the new Gantt?
Visualization: you can pick from 2 different options. In the timeline view, you’ll see the schedule and the tasks shown as bars with the name on them. You can display the subtasks and visualize dependencies. This view is ideal for planning complex projects.
On the other hand, you have the left menu option where you’ll see the tasks on the left side with its corresponding information in front.
This view is ideal during the project planning phase and process because it allows you to instantly create tasks, assign dates (by simply dragging and dropping the bars to their corresponding dates), and allocate resources.
Disable weekends: you need time off, right? And this cannot interfere with your project. With this new option, you can disable weekends and take a look at the project’s progress just taking into account the working days.
Zoom out: if you have a long project, you’ll love this new option. You can zoom out the project either quarterly or yearly to have a broader look and measure the progress vs the actual plan.
Dependencies: you can now work with 4 different types of dependencies: start-to-start, finish-to-start, finish-to-finish, and start-to-finish. This will allow you to make connections between tasks and control the overall progress of these tasks across the project schedule.
Progress bar: you can now see a progress bar at the top of the Gantt. This bar shows how much of the project is done, depending on 2 variables: task completion or by the project’s completion dates. Additionally, you can see the progress for each section.
Comment on a specific day: you can now add comments to a specific day so you can bookmark something important that can have an impact on the project, like a holiday for example.
Since you don’t want to mix your personal life with your work projects, we created the
You’ll find 6 sections:
Tasks for Today
Tasks for Tomorrow
Calendar with today’s appointments and meetings
Livestream of your activities
You can also choose to see your tasks for this specific team, or the tasks for your other teams.
On the user profile section, you’ll see your active projects, your recent activity and which teams you’re a part of. If you jump to the Tasks tab you’ll have access to a series of graphs that will give you an indicator of your productivity.
You’ll see the percentage of completed, uncompleted, archived and expired tasks. Lots of expired tasks? Check your project so you don’t fall behind!
You’ll see the number of tasks you have for today, for tomorrow and for the next days. 25 tasks for today? Rearrange your project so you don’t miss deadlines.
You’ll see how many tasks you have per project. Make sure you’re investing your time in the most important projects.
On the last tab, you’ll be able to enable and disable notifications both to your desktop and e-mail. You can also activate and deactivate your general notifications (team invitations and weekly reports), and manage your notifications per projects. Choose what you want to informed of and where.
This feature and the new look and feel of the platform will help you manage your projects in a more organized and rapid way. Not only does it looks better, but it will also make your team unstoppable.
What do you think of this new version? Let us know in the comments!
If you’re reading this and haven’t used Workep before, it’s your time to try it out!
So! This very long article hopefully helped to solve questions and plant a seed of doubt about what you will be able to do when starting to use software for project management. Remember that you can always contact us, and express your thoughts and comments! Check out our blog and youtube channel to find more resources and information about project management a productivity
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