Tag: Project Management
It takes many people to deliver a project, the practice of collaboration and teamwork is often necessary in order to complete a project, there is a downside. There could be times when team members who are sharing the same project management software, delete information that wasn’t meant to be deleted. Could be something as innocuous as change in dates without consultation, or otherwise make mistakes that can set a project back.
To ensure project management goes smoothly, then, it’s a smart idea to use project management software that comes with an activity feed. An activity feed tracks data in project management software, allowing teams to monitor real-time updates and therefore negating the need of sending emails to ask questions. Activity feeds let teams see what changes have been made, who made them, and whether the changes were made correctly or in error.
The specific data an activity feed tracks vary according to the exact software, but they generally track the following:
- Project creation.
- Task creation.
- Folder creation.
- Changes in project dates.
- Changes in assignees.
- Tags removed or added.
- Labels removed or added.
- Checklist items added.
- Checklist items completed.
- Time logged.
- Comments changed.
In order for a project to be successful, it needs to be successfully managed. This can only happen if everyone in the team is on the same wavelength. If tasks are being changed or even deleted without approval of the other team members, it can cause delays.
This is where an activity feed comes in. An activity feed is the quickest way for teams to learn about the latest updates and changes. It can highlight things such as when a change was made, as well as who made the modification. This then allows teams to open up communication so that they can learn whether a mistake was made, and if it was, rectify it as quickly as possible.
Moreover, each change is stored in the same location, which means that the team is able to respond to changes efficiently. An activity feed provides an overview of changes made within a task so that it can stay on track and up-to-date.
When selecting project management software, here are some activity feed features to be considered;
One of the most important features to look out for is the filtering option. A filtering option is beneficial because it allows the team to filter updates according to important tasks. This ensures that the feed is never clogged with information and tasks that aren’t a priority at the moment. Instead, only a notification when a change is made to a followed task is received.
Feed according to comments and changes on tasks that are assigned to particular team members, as well as tasks that have been created or commented on previously.
All in all, filtering options mean that team members aren’t distracted by constant updates that are largely irrelevant, but instead have personalized feeds.
Real time updates are important because they allow a reaction to changes as and when they happen. This is opposed to checking for updates periodically, at which point there may be too many updates to track, and the damage is thus irreversible. As soon as a change is made, there is advice from the feed.
As such, it’s a good idea to find activity feeds that provides track updates instantly without having to reload the page.
When checking an activity feed, there is an ability to switch to default view so latest changes are on top. This allows a response to items as a matter of priority and urgency. It also helps with organization and allows for rectification of any potential mistakes almost as soon as they were made. This improves efficiency and workflow.
With an activity feed, the team is able to stay on track with a project via timely updates to tasks, folders and more. When looking for an activity feed, make sure to find one that’s got all the key features, and which enhances project management, allowing the personalization of feeds, get real-time updates and open up the lines of communication so that nothing gets missed. Let us know your approach to activity feeds and which software works best for you.
All the very best on your project management journey.
Project Management touches upon many different aspects when delivering, one of those aspects are work orders. Work orders should do more than simply describe jobs to contractors. There are many different types of work orders that can be used and any business can benefit from implementing a superior work order process.
A work order is the channel between the customer and the work to be done. It’s the paper trail defining what needs to be done, by when and for how much. As project managers, we would have signed off or been given a work order, but is there a real understanding on why it is such a crucial link in many business transactions.
A work order is a document that describes a job between a customer and a contractor. Work orders can be generated for use within an organization, but they most commonly serve as a contract between the customer and whomever they contract to execute the desired work.
A work order includes a description of the job with an estimate of what it will cost to get it done, including labour, parts and materials. There might be forms attached depending on the type of work being assigned, which may require permits or other paperwork.
The work order will also have information on the location where the work is needed, who will carry it out and the timeframe in which it should be completed. The customer information is also included and can be used as an invoice for the work.
Work orders standardize workflow and create a simple and fast process for scheduling, assigning and tracking work while documenting resources and tracking performance. Primarily used in the construction industry for service requests, but can also be used for products, inspections and audits. In manufacturing a work order is often called a sales order when a build or engineering is to take place.
Regardless of what industry a work order is used in, it is used to track and monitor progress of the status of the job. This is true when used in field service or within an industry that is tasked with regular inspection. In that regard they act almost like a status report.
In terms of structure there are several types of work orders.
- Quotes: This type of work order is a list of products with their pricing included. These quotes are captured and the customer can then make the decision as to whether they meet their financial requirements for the work. These products are not committed to inventory.
- Orders: The difference between a quote work order and an orders-based work order is that the latter is a list of products that are more likely to be purchased by the customer. Therefore, these can be committed to an inventory.
- Unplanned Work Order: This addresses work that has not been planned ahead, such as when machinery breaks down.
- Planned Work Order: When there is work that recurs and can be scheduled, such as preventive maintenance, then it’s called a planned work order.
- Internal Work Order: These are work orders that originate from someone in the organization and are sent to another person in the organization.
- External Work Order: When a work order originates from outside the organization.
- Manual Work Order: This work order is scheduled by hand after getting a work request.
- Automatic Work Order: When a work order can be set up to automatically schedule assignments, such as a software tool.
These types are somewhat flexible in that once the work order is made, it can be changed from a quote to an order, detailing how many products on the quote can be committed to. An order to a quote has the order-only information, such as an authorization date.
A work order is in effect a task. It’s a way to describe, assign and track a job to make sure it is completed on time and within an agreed-upon budget. Managing the creating and flow of a work order as it moves from initiation to execution and completion is key.
The work order process follows three steps:
1. Create a
new work order
2. Traffic through the organization
3. Close the work order when complete
In terms of those who are involved in work order management, they include the person who requested the work, the individual who is authorized to approve it and those who carry it out.
Having some reporting mechanism will also help to keep track of the work and make sure that it’s finished by the deadline. When finished, payment is required, and so payroll needs to be involved to manage any down payments and then final pay.
Project Software can help organize work and drive efficiency. Generating, tracking and paying for work orders is enhanced by cloud-based tool that provides real-time data to always know if the project is on schedule.
Kanban boards can be used to create work orders, add attachments, set priorities and track progress. Work orders are made on cards that are then placed beneath columns that represent the phases of the work, which can be customized to match an organization’s nomenclature.
Keep track of progress on dashboards that automatically reflect status updates and calculate metrics such as time, tasks, costs and more. If the crew is predominately in the field, as long as there is internet connectivity, they can update their status or collaborate by commenting at the task level.
Time logged on work can also be tracked with time sheets that streamline payroll as well. They’re secure and easy to use. Let us know your work order experience, approach taken and results to the project’s success. All the very best on your project management journey.
Project timelines are planning tools that allow you to organize all the activities that make up a project, in order. Create milestones, set deadlines, and manage tasks, all in one easy to view location. Using timelines with project timeline software unlocks interactive features that dramatically improve the way they can be visualized and collaborate on projects.
Providing a visual representation, timeline are a visual list of tasks or activities placed in chronological order, which lets project managers view the entirety of the project in one place. A project timeline typically takes the form of a horizontal bar chart, where each task is given a name and a corresponding start and end date. It also provides an in-depth overview of the entire project from start to finish. When a task starts and when it’s due—and importantly, whether or not it’s dependent on another task.
Project timelines give project managers an opportunity to:
- Organize their tasks
- Show when in the project the tasks start
- View task deadlines
- Link dependent tasks
- Break the project into phases
- Identify team members assigned to a task
To make a thorough project timeline, follow these steps:
- Write a project scope statement: A scope statement outlines the tasks, milestones and deliverables for the project. It’s an essential part of the project management plan and it has all the information needed for the project plan timeline
- Make a work breakdown structure (WBS): Use this graphic tool to break down the project scope into smaller work packages. The WBS allows the visualization and organize the project’s tasks, milestones and deliverables by hierarchy to establish a chronological order
- Identify task dependencies: find out which of those activities are dependent on other tasks to start or end
- Estimate task duration: Make a reasonable time estimate for each task. This is a critical step to create the project management timeline, and determine the time required to complete the project
- Define deadlines: Determine how much time the team can spend on each task
- Set milestones: Milestones are important dates that mark the end of one phase and the beginning of the next, which makes them an important component of a project management timeline. Milestones are reached by completing task sequences and deliverables
Project management timelines can take many different forms with varying levels of efficacy. They can be drawn by hand, or on a whiteboard, but this method is inflexible and large changes to your project might require scrapping the entire timeline.
Using a spreadsheet loaded up with macros can make for very capable, if time consuming to create, timeline. A project timeline excel template can save effort and time it takes to create the spreadsheet.
To run projects effectively and efficiently, project managers prefer project timeline software that integrates their tasks with an interactive, feature-rich Gantt chart that can schedule, assign tasks, monitor progress and report on performance. Project timeline software is more versatile than project timeline templates because it allows project managers to easily update the timeline and keep track of tasks with dashboards and reports.
As stated, software is commonly used by project managers to create their project plan timelines. Project timeline software is an integral part of the planning process and often includes additional features that help to monitor progress when executing the project.
Using project timeline software is generally regarded as a necessity for keeping a modern project on schedule. It allows managers and teams to see the status of their tasks; that is, whether they’re in progress, overdue or done.
At its most basic, project timeline software creates a graphic representation of the project on a timeline with tasks and milestones plotted across. Tasks can be assigned start and end dates, and display a duration bar that indicates the planned amount of time to complete the tasks. More powerful software offerings can also include further options to manage tasks.
Online project timeline software offers a centralized data repository in which everyone involved in the project can access the project timeline and other critical project documents and data. This means that managers and teams can access the project timeline when they need to, even if they’re working different shifts and located in different time-zones.
Every project is impacted by the triple constraint of time, cost and scope. To start controlling the time and scope part of that important triangle, create a project timeline during the planning stage.
The project timeline helps everyone on the project team by giving them a roadmap of where they are, and where they should be, at every point in the project. Timelines and schedules are essential to execute the project plan.
As planning tools, project timelines and understanding how to compose them is essential to every project manager, let us know your thoughts, tips and trick you use when creating a project timeline, we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.
Tasks are given start and end dates and show on the timeline as a line connecting to points in time. If some of those tasks are dependent on another to start or finish, these task dependencies can be indicated on the project timeline as well.
This assists a manager by keeping those dependencies visible and preventing possible bottlenecks that could block the time during the execution of the tasks.
Work management helps managers improve how they balance workloads, communicate goals and track progress. Overlooking the importance of work management is a common managerial mistake. Project management spends a lot of time on the work that must happen before any project can be executed. Researching the feasibility of the project, planning for its success, scheduling tasks, organizing resources and building a budget are all important.
Then comes the execution phase and often much of a project manager’s attention is focused on monitoring, tracking and reporting on progress and performance. While this is happening, overlooking the team can occur, when it shouldn’t.
Getting the most out of the team, making sure they have the necessary resources to match their capacity at a specific point in the project is key to maximizing productivity. To create that optimum workflow structure requires a work management methodology.
Work management is the intersection of business and team processes to structure workflow so that teams work more efficiently. It’s a way to manage the team and the way they work to assist with increased efficiencies.
This can be applied to the scope of the project or the organization of the project’s operations. Either way, the goal is to streamline these processes to better schedule tasks, meet the expectations of stakeholders, manage resources and evaluate performance to further improve productivity.
The cycle of managing work starts with identifying that work, planning and scheduling it, and then executing the work. Management of this work is important as can it improve performance.
Better performance is one of the reasons for work management, which leads to more quality deliverables on time and within budget. But work management also streamlines processes not merely to improve their performance but to reduce any redundancies that are unnecessarily taking up valuable time and money.
In short, work management is known to reduce waste. Getting rid of those activities that serve no purpose creates better projects.
But there’s more an active work management plan produces, such as fostering collaboration on tasks to work better together. Communication is the essence for all project management processes and so better communications are part of a work management program. It speaks to collaboration, but also clear direction.
Work management is about taking many of the different parts of managing a project as they relate to the team and integrating them into a system that boosts productivity. Therefore, work management touches many aspects of project management.
The elements of work management read like the features of a powerful project management tool. They incorporate resource management, collaboration, time and task management, budgeting, reporting and more. In a sense, work management is the hub around which all these spokes turn.
There are some common aspects to detail regardless of where you work. Collect these elements with the team’s involvement. The secret to a successful work management system is not to have it rigidly defined. It must be a living process that is constantly being reviewed and renewed.
Being transparent with the plan ahead, also seek feedback. This will lead to a happier, more creative and accountable team due to a building of mutual respect. Clear communication goes hand-in-glove with transparency. Good communication builds collaborative and productive teams.
Being open to feedback builds trust and retains employees, which leads to greater work productivity. Make everyone feel an integral part of the process and that their opinions are valued.
Giving the team, the tools to better collaborate is a driver to greater productivity. It also helps to solidify teams and boost morale, which in turn leads to greater productivity. This leads to trust, resources are hired for their skills and experience.
Factor to always consider is a team’s burn out, when delivering project the attrition rate of a team can be overlooked, always maintain a work life balance, without compromising the project time frame. Choose a mechanism to avoid burnout that works for the team, social events for example, collaborate with the team and determine what works.
Another problem is not dealing with issues as they arise in the project. This can be project or personnel-related. Either way, ignoring the issue will not make it go away. On the contrary, it will fester and grow, often to the point that it disrupts work.
Project Managers shouldn’t get in the way of their teams, but also need to have transparency in their work. To have access to a team management page which lists everyone, their tasks and the task percentage complete is a great help. This workload page can be used to determine if anyone is not performing because they’re over allocated. Then reallocate to free them up.
Having the tools to get a high-level view of the project with a real-time dashboard can assist. By automatically tracking project metrics and managing a team’s work load is no easy task, but following the steps mentioned should assist. Let us know your approach to managing a team, we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.
Protection of services seems to be the way of the future, and as a project manager how do you deliver a Cyber Security related project successfully? The answer no different to any other project, the process is the same, planning doesn’t change and stakeholder management should be paramount. Although Cyber Security is everybody’s business, it is still relatively new when it comes down to delivering these related projects within an enterprise. Convincing those affected of spend, time and the impact takes skill, providing facts helps immensely.
Although there are many intricacies when project managing a cyber security project, we will only look at high level factors to consider when delivering a project of this nature. It is paramount for cyber security strategy to be embedded within the business process, rather than be something that stands alone. Strategies will differ across industries and businesses, and share critical elements. The outcome should be how cyber security protects and enables value to the business by;
- Basing strategy to align with business goals.
- Cyber security issues should be communicated in simple business language.
The project strategy should be driven from the top. A strong cyber security strategy is part of the organizations core message and is set by senior executives. It’s always easier to implement cyber security earlier rather than later. It should be embedded in every project, and every activity, from the beginning. Cyber security is more than just IT, as it affects supply chain, human resources, finance and more.
The project team should include resources who have an understanding of cyber security. As the project manager, there has to be a level of understanding from your part to separate fact from fiction when surrounded by particularly skilled resources. The cyber security project team has an appropriate mix of skill sets, including organizational change management, crisis management, third-party risk management and strategic communications.
Governance shouldn’t change because it is a cyber security project, establish a cyber security steering committee. Having a steering committee that needs to approve all security projects is essential for an effective cyber security governance program. Have the right security stakeholders on board to help with the implementation as part of the organizations culture. Advocates help spread the cyber security vision across the enterprise.
Cyber threats are always changing, establishing controls to provide adequate protection in order to minimize the risks or impact of any threat. Risk management is project management 101, and understanding what they are and how to mitigate them is very important. Threats need to be continuously monitored and make sure security posture is improving every day. It is critical to quickly detect and react to cyber threats. Using multiple threat intelligence sources, assists in anticipating a threats next move.
Although the project is allocated, resources will come and go as required but a core team should be established. Focus the resources on the business critical assets. Base resource allocation on risk assessment finding, placing efforts where the business is most vulnerable.
Unfortunately, organizations cannot be 100% secure, elements of risk remain. As the project manager all should be identified and mitigation put into place as mentioned earlier. A strong incident response capability is essential in case something undesirable happens. Incident response is not just a technology issue, but needs both technical and management involvement. An incident response plan should be developed and tested regularly.
In most organizations there needs to be a cultural transformation, as people are the core of a business, so cyber security is everyone’s responsibility. Cyber security should be made relevant to each business area and factored into all business decisions. When each component in the information security management system, the people, processes and technology, come together and works in harmony, there will be pay-off from the cyber security investment.
Let us know your experience with Cyber security projects, the tools you use, your approach, we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.
Increasing productivity in the workplace greatly improves chances of delivering a project on time and within budget. Therefore, understanding all about workplace productivity is key to success. There are benefits to increasing a team’s productivity which can be measured. By establishing a benchmark setting and with the use of specialized tools, all assist in bringing the project home.
Productivity is how to efficiently measure how work is done, in general completing tasks efficiently and working consistently is how to measure business success. Therefore, understanding all about workplace productivity is key to success.
Some of the productivity issues to consider are;
- How to increase productivity in the workplace
- What software solutions can help work more productively
- How productivity can be stymied
- Ways to increase team’s productivity
- If too much process stands in the way of productivity
Workplace productivity is measured by how quickly and efficiently a team can produce goods and services over a certain period of time. It’s a key metric that economists use to measure productivity.
It shouldn’t be confused with employee productivity, which measures the amount of work that an individual can accomplish over an amount of time. Statistically, tracking the efficiency of a larger group is more accurate than measuring a single person. That doesn’t mean productivity in the workplace is regulated strictly to those who work in an office. It can be applied to those who work from home and remote workers.
Increasing productivity in the workplace improves chances of completing projects on time and within budget. The following are suggestions to consider in improving productivity when conducting a project.
1. Tracking Tasks: Creating a system of managing tasks enables concentration of work, while creating the boundaries needed in order not to go off schedule and take the whole project off track.
2. Automation: Emails can be automated, to notify when a deadline is approaching, adjust accordingly, and get the work done without dragging the project off-track.
3. Take Breaks: It’s important to take short breaks, especially when working through long tasks, allows the brain and body a chance to rest.
4. Remove Distractions: Turn off personal notifications and other distractions can be physical, like the workspace. Remove clutter; ensure it is clean, in the middle of office traffic, isolated? There’s no hard and fast rule, some people need quiet, while others are more productive in busy environments.
5. Use Technology: While it can be a distraction, technology can also help to work better. There are a lot of great tools that are designed to help improve productivity.
Productivity software is used to organize work, collect data that is accessible quickly and facilitate collaboration with the team. It also allows monitoring and tracks what is in order to find areas that can be improved.
Project management tools have changed managing a project for the better, giving teams features to collaborate and work more productively, while managers are able to monitor and track their work. This means they can reallocate resources to meet their team’s capacity and always have them working efficiently.
Workplace productivity apps can largely be separated into two distinct types—offline and online productivity software. There are pros and cons for each, online productivity software means it can be used anywhere, at any time, which is critical for distributed teams. It also means the data received when monitoring and tracking is in real-time, which lends itself to greater insights and better decision-making.
Offline productivity software is not connected to the internet. That means it is not subject to the power of the connection. Since it only resides in the computer, it’s less accessible to unwanted third parties, which may provide a sense of security in protecting data. Desktop apps tend to be expensive, as they may require installation and a licensing fee for each terminal it is used on.
The benefits of knowing how productive the team is are immense. Armed with that knowledge, plan upcoming work and keep everyone allocated to their capacity without overloading them.
The processes resources are expected to use every day are the ones that will either help with productivity or hinder work. Make a list and find out the processes the team uses repeatedly.
Find out what tasks the team is working on and measure their performance against them. This can be achieved with resource management tools and time tracking. Tacking the lean six sigma approach here assist with minimizing waste or repetitive tasks.
The team can also be asked if they believe they are productive, the results would be interesting on how they measure their own productivity, via the amount of emails being sent or the results obtained within the project. The data from the process audit, the task assessments and feedback from the team can be measured by the amount of time each process takes.
Having carried out process reviews next is to evaluate whether those processes are as good as they could be. Look for these things.
- Duplication of effort between teams
- Unnecessary process steps
- Data capture or input that then doesn’t go anywhere
- Mapping out processes with a network diagram or any visual aid, will assist with bureaucratic time-wasting steps more easily.
It should then be relatively straightforward to identify and ditch process steps that don’t add any value or that duplicate effort. Review all the data captured in the process and make sure that something happens to it. If no one wants the data or uses it for anything, then stop recording it and save that time.
Too much process can stop a team from achieving their full potential. The more time they spend filling in change requests or logging work orders, the less time they spend actually doing their job.
Without the backing of a project management office, it can be hard to create a cultural change in office politics. If there is a concern about whether processes are helping or hindering a team’s productivity, know that there are ways to change the current paradigm and influence others to do the same.
For this to occur an audit is required, this can be conducting a simple review in order to know whether processes are, getting in the way of productivity. After all, processes shouldn’t be abandoned based on assumptions.
Don’t look for the number of processes or tools, or even a judgement call on the level of bureaucracy in the team. There can be dozens or hundreds of processes and if they all work smoothly, they can help productivity rather than hinder it.
Look for the following instead;
- A drop in productivity
- Signs and symptoms of an unhappy team.
Both these are indicators that bureaucracy is getting in the way of getting things done.
Before noticing a productivity problem, there has to be an understanding of the trends in productivity within the project or organization. Unfortunately, at times it is not obvious which process is hindering the team. The way to identify the road block is by looking for indicators of a gradual decline relative to past measures of productivity.
In order to know if productivity is declining, then there has to be an understanding on how to measure it. Gather all the project data that is available and look for the repeating tasks, as these are often the ones that require processes — such as these.
- Managing requests for changes
- Project handovers and internal reviews
- Processing payments
Task management systems that allow users to input the amount of actual time spent on a task will allow building up a huge repository of useful benchmark data. If identified that last year the change control process took a week for the change to be logged, assessed and either approved or rejected, it can be compared to current data. If it takes a lot longer today, then the empirical evidence is on hand, that shows process is slower and that could be part of the reason for the drop in productivity.
Don’t underestimate the useful information obtained from the team. Talk to them. They will be able to provide a gut feel for whether they are hampered or guided by the processes and (more importantly) which ones are difficult to work with.
Pinpoint the processes that are causing the most issue. Analyze what about them is creating problems, which could be one or more of the following.
- They are too time consuming
- The approval loop goes to the wrong people
- They require too much information
- Nothing is done with the information that is provided.
It can take time to recover from the drop in morale that is the by-product of an unproductive work environment, and bringing to mind all that is frustrating the team, it does need to be done sensitively. Be mindful in this process, and be prepared to address immediate concerns. Deal with any quick wins first, such as explaining where the data goes and why the process works that way. Then deal with the practical issues raised by attempting to resolve the process issues they have flagged.
These are quick ways to assess whether the team is less productive as a result of process. Carry out large scale process mapping and do a deep dive into productivity, but it’s easier to start with identifying some quick wins before moving to that sort of time-consuming initiative.
A drop in productivity could be the cause of a morale problem, or a symptom of poor morale in the team. These two issues are closely linked, so it’s worth seeing what can be done to address low morale at the same time.
Ultimately, information sharing and involving the team in the assessment can go a long way to improving morale.
Once productivity data has been analyzed and reviewed with the team morale situation. The lesson learnt is that the issues are definitely related to ineffective processes. Here are four steps to weed out what’s not working.
1. Take a leaf out of the Lean and Six Sigma manuals by stripping everything out of the process that doesn’t add value.
2. Try to avoid falling into the trap of removing too many processes without validating them, however. Someone else in the organization might need the piece of data that has been decided isn’t necessary. Do some sense checking before stripping the process back totally?
3. Delegate the process-related admin tasks to team members to share the load and streamline operations. Remember, democracy is not always the best approach in delegation. Choose team member’s best suited to accomplish them efficiently. There’s no business benefit in having highly paid technical architect do low-value process paperwork if the team administrator could do it just as well.
4. Be the advocate for the team. Many processes will be organization-wide, and probably can’t remove them without some serious negotiation. Bring key leaders together and be armed with the data uncovered in the audit to demonstrate the loss in productivity and its impact on the bottom line. Be sure to demonstrate clear solution-oriented approach that would work just as well, yet is less process-heavy and more productive.
It will take a bit of trial and error to whittle away the old, outmoded processes and streamline new ones. Use a continuous feedback approach with the team to maintain the right balance
In fact, getting team buy-in on all processes helps improve team morale because it boosts engagement when they know they are instrumental to contributing to continuous process improvement. Collaboration will really make a difference; overall immediate productivity improvements should be evident, and tweak processes until they are just right for the whole team.
Use online collaboration project tools to keep project and process work streamlined alongside each other. Keep all internal and project documents stored alongside project plans, and keep the team looped into project communications via a collaboration platform. Let us know your thoughts and how you manage project team productivity issues, we would like to hear from you, all the best on your project management journey.