#WeLoveProjects, and we firmly believe that a good project management strategy is the key to achieving the best results at work. That’s why we’ve worked on creating this complete guide that will walk you through all the basics of project management and will teach you how to become more efficient in your day-to-day tasks. We hope you enjoy it! Each header and sub-header has a hyperlink to a more detailed post. Click it if you want to learn more about a specific topic.
Defining Project Management
How often do you start something, and at some point, you just stop doing it? From taking up a new hobby to starting an entrepreneurship, it’s a common problem that many of us experience.
There are many reasons why this occurs, such as lack of time, money, or commitment. In the end, it feels like you never accomplished anything and becomes a snowball effect that can impact future projects.
Something in common these reasons have is that they are rooted in how the individual gets overwhelmed without the proper organization. This is where project management comes in!
“Project Management is the art of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing a project by controlling the resources needed to achieve a specific goal.”
This is applicable to any project, but to reach your goal it is necessary to take action. Project management allows you to take the most effective path of action to do just that.
According to the PMI (Project Management Institute), a project is a “temporary endeavor with a beginning and an end and it must be used to create a unique product, service or result”. This means that every project has a specific goal that needs to be accomplished at a specific time, so it cannot go on indefinitely.
The specific objective or goal of the project can be accomplished by fulfilling some requirements that are defined at the beginning of the project. These requirements must be aligned with the deliverables of the project (tangible products that come out as a result of a requirement).
At the same time, these requirements imply that some interdependent tasks need to be performed by people at specific times.
Project management comes in handy when we recognize the goals, time, requirements, deliverables, tasks, and people that can be considered as “allies”, but it’s not enough to understand those variables unless we use them efficiently.
Without proper management of resources, it’s impossible to understand and align everything that is involved in a project in order to accomplish a goal. Project management is about aligning the available resources to meet the project’s objectives.
Diving into Project Management
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.
(Note: In theory, there are many ways of structuring the steps to develop a project, we have chosen the ones that are better detailed and provide more in-depth insights)
1. Define the Goals for Your Project
Every project needs to define a goal or a set of goals, that has to be accomplished in order to finish the project. It’s the first step in every project management process.
These goals need to be SMART:
After you’ve defined the project objectives and goals, you can then determine the project’s scope. 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.
2. Define the Completion Date
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.
3. Define All Project Activities
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?), due date, and who is responsible for the task.
Don’t ignore any activity, as small as it may seem, because the monitoring and control of the project depend on the fulfillment of these activities. You will track the whole project’s progress based on the progress of the tasks.
4. Allocate Resources
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 each resource for each activity with its quantity and description, and place it in a visible place so that everyone on 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.
5. Estimate Time and Cost Per Activity
When you have a due date for each task, try to identify how much time it will take to complete each of these tasks. Ask questions like “How much time for 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 whether it was successful or not at the end. 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.
6. Implement Plan
Project management allows you to have a clearer mind before, during and after any project. When implementing the plan, being aware that several issues may come up is helpful because it gives you the time to prepare without panicking.
If you can’t do anything, there will be services that can help you fill those gaps, the important thing is to have a mindset that allows you to keep moving forward instead of getting stuck.
During the implementation, you’ll need several tools to keep updated on what’s going on. It’s almost mandatory that real-time sharing information is available through all areas. Tools like time tracking among others are also helpful.
7. Monitor and Control
Monitoring will give you the information necessary to see if the project is being executed as planned or if changes are needed.
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 like project management software would be helpful since it will automatically measure items like time progress or money investments.
8. Deliver Project
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. – everything that the owner needs in order to take control of the final outcome and be able to go back if they need to.
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?
- What was actually achieved?
- Is it the same?
- Is it better?
- Is there something missing?
- What were the reasons for the outcome?
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 a closure and get feedback to see what worked, which lessons you learned, and the best practices that can be applied in future projects.
Being a Great Project Manager
Now that you know some basics about project management, it’s also necessary to start developing a mindset that, aligned with the project itself, can be guided by a more efficient path that can simplify decision making, and help you have a clearer mind when most needed.
A project manager has several things on their mind 24/7. This can blur their vision from time to time, and that’s OK! Your team is there as the base for the successful execution of a project.
Trust in yourself and others will allow you to have open discussions and avoid tense situations that may occur when walls, fear, and misunderstandings appear. Remember, things can go differently than planned, but you’re capable of handling any situation, and asking doesn’t have to be the last resource.
Embracing uncertainty is a valuable step towards developing self-trust, so don’t worry about encountering it right away. Instead, search for your strengths in this checklist about what a great Project Manager should have.
It’s not about being perfect in each of them, it is about recognizing your strengths and weaknesses so you can plan honestly and be prepared.
1. Being a Project Manager Is Being a Leader
Project management is all about teamwork: people coming together to offer their expertise so the final goal can be achieved. Your role as a project manager? Inspire and motivate every team member so they own the project and bring all they have to achieve the best possible outcome.
2. You Need to Be Good at Management (Duh!)
It seems obvious, but many project managers lose themselves in the execution and forget their main responsibility: management. Manage time, people, money, among other things. Project management is all about allocating the resources in the best possible way so the final outcome is achieved in a timely manner and within the budget. This outcome can only be reached if you have a clear strategy, a good implementation plan, continuous monitoring, and control.
3. Work on Your Communication
Being able to communicate with people at all levels is crucial if you want your project to succeed. As you know, projects involve a lot of tasks, people, and resources. Maintaining good communication (both speaking and listening) is essential to keep the team synchronized and informed about what is expected from them at each stage of the project’s process.
4. You Have to Collaborate with Your Teammates
Collaboration, which comes hand-in-hand with communication, means you are available to help any team member involved in the project. Even if each task has a specific person in charge, as the project manager, you need to make people feel like you have their back, and that you will be able to collaborate at any moment for the sake of the project’s development.
5. Start Making Good and Quick Decisions
Planning is great, it’s fundamental in any project management process, but the truth is: even if you spent days and weeks planning, at the moment of the execution a lot of things can go wrong. A good project manager has to be smart enough to make difficult decisions at a very fast pace, while avoiding deviating a lot from the initial plan and taking care of the resources used.
6. Embrace Problems and Look for Practical Solutions
A good project manager is great at handling problems. He or she is aware that they’ll come up at any stage of the project’s process and is OK with taking charge of difficult situations. But, more importantly than that, they are very practical when looking for solutions. They know the project has a timeline and defined resources available, so he or she efficiently decides how to face difficult situations in an effective way.
7. Have an Eagle’s Eye View of the Project
As a project manager, you’re in charge of the project’s success. And being in charge means taking the reins of the project and being aware of what’s happening with each team member on each task at every moment. The project manager is the one who monitors and controls the project so that the timeline and budget are respected. This can only be accomplished if you’re aware of what’s going on in the overall process.
8. Be Organized (in Your Mind and in the Project)
We said it before: people, resources, tasks, budget; there are millions of things in a project manager’s head. If they are not organized, the chances of not accomplishing the final goal are huge. A project manager needs to be organized in their head so they’re aware of everything that’s going on, but also in the work, so that every team member can easily find any information, document, tasks, etc. that they need to do their job.
9. You Need to Become an Expert on the Project’s Subject
Being a project manager is owning the project. People on the team are going to look for you when they have questions or problems and they will expect a quick answer. The more you know about the project, the faster you can react to any issue that comes up. If you start a project and you’re not an expert on the subject, start by studying and learning as much as you can from it.
10. Stay Calm, and Learn to Differentiate Urgent from Important
The clock is ticking and every single minute of work is vital! Stop. Remember: things don’t always go as planned and problems come up. A good project manager knows how to keep calm in stressful situations and differentiate urgent from important. It’s all about prioritizing and organizing the ideas so that the project and the team members suffer as little as possible when a problem shows up.
As you can see, all of these skills can be developed in yourself so you can take advantage of them, even beyond the projects you get to manage, and in your daily life. It can be a gift to yourself, and enjoying the development of a project is ALLOWED!
What Does a Project Manager Do?
Now that the ground has been settled on what it takes to be a great project manager, we want you to understand why those skills are paramount to creating and completing tasks properly.
On a daily basis, you’ll need to organize to get tasks done. This may seem unimportant, but breaking down everything you need to do will make your brain think that reaching your goal is easier and give you satisfaction by reaching small milestones.
Here are 8 steps that cover broadly what you need to do as a project manager. Of course, feel free to accommodate, change, and eliminate as you like. Remember that the whole point of these guidelines is to help you get free of what doesn’t need to be taking space in your mind.
1. Log into Your PM Software or Platform
Let’s face it: if you’re a project manager you most likely need project management software, platform, or tool where you can keep all the project’s information: tasks, timeline, documents attached, etc. A good project manager turns on his computer in the morning and logs into their PM software to start the day. If you’re still working without a software/platform, try Workep for free.
2. Take a Look at the Project’s Dashboard
Some software allows you to centralize the information of a project so you can track the progress and be easily aware of any delay. Before working on your own tasks, start by monitoring the advance of the project/projects you own. Remember: you’re the project leader, so if something is not going as planned, you need to find out and decide what to do to get back on track.
3. Check Up on Your Team
As the project leader, you need to make sure everyone is working on his or her own tasks; but, most importantly, that everyone has what he or she needs to finish those tasks. Talk to your team members and make sure everyone understands their role and what’s expected of them on that day.
4. Identify and Manage Overdue Tasks
After talking to the team members take a look at the existing tasks to make sure everything is on time, if you see an overdue task, talk to the responsible individual to understand what happened and what is needed to finish that task. Remember: in a project, some tasks depend on the evolution of a previous task. So if there’s an important task that’s overdue, this could delay the progress of the whole project. Taking care of the overdue tasks will help the project’s completion.
5. Plan Your Day
Now that the project is on track, and everyone has what they need, it’s time to plan the rest of your day. Do you have to execute tasks? Meetings? Create reports? Prioritize your tasks and start working on the more important ones.
6. Check Your Email
You’re the leader, and people on your team will go to you when they have an issue with their task. It’s very important that you’re available to answer rapidly to these kinds of requests because not answering on time could affect the progress of the project. Try to use your e-mail as your main channel so that people know how to best reach you, and to keep all your conversations centralized.
7. Execute Tasks
Project managers usually manage and execute, so you obviously need time to work on your individual tasks. This is the moment to do so. If, at some point, you see that you’re not having enough time to execute them, delegate these tasks to someone else. As a project manager, leadership is always going to be more important than execution. DO NOT postpone management tasks to execute, or you’ll lose control of the project.
8. Monitor the Progress at the End of the Day
Set aside a time at the end of the day to monitor the progress of the project and make sure everything is going as planned. This is the moment to rearrange tasks, change due times, or the responsible individuals. Doing this at the end of the day will facilitate your work (and your team’s work) on the next day.
Repeating these steps throughout your project will start having an impact day by day until the sum of its benefits (like saving time, money, and enhancing the quality of your product or service) will start to pay off.
Challenges a Project Manager Needs to Face
As your project develops, you may encounter yourself in all kinds of situations, they don’t necessarily have to be labeled as good or bad. It’s just a matter of interpretation. Remember that your view of things can transform them into failures or opportunities.
Some common situations you might encounter are:
Sometimes project managers don’t spend enough time in this stag,e and they try to jump immediately to the solution of the problem. You need to step back, plan, and strategize to find the most effective ways to solve the problem.
Never start a project before analyzing its core problem. Taking a look at all the possible solutions will help you come up with the best solution to the problem. From there on, you just need to plan all the activities and resources needed to solve it.
And remember, long-term projects require more detailed planning. Short-term, on the other hand, needs a more practical and agile approach.
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 needs:
- Did the objectives change?
- Was it because of the planning or the execution?
- Is it really necessary to change the scope?
The sponsor of the project needs to have a meeting with everyone involved so they can all find the easiest and most practical solution. All the documentation needs to be updated so that everyone is working under the same terms.
This could happen for 3 reasons:
- There was not a good planning process.
- Lack of monitoring and control process over the execution stage.
- Your project was affected by external sources (environment, currency exchange, etc.).
When your project is exceeding its budget, you need to find what happened, and try to reallocate the resources left so you can keep on track and maintain the 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.
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 recurring, 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, a late delivery of the project’s final outcome. That’s why time management is crucial in any project.
When you’re experiencing delays, 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’s on the critical path look for new resources that can be added to the project without having a big impact on the budget.
Each task needs a sole responsible: one person that is accountable for 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. This is accompanied by the expectations of the stakeholders.
It’s crucial to keep everybody updated on the project status at all times. Not having accessible and reliable information may lead to delays on the project. Multiple versions of the timeline sheet, different folders for documents and mountains of emails can lead to decentralized information and confuse everyone on the team.
A possible solution is using project management software to help coordinate employees across multiple locations and time zones. Project Management software centralizes all the information about the project in one sole place where all the team members can access it in real time.
The role of a project manager is crucial to reach the goals set during the initial phase of a project, and managing a project is an ongoing process of growth that allows you to develop management skills that will seriously benefit you from there onwards.
Developing the Processes
When project management comes to mind, a lot of people simply consider it as a method of starting and completing a project. While this may be true, project management usually encompasses much more.
We often see big companies take on new projects, announce an expected time frame, and more often than not, meet their set deadlines. From Fortune 500 companies to small-scale startups, effective project management remains an indispensable criterion for success.
Project management can be likened to playing a game of Tetris. It involves the ability to optimize every aspect of the process to meet and produce the best possible outcome within all the conditions for delivery.
The right project management procedure takes the previously mentioned steps’ (from defining your goals to implementing the plan and closing out) features into account and strives to always deliver the best quality with the least amount of resources, errors, and waste.
Identifying the Complexity of the Project
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.
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 project’s 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.
4 Types of Project Complexity:
Small Independent Project:
- Duration: less than 3 months
- Investment: less than $250 k
- Team members: 3 to 4
- One business unit
- Clear problem
Moderately Complex Project:
- Duration: from 3 to 6 months
- Investment: between $250k and $750k
- Team members: 4 to 10
- More than one business unit
- Schedule flexibility
- Some problem ambiguity
- Clear requirements
Highly Complex Project:
- Duration: more than 6 months
- Investment: more than $750 k
- Team members: more than 10 team
- Aggressive schedule
- Complex team structure
- Unclear problem
- Undefined requirements
- Unproven technology
- Large-scale organizational change
More Complex Program Projects:
- Group of related projects of varying complexity
If you feel like you need to deepen your understanding of this topic, or you wish to know more about how complexity can impact a project’s development, you can download our e-book!
All tasks to be performed by a Project Manager demand a lot of time and energy. But, can reaching your goals be worth losing your health and to stop enjoying life? It’s also valid to deploy strategies to take care of a priceless resource … Yourself!
It’s necessary that you create a rhythm that allows you to provide for and fulfill your duties in the most productive and creative way.
This path to building a healthier rhythm is sometimes limited by false beliefs that have been gaining space in modern society such as; working almost to being burnout shows that you are worth hiring, resting is a sign of weakness and many more.
We want you to feel rebellious, start developing a healthier mindset, and open the doors to the flow of creativity, productivity, and enjoyment of your work.
Here you have 9 ways you can rest better to make you more efficient and productive:
1. Take Rest Seriously
With the busy lifestyles that society is used to, rest needs to be a priority, create a space for it in your schedule and maintain it! Something will always come up, and the more you let every small situation interfere with your rest, the more it will become a habit that later will be more difficult to change.
Start by scheduling your day around unbroken periods of focus in work. Creative people work in intense daily bursts of 4 to 5 hours, divided into blocks of 90 to 120 minutes with short breaks, then they call it a day.
There are other strategies available. For example, leaving your hardest cognitive tasks to the morning, putting off meetings until after lunch, or checking email only a couple times a day.
3. Layer Work and Rest
Super creative people alternate periods of intensive work with periods of delivered rest. When concentrating on a difficult task, tempt your subconscious mind to work on it. By resting immediately after this, you can give your subconscious mind time to discover solutions that were eluding your conscious effort.
4. Get an Early Start
A regular early morning routine pays off, maybe there are things that need to be attended early on your day, so make sure to take this time back on the afternoon and evenings.
These first three commandments: Focus, Layer Work and Rest and Get an Early Start, give a distinctive shape to your day. By recognizing that it doesn’t matter how you schedule your day, and that not every hour is the same; you can start to create your routine around the time you feel more creative. Then, have a proper rest to give your body and mind time to recover.
5. Detach from Work
Paying attention to the quality of your rest is important as well. Checking your email during dinner, or scheduling clients calls and meetings during your vacations gives you a lesser chance to detach and defeats the whole purpose of taking time for yourself.
Of course, you might feel like work is too urgent to detach. Nevertheless, think twice if what you are detaching from, actually, can help you be more efficient when your time is intended to focus on your tasks and not when you’re at home with family or hanging out with friends.
6.Take a Week Off Every Season
We are used to spending all of our vacation days at the same time; the impact on happiness and productivity is based on the belief of: the longer you vacation, the happier you feel, but this has taken a twist. Recent studies have shown that recovery hits a peak after 8 days and then stabilizes or declines afterward.
The psychological lift that you get from vacations lasts around 2 months. Summarizing, taking vacations every 3 months is a great way to balance your work life and your mental health, as well as your happiness and productivity.
7. Practice Deep Play
Long-term productive and successful people have hobbies and activities that psychologically have the same rewards as their jobs but without the frustration and stress of real work. Deep play is important especially for people who have a lack of control over their schedule, work for long hours, and are prone to overdoing it.
8. Get Plenty of E xercise
Working in an office is highly demanding, and you need to add movement to your life,so it helps your brain to be more productive and have better performance.
Exercising also enhances your resilience, lowers stress, and gives you a longer, healthier life. Besides, it’s also been proven that it is a major relief for anxiety and depression.
Imagine combining it with a healthier diet, it’s a pathway to complete success! Give it a try and experience first-hand the boost in productivity and creativity that well being provides.
9. Get Even More Sleep
This one is the simplest and hardest thing to accomplish in our busy lives. Sleep is thought of as lost time, whereas it is actually a time of higher mental activity, that gives time to our brain to consolidate memories and skills. In addition, it clears out toxins that are related to dementia later in life.
You are not lazy because you sleep. In fact, you’re a very smart person that can strategically develop spaces where you can have joy, and this joy impacts your productivity and creativity!
Understanding the Methodologies
Project management methodologies are the tools that allow project managers to guide their team members through a project from initiation to completion effectively and efficiently. They are designed to maximize the use of resources and time.
A well-established methodology, Waterfall focuses on linear, sequential design where progress moves in one direction. The main principle of Waterfall is that you only move onto the next phase of development once the current phase is satisfactorily completed.
The six phases are all clearly defined and move from identifying system requirements to finally ending up with an operational plan. Waterfall places a high emphasis on documentation so that any person can easily pick up and track progress within the project. Waterfall is best applied to large-scale projects with fixed deadlines or projects that don’t require much flexibility.
One of the most commonly used and recognized PM methodologies is Agile. It was created for software development as a response to more traditional PM methodologies that were struggling to respond to the rapid and constant changes in the software industry. As such, it is best used for projects that need iterative and incremental development.
By keeping in mind six main deliverables, Agile places a heavy emphasis on flexibility, continuous improvements and fostering team collaboration to produce high-quality results. Projects that benefit most from an Agile methodology are those that are highly complex and have a certain degree of uncertainty, as they benefit most from the methodology’s focus on flexibility and iterative design.
The principles of this methodology were first developed and recorded by 17 software developers in 2001. The Agile Manifesto describes a “formal proclamation of four key values and 12 principles to guide an iterative and people-centric approach to software development.
The 12 Principles of Agile:
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is a face-to-face conversation.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
- Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts it’s behavior accordingly.
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 you 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 in such a way that their implementation disrupts as little 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 the 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 adjustments. One will be required to have a board with cards and columns each representing a step in the workflow. Each of the cards will be representing a work item. As the production process continues, the card is moved across the columns: to-do, in progress, and done. This visualization makes it easy to monitor progress as well as to spot the challenges.
- Limiting the Work in Progress (WIP). The kanban approach aims to limit WIP, ensuring that a card is only moved to the in progress step when resources are available to complete the task.
- Managing workflow. The focus is on avoiding micromanaging and instead 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 makes it easy to manage changes.
- Holding regular meetings, carrying out reviews, and giving feedback.
- Ensuring that there is a shared understanding and target to improve collaboratively.
Scrum takes the principle of Agile and provides it with a structured framework that you can implement in your team. There are a number of designated roles, such as the product owner and Scrum master. These people guide the team through a series of events, known as a sprint. This is a specific set of time that the team has to complete a set of tasks identified by the product owner. These sprints are short, usually lasting about two weeks. After a sprint, there’s a review phase and then another sprint begins.
As with other Agile-based PM methodologies, Scrum works best with smaller teams and projects that require iterative development and the flexibility to adapt rapidly to change.
Lean is a project management methodology that focuses on identifying and minimizing waste during product development and production. It was popularized by Toyota, but the core principles can be applied to a variety of projects.
Since it’s more of a philosophy than an implementable methodology, it’s ideal for organization-wide changes. If you’re working on a project that eventually results in a physical product, Lean might be worth your while, but there are other methodologies better suited to the digital environment.
PRINCE was developed by the UK government and received an update in 1996 (PRINCE2) to bring it in line with modern PM methodologies. It’s a more structured methodology than Agile and plans for the entire lifespan of the project in advance. PRINCE2 divides each project into manageable stages, and flexibility can be built into these stages. Teams are expected to learn during each stage and apply that learning at the beginning of the new one.
PRINCE2 offers a middle-ground between the complete flexibility of Agile and the rigidity of Waterfall. It can be applied to almost any project of any scale, but it does require training and certification.
PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) is a broad set of standards regarding project management developed by the Project Management Institute. It’s not a strict PM methodology, but rather a set of guidelines and industry standards that can be applied to a whole variety of projects.
PMBOK identifies five phases that are common to all projects and then suggests best practices during each of these five steps.
8. SIX SIGMA
The concept behind Six Sigma is to identify aspects of a process that aren’t working and then remove those aspects, thereby improving quality. The methodology is based around empirical and statistical management methods but does also rely on the expertise of Six Sigma specialists. There are two main methodologies within Six Sigma, one that focuses on improving existing processes and one that focuses on creating new products, services or processes.
This methodology may not be particularly useful for one specific project, but is often used in large companies looking to improve quality and efficiency company-wide through the use of data-driven strategies.
The type of project management methodology one chooses depends solely on the type of job they have. No project management is better than the other and projects should be evaluated thoroughly before starting for effective and manageable results.
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 of 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.
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. The kanban methodology and the Gantt chart, though similar in approach, can supplement each other through taking advantage of the level of details provided by each.
The beauty of integration is that it allows the 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 a Gantt chart and therefore access the required information.
The kanban methodology, an approach emerging out of the need to improve efficiency, and the 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 proven effective for their ease of use and flexibility.
This a tool used in project management, mainly for tracking tasks and events. It is normally presented in the form of a bar 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 times.
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, a Gant 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 a Gantt chart in project management:
- A Gantt chart allows the project management team to track the project, see the project progress, determine areas that are lagging, and see 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.
Integrating the Gantt Chart with Kanban Methodology
There have been arguments that the Kanban methodology has killed the 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.
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 to achieving an efficient process, a more detailed view is required, and this is provided by a Gantt chart.
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 goes well with a management reporting tool.
With this integration, the deficiencies of each tool are addressed. For instance, Gantt charts are relevant for 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.
Unleashing the Power of PM Software
When meetings, email chains, and spreadsheets are no longer useful, using project management software is a must. These are online platforms that allow you to work and interact in real time. What’s more, they keep each member of a team informed about project progress, news, or changes.
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.
How Can Project Management Software Help?
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.
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.
1. PROJECT TRACKING
We believe project tracking should take the lead in the most important features. Tracking includes identifying who worked on what project or task, the overview of the entire project, the progress, and even identifying bottlenecks and constraining factors.
Coming in 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 on 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 the projects they belong to, among others.
Next 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.
Why Workep Rocks!
As you can see, we are deeply aware of the problems managing a project can have; things like team management, task management, time tracking, resource management, file sharing, and many more.
So, we have built a platform based on information gathered through the years. A lot of insights about what project managers lack to make their lives easier have helped our vision to constantly evolve towards creating a fully engaging experience for everyone.
For this reason, we are fully integrated with G Suite. From remote teams, to small startups or big organizations, Workep fits all sizes, projects, and goals. Bringing efficiency to the table, all the Google-integrated features will become your biggest ally in making things comfortable.
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!
Here you can find out how G-Suite and Workep can help you reach success:
Wisdom is one click away! For a project to develop properly, knowing when, who, how, where, and what is happening is essential. Time is gold for those who take on the adventure of looking for success, so wasting it is not an option. Sometimes it can be exhausting to ask each person on your team what they have been up to, so, once you have a few minutes off, check your device and read the notifications Workep provides and you won’t miss a thing!
You’ll be up to date with projects you belong to, the creation of new tasks and files, meeting invitations and much more. You decide what to receive in settings, and if it is not your favorite way to see reports, you can allow pop-up notifications to let you know in real time what is going on with your team.
Sometimes the waves of life are very intense, and being able to rely on tools that can help you organize personally and professionally is a privilege. Google Calendar is perfect to help you clear your mind so you can face more complex issues in a better mental shape.
There is no path to follow, you make the path! A meeting can change the direction of your project, a call with a client can get you closer to your goals, so don’t get taken by surprise by these opportunities. Be smart, plan.
Even better, when you can sync your entire team’s calendar, trust and transparency will walk with you. Send or receive invites and with one click you can accept them and will be warned a few minutes before the meeting starts.
We want you to know we know you don’t know where your files are (messy, right?), is this how your organization looks like? Important information will stop getting lost because no one remembers where it was. Workep is fully integrated with Google Drive, and it doesn’t matter what type of file you need: Docs, Sheets, or Slide we’ve got you covered.
Sharing and creating files or presentations has never been easier and finding them even more. You can add to any task all sorts of files so dust off your old books and bring the keys for the locks on your library! Now everyone can use all your files and see the information you give them access to. No one needs to ask others where X file is, only type its name on the search bar and there you have it.
If you’re not familiar with this wizarding tool, it basically allows users to make video conferences by just sharing a link. For remote teams is perfect, you send an invitation to everyone who needs to be involved in the meeting, they only need to accept and the calendar will be automatically updated. You will even be warned a few minutes before it starts!
During the call, you can choose whether to use your camera or not, chat, use emojis, share photos and files. Hangouts suits all your meeting needs!
As if it were not enough, G Suite brings many extra features that can boost your experience for any path you take, literally. You can get anywhere you want with Google Maps, step up your advertising game with Google Adwords, contact new horizons with Translator, use the good old Google Search for when you don’t know what to do anymore, create surveys with Google Forms, and bring the spotlight to your business with Google+.
G Suite plus mixed with project management gives birth to a POWERFUL experience that’ll empower everyone on your team to reach success!
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.
One of the most important features a PM Software has to has is the time tracking option! Time tracking allows you to see exactly how much time is spent on each task or parts of a task in order to manage time more efficiently and be more productive. Let’s break down how time tracking can help you even more.
Just as information about your clients is important to shape your product and services for your market needs, time tracking is also important for a deep understanding about inner processes, to take better decisions on future projects costing estimations, lowering costs with the insights that it provides, processing payroll efficiently, among others.
If time tracking is a powerful tool for an individual on a daily basis, now imagine extending this tool to more members of your team, it would create space for groundbreaking ideas and better-managed projects. Allowing this to happen would give you the sum of well-spent time, that even if it’s only a second by task, it can impact your resources directly.
Better communication among groups and in different areas can shorten cycles by avoiding the waste of time that asking: “When will X person finish Z task?” brings. In project management, sometimes different activities are attached to each other, getting stuck throughout the process will be minimized.
Everything that allows you to see what is not working or could be enhanced should always be welcome. Time tracking is the perfect tool for this because it gives you the chance to ask the right questions to accommodate the way you’re developing the project:
- Is what I’m doing worth all the time invested on it?
- Could I be spending my time more effectively on another task?
- Where is this task directed to?
- What is the impact of the task I’m doing?
These are just a few of the question you need to ask, but this time it will be different because they stop being unanswerable questions. You now have a tool that provides the answers to when, why, where, how and who.
With unexpected insights about your project’s issues, please don’t panic!
This is when you start responding instead of reacting, the difference between them is that responding is based on the reality of what you can or can’t do, and if you can’t solve something, there is probably someone providing a service that can help you fix it, and if not, well you have a new business idea to put a tracker on. Reacting is the way you unconsciously face any situation, without analyzing it first.
Respond with the power of knowledge that you now have. Being strategic will help you a lot, and with the answers that you got before you can accommodate, prioritize, eliminate, and adjust accordingly.
Time tracking will let you know which tasks take longer to complete, helping you to better estimate costs and hours spent. There are many basic time tracking tools, but the option to set different hourly rates and automatically add billable hours to your receipts can save you a lot of annoying administrative work.
With discipline, each second you start using effectively, results will eventually come up and time is now your ally to reach any goal you set. Efficiency will knock on your door on a daily basis, and distractions are going to be responded instead of reacted.
Keeping scope creep under control is easier by monitoring time and budget. While tracking your time, remaining effort tends to automatically decrease, thus keeping your schedule accurate and updated.
Today you have the opportunity to work with one of the most important assets and bases of project management in a friendlier way: Time. Starting with your personal time tracking and expanding it through your team as a catapult to success.
What are you waiting for to shorten the distance between you and your goals?