Project Management that actually WORKS

Project Management that actually WORKS

Managing a project can get real hairy real quickly. Look at our own process as an example:

  • We begin with a great idea – taken from our storehouse of great ideas, Jira, of course.
  • We talk through of how we think it should work within our context.
  • We write out the details of what we think should be done.
  • We break down the stuff that needs to get done into small segments – 8-to-16-hour work-items.
  • We figure out the skills needed for each of these work-items.
  •  We use a Gantt Chart to set up Tasks.
  • We assign those tasks to various people using a Resources mechanism.
  • We get to work.

Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, not at all. Yes, all the pieces are in place, but how do we know how things are going on a day-to-day basis? For example, someone takes off for a day fo personal reasons – how do we know about that? And how do we figure out how that will affect the project? If you’re anything like a typical team, there are always other things that intrude on your work – customer issues, tech issues, laptop failures, you name it. And they all impact someone’s ability to deliver on the tasks they have to work on. Yes, they may have a nice dashboard that shows what they should be working on today. And they may even have ways ot marking those things as Done when done. But that’s when things are done – what about when things are being done? How do we know if things are slowing down?

The best way we’ve found is to do the following:

  1. Begin with setting the number of hours each assignment takes, right in the assignment
  2. Break the assigned hours across the days that someone’s to work on the task – say, 4 hours a day for 6 days if it takes 6 days to deliver
  3. Get everyone to track the hours that they spend on each of their task, every day, using an effect time-tracker
  4. Get people to report PTO requests regularly
  5. Report the hours spent on each task against the hours that should have been spent by now, based on the daily breakdown and the time-tracked hours
  6. Talk to people when these hours don’t match, help them fix things early.

With this simple mechanism in place, you can tell if things are slowing down, very early in the game. You can tell ahead of time if your project needs more people, more time, more money, a new laptop, whatever. That’s how you can make sure that your project management is actually working.

Now, you can do all of this and more using PK4 TimeTracker and our Project Management add-on.

  • With the Gantt chart, you can plan your whole project out, with work-breakdown at a Task level.
  • You can then assign those tasks to various people having multiple people doing things on each task, if needed.
  • People can use the Tasks tab to track when they need to do, as can you for your project.
  • Everyone can request and track PTO requests as they come up.
  • People can report the time they’ve spent on each task – they can use Salesforce, a web app, a mobile app, Jira, Slack or a Chrome Extension to report time worked.
  • If you have stages in your project, you can track those stages for each task on the Kanban Board.
  • You can see who’s working on what, what days they’re overloaded on, what days they’re on PTO – all via the Resources tab.
  • You can set up any number of Salesforce reports to track work-breakdown and time at every level of detail.

The key thing in all this is that you can track tasks as they get done, based on the time that people report for each task assignment. This gives you a much clearer idea of how things are going than jotting down notes during meetings.

Hopefully, this will get you sleeping better.🙂

Check out the details of Project Management here.

 

Using The Pomodoro Technique To Be More Productive

Using The Pomodoro Technique To Be More Productive

We all have a limited amount of time in the day, making it essential to make the most of the time we have. Busy people have searched for time management methods help them maximize their productivity, and one solution developed is the Pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro technique was developed by Italian author and entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo. Francesco developed the technique with help from a tomato timer, and the Italian word for tomato is pomodoro, which is how the method got its name.

The method is simple: You set the timer to 25 minutes and get to work. Once the 25 minutes (known as a pomodoro) is up, you have a 5-minute break. You then repeat the process again. After four pomodoros, you take a longer break of between 15-20 minutes.

As simple as this time management technique is, it can be very effective.

Urgency

When working for long spells at a time, it’s easy to think you have plenty of time, thus reducing your urgency. This lack of urgency means you’re prone to browsing the web or getting involved with other distractions, affecting how much work you get done.

However, when using the Pomodoro time management technique, you will be breaking your work down into short sprints rather than a few long sessions. With just 25 minutes on the clock, you’re more eager to get as much done as you can, thus creating urgency. Approaching your work with more urgency will help you get more done in the limited time you have available. 

Regular Breaks

When working for long periods without a break, the mind will inevitably become tired. You can become slow, have difficulty focusing, and you might even become irritable. When this happens, your productivity is bound to take a hit no matter how hard you might try.

When using the Pomodoro method, you will be taking breaks regularly. Every 25 minutes, in fact. While the break will only be five minutes long, that’s all it takes for the mind to refresh itself to some degree. When the five minutes are up, and you get back to work again, you will be feeling much fresher and more productive.

Motivation

Spending hours on tasks can cause us to lose enthusiasm for our work. When we don’t feel like working, our productivity is bound to drop, meaning we get less work done.

Taking regular breaks will help to separate the working day into short sprints. Working in short sprints with breaks will help to keep you feeling fresh and enthused about the task at hand.

Gamifies Working

The Pomodoro time management technique helps to gamify working, making the working day easier and even a little fun. Each time you turn the timer on, you are in a race against the clock to get as much as you can before the time is up.

When trying to win the game, you will be focused intently on your task, boosting your productivity.

Dealing With Distractions

Distractions are inevitable. Whether you’re working from home or at the office, somebody or something will eventually break your flow. The good news is that Cirillo also developed the following system that helps you deal with distractions effectively. Distractions are inevitable. Whether you’re working from home or at the office, somebody or something will eventually break your flow. The good news is that Cirillo also developed the following system that helps you deal with distractions effectively. 

  • Inform: If somebody is distracting you from your work, politely inform them that you need to focus on your task. 
  • Negotiate: Arrange a time when you have some time spare.
  • Schedule: Make sure to schedule when you will meet with the person.
  • Call Back: Once your pomodoro is complete, get back to the person who was disturbing you. 

How to Use the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro method is easy to use, but it still takes a little organization. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Buy a Timer: You will need some way to time each Pomodoro. Most timers will do, and the easier it is to use, the better. You can also try using time tracking software like the easy to use PK4 TimeTracker.
  • Plan Your Day: Write down all the tasks you need to get completed. It’s best to rank them in accordance and assign a Pomodoro to each one. 
  • Allow for Overflow Pomodoros: Some tasks will take longer than 25 minutes, and it’s not always practical to split them into more than one. This makes it a good idea to allow for overflow pomodoros, so you have allocated enough time for the day. 

While the Pomodoro method initially stipulates sprints of 25 minutes, you can experiment to find what works best for you. Try shortening or lengthening the time of each pomodoro, while you can also try experimenting with the length of breaks. The overall objective is the get as much work done as you can, so do whatever works best for you.

Summary

One of the best things about the pomodoro technique is that it’s so easy to use. All it takes is to find a suitable timer, a little preparation, and you’re ready to go. When using the method, you should find you increase your focus when you are working, helping to boost your overall productivity.
Remember that it’s also fine to experiment to find what works best for you. You can even try using different types of timers, from the original tomato timer after which the technique is named to digital time-tracking tools.
Regardless, using time management techniques for better productivity can help transform your working day for the better. 

Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash 

 

How to Blog Effectively Using a Kanban Board

How to Blog Effectively Using a Kanban Board

Any blogger can tell you it’s important to be organized to help keep your productivity up. Otherwise, you could easily find yourself spending time working out what needs to be done next. Being unorganized also increases the risk that you will miss something altogether, potentially leading to missed deadlines and poor overall project management.

One tool that many bloggers use to help them stay organized is the Kanban Board. The Kanban board involves setting up columns in which tasks are placed according to where they are in the blogging process. So, for example, you can have a column for your ideas, a column for blog outlines, and so on. 

Kanban boards are easy to use, especially with help from PK4 TimeTrackers project management module that makes it easy for users to use Kanban boards in Salesforce. It couldn’t be easier to create new cards for each task, and you can simply drag and drop cards into place as each task progresses. 

This article looks at how a Kanban board can help bloggers work efficiently to boost their productivity.

1. Better Visualization

One of the best advantages of using a Kanban board is that it helps you visualize your workflow at a glance. With your workflow visualized, it becomes easier for you to manage your workflow and identify which tasks should take priority. Being able to see what needs to be done in this way also means you spend less time on project management and more time on getting jobs done.

2. Improve Productivity

As mentioned, Kanban boards mean you spend less time managing projects, boosting your productivity. And there are other benefits, such as being able to track how long certain tasks are taking. Kanban boards help you track cycle time, which is how long a task takes from start to finish, while it also helps you track how many tasks you’ve finished in a given period. This information can then be used to help make your workflow more productive.

3. Manage Your Workload

While it’s good to be busy, we can sometimes bite off more than we can chew. When that happens, we can end up with missed deadlines and unhappy clients. Unhappy clients can often be avoided by not taking on too much work in the first place, and a Kanban board can be very helpful in this regard. Good project management sometimes means saying ‘no’ and letting people know that you’re full. A Kanban board makes it easier for you to visualize when you can’t take on more work.

4. Enhance Flexibility

 A Kanban board helps make it easy for you to make changes to your workflow. This is because there are no set dates or procedures with a Kanban board – you can just move the cards around as you see fit. For example, suppose an urgent job has come up that needs prioritizing. You can simply move the new job into a high-priority category so you and anybody else know to focus on it first. Such flexibility makes it easier for you to react whenever an issue comes up, helping you to keep on top.

5. Distribute Workloads Effectively

Many bloggers will have other people working with them, and distributing tasks effectively will help tasks get done well and on time. It also helps avoid overloading members of your team, which helps to keep productivity high and ensure their morale doesn’t suffer. Kanban boards make it easy for you to visualize who has a heavy workload, helping you spread the workload more evenly, which improves project management.

6. Improve Focus

 We often hear about multi-tasking and how it supposedly helps people get more done. However, quite the opposite is true. A Kanban board makes it easier for you to focus on the tasks that have the highest priority, focusing on one task at a time. With an improved focus on each task, that task will be completed sooner, and you can move on to the next one. A Kanban board also make it easier to assign accountability, so others in your team know what to focus on.

7. Improve Collaboration

Collaboration is essential for good project management, and Kanban boards help make collaboration much easier. Digital Kanban boards in particular are excellent for collaborating because everybody with access to the board has an up-to-date picture of what needs to be done and who is responsible for it. Team members can also comment on individual tasks or the board overall, helping to ensure everybody is working as a team so productivity stays high.

Summary

A Kanban board can be a very powerful tool for bloggers. When used right, a board can help enhance productivity and efficiency not just for you but also for others working with you. A Kanban board will also make it easier for you to assign accountability so you know who is responsible for what. 

Bloggers who use a Kanban board will also find it easier to manage their workloads and distribute work to their team. Kanban boards also help improve flexibility, and collaboration also becomes easier. 

Perhaps best of all is that Kanban boards are very easy to use and very affordable. In most cases, a simple whiteboard or similar will do with post-it notes used as cards that can easily be moved from column to column. Digital versions are also available, which makes them even easier to use, and some Kanban board software platforms are even available for free, albeit with limited functions.

 

Photo by Eden Constantino on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Manage Projects Efficiently and Get Paid Faster

Manage Projects Efficiently and Get Paid Faster

Late payments can play havoc with a company’s cash flow. Such disruption can result in shortages meaning there’s a lack of funds to reinvestment in the company or even difficulties paying bills and staff. Regardless, studies have shown that around 64% of small companies have experienced not being paid on invoices for 60 days or longer.

There are various reasons for late payments from clients. One reason is the client lacking funds themselves, while another potential reason is a lack of organization. The company doing the work is also sometimes at fault, such as delayed delivery, quality issues, or administrative problems. 

One way to ensure that you’re paid for projects on time is to run the project as efficiently as possible.

Define the Project Before Starting

One way to help ensure you get paid on time is to define the project before starting. You need to define the scope of the task, which materials are needed, how long it will take, and who will be working on the project.

By defining the project fully, you can give an accurate quote and completion deadline, meaning the client is less likely to have anything to contest when paying. Defining the project will also help ensure you get paid fairly for your work and have everything you need to do the job. 

Track Your Team

Manpower is one of the most important ingredients of just about any project. Your staff’s experience and skills are necessary to get the job done and even the most advanced technology cannot replace most human tasks. However, as important as manpower is for getting a project finished, it is also one of the most expensive aspects. Manpower can also be one of the most difficult variables to manage.

However, solutions like PK4 Tech’s time tracking software can help to make it much easier for you to track and manage your team. For example, the technology can let you know where an employee is at a particular time, what they have been working on, and how long they have spent on certain tasks.

This ability to monitor employees in such a way is beneficial for numerous reasons, including:

  • Error Reduction: It can be very easy to make errors when timesheets are created. People are unlikely to remember all the details of their working week, especially if they have been busy. Time tracking software will help to eliminate errors by tracking your employees’ actions for you. 
  • Improved Billing: Time trackers make it easier to track the amount of time working for clients. The software also makes it easier for you to send reports to your clients to keep up with the work being done and monitor the progress of the project themselves. With everything documented, clients are less likely to have a reason to delay their payments.
  • Monitor Productivity: The average employee will spend around 51% of their working day on unproductive tasks. It’s not necessarily their fault; people just won’t always realize how much time certain tasks are taking. With time tracking software, you can monitor how long employees are spending on tasks, helping you identify where they could be spending their time better.
  • Easy Processing: Processing timesheets can be a time-consuming and menial task for managers, meaning more important tasks are pushed aside. However, time-tracking software makes it much simpler for managers to approve timesheets. Instead of using paper sheets, managers instead have all the details they need on the screen in front of them. The software makes it easy to accept or reject timesheets at the touch of a button, and let employees know why their timesheet was rejected.
  • Budget Monitoring: It can be easy to go over budget if you’re not monitoring your expenses, but time tracking software makes it easy for you. With the right software, you can get the information you need at a glance, helping you make important decisions. 

Time tracking can help you manage your project more efficiently in numerous ways. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, the software can also produce comprehensive reports that give you the information you need to make impactful decisions. Not only that, but time-tracking software can also integrate with other systems, helping you get more value from them. Overall, the software can help you identify the most productive ways to work, while reducing errors and streamlining your processes. Your clients are more likely to pay on time with an efficiently managed process.

How You Can Benefit from real-time GPS tracking

How You Can Benefit from real-time GPS tracking

Time theft can cause a significant dent in a company’s bottom line. Indeed, a study has shown that employees steal around 4.5 hours from their employer every week on average. And while companies can take steps to monitor their employees in the workplace, it becomes even more difficult when employees are working out in the field. 

Field workers are typically trusted to spend their time productively instead of doing something not work-related. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for field workers to abuse that trust. For example, some people might choose to do some shopping on their company’s time, or maybe go for a meal. In some cases, field employees might not even leave their homes at all but still charge for time that they did not spend working.

It should also be noted that time theft is not always deliberate. Employees can make mistakes and forget details about their working week if they don’t fill in their timesheets straight away. 

The main headache with monitoring fieldworkers has long been the fact that you just cannot know where they are. It’s often easy for field workers to lie about their location or their timing with no way to check up. However, GPS has provided an effective solution to the problem. 

Modern Tracking Apps are the Solution

 

In the past, GPS tracking hardware would have been prohibitively expensive for most companies and would not represent a solid return on investment, if at all. However, GPS hardware is now very affordable and can be installed on smartphones. Indeed, modern smartphones typically come with GPS already installed, meaning the technology is already available for companies to use.

Of course, having the hardware that tells you where somebody is great, but it’s not of much use without software that helps you make use of information. The good news is that apps like those from PK4 Tech are available on the market that integrates GPS technology to offer valuable information for managers regarding their employees’ whereabouts and behavior. 

Time tracking apps can use a smartphone’s GPS to place the phone’s location at any time. Simply put, a time tracker, in conjunction with a smartphone’s GPS can tell managers where their employees are and where they have been. As a result, the solution helps prevent time theft because employees can no longer lie about their location, while it also helps prevent honest mistakes on timesheets. 

An Effective Deterrent

Not only does GPS time tracking software help prevent time theft, but it also helps to prevent it from happening in the first place. It can otherwise become too easy even for dedicated employees to start taking liberties, so it makes sense to let all your employees know that their location is being tracked.

Remember that it’s also important to educate your employees on why such technology is required so they understand why it is being implemented. Otherwise, it could be easy for them to feel as though they are not trusted and are being spied on, potentially causing morale and productivity to take a hit. Ensure that your employees know that using the technology is not an attempt to spy on their every move but to protect the company overall and provide reports that help improve efficiency.

In-Depth Reports

GPS time trackers can do so much more than just inform managers of their employees’ geographical location. For example, trackers can also keep records on which tasks an employee was working on, such as travelling to a location or carrying out a site survey. You can then use this information to see how efficiently employees are spending their time and what you can do to improve their efficiency further.

Comprehensive dashboards are also available that help management to see key information at a glance, helping them make fast and impactful decisions. Reports can also be created and distributed automatically, removing much of the manual work that would otherwise be involved.

Summary

GPS time tracking helps to remove many of the issues associated with time theft and employees working in the field. Not only does the technology help managers monitor and record employee data, but it also helps to act as a deterrent. The technology can help prevent deliberate time-theft, while it can also help avoid genuine errors. Remember that it’s important to educate your employees on why the technology is important to prevent a loss of trust.

With GPS time tracking apps, managers are also equipped with information that can help them make informed decisions that will help boost efficiency. Overall, the technology can help prevent time theft, increase productivity, and improve the bottom line.