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 

 

6 Ways to Become An Accountable Teammate

6 Ways to Become An Accountable Teammate

People work much more effectively as a team when compared to working as a group of individuals. However, in order for teamwork to be effective, each member of the team must do their part. If just one member of the team falters, it can adversely affect the whole group, and projects can be delayed or even worse.

One way to help ensure that all team members are participating is for all team members to accept accountability for their roles. Once team members are accountable, they know they’re responsible for certain tasks while the rest of the team understands their and others’ roles in the group.

This leads to the question of how you can become an accountable teammate, and this article looks to answer that question.

1. Work Efficiently

As a member of a team, individuals have the responsibility of ensuring they’re working efficiently and effectively. Otherwise, tasks might be delayed or not completed to the required standards. However, a lot of people may not be working efficiently without being aware of it.

To help you ensure you’re working efficiency, you can use time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker to monitor how much time you’re spending on particular tasks. The results are often surprising, with people finding out that they’re spending a lot of their time on unproductive jobs. Knowing this information then allows you to make adjustments to get your productivity back on track. 

2. Avoid Excuses

If you’re responsible for something that goes wrong – own it. Hold your hand up, acknowledge that you’re at fault and look to rectify the issue as soon as possible. One of the worst things you can do is to make excuses, and you should definitely avoid blaming other people.

You should also ensure you make people aware of the situation as soon as possible. You might find it tempting to keep it quiet in the hope it’ll work out, but this is only likely to make the matter worse. Instead, speak up about any project delays straight away so you can use teamwork with your colleagues, enabling you to fix the problem as soon as possible.

3. Embrace Failure

As a famous Scotsman once quipped, even the best-made plans can go wrong. This won’t necessarily be your fault or anybody else’s, while at other times the reason for the failure might be down to you. Don’t shirk away from such failures. Instead, you should embrace them. While failure obviously has its downsides, it can also be treated as an opportunity.

Once you embrace a failure, you can then own it and deal with it. Embracing a failure also helps you do one of the best things you can do in such a situation, which is to learn from it. When you are embracing your failures, working to correct them and learning from them, you become an accountable member of the team.

4. Declare Your Responsibilities

For teamwork to be effective, it’s important that everybody know who is responsible for what. That way, if something is behind schedule or gets done badly, people know who to turn to. If nobody is accepting responsibility for the role then there’s nobody to turn to, potentially making it very difficult to accept the situation.

To be an accountable teammate, you should declare your responsibility upfront so everybody knows who to speak to should they need to. This can also benefit you because people know who to approach to help prevent a problem from happening, if needed. Not only should you declare your responsibilities, but your teammates should do also.

5. Set Targets

All team members should set themselves targets that help ensure they deliver what is needed, and on time. You should also share your targets with your teammates so everybody knows what is expected of each other as well as themselves.

Another advantage of setting targets is that it helps the team as a unit tell if they’re being realistic and will contribute to successful project management. Setting targets together as a team gives everybody the opportunity to speak out if they feel the plan is flawed in any way.

6. Provide Regular Updates

Providing regular updates on your progress helps to ensure everything is going according to plan. Not only will providing updates help let your teammates know you’re on target, but it’s also an opportunity for you to update yourself. If something isn’t to specification or if it’s running late, then regular updates allow you to fix issues before they become a serious problem.

Providing regular updates will also help make it clear to others what your role is, thus ensuring you maximize your accountability and provide a strong teamwork ethic. Of course, the rest of the team should also provide regular updates making project management easier.

Become an Accountable Team Member and Enhance Your Career

Being an accountable team member provides various benefits to your team by helping to ensure projects are completed successfully. Perhaps even better is that accepting accountability is beneficial for you.

Accepting accountability will help make you a valuable team member, meaning you provide a positive contribution. Being adept at teamwork and contributing will likely be noticed and, hopefully, rewarded with promotions and positions that will help to further your career.

What’s more is that becoming accountable isn’t necessarily difficult, and it can even help to make your job easier. Make sure you’re spending your time effectively, embrace failure so you can learn from it, be open about your responsibilities, and do what you can to contribute to overall project management. Don’t forget that you should expect the same from your teammates also.

If you have any other tips on becoming an accountable team member, do share it with us in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

Photo by StockSnap on Pixabay

 

10 Creative Ways to Save Time

10 Creative Ways to Save Time

Time is the most precious commodity we have, mostly because we have so little of it. Even the wealthiest of people can’t buy more time, and we can’t replace time that has been lost. This makes it important to make as much of your time as possible because wasted time is time that you will never get back again. 

The chances are that all of us are wasting time in some ways, even if we don’t realize it. Take watching TV shows, for example. Now, watching a TV show is not necessarily a waste of time per se – we all need our downtime. But how much time have you spent watching intros that you’ve already seen numerous times before? Last week, Netflix revealed that in the 5 years since introduction, the Skip Intro button had cumulatively saved it’s users a 195 years! 

Here, we look at ten creative ways to help you avoid wasting your precious time. 

1. Time Tracking

Many of us will be wasting time without even realizing it or not realizing how much we are spending on unproductive tasks. However, investing in time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker can help you recognize where your time is being spent. Using time tracking tools makes it easier to know how to make adjustments to your day so you become more productive in project management.

2. Avoid Multitasking

Many people believe doing more than one thing at once is a great way to get more done to save time. However, quite the opposite is usually true. Indeed, studies have shown that we can lose up to 40% of our productivity if we try multitasking. Instead, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time, moving on to the next task as soon as the previous task is done.

3. Make the Most of Waiting Time

We all need to wait sometimes. Whether it’s in a waiting room for an interview or on a train on the way to work, there are moments when we are essentially doing nothing productive. However, you can even use these moments to get something done. Some tasks can be completed with a laptop or even a smartphone, leaving you free for other tasks later on. 

4. Delegate

Many tasks are time-consuming and unproductive, but they still need to be done. If you have such tasks on your itinerary, you could consider delegating accountability to somebody else. Delegating unproductive tasks will give you more time to focus on what matter most, boosting your productivity overall and making for good project management.

5. Avoid Pointless Meetings

A common issue that affects team management is calling meetings for no good reason. For example, some will want to call meetings to distribute work management reports that could otherwise be shared and discussed by email. If you are called to a meeting that you feel isn’t necessary, politely decline if you can. It’s important to be tactful because refusing to go to too many meetings could give the wrong impression, but it’s something to consider when you’re busy.

6. Learn To Say NO

Learning to say no is one of the most important skills to master when it comes to time management. Too many people will gladly disturb you when you’re already doing something, hindering your performance in the process. When it comes to team management, it’s important to draw lines and say no when people are disrupting your working day. It’s OK to allocate some time in the day to other people, but they need to know to leave you alone when you’re working. This includes friends and family as well as colleagues and employees. 

7. Plan Your Day

Planning your day ahead will help give your performance a boost. You will be able to see what needs to be done and when, making it easy to identify potential issues before you get started. Making to-do-lists will help you plan your day, while you can also use online calendars with staff and colleagues so they know what you have planned. 

8. Prioritize Your Tasks

A key tip to effective product management is to focus on your most important and most productive work priorities, and tools like the timeboxing technique will help you achieve this. Make sure to do the most important and most productive first, leaving the rest for last. Even better, delegate the least important tasks to give you more time to focus on important things, including essential downtime.

9. Automate

Many menial tasks will take a long time, but one of the advantages of menial tasks is that you can automate many of them. Some tasks like processing emails and replying with messages can be automated, potentially reducing wasted time and boosting your productivity. Another advantage of using automation tools is that they give you access to feedback data, which can empower you to make impactful decisions.

10. Look After Yourself

Taking accountability for your well-being is one of the most important time management skills you could learn. Eat well, sleep well, get a reasonable amount of exercise and give yourself time to relax. When you look after yourself, you are better prepared to handle whatever comes at you, making you more efficient. You will get through tasks quickly and accurately, helping to save time overall.

Summary

This is just a small selection of creative ways you can save time. In many cases, we aren’t even aware of how much time we are wasting, and time tracker tools can help highlight areas for improvement. Planning your day and avoiding unnecessary tasks and meetings can also help, while automation tools are also beneficial. But, perhaps most importantly of all, make sure to look after yourself so you’re firing on all cylinders. 

If you have other effective ways to save time, do share it with us in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

 

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.