Author: Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. He has been named the “#1 Provider of Project Management Content in the World” with over 7,000 published articles, eBooks, white papers and videos. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at http://www.bradegeland.com/.

5 Reasons Why Parabol Should be on Your Project Management Tool Radar

The next segment in my somewhat weekly series on 5 reasons to try many of these project management software and service offerings that you may not be using or even aware of their powerful capabilities, I am featuring Parabol and 5 reasons why you should know about it and give it a try.

Parabol is an agile meeting tool that helps remote teams run guided retrospective, check-in and Sprint Poker meetings. Every meeting includes optional icebreakers, anonymous voting/reflections and space for async discussions. 

When your meeting is over, Parabol follows-up with an automatic summary, which means no more note-taking. Now everyone can be fully present at your meetings.

Parabol takes the burden off facilitators by making it easy for anyone to run a great agile meeting – no matter if you’re a pro facilitator or just starting out.

You Need A Safe Space For Open Discussion

Facilitators need not fear organizing teams around a blank whiteboard. Parabol meetings have a built-in structure that guides you through all the steps of a productive and efficient agile meeting. With more structure comes more dependable meeting outcomes.

But before you jump into the juicy topics of your meeting, you can create a safe space with an optional icebreaker. Built-in questions help get everyone talking and build psychological safety – because if you speak once at the start of a meeting you’re much more likely to speak up again

Connecting as humans makes teams feel safe around each other and sets the stage for a more open conversation. After an icebreaker, your team can feel confident discussing anything together.


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You Want To Have The Right Conversations

Cognitive biases can get an upper-hand over anyone, but Parabol keeps them in check with features that counter bias towards authority and anchoring bias. 

Anonymous reflections in retrospectives and anonymous voting in Sprint Poker make meetings more democratic. Nobody can see another person’s input or be influenced by it. People aren’t able to line up behind the opinions of authority figures. And anonymity gives everyone’s voice equal weight – from the team lead to the new hire. 

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With anonymity, team members can feel safe raising difficult topics. If you’ve got a spicy situation brewing, a participant can choose to own their reflection: “I wrote that one”. Or not. It’s up to them. Parabol helps teams have important conversations without employees fearing reprisals.

In Parabol retrospectives, the team decides what they want to discuss with a democratic voting process. Every user is assigned a number of votes they can cast on issues they want to discuss most. The issues with the most votes are discussed first. This helps teams focus on having the right conversations.

You Want To Focus On Getting Things Done

We’ve all been in meetings that end without any next steps. They can feel like a complete waste of time. Parabol pushes teams towards action by prompting participants to add follow-up tasks during the meeting and sending automatic meeting summaries.

Integrations with Jira and GitHub help agile teams fit Parabol into existing workflows. So you can create a follow-up task in your Parabol retrospective and send it straight over to Jira! Just like magic! If you’re doing sprint poker estimation, your final estimate will also sync right back to Jira. Parabol’s Slack integration lets your team know when a new meeting has started.

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Parabol’s check-in meeting improves team transparency and accountability. Everyone on the team can see the work you’ve been doing so you can chart your progress together. The meeting’s dynamic agenda function lets any team member raise a talking point. This gives team leads and facilitators a quick and transparent way to fix any roadblocks.

You Need A Tool That’s Built For Agile Teams

Parabol is built by agile teams, for agile teams. So it’s optimized to suit the way agile teams work and cover the main meetings in a sprint cycle. 

Try Parabol for yourself by holding a 2-minute retrospective meeting with their simulated colleagues. Click here.

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Let’s face it, an online whiteboard tool isn’t enough for structured agile meetings that you need to hold regularly. It can be messy and confusing. And as a facilitator, whiteboards take a lot of time to prepare. With Parabol, you can start a retrospective, Sprint Poker or check-in meeting in seconds. No preparation needed.

Unlike other tools, Parabol covers the lifecycle of agile ceremonies. You can start your sprint estimating stories with Sprint Poker. Then report on progress and unblock each other with check-in meetings. And at the end of your sprint, you can run retrospectives meetings. All in one tool.

You Want To Make Meetings Worth The Time Invested

Too often, meetings don’t feel worth the time invested. And that’s a real shame.

Because meetings are a chance to come together. To share opinions. Chart a path forward together. Bond as a team. And process tensions.

Parabol’s icebreakers add joy and connection to meetings. Anonymity creates a safe and democratic space for contributions. Integrations help you get things done according to your workflow. And automatic meeting summaries help you keep the whole team up to date.

Life’s too short for bad meetings. Try Parabol to make meetings worth the time invested.

 

Five Ways Leankor’s Enterprise Work and Project Management Solution Transforms Complexity to Profitability

My next installment in this exclusive Project Times series on project management related tools and services looks at Leankor’s offering that promises to make projects more profitable while also making them easier to manage during these remote PM and virtual project teams real world times.

Remote teams. Tighter budget controls. Efficiency mandates. For enterprise organizations already navigating the complexities of large-scale initiatives, 2020 brought further complication with the disruptive effects of a global crisis. And while some degree of the former normal may eventually return, the heightened pandemic-era pressure to accelerate delivery while driving profitability is here to stay—regardless of where teams work.

Fortunately, as the world changed, enterprise organizations have been able to rely on Leankor’s sophisticated enterprise work and project management solution to seamlessly transform operations and combat the challenges that have resulted from this evolution.  With super-charged collaboration features, Leankor’s next-generation solution transforms complex, interconnected workflows and business processes into easy-to-manage plans for faster delivery and profitability. Here are five ways Leankor helps teams do their best work.

Closer Collaboration When Teams Are Farther Apart

While the future of the remote workplace is still evolving, collaboration among distributed teams will always be critical to enterprise work and project management success. According to a December 2020 PwC survey, 87% of employees say the office is important for collaborating with team members. Salesforce research finds 96% of workers believe lack of collaboration is the source of workplace failures.

To bridge the collaboration gap, Leankor’s sophisticated, cloud-based work and project management solution links distributed internal and external teams with full transparency into planning, execution and strategy. For the most complex, large-scale projects, stakeholders must align from kickoff to delivery, and often even as early as the opportunity development stage. That includes not only remote office employees but also contractors, field services teams and even customers. Leankor empowers teams with tools to conduct virtual discussions, brainstorm and quickly solve problems from anywhere.

360-Degree Visibility for Clear Context in Uncertain Times

Remote collaboration requires all team members to have access to the same, updated information for context and effective decision making. When distributed teams can sync and share files in one central location in the cloud, it eliminates disconnected spreadsheets and disparate servers, mitigating the risk of decisions based on the wrong data. Because we live in times marked by uncertainty, the data-driven context and clarity provided by Leankor’s next-level solution help guide individuals, teams and organizations to more certain and better outcomes.

Remote collaboration requires all team members to have access to the same, updated information for context and effective decision making. When distributed teams can sync and share files in one central location in the cloud, it eliminates disconnected spreadsheets and disparate servers, mitigating the risk of decisions based on the wrong data. Because we live in times marked by uncertainty, the data-driven context and clarity provided by Leankor’s next-level solution help guide individuals, teams and organizations to more certain and better outcomes.


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Flexible Work Management Aligned to How People Work Best Now

McKinsey research suggests 70 percent of companies use the Agile methodology in some form to run their organizations. But that doesn’t mean Agile-only support is sufficient for effective work and project management. For optimal efficiency, most organizations operate with a variety of methodologies and use hybrid approaches across projects and departments. However, some organizations are still using time intensive, manual approaches to manage their complex projects.

To support the way an organization works best, Leankor allows multiple methodologies to co-exist, including Kanban, Lean, Agile, Gantt, Waterfall, hybrid, pull-planning and others, adapting and translating for streamlined project and risk management. All methods can be interconnected and unified in a virtual platform to communicate with ease, making progress seamless. This can happen even when people are socially distanced in home offices or in clusters of teams in regional satellite locations.

When Agile work methods exist with traditional Gantt project planning processes, Leankor allows organizations to create projects using traditional methods and for work and tasks to be executed at the team level using Agile approaches. This means teams work the way they want from a single system while increasing organization-wide efficiency, control and velocity.

Interconnected Resources to Drive Profitabilityfrom Opportunity to Delivery

When teams, data and customers come together, efficiency translates to profitability. Amid global economic uncertainty, on-time, on-budget has never been more critical, and neither has customer satisfaction and loyalty. For large-scale, long-lasting projects across multiple sites, Leankor can have a direct, positive order-to-cash revenue impact. It’s a user-friendly uber orchestrator, managing interconnected resources, timelines and workflows.

When powerfully integrated with Salesforce applications like Service Cloud, Einstein AI, Community Cloud, CPQ, MuleSoft, Field Service Management, Vlocity, Chatter and QUIP, Leankor goes far beyond traditional project management to become a comprehensive enterprise work management solution, transforming large-scale project complexity into efficiency. And ultimately, that translates into profitability.

Analytics for the Agility to Manage Now and What Comes Next

Leankor’s powerful analytics are designed for users of all technical levels. They empower people to make informed decisions throughout the project lifecycle and improve the outcomes of work. From streamlining request-for-proposal (RFP) processes for multi-service-point quotes to enabling customer-centric master dashboards for better customer service and P&L insight, Leankor drives revenue from opportunity to delivery. Individuals meet timelines and budget expectations with robust analytical and reporting features. Executives get visibility into resource allocation and financials to better manage profitability. Teams identify risk with AI, advanced reporting and predictive, next-best actions to eliminate or mitigate costly issues before they occur. Informed decision making throughout project lifecycles provides the agility to manage for project success and long-term organizational success.

A Next-Gen Solution for the New Age of Work and Project Management

The pandemic and resulting global economic crisis have made work and project management especially challenging for organizations across industries and around the globe. But with the right solution to manage people, processes and technology, any organization can drive efficiency that empowers teams to do their best work, keeps stakeholders informed and accelerates delivery. The result is greater profitability across projects and elevated work enterprise-wide. It’s an approach that will help organizations thrive in this crisis and through whatever lies ahead.     

Summary / more about Leankor

Leankor is a highly visual work and project management solution built on the Salesforce Cloud. Designed for the enterprise customer, Leankor helps companies execute complex projects at scale. A transformative solution, it links different styles of methodologies and processes, empowering people to work more effectively. Leankor enables teams to organize, manage, collaborate and deliver better projects, helps decision-makers measure effectiveness, and allows companies to deliver quicker revenue cycles. Leveraging the power of Salesforce, it brings together customer, project, and resource data, extending the Customer 360 vision. Leankor is used by many of the world’s leading brands with focused solutions for industrial enterprises in Manufacturing, Construction, Solar, Energy and B2B Telecom, with additional emphasis on R&D, quality management, product launches and manufacturing for Biotech, Medtech and Pharma.

5 Reasons Why Microsoft’s Project for the web Accelerator with OnePlan is The Future of Project Online

The next installment of my exclusive series of articles on new, emerging and some established project management tools and services will focus here on  OnePlan.

 

OnePlan is  an in-depth solution for your project portfolio needs that touts itself as the best project management software for the Microsoft platform.

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The way the world works is changing, and so is the technology for managing projects, products and portfolios. Microsoft is aligning its project tools strategy with its vision for today’s enterprise. In the modern workplace, the constraints of one monolithic system and one way of working are gone. Microsoft products Project Online and Project Server are on their way out and Project for the Web and Project Operations are on their way in. Today, Microsoft.com states that “there is no date to limit the functionality of Project Online at this time, but we encourage customers to plan their transition as soon as possible.” The Microsoft vision is bigger than just the new project products. It is important to understand the broader strategy for business solutions, where flexibility, speed and innovation in the enterprise are not limited to just one way of working.

Microsoft’s new vision for enterprise project management includes core components of their productivity platform: Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI, Teams, and Dataverse. The addition of Project for the web provides a more modern, user-friendly scheduling tool.  The vision is expansive and provides customers the flexibility to create tailored solutions that also integrate all forms of work management across the organization. Now, if you are an existing user of Project Server or Project Online, the natural question to ask is ‘which Microsoft product should I look at as my replacement?’ But in the new world of work, where a ‘one-size-fits-all’ system just won’t cut it, we need to change the question.

A better question is: ‘how can we improve our portfolio management performance and what are the key capabilities that our various teams will benefit from?’ An optimal solution will likely include integrating with one or more major enterprise planning systems, as well as a connection to the work management tools that teams find most productive. And then there are some standard components that are going to be valuable, including Microsoft Teams for collaboration, plus Microsoft PowerApps and Power Automate for workflows, requests and approvals. In summary, the new landscape means having to put in a little more thought and ‘solutioning’ up front, but the end result is a more valuable solution, with better adoption.

To help you get started, Microsoft has announced the launch of a new version of its Project for the web Accelerator for PPM, which delivers a more configurable basic solution using Power Platform and Project for the Web. Coupled with some licensing changes that make the technology very competitively priced, this is a welcome step towards fulfilling Microsoft’s vision for its Project Online installation base. OnePlan has been working with Microsoft to help create this vision. OnePlan provided an early version of the new Accelerator and has continued to innovate and extend the platform to fully support current Project Online users. The combination of Microsoft’s Project Accelerator and OnePlan provides a superior PPM platform. Here are 5 reasons why:

  1.      Connect Strategy to Execution

OnePlan includes capabilities to capture and define your corporate strategy in the form of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). This supports Strategic Portfolio Management. The solution enables the linking of your objectives and key results to your projects and programs to fully understand how the strategy is being realized and the key projects and resources needed to make it happen.  It includes a wide variety of methods for prioritizing or sequencing portfolios, based on metrics of business value and constraint. For more information on our Strategic Portfolio Management features visit: Strategy Execution Management | OnePlan

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  1.      Engines for Resource and Financial Planning.

Most portfolio management scenarios require powerful financial and resource management capabilities. These capabilities are OOB with OnePlan and, in contrast with Project Online, OnePlan has almost unlimited options for configuring them to meet specific enterprise needs. This includes resource capacity planning at the levels of team, role, function or individual. It also includes easy to use, time-phased financial budgeting, forecasting, and tracking of actuals, plus optional timesheets if needed. Financial and resource capabilities can also be integrated with enterprise systems.


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  1.      Full Support for Agile Methodology

OnePlan includes the ability to use boards at the feature, project, large solution and portfolio levels; to create sprints, program increments, epics and the relationships between them. It also enables resourcing based on sprints, stable teams and cross-functional teams. The OnePlan solution is Scaled Agile Framework certified.  It can be deployed within Azure DevOps to provide powerful Portfolio and Resource Planning capabilities.

Furthermore, the solution does not require an organization to adopt a single methodology. The trend is towards a variety of methodologies and delivery models in the enterprise. OnePlan supports this dynamic environment, providing consolidation, portfolio planning and reporting on top of the various PMOs and their chosen delivery models.  For more information visit: Scaled Agile – Lean Portfolio Management | OnePlan

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  1.      Tool of Choice

OnePlan supports using both Project for the Web and Project Professional as end-user scheduling tools. It also supports using Microsoft 365 Planner, SharePoint lists, Azure DevOps, JIRA and more. OnePlan provides seamless access to the tool of choice. Gone are the days of insisting that all projects must use a complex professional tool. The goal: provide Project Managers with the option to work with the tools they need to do the job right.

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  1.      Connectors to Enterprise Systems

Another strength of OnePlan is the ease of systems integration. For example, portfolio management sometimes requires a connection with a CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce – to enable visibility into the pipeline of upcoming projects or products. Or a connection with a financial system such as SAP, in order to bring in actual costs from capital and expense items. To make systems integration a repeatable, robust and continuously supported scenario, OnePlan provides connector products – known collectively as OneConnect – for a wide range of enterprise applications. For more information on our OneConnect solution visit: Integrations | OnePlan

To learn more about OnePlan or to get a free trial, visit www.oneplan.ai today.

5+ Reasons Why You Should Try FunctionFox for Remote Work Productivity When Managing Projects

The unprecedented global health crisis is changing the way we work at truly astounding speeds.

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Suddenly, whether by choice or necessity, many of us find ourselves negotiating the new reality of remote work. As a technology supplier to the creative community FunctionFox wondered how they could best support their current users, and make the transition to remote work easy, affordable, and intuitive for those that haven’t worked in this way before. With a recent survey* showing that up to 90% of creative companies are working remotely during the crisis, FunctionFox wondered how they could help teams to ride out the storm and prepare for recovery.

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Starting Smart

Managing the transformation of a traditional to remote workforce raises several issues, not least of which is how to get started without adding to people’s workload or incurring excessive costs. For FunctionFox, this means keeping things simple and affordable, with an easy-to-follow set up procedure. FunctionFox is committed to being a valuable extension of your business. They help creative companies get setup to manage their businesses better in 30 days, or your money back.

Keeping Time

FunctionFox’s technology is founded on their quick, accurate timesheets. For teams with remote workers these are invaluable. Everyone can enter their time and expenses from any device with access to the Internet, and each time record is immediately available for reports, charts & graphs throughout the system.

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Connecting Teams

With collaborating team members scattered across the continent or around the world, keeping everyone connected is a huge challenge. Because it is so important that remote teams share project knowledge, FunctionFox created a Project Blog that gathers and updates project information in one central place. All revisions, changes and comments are centralized and available to the whole team.

Communicating Clearly

In uncertain times, clear communication becomes more important than ever. The risk of miscommunication increases when people are not able to meet in person, so it is important to build in opportunities to schedule virtual team meetings, and ‘office hours’ that are consistent and regular. FunctionFox enables everyone to stay on track toward common goals and objectives.

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Controlling Privacy

FunctionFox guards confidential customer information carefully. They have also built into their technology both User Groups and Access Rights – features that put you in control of which people have access to what information.

Staying Creative

The more time that remote team members spend on administrative tasks – keeping paper timesheets, recording expenses, developing reports, or making sure time is allocated accurately, the less time there is for the lifeblood of every creative company – creativity itself. FunctionFox helps remote workers put time to its very best use.

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Encouraging Each Other

This is a time to lead with honesty and conviction, to convey optimism and encourage others. It may not look like it from the middle of the current storm, but the sky will clear, and those who have kept building strong, remote teams will be ready for a bright future.

Try their free Demo today at: Https://www.functionfox.com/demo

*Early Impacts of COVID-19 on the BC Tech Sector

5 Reasons to Consider Making MindGenius Your PM Tool of Choice for 2021

I’m starting a new series here on Project Times – a series of articles on PM tools and services.

 

Basically, I want the leaders at these organizations to tell us in their own words “5 Reasons Why” we should be demo’ing or downloading a free trial or purchasing their software to use for some or all of our project related needs.

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Think of it as their “elevator speech” if that’s all the time they really had to tell you why their software or service is great and you need to check it out.

I did a series like this for several vendors on my site awhile back and many found it to be of great value to them and their search of that right tool to meet their team’s needs.. I wanted to bring it to a bigger stage because there are so many new, small, great players in the genre that many of us have never heard of. And many long-established software and service solutions that we had heard of but never tried. Plus, we are living in a world now that has seen the workforce change in terms of needs for remote work, virtual teams and extreme collaboration. You might find your organization’s needs will be met by one of these options…

I hope you find this series a rewarding and informative one to follow… I will be contributing new ones every week so keep an eye out for the next one. For now, we will start out with this great offering from MindGenius – an organization who I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with off and on for the past 5 years so I can vouch for their personnel and say they fully stand behind their product and for the product itself being something that I find to be being able to fill many needs of PM organizations and infrastructures. In fact, I won’t be including vendors who I do not personally feel good about or software I don’t believe to be worthy of this series.


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5 Reasons Why you should consider MindGenius for your projects in 2021…

  1. Remote Working capabilities – in today’s world remote working is slowly becoming the norm for many organizations. With MindGenius Online you can work with and manage your team remotely and with ease. You can assign your colleagues tasks, give them completion dates and, most importantly, organize your workforce to get the best out of them.
  2. Customizable – MindGenius Online is a highly engaging product and allows you to customize your project in a number of ways. Select a cover image for your project, as well as being able to customize the tasks and the Taskboard itself. Adding colours and images to projects help keep things fresh in your memory, engage your brain and keep you focused on the task at hand.
  3. Mind Mapping – using Mind Maps is a great, intuitive way to manage your projects and see the bigger picture. MindGenius Online is simple in its design but very powerful in terms of being able to manage your projects from beginning to end. This allows you to focus on your work and not on how to get to grips with our product – simply type and return to get your project started!
  4. Templates – MindGenius has a wide variety of templates for you to use for FREE. Choose from a wide range of subjects such as sales strategy, marketing plans, event planning & so much more! MindGenius know how difficult it can be to start a project, so you can use their templates to get you off to a good start and achieve your goals! Just starting the project can sometimes be the hardest part.
  5. Organization – Use MindGenius Online to organize every inch of your project from start to finish. Set out your goals and use the timeline view to set dates for certain tasks to be completed and then you can assign those tasks to the members in your team.

Don’t just take their word for it, sign up for FREE today! See how MindGenius can make a difference for your projects and teams.