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Software Tools or not Software Tools? That is the question. The way to achieve Enterprise Agility

The way to achieve Enterprise Agility

How many times we have heard about agile, Jira, Kanban, etc., and everything related to agile philosophy? Today we can find a lot of software tools to manage projects or processes using agile methods. However, can enterprises implement agile through implementing a software tool?

What is Agile?

Agile is a philosophy, a way to act, to collaborate in an organization to achieve a goal, to complete activities and tasks, in a process to ensure and encourage participation, leadership, and collaboration among every team.

Enterprise Agile Transformation

Business Agility is an ability for enterprises to react to changes using an evolved system in the way they work. From this system, we can extract its essence and adapt it to any professional field.

The Process

Figure 1. Enterprise Agile Transformation Framework

Before implementing software to manage agile projects or processes, we need to make a change in our processes, our organizational and leadership and people mindset, and our belief, to create an agile environment in processes and people. We must begin to change our minds and our organization. This is the way to implement agile in any organization. How?

  1. Change the mindset. Today, project team members, and employees, are one of the main parts of the business. Without them, an enterprise can’t work and achieve strategic goals. As leaders, we should recognize their value and encourage their collaboration and participation in every process. In this context, leaders, from executives to supervision levels, should impulse a leadership model based on:
    1. Motivation
    2. Empowerment
    3. Share responsibilities with the team

 

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Focus attention on the main wealth generators of your organization.  It is important to transform their mindset and their way of facing changes with agility. If moving the boat (an entire company) is complex, then in parallel a BOAT is built that moves faster.  A flexible and small structure. A self-sufficient team, empowered and specialized in facing market changes.

  1. Change your processes. It is important to review your processes to create lean ones that include support to manage changes. Reduce bureaucracy through employee empowerment, giving them enough authority to make decisions and eliminating unnecessary steps.
  2. Change your organization. We must break with the idea of working by departments – by silos. Unite the diversity of professionals in an area, a flatter structure, or a HUB. Common mental, digital, and physical spaces favor agility.
  3. Customer Centric and focused on clients’ needs. Nowadays, clients change their needs and preferences. It is imperative to know their expectations, and how you can address those to manage their preferences and make changes. Listen to customer needs. Orient the attention of your entire crew towards a customer-centric objective. The goal of agile teams is to meet customer demands. And to hear it, it is important to focus attention on a 360º view: sales data, navigation data, and direct customer data.
  4. Frameworks. To face changing environments, it is important to organize teams with new ways of working. For this, Agile business methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, Design Thinking, OKRs, and Management 3.0 can be implemented. For example, you can work with SCRUM frameworks used within teams that handle high-uncertainty and complex projects. This will allow you to set new work rules, such as working in short periods called sprints, carrying out daily follow-up or daily meetings, working with the initial features that offer value to customers and the organization such as MPVs; and organizing teams in another way:  product owner, scrum master and development teams.
  5. MVP Culture. The minimum viable product must be above complete products. An MVP culture should be established to deliver constant value to the customer. Instead of developing an entire product for years and waiting until it is complete, the MVP allows us to launch the minimum value of this product to the market, check how it is received by the customer, and continue to evolve with new developments in the right direction.

Software tools

After you have begun changes in your mindset leadership and employees, your organization, and your processes, you can implement software tools that can help you to measure and improve your processes, fix issues, and achieve Enterprise Agility. By means of software tools, your enterprise can start a transformational agile way, face changes, adapt processes through automation, and respond fast and efficiently to customer changes by analyzing their behavior.

Enterprise Agile Transformation Benefits

  1. Focus on people. Collaborative and multidisciplinary work makes talent prevail over processes and organizational charts.
  2. Empowerment and motivation. Collaborative work, fluid communication, and the equal participation of all team members generate autonomy, transparency, and accountability in all its members, which empowers and motivates employees
  3. Risk Minimization. The continuous review model allows adaptation to change in a faster and more efficient way, finding solutions during the process that minimize the risks of failure
  4. Response Speed. Agile transformation provides a flexible structure that allows the delivery of projects/services versions within short deadlines.
  5. Improved results. The closeness with the client allows having a more excellent knowledge of it providing a differential added value and generating savings in costs.

Best of PMTimes: Project Success – 7 Steps For Building Projects That Deliver Results

Project success is achievable—but you need the right mindset and tools to make it happen.

Whether your project is big or small, the guide below will help you create a project plan, define your goals, learn to communicate with your team and find the right tools for success.

 

1. Plan For Project Success

Creating a project plan is the first step in achieving project success—it also saves on resources, time, and effort.

A project plan is a document that can be used for internal and external purposes—it outlines the scope, deadlines, budgets, and approximate resources required for a project.

Write the project plan before implementation begins—this will give your team direction to achieve their goals.

For inspiration, look at the project template below. It outlines how a construction company will be building a new development, with details about the phases of the project.

PMTimes_Oct04_2022

Source: Venngage

Note how the plan includes an overview of the project, statistics about open floor plans, and their methodology for working out their chosen layouts.

It also outlines goals and objectives for the project, along with deadlines, thus ensuring that everyone involved—team members and clients—are on the same wavelength.

Your project plan can also include an executive summary where you share information about your company, and how you relate to the project.

A risk plan is a good inclusion—you don’t need to include too many details but let your client know what could go wrong and how you would handle it.

2. Goal Setting For Project Success

The success of a project depends on goal-setting—more nuanced and relevant goals help you deliver results that will please clients.

Use the SMART goal-setting system to plan out the direction of your project:

  • Specific: Project goals should be specific—build X number of properties, or generate X amount of revenue—so teams can aim for something concrete.
  • Measurable: When you create specific goals, it becomes easier to measure the success or failure of a project—and to determine what needs improvement.
  • Attainable: Clients want to go big with their goals—and it can be tempting to go along with them. But if your goals are too ambitious, you will fail to achieve them. Worse, you could stretch your team too far and fail to complete the project by the deadline.
  • Relevant: The goals you set need to be relevant to the vision of your project and the abilities of your team. That is what will make the goals achievable.
  • Timely: Creating timelines for your project’s goals ensures success. Give your team enough time to complete elements of the operation so you can deliver results to your client on time.

With your core goals in place, you will be able to plan out your project and give your clients a realistic idea of what will be completed and by when.

3. Mind Maps For Effective Project Management

A mind map is an excellent tool for achieving project success—especially during the planning stage when you are outlining the goals.

Use a mind map to generate and narrow down ideas—this is a process that can be conducted within the project team as well as with relevant stakeholders.

Look at this strategy mind map for a design-based project—it defines the process for developing a new service and uses a numbered system identifying the steps involved.

PMTimes_Oct04_2022

Source: Venngage

The key to creating a mind map is to settle on one core idea from which you can expand your strategy.

Visualizing the idea makes it easier to examine—you use multiple faculties to study the concept, which generates more critical thinking.

When designing a mind map, use a few colors to code the divisions in ideas, processes, or project steps. This will make absorbing the concept easier for everyone involved.

When presenting the project plan and mind map to external stakeholders, brand it with your logo and brand colors to make your business stand out.

4. Enlist Project Managers

Companies would do well to hire project managers if they want to deliver successful projects.

There are certain aspects of project execution that can be handled in-house, but project management requires specialized skills.

Successful project managers have excellent leadership skills, which are required no matter the size of the project.

As overseers of the operation, they direct the team forward without pushing anyone to do too much, and keep track of deadlines.

Managers also have strong communication skills—they speak with team members, suppliers, brokers, stakeholders, and clients.

Projects have many hands on deck—and everyone has their specific demands. Negotiating peace between the departments is a specialized skill that not everyone has.

In-house staff members have the qualities outlined above, but they also have their day jobs. Expecting them to take on project management as an addition would be unfair.

 

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That is why companies should hire a project manager for the task.

5. Agile Project Planning

The agile approach to project success prioritizes people and collaboration, while also acknowledging the importance of software.

Project agility includes these tenets:

  • Creating a motivational environment for project teams
  • Encouraging innovation and autonomy
  • Delivering customer satisfaction using project tools
  • Adaptability to changes
  • Team collaboration
  • Regular communication
  • Measuring success and failure

Agile project management is focused on delivering excellent results, as well as on building sustainable environments that are long-lasting.

Use the same guidelines across multiple projects and years—improving along the way, depending on what teams have learned—to achieve a high standard of results.

This method also mitigates a lot of the risks that come with project planning—changing goals and supplies are built into the system.

More importantly, the agile system helps create autonomous teams who innovate, experiment and learn, thus making them efficient and happy.

6. Communication Is Key For Project Success

There are numerous moving parts in projects, so prioritize communication to achieve project success.

Create a workflow and feedback plan—outline tools or services teams need to use.

Remember that communication can’t be one-way only—if you aren’t listening to team members or employees, you won’t know why they are struggling with tasks.

Be open to feedback by using team chat tools like Chanty, Slack, or Skype. If training is required, build time into your project plan for this process.

While communication is necessary, too many meetings can get disruptive—set a meeting schedule that everyone can plan their day around.

7. Tools For Project Success

The right tools and software make it easier to achieve project success—they improve workflow by sharing instant notifications for any developments.

Use a tool like JIRA to manage projects and Trello for task management. You can use remote work tools like Proofhub or Basecamp.

These tools help to collaborate and keep track of resources, budgets, and project progression.

They also have provisions to set deadlines so you can improve productivity. More importantly, this software helps to avoid overlaps in tasks, missed deadlines, and gaps in communication.

Key Takeaways: Project Success Is Achievable

We have outlined seven essential steps for achieving project success, no matter the size of the operation at hand.

To recap, here are the key takeaways from the above guide:

  • Create a project plan for success
  • Set your project goals
  • Use mind mapping to strategize
  • Invest in project managers
  • Be agile in your project management
  • Keep communication lines open
  • Invest in the right tools

With the above steps, you have the wherewithal to build a project that delivers results to your clients.

Best of PMTimes: 5 Tactics To Successfully Handle Multiple Projects Simultaneously

Managing multiple projects at the same time can be an absolute n-i-g-h-t-m-a-r-e.

 

You need to keep track of your projects’ moving parts, ensure you’re using the right processes and strategies, stay within deadline, keep your employees motivated, and be mindful of your expenses.
Data even shows that on average, 88% of remote workers experience miscommunications and inconsistent leadership with team members, highlighting the importance of proper program and project management.

Sadly, we just scratched the surface. So much more goes into project management than the things we pointed out.

The good news is, there are tips and tricks to help you manage multiple projects simultaneously.

Continue reading to learn five proven tactics that will help you run your projects efficiently.

 

1. Stay On Top Of Your Work Schedules

Regardless of how carefully you planned your projects, everything can easily go off track if you don’t establish a schedule that includes your team’s work for the month, quarter, or year.

For instance, without a clear schedule, team members might fail to prioritize tasks, overlook critical jobs, and miss deadlines, which can seriously hinder your project’s completion and even impact the result’s quality.

Use reliable work scheduling software to ensure every project team member is on the same page, keep your workflows moving seamlessly, and keep everything on track.

For instance, Deputy lets you build work schedules in minutes by using its easy-to-use interface to schedule the right team members at the right time across various locations and roles.

 

You can easily create shifts, assign them to staff members, drag and drop to change them, copy schedules, modify them accordingly, and export them to a CSV file, spreadsheet, or print them.

You can also send the schedule directly to your team through mobile or desktop. If you change the schedule, the assigned person gets a notification, and they can accept the confirmation request.

A robust scheduling tool helps ensure your lines don’t get crossed, work gets done, and your project deadlines are met.

This helps keep your multiple projects on track and your team members more productive. Your project schedules will also be maximized for optimum efficiency, avoiding potential delays.

 

2. Prioritize Tasks

With so much on your plate, it can be tempting to tackle the easiest projects first, but you must resist, or you could kill your team’s productivity and efficiency.

Prioritize based on tasks that will have the most significant impact on your project and program goals. This helps you manage several priorities while working on multiple projects effectively.

Doing so allows your team to work strategically on both micro (i.e., organizing daily to-dos based on importance) and macro (i.e., moving low-impact projects to the following quarter) levels.

Let’s say your team is working on four product launches simultaneously with the overarching goal of increasing customer revenue.

While the four projects require about the same amount of time, effort, and resources to complete and roll out, assess which one has the potential to generate a bigger impact on your new customer revenue than the other three.

Prioritize the project (or projects) that have the most significant contribution to achieving your goals.

This helps you manage your resources and allocate your time better while ensuring your efforts align with your project goals and deliver your desired results.

 

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3. Establish Goals And Plans

Without establishing a standard project planning process or workflow, you’ll likely manage each of your projects differently.

This can lead to issues down the line, such as inconsistencies in your deliverables and precious time wasted on setting up new processes for each project.

That is why you need to have a solid plan, establish standard processes, and identify responsibilities from the get-go.

Outline everything from your goals, each step, and task necessary for project completion, schedules and deadlines, and the persons and teams responsible for specific jobs at the project level.

At the program level, develop plans, processes, and clarify responsibilities. Establish team-level goals and communicate the projects crucial to achieving those objectives.

You can start outlining your goals using a Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic, and Timely  (SMART) approach and this sample goal-setting template.

 

You can use other templates as references and build on those to develop your project and program objectives.

Optimize your project management processes by setting team-wide standards. For instance, you can require project team leads to submit a brief before outlining a project plan for big projects.

You can also create templates for projects your team often handles to ensure consistency across projects and save time and effort.

Clear goals, plans, and responsibilities help your teams avoid inconsistencies in processes and deliverables.

 

4. Conduct Systematic Progress Updates

Tracking status and progress updates in a multi-project environment are critical to keeping stakeholders and key project players in the loop.

After all, you wouldn’t want your clients, for instance, to be breathing down your neck because you didn’t give them any status reports, making it crucial to establish a systematic updating process.

 

 

Establish smart, systematic status updates so that you can manage stakeholder expectations efficiently.

Below are a few tips for doing strategic and systematic project status updates.

  •     Define expectations. Layout the specific steps task owners or the team members in-charge of particular tasks are expected to follow. Identify a time frame for updating relevant stakeholders, whether every three days, weekly, monthly, etc.
  •     Include a high-level overview of key areas in the project. Add several bullet points that provide an update on the accomplishments, progress, and upcoming work for each key area of your project’s status. This ensures essential points are covered, and stakeholders get all the necessary updates they need.
  •     Schedule accountability. Have third-parties, such as staff in another department, the project sponsor, or other stakeholders, conduct reviews to ensure the resource person or task owner follows protocol and the specified updating time frame to a tee.

Implement a systematic status updating process to keep your project team motivated, ensure they understand the project plan, why it’s crucial to stay up to date, and clearly see the multiple demands your team must meet.

 

5. Delegate And Empower Team Members

Exercise effective delegation in your resource management by adopting clarity, authority, and accountability.

For instance, empowering your graphic designer to create a landing page for a new project means making sure he/she is absolutely clear about the task by providing a work breakdown structure.

This work breakdown structure of building a landing page campaign for a new product from Kanbanize is a good example.

 

A work breakdown structure outlines the phases of the project process clearly.

Additionally, to ensure the project process and phases are when delegating, be sure to:

  •     Clearly communicate the work breakdown structure
  •     Set a project deadline
  •     Relay specific client expectations
  •     List down the available resources the task owner has
  •     Describe the workload
  •     Provide him/her the authority to make and carry out decisions

Clarity ensures your team is clear on the direction. Team members avoid any guesswork and prioritize critical tasks and projects.

A clear work breakdown structure and project scope will also empower teamwork that boosts productivity while giving members a sense of fulfillment for meeting multiple demands.
Leverage a reliable project management tool that can streamline your work breakdown structure’s workflows and processes.

Data can back up the effectiveness of using the right project management tool with 77% of high-performing projects using project management software.

 

What’s Next?

Handling multiple projects at the same time is inevitable in project management and any efforts you take on.

While the tips in this guide are in no way guaranteed formulas for success, these are good building blocks to help develop your strategies for effective and strategic multiple project management.

Leverage the tactics we shared to stay on top of your projects’ moving pieces, meet your deadlines, and achieve your goals.

Best of PMTimes – The Faux Thinking: “I Know It All”

Often, I feel I am living under a delusion that I know the answers to all the questions when it relates to me.

 

Fair enough, right? Each of us knows ourselves the best.  However, a self-assessment check is not only a healthy habit but also aids in taking corrective actions based on the results. How do I perform a self-assessment? Here’s an idea to conduct this evaluation test: Ask questions by playing the role of a stakeholder (describing your needs) and a business analyst (eliciting requirements) at the same time. I know what you are thinking, “How is interviewing myself going to add any value?” This simple yet powerful technique forces us to reflect and come up with honest responses. You will be surprised to see how much of a gap is there between what we are thinking vs what responses we give when questioned.

Imagine you are considering pursuing a certification. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

Interviewer (You): Why do you want to become certified?

Response from stakeholder (You): I want to enhance my professional credibility. Also, the sense of accomplishment that I met a professional goal will be satisfying.

Interviewer (You): What specific problems are you facing in your progress towards achieving this certification?

Response from stakeholder (You): I am unable to take out time to prepare for certification and tend to procrastinate.

Interviewer (You): What are you going to do to stop procrastinating?

Response from stakeholder (You): By scheduling the exam date and then backtracking to prepare based on this date.

Interviewer (You): What are the risks associated with this certification?

Response from stakeholder (You): Time and opportunity cost.

Interviewer (You): How would you measure success?

Response from stakeholder (You): Passing the certification exam on the first attempt.

Interviewer (You): What if you don’t pass in your first attempt?

 

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Stakeholder (You): I will focus on the topics I didn’t score well and schedule my next exam date so that I don’t procrastinate (again!)

Interviewer (You): How will this certification add value to your career?

Response from stakeholder (You): I can apply what I have learned to my daily work and it gives the external world a chance to interpret my level of knowledge in my domain.

Interviewer (You): What would you do differently from what you have done in the past?

Response from stakeholder (You):  I will allocate dedicated study time and follow a schedule diligently.

A few recommendations relating to the self-assessment check:

  1.      Tailor the interview questions to whatever you would like to achieve (personally or professionally). Tip: Find sample questions online.
  2.      Questions and responses can be short or extensive.
  3. Skip the typical questions that you would ask in a requirements elicitation session. Example: You don’t have to ask who is going to benefit from this initiative since this is an exercise for yourself.
  4. You must be self-disciplined to conduct this interview at least once a year. Tip: Schedule a meeting on your calendar for a self-assessment check.
  5. You must be honest when responding to questions.
  6. You must take time to evaluate your interview results and analyze areas of improvement.

What next after this interview?  Create a “to-do” list based on the interview results and post it in a place where you can see it. At a minimum, it will be a reminder to work on those action items before it goes off your radar. I hope you can follow the interview style (or come up with a style of your own) to help you to track progress towards your goals.

“My goal is not to be better than anyone else but better than I used to be” (tinybuddha.com)

Best of PMTimes: Project Management Strategies for Succeeding in the Fashion Industry

 Published on: Jan 21, 2020

The fashion industry is one of the fastest-growing ones and it’s probably more unpredictable than any other.

What is “hot” today may easily not be popular tomorrow, which makes it very difficult to plan for very long periods in the future. Still, this industry needs people who know how to manage all its aspects and we can only admire them for their skills.

What people see are models showing the latest fashion trends on the runway. Some are relatively conventional, while others are quite eccentric and we enjoy looking at these works of art, but we probably don’t know what is going on behind the scenes of a fashion show. Instead, we simply admire the final result. For this result to be achieved, teams of people have worked tirelessly for months to prepare such an event and they had to be managed properly. To help you understand what happens behind the scenes, we’re prepared this list of the crucial project management strategies for succeeding in the fashion industry.

Stakeholder management

This refers to your knowledge of the market and customers, as well as your ability to successfully deal with a number of stakeholders who have an impact on your company. The list is quite long and includes, among others, trade organizations, suppliers, sponsors, partners, buyers ad distributors. If you want your company to grow and be successful, you have to establish a transparent collaboration, which facilitates excellent communication with all of them.

Planning

There are many different types of projects in fashion. They range from opening a shop (physical and/or online) to product launch, organizing a fashion show or entering a new market. Each project requires a plan that will turn your vision into reality. You need to have a plan that factors in all the vital steps to reach your goals. This is one of the trickiest things, since the fashion industry is moving fast, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan. Actually, it means you have to devote more attention to planning, because you want your company to produce new fashion items as successfully as possible. With the fierce competition in the industry, this task is harder than ever, which only makes it more important.

 

KPIs

Each process needs to be analyzed to ensure the project is efficient. However, knowing what, when and how to analyze is quite a challenge. The key is analyzing relevant aspects, eliminating human bias and producing actionable data that can be used for preparing, planning and managing projects. Choose the minimum of indicators that reflect crucial parameters and trends, such as time, cost & revenue, work efficiency and work quality to get a clear picture of the direction your project is heading. Forward-thinking companies are now using a digital marketing dashboard to automate the process of data collection and processing, thus saving a lot of time.

 

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Risks and changes

With changes happening constantly in the business, it’s vital you stay on top of your game at all times. No matter how long your company has been successful, it you fail to anticipate future trends and identify challenges, you won’t stand very good chances of surviving. That’s why fashion companies have to identify possible risks (production failures, supply chain errors, etc.) and be prepared for sudden changes (demand change, regulatory changes etc.). Also, they should be aware that customers are much more conscious of the social impact of fashion’s pursuit of producing clothes as fast as possible. It’s true that producing cost-efficient items is important, but negative media coverage can have a devastating impact on any business and ruin a brand’s image. Hence, you need to wage the risks and benefits carefully and balance them out.

 

Agility

It’s very important that a fashion company and its management are agile and flexible. This means that processes, such as sales, customer management or supply chain management will be more efficient, i.e. lead to higher and faster turnover of products and better position on the market. Agility also encompasses the notion that project teams work and collaborate more efficiently. All this is eventually translated in boosted reputation and improved business results, which are the goals of every company in the world. Going by what a new Bachelor of Arts in fashion design at Raffles Milan teaches its students, the fashion system is a huge, articulated, often unpredictable territory, where a sense for the classics manages to find common ground with the extremes of experimentation.

Teamwork

A lot has been said about the importance of teamwork, and fashion companies should know it better than most other businesses. Any misunderstanding or problem in communication can have detrimental effects on the outcome. That’s why it’s important to have regular review meetings to discuss decisions and analyze processes. Every team member needs to know exactly what their responsibilities are. We can’t stress enough how crucial communication and collaboration are in the fashion industry. The ultimate goal of producing a clothing line as efficiently and quickly as possible can’t be reached unless everyone involved works together effectively.

These strategies are very important for most industries, but when it comes to the fashion industry their role simple gets more important. That’s why every project manager should be aware of them and apply them in such a way that they help the company reach its goals.