Tag: Plan


The Fallacy of SMART Goals

I recently read a news story about how to keep our New Year’s resolutions. The article was about the use of simple time management techniques, the center of which was setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that’s been around for decades and stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable Relevant, and Time-bound. Sometimes other words are used, such as assignable, realistic, timely, and testable.

It sounds good. It sounds useful. But simplifying time management into an acronym reduces the complexity of managing our projects to a seemingly simple formula, one that can prove frustrating. It reminds me of countless bosses and sponsors I’ve had who said, “Can’t you just tell me when the project will be done? Use SMART goals to help you figure it out!” Don’t get me wrong. I think this acronym is useful as a high-level framework. But if our goals too high-level, we run the risk of never achieving them. It’s just not that easy. Let me give you some examples using a project to build a house.


Specific. What does it mean to be specific? How are specific goals different from measurable or achievable or time-bound goals? In our house-building example house specifications are specific, as the name implies. There are specs for the exterior and the interior. Specs for landscaping, the roof, the plumbing, electrical and so forth. How specific do they need to be? Specs without detail might be helpful as an overview, but not for the actual construction of the house. We need to drill to down for the specs to be workable.


Measurable. To say that the house will be complete in 18 months, for example, is measurable. It’s a good starting point. As the homeowner I can start planning when to put my current house on the market or end my lease, when to get current utilities canceled and the new ones turned on, when to arrange for movers and so forth. But when is done really done? I’ve been told a house was done before the gas was hooked up. I was told a house was done, but movers wouldn’t unload their truck because the floors had been finished too recently. We need to get the detail to make important decisions. And as PMs we need to determine who will decide which measures to use and whether they make sense from a project perspective.




Achievable. Achievable is another one of the squishy terms in the SMART acronym. It’s one of those words that means different things to different project stakeholders. I suspect I’m not the only PM to be told to “just make it happen.” Or “Where’s your can-do attitude?” I can certainly make almost any project happen, but at what cost? How much risk will the organization/sponsor/end users tolerate? Achieving an end quickly might mean making compromises. Who will make those decisions? What about trust and team dynamics? All these components of achievability need to be considered. And that takes time and lots of discussion.


Relevant. I’m not sure I understand what a relevant goal is. There are so many different stakeholders on our projects, some of whom do not find the project or its end product relevant at all. Hopefully it’s relevant to the organization, helping it meet its business objectives. But we all know that’s not always the case. I suspect many of us have worked on someone’s “pet project.” Or have had some stakeholder groups resist implementation. Or have managed projects highly relevant to end users but not to higher levels of management and vice versa. Getting agreement on what is relevant and how the project’s relevancy fits in with all the other projects is no easy task.


Time-bound. This usually means attaching a timeframe to the goal. I struggle with the difference between time-bound and all the other goals. I think they are intertwined. As a PM I worked on projects that were relevant only if they could be implemented in enough time to get goods from sourced locations to retail stores and on the shelves in time for the holiday season. Is that time-bound? Or relevant? Or I suspect, a bit of all the components of the acronym.

Which brings me to my original point. SMART goals are useful as a framework. But the key to time management success is going from a high-level overview to subsequently lower and lower levels of detail. We can certainly start with SMART. But we need to drill down to really achieve our goals.


Best of: How to Write a Smart Organizational Project Management Plan

Failed project planning can lead to failure even before starting the work on it.


But you can avoid the free expansion of its volume and inflation of the budget and achieve your goals. However, sitting down and planning the entire project is not as easy as it seems.
Usually, the next questions appear: how to predict how long it will take to complete tasks? How to turn the expectations of stakeholders into concrete results of work? What if something goes wrong? How to make an ideal project management plan?
We have collected the most efficient tips on how to create a successful project plan.


Start with TOR

The basis for a successful project plan is the terms of reference (TOR). Why? Because it helps to reach an agreement at the beginning of work. Later, when new requirements arise, and the scope of the project will begin to expand, it will be possible to return to the TOR and check what the plan was initially intended for.
The TOR should include a description of the goals and objectives of the project, its intermediate results, the definition of stages, a preliminary scope of work, the calculation of time and costs, as well as a general description of the roles and areas of responsibility in the team.


Set the timer

Gather stakeholders and team members and determine what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it.

Stage 1: Stakeholders. Write down who you should contact for help, information, or approval, and identify the project sponsor. If the list is too long, break it into primary and secondary participants.

Stage 2: Components. It is your work hierarchy. List all essential units of work and proposals (you will evaluate them later, but for now write it down). Limit the list to 30 points, and if team members try to add something else, round out and go to the next step.

Stage 3: goals and results. Write down the purpose of the project, then determine what its results should be. Check whether everything is correct by asking the question: “If we do everything that is indicated in stage 2, will we achieve our goals?”

Stage 4: possible alternatives. What are some alternative ways that will lead you to the same results? Is there a better way to achieve your goals?

Stage 5: economics and obstacles. What is the project financing strategy? How important is it compared to other projects? What resources do you need? What obstacles will you face?

Stage 6: plan of attack. Examine the list of units of work and determine what should be done first. Put the letter A at this point. In the same way, place B, C, etc. Then find out what can be done simultaneously with points A, B, etc. So you will make a project schedule.

Stage 7: assumptions and risks. What difficulties may be encountered in performing each task? How can you reduce risks or find workarounds?

Stage 8: key success indicators. Identify the 3-4 most important stakeholders and ask: “What is the most likely outcome to satisfy them?” These will be the indicators of project success. Decide how to measure each one after the project.

You can (and should) work on the project further to clarify the work plan, but in just an hour you will be able to draw up an entirely decent offensive plan: identify interested parties, define goals and determine project results.




Do not complicate

Project plans can become cumbersome very quickly, especially when it comes to the opinions of stakeholders and sponsors. In order not to make matters even harder, we suggest you start with five questions that will create the foundation and give depth to the details of the plan.

  • What for? What are the main benefits of this project for business?
  • What? What is included in the scope of the project?
  • Who? What are the leading roles required for the “What” clause?
  • When? When is it necessary to complete the “What” clause to get the “Why”?
  • Where? Where is best to do the job? Where can “What” be used by customers and end users?

Only after you finish answering these questions, you can proceed to the answers to the question “How?”.

Best practices of project management planning

As you can see, there are different approaches to creating a project plan. There is no right way, but there is one technique with which all experienced managers agree: before embarking on a job, clarify the main goals of the project with the interested persons.
Another tip: before you start, hold an organizational meeting. Take the opportunity to explain to the team the goals of the project, the role, and areas of responsibility, set standards for successful work and choose a methodology and tools for project management.

One last thing: fix everything. Project progress notes will help you analyze your work and make smarter decisions.


Main components of the project management plan

What should be included in the project management plan? The carefully crafted project plan consists of the following elements:

  • Concept: answers to “what?” and “why?”. It is brief information about the design, goals and final results of the project.
  • Implementation strategy: Answers to “how?” Related to the project. What technique will you use? Will the result be issued at one time or in several stages?
  • The scope of work: what is included (and not involved) in your project? Describe here the hierarchical structure of the work and the main results.
  • Schedule: depending on how clearly your project is described, this can be either a general plan for the implementation of individual tasks or a detailed Gantt chart indicating milestones and deadlines for their completion.
  • Organizational structure: an overview of the hierarchy of the project team, roles and areas of responsibility. If several teams or divisions take part in the work on a project, it is necessary to indicate how these teams will work with each other, who should be considered as interested persons and who is responsible for achieving each result.

It may seem like a tremendous amount of information, but remember that this is only a sample of a project management plan. A good program will not necessarily include all these elements.
As successful managers point out, “An overly detailed plan will not make you smarter or more organized. The longer it is, the greater the chance that no one but you can finish reading it to the end.” A simple project plan that is convenient to follow is the best option.


Published on April 23, 2019

Visual Project Management: Everything You Need to Know

Visual project management has been creating a buzz in the project management arena, and it’s not difficult to see why. Visuals are captivating, and now that most companies have adopted a lean culture, project managers no longer have the time to go through multiple reports. Regular status briefings are also not enough to gain a complete picture of the project’s status, which is where visual task management comes into play.

It allows you to plan, execute and monitor the progress of your project quickly, without having to read multiple reports. Visuals also bring ideas to life and make complex ideas easier to understand, saving valuable time. Simply put, visual project management allows you to track your project in an easy and fun way. In this guide, we’ll highlight why you should embrace this method of task management.

What Is Visual Project Management?

Visual project management effectively plans and manages projects using tools and techniques such as calendars, Kanban boards, and timelines. These layouts allow you to visualize the progress of your project and give you quick insights into the key deliverables at a glance or in a digestible format.

Regardless of the projects you are managing, you need to find an effective way of planning and tracking the milestones. For instance, you need to know who’s responsible for what, key pieces essential to the project’s success, and any areas that are delaying project progress.

While traditional project management tools get the job done, they are ineffective. For example, spreadsheets and lists may contain all the important information, but it can take time to determine the true progress of your projects. This is because they are text-based, and let’s face it: the business environment is now so fast-paced that document-heavy processes just don’t cut it anymore.

How Do You Visualize a Project?

Research shows that your brain can process images in about 13 milliseconds, which is why visuals are an effective project management tool. They also allow you to capture and retain information easily.

IG Content:

6 Steps to Visualize a Project

  1. Plan your entire project schedule, including the important milestones and deadlines.
  2. Use a chart to organize your team while showing the relationship between all the key stakeholders.
  3. Present the data visually using maps, charts, infographics, and other images that allow for at-a-glance comprehension.
  4. Create a risk breakdown structure to assess the tentative project risks.
  5. Use a status report to track the project’s progress. Ensure everyone involved is updated periodically.
  6. Use color coding for effective communication. All project materials should be available for all stakeholders so everyone can see project progress in real time.

Here’s a step-by-step guide into how you can visualize your projects:

  1. Plan your entire project schedule, including the important milestones and deadlines.
  2. Use a chart to structure your team while showing the relationship between all the key stakeholders.
  3. Present the data visually using maps, charts, infographics, etc.
  4. Create a risk breakdown structure to assess the tentative project risks.
  5. Use a status report to track the project’s progress.
  6. Use color coding for effective communication.

The whole idea is to make sure that all the project’s key moving parts are organized & easy to identify and that everyone is kept in the loop.


What Are the Benefits of Visual Task Management?

Here’s why you should adopt visual project management:

  • It enhances communication across all project levels.
  • It saves you time as you’re able to monitor the project’s progress at a glance.
  • It gives you clarity on the entire project and makes it easy to identify roadblocks slowing you down.
  • It allows you to make data-driven decisions.

Most importantly, visual task management helps you understand the true impact of making changes to a project in real-time.

What Are the Main Methods of Visual Representation of Projects?

There are 5 main tools you can use to make a visual project;

    I.         Calendars

Project calendars are straightforward, and they come in handy when there are multiple tasks to manage, all with varying due dates. They help you keep track of key deliverables and milestones as well as plan ahead for successful execution. You can use them on your social media calendars, editorial calendars, or other projects that require earlier preparation.

 II.         Kanban Boards

Kanban boards are essential for projects with distinct stages such as website development, sprint planning, bug tracking, and word results. They are visual tools that use cards to represent projects. These cards are then arranged in columns highlighting the project milestones, task priorities, and responsible personnel. When the project is completed, the cards are moved to the next stage, allowing you to identify the task progress at a glance.

III.         Timelines and Charts

Project timeline or Gantt charts come in handy for projects with definite start and end dates. They help you organize your entire project schedule so that everyone involved in the task is aware of the deadlines and the time each task should take. Some of the perfect tasks for timelines and charts include product launches, campaign management, and event planning.

IV.         Dashboards

Dashboards treat your project as a car and use intuitive tools such as charts and graphs to help you track the task progress. They highlight all the important project information on one page, showing you the overall progress. You can use this visual tool to check the status of tasks, track KPIs and manage the key resources. The dashboards you use should be intuitive and easy to navigate for maximum efficiency.

  V.         Mind Maps

We’ve all been in a situation where we know what we’d like to achieve but have a hard time organizing our ideas. Well, mind maps can come in handy during brainstorming sessions. They allow you to highlight your main ideas and then create sub-ideas below them until you have everything figured out. You can also use them when collaborating with the team to create a project plan.

Statistics reveal that around 48% of all organizational projects aren’t completed on time. This is shocking. By using the above visualization tools, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture without missing the key details.


  1. What Are the Four Types of Project Management?
  2. Waterfall: This technique involves working on your project in waves, such that each project stage is dependent on the previous one.
  3. Agile: This method involves working on projects quickly, mostly by breaking them down into smaller projects that several teams can handle.
  4. Scrum: This technique uses sprints to complete projects.
  5. Lean: This project management method is all about achieving maximum project efficiency while putting the customer’s needs first.
  6. How Do You Visually Track a Project?

The best way to visualize a project is by first breaking it down into several phases and then creating timelines, defining KPIs, and highlighting important milestones. You should then communicate this plan to your team for maximum efficiency.

  1. What Are the Five Elements of Project Management?
  2. Conception and initiation: This is the beginning of the project, and the task details are usually broad.
  3. Project planning: At this stage, you should set goals and create a roadmap of how and when your project should be completed.
  4. Project execution: This is where you develop deliverables and complete them. You can also make modifications when needed.
  5. Project monitoring: At this stage, you keep track of the performance and progress of the tasks.
  6. Project completion.

Streamline Your Project Management Today!

There are many frameworks and methodologies you can combine with visual project management to help better streamline your achievement and success.

Combining project management with a robust performance management program, for example, can help hold your team accountable for their deliverables, as well as offer them continuous feedback so they can constantly improve their performance on a certain project. Give your team an opportunity to evaluate themselves, and show them self-evaluation examples so they know exactly what information they should share with you. This will help you gain a better understanding of how they see themselves and their contributions in the organization.

Principles of eCommerce Project Management

What is eCommerce Project Management and Why is it Important?

eCommerce project management is the application of knowledge skills, tools, and techniques in a structured manner to reach eCommerce project goals and requirements. Proper project management can improve a business’s efficiency, foster collaboration between teammates, boost a team’s performance, and improve customer satisfaction. eCommerce project management differs from traditional project management because online businesses function differently at a fundamental level. For example, the storefront management component of a traditional business isn’t relevant to completely digital companies.


Methods of eCommerce Project Management

  • Lean Project Management

Lean project management is an iterative process, meaning it is meant to be updated continuously until the desired outcome is met. The primary objective of lean project management is to deliver value to the client. This is done by polishing the final product at each stage in the management process, rather than focusing on a long-term implementation plan. In this sense, lean project management is a more reactive process than other management methods.

  • Agile Project Management

Agile project management is another iterative form of management similar to lean project management. The primary difference with agile project management is that each phase of the process focuses on a new element of the final product rather than refining the product at each step. Agile project management also allows for customer feedback to be gathered and implemented very quickly. Flexibility is the primary benefit of agile project management.

  • Waterfall Project Management

Waterfall project management is the oldest method of project management that is still common today. The waterfall project management method is sequential instead of iterative. In this method, the entire project is planned at the beginning of the process. This includes research and development, product introduction, and product launching. The primary benefit of the waterfall method is that your team will have a solid final goal to work towards and an overall sense of direction. However, this method of project management is pretty rigid and does not adapt well to customer feedback or new ideas for implementation.

  • Scrum

Scrum project management has a strong focus on collaboration between team members. Scrum management usually involves short, frequent, oftentimes daily, meetings where team members review project progress, discuss the problems they are facing and plan the objectives for the day. These frequent meetings make it easy to ensure that every member of a team is on the same page. The scrum process is divided into phases known as sprints. Each sprint focuses on creating a ready-to-use product that can be refined in later sprints.

  • Kanban

Kanban is similar to the scrum style of project management due to its use of sprints, but the lifecycle of each sprint is shorter than in the scrum method. The Kanban management style is also more flexible than scrum because it allows for project elements to be refined whenever necessary, not just in later sprints. Kanban focuses on continuous changes and updates that contribute to overall task progress.

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

How to Plan Your eCommerce Projects

The planning process of your eCommerce project will vary depending on the style of project management you have implemented, but there are a few crucial aspects that are present in any eCommerce planning process.

  • Competitor Analysis

The eCommerce market is growing rapidly and has a fierce amount of competition. Competitor analysis will give you valuable insights into the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, which can benefit you in a few different ways. Firstly, these insights will allow your business to adapt. You’ll be able to avoid the mistakes that other companies have made and implement strategies that have worked. Secondly, competitor analysis will show you what makes your business unique compared to other companies. This will enable your business to focus on a niche in the market that you can better serve.

  • Website Planning and Business Optimization

Having a fast, intuitive website that is easy to use is incredibly important to eCommerce businesses. If your website doesn’t offer customers a good user experience, then it is unlikely that they’ll return to make another purchase. Creating a memorable website goes beyond the design and structure of your website, it should also have modern functionality such as responsive windows and automation. Many online shoppers today make purchases through mobile devices so your eCommerce business’s website should be capable of responding to different screen sizes. Websites that function well on multiple devices generally outperform unoptimized websites. Many consumers also expect websites to have automated functions. Automation can also streamline certain business operations. For example, shipping APIs can streamline warehouse processes and allow more orders to be fulfilled.

  • Advertising

Advertising is important for businesses of all sizes in any industry. There are several channels that can be used for advertising. These include physical advertisements, influencer campaigns, social media profiles, and digital advertisements. Social media is arguably the most important advertising channel for eCommerce businesses because it offers them a means of two-way engagement with potential customers.

How Project Managers Can Unlock Visibility In The Supply Chain

Supply chains are an essential component of modern businesses. Every industry depends on them to ensure goods are delivered on time and in perfect conditions. The slightest disruption can throw processes awry and create immense losses for stakeholders.

Visibility into supply chain processes helps minimize errors thanks to end-to-end connectivity. When speaking of visibility implementation, most discussions center around IoT devices and the need for front-end processes to tie together.

However, visibility into supply chain logistics also depends heavily on back-end processes tying together. Project managers have immense input in process design and must ensure that infrastructure doesn’t turn into a roadblock to visibility. Here are a few key ways supply chain project managers can ensure they meet their organization’s broader visibility goals.


Define Project Scope

Visibility depends on various systems talking to each other. For instance, a manufacturing unit communicates condition-related data to its logistics partner’s systems. This overlap often causes issues on the back-end, especially when enhancing infrastructure.

New projects can potentially get lost in a maze of scope creep if project managers neglect to define boundaries appropriately. Continuing the previous example, if a project manager in charge of upgrading logistics systems strays too much into the manufacturing unit’s data structure and job scheduling, they’re likely to take on too much work.

Managers must define the scope thoroughly during the project planning phase. More importantly, they must seek buy-in from project stakeholders to avoid miscommunication down the road. A good way to receive buy-in is to spell out requirements as clearly as possible. This way, PMs can prevent confusion and also transparently communicate project goals.

Standardize Communication


When multiple systems and teams talk to each other, communication typically suffers. Each team uses different standards and modes of conveying information, and this leads to confusion in the back-end of supply chain systems.

Project managers can mitigate this problem by standardizing and simplifying communication standards. For instance, if a data issue from an upstream partner is creating testing issues on their system, PMs can create communication and report templates that their teams can use.

These templates can also be shared with upstream and downstream partners to simplify communication. It’s best to implement these templates during the dev and testing phases. By doing this, any production issues will be dealt with swiftly.

PMs will have to deal with some pushback from their project partners since everyone will likely prefer different templates. Collaboration, then, is the key to unlocking visibility in the supply chain. So always focus on collaborating to create the best back-end system that supports business aims.

Create Knowledge Repositories


Implementing visibility requires teams from every area of the supply chain to come together and integrate their systems. Project releases typically follow an iterative or CD release process. In the rush to release upgrades and constantly improve the product, critical development information tends to get lost.

 If a project team is localized, this isn’t necessarily an issue. After all, there will always be informed personnel around to explain key decisions and historic choices. However, supply chain projects do not work like that. Often spanning the globe, they’re vast and involve teams that might never see each other face-to-face.

 Standardized communication, as previously highlighted, goes a long way towards ensuring visibility-enhancing projects proceed smoothly. However, PMs must create knowledge repositories and archives to help external teams understand their systems and data structures.

For instance, if an upgrade involves scheduling an ETL process from an external source, the PM and dev team must familiarize themselves with the upstream system’s data formats and models. Without a repository or knowledge base, the team will rely on inefficient emails and meetings where nothing gets solved.

A repository will allow them to quickly determine which data sets they need, the formats they need them in, and communicate this to the upstream team. Thus, iterative releases become simpler, and front-end visibility doesn’t suffer.

Prepare Data Appropriately


A project’s success and progress are measured by the business impact it creates. In an interconnected series of projects, measuring success can turn into an issue if PMs neglect measuring success with the right metrics. Often, data from external sources are necessary to measure success.

For instance, a logistics PM will have to take condition-related data from the manufacturer and downstream partner into account, and isolate them from their datasets. Only once this separation has been achieved can they create reports measuring delivery success.

Every stakeholder in the supply chain runs analytics these days, and cleaning data is an essential task. PMs must verify their ETL processes for data integrity and make sure any changes they make are communicated to downstream entities.

Downstream changes often rear their head when upgrading from legacy to modern systems. In such instances, it’s best to refer to knowledge repositories and communicate changes to all stakeholders. Standardizing data models and database design principles is also a good way of ensuring data integrity is maintained across multiple systems.

Back-End Processes Essential For Visibility


While front-end technology receives the bulk of the attention when speaking of visibility, backend processes are just as important. PMs play a significant role when determining process design. These 4 tips will help them create robust processes that ensure visibility is implemented and maintained throughout the supply chain.