Tag: Project Management

PMTimes_July26_2022

Save Project Time With the Kanban Method

Have you ever heard about the Kanban method? It is a method of work management that emerged in the Toyota Production System in the late 40s. At that time Toyota began to work with the “just in time” production system, so production was based on demand. This system started the foundations of Lean Manufacturing and lean production. What does this mean? That it is a production whose objective is to minimize waste, that is, create more value for customers but without generating more expenses.

What is Kanban?

PMTimes_July26_2022

Figure 1. The Kanban Method. Source: https://getnave.com/blog/what-is-the-kanban-method/. Author: Sonya Siderova

Currently using Kanban boards are excellent tools to organize the workflow.  In addition, it is a very flexible method, which allows you to modify processes in the face of interruptions or unexpected and increase productivity. How? Through its 3 Kanban board states: To do, done and ready.

At the beginning of the day, or the beginning of a project, a list of objectives is drawn up, these are works that have to be carried out. The tasks that are on this list will be moved to the next as they are carried out, so they will first be in “to be done“, then “in progress” and, finally, in “done“. This is how the habit of computing tasks at work is worked, transparency is better since all team members know the state in which the project is and what each team member is dedicating their time to.

Thus, the Kanban method follows the philosophy Stop Starting, start finishing“, this means that it focuses on prioritizing the work that is already started before starting any other. In this way, there are a maximum number of tasks that can be performed for each phase before starting with the next one.

 

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How does Kanban work?

There are several basic principles to get the most out of your workflow.

  • Visualize what you do (your workflow): A visualization of all your tasks and items in a table will help all members of your team to stay on top of your work.
  • Limit the amount of Work in Process (WIP): Set affordable goals. Maintain the balance of your workflow by limiting in-process jobs to prevent over-commitment in the number of tasks you will be unable to complete.
  • Track time: Time tracking converges with the Kanban methodology. Track your time continuously and evaluate your work accurately.
  • Easy reading of visual indicators: Know what’s happening at a glance. Use colored cards to distinguish Job Types, Priorities, Labels, Deadlines, and more.
  • Identify bottlenecks and eliminate what’s disposable: make the most of lead times and cycles, Cumulative Flow, and time reporting. These criteria will allow you to evaluate your performance, detect problems, and adjust the workflow accordingly.

Even the most basic Kanban method will produce an increase in performance. A simple distribution of tasks, coupled with monitoring your workflow and making appropriate adjustments throughout the process will increase your efficiency. A software development team can experience formidable improvements over 12 months, following the implementation of Kanban. Delivery time can be reduced by 37% and consistency in delivery can be rebounded by 47%.

PMTimes_July26_2022

Figure 2. Kanban Practices

Saving time with the Kanban method

Time is the central part of the Kanban philosophy, which is why most teams that bet on this method opt for time tracking. One of the great advantages of Kanban is the ability to point out bottlenecks in development processes by imposing a limit on the number of active tasks a team can have open at any given time. if the number of tasks in the process is too high the team must identify the problem and resolve it.

However, it is important to understand that bottlenecks do not have to be a symptom of an organizational problem, nor do they mean that developers are too slow. Rather, they indicate that an attempt has been made to cover more work than the team could manage, so it is time to either look for more staff or reduce the workload and extend the time of the project.

But what are the other advantages of the Kanban method?

With the Kanban method is very easy to detect bottlenecks, but this work system has many more benefits.

  • Prevention of unnecessary processes: through Kanban boards an effective transmission of information is carried out so that failures and delays caused by poor communication can be avoided. This translates into agile development and avoiding unnecessary additional processes.
  • Encourages teamwork: all the workers of the team have access to information, know the process and know what tasks have to be performed previously so that theirs can be performed, even those who may be waiting for their task to be finished to be able to start theirs. In this way, solidarity between the team is strengthened and the active participation of all staff is encouraged.
  • Production flexibility: this method allows you to respond quickly to changes and make the necessary adjustments to the strategy. In addition, as we have said before, only what is necessary is produced or carried out, so resources and time are saved.
  • Increase in the efficiency of the processes: it is clear that those processes that generate greater profits in the best conditions, with the highest quality, and in the least amount of time are the most effective for the company. Kanban allows performing the necessary tasks for the phases of the project within the necessary period.

That is why the Kanban method is ideal for companies that require a lot of flexibility, especially in terms of entry of new tasks, as well as during the monitoring of these. Using the Kanban boards you can perform supervision of the work team and the tasks in progress, as well as get a global vision.

10 Project Management Tools the World’s Top Companies Actually Use

Netflix uses ProofHub, Uber uses Asana, Sony uses Podio.

 

Almost every successful business uses one or the other project management tool to handle their tasks, track their time, and manage their work in general.

Even numerous studies indicate that using project management tools increase performance and productivity. If you’ve also just started up a business and looking for a variety of tools that could soar your productivity, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve compiled a list of the best project management tools that are being used by some big names in the world and you should too.

Let’s check them out:

1. ProofHub

ProofHub is one of the best project management tools in the business. It is simple and intuitive with features that help businesses to collaborate and deliver projects faster and better.

Business with remote teams can collaborate effortlessly with seamless file-sharing and effective document management. It supports many languages other than English, namely French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Danish, Dutch, Greek, Italian, Russian, and German.

Pros of ProofHub:
● Define different access levels for team members based on their responsibilities
● Gantt charts provide a visual timeline for tasks
● Online reports offer clear insights into projects, tasks, and resources

Businesses using ProofHub: Taco Bell, Netflix, Disney, NASA, Trip Advisor, Fractal Fox, and others.

2. Trello

Trello is a leading project management software that implements the concept of boards and cards. The cards contain tasks either to categorize things or track the project progress.

Trello is useful to enable collaboration in company by organizing and tracking tasks, files, and information at one place. Plus, you can anytime integrate third-party applications into your workflow to increase its effectiveness.

Pros of Trello:
● Intuitive simple boards, cards, and lists
● Simplifies collaboration
● Get a glance at who is doing what and what still needs to get done

Businesses using Trello: Adobe, Kickstarter, Google, and more.

3. Asana

Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help businesses organize, track, and manage work. The work management tool helps you prioritize, stay focused, and make more time for work that matters the most.

With Asana, you can also monitor the status of all your projects in real time, so you can keep strategic initiatives on track.

Pros of Asana:
● Set priorities and deadlines to plan work effectively
● Follow projects and tasks through every stage
● Create visual project plans to determine progress

Businesses using Asana: Deloitte, The New York Times, Uber, Airbnb, and more.

4. Basecamp

Regardless of how big or small your startup is, Basecamp is exactly what you need to get things done. It combines all the tools you need in a single and straightforward platform that makes work feel like less work.

Whether it’s about communicating effectively or keeping everyone in the loop, Basecamp can do it all for you.

Pros of Basecamp:
● Easily add tasks and other necessary details
● View tasks from every project together on one screen
● Available on the web and platforms like iOS, Android, and Mac

Businesses using Basecamp: PNMR, Novasyte, Animals Medical Center of MidAmerica

 

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5. nTask

nTask is a smart task management software designed to support collaboration, time tracking and monitoring, and project risk management. It’s built around the business needs that lets you do more much than usual.

It is supported by Google Calendar, Outlook, and many other third-party applications. Moreover, it also offers mobile applications for Android and iOS devices.

Pros of nTask:
● Simple and easy-to-use taskboard
● Multiple board views, task comments, meeting management
● Share files and notes easily

6. JIRA

JIRA is a great tool for running business projects that remains extremely popular with software development companies. It could help you prioritize and discuss your team’s work in full context with complete visibility.

What’s interesting with this project management software is that it lets you use an out-of-the-box workflow, or create one to match the way your team works.

Pros of JIRA:
● Interactive and customizable scrum boards
● Reports with real-time and actionable insights
● Automate processes with its robust set of APIs

Businesses using JIRA: Spotify, CISCO, eBay, Square, and more.

7. Wrike

Wrike is a cloud-based collaboration and project management software that scales across teams in any business. Companies can use it to simplify planning, gain visibility, streamline workflow, and also to enable collaboration.

It shows real-time reports and status for all of your team’s projects. Wrike helps distributed teams to discuss projects and tasks details with the full context of the work. You can also tag images and videos to provide specific feedback.

Pros of Wrike:
● Interactive dashboards
● Centralize communication with stakeholders
● Custom workflows, fields and project folder structures let you work the way you want

Businesses using Wrike: Google, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mars, L’oreal, and others.

8. Droptask

Droptask is a visual and intuitive task management software that helps you manage projects, tasks, and to-dos individually or as part of a team. It comes with a neat interface and real-time collaboration features.

The business plan gives you an unlimited access to flexible workspaces, innovative collaboration and integrates seamlessly with your favorite tools. Droptask has made collaboration easier, better, and faster.

Pros of Droptask:
● Kanban-style workflow boards
● Project templates and permission control
● Integration with Evernote, Google Calendar, Outlook, Gmail, iMindMap

Businesses using Droptask: Harvard University, Coca Cola, BBC, Ralph Lauren, and others.

9. Podio

Podio is a customizable work management solution leaders trust and employees love working on. It helps you create a consolidated process to get your teams working in sync.

Podio enables you to keep content, conversations, and processes structured at one place so that you can focus to get more work done. It is a perfect place to bring your clients and external parties to one place and eliminate lengthy email threads and time-consuming file sharing.

Pros of Podio:
● Granular admin capabilities
● Rigorous security standards
● Automated workflows and data visualization

Businesses using Podio: Volvo, Deloitte, Sony, NFL, and more.

10. Monday.com

Formerly known as Dapulse, Monday.com is a simple project management tool that helps you plan, organize, track in a visual platform. It’s quite flexible in approach and usability as it lets you customize your workflow to match different needs of your business.

Pros of Monday.com
● Plan everything visually
● Track progress with multiple views
● Simple and intuitive

Businesses using Monday.com: Discovery, Carlsberg, Philips, Fiverr, and more.

Conclusion

Now that you know about the modern tools world’s leading businesses are using, it’s high time even you should invest in one such project management tool to manage work effectively and get an edge over others in the market.

PMTimes_July04_2022

How To Write A Data-Driven Resume

As business professionals, we know the increasing importance of data-driven decision making in our projects and operations.

 

This article will explain why we need to bring that same approach to resume writing, and how to level up your Project Manager/Business Analyst resume writing skills.

The Importance Of Data

In the business world today, it is hard to come by important decisions that are made in the absence of data to support them. Managers are, understandably, loath to not have evidence stacked up to support a claim or decision that exposes their organization to opportunity, but also risk.

This same perspective can be applied to hiring decisions as well. Are not employees a huge opportunity, albeit potential risk, for any business? A star employee can transform an organization for the better, resulting in a strong bottom line and happier customers. In a competitive job market, candidates need to sell their attributes and accomplishments to hiring managers, who increasingly need to base their hiring decisions on strong evidence, not unlike other operational or project decisions. Show me the data!

What Does This Mean For Your Resume?

For one, your resume needs to be quantitative. Most resumes list work experience and education in a neat table, sorted by date and organization. This is a good start. However, when you drill down into the details (the bullet points) underlying each previous job, the descriptions often leave something to be desired. For example;

  • “Compiled project analysis for company executives”
  • “Managed an organization-wide ERP solution implementation”
  • “Trained support teams on use of new software tool”

What these examples demonstrate is a lack of volume, scale, or size. How is a hiring manager to know if you managed the roll out of an ERP system for a staff of 10, or 2000? What does improved service delivery really mean? That each agent more consistently said thank you at the end of each call? Or were turnaround times reduced by 30%? Look for your ‘wins’ and highlight them with data.

What this can look like:

  • “Comprehensively analyzed and compiled dozens of address, routing, and fuel data points on a weekly cadence, to draft executive reports that could be quickly understood and acted upon”
  • “Managed a 1 year ERP implementation affecting 900 staff, resulting in time savings of 5 FTEs”
  • “Facilitated dozens of training sessions of 5‐25 participants each, achieving an average instructor rating of 4.5/5 from feedback forms”

There are 2 important take-aways from the above examples:

  1. Fully use the real estate provided to you on the page. Your resume should only be 1-2 pages, so use up that white space as efficiently as possible.
  2. The examples use specifics that are quantified.

Examples of other metrics you can use:

  • $’s spent, saved or earned
  • Time taken or time saved
  • Cadence or turnaround time of process or task
  • # of people impacted, trained or involved
  • # of computers/machines updated or provisioned
  • Volume or quantity of materials

 

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Is The Data Impressive Enough?

What if the numbers aren’t impressive, you may ask? When providing feedback on resumes, mentees often state they don’t think their accomplishments sound big or important enough if too much detail is given, as if keeping it vague somehow augments their work. If you don’t think an accomplishment is worth quantifying, remember that hiring managers can also revert to the lowest common denominator, if quantities aren’t provided. You may have concurrently managed 10 accounts worth an average of $10,000. In the absence of concrete numbers, a hiring manager may theoretically guess that maybe it was 4 accounts worth $5000 each.

Sometimes, exploring different ways of telling your data story can make your work history sound more effective too. Maybe you successfully negotiated a $100 savings on a monthly vendor contract. That’s great, but maybe you can re-word it as, “Negotiated a 10% savings on a recurring monthly expense, saving $1000s per year”. Explore absolute versus percent versus ratio metrics for each claim, as sometimes one will sound better than the other.

Internal- And External-Facing Data Points

You may notice 2 distinct metrics types, that we can call internal, vs. external. Often, when we are stuck in the weeds of our projects, we only think of our internal metrics. These could include things like # of stakeholders managed, dollars spent, or groups involved. What are often more impactful, in terms of convincing employers of the significance of your work, are metrics that speak to what your project ultimately accomplished; the downstream outcomes. Sometimes, these data points may not be known for months or years. These could include things like # of new clients, # of people trained, or incremental dollars earned or saved, directly due to actions you took while deep in the weeds of your project. Have a think about your last few projects. What were their downstream outcomes?

Quantify Your Interests

People differ on the utility of a personal interests or extracurricular section of your resume. I’m personally a fan, because hiring managers are hiring people, not robots, and want to know who the person is that they are hiring. Also, hiring managers, like all humans, are subject to nervousness around meeting new people in a formal interview setting. The personal interests section provide great small chat talking points to fill otherwise awkward pauses that can occur before and after the formal questioning part of an interview.

Just like with the other sections of your resume, be specific, and quantified, with your personal life! Instead of;

  • “Organizer of musical festivals”, or
  • “Love travelling and photography”

you could say

  • “Have organized 3 musical festivals with 1000s of participants each”, or
  • “Have traveled in 23 countries, and photographed the Taj Mahal to the fish & corals of the Great Barrier Reef”

Final Thoughts

Lastly, quantifying your resume is an exercise to perform not only once you are looking for your next contract or job, but on an ongoing basis, so that you can leverage the metrics you have formulated for yourself in conversations and informal networking chats.

Good luck on your next application!

PMTimes_July04_2022

7 Easy Time Management Tips To Increase Your Efficiency And Productivity

We all know how hard it is to keep up with everything in such a competitive world.

 

Most people who live in urban areas notice that everything around them seems to go on without waiting for anyone or anything. Time is flying by and you don’t even notice when yet another day has passed.

So how do you manage your time in a way that will be beneficial for you? Use these seven time management tips to increase your efficiency and productivity.

1. Set Your Goals

Every hardworking person has some kind of goal in mind that they are actively working towards. If you don’t have a clear aim in mind, you cannot possibly know why you are doing what you are doing.

An aim is also very important to keep you motivated. It is very easy to get discouraged if you are putting a lot of effort and see no instantaneous results. Having an aim, however, will increase your chance to stay dedicated to your job and find inspiration even in the hardest of times.

Once you decide what your goals and aims are, make sure to keep them in front of your eyes in some way. Maybe this will mean that you print out a huge poster and hang it by your desk at work or maybe you will only have to place a sticky note on your refrigerator to look at every morning.

2. Create A Schedule

Having a schedule is directly related to productivity. Creating a plan for a day, a week, or even a month will increase your confidence in your own future and will help you have your priorities straight.

There is also the flipside of having a plan which is that you may get too obsessed with it and react badly if something goes not according to it. This is why you must always be able to adapt to new circumstances. Don’t be afraid to change your plan at some point if the situation requires it.

3. Detect Time Loss

One of the most important factors that determine the success of your time management strategy is detecting where you are losing time. You absolutely must know when you are losing your precious time and what you can do to change this.

When you will be creating your schedule, you will most likely notice in which periods you spend your time for nothing and, eventually, lose your precious minutes. Make sure that you add some valuable tasks to these hours and change the situation.

4. Set Shorter Deadlines

Longer deadlines lead to procrastination. This is the sad truth which not everyone realizes. When you set a longer deadline for yourself, you usually think that you are doing a good thing because this will mean that you have more time to do what you want. In reality, you are letting yourself procrastinate and then make yourself stressed when you have little to no time left until the deadline.

What you must do is take smaller goals and set shorter deadlines for them. This way, you will be able to complete everything in time and motivate yourself to keep moving on. Success always prompts people to try and do more. Use this technique to boost your confidence and increase your energy levels.

 

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5. Learn To Say “No”

You don’t need to agree to everything someone asks you to do! You do not exist solely to please them or to help others all the time. You must accept the fact that helping others and letting yourself down at the same time is not a good thing, especially for your mental and physical health.

It is time to learn to say “no”. Imagine that a friend is asking you (for the eighth time already) to look after their kid while they go out with friends. But you are busy in that exact time or have plans to go out yourself. What you must do is politely decline their plea and be honest: you have plans. Don’t worry about what they may think. You have the full right to have a life, and if they think you are their personal servant, then bad news for them because you really aren’t.

6. Get Some Rest

Getting some rest leads to being more productive. What you must understand is that your health must always come first. As pointed out in the previous tip, it is important to take care of yourself, because nobody else will.

Having a good night’s sleep is the first step to being more productive in the day to come. If you weren’t able to get enough hours (the norm is eight to ten hours for adults), then make sure that you nap during the day. You can do this even while you are getting to work by bus or other public transport.

7. Stop Being Lazy

This may seem like something that directly challenges the previous tip, but it’s actually not. Being lazy is an art… and a curse. If it is already a habit of yours, then this is the time to finally get rid of it.

Don’t think that you are the only one suffering from laziness though – many people do. But not everyone realizes it is a serious problem, while those who do, often blame themselves for being lazy and feel terrible or even depressed about it.

Instead of trying to get rid of laziness all at once, take baby steps one at a time. This means that you must select those hours when you are lazy and lose time, and then try to decrease the by five, ten, and then fifteen minutes. It may take you weeks or even months to get rid of this bad habit entirely, but all your effort will ultimately be worth it.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, managing your time is not as complicated as it seems. Anyone can become more productive as long as they genuinely want to. Follow the advice in this article and change your life for the better!