How to make a project budget

How to make a project budget

How can I create a budget for a project if I have no historical basis on which to orient myself?

When starting a project, it is difficult to know how much it will cost.

If we are dealing with a repetitive project, we will probably have a history on which to base ourselves.

In this case it may be easier to draw up a project budget, but different is the case when it comes to a new project.

Project managers are required to account for their budget estimates.

Given the great uncertainty that usually prevails in the initial phase of a project, this can be one of the major challenges of a project manager.

The ability to create an accurate budget is an essential skill for a project manager.

It can be a daunting task, especially for new project managers; however, once the first budget is created, you will have a first reference system.

From then on, it will be easier to manage this aspect for future projects.

********************

“CONTENT INDEX”
The approaches to drafting a budget
The top-down approach
The bottom-up approach
The different types of cost in creating the budget
The management reserve
Ineligible costs
Manage budget changes

********************

The approaches to drafting a budget

There are two main approaches that can be adopted when drawing up a budget:

  • Top-down approach: decide how much the project will cost in total and divide the amount between the various phases of work;
  • Bottom-up approach: estimate the total cost of the project, calculating the individual work steps, starting from the lowest level, and then adding the whole.

Both approaches, like all things, have their advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s try to evaluate them together.

How to make a project budget: The top-down approach

The top-down approach, literally from top to bottom, is more than simply a guess of the total amount on which to base the whole project.

In fact, it is necessary to explain how the work will be carried out and structured within the amount of budget allocated for each phase of the project.

One should ask oneself if the balance sheet seems realistic on the basis of the experience of past projects, if there are any.

The advantage of the top-down budgeting approach is that it focuses on achieving the project within the allocated budget and leads to efficiency and reduction of costly practices.

A disadvantage is that it presupposes that the person who creates the budget has sufficient knowledge and skills to make a reasonable cost estimate.

If this is not the case, a conflict may occur when a team member is assigned an unrealistic and insufficient budget to complete his work phase.
In fact, there is the risk that deliberately low budgets are created with the – false – belief that this will encourage cost savings and waste elimination.

How to make a project budget: the bottom-up approach

In the second approach, bottom-up, literally from bottom to top, the project budget is built starting from the individual work stages, from the lowest level, and adding them up until reaching the total cost of the project.

The team is often involved in identifying the tasks and activities needed to complete the project and to estimate the various costs.

The advantage of the bottom-up budgeting approach is its accuracy, assuming that we have not forgotten any activity, and consequently its cost.

It is good for team morale because the project manager involves the team in budgeting.

For this reason, this approach is sometimes called participatory budget.

A disadvantage of the bottom-up approach is the difficulty of obtaining a complete list of activities and tasks necessary to complete the project, especially if it is something new, or if we are dealing with a young and / or inexperienced team.

In fact, the risk in starting new projects or in the involvement of junior resources, may be that of not contemplating entire phases of activity and process.

This inevitably leads to totally unleashing not only the costs, but also the time required to complete the project.

The different types of cost in creating the budget

In creating the budget the Project Manager must take into account different factors and above all the different types of costs.

There are basically two types of costs that affect project managers when they create a budget:

  • Direct costs
  • And indirect costs.

The former are uniquely attributed to the project and can be easily definied, such as: the cost of personnel, equipment, travel, consultants, ecc.

Indirect costs, on the other hand, are related to expense items loaded simultaneously on more than one project. Only part of their total cost is charged to a single project.

For example: telephone bills, office rent, company insurance, office equipment, etc.

How to calculate these costs?

For example, if the project will take 6 weeks and the internet bill is € 50 per month, the total cost of the project will be € 75.

To get an idea of the other costs, you can take a look at the previous year.

It will be necessary to see what has been spent on the whole and then divide it by 52 (the number of weeks in the year) to obtain an average weekly cost.

This can be valid for an indirect cost such as that of the equipment.

How to make a project budget: the management reserve

A management reserve or contingency reserve is usually added to projects and usually corresponds to a percentage of the total cost and time of the project.

This fund is used when events related to unexpected costs occur during the project.

The management reserve should be adjusted according to the level of risk identified for the project.

Clearly, the more risky the project is, the greater the management reserve will have to be, and viceversa.

A routine project, already carried out several times, will have a lower management reserve than a totally new project.

The budget will therefore be made up of direct costs, indirect costs and the amount that serves as a management reserve.

 How to make a project budget

How to make a project budget: ineligible costs

There are also costs that are generally not eligible in a project and therefore can not be included in the budget.

In general we can identify them in the following:

  • Non-accountable costs, such as voluntary work;
  • Capital investment costs;
  • Financial charges;
  • Passive interests;
  • Losses caused by the currency exchange, among other things not quantifiable given the volatility;
  • VAT in the case it is a recoverable cost;
  • Costs covered by EU funding or by another type of state funding;
  • Sanctions.

Manage budget changes

Projects rarely go according to plan in every detail.

It is therefore necessary that the project manager is able to identify when costs vary from budget and manage these changes.

A project manager must regularly compare the amount of money spent with the amount provided and report this information to the managers, the company president and the stakeholders.

It is therefore necessary to establish a method on how these progress will be measured and reported.

A widely used method for medium and high complexity projects is the earned value method.

This is a method of periodic comparison of the estimated costs – budget value – with the actual costs during the project – actual value.

The earned value method can provide information not only with regard to cost variances, but also with regard to time deviations, ie if the project is on time or not.

A simple way to evaluate the progress of the project is to take two values:

  • Direct cost percentages pertaining to an activity;
  • Sum of already worked hours on the activity and the forecast of the hours until the end of the project.

The progress of the activity will therefore result from the product between these two indicators. If it less than 1, it means that we are facing a project delay.

At the end of a project, it will be necessary to evaluate if a budget deviation has taken place and what were the reasons that caused it.

Regardless of the approach a project manager chooses to make the budget, it is essential to take the time to monitor it throughout the whole project.

In fact, for project management, cost monitoring is a strategic aspect.

For this reason in Twproject, we have developed the functionalities able to insert and manage both the costs generated by the work (direct costs) and the additional costs (indirect costs), reserving, of course, such access only to the Project Managers.

how to make a project budget

The importance of monitoring and managing a budget is crucial! Here is a small example of the support that TWproject can give you.

how to make a project budget

In this example (an integral part of the previous screen) your forecast margin (calculated from budget and planned costs) is 850.

This is the first estimate you’ve made, and it’s probably very close to what you told your client.

Then, in a second phase, you have refined your estimate: the second line represents how it is going in relation to what is planned.

The last line is the “real” situation, you have a budget of 2500, and you have spent 1285.

Great! There is a margin of 1215, better than expected!

In short, build, customize, monitor the Budget: fundamental aspects for a winning project!

What are the biggest difficulties you have experienced while creating a budget?

What strategy did you use?

Leave us a comment and share your experience with us.

Start now to create an accurate project budget

how to manage winning projects

7 tips on how to manage winning projects

The success of any project depends on the ability of a project manager to have a specific methodical approach to each project.

The approach must be in line with the needs of the client and with the strengths of his team.

In order to manage a winning project, it is essential to create an effective working structure that is not a task that anyone is able to do.

Of course, most project managers know that workflow management, like any other tool that contributes to project management success, is important, but how to do it properly is often not so obvious.

Any project manager knows that the best project management tips and tricks come with time, with experience, but also with the advice of more experienced project managers.

Therefore, today we want to give you 7 valuable tips for managing winning projects.

********************

“CONTENT INDEX”
Plan the day using time management techniques
Include stakeholders in important decisions
Communicate regularly with the team
Anticipate the possible deadlock situations of the project
Know your limits as a project manager
Stay focused on the details
Be updated on the latest project management trends

********************

How to manage winning projects: Plan the day using time management techniques

For a project manager, time management skills are essential because we are dealing with a series of activities that often require rapid response times.

Planning the day will therefore be essential to maintain the overall organization and increase productivity.

For the planning of the activities there are appropriate project management software that can be a valuable help and that allows to keep track of the work done.

If you are not very tech savvy, even a simple to-do list, ordered by priority, can be a good organizational tool.

how to manage winning projects

The most important and priority tasks will therefore be placed at the top of the list, while the less important ones at the bottom. Another idea is also to use different colors depending on the urgency of the activity.

Having a visual plan of daily activities helps to have a general picture. It helps to be aware of how to manage time for each specific task and for each individual resource.

As a visual tool we can only recommend the use of Gantt charts.

How to manage winning projects: Include stakeholders in important decisions

Despite having many responsibilities regarding the project, the project manager must never forget customers and stakeholders.

Good communication is essential to keep the parties informed about the progression of the project and the need for program changes.

Some customers may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so already in the planning phase of a project, it is important to establish the frequency and the communication system to be used, which can be e-mails, phone calls, meetings, etc.

Establishing communication expectations in advance helps alleviate the uncertainty of stakeholders on the frequency and on the arrival of communications.

In addition, it can also help the project manager set the limits for when he is free to talk about the project and when he can consider himself too busy to have a conversation – unless it is an emergency.

How to manage winning projects: Communicate regularly with the team

Daily communication with the team helps to control misunderstandings and unclear needs.

Keeping your team informed at every stage of the project is essential for successful project management.

Good communication skills are a cornerstone of project management.

In other words, clear and frequent communication positively influences the way in which team members see their project manager as a leader, helps to control product quality and project duration, as well as foster risk management.

how to manage winning projects

Furthermore, a study published by Procedia Technology found that some methods of communication are more effective than others.

The researchers found that communication works best in the following order, from the most to the least effective:

  1. Electronic communication (with the right tools);
  2. Written communication;
  3. Verbal communication;
  4. Visual communication;
  5. Non-verbal communication.

How to manage winning projects: Anticipate the possible deadlock situations of the project

Even the best plans can go wrong. Even with a high level of planning and attention to detail, the project could still encounter some difficulties.

Paying attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues and other warning signs, such as a deadline or a cost overrun, is crucial.

Preventing a crisis will allow the project to continue without too many hitches, saving a lot of time and maintaining a cohesion among team, stakeholders and the project manager.

Unfortunately, not all complications can be avoided. Crisis management capabilities are essential to tackle the unexpected.

Project managers must be flexible and pragmatic, improvise and make precise decisions when needed.

How to manage winning projects: Know your limits as a project manager

Many projects are destined to fail from the beginning due to unrealistic expectations.

Establishing impossible deadlines or assigning too much work to team members will undoubtedly lead to untidy jobs and often to failure to meet deadlines.

Errors and delays in the work can direct the project towards failure, necessitating adjustment and “patching” work, extension of the calendar and going to undermine the trust of the stakeholders and of the team itself.

Taking the time to get to know the team you work with, will help you understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses and then assign the right tasks.

Delegating tasks to the right person is very important, because success depends on how team members can and are able to perform their tasks.

How to manage winning projects: Stay focused on the details

A common problem encountered by project managers is that project goals are not in line with business objectives.

A good project manager will define a strategic plan for the project that will bring the company back to success.

It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what the goal is, so a well planned project goal is essential to success.

Having a fixed deadline and budget will help maintain a project structure, marked by milestones and a written list of requirements.

How to manage winning projects: Be updated on the latest project management trends

Upskilling is very useful, if not essential, for project management.

Unfortunately, with the high workload and stress of full-time work, it can be difficult to find the time to attend training or refresher courses.

On the other hand, there are many project management courses that are conducted online and most companies will be happy to reimburse their cost.

Professional development should never stop. The workforce is constantly changing, adding new tools and project management roles that did not exist until a few years ago.

To conclude, a project manager must be an expert in leadership, communication and organizational skills.

With the high workload and stress, it is essential to have the necessary skills to reach every goal.

Remaining responsible and aware of all aspects of the project will lead to success.

What are your suggestions for managing winning projects?

Learn how to manage your projects with Twproject

One try is worth a million words.
Gantt charts

Gantt charts for a project: productive advantage or disadvantage?

Gantt charts for projects are the essential weapon of the Project Manager, but they can be extremely useful and effective even for anyone who wants to organize their activities in a structured way.

This planning tool appeared in the early twentieth century and has since been widely used for project planning.

The main reason for the success of the Gantt charts is their simplicity and the focus on the quick visualization of the activities.

Gantt charts are also an excellent way to plan the project in a temporal way, allowing to define roles, responsibilities and effective use of resources.

In fact, they provide an immediate vision of how the project is developed and structured and act as a guideline to the end.

********************

“CONTENT INDEX”
What is a Gantt chart?
What are the advantages of the Gantt chart?
The aspects (disadvantages) of the Gantt chart to keep under control!

********************

What is a Gantt chart?

The Gantt chart, also called scheduled bar chart, is a tool used to plan a set of activities that, generally, are part of a single, more complex project.

On the horizontal axis there is the time span, whose unit of measurement depends on the project calendar – days, weeks, months, etc. – while on the vertical axis we find the list of the various activities.

Each task is represented by a colored bar that goes from the start date to the end of the activity.

Once all the activities have been inserted, there is a visual scheme of how the project is structured, which tasks come first, which ones overlap and which ones happen later.

The resources that carry out every single activity are easily identifiable.

With such a graphic structure, it is easy to understand, at first glance, if the processes are taking place on schedule and if the progress of the project is in line with the deadline.

Gantt charts

Many software have, in the Gantt, their sore point because the Gantt is not very effective or even non-existent.

Only some software, including TWProject, allow not only to obtain a Gantt chart of the project that is easy to read, but also to get even more details, indicating for example:

  • who is the resource assigned to a given activity;
  • if the resource works full-time or part-time;
  • how much work has been done and remains to be done;
  • the cost associated with each activity.

What are the advantages of the Gantt chart?

As a company we are convinced that the Gantt chart, if well structured and managed, can bring various benefits to the management of a project.

Here is a list of advantages that this system inevitably presents.

The Advantages of Gantt: Visualization

The Gantt chart allows to clearly visualize the workflow and the project structure.

When we insert the various tasks, or analyze the schema after inserting them, we can immediately realize any inconsistencies.

The linear scheme allows you to understand in advance if you will be faced with potential organizational or technical problems and allows you to prepare in advance.

The distribution of the activities allows to identify the intermediate goals and to understand if the project is in line with the schedule or not.

The Advantages of Gantt: Flexibility

As already mentioned, an advantage of the Gantt chart is to clearly show the start and end date of a given activity.

The timing of each task will be set after a direct comparison with the managers of each sector, in order to have a realistic value.

For this reason, the Gantt chart is also useful for the feasibility analysis of a project.

Once the entire project structure is set up, it makes no sense to run to complete certain steps before the set date – unless there is really a valid reason – as this may be reflected in the lack of completeness and / or accuracy.

If you have agreed on a certain date speaking to the direct responsible, it means that this is the time necessary to carry out the work correctly and completely.

Forcing time would affect the quality of work.

The Advantages of Gantt: Efficiency

These charts allow an intelligent and effective use of resources.

It becomes really difficult for the resources to be reliable when they are grappling with too many processes and find themselves submerged.

All conflicts and problems that follow an overload of tasks can lead to a definitive blockage of the whole project and, inevitably, to its failure.

Using Gantt charts as a project planning tool gives you an overview of the project timeline so you can easily see where and when a particular resource is used.

So, it is possible to allocate resources in such a way that the activies are not slowed down or blocked.

Once a process is finished, you can transfer the resource to another activity.

The Advantages of Gantt: Motivation

Gantt charts are great for morale!

Probably we all had those days where we felt completely lost and submerged from work and projects and we could no longer see the direction in which we were going.

In this case, the Gantt chart can be a valid psychological aid.

Looking at the diagram, in fact, you can immediately see how activities are taking place and how each process leads to the completion of the entire project.

It is a very effective method to raise morale and motivate the team.

Moreover, seeing the achievement of a goal – however small it may be – is still a gratification. It allows to concentrate, step by step, on the different blocks of activity without feeling disoriented by a project that can be long and complex.

The Advantages of Gantt: Communication

Gantt charts are not just a useful tool for planning the project.

Team members can use these diagrams to see where they are in the project, what they need to complete certain tasks and the inputs they need.

The project diagram shows them exactly who they should contact and who they should collaborate with during each phase.

This makes them able to communicate better not only with each other, but also with the Project Manager.

Thanks to the Gantt charts, it is also possible to help improve cohesion, communication and understanding of and in the team.

The aspects (disadvantages) of the Gantt chart to keep under control!

As with any high performance tool, even for the Gantt Chart, there are some aspects to monitor.

Aspects that if not properly managed could result in real disadvantages.

Let’s list briefly the aspects to pay attention to, so that everyone can make his evaluations:

  • It can become extraordinarily complex. Except for the simplest projects, a Gantt chart will present a large number of activities and resources used to complete the project. There are special software that can handle all this complexity. However, when the project reaches this level, it must be managed by a small number of people, or often by one, able to handle all the details. Large companies often employ one or more prepared Project Managers. In companies not used to this type of management, this may not work as it should.
  • The size of the bar does not indicate the amount of work. Each bar on the graph indicates the period of time in which a given activity will be completed. However, by observing the bar, it is not possible to determine what level of resources is needed to complete these tasks. For example, a short bar could take 500 hours, while a longer bar could take only 20 hours.
  • The length of a bar in fact indicates the timing of a given activity and not its complexity in terms of working hours.
  • It must be constantly updated. After starting the project, things can change. If you use a Gantt chart, you need to be able to change the chart easily and frequently.
  • Difficult to see on a single sheet of paper. The software that allows you to manage these graphics are mostly suited to a computer screen and are not meant to be printed. It therefore becomes difficult to show the details of the plan to a broad audience. It is certainly possible to print the chart, but this normally involves a job of “cutting and pasting” of the individual pieces, rather expensive in terms of time.

All in all, the biggest advantage of the Gantt chart is the pure simplicity and the clear overview of the activities and their duration.

This makes it ideal for projects where facilitated access to all relevant information is required and where these should be easily understood by all those involved in the project.

This is why we thought of an evolution of the TWProject Gantt.

In fact, we have built an instrument capable of modeling situations in real time and that can easily be modified over time.

This is in contrast to the traditional project management methodology where the projects are immediately defined in detail (unrealistic method for most of the working situations).

Twproject’s focus is to capture the work done in real time, to guide the Project Manager during the entire project development.

Our customers’ experience in this direction encourages us by providing us with guidance in future development.

What is the greatest benefit you find in the company, thanks to the use of Gantt?

Tell us about it!

Do you want to create your first Gantt?

Project Life Cycle

Project Life Cycle: phases and characteristics

The Project Life Cycle consists of four main phases through which the Project Manager and his team try to achieve the objectives that the project itself sets.

The four phases that mark the life of the project are: conception / start, planning, execution / implementation and closure.

Each project therefore has a beginning, a central period, a completion and a final phase (successful or not). All phases that we will analyze in this article constitute the so-called Project Life Cycle .

Obviously, those mentioned are only the main phases of the project, which means the starting point for a further subdivision in sub-phases, activities and tasks, increasingly basic and detailed, necessary for the development and allocation of work among the resources.

For each phase or lifecycle activity, the project manager must have two clear things in mind:

  • The objectives of each project phase: based on company constraints ranging from quality to timing and costs;
  • Products (derivable): each activity must lead to results that can be tangible goods or a documentation or specific services, etc.

But now we specifically enter the four main phases of the project life cycle.

Project Life Cycle

********************

“CONTENT INDEX”

The start-up phase
The planning phase
The execution phase
The closing phase

********************

Project Life Cycle: The initiation phase

During this first phase, the objective or “need” of the project is identified.

This can be, for example, the resolution of a business problem or the analysis and creation of a concrete opportunity.

An appropriate responce to the need can be documented in a business case with the recommended solution options.

A feasibility study is then conducted to verify if each option is in line with the objective and a final solution is determined.

The feasibility study asks questions about the feasibility of the project. Questions such as “can we do the project? Do we have the resources to do it?”.

Furthermore, a justification study phase of the project is also carried out, for example by answering the question “is the project necessary for this objective?”.

Once these analyzes have been carried out and the project is considered feasible and necessary, this is officially started and, in case it has not already been identified, a project manager is appointed.

The project team is thenidentified and involved, thus starting to take shape.

At this point you can then move on to the detailed planning phase.

Project Life Cycle: The planning phase

In this phase we start from the objective of the project and move on to develop it in as much detail as possible, planning the steps necessary to reach the final solution.

The individual tasks of the project are then identified, as well as the requirements that the resources must have and the strategy to follow.

A project plan is created that illustrates the activities, tasks and timelines.

The project manager coordinates the preparation of a project budget by providing cost estimates for labor, equipment and materials, if needed.

The budget is used to monitor and control the expenses incurred during the entire project phase.

Once the Project Manager has identified the work, prepared the strategy and the performance and estimated costs, the basic components of the planning process are complete.

It comes then the right time to identify and address any factor that may pose a threat to the success of the project. This part is called risk management.

Potential problems are identified, as well as the action that must be taken to avoid them, solve them or at least reduce their impact.

This is also a good time to identify all stakeholders and establish a communication plan that sets out the information needed to keep all the parties involved in the project informed.

Finally, the project manager will draw up a quality plan that includes the quality objectives, the control measures, also listing the criteria to be met  obtain the acceptance of the client – customer that can be the company itself.

Arrived here, the project has been discussed and planned in detail, and is ready to run and move on to the next stage.

Project Life Cycle: The execution phase

During the third phase, that of the implementation, the project plan is put into motion and the work is performed in concrete, following the steps structured in the planning phase.

It is important and fundamental to maintain control and communicate how – and when – necessary during this whole phase.

Progress is continuously monitored and appropriate  changes are made and documented as variations with respect to the original plan.

Whatever project  it is, a project manager usually spends most of the time at this stage.

During the execution of the project, people perform their tasks and progress information is exchanged through regular team meetings, so-called progress status meetings .

The project manager uses this information to maintain control over the project direction by comparing progress reports with the project plan, to measure the performance of activities and take corrective actions if necessary.

The main strategy should always be to bring the project back to its original course,that of the project plan drawn up in the previous phase. If this is not possible, the changes from the original plan must be recorded and the modified plan must be formalized.

During this step, project sponsors and all other stakeholders should be regularly informed about the progress of the work.

Each product result should be analyzed and accepted.

Once the results of the various steps have been produced and the client has accepted the final solution, the project is ready for closure.

Project Life Cycle: The closing phase

During this closing phase, the emphasis is placed on:

  • the final results;
  • the delivery of project documentation;
  • the termination of supplier contracts;
  • the release of project resources;
  • the communication of the closure of the project to all the stakeholders.

The last remaining step is to conduct an analysis of what went well and what did not.

Through this type of analysis you gain experience and knowledge, are gained, factors that will help the project manager, and the team in general, for future projects.

Unfortunately, the closing phase is often underestimated and in many companies the project is delivered without further evaluation; it only matters if the project was a success or not.

In reality, it isn’t only important to conclude a project successfully, but also to be able to execute it in the way that was set in the original project plan.

There is no shortage of cases in which the objective has been achieved despite having experienced a phase of execution full of changes, delays and problems.

The closure phase also serves to analyze this, in order to avoid making the same mistakes in the future and not adequately assessing certain risks.

The four phases of this life cycle may vary according to the sector and the type of project, but in general they are valid in any area.

When a project manager follows Project Life Cycle taking into account all the factors of each individual phase, he will have already taken the first step towards success.

Tell us about your personal experience of success.

Get familiar with the phases of your project.

the sixth edition of the PMbok

The sixth edition of PMbok

General overview and differences from the fifth edition

At the end of 2017, the sixth edition of the PMbok was published. 

Let’s start from the base: what is the PMbok?

This is the Project Management Body of Knowledge, a guide, published by the Project Management Institute -PMI, which aims to document, gather and standardize the practices generally used and recognized in project management.

We specify that for “generally recognized” practices we mean the ones applicable to most projects and on which there is a widespread consensus on their value and usefulness.

This means that sometimes the latest project management trends promoted by some consultants, although interesting from an evolutionary point of view, may not be part of the latest version of this guide, because they are not yet”generally recognized” practices.

The PMbok has evolved over the years, making its debut with the first version in 1987, up to the current sixth edition published in 2017.

But what are the PMbok changes from the fifth edition to the current one? 

We summarize the changes in this article.

********************

“CONTENT INDEX”

Increase of total chapters
The areas of knowledge
The new three processes
6 changes in existing processes
Who will be affected by these changes?

********************

PMBOK sixth edition: Increase of total chapters

In the fifth edition of PMbok five groups of processes were listed:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Monitoring and Control
  5. Closing

These remain unchanged in the sixth edition, but what changes is the number of sub-processes within each group of processes.

Furthermore, in the fifth edition there were a total of 13 chapters.

In the sixth edition we find instead the inclusion of a new chapter dealing with the role of the project manager and its functions.

In addition to this, the skills and competences that a project manager must possess are now aligned with the so-called Triangle of Talent.

For instance, it is not enough to have technical skills, but the dynamism of the working environment and the evolutionary trends in the sector require that the project manager has additional skills. Among the most relevant we find:

  • Strategic and corporate management: It is necessary to understand the progress and the functioning of the company business in order to adapt the project to it. The project manager must therefore possess the skills to analyze the competition, the market, know the legal implications, business models, etc.
  • Leadership skills: this skill has already been discussed in the fifth edition of the PMbok, but the new one gives it more emphasis. Leadership skills include emotional intelligence, problem solving, team building and the ability to influence and motivate the team;
  • Technical skills: mainly related to the sector in which one works and the skills required, specifically, from the project.

 The sixth edition of the PMbok: The knowledge areas

In the fifth edition of PMbok 10 areas of knowledge were listed.

These are still present in the sixth edition, but two appear with new names, as specified in the following list:

  1. Integration Management
  2. Scope Management
  3. Time Management is replaced by Schedule Management
  4. Cost Management
  5. Quality Management
  6. Human Resource Management is replaced by Resource Management
  7. Communications Management
  8. Risk Management
  9. Procurement Management
  10. Stakeholder Management

Why these two changes?

The new term Resource Management refers not only to the human workforce, but also to the physical resources (such as materials, equipment, licenses, etc.) that are always part of a project and contribute to its success.

Time Management has been replaced with Schedule Management to emphasize the importance of project management planning.

the sixth edition of the PMbok

Furthermore, in the sixth edition of the PMbok, each area of knowledge will have four additional sections:

  • Key concepts;
  • Tailoring considerations: they must help to focus on the important processes of a project depending to its size and, of course, on the scope of work;
  • Developments and new project management practices;
  • Focus on the Agile  and adaptive Methodology.

PMBOK sixth edition: The three new processes

The sixth edition of the PMbok lists 49 processes, 2 more than the last edition.

Actually the changes to the processes are 4 because three processes have been added while one has been eliminated.

Specifically, the Close Procurement process has been removed because it refers to the closing of vendor contracts, tasks that generally, are not performed by project managers.

Among the new processes added we find instead:

  1. Manage Project Knowledge: born from the need to process the data of the market and the business in which the company operates to transform them into knowledge and “wisdom” on which certain decisions will be based. Knowledge is a power that will help the project manager to use data processing technologies and make decisions based on concrete analysis;
  2. Implement Risk Response: PMI surveys have stated that most project failures are due to improper risk management. Therefore, implementing the risk response in the management of the project is a necessary addition;
  3. Control Resources: this new process refers to the monitoring and control of the various resources present in the project and is aligned with the modification, seen previously, in the area of knowledge from human resources.

PMBOK sixth edition: 6 changes in existing processes

6 processes are renamed in the current PMbok edition, even if their content remains unchanged:

  1. Perform Quality Assurance becomes Manage Quality.
  2. Plan Human Resource Management becomes Plan Resource Management.
  3. Control Communications becomes Monitor Communications.
  4. Control Risks becomes Monitor Risks.
  5. Plan Stakeholder Management becomes Plan Stakeholder Engagement.
  6. Control Stakeholder Engagement becomes Monitor Stakeholder Engagement.

From Perform Quality Assurance to Manage Quality. It refers to the fact that, while quality assurance is a way to manage quality during execution, in reality there are also other qualitative aspects to consider. This overall quality management is what reflects the name change.

The change from “Control” to “Monitor” indicates that, while the project is executed, we monitor it to understand what is happening and customize the strategy to meet the changing needs.

the sixth edition of the PMbok

Points 5 and 6 on stakeholders refer to the essential factor of understanding how involve the stakeholders to ensure that everyone agrees with progress and results.

Who will be affected by these changes?

The figure of the Project Manager is becoming more and more important and is spreading in all sectors; this is why  the need to certify your skills increases.

The sixth edition of the PMbok becomes a fundamental text for all those who are struggling with an official exam to get the title of Project Manager.

Now, in fact, there are five internationally recognized certifications:

  • CAPM – Certified Associate in Project Management
  • PMP – Project Management Professional
  • PgMP – Program Management Professional
  • PMI-SP – PMI Scheduling Professional
  • PMI-RMP – PMI Risk Management Professional
  • PMI-ACP – PMI Agile Certified Practitioner

But regardless of the type of certification, students and future Project Managers will always refer to the Pmbok and, consequently, their work will certainly be influenced by the changes in the sixth edition of PMbok.

But not only.

Even a certified Project Manager must be aware of the changes contained in the new edition of PMbok.

Stay up-to-date and in step with the times is the best quality of a serious and competent professional.

A careful reading of the new edition of the Pmbok will certainly be useful and a source of interesting reflections to guide any type of project in an efficient and professional manner.

Leave us your comment or your impression on the new edition of PMbok.

Get familiar with the phases of your project.

project management.

The 3 trends of Project Management

Project Management is not a static topic but evolves from year to year and follows the trend of industry and the labour market in general.

The trends we are seeing are influencing and will influence this profession more and more.

Some of these started a few years ago and gradually take hold, others have been born recently and also suddenly.

Knowing how Project Management evolves is necessary to maintain a strategic vision of the profession and the sector.

So let’s see what are the trends that will affect the project management sector.

********************

“Content Index”

The advent of artificial intelligence
Wearable technology
Smart Working and Remote Team

********************

The Trends of Project Management: The advent of artificial intelligence

We hear a lot about artificial intelligence and there exist a real debate around this topic.

As with any new trend, also  for this scenario are two currents of thought:

  • those in favor who announce it as the “reality” of the future;
  • and those who are skeptical, or even frightened, of the consequences that this evolution can have  in everyday life and in work.

Project management can also be influenced by artificial intelligence.

Therefore should we be favourable or frightened?

Specifically, when we talk about artificial intelligence applied to Project management, we talk about systems that can manage projects daily, as well as their progress without the need for human input.

Not only the simplest tasks will be automated, but an understanding of the key points of the project can also be developed.

In this way artificial intelligence can use this knowledge to perform more complex tasks, make recommendations and even make decisions.

Furthermore, an artificial intelligence system can save time by improving the results of a project.

project management

Project Management managed by artificial intelligence is a service that goes beyond what is currently offered, for example, by so-called bots.

Not even an algorithm that applies machine learning to predict activity estimates, although interesting and useful, can be called artificial intelligence.

It’s only when you start to merge bots and algorithms that you start to see the true potential of artificial intelligence in Project Management.

Let’s try to hypothesize what artificial intelligence can do applied to the Project Manangement.

Here’re some concrete examples:

  • Match the right resource to the right role: Project Managers will be able to perform resources according to the teams.  In fact, thanks to artificial intelligence, it will be possible, not only to match the right resource to the right team / project, but it will be possible to select upstream the resources suitable for a given project;
  • Reduce downtime: artificial intelligence can analyse the performance and progress of each resource and assign a work /project based on the real capabilities of the individual;
  • Create an ecosystem for knowledge management: when an employee leaves the company, part of his knowledge is non-transferable and goes with him. Artificial intelligence can also serve to centralize knowledge. Improving the coherence and quality of work will avoid “starting from scratch” when a change takes place;
  • Improve resource performance, by minimazing effort: How many times are you not in the right mood, and you spend a lot of time on a simple task? How many times, on the contrary, do we manage to complete complex activities in a very short time? Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, the project management system could associate the bestjobs/ task to be performed at the best time of day, suggesting the planning of activities in a personalized, unique and even variable way.
  • Provide objective evaluation and vigilance without getting tired: by their nature, human beings can get tired and this can affect the quality and precision of work. An artificial intelligence system, on the other hand, is tireless and available 24 hours a day.

Of course there is not yet a system that integrates all these functionalities, but in the near future all this can become a real and concrete advantage.

There is still a long way to go in this field and the potential of artificial intelligence in Project Management is not yet fully developed.

New technologies, however, are working to realize and integrate these functionalities.

Project Management Trends: Wearable technology

The tendency in Project Management to the growing use of Wareable Technology seems unstoppable.

Wearable technology goes well beyond glasses, headphones or smartwatches that many might think when they hear this word.

Wearable technology devices not only help us count how many steps we take in a day or how many calories we burn, but can even improve our productivity in a project.

In fact, wearable devices have the ability to provide data in real time and to perform monitoring and localization functions.

These devices will establish a connection between workers and the digital platform.

In this way, the data will be used to analyse the workforce in order to increase efficiency and productivity.

project management

Wearable technology can also simplify the process of managing daily activities.

Time, as well as the progress of the activity, can be scanned and collected on virtual worksheets to obtain a precise image of the flow.

But wearable devices will not only be used to analyze the workforce, but also to increase the level of employee health.

Even now, a growing  number of employers are encouraging their staff to wear fitness trackers to measure their health.

Indeed, it’s widely demonstrated that an increase in fitness levels is related to increased productivity, morale and job satisfaction.

In addition, many wearable technology devices have the ability to enable Project Managers in particular, but also those involved in team management, to keep track of strategic aspects , such as heart rate employees, stress and the level of fatigue, in ordere to maintain workplace performance.

This has the potential to decrease the burn out cases caused by projects that are too demanding for a resource.

For this reason, if an employee shows a high level of fatigue during a given job, the employer can choose to delegate these tasks to those who prove more suitable and “fresher”, allowing the first employee of the team to devote himself to lighter work.

Companies all over the world are also using wearable technology for fitness tracking to offer incentives to their employees. (For example, some companies in the United States offer cheaper health insurance  to employees who increase their fitness levels.)

The potential that wearable technology has in increasing productivity is the factor that is increasing its use in the workplace.

There are already studies and reports that highlight how the use of this technology actually increases productivity.

Project Management Trends: Smart Working and Remote Team

The sharing economy is proving that more and more companies are implementing the use of project teams with resources also operating remotely.

More and more workers are looking for the flexibility. The possibility of organizing, one’s time and hours of work and not being tied to a desk has become a must.

This trend is destined to grow.

project management

In Italy, Smart Working (or agile work) is a reality: 305,000 workers have switched to this work modality. And the numbers will grow, especially in the large companies.

This is confirmed by the data from the latest research of the Smart Working Observatory at the Politecnico di Milano.

The benefits of Remote work are undeniable for the company:

  • Improves productivity.
  • Absenteeism is reduced.
  • Costs for physical spaces are significantly reduced; in fact, several large companies are redesigning their offices, reducing the surface area.

Moreover, the Observatory considers a productivity increase of 15% for a worker who adopts an already tested smart working model.

The benefits of remote work and Smart Working also have an impact on the worker:
in fact, the Smart Workers are more satisfied compared to their colleagues who don’t adopt this working method.

Thanks to remote work the smart worker:

  • Reduces travel time and costs. As the Observatory also shows by implementing only one working day a week remotely, an employee could recover even 40 hours in a year.
  • It greatly improves the balancing of professional and private space (the so-called work-life balance).

So, remote teams offer great opportunities: more economy and more productivity if managed effectively and with the right tools. We’ll talk about it later in this blog.

In the meantime, a conclusive reflection: the scenarios change but the basic objective of the project management remains the same: deliver within the deadline and without exceeding the budget.

This our analysis, we would like to know yours. Do you see other trends that can help to innovate and simplify the Project Management?

Leave us your comment or your impressions on the evolution of Project Management.

project status meetings

Project status meetings: what to monitor to make them work!

One of the main responsibilities of a project manager is to know the progress of the project at any time.

To this end, project status meetings become a fundamental tool throughout the project life cycle.

Unfortunately, however, too often, these appointments turn into a waste of time losing sight of the objectives of the meeting itself.

In this article we will try to unveil some secrets to carry out effective Project status meetings.

********************

“CONTENT INDEX”

The aims and times of the meetings on the progress of the project
The most common reasons why project progress meetings turn into a waste of time.
Unclear or even missing agenda
Team members not adequately prepared for the meeting
Inability to manage the time during the meeting
Inability to maintain focus on the subject matter of the meeting
Absent or ineffective feedback from team members
Conclusion

********************

The aims and times of the meetings on the progress of the project

The frequency of these meetings obviously varies depending on:

  • the complexity of the project;
  • the number of project team members;
  • the level of information required by the project owner, by customers, stakeholders, etc.
  • from the level of involvement of the project task manager.

Once the timing has been established, it is fundamental for the Project Manager to evaluate, during the meetings, the progress of each of the following elements:

  • Updates of individual activities.
  • Progress of the project compared to planning: are we late or early?
  • Budget status: are we under or have we exceeded the budget?
  • Quality status: are we maintaining the expected quality levels?
  • Current or hypothetical problems (such as changes, problems with resources, dissatisfaction with the customer or supplier, etc.).
  • Next steps to be taken.

 

project status meetings

Project status meetings are essential for the Project Manager and must be scheduled periodically.

Thanks to these meetings the Project manager has the possibility to:

  • Keep the focus on the project.
  • Orient the team to look in the same direction.
  • Report to the company management clear and updated information on the progress of the entire current project.

Unfortunately, too often these important meetings are ineffective and fail to bring benefits to the project in the intended way.

The most common reasons why project progress meetings turn into a waste of time.

There are some recurring reasons why project status meetings fail. Here is a list of the most frequent:

  • Unclear or even missing agenda.
  • Team members not adequately prepared for the meeting.
  • Inability to manage the time during the meeting.
  • Inability to maintain focus on the subject matter of the meeting.
  • Absent or ineffective feedback from team members.

Unclear or even missing agenda

When Project status meetings doesn’t have a previously defined and shared agenda, they will inevitably become unclear and ineffective.

Without a roadmap that marks the road, the meeting is easily dispersed and time is often misused or even lost.

In addition, team members will not be able to provide effective feedback as they are not prepared to face the meeting.

The purpose of a project status meeting is to obtain an update on the status of activities, identify problems and so on.

Therefore It’s essential that team members prepare themselves on time and collect specific data before the meeting to be prepared to answer certain key questions.

Without specific predefined objectives, the meeting will not bring any benefit.

Team members not adequately prepared for the meeting.

It often happens that some team members do not perceive the importance of the meeting and think that all they should do is just show up and attend the meeting.

When this happens, the whole team loses precious time.

Unsupported feedback can delay the resolution of the problem, causing frustration and delays in the project itself!

Inability to manage the time during the meeting

“Even today an interminable meeting …”.

This is the classic phrase that the team members, exhausted, exchange each other out of the meeting room.

If the time is not managed properly you will get three boomerang effects:

  • Team demotivation.
  • The need for a further meeting on the same topic.
  • The possibility of arriving at hasty and ineffective decisions.

In addition, team members may try to skip the meeting by perceiving it as a waste of time.

Once team members begin to miss project status meetings, the overall effectiveness of this tool is bound to deteriorate inexorably

Inability to maintain focus on the subject matter of the meeting.

Closely related to the previous one, it is the inability to stay on the pre-established tracks.

This incapacity is very frequent.

In fact, participants often tend to digress, considerably reducing the time dedicated to the purpose of the meeting.

Thus we arrive at the crucial issues with little time available, often taking decisions of poor quality dictated by haste.

Absent or ineffective feedback from team members.

One of the most difficult tasks of a project manager is to deal with several different personalities within the team.

The most aggressive personalities tend to dominate project meetings, while the more passive types tend to contribute much less to the discussions being much less talkative about their views on a given problem.

We all know the saying that the creaking wheel gets more oil and that’s what often happens during project meetings.

Sometimes a project manager or team leader will be overly influenced by a team member with a more aggressive personality.

When some team members dominate while others sit passively (without providing critical input on a problem), the quality of decisions taken by the team suffers.

Another big problem with this dysfunction is that the project manager often develops a distorted view of some fundamental project problems because one or two team members express very strong opinions.

Such opinions may not be representative of the group at all, but without a balanced response from another team member, the project manager may conclude a progress meeting with an inaccurate view of the team’s views on a particular issue.

project status meetings

Conclusion

Project status meetings are a key tool in the project manager’s toolbox.

Unfortunately, a few project managers have adopted methods and techniques to ensure that these sessions are concise, productive and valuable.

Too many project managers assume that a project status meetings means sending an invitation to the meeting and simply showing up.

Project status meetings require a lot more!

The good news is that when project status meetings are effective and efficient, the results are huge!

The productive meetings on the progress of the work:

  • increase the morale of the group.
  • Provide comprehensive information on the status of the project.
  • Discover potential risks.
  • Provide a forum for the timely resolution of problems.
  • Encourage the sharing of relevant information among team members.

Finding the best time to plan a meeting on the progress of a project is very important.

It may be obvious, but it’s not just about finding a day when the team is available, it’s about finding a day when none of your colleagues have important deadlines, scheduled appointments or high-priority activities to close.

Using a project management software like Twproject, with shared agendas, is essential to manage a focused team.

Introduce your team to Twproject.

One try is worth a million words.

Twproject 6.4.64001

A new Twproject release is out with some great features included in all plans. This is a free upgrade for all Twproject users and includes some database changes so do a complete backup before update.

If you are updating from a version before 6.3 remember to check the upgrade guide here:
https://twproject.com/support/twproject-advanced-usage/installation/update-twproject-6-3/

Gantt PDF export

The first and more important one is the new Gantt print functionality that generates a pdf with the entire Gantt finally solving the big images print browser issue.

The print button has been reintroduced in the Gantt editor to generate the pdf:

Resource operating hours

A great new feature introduced in 6.4.64001 is the resource operating hours available in the work settings tab. Thanks to this new functionality you can specify resource working hours day by day. Operating hours are considered in operator load and plan for every day load calculation.

Project progress calculation

Twproject includes now nine different automatic rules to calculate task progress.

By worklog / estimated: task progress is calculated according to the work inserted on the estimated one.

By sub-tasks (weighted): in this case Twproject considers the relevance of each sub-tasks and its progress to calculate the parent progress.

By sub-tasks completed: in this case the parent progress follow the status of its children, for example if the half of its children are closed the progress is at 50%.

By issues closed / total: project progress increase according to the number of its closed issue.

By cost / estimated & by cost / budget: Project progress increase according to costs bear in relation with estimated ones or budget.

By date: Project progress increase with end date approaching.

Different sub-tasks calculate their progress using a different rule.

You can check the complete list of new features and fixes on our change log here.

Let’s check these new features.

Twproject 6.4: API & Webhooks

Today we are so excited to announce that you can now add and access Twproject data using our simple stateless API.

The Twproject API lets you build a variety of applications and scripts to integrate Twproject with your business systems, read Twproject data insert and update data from different locations.

Twproject 6.4 release includes some important security fix, check them from the complete changelog:

Twproject 6.4 Changelog

What is an API?

API stands for “Application Programming Interface”. It allows software like Twproject to exchange data with other softwares. For example, when a new customer is created in your CRM software, the API can be used to create a new task in Twproject for managing pre-sales activity. Or Twproject can tell to your accounting systems via its API how many hours you spent for that purpose. The communication goes 2 ways.

Why an API for Twproject?

The main purpose of an API is to make your life easier by “synchronizing” data between the different software you use to run your business. Twproject is good at managing projects, your accounting software is good at counting moneys. With an API both software can finally talk together, and bridge the functional gap between them.

What can the Twproject API do?

Thanks to the new Twproject API you can finally integrate your existing services with Twproject, you will be able to create/update/delete all the main Twproject’s objects like task, resources, assignments, issue and so on.

The Twproject API is designed to be as simple as possible for other developers to work with.

Twproject API authentication is based on an API key that can be generated by every Twproject enabled user, but in case you are calling the API from portlet/widget running inside Twproject itself it is not required, the current https session will be used for authenticating your requests.

Inside your Twproject instance, in the admin panel you will find a dedicated section with a test tool to try your request and see the actual response.

Twproject send data in JSON (two standard data formats) and can receive data from other applications in JSON.

API & Webhooks

Together with Twproject API we are also announcing our new webhooks to be notified via HTTP-POST if something happens on your installation.

You can configure several webhooks for different events.

All events available can be cheeked from the admin API panel in “Webhooks configuration”.

 

If you have any question about Twproject API and webhooks, please post them on Stack Overflow with “twproject” in the title, we are monitoring that channel and we will answer you promptly.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed feedback and waited patiently for the API to become available. We can’t wait to see what you create.

For more information about the API and Webhooks, have a look at the API documentation.

Donwload now Twproject 6.4

Twproject Certified as a Great User Experience Software for Project Management

We are really happy to announce that Twproject has been recently reviewed by FinancesOnline’s experts, winning not one but two awards!

Finance Online is one of the most popular reviews platform sites for SaaS and B2B services. Thanks to them thousands of users can find the best software available counting on updated and refined reviews.

When FinancesOnline informed us that we won the Great User Experience award for 2018, we cannot be more pleased as it went beyond our expectations, especially after it coincided with our inclusion in their list of 10 project management software tools. This distinction recognizes software solutions that provide an especially pleasing user experience to users due to its ease of use and intuitive interface.

We worked really hard in the past years on this purpose, to help our users face the complexity of project management in a friendly and usable environment. This is one of the reasons why we were also highlighted in their purpose of project management software article, and we are so happy that FinancesOnline prize our effort.

What we appreciate the most is that the review captured the real aim of Twproject: manage complexity with simplicity.

Twproject also won the prize of Rising Star award for 2018, with a user satisfaction of 100%.  This is another confirmation that what we are doing here is providing the best user experience and support to all our customers.

Please visit FinancesOnline.com to post your own review of Twproject!

 

Twproject 6.3.63004

Twproject 6.3.63004 is out with a redesigned project statistics page. Thanks to your feedback, with our design team we decided to remove the project full editor moving it in pop-up, redesigning statistics and moving button on the right bar.

Now the page is so much easy to read, button on the right open the pop-up to change task data:

Another great feature we added in this new release is the possibility to add file in chat, images, videos, pdf, everything you need to share with your colleague, that you can then check or download.

The complete list of changes is available on our changelog page here:

https://twproject.com/twproject-changelog/

Get Twproject Now!

Twproject 6.3.63003

A new Twproject release is out with several improvements and new features. This is a free upgrade to all our customers of version 6, no database changes included.

One of the feature we like the most for this release is the new gallery for scrolling images attached to issues:

Thanks to this you can now browse your images with a simple click.

Get Twproject Now!

The complete list of changes is available on our changelog page here:

https://twproject.com/twproject-changelog/

Twproject 6.3: Simplify Communication with Integrated Project’s Chat!

Today we announce a great new Twproject release that includes an integrated Chat tool that will simplify your company way of communication about projects.

The new release includes also some other interesting features, free to download for all customers of Twproject 6, let’s see them in details:

Twproject Chat

Twproject chat will finally replace all your external tools centralizing project communication and increasing productivity. Conversation is the natural way of work and finally all your chats will be directly connected to your projects. Decisions, doubts solved, all saved in the task history.

Creating a new chat is easy, just go in the project editor, you will find it on the right sidebar.The chat can be created for the entire work group or just for the selected task assignees.

Once created you can just start sending messages to your colleagues that will receive notifications on their desktop (if you enabled https) and at the top right of Twproject  page  .

Chats can be seen in a pinned mode allowing you to continue working on projects without leaving your context, chatting with your colleagues and working at the same time.

We discuss to take decisions, and decisions need to become things to do easily, with the new chat you will get just that, your boss asked you to do something? Just go on the message and click on the bug icon, issues will be created in a minute. Twproject chats can be created also within colleagues,  connected to any project, to talk about work but also about personal things, chat log will be visible by participants only. Twproject Chat is included for free to every plan.

Gantt History

Another great feature of Twproject 6.3 is the Gantt history slider that will allow you to move back in time with your Gantt seeing how your projects has changed from their start. Clicking on the clock the slider will appear and you will be able to pick a date and see what was the status of your project at that date and its progress, a small lighter bar will appear below every task.

Moving the slider these bars will move too, showing changes of the project tree.

This feature is free for every customers with enterprise license.

Download now the new release!

Several Other Improvements

In Twproject 6.3 we introduced several other improvements like a special filter from the headline to see all your issues to be done today, with Twproject will be even more easier now to manage your deadlines.

We also introduced a new task status for managing tasks depending from other. The new status is called “waiting” and it is managed only by the application through dependencies (not visible in dropdown). Thanks to this the “suspended status” became completely free for usage and acquire more powerful meaning. Suspended task does not alarm you anymore and are not counted anymore in resources workload.

Last but not least we implemented a way to customize interface color easily(task status color too).

If you think that this is not enough you can find the complete log of Twproject 6.3 release here: https://twproject.com/twproject-changelog/

Please refer to the dedicated support page before upgrade: update-twproject-6-3

 

Let’s check all these new features

Critical Path in Project Management – How to

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is an algorithm used to plan a set of project activities, its purpose is to highlight the steps involved in the longest path that determines the project end date.

To use this method, you must build the model by paying attention to:

  1. Define all projects’s phases
  2. Highlight dependencies between phases
  3. Calculate the duration of each phase correctly

The critical path analysis allows you to highlight what activities are “critical” but also those that can be delayed without increasing the project lifespan.

If you have never used this methodology, let’s try to apply it to a simple example: imagine we have to install a shelf in the house.

First, you need to split the project into phases:

  1. Buy the shelf
  2. Buy the fixing bars
  3. Choose the wall and the height
  4. Make the signs on the wall
  5. Do the holes with the drill
  6. Install the fixing bars
  7. Mount the shelf

Once you define each steps, you can try to identify the dependencies: at a first analysis you immediately realize that some activities can not be started until others are completed, for example, you can not do holes with the drill until you make the signs on the wall, also the shelf can not be placed until the fixing bars are fixed. At the same time you see that the choice of the wall, the purchase of the shelf and fixing bars are activities that you can do in parallel. Here is the Gantt of activities with dependencies:

This type of activity can be easily planned using the Gantt diagrams that also shows the critical path calculation in red. The chart shows the sequential activities, they are in orange because suspended waiting for predecessor completion.

All these sequential activities are the fundamental steps that determine the length of your project. The critical path of the projects is the longest sequence of activities.

It is essential to pay close attention to phases on the critical path to manage the timing of your Gantt. For example, if you have a task that lasts 100 days, a 5-day delay on one of the sequential activities will result in a total delay of 5 days for the task.

Another important aspect to consider is the human resources availability, for example, we have said that some phases can be done in parallel such as buying fixing bars, shelf and choosing height in the wall, but these can be done in parallel only if you can count on three different resources available, in case you are alone to complete the project the Gantt changes drastically. Phases become all consecutive.

So, project critical path can be calculated according to tasks dependencies, but to determine task end dates it is necessary to identify the resources at your disposal and the correct duration of each phaseOnly after analyzing these two aspects will you be able to handle project times by using a Gantt diagram and see a correct schedule.

From this simple example it is clear that critical path analysis is not trivial, this method is particularly used for complex but predictable activities.

In the real world, in fact,  it is difficult to follow exactly the established plan, moreover,  you can have external new requirements or constraints not considered at an early stage of planning.

In our example, if you did not find the fixing bars in the store and you have to order them online you could introduce a delay that could reflect on the overall project’s duration, even if this phase was not in the critical path.

Conclusion:

To keep track of the progress of your plan, you must:

  1. Update your data frequently.
  2. Carefully monitor the steps on the critical path, but also the ones outside.
  3. Keep the availability of resources under control.

That’s why, relying on a software that manages easy-to-update Gantt diagrams, it’s crucial to quickly add dependencies, as shown in the previous images, but also to include phases duration and calculate the end date automatically. An interactive Gantt diagram will also allows you to quickly re-schedule tasks.

If you rely on a project management software such as Twproject, which includes, in addition to the interactive Gantt with critical path analysis, also a tool to monitor resources, you can easily manage the load to provide the flexibility you need to act promptly on any critical issues and finally have everything under control.

 

Start now planning your projects easily

Twproject 6.2.62001

I’m really happy to announce a new great Twproject release. This release includes an important fix related to task statistics and totals.
You can download the installer here

Download the new Twproject release.

We also work and improved a lot the plan and operator load page.

Operator Load: The Ideal Trend

In this new release we’ve introduced a checkbox to see the ideal workload of a team without considering the time elapsed and the work already done.
The standard workload load calculation in fact spread the remaining work to do in the remaining task days. This view is very important in case you do not use the time sheet functionality.

OLoadIdeal

And More…

We introduced also some other feature like the Gantt collapse all and expand all, and the possibility to see on the plan page the entire task tree.

Check the list of improvements and fixed bugs.

Want to know more about Twproject?

One try is worth a million words.

Twproject as CRM: In Practice

It happens that Twproject customers ask us if they can insert in the resource list just the users that have an active login in. Twproject, actually, can be used to insert also all your contacts and customers. This is a great feature that let you use the system like a CRM.

All resources inserted without login, in fact, are not counted in the license count, so you can have many.

What if we see it in practice?

The first contact:

Say that you are at one of  your yearly trade fairs and, after some hours, you meet John James from ACME SPA, he is smart and you talk to him for a while about your company services, he is very interested. You talk about his boss Mary Stuart, and also about the last NBA Match Boston – Cleveland, he roots for Boston Celtics. At the end of the conversation he gives you his business card.

Well, if you are using Twproject project management software, it’s time to save all these information, and you can do that very easily. For example I would simply take my IPad and create a new resource. I would create a new lead for John James from ACME SPA, I would record that his boss is Mary Stuart and all the other information written in his business card. I would also save in the notes that John roots for Boston Celtics…we never know.

ScreenShot094

Follow the lead

Now that your lead is inserted, you can search for the project you use to save pre-sales information and insert a new activity for the conversation you had, just to remember everything you said.

ScreenShot090

At the moment what you have is just a lead, so there is no need to create a specific task for this activity, it could be just a phone call. The best way to manage this situation is to create a new pre-sales activity (a new issue in Twproject), a reminder, to call John after a week and talk about what your company can do for him.

ScreenShot095

After a week the system will remind you about your call, thanks to the link you can check all resource’s detail and may start the conversation with the Boston Celtics. If your conversation is profitable you can finally create a dedicated pre-sales task for ACME, for registering in details your first contact, maybe a demo, your offer and the final contract.

A new Pre-Sales Project

Now that your lead has become a real pre-sale project you can insert it in Twproject to check its progress.

ScreenShot096

Thanks to Twproject all pre-sales activity can be monitored, managed and saved like all the other projects:

  • Contacts and projects together
  • Agents assigned on pre-sales activity
  • Pre-sales progress monitored
  • Pre-sales budget and expenses management
  • Pre-sales effort registered for future report and considerations

All this because, with Twproject, you can have both a CRM software and a Project Management software, together.

CRM software and a Project Management software, together.

Twproject 6.2 – A Brand New Mobile App

Twproject 6.2 is finally out with a brand new mobile interface.
We are so proud of it and we really hope you will find it useful and practical as we do.

In the last few months we listened to all your comments and feedback and we realized that having a new app that could be more operative was crucial. Twproject is now used worldwide by thousands of companies: shared teams, flexible environments, enterprise customers that need to access everyday  Twproject just with their mobile devices. Now, with this new release, creating tasks, adding assignments, documents and issues is easy and fast and its all in your hand.

The design of the new mobile interface is easy to understand and use, we worked a lot on this aspect and I think we found the right compromise between powerful functionalities and usability.

A closer look to the new mobile app:

To access Twproject mobile just navigate with the browser to:

your_twproject_address/mobile

and add the page to your home.

It runs perfectly on every mobile devices, IOS, Android, Windows without installing anything new.

Login with your Twproject account and, on the dashboard, you will have exactly the same information you find on your desktop version. Things requiring attention are on top, marked with a red line, and then your open tasks, your issues and your approaching milestones.

twproject-mobile-screen1

At the top left of the page you have always the menu icon, opening the main menu to access projects, issues, resources, agenda, documents and file storage, worklogs ad expenses.

twproject-mobile-screen2

On every list you will be able to add new items and save, or to go back to the previous page (bottom bar). Twproject security model is applied on the mobile app too, so you can do here everything that you can do on the desktop application.

twproject-mobile-screen3

The mobile app is very practical for inserting worklogs, closing issues, using timers just with few clicks. On projects and issues in fact, you have a swipe menu to easily insert worklogs or expenses.

twproject-mobile-screen4

 

With the new Twproject mobile interface you can access your contacts, read project documents, check your agenda.

Twproject mobile is free to all customers of previous versions and included in the free Twproject trial.

The power of Twproject wherever you are.

What’s new in 6.2?

The new release includes also a lot of small improvements and bug fixes.

Al details are available on the log here

Want to know more about Twproject Mobile app?

One try is worth a million words.

3 Project Management Templates – Free Download

The series of post we recently  created sharing project templates has been highly appreciated by all our readers, so we thought to share some new templates that can be of great help in the first adoption/testing phase.

Production Project Template

The first one is related to a sample production project: this project starts with customer requirements, that are the starting point for prototyping. Then, after the customer approval we proceed with the first production that is then tested and controlled, ready for the final release. The projects is almost consequential, so tasks have dependencies with each other.

Of course, this is just an example, something that you can use to start writing your own production project structure, with all your peculiarity. Twproject includes a very friendly yet powerful Gantt tool that can help you creating your project structure easily, even very complex one.

Once you import the project, you can add several other phases, you can change tasks duration, dependencies, also with lags. The chart will be adjusted automatically reflecting all your changes.

ScreenShot062

Click to download the production template

Scrum Project Template

The second example is relative to a typical scrum project. In this case I’ve added also a list of issues/activities that are all collected and prioritized in the backlog task and that are then re-scheduled in consecutive sprints (the list of activities are not included in the export).

The example contains just 2 sprints but of course you can add as many as you want, a sprint can be a template as well so you can create a new one with a click.

ScreenShot061

Click to download the Scrum template

 

Software Development Project Template

The last template is the one we proposed in our last post, in case you missed it, here it is:

https://twproject.com/blog/project-template-software-development-template/

This post shows also how to import this Json file and how you can use them as templates.

Twproject has a very powerful functionality for importing and exporting tasks, using them as templates saving time and energy. If you want to try twproject just click below!

 

 

How to Introduce Project Management Software & Succeed

One of the biggest challenges, a project manager can face in a new team, is to change things for the better and let this changes take effect without the resistance of the team.

One of the most frequent examples is when a project manager decides to introduce a new tool for project management.

This moment of change, even if it is felt like very stressful,  is actually a great opportunity for a company to improve its strategy and organizations.

So,  what if you are that project manager? What if you really want to change things in your company organization with a new project management software?

Fix your expectations:

One of the most important things you need to do, before introducing a new software, is identifying your goals. You have to answer these 2 questions:

  1. Which are the main reasons that bring me to search for a project management tool?
  2. Which are the key features of the tool I chose?

these very simple questions can let you analyze what you are missing in your team now and which are the milestones you want to achieve in the future. Here are some examples:

“I really need to let everyone see what they are working on, stop wasting time with e-mails, pointing out problems and delay. The software I’ve chosen has great dashboards with the list of active assignments by priority.”

“I started searching for a project management software because we really do not know how much our projects cost. We wanted to track time and extract reports with resources costs. We chose the software that lets us manage resource costs easily, together with a time tracking tool”

Once you have your goals in mind be realistic and set some small achievements for your near future. Having realistic expectations is very important, actually it is a key point, if you expect to achieve unrealistic goals  you will immediately face a sense of fail in your team, and this will bring the software to fail.

At the same time, if you do not communicate your expectations, no one will understand how much  helpful will be this change and they will abandon the software.

No one said it was easy….

stereotype metapher leadership or exclusion

stereotype metaphor leadership or exclusion

Team communications, change is for the better..

The other key point about introducing a new software in a company, is to let everyone know, that this will actually help everyone working better, not just the project manager.

This, in some cases, is very difficult.

If you are the project manager of a cohesive team, maybe this will not affect you, but now I’m talking to all those pm, having a big team to manage, maybe a distributed one, with several people working in different ways. So, how to let them feel that changes are for the better?

It is not a software to control who is working and who is not. It seems a bad thing to say, but most of the time, these kind of software are felt like tools to control. They are not and you have to tell them clearly. It doesn’t matter if in the future you will get amazing reports of all worked hours, or if, thanks to the software, you will be able to see who is overloaded. The reason for changing is not to control, or at least it shouldn’t be ;-).

Be your own pm and organize your work better. Once the project manager has created the structure of the task, with dependencies and time frames all the team will be able to check their priorities, organize their to dos and manage their work in autonomy. If you, as pm, are able to let them understand the utility of this new responsibility you will have them on board.

These are just two examples of what you can point out to your team to let them know how helpful can be a project management software, let them know that is a tool for the whole team.

Get the best from the software

Following this easy yet effective strategy to introduce the new software in your company you will get in time amazing results. If your team will use the software, inserting and updating data with no effort, you will get something like:

Inserting estimation and worklog -> team workload and cost tracking

When the software is well introduced you will start inserting projects charts, assigning your resources with estimation and hourly costs. Thanks to this, and having your team inserting worklog you will be able to see your resources workload, control tasks progress and check costs, all data updated in real time.

Managing teams and agenda -> meeting and documents sharing

If you start using a shared agenda, you will be able to share appointments and create meeting easily according to task work-groups. check unavailability and the same connection will be created to easily share documents.

Read more here about managing distributed team agendas.

Using task checklist -> self management and responsibility

When a pm software is introduced, it can give you also the possibility to track to-do lists connected to projects. This is a very useful way for all users to organize, prioritize their work, finally they will stop using notes on the desk and no ideas or messages will be lost.

If you feel that your team needs a more structured way to work, it is probably time to introduce a project management software. Yes, it will be a big change but you can really get results if you follow our strategy. Our software, Twproject, can really give all the results mentioned above, all those features in one software only.

Introduce your team to Twproject.

One try is worth a million words.

Happy Holidays from Twproject’s Team

2016 has been such a great year for Twproject’s team, we worked very hard on our software and we met so many new great customers along the way, we couldn’t be more grateful.

Despite all that it is happening around us, we know that the world is full of great people, working with passion and getting things done everyday.

Twproject changed a lot during these last months: we improved the user interface, made it more secure and faster. That said, we still have a lot of great ideas to implement in the future.

We want to thank all our beloved customers for their support, the software is becoming more and more successful thanks to you. Again, Thank you so much!

We wish you a wonderful Christmas time and a happy new year full of interesting new projects and goals to achieve 🙂

 

_tw-xmas-card-2016

 

Happy Holidays

Twproject’s Team