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VSM can be leveraged to get a full picture and understanding of the entire process, or it can be targeted at a specific segment to achieve certain goals.
But what is it exactly about? In this article, we will take a look at what Value Stream Mapping is, what it is used for, and how to implement it properly.
What is Value Stream Mapping (VSM)?
To understand what value stream mapping is, we must first learn what value stream is.
It is a series of steps that are involved in providing the product or service that customers want or need.
Value Stream Mapping provides a better understanding of what these steps are where value is added and, more importantly, how to improve the overall process.
It is worth mentioning that the beginning and end points of the mapping process can vary depending on the objectives.
As a matter of fact, different businesses may have different value streams and may find themselves creating value stream maps for each individual product or service.
Value stream mapping has become increasingly popular in recent years and is still considered by many to be a fairly new tool in the effort to improve business efficiency.
In truth, however, value stream mapping was born more than 30 years ago at Toyota Motor Corporation.
The technique was created when the company’s focus shifted to eliminating waste and pursuing process efficiency.
Its popularity grew as American companies began to observe and study the efficiency and consistency of Toyota’s operations.
Then, this approach kept evolving from there into what we now know as value stream mapping, which is applicable and useful to companies and value streams of all types.
How to achieve value stream mapping
Determine your product
The first step of the Value Stream Mapping process is to determine which product or product set needs to be studied and improved.
Generally, one team is constituted to execute the mapping and analysis, depending on the size of the effort.
Current State Mapping
This step is important to visualize the whole creation flow of the product or service you want to analyze.
The whole process that the company follows to make it is brought together here.
To generate the Current State Map, data and information are collected by interviewing those people who perform each activity involved in the process.
Among them we find:
Cycle or processing time
Number of workers and shifts
Queue or waiting time
The information gathered does not necessarily have to be perfect or over-detailed.
As long as the data can provide a reasonably clear overview of the main problems, a more streamlined process can begin to be developed.
Future State Mapping
Future State Map is meant to represent the optimized workflow through the elimination, or reduction, of waste at every step involved in the process.
To achieve an optimized process, the following questions must be asked:
What is the Takt Time? Takt is a German word referring to the stick that a conductor uses to control speed, rhythm and tempo. Takt time, in business, refers to the rate at which a part or component must be produced to meet customer demand.
Are there bottlenecks or constraints? From data collection, cycle times or processing times can be observed. Should any of these be greater than the takt time, then you are most likely facing a bottleneck or constraint. This could lead to waste in some areas or additional processing time, such as overtime, to meet demand.
Where is it possible to reduce inventory or lead time? You should look at your raw material and finished goods inventories to see if these can be reduced. Finding ways to reduce inventory in a logical way is key.
What additional improvements are required? For example, is there a need to improve equipment reliability? Are yield or quality levels on the first run acceptable? Is specific training needed for workers to cut down on errors? It is necessary to analyze individual activities to determine where there is potential for improvement and how it can be achieved.
What activities are unnecessary and do not bring added value? The root of all waste must be pinpointed so that it can be removed.
Create an improvement action plan
At the end of the Value Stream Mapping process, you eventually get to create an action plan that will drive overall process improvement.
Here are the questions that will help you achieve an optimized workflow:
Which changes should be implemented first?
What changes should be a priority for our business?
What changes are priorities for customers?
What specific activities must be implemented to achieve an optimized process?
Who is responsible for implementing and monitoring changes?
How do we gauge our changes’ success?
By answering these questions, it will be possible to lay out an improvement plan that ascertains what resources are needed, including time, people and budget.
Also, you will need to constantly monitor results across key metrics and implement further adjustments if needed.
Bottom line, regardless of the industry and business, the Value Stream Map is an effective technique to innovate and evolve.
It is worth noting that the process of work mapping is a starting point, not a finishing one, toward continual improvement in business operations.
By implementing process Lean Automation, you can manage your workforce efficiently, streamlining those tasks that are time-consuming and repetitive, all while maximizing productivity.
Plus, by using an automated time and attendance software solution, organizations are able to automate payroll, work rules, and accrual rules along with vacation management, union contracts, and overtime reporting.
How to Implement Lean Automation
Analyze processes: When implementing Lean Automation, you should always prioritize your customers’ needs.
Lean manufacturing is about delivering the best value to your customer; therefore, automation efforts should focus on creating what the customer needs.
To properly set up the workflow, it is critical to distribute responsibility evenly.
The whole process should not be based on the operation of a single machine or person.
By distributing human responsibility and machine activities, the entire business can be better able to withstand change.
Vet people: Those people who shape the automation process are critical; thus, it is important to identify those with knowledge, experience, and expertise who can help during the process.
Also, it is important to maintain an open communication with all employees to create a culture of excellence.
Consider tools and technology: Any tools and technology that you will be using should work well with the people in the company.
In fact, automation should support employees’ work and not make it complicated or stall it.
Another medium to consider when implementing lean automation is training.
It is important to educate workers on how they can best use automated machinery to improve their work.
Bottom line, by implementing Lean Automation in a company, you can reduce waste and improve productivity.
However, to provide a truly efficient process, it is just not enough to be familiar with Lean Automation principles, but these must be adapted to the business structure.
One way to adapt a process to the business structure is to assign a role to all the resources involved by grouping them into a project and assigning a workload.
This workload must be spread out to avoid bottlenecks in the process while always ensuring customers’ needs are met.
TWProject helps in easily overcoming this issue thanks “Projects” tool, which helps to assign resources related to the process, execution time, and tasks to be performed in the process. Each resource involved in the process will be able to keep track of the project phases by managing the different tasks assigned and their execution times.
In a nutshell, lean accounting offers a way to gauge the success of the implementation of lean thinking.
As business leaders can see how lean management affects operations, this form of accounting assigns a number to this change.
Let’s take a closer look in this article at what lean accounting is and how to implement it for a successful management analysis and performance measurement.
What is lean accounting?
Lean accounting aims to streamline accounting processes across a business to maximize productivity, service, quality and profit.
Lean accounting comprises a number of “lean practices” and administrative processes that are put to use to reduce waste of time and resources.
These practices do not relate to reporting requirements, tax regulations and compliance, instead they concern internal processes that aim to improve the overall accounting department.
Lean accounting differs significantly from traditional accounting, and because of this, it is a somewhat controversial topic in the world of finance.
Generally speaking, lean accounting does not replace generally established accounting practices, thus, ideally, it should be used alongside traditional reporting methods.
How does lean accounting work?
The purpose of adopting lean principles for accounting is to make financial information easier to understand and more relevant.
To close the existing gap between the accounting domain and other business activities, lean accounting can be adopted via the following steps:
1. Simplifying financial reporting
To deliver value and optimize work processes, you need a shift to a new way of thinking, lean thinking.
At its core lies respect for people, one of the two cornerstones of lean philosophy.
In accounting, respect for people is about preparing and delivering financial information in a way that those who do not deal with finances on a daily basis can digest it more easily.
By doing so, all departments can understand what the numbers are about and can feel more involved.
2. Tracking financial data that matters and removing waste
Lean production seeks to improve business by regularly and continually getting rid of anything that does not bring value to the end product and to the customer.
By applying this approach to the accounting field, it involves removing all redundant and unnecessary information and simplifying data to present meaningful insights allowing for better decision making.
3. Understanding what creates the most value for customers and making constant improvements
What sets lean methodology apart is how value flows within a business, the so-called “value stream.”
This involves pinpointing what brings real value to the customer, mapping the workflow around value generation and establishing a pull system in which only the required work is carried out.
This process can be applied to any business operation, including the financial domain.
The only condition is that this lean transformation is not a stand-alone, static event, but must be viewed as an ongoing effort and a ultimate drive for improvement.
4. The decision-making process, the “box score” and the value stream
A popular tool used in lean accounting is the so-called “box score,” a term borrowed from baseball.
Here the overview of both the performance indicators and the operational and financial performance of the value stream is reported.
The box score is very powerful because it allows informed decisions to be made based on value stream.
Why use lean accounting?
The application of lean philosophy principles to an organization’s accounting and financial operations aims to bring profits and revenues in line with actual value streams and strategic business goals.
The purpose of lean accounting is to generate value by minimizing waste, redundant and unnecessary work. Consequently, inducing true organizational agility.
There are a number of benefits to applying lean accounting across organizations; here are some of them:
Accounting that everyone can understand and use right away.
Accounting that supports and drives lean progress.
Effective operational and financial checks.
Reports and information that empower people for continuous improvement.
Eliminating a great part of waste in accounting systems.
Successfully calculating the financial impact of implementing lean management.
Better decisions that lead to better deals, which lead to better profits.
To recapitulate, the general purpose of lean accounting is to gather, analyze, and report the performance and cash reserves of a company; information that is used to take informed management decisions.
Instead of completely removing standard reporting overnight, the accounting department can phase in the lean processes of lean accounting.
Accountants generally need to be open to new processes and change their perspective to embrace lean accounting.
Lean accounting is a journey packed with continuous improvements that strives for the perfection of the entire organization.
Lean methodology applied to accounting also means that waste in financial processes must be removed, such as shortening the forecasting and budgeting cycle, closing the books faster, etc.
Here are some examples: adding a new product to the range, building or purchasing a second warehouse, or a major software change.
Before deciding whether and which option to pursue, it would be necessary to first complete a financial analysis, referred to as capital budgeting.
Capital budgeting involves choosing projects that bring value to a business.
Businesses are, in fact, expected to choose and pursue only those projects that will increase their profitability and, by extension, improve shareholder wealth.
Companies, apart from nonprofit organizations, do exist to make a profit.
Hence, the capital budgeting process is a measurable way for businesses to determine the long-term economic and financial profitability of any investment project.
Why capital budgeting is important
Capital budgeting is a precious tool since it provides a means of estimating and measuring project value throughout their life cycle.
These investment projects may include:
Investing in new equipment, technology and buildings;
Upgrades and maintenance of current equipment and technology;
Renovation interventions on existing buildings;
New product development;
Expansion into new markets.
Before a business approves a given project, capital budgeting allows for the company to establish acost budget, estimate a timeline for return on investment, and decide whether the potential value of the project is worth the capital investment required.
Below are 7 reasons that detail why capital budgeting is important:
Future cash flow calculation: the capital budgeting process takes into account estimated future cash flows by using various techniques such as calculating net present value, profitability ratio, and accounting rate of return.
Business long-term goals: capital budgeting assists organizations in taking decisions and achieving long-term goals as it provides insight regarding future costs and growth. Setting long-term goals is one of the most important and sensitive areas for any organization. Any wrong decision made in this area can impact negatively on a company’s long-term profitability.
Spending control: the capital budgeting approach takes into account the investment cost for the project by factoring in related expenses such as research and development costs, operating costs, etc. Therefore, with this information, the organization can have full control of its future costs. The proper management and control of total costs is a very important factor in ensuring a company’s perspective of growth and efficiency.
Wealth maximization: interest and investment decisions of the company’s shareholders depend on its long-term investment decisions. If investments are made by the company in a sound and planned manner, shareholder confidence increases and they thus become more interested in investing in the company resulting in wealth maximization.
Collaboration across departments: throughout the capital budgeting process, many steps and ideas are involved, and a number of decisions are taken by different departments and levels within the company. This allows the flow and exchange of information within different departments increasing collaboration.
Large fund protection: through the capital budgeting process, funds invested in the company are protected to some extent from any future uncertainty.
Risk awareness: through the capital budgeting process, company management can have a sense of the different types of risks and complications that may be encountered during the life cycle of a project. Therefore, management can have ready and advanced strategies for dealing with such future complexities.
Bottom line, budgeting is a key component of any successful financial investment and is one of the cornerstones in any decision-making process.
When no adequate planning process is executed for the development of a project, there is always a risk of a sudden increase in costs, delays in output development, regulatory complications, etc.
Therefore, every business should put in place a sound capital budgeting process before launching any large investment project.
This process can also help in comparing profitability of different projects and in prioritizing one project over the other.
Without an efficient capital budgeting process, a business will face more risk, less trust from investors and customers, and, as a result, less available funds.
Capital budgeting is thus an efficient way to know what is the best direction for a company to take.
In this article, we have covered how the economic-financial part plays a key role in a company’s success, and using project management software such as TWproject can ensure that the capital budgeting process takes place in the most efficient way possible. Try it for free by clicking on the banner below.
Risk assessment and contingency plan also play an important part in this stage.
More often than not, things rarely go as planned, especially while working on something as complex as a construction project; therefore, project managers and stakeholders must be prepared to implement changes.
The more proactive you are, the less time, money, and resources will be lost looking for a solution when hiccups happen.
Construction project stages: Sourcing
This describes the sourcing and transportation of materials and services required to complete a construction project.
Sourcing can come from local, regional or global markets. Each comes with its own pros and cons.
Local sourcing, in fact, may be less time consuming, but may cost more.
On the other hand, less expensive materials shipped over long distances are potentially more subject to delays and disruptions.
It is best to thoroughly research your options so that you can make the best choice to meet your budget requirements and stay on schedule.
Also, choosing when to conduct sourcing is also an important decision that, again, comes with pros and cons depending on what you choose.
Instead of completing procurement before the construction project begins, you can get the resources you need as the project progresses to meet evolving requirements.
Although this strategy provides additional flexibility, reduces holding costs and conserves cash, it can risk delaying shipments or any momentary shortages could slow the entire project.
Construction project stages: Construction
After the previous stages have been completed, the construction stage can begin.
All of the preparation and planning done previously will pay off at this stage, ultimately making the construction process go smoothly and finish successfully.
Even the most painstaking plans can’t foresee any unexpected events along the way, so monitoring and evaluating progress regularly is critical to staying on track.
Particularly in construction project management, it’s important to stay flexible enough to manage changes and minimize the impact on the project.
When managing construction projects, it is especially difficult to keep control of all the variables in a project.
As a result, project managers working in this area must take a holistic approach, weighing environmental, social, and economic factors.
The four aspects of Project Sustainability Management
Specifically, sustainability involves balancing four different areas that include:
Environment, such as climate change
Economy, such as accessibility
Society, such as community
Management, such as health and safety
Taking them all into account is the key to building truly sustainable projects.
Let’s explore them in more detail:
Environmental sustainability means employing sustainable resources, preventing pollution, and reducing climate change impacts. This involves assessing equipment, resources used for a project, industry standards, and purchasing practices. Fair trade is one of the best options to ensure sustainability as it is an agreement designed to help producers in growing countries achieve fair trade relationships.
This is connected to economic sustainability, by thinking beyond return on investment and ensuring that the project fits into the overall strategy of the organization by analyzing how much it adds and how feasible it is in the long term.
Beside the environmental and economic areas of an organization, the less debated, but equally important, are the social and managerial elements. Ensuring that the organization is socially sustainable means assessing how sustainable its culture, structure, and human resource practices are. The organization must ensure that it provides fair working conditions and have sound health and safety measures in place. This part is often tied to HR, which is why they are often considered the sustainability agent in certain organizations. The HR department must ensure that there is no discrimination against vulnerable groups and that civil and fundamental rights are met. They are also responsible for employee training and skill development and overall community engagement, both of which are significant social areas.
How do we place sustainability at the very core of every project?
Project Managers have the responsibility of overseeing the project delivery and support processes.
Both will strive to ensure that the client is satisfied while motivating their team to provide excellence.
This is the essence of a project management job.
By leveraging benchmarking tools such as the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), project managers can compare the impacts of their plans.
The idea underlying the use of benchmarking tools is to integrate sustainability throughout the entire project lifecycle.
Therefore, project managers can ensure that any development improves, or at least preserves, the environment and the livelihood of those who inhabit it.
Project Sustainability Management requires a more holistic approach.
It takes into consideration how resources are used, climate change mitigation, property rights, community involvement, and human rights.
The project manager’s goal is to create value and deliver a project both on time and on budget, but also to execute it in an ethical and fair manner.
Part of the complexity of sustainable project management lies in its intertemporal nature.
Therefore, a sustainable project’s lifecycle should not end at the completion stage; environmental and social impacts must also be monitored and controlled afterwards.
Managers must therefore arm themselves with new indicators for monitoring and overseeing these environmental and social aspects, e.g. ISO, SA and others.
Bottom line, projects are a medium to achieve change, provide new products and services, and thus shape society.
As such, sustainability should not just be an afterthought, but rather should be one of the key goals for every project.
Particularly if a team works remotely, a digital Kanban board is a must.
Set up columns
A board can be split into virtually unlimited numbers of columns or workflow steps; the main thing is that these should be representative of the project you are working on.
Although it is important to consider what steps should represent your columns at the beginning, you can always change them as the project evolves.
Create Kanban cards: Kanban cards represent specific work elements that are moved through designated workflow steps. Simply put, each card symbolizes a task to be completed.
Move your Kanban cards to the right: When a task moves into the workflow, its corresponding Kanban paper must be moved to the right in the appropriate column.
For example, if you begin working on a Kanban card you will move it from the “To Do” column to the “In Development” column.
Just like any other task, a Kanban card might take minutes, hours, or days to complete and change columns.
Follow the process until all the cards on your Kanban board are on the right.
This means that all work elements have been completed.
Why is a Kanban board so effective?
1. It ensures that the correct work takes place at the right time
Even the best-crafted project plans experience unforeseeable roadblocks, everchanging deadlines, and external events that change priorities.
A Kanban board can absorb these changes without breaking the entire project flow.
Because only “in development” elements are processed at any given time, the board owner can amend and rearrange the task backlog as new information becomes available without interrupting what is currently being worked on.
2. It automatically informs priorities and work status
The Kanban board provides a visual recap of your current priorities, as well as the status of each work item and what’s next.
Anyone can check the board out and quickly see where and how things are. This level of transparency keeps your projects flowing smoothly.
3. It makes combining work in progress with current capabilities easier
One of the main pros of actually being able to see work in progress is the option to limit it if necessary.
Stacking up more work than you or your team can take on is a recipe for confusing priorities, stress, and overwhelm.
This sort of tool is fundamental to businesses for a variety of reasons, some of which are essential:
First and foremost, it helps keep the team organized and ensures that processes are followed;
Secondly, it provides a clear picture of all the activities occurring regarding a project or activity at any given time.
Project management tools also provide teams with a way to communicate clearly and quickly through dedicated features.
Here are the reasons why a customizable project management software is valuable for businesses of all sizes:
When managing a large project, each team member is assigned one single task.
To make sure everyone is on the same page, a project management system streamlines collaboration across the team.
Should an employee have questions or concerns, they can immediately get the right answer by communicating internally with the team, without searching for other sources and thus saving time.
Moreover, such a tool streamlines document sharing, deadlines and status updates by sending notifications.
Among the various features that might be of interest are:
File sharing: this allows you to quickly share files, calendars and contact lists wherever you are.
Communication: some project management tools come with a built-in messaging app so employees can communicate seamlessly with each other.
Sharing client data: having client profiles is critical in a project management tool. This provides an easy way to categorize them, to swiftly add their contact information, and to link invoices and projects.
Team dashboard: dashboards provide an overview of team activities and project progress. Here, based on functionality, you can add visual charts and metrics to get a more transparent recap.
2. Programming and planning
Without a proper system set up and with a lack of guidelines, it can be tough to meet deadlines.
Time is wasted when employees work without knowing exactly what tasks they should be carrying out.
Using project management software allows you to outline tasks and make them visible.
Establishing deadlines and priorities, along with planning, prevents misunderstandings and overlapping tasks and schedules.
Some of the features that might be worth mentioning include:
Prioritize activities: this makes rescheduling using priorities easier.
Shared team calendar: calendar synchronization is key to notifying all team members of assigned tasks, deadlines and meetings. It also provides an overview of milestones by forwarding due dates.
Time slot: an overview of the tasks and schedules reserved by each employee. This helps to accelerate and improve the task assignment process.
3. Resource management
Resource management is yet another good reason why custom project management software is valuable.
Good resource management is important to ensure that processes run smoothly.
Moreover, this capability helps you prevent resource shortages and overutilization that leads to unnecessary cost increases.
4. Budget management
Every project has a budget, which is included in a budget, along with quotas and profit.
The project manager’s ultimate goal is to keep the actual cost below, or at least within, the estimated cost to maximize the profit earned from the project.
To manage expenses efficiently, in most cases, creating a simple Excel spreadsheet will not work.
Among the various features that you may find interesting are:
Time tracking: this automates the billing process.
Budget report: provides monthly and weekly reports about expenses and totals so you can monitor budget performance and see at first glance if you are overspending.
Budget dashboard: usually consisting of KPIs and graphs to show the project’s progress.
As stated earlier, an Excel spreadsheet is not enough for most cases and more complex projects.
Therefore, the solution is to pick a customizableproject management software to ensure accurate data-driven documentation.
Among the many features that you might find interesting are:
Central data storage: everything in one place for convenient recovery and access.
Quick access: this avoids having to switch between spreadsheets and allows sharing in just a few clicks.
Managing projects, due to its nature, is not an easy task.
Since there are many parts involved, this work can easily become messy and disconnected.
That’s why customizable project management software becomes very important.
However, when there are so many tools available on the market, it can be daunting to find the best project management tool.
When comparing tools, it’s wise to bear in mind that a sound project management software should meet one basic requirement: it should be customizable and come with all the features a project manager needs.
It is usually presented in a visual format, which allows for a quick overview of the status, including activities, their dependencies, and start and end dates.
The elements that make up a project’s timeline can vary depending on the size of the project and the amount of detail you want to show.
A project management timeline can have many forms, although Gantt charts have been the most popular type of timeline used for decades.
Project management timeline advantages
All good project managers know that a project timeline is their trusty partner when starting a new adventure.
Not only does this tool help everyone involved visualize the steps of a project, but it also helps in keeping track of activities.
Here are some of the key advantages of a project management timeline:
It reveals a clear path: it’s easy to see which step to take first and what needs to happen next.
See the big picture: it’s hard to see the end of a project when there are so many small steps required to get there. A project timeline helps you visualize the bigger picture.
It ensures that everyone shares the same goal: the whole team must be on board for a project for it to be successful. Project timelines help everyone see what role they play in the overall success of a project.
Keeps everyone abreast: A project management timeline helps everyone involved to track the status of a project, which builds trust with stakeholders and also makes communication significantly easier.
Prevents bottlenecks: this tool allows you to see dependencies that could lead to bottlenecks that delay a project and ultimately frustrate stakeholders.
Makes changes easy: Projects don’t always follow a linear path. A project management timeline makes it easy to actively edit elements.
How to create a project management timeline
Creating a project management timeline should be among the first steps you take on any project.
Setting it up beforehand will help you get started faster and stay on track.
First, there are five key elements involved in a project management timeline:
Their expiration dates
Team members or employees assigned to them
Having made these elements clear, move on to creating a project management timeline:
Plan your project timeline
Twproject offers you all needed functionalities, divide your project in activities, add temporal planning, with resource allocation and evaluation of bottlenecks.
Before doing anything, it is crucial to know your project’s scope.
This will help in deciphering how much time each task requires, the overall timeline, and how many team members need to be involved to get the job done.
Split your project into milestones
After writing a purpose statement, you need to list everything involved in the project process.
After identifying these items, you can turn that list into work packages.
From there, you proceed to break down each milestone into smaller, more manageable tasks and track them in the timeline.
The first package might involve developing a bicycle frame set for your client. This might result in a developing frame, handle bar, fork and seat.
Estimate how long each activity will take
It is considerably easier to estimate how long a task will take if it is split into different parts.
Although it may be difficult to know how long it will take to create, for example, three mock-up logos, you can be reasonably confident about the time it will take to host a meeting, execute a customer survey and perform competitor research.
For each of the smaller tasks listed, identify an estimated time frame so you can begin to see the overall project take shape.
Assign tasks to your team
Now, you’ll proceed to distribute your tasks to the corresponding team members.
First of all, you should be explicit about all the resources you might need, stating what skills and expertise are required.
Needless to say, each task should be assigned to the team member who possesses the most suitable skills, as well as to the one able to complete the work in the necessary time because it is not already allocated to other activities.
This system works as a big centralized platform that holds all the relevant information about the project.
From the creation of the project with all its phases and timing, to the management of resources with their respective loads, without forgetting about communication, time management and daily activities.
Twproject can do all of these, it is a tool that enables teams to collaborate and deliver extraordinary projects.
Plan your project at your best!
Twproject offers you all the functionalities you need!
Whereas teams that follow a “traditional” development process, such as the Waterfall, approach, will spend months or years building a product before showing it to users Agile methodology flips this process on its head.
The Project Management Institute found that Agile companies are 65% more likely to complete projects on time compared to 40% for traditional companies.
Agile project management is a product philosophy that is based on quick movement, frequent release, and learning from consumers. And it works, apparently.
So let’s take a look in this article at how the “to dos”, the agile way to manage a project, work.
What is agile project management?
Agile project management is an iterative approach to project management. It requires breaking down large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks that will be completed in short sprints.
People and interactions over processes and tools. As increasingly sophisticated as technology becomes, the human element will play a more important role in any type of project management. Relying too much on processes and tools will lead to an inability to adapt to changing circumstances.
The working software over extensive documentation. No matter how important documentation is, working software is above it. This value is in providing team members with exactly what they need to get the job done, without burdening them.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Customers are among the most important assets of a company. Getting them involved throughout the project lifecycle ensures that the final product best meets their requirements.
Responding to change as opposed to following a plan. This value is one of the greatest deviations from traditional project management. Traditionally, change was seen as an event to be avoided. In contrast, agile methodology allows for continuous change throughout the life of a given project. Each sprint provides an opportunity for review and adjustments.
Managing a project in an agile mode involves series of steps to arrive at the conclusion of the project starting from a list of requirements. The application of this methodology is much easier if you rely on software that helps you keep everything under control.
Manage projects in an agile way!
In Twproject you will find all the features you need to manage your projects following an agile methodology without losing flexibility and the overall status of the project.
Agile project management definitely does eliminate some of the structure and severity of traditional project management. However, that doesn’t mean there are no processes to follow.
Here are the 6 to dos of the agile way to manage a project:
1. Project planning
Just like any project, before starting, the team should have a clear understanding of the end goal. In a nutshell, it involves asking the question, “What is the end goal of this Agile project and how will it be achieved?” A project scope, can be developed at this point, but the purpose of using Agile management is to be flexible. Therefore, the project scope should not be considered immutable.
2. Product roadmap creation
A roadmap is a list of features that will eventually constitute the final product. You won’t plan each step in detail, but you will determine and roughly estimate timelines and efforts.
With Twproject you can define the roadmap using powerfull ToDo list that allows you to prioritize the activities and assign them to your team, also setting an effort.
3. Release planning
With traditional waterfall project management, there is a release date following the development of an entire project. Conversely, when following the Agile methodology, the project employs shorter development cycles, sprints, where features are released at the end of each cycle.
4. Sprint planning
Before every sprint begins, the parties involved must hold a sprint planning meeting. This is where what and how things will be accomplished by each party during that sprint is determined.
Using a flexible project management software such as Twproject, you can manage all customer requirements, dividing them into sprints, thanks to our multidimensional Kanban, which allows you to reorganize activities, even by status, priority and resource.
5. Daily meetings
To support the team in their planned work during each sprint and consider whether changes need to be made, short daily meetings, called stand-ups, are held. During these meetings, each participant will present a brief overview of what they accomplished the day before, what they will be working on that day, and if there are any setbacks that may impact the work.
6. Sprint review and retrospective
After the conclusion of each sprint, the team will participate in a retrospective meeting regarding the sprint. Here it will be discussed what went well, what could be improved, whether the workload was well distributed or not.
Higher quality output, happier customers and users, and better team morale: what agile methodology promises may sound too good to be true.
Also in this case Twproject comes to your aid, managing the meetings integrated with the project, also with the possibility of transforming the minute into practical things to do.
For agile project management to have a positive impact, you need support, compliance, and trained people in your team.
A good practice for kicking off a project successfully is to examine what needs to be outlined for the project in three areas: people, processes and product.
These three factors are key for any project. Let’s look at them in more detail.
How to kick off a project: The People
Setting up the team
In the start-up phase of the project, you need to define and set up the team. Starting from the final results you want to achieve, you can establish what kind of team will be needed. What skills will be really important for bringing the activities to a successful conclusion? How long will resources need to be involved to deliver the results on time? Therefore check the availability of people and ensure that they will be available to work on the project.
Involving the team
It is worthwhile preceding any kick-off with the customer with an internal kick-off session. This helps to get the project team involved right from the start. The best way to successfully start a project is to clearly set and manage expectations in advance. Some areas to discuss during the kick-off meeting with the team include the following:
How does the team want to work?
How and when should the team receive feedback from stakeholders?
How does the team wish to communicate with stakeholders?
What regular meetings are needed internally?
Also as part of the project kick-off, it is important to outline and define stakeholder involvement. Whether they are customers or internal stakeholders, it is really necessary to clarify who is going to be carrying out what activities.
Kick-off with stakeholders
After holding the first internal kick-off, the time comes to meet with stakeholders. Here are some points to address during this meeting:
Roles and responsibilities
Once the resources involved in the project have been defined, in the planning phase, it will be important to assign their role phase by phase so that they easily know where to work and when and with what responsibilities.
Manage your resources easily
In Twproject you can define which roles are involved in your projects and assign them to the right people. Check responsibilities, everyone will know what to do and when.
It is important to define the processes of the project at the beginning so that the project manager and the team have clear boundaries to follow. It is important to avoid getting lost in overly complicated processes because it is the quickest way to kill a team’s enthusiasm. There are some key areas to define when starting a project:
There should not be a pre-established methodology in a company, but by examining the project, from time to time, it would be better to choose the one that best suits the achievement of the objectives. The result could also be a mix of different methodologies. The following questions can help you choose:
How big is the project?
How fixed is the scope, timing and budget?
How is the team structured?
How does the customer currently work?
The tool chosen by a company for project management can really make a difference. There are several points to take into consideration, also considering what we have just seen: the tool should be flexible and allow the management of multiple methodologies, it should be able to manage different roles, offering each one specific functionality. A project management software, in fact, works if all team members use it.
In addition to this, there are many fundamental features that cannot be missing:
Once the requirements have been identified it is necessary to put some perimeters around them: the project scope.
How do you determine whether the project has been successful or not? Don’t forget that you need measurement to understand whether the product meets the requirements or not and to review and understand where things worked or didn’t work. In this case, areas such as:
Core KPIs, e.g. increasing visitors to a website
Customer satisfaction, i.e. how happy was the customer with how the project went?
Team satisfaction, i.e. how happy was the team with how the project went?
If the processes for the project are established from the beginning and these are followed step by step, some common mistakes can be avoided.
From the estimation to the allocation of resources, from the scope to the definition of requirements, from the team briefing to the all-important first meeting with the customer – there are many activities that fall into the start-up phase of a project.
However it happens, a well-organised project kick-off is crucial for its future success.
However, this does not have to be as stressful and complicated as many may think. With the tips given in this article, a project can be started successfully and achieve optimum results.
This document allows the project manager to document the start, ongoing and final stages of a project.
A project manager’s credibility can be destroyed if project management is poorly monitored; the project management report is the ideal way to present accurate information, rather than guesswork or conjecture.
Our aim in this article is to gain a better understanding of what information should be included in this document and how to write it.
What information should be included in a project management report?
The purpose of the project management report is to keep all stakeholders updated on the progress of the project and to identify any problems and risks that may have arisen.
Details may vary from project to project, but all reports should include the following information:
Depending on the size and complexity of the project, this document may be weekly or monthly and is provided to all project stakeholders to keep them up to date on the progress of the project and any urgent challenges that may need to be addressed.
Most project management reports are made up of a single page but may have appendices or links to further information for anyone wishing to go into more detail.
Tips on how to write a project management report
Data as focus: the purpose of project management reports is to provide processed data to those who need it so that they can be properly briefed and make appropriate and informed decisions. It is important that reports present solid data that stakeholders can examine and thus get an idea of the big picture.
Short and simple: project stakeholders do not want to get lost in too many superfluous details, so the document must provide an accessible overview of the project status. If you create a ten-page document every week, most probably no one will read it completely and the project manager will only waste time editing the document, to the detriment of the actual project.
Concise and avoiding technical jargon: not all stakeholders will be familiar with the acronyms or technical terms of the project, so the document must be written in a language that everyone can understand.
Graphical and visual: charts and diagrams will bring the data to life, making it much more accessible. The use of colours can also help to show the status of the project, like a kind of traffic light. A project management software offers several report templates to choose from.
Honest about progress: if the project is behind schedule or over budget, it is better to present this clearly. After all, the sooner a problem is identified, the sooner it can be solved and the project can get back on track.
Provide context: do not just say that a deliverable will be delayed by two weeks, but specify for example: how will this impact on the rest of the project and what actions have been taken to resolve it? Stakeholders need to know how significant the problem really is.
Highlight any action points and simplify activities for project stakeholders: if a client, team member or stakeholder needs to do something, the document should clearly identify what is required, by whom and when.
In conclusion, a well-prepared project management report is an excellent tool for assessing progress against the original plan and keeping everyone in the loop It will also assist in effectively managing the project and keeping it on track.
Project management software can not only help the project manager in this case to easily create outstanding reports, but it can take all the relevant data and encapsulate it in an easy-to-understand format with just one click.
Use Twproject to generate your project management reports.
In project management, evaluating the work load that insists over the resources shoulders plays a fundamental role for the project Happy Ending.
In an ideal world where you work with infinite resources, projects are always in-time.
In the real world, on the other hand, we often have to deal with teams simultaneously involved in multiple projects, which have to manage daily activities and several emergencies.
In this case, an indication on “sustainability” is essential to understand who and when will be able to positively bring our project to completion.
Duration and effort: which is the difference?
At the beginning, I was surprised by the difficulties that some of our customers face to understand the difference between duration and effort. For many of them the ratio was one to one.
This type of approach is not only wrong in management terms (a phase that lasts 30 days could require an effort of one hour e.g.: waiting for material from a supplier), but implies a total and exclusive allocation of the resource on that one activity.
If this approach works well in the analysis and budgeting phase, it cannot work in the planning phase.
A good question to ask yourself at this point is: “How many hours can a resource work on his project per day?”
To answer correctly, several parameters must be considered:
the obvious working hours (full-time, horizontal or vertical part-time)
holidays, illnesses, permits etc.
what has already been allocated to other projects
spot activities already planned
The first two points are intuitive and partly out of the PM’s control, so we will analyze the others and we will see how they contribute to generating the “work load” of a resource.
A project, or rather a phase, always has a start date, an end date (therefore a duration, usually expressed in working days), and some resources assigned on it.
Each resource must perform the estimated activities for a total of days / hours (effort).
Without going into too much detail, we can evaluate the load on a resource by dividing the estimated hours by the project/phase duration.
For example: a 10 days phase with an effort of 20h generates an average load of 2h per day or 25% (assuming 8 hours a day).
Easy, at least before the project starts.
But once it get started, what happens if for the first 5 days I have not been able to work on this project?
It happens that I will have to work 20h on 5 remaining days, with a load of 50%.
Therefore in the project activities the hours “not yet done” give an incremental feedback to the load, accumulating in the remaining days.
Having the opportunity to compare the “ideal” situation (the one planned by the PM, without taking into account the done/ not done), with the “real” one (which takes into account the feedback) gives many food for thought and possible corrections.
It is interesting to note that the failure to work on the planned project can be read from the worklog records.
The worklog is an excellent indicator from this point of view, it is a sort of “heartbeat of the project“; if the heart doesn’t beat the project is dead!
What said above consider the “average load”. Twproject allows you to plan all the hours or just a part by assigning them directly on the calendar (there are various tools to do this), but the substance does not change; 20h needs to be done in the 10 days of the phase.
If a resource works on several projects at the same time, the calculations can become complicated and for this Twproject helps us by presenting this information in an optimal way.
Balance your resource as we do!
with Twproject you can manage your resource allocation, insert worklog and resolve peaks.
Routine Activities: Do you work eight hours a day?
They are the Cinderella of activities.
Many of us, despite being in the office for 8 hours (at best :-)) can only dedicate a percentage of their time to “real projects”.
We spend a lot of time (note: I didn’t say “we lose it”) in activities not attributable to a project.
In my case: reading incoming emails, department meetings, phone calls, supporting colleagues.
In addition to these generic ones, there can be other more specific ones such as updating, training, document archiving, backup verification, maintenance etc.
How much time do I spend on these activities? Almost 3 hours a day!
I know this with some confidence because, with the help of Twproject, I recorded daily , for years, the hours spent and I know that, on average, the 38% of my time goes like this.
If I were planning a project that involves me 100% for a period longer than a few days, it would definitely go out of dates.
The funniest part is that if someone asked me how many hours I can work on one thing every day by instinct I would say “eight hours“. To avoid these errors it is important to have objective data on which to base our choices and analysis.
The worklog recording is the basis for good planning, not just for good cost control.
I know very well that this is an additional effort and in fact when I tell our clients to record the “lost” hours, the first reaction I get is of the “reluctant / snorting / I get up and walk away” type.
This is why it is important that the worklog registration activity is as “painless” as possible.
On this point Twproject is unbeatable; you can record the worklog at the close of the To-do, with the start-stop buttons, on one / two / three weeks, on the whole month day-by-day, etc .. The overhead is minimal!
With the aim of “measuring” routine activities, having a “cauldron” available where you can put everything that cannot be traced back to a project greatly lightens the recording by helping us to “reach 8“.
We always advise our customers to create a non-project “cauldron” (or “basket” or “BAU” Business As Usual for the more chic ones) which starts on 1/1 and ends on 12/31 for the recording of non-project activities .
After a few months of recordings, you can better understand how long our resources can really devote to their projects.
It also happens that it is necessary to take a look at what went into the “cauldron”; perhaps it could be structured to better “classify” routine activities.
For example this is what we use in Twproject:
We understand how to use the worklog to measure the hours we can devote to “real projects”, but how do routine “projects” behave from a work-load point of view?
More or less like real projects. The effort is “spread” evenly over the period. There is a small difference: they do not have incremental feedback.
Let’s take an example: my support activity to the development team takes me “on average” one hour a day. If I don’t get support requests today, it’s not necessarily true that I will receive twice as much tomorrow. In practice, the effort is considered constant over the entire period. Its graphical representation is a constant bar:
These are activities that take place within a “contract” without knowing first how much and when.
The best example is the interventions to be made on request as part of an annual maintenance contract.
In this case, you can create a “project” that has the same dates as the “contract” and assign resources if necessary.
Since it is difficult to predict the overall effort first, for simplicity we can not specify it and leave it at zero.
If, on the other hand, you want to track it, because a package of hours has been sold to the customer, you can enter them, these will not be considered by the load anyway.
Therefore, unlike projects and routine activities, spot activities do not generate a “spread” load over the duration of the project / contract, but only on that days in which the activities are planned.
With Twproject this can be done directly by assigning ToDo’s or by using the work plan.
A practical example: Giorgio’s workload
Giorgio works in a production company and has been dealing with a specific product for many years, he supports customers who buy it and participates in the development of his customizations.
Giorgio’s daily work is therefore composed of projects of a different types, let’s create them in Twproject and see how his workload looks.
Giorgio has a general customer support project that lasts all year and takes up more or less a couple of hours a day. This project is routine:
And this is how the workload will look like:
Giorgio is then involved in a project for a custom product of one of his customers. The phase in which he is involved lasts only 10 days and his effort is estimated at 40 hours.
This is the new assignment:
And the new workload evaluated:
Finally, Giorgio has an active support contract with a specific customer, with a 40-hour pay-as-you-go package. Giorgio does not work on this project unless the customer calls him. This activity is spot and even if we insert the effort, the load does not change.
But what happens to Giorgio’s load if the customer calls him and they schedule an intervention on the product? Giorgio will create a scheduled ToDo and this will modify his load.
As can be seen from the image, the commercial activity has stolen some time from the Analysis project and in fact the hours that Giorgio will have to dedicate to it in the remaining days have increased.
These are just 3 simple examples managed by Twproject but which give a good idea of how to map the different types of business activities. With Twproject 7 we have worked a lot on these aspects and introduced a tool, which using the information of the load “suggests” a “sustainable” project end date for the team.
We have also introduced a tool to quickly solve load peaks and overlaps, because not always everything goes smoothly like our Giorgio, we will see this tool in a dedicated post.
That’s why simplifying workflows in projects becomes very important. So let’s see how to do it in detail:
Streamlining workflows: Defining success factors
Before you start working on a workflow to simplify it, it’s essential to define the success factors.
The questions to ask are:
What are you trying to achieve through this process?
How is the success of the workflow determined?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can get started on actually working on simplifying your workflows.
Streamline workflows: Documenting workflow
Whatever workflow you’re analyzing, it’s important to list all the tasks necessary to bring the idea to completion, no matter how small they are.
Starting with the end goal and working backward, we will have the opportunity to consider each step to ensure success carefully.
This is a process audit in which you will become aware of any unnecessary or missing steps.
Many will likely be so busy with project work that they don’t have time to devote to workflow analysis.
However, it is important to take this step to examine and subsequently simplify
We at Twproject use the WBS to define all the phases of the project, working on it to include all the steps necessary for its completion and then we use the Gantt to define the duration of the various phases and the dependencies.
These two tools will allow you to plan the process clearly by identifying the critical path as well.
IMprove your processes
With Twproject you can simply define and plan your project to success
Any attempt to improve or simplify workflows, especially if you’re adding a new tool, means asking people to do something they tend to hate: change their routines. You might find this article on change in business helpful.
Although the proposed workflow is more efficient and helps improve processes, many people may be hesitant to adopt it.
One of the first steps, then, is to find a reference person to be an agent of change; someone ideally who:
Have a vested interest in the outcome;
Be sincerely interested in making a difference;
He is a natural communicator and effective collaborator;
Knows how to solve problems;
Has leadership skills.
Simplifying workflows: Start small
Workflows may be complex, and making a change may initially cause even more problems, even to simplify them.
Especially the transition from manual to automated workflows could be very complicated.
That’s why it’s essential to start with small changes and, if necessary, run a pilot project that will demonstrate the benefits of the new workflow.
A small project will also provide an opportunity to identify and resolve any initial and unforeseen problems quickly.
Starting with something small and definable, with an attainable goal, allows for consensus.
People are used to the tools and processes they’re using and don’t let go easily unless you can demonstrate the benefits of the new flow concretely.
Once the pilot project is successful, it will be easier to convince others to accept the change and provide valuable experience to make future projects smoother.
Streamline workflows: Choose a time interval
Especially when a pilot project or test goes outside of day-to-day business operations, it’s crucial to set a deadline.
Otherwise, it can be easy to lose track of time and devote too many resources to testing rather than the actual project.
By streamlining and, where possible, automating project workflows, you will be able to take advantage of the resulting organizational simplicity.
Projects will move more smoothly, teams will communicate, meet and disband seamlessly, and unnecessary tasks will fade away.
And reducing unnecessary tasks will help increase productivity overall.
One solution that many organizations are opting for is project management software that can make the execution of all the basic operations much smoother thanks, in fact, to the simplification of workflows that, where possible, are fully automated.
Project Workload: Monitor workload and change it as needed
Even the best project plans and timelines can run into obstacles, so the project manager must be ready to make real-time changes before deadlines overwhelm the project.
To keep track of how each team member is managing their current workloads, it is wise is to arrange regular 1-1 check-ins with each employee for updates.
If these checks reveal that a team member is feeling overloaded, it’s essential to reassess the workload and see who might still be available.
When reassigning tasks, the project manager must communicate the changes to the entire team to understand why the change is being made.
For overall workload management, it is advisable to follow the 80/20 rule.
According to this principle, people should only be assigned to specific tasks for 80% of their time. In comparison, the remaining 20% will be used for routine activities such as answering phone calls, emails, attending meetings, etc.
Project Workload: Using project management software
Summarizing what the project manager must do is first of all to have clear the availability of resources, then to assign the activities with set deadlines and acceptable loads and finally to maintain a constant visibility of the progress of the projects to be clear when and where to intervene for a possible adjustment.
All this can be a time-consuming task if done manually.
But good project management software allows you to have all the data in a system and automatically update the project workload as changes occur.
Twproject offers all the tools to have an optimized and easy to update resource load, giving you the ability to manage all types of activities that make up your working day, routine activities, projects or even spot tasks.
By also managing unavailability, the picture of available time is complete.
With these data Twproject will be able to tell you if the resource is loaded or not, if it is able to perform the assigned task on schedule, and also to suggest a possible realistic end date.
To conclude, proper project workload management helps to use resources more efficiently within the team or organization.
By choosing a good project management tool, you will be able to optimally manage the workload of each team member and monitor the progress of the project in general.
The calendar allows you to view the tasks of each member to allocate workload specifically. In addition, it helps maintain transparency of the entire process and is convenient for analyzing individuals’ work responsibility and performance.
Therefore, these project calendars need to show more than just due dates; otherwise, team members will be forced to refer to other documents, which can lead to confusion and errors.
In Twproject, the user’s dashboard always shows the project phases in which a user is involved, in its validity dates. Sharing information is essential, making everyone aware of the status of the project calendar and who is responsible for.
Create a shared project calendar!
In Twproject you will find everything you need to create a project calendar in a simple and complete way to involve your team and stay up to date.
Define each task and the milestones that need to be completed within the project, then add the people to whom these tasks have been assigned.
2. Activity planning
Once the activities have been determined, they must be planned over time in order to achieve the set goal.
3. Planning for future work
A task management project calendar will show the days and hours the team needs to be available to work on a project in the months ahead. Periods of the day are also critical, as during some hours only certain people – for example, those working on several projects at once – may be available.
Tools for creating a project calendar
Specifically, there are several types of calendars; here are three of them:
Excel is a valuable project planning tool; popularly known and used by many people. Thanks to its user-friendly facade, creating and formatting calendars with this tool is very easy. Excel, in particular, has a default project calendar design, so you don’t need to waste time creating one from scratch.
Easy to use: Excel is a tool that most people are familiar with. As such, it has a short learning curve;
Predefined templates: an extensive library of Excel templates and plug-ins is available online.
No opportunity for collaboration: Excel is completely offline, there is no real-time way to connect within Excel;
Notifications: Excel lacks tools for creating alerts and automatic updates, and there is also no option to assign tasks.
2. Google Sheets
Google Sheets is Google’s app that provides spreadsheet software. This tool has about the same functionality as Excel but offers much broader teamwork capabilities.
Collaboration: you can edit documents, leave comments in real-time, and assign tasks, which is excellent for teamwork;
Regulation permission control. The calendar can thus be edited and shared only with the chosen people, while it can be made read-only for some others.
Not suitable for complicated projects: Google Sheets is too slow when it comes to complex projects. There is no way to monitor mission dependencies or resource management;
Needs manual changes: as in Excel, you need to change things manually if you want to make improvements.
3. A project management software
Project management software allows you to create shared project calendars and provides other features that are useful to the project manager and team in managing a project.
With Twproject, for example, you can easily create a project calendar with a few clicks, you can assign resources to specific project phases, checking their availability in real time.
Compared to other tools, project management software is the most accessible, most efficient, and fastest way to create a project schedule.
Ease of use: the project calendar is easy to create and customize to connect information, add tasks and keep track of your daily schedule;
Collaboration: Project management software such as Twproject are designed not only to create and manage project calendars but to share this information with the work group who becomes aware of all the planned activities and times.
Other features: a project management software not only allows you to create a calendar, but will keep you updated on its progress, the status of the resources involved and much more.
There are no real drawbacks to using project management software like Twproject. If the software provides an adequate user guide, everyone will be able to use the tool at maximum efficiency in a short time..
In conclusion, a project calendar is a simple way to make your daily work more productive and more effortless.
It helps to organize the project into tasks and subtasks to have a smooth workflow.
In addition, a project calendar can significantly improve team productivity and organize tasks with well-defined timelines, priorities, and milestones.
Twproject offers you all this and much more, try it now
However, this document is fundamental to properly launch a project and carry it more smoothly towards success.
Let’s learn why in this article.
What is a project initiation document?
A project initiation document includes basic project information such as context, scope, and some other key general standards that the team and stakeholders stakeholders can refer to throughout the project.
A strong start is always important, no matter how simple or complex the work is.
The purpose of a project initiation document is to gather key planning information that will help guide the project in the right direction, gain approval from stakeholders and decision makers, and set a clear plan for deliverables.
Also, a project initiation document helps guide the team in the early stages to provide a successful start without adding too much extra work.
Without this type of document, a project is likely to be in danger of derailing due to lack of direction and lack of stakeholder involvement.
Also, don’t forget that this is a “living” document, meaning it can be updated and amended throughout the project lifecycle, if necessary.
How to create a project initiation document in 6 steps
The project manager’s duty is not only to manage a project up to completion, but also to ensure that teams and stakeholders are aligned on what needs to be done, by whom, and when.
The reason why is just as important, so everyone can get an understanding of the mission and keep in mind the overall criteria for success.
Thus, here’s how to create a project initiation document in 6 simple steps.
1. Provide context
Here are some important questions to be answered in this first step:
Why is the client pursuing this project?
What is the problem to be solved?
What is the project about?
What are the company’s goals?
How would you define success?
Are there defined metrics that will measure success in the end?
This provides a clear outline of the strategic vision and goals, which will help keep the team focused on the expected outcomes.
Are there some initial project requirements that have already been defined?
What are the project boundaries that the team should not cross?
4. Define your project breakdown structure and resource plan
To ensure that it is clear to the team how the end results are ultimately generated, it is key to break down the work into smaller pieces and show how the end results come together and who will be working on what and with whom.
This way, dependencies will become clear and the team can understand the overall responsibility of the project.
After creating your project initiation document, it is important to share it with team members and all stakeholders, including those who will join the project at a later date.
This type of document is also a great starting point for check-ins and to make sure the team doesn’t get off track.
A project management software can help
Bottom line, a project initiation document serves as a guide to help the project manager and team go in the right direction ensuring that no information is discovered later creating problems, but all this information we have analyzed cannot be written on a sheet of paper.
The drafting of this document is in fact the planning of the prearrenged version of the project which should be facilitated with a project management tool that similarly supports the project manager in the creation of the actual project.
With Twproject you can create a project with cost estimates, use of resources, predefined specifications and what is needed for the drafting of the document, which remains “hidden” from the general calculations, but which at the same time gives you the feasibility information in terms of time and resources. How useful would it be, in the estimate phase, to understand if you have the resources to carry out the project within the time frame you have set?
Twproject can do this for you.
Generate project initiation document with Twproject.
Quality communication is paramount to managing client requests in your projects. This means: understanding who the client is, what they need from the project, how to set reasonable expectations, and establishing criteria for successful delivery.
Here are some tips that will help you establish and maintain a good working relationship with clients from the very beginning through project wrap-up.
Identify your client
In some projects, differentiating clients from other stakeholders can be challenging. So here’s a rule of thumb for how not to get it wrong:
The end client is the customer of goods or services produced by the project.
In other words, the customer is the recipient of the project results, which are referred to as the final deliverables.
A project customer can be either external or internal to the company and can be an organization, an individual, another department, etc.
Identify your client’s needs
The first step for any project should be a scope statement of some kind.
This statement is why the project began in the first place and is therefore the starting point for establishing all future requirements.
However, the scope statement by itself will not be enough to design the final output.
The scope statement must be expanded to a degree of detail sufficient to structure the project and guide work.
The path from the scope statement to the business requirements document, business specifications, or other documents that include more specific descriptions is where you need to apply project management skills to accurately capture the customer’s needs.
This is where you need to first identify the appropriate clients and stakeholders to provide the detailed requirements, and it is also where you need to also be able to establish your communication approach that will meet their need for project information.
The idea is very simple: customers fuel the engine of growth and are the primary reason any organization grows or survives.
If a customer is satisfied with the delivery of the product or service and how they are engaged, they will continue the partnership and/or advertise well.
If a customer is unhappy with the delivery of the product or service and the manner in which they were treated, they will directly or indirectly spread criticism and thus negatively impact current and future business.
Always engage your client
Your client doesn’t need to be shielded from bad news; so, it’s important to communicate any major project challenges as soon as you have all the information.
This doesn’t mean your client needs to be informed about every minor obstacle, but when it comes to major issues, it’s only fair that they get involved.
The project manager will need to use their common sense to know what issues clients should be aware of, but here’s a general rule of thumb: anything that could lead to a project delay, a budget overshoot, or a failure to meet requirements or initially specified quality should be communicated.
A good practice is to work with your team to identify potential corrective or preventive actions to present along with the problem.
The project manager should never report a deviation without taking corrective action, even if implementing it is beyond his or her capabilities.
Never ask the client for help unless you already know exactly what the client should do.
Also, inviting your client to group meetings, team-building exercises, award ceremonies, and so on is another way to keep them engaged.
The most useful thing would be to be able to use a project management tool that allows you, automatically, to share information with the customer in a transparent but controlled way. Twproject includes a public project page where the project manager can choose which information to share in an easy-to-read platform.
Getting client feedback
Client-focused project management requires the project manager to constantly engage and collaborate with all stakeholders involved in the project.
To benefit from this engagement, it is recommended to incorporate a feedback process throughout the project lifecycle.
In this way, concerns and issues can be identified and corrected early.
Also in this case Twproject public project page comes to your aid by providing a request form for the customer for receiving feedback. This feedback is collected within the project and then managed by the team.
Managing changes by your client
A project should have a change management plan that covers all aspects concerning any project changes.
This change management plan should inform the client how to go about requesting a change and how they will be informed of the next steps.
There are many valid reasons for a client to request a change in project requirements, such as a changing market, a change in the financial status of the organization, or a change requested by their own clients.
The client who sent the request should be able to provide as much information as possible about what they want to change and what their business case is.
Also, determining whether the request is within or beyond project scope is a key decision factor.
Defining what is reasonable and what is not should be included in the change management plan.
A project manager’s duty to the client is to turn their change request into practice, if possible, in a reasonable amount of time.
The analysis of the change request generates a cost estimate for implementing the change.
You should remember that you are working for your client; therefore, your goal should be to implement the change in the most cost-effective way possible.
Once a cost estimate has been calculated, the client can weigh the cost of the change against the expected benefits that will result from implementing the change.
Ultimately, stakeholders will need to make a logical, detailed, and informed decision.
It is important to remember that the answer could be no, especially if the requested change could result in major schedule delays, unacceptable cost overruns, or complete project failure.
Bottom line, it is important to keep in mind that clients of a project are people before they are clients.
Therefore, the project manager should deal with them in the same way they would want to be treated if they were in their shoes, and it is unlikely to prove to be the wrong approach.
Using a client-focused approach to project management requires maintaining a dialogue and understanding of what is important to project stakeholders.
With Twproject, this dialogue will be simpler and will require less work from the project manager. The information, collected and shared, will allow the customer to always be informed, when he decides, with the possibility of intervening when requested with targeted feedback.