Value Stream Mapping: What it is used for, and how to properly implement it

Value Stream Mapping can be a powerful tool to help you determine how to improve supply chains that involve complex processes.

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

  1. 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.

  1. 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
  • Equipment reliability
  • Quantity
  • Number of workers and shifts
  • Inventory levels
  • 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.

  1. 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.

value stream

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.
  1. 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.

Improve your projects’ management with Twproject.

Lean Automation: What is it and how businesses benefit from it

The goal of Lean Automation is to satisfy customers at the lowest cost possible.

To achieve this goal, it is better to follow the lean philosophy, which claims to remove those activities of low or no value.

But what exactly is Lean Automation and how does it benefit companies? Let’s find out in this article.

What is Lean Automation?

At the heart of lean production lies a shift in thinking: instead of improving individual process productivity, the focus should be on continuously improving the value customers get from products.

Likewise, the focus should also be on limiting and reducing costs.

In Industry 4.0, this ambivalent attention to the end customer and business costs sees the integration of automation.

The fourth industrial revolution requires the involvement of technology and digital transformation in virtually every industry, including lean manufacturing.

Therefore, Lean Automation becomes a key player in this context, due to its power to integrate lean principles by gradually automating processes.

Benefits of Lean Automation for companies

By choosing to integrate Lean Automation into production facilities, processes become faster and more efficient.

If executed correctly, this automation addition can yield a variety of benefits such as:

Lean Automation: Waste elimination

Automation provides the option of properly setting and programming a piece of equipment so that it yields results within certain ranges and can provide automatic alerts if the process does not meet tolerance limits.

This helps avoid scrap, rework and waste.

Even the most experienced operators cannot match the efficiency and repeatability of automation on routine or semi-routine processes.

Furthermore, automation systems can perform multiple tasks simultaneously, which is impossible in manual systems.

Lean Automation: Internet of Things

By connecting your equipment to your business systems, it will help reduce the effort required to report the state of production.

Internet of Things will allow for greater focus on productive work that will meet customer needs by eliminating the need to report any operation.

Lean Automation: Cost management

Manufacturing businesses in industrialized countries struggle to stay competitive in an increasingly aggressive market.

Automation cuts the number of people or shifts needed to achieve the same level of productivity, as well as reducing the need for goods handling machinery.

A way to increase automation is through the use of collaborative robotics and other automated machinery engineered to work together with humans.

These particular robots and machines may come at a relatively high initial cost, but they can deliver a quick return on investment.

Lean Automation: Improved security

Worker safety should be fundamental in any industry, especially the manufacturing industry where the most accidents occur.

By automating dangerous processes, you can keep employees safer by reducing production errors.

For example, an automated warehouse system keeps employees out of harm’s way on the warehouse floor, where accidents and collisions with forklifts can happen.

Lean Automation: Improved accuracy

Inventory management is one of the most important yet time-consuming activities in manufacturing.

No production facility can expect to satisfy its customers or operate effectively if its inventory is not accurate and controlled.

One of the most effective ways to guarantee its accuracy is to automate stock picking and storage processes.

Automated equipment can significantly reduce lost or misplaced materials and help ensure accurate lot tracking, which can cut down on obsolescence or waste due to expiration or spoilage.

Lean Automation: Front and back office automation

More than simple workflows or info alerts, today’s Lean Automation solutions can achieve a level of AI.

These automated processes can handle routine tasks and streamline business processes, ranging from accounting to prioritizing sales orders for shipment.

This can provide consistent quality and eliminate wasteful printing and document storage.

Lean Automation: Productivity maximization

Employee leaves and absences can impact overall productivity negatively.

Also, managing the workforce effectively can be challenging.

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.

lean automation for businesses

How to Implement Lean Automation

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Keep up with the times.

Lean accounting: How to implement it for a successful management analysis

Lean accounting has grown in popularity in the first decade of the 21st century as an increasing number of companies have embraced lean production and lean processes.

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.

the lean accounting

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.

The concept of lean accounting requires reliable and simple financial reporting.

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.

Sudden changes are hard to embrace, yet slowly shifting to the approach will encourage accounting staff to gradually acquire new habits that are necessary for success.

In all this, having good project management software can help manage change and implement lean accounting processes in a quicker and easier way.

Still in doubt? Well, you can try yourself with a free demo.

Capital budgeting: what it is and why it is important

Capital budgeting refers to the process a business follows to determine which long-term capital investments are worth investing in in relation to their potential returns.

If a business is considering whether to undertake a large investment project, capital budgeting is the most efficient approach for making an informed decision.

Yet what is it exactly? Let’s explore this topic in this article, and see what capital budgeting is and why it is important.

What is capital budgeting?

Capital budgeting, also known as investment appraisal, involves the evaluation of the costs and benefits of a business’s potential large-scale projects.

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;
  • Increasing workforce;
  • New product development;
  • Expansion into new markets.

Before a business approves a given project, capital budgeting allows for the company to establish a cost 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Large fund protection: through the capital budgeting process, funds invested in the company are protected to some extent from any future uncertainty.
  1. 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.

to do capital budgeting

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.

Also, a project management software can help ensure an efficient and flawless capital budgeting process.

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.

Discover Twproject world.

Project management for the construction industry

Project management for the construction industry is arguably one of the most intricate segments of project management ever.

Whether you’re building a shopping mall or a residential building, there are countless elements and people in a construction project that must be accurately coordinated.

Each one of these phases is already intricate enough on its own, yet in combination with the whole project, they become exponentially more complex.

In this article, we’ll cover what construction project management is and how it works in detail.

What is project management for the construction industry?

In a nutshell, project management for the construction industry is the construction project management process.

It is a multifaceted subject that involves addressing many important matters, including cost control, la programmazione, l’approvvigionamento e la valutazione del rischio.

Project managers interact and closely liaise with all team members involved, from architects to owners, to contractors.

There are many different types of construction projects, and each one comes with different challenges.

However, all of them need a project owner, a construction project manager, and a general contractor.

What are the 5 stages of construction projects?

Understanding the five main phases of construction project management is a must for managing projects successfully.

Here are the 5 stages:

Construction project stages: Planning and development

Ascertaining whether to pursue a project is the first and most important part of the construction process.

Halting projects after they have been started is costly and the further they progress, the greater the potential losses.

Feasibility studies, capital budgeting, pro-con lists and comprehensive stakeholder input are keys to this phase.

Construction project stages: Planning

After a project’s kick-off is approved because it is considered sustainable and productive, it is time to begin the planning stage.

This stage covers the development of all things, from the basic concept to the final design – details included.

Once the project is finalized and approved, it is time for the next stage.

Construction project stages: Pre-construction

Pre-construction is about defining a roadmap that will lead through the construction process.

It involves creating a plan for the project that shows everyone what they need to do, when they need to do it, how they should deliver it, and how much each task should cost.

If all parties follow this plan and fulfill their roles perfectly, they will deliver the project on time, up to standard and on budget.

Pre-construction typically involves a wide range of critical tasks. Here are some of the most important ones:

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.

project management for construction industry

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.

Project managers in the construction industry definitely need the right software to successfully manage projects.

A good project management software helps you monitor progress, improve forecasting, centralize information, increase efficiency and keep costs in check.

With Twproject you can control every step of the work, reduce risks, eliminate errors, and streamline communication.

A construction project management tool also keeps stakeholders updated by sharing extensive data reports.

Ultimately, a project management software simplifies your overall process and improves productivity, all whilst ensuring you stay on schedule and within agreed budgets.

Plan your projects with Twproject

Project Sustainability Management: when project management meets sustainability

In today’s day and age, it’s tough to spend a day without hearing or seeing some messages about sustainability, and in this regard, Project Sustainability Management is picking up steam.

For project managers, this means seeing a project with a new perspective, and making the right decisions for the company, its people, and society as a whole.

Basically, it’s all about doing the right thing.

Successful project management is already challenging enough in itself because it revolves around balancing three constraints: cost, time and scope.

The integration of sustainability adds even more complexity to the mix.

Let’s explore why sustainable project management is important and how you can do it in this article.

What is Project Sustainability Management?

The 71% of the world’s leading 500 companies are publicly disclosing their GHG emissions alongside several other energy metrics.

Sustainability has become a corporate goal for all industries, and organizations now recognize that it is just irresponsible not to tackle the issue.

Moreover, the pandemic has brought to light new challenges and emergencies, revealing that sustainability is the only way forward.

Boston Consulting Group reported that 70% of people have become more aware of the impact that human activity has on the climate since the Covid-19 outbreak.

However, sustainable project management isn’t just a matter of being green and tackling climate change.

Being responsible is about ensuring that resources are used wisely, that people are treated equally and paid a fair wage, and that communities are factored into business decisions.

A great way to make sure the project continues to be sustainable is to have this goal in mind from the outset of the project.

Once it is built into the project vision, it cannot be forgotten.

Just having sustainability relevant in all areas of the project will ensure that environmental damage is at a minimum.

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.

project sustainability management

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.

New targets, a new way of working.

Kanban board: a quick and easy way to keep everything in check

Some assignments are one-offs, whereas others require more planning and coordination – and that’s where the Kanban board steps in.

For larger projects and goals, you need more than a mere to-do list to manage your project.

You need a system that allows you to see the big picture while keeping track of all the details in motion.

The Kanban method is a visual workflow that provides insight into project tasks, from beginning to end, so that nothing is missed in the process.

We’ll cover this topic in this article.

Kanban board: what is it?

The Japanese word “kanban” means “visual board” or “mark”. This is where the term “Kanban” comes from, in upper case, referring precisely to the Kanban method.

The Kanban method was first introduced by Toyota in the 1950s as a way to implement “just-in-time production.”

That is, production is based on customer demand rather than the standard practice of producing goods and releasing them to the market.

Its main purpose is to reduce wasteful activities to a minimum without compromising productivity by creating more value for the customer and not adding more costs.

Today, the Kanban method is used for virtually every type of work that you can think of.

Product teams use it to manage development roadmaps. Human resources uses it for recruitment and hiring. Sales teams use it to keep track of their contacts.

Indeed, there’s the so-called “Personal Kanban” for managing projects in everyday life, from job applications to home renovations.

Kanban board anatomy

A Kanban board is a physical or digital space that provides a visual representation of work status with work elements, such as tabs, and workflow steps, as columns.

A Kanban card typically represents a single work item that needs to be completed as part of the larger project.

This could be a task, a bug report, an item, a candidate, or anything else that needs to pass through a process to be completed.

Each board column symbolizes a step in the workflow that each Kanban card must move through from left to right.

Simple Kanban boards are split into three workflow steps:

  • To do
  • In development
  • Done

Yet, more elaborate projects may need multiple steps and use unique labels that match the timeline within a project.

kanban method

Setting up a Kanban board: how to do it?

Once you understand the parts of the Kanban methodology and how it works, it’s time to set up a Kanban board.

A Kanban board can be either physical or digital

Obviously, a physical board is only practical for simpler projects and only for centralized teams working in the same place.

Nowadays, digital methods are used most of the time, making whiteboard creation and management straightforward and quick.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

A Kanban board makes it easy to quickly see how busy each element of your Team is so you can match their workload realistically.

4. It simplifies bottleneck detection

On a Kanban board, it’s easy to spot which tasks are stalling or where they’re stacking up the most.

This will help you spot and address bottlenecks efore they halt your project.

5. It is simple, flexible and scalable

Although the Kanban method does feature certain core principles, exact specifications depend on each project.

This makes this methodology extremely flexible.

To wrap things up, the Kanban board does not require any elaborate implementation or demanding rules.

The process is simple: place the cards where they are meant to be and move them around as your project progresses.

Even if your project scope expands, this methodology does not become more difficult.

Your Kanban board will become bigger, but its management will not become any more challenging.

If you understand the basic principles of Kanban methodology, the actual implementation will seem logical and perhaps even inevitable.

Transform your strategy in action with Twproject!

A customizable project management software

A customizable project management software makes project planning, execution and progress tracking a piece of cake.

If you can implement a variety of features. For example, you can create a transparent record so that everyone knows how things are.

However, this is just one option. The benefits can be manifold.

Needless to say, when you need to work on a project, it is paramount to consider choosing the best customizable project management software.

We will explain why in this article.

What is a project management software?

Fundamentally, a project management tool is software that helps teams to plan, manage and optimize resources in an organization.

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:

1. Collaboration

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.

customizable project management software

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.

5. Documentation

As stated earlier, an Excel spreadsheet is not enough for most cases and more complex projects.

Therefore, the solution is to pick a customizable project 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.

Keep up with times.

Project management timeline

No project plan is complete without a project management timeline.

Essentially, when you approach a project, you should never approach it as a single process. It is more appropriate to consider it as many interconnected micro-projects.

Whatever the level of difficulty of the project you are dealing with, in fact, splitting a task into smaller parts makes it significantly more manageable.

Above all, approaching a complex project one step at a time is much less overwhelming than trying to do it all at once.

That is, essentially, why we speak of a project management timeline: it helps to break large tasks down into smaller chunks and then organize those chunks into a logical order.

Let’s get to know more about it in this article.

What is a project management timeline?

A project management timeline is an overview of a project’s deliverables organized in chronological order.

This gives the project manager a way to get a view of each activity in one place, making planning easier.

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:

  • Activities
  • Their expiration dates
  • Their duration
  • Dependencies
  • 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.

Try Twproject!

Understand your project scope

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.

For example:

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.

In this case, having a tool that is able to evaluate resources workload is essential.


Choose project management software

You can track your project management timeline using a spreadsheet or some other manual method.

Nevertheless, it is considerably easier to use project management software that allows you to manage this feature in real time.

Also, this way the project management timeline will be in one place, accessible by everyone at any given time and place.

Track each activity on the timeline

Once you insert the tasks into your timeline, you will be able to see all the dependencies.

This will give you a better insight into what tasks will happen at any given time allowing team members to easily manage their schedules.

This is easily done with a tool like Twproject which includes a Gantt editor already integrated with the drafting of the wbs (division into activities) and the distribution of the workload!

On a final note, a project management timeline can make the difference between success and a chaotic pile of tasks that yield poor results.

Managing a project is tough, but with the right tools, many challenges can be overcome easily.

Manage your projects’ timelines with Twproject.

 

How to carry out a project: 10 tips to not go wrong

How to carry out a project? It can be a tough task to deal with. The quote “If you fail at planning you are planning for failure” when it comes to project management couldn’t be any truer.

When you have to carry out a project, there are all sorts of variables to take into account: scope, budget, stakeholders, communication, resources, tools, etc.

Keeping everything in balance throughout the project’s lifecycle so that everything ends up being successful requires great forward planning.

In this article we will share 10 tips to help you get it right when it comes to project implementation.

How to carry out a project: Define your project scope

Define the scope of your project, or in other words: start with the goal in mind.

This means going through the objectives to make sure what the end result should look like and the benefits it should provide.

When managing any type of project, it is crucial to understand the overall mission before diving deep into the many tasks required to complete it.

How to carry out a project: Define your timeline

Determining your project timeline is a critical step: when should the deliverables be delivered? How much time should be allocated to each phase?

The timeline for each activity can be defined later on, but the project deadline is generally set and generally does not change.

It is the deadline that will drive the schedule for the different phases of the project.

How to carry out a project: Consider your available resources

Determining what resources are available will help you prepare to begin your project.

Assessing your available human resources, investments, machinery and equipment is necessary to pinpoint any bottlenecks in project execution from the very start.

How to carry out a project: Define your milestones

The success of a project depends on identifying key milestones throughout its development.

These milestones, are strong indicators of the work that is done during a project.

In fact, having mini-goals along the way is easier to manage than having one big goal at the end of the project.

This way, you can also better manage risks and monitor your project’s progress.

With Twproject you can do all this easily.

How to carry out a project: Don’t forget how important communication is

In order for a project to run smoothly, communication between stakeholders must be coherent, consistent, and effective.

Specifically, the line of communication between the project manager and team members must always be open.

This way, anyone will have the chance to voice opinions, concerns and new ideas without hesitation.

Ineffective communication is one of the main causes of failure in many projects.

Therefore, it is very important to ensure that everyone is given the updates and information they need to make decisions, for example, through project status reports.

How to carry out a project: Assess your team members’ strengths and weaknesses

It is well known that team members play a major role in a project’s success.

This is why it is necessary for the project manager to know their team members’ strengths and weaknesses in order to allocate work in the most appropriate and efficient manner.

In a well-constructed team, the weakness of one employee is the strength of another.

Assigning the right tasks to team members with the right knowledge will enable faster completion of tasks and quality results.

How to carry out a project: Use a project management tool

A project management software is an extremely useful tool for a project manager.

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!

Try Twproject now!

How to carry out a project: Manage potential risks

Risk management is central to project success.

These potential threats can sneak in at any time and can threaten the entire progress of your project.

To ensure that your project will be successful, potential risks must therefore be pinpointed in advance so that effective measures can be taken if necessary.

By having experience with similar projects, if any, it will be possible to predict when the risk is imminent and when corrective measures need to be taken.

How to carry out a project: Think about your project

Conducting regular analysis contributes to gain a more thorough understanding of project specs.

A successful project relies on many different factors, such as collaboration, time management, skills, etc., that may or may not work.

So, by thinking about and reviewing your project, especially at the end, to understand what went well and what needs improvement, you can learn lessons that will improve your future work.

Particularly in the case of similar projects, you will be able to know from the outset where the major risks lie and what the potential solutions are.

How to carry out a project: Keep learning

The modern world is extremely dynamic and business sectors are no exception.

New opportunities and unprecedented risks pop up constantly; therefore, your approach to project management needs to be flexible.

That’s why it is worth to keep an eye on industry news on a regular basis to discover any promising developments or new risks.

Bottom line, project management is not the last resort to fight poor or unexecuted planning.

On the contrary, project management is the key to how to successfully carry out a project.

Failing to leverage project management within an organization, regardless of size, will only lead to subpar performance.

Working on good planning, choosing good project management software, and following the 10 tips offered in this article are steps that will only lead to successful projects.

Still in doubt? Well, you can try yourself with a free demo.

 

The “To Dos”: the agile way of managing projects

Thanks to “to dos“, or the agile way of managing projects, some companies can revamp their products in a short period of time, while others spend years doing so.

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.

Teams that embrace Agile methodology can accomplish their work faster. Not just that, they are also able to adapt to the ever changing requirements of a project and optimize their workflow.

They are also able to adapt to the changing requirements of a project and fine-tune their workflow.

As the name “agile” suggests, this methodology allows teams to be better prepared to be flexible and change direction quickly.

Software development companies and marketing agencies are the ones who implement this methodology. These Companies are, in fact, very aware of the changing trend of the market and stakeholders.

However, this does not mean that this approach cannot be applied to other industries as well.

The 4 core values of agile methodology

The Agile Manifesto states that this methodology follows 4 core values:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Try Twproject now

The 6 to dos of Agile methodology

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.

Also, implementing project management software that can support agile practices is paramount to achieving success.

Companies and teams that use agile methodologies correctly will experience huge benefits, including streamlined work processes and swift innovation, and you? Would you like a try?

Turn to agile management with Twproject.

 

How to kick off a project successfully

Many project managers will confirm that the most successful projects start with the planning phase which determines how to kick off a project successfully.

Having a solid base for launching the project allows you to manage everything much more easily.

In this article we will therefore explain how to kick off a project successfully, setting the right expectations.

What is the project launch phase?

Whatever methodology or process you choose, every project has to start somewhere. Any type of project is generally made up of five steps:

  • start-up
  • planning
  • execution
  • monitoring and control
  • closure

The start-up phase is therefore the first phase, i.e. the one where the project is started both with the team and with the stakeholders.

Here all the information held is collected in order to set up and define the scope, time scales and costs of the project.

How to kick off a project

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?
Stakeholders

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:

  • Presentations
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • End products
  • Risks
  • Timeframes
  • Costs
Project manager

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.

Try Twproject now

How to kick off a project: Processes

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:

Methodology

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?
Tools

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:

Twproject combines all these needs into one tool.

How to kick off a project: The Product

We come to the third key area to kick off a project properly: the product, i.e. what you want to create through the project. Here are the factors to consider in this case:

Requirements & Scope

What are the project requirements? What are the needs to which the product has to meet?

Once the requirements have been identified it is necessary to put some perimeters around them: the project scope.

Measuring success

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?
  • Variance in timeframe
  • Budget variance

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.

Transform your strategy in action with Twproject!

 

The project management report

The project management report is an essential document in project management.

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:

The aim is to provide a high-level snapshot of where things are at in a given moment.

Stakeholders want to be able to see the status of the project at a glance and so the report should clearly identify the following:

– An assessment of progress against the project plan: is the project ahead of schedule or behind?

– A summary of tasks completed and the to-do list: overall, is task completion on track?

– A summary of actual costs compared to the project budget: is the budget being overspent, or is it in line or below expectations?

– An overview of the risks associated with the project and any problems identified: has the project’s risk profile changed and does it require action?

– Also, any action points or tasks that require attention.

How to write a project management report

In short, a project management report is a summary overview of the current status of the project; it is a formal record of the status of a project at a given time.

The project report is therefore useful for

  • Identifying problems
  • Mitigating risks
  • Realising the overall project objectives

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.

project management report

Tips on how to write a project management report

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Projects and workload: what you need to know

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
  • routine activities
  • 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.

Project activities

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.

Try Twproject now!

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:

Business-as-usual structured example

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:

Routine activities

Spot activities

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:

Routine activity that takes about 2 hours a day – 25%

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:

75% load with the addition of a project

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.

Workload with the spot activity scheduled

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.

Start now with a proper resource allocation

 

Streamline project workflows

It’s essential to streamline workflows on projects to be more productive and efficient.

In addition, by simplifying, chaotic situations are put in order while making the best use of time.

A project management workflow is a crucial component of any operation, and simplifying it as much as possible is key to ensuring efficiency.

So how do you simplify project workflows? Let’s see it in this article and start by understanding what workflows in projects are.

What are workflows in projects?

Workflows are essentially a series of steps that must be followed to complete a project.

Often, these workflows involve teams with many people and must ensure that all individuals access the information they need promptly.

How you move between tasks in a workflow can be a decisive factor that determines its efficiency.

If transitions between tasks are convoluted, this can lead to an inefficient workflow. Having clear and consistent workflows, on the other hand, is critical to the success of any organization.

Failure to implement an effective project management workflow can lead to a wide range of problems affecting any department in an organization.

Aside from capital, the most valuable asset an organization has is time.

If you can find ways to reduce the amount of time spent on projects, you can focus attention on other aspects of the business that may be more neglected.

How to Streamline Project Workflows

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

Try Twproject now!

Streamlining workflows: Choosing a point person

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.

Manage your projects’ workflow with Twproject.

 

Project Workload

Managing the project workload means assigning the right amount of tasks to each team member.

On the surface, this would seem like an easy task, but it is one of the most critical tasks a project manager faces.

Countless pitfalls hide behind the project workload, dangers that must be avoided at all costs if the entire project is not to be derailed.

So let’s see what it’s all about in this article, down to the detail.

What is project workload?

The project workload is the process of efficiently distributing and managing work within the team.

When done correctly, workload management maximizes employee performance and avoids confusion, leaving the project manager and team satisfied rather than overwhelmed.

In addition, team members will feel confident in their volume of work and deliver higher quality results at a faster pace.

It’s no surprise that most employees say they feel less engaged when they’re stressed.

So here are 5 tips for proper workload management in a project.

Project Workload: Assess current workload and team capabilities

Before the project begins, it is vital to assess the team’s current situation:

  • Are some members engaged in other projects?
  • What should other daily activities follow?
  • Are there periods when some resources will not be present?

It is essential to understand, in a working day, how much time your resources are able to dedicate to projects, knowing the answers to these questions is useful to distribute and manage the workload reasonably.

Having this knowledge allows you to understand how much each team member can take in.

The following actions can help you organize your work better:

  • Put together a comprehensive list of projects and processes for which the team is responsible.
  • Determine the scope and timing of work for each.
  • Break projects down into smaller tasks and workflows, i.e., run a work breakdown structure.
  • Prioritize work based on importance and urgency.

It is therefore clear that the system we use to map team activities must keep track not only of projects but also of routine activities and unavailability.

Project Workload: Allocate resources and break down individual workloads

Once you have an overview of everything the team needs to do, you can move on to figuring out who will be working on what and when.

Resource allocation can help you effectively identify and assign available team members.

Here are five tips for keeping workloads balanced and manageable:

  • Assign the highest priority work first.
  • Set expectations and goals.
  • Have a start date and deadline for each activity.
  • Be sure to match the right people to each activity based on skills, availability, and experience.
  • Include the team in the planning so they can learn more about their responsibilities and workloads.
  • Always inform the person why they are being given a particular task – this is a great way to increase engagement and set expectations from the start.

Completing this activity manually, integrating a new project with existing activities, having clear immediately on the resource is able to complete it on schedule is perhaps the most complicated part.

We at Twproject have integrated the calculation of the average load value directly into the assignment, so that this information is immediately visible and resolvable.

Manage your resources better!

With Twproject you can map all the activities of your resources and unavailability, have immediate feedback if the resources are loaded or not, being able to take actions in real time in case of need.

Try Twproject!

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.

project workload

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.

Work together with your team effectively.

 

Project calendars

Project calendars are a great way to share project timeline information with all team members.

With that in mind, project planning calendars are a bit more complex than those you use in everyday life.

Although their format is familiar, they include a much more comprehensive range of information. Let’s take a look at this article to better understand what they are all about.

What is the project calendar?

The project calendar plays an essential role in planning activities for the future by specifying work days and times.

The project manager primarily uses this tool to organize better the time to complete tasks on the team.

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.

Try Twproject now!

How to create a project calendar

1. Define activities

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:

1. Excel

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.

Benefits:

  • 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.

Disadvantages:

  • 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.

Benefits:

  • 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.

Disadvantages:

  • 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.

Benefits:

  • 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.

Cons:

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

Generate your project’s calendar.

 

Final project outputs: how to get the best out of them

Ensuring the final outputs of the project, can become challenging for a project manager, especially considering the many moving parts during the life cycle of a project and the many people involved.

Therefore, project managers must stay one step ahead of the game, and in this article, we’ll look at what factors go into getting the best deliverables in a project.

What is a project output?

A project output, also called a deliverable, is a specific product or outcome that has been “promised” to a person, company, or department.

A product can be tangible, such as a website or electronic device, but it can also be intangible, as in the case of information or expertise.

In other words, project output needs to be delivered to someone at the end of a project.

Any promise from one party to the other must contain some sort of delivery for both parties to be satisfied with their agreement.

Factors for getting the most out of final project outputs

Below are some key factors that make project management efficient and effective and, as a result, ensure the best in the final output.

1. Define outputs

To provide what is expected, you must first define exactly what the expectation is.

What should the finished output be? If it is a physical product, what materials should be used? If it is information, what criteria should it be based on?

Defining the answers to these and other questions first – depending on the project – and getting confirmation on them will help to have a clear definition of what the deliverable should be.

2. Involve stakeholders

Stakeholders are typically the people who will provide a party you need to deliver the project results as required.

This includes funds, personnel, materials, office space, storage, machinery, and any other resources needed to get the job done.

That’s why it’s a good idea to involve them as much as possible in the process and throughout the project lifecycle.

Involving stakeholders allows them to help shape the project so that it can deliver what is required.

It’s much easier for them to agree to provide what you need if they understand why it’s crucial to the project’s success.

3. Assign tasks and responsibilities

Any project that includes contain sub-projects that must be completed for the overall final project management results to be successfully completed.

The key here is to identify the team members with the best skills and most qualified to complete specific tasks.

It’s important to let people know what their responsibilities are and assign them correctly, not so much to blame if something goes wrong but to know who to turn to when needed.

Assigning responsibilities will also allow the rest of the team to know who they need to contact in the event of a problem.

When everyone knows what is expected of them and others around them, it becomes much easier for individuals to come together to collaborate as a team and, as a result, generate better outputs.

4. Use project management software

Many components of a project can be very complex without the help of good project management software like Twproject.

With this, you can create interactive charts and graphs that help people visualize the processes involved, making it easier to know what is planned and when.

In addition, project management software is helpful when it comes to visualizing and planning workflow, setting realistic goals, and identifying potential flaws in the plan.

5. Set deadlines

Before proceeding with a project, it is necessary to clarify when the project’s output is expected to be finalized.

In addition, it is crucial to determine deadlines for activities within the process, identifying what is known as milestones.

All deadlines need to be reasonable: putting too much pressure on team members ould be counterproductive, hurting the chances of getting successful output on time.

With Twproject you can set all this information easily having everything under control.

6. Consider potential obstacles and risks

No matter how efficient a project manager may be and how well-structured the project plan may be, potential external factors can always arise and affect the project in a negative way.

For example, material suppliers may be late or even fail to deliver, causing the project to halt temporarily.

In general, there’s not much you can do to correct external problems for which you’re not responsible, but that doesn’t mean you’re unprepared to overcome any obstacles that might arise.

This could be having contingency plans in place to have an alternate source of materials if needed.

7. Continuous review of work in progress

As the project progresses, the project manager mustn’t be passive but should check, and if necessary, revise and re-approve the following steps in the process to make sure they meet expectations.

In this way, you can prevent potential obstacles, not all but many, before they occur. As the famous saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” and this is true in project management as well.

Ultimately, having a good project plan is the key to getting the best out of the final outputs of a project.

Knowing from the outset what is expected from the final results is an excellent way to avoid ambiguity and later mistakes.

Good preparation is undoubtedly a significant investment of time and effort. However, if done correctly, the chances of successful final project outputs will be much higher.

Manage final outputs of your project.

The Project Initiation Document

Often, producing a project initiation document may appear unnecessary when you have already received your client’s approval, completed your planning and secured your resources.

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.

initiation document

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.

2. Define project parameters

Information such as:

  • What is the budget for this project?
  • How is the budget distributed?
  • What does the history look like?
  • How do you picture collaboration and communication with your client?
  • What is the first goal the team will work toward?

3. Define specifications

In this case, your team needs to understand exactly what needs to be done and delivered for the project to be successful.

Here are the areas to be clarified in this step:

  • What is covered by the project scope what isn’t?
  • 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.

In other words, a Work Breakdown Structure is implemented in this step.

5. Define who does what and the processes

An important aspect of the project initiation document is the overall structure of the project team, both internal and external. Notably:

  • Who is working on the project team?
  • Who should be consulted in specific situations?
  • Who can provide final approval before addressing the client?

Setting this out will help avoid misunderstandings and provide insight into how processes work.

A great way to clarify these dependencies in the project is through a RACI chart that allows you to clearly identify “responsible, accountable, consulted, informed” in any given situation.

The RACI matrix allows you to bring structure and clarity to the roles that stakeholders have within a project.

6. Identify risks, assumptions, problems, and dependencies

Last but not least, be sure to include an overview of known risks and constraints when preparing your project initiation document.

Projects can be complex for a number of reasons, and it is always beneficial to think through and foresee some of the risks and issues that could emerge and develop mitigation strategies.

Some examples are:

  • Timelines that are too short or too long;
  • Expenditure caps;
  • Technical unknowns;
  • Complex stakeholder panorama.

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.

Managing customer requests in projects

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 requirements collected during the project planning phase will set your budget and project plan.

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.

Transform your strategy in action with Twproject!