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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

Managing several projects at once

There’s a reason why managing several projects at once is a highly sought-after skill in project management: the sheer thought of dealing with so many important tasks can be an anxiety-inducing experience for many project managers, and even the most skilled professionals can find themselves struggling.

However, it is becoming progressively less common for project managers to manage only one project at a time.

Successfully managing multiple projects at once requires extra skills and tools besides those commonly required to manage a single project.

Even if projects vary widely, the right tools can transform and simplify workflows and avoid unnecessary complexities.

Let’s discuss how to best manage multiple projects at once in this article.

5 strategies for managing and monitoring multiple projects

1. Plan before starting anything

When managing several projects, you should leave nothing to chance. It’s especially important to create a project plan ahead of time for every possible scenario and have contingency plans in place in case things go wrong.

The project manager must set realistic expectations for themselves and the team so that they are more likely to succeed on all fronts.

Also, the key to managing multiple projects is to plan in an integrated way while also preventing conflicts between projects.

Integrated planning allows you to catch potential problems early and try to reschedule.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Spread out starting dates for similar projects: in particular if different projects involve the same workgroup, it can help to spread out the start and completion dates for each one so that people won’t need to finish everything at the same time.
  • Pay attention to dependencies: plan the dependent project donly after the scheduled completion date of the first one.
  • Tick off duplicate tasks: if you submit the same work in two different projects, it’s critical to make sure this gets done in time to keep both projects on track.

2. Prioritize activities

Knowing how and when to prioritize activities in a project is extremely important.

The project manager must know which activities will have the greatest impact on the organization and prioritize them effectively.

A helpful approach can be to evaluate priorities based on four levels: important, not important, urgent, and not urgent.

Here are a few examples:

  • Important and urgent: arrange an early meeting to begin the new project;
  • Important, but not urgent: write a project management report.;
  • Urgent, but not important: reassure your client that the project is on schedule;
  • Non-urgent and unimportant: sending the latest report to all stakeholders outside the project team.

If there is something important and urgent, it should be taken care of before anything else.

Important but not urgent tasks should be scheduled for a later date.

Urgent, but not important tasks can be delegated by the project manager to someone else on the project team who possesses the skill to take care of it.

Non-urgent, non-important tasks should be re-examined to understand why they are being done.

For instance: if no one reads the report, why is time spent creating and sending it? It may be important to someone you don’t know about, else the activity may be deleted altogether.

3. Adjust your plan through regular reviews

There is no point in holding to the original plan no matter what happens.

To be flexible is an immensely important attribute that an effective project manager must have.

Particularly when managing multiple projects, there are several unknown variables that sometimes can flip the entire perspective upside down.

Therefore, it is important to hold regular review sessions where you update the original plan.

Sticking to a rigid plan without seeing the bigger picture could mean more mistakes and bottlenecks in the future.

4. Communication with your team members

An effective communication is, arguably, one of the most important aspects of project management.

That’s why we wrote an entire article on how to communicate with your project team.

If you don’t want to read the whole article, just know that communication problems in teams arise from a lack of visibility to what they are doing, what their colleagues are doing, and what cross-functional stakeholder are doing.

When you don’t have insights into the work others are accomplishing, you miss the context to understand why deadlines are happening, why changes are being made, whether priorities remain the same, and how the project is progressing.

The best way to communicate openly and consistently is to find a space where each and every thing is shared with the entire team.

When managing multiple projects, this becomes even more relevant, as the team can learn about any potential problems and discuss their solutions before serious project delays occur.
several projects at once

5. Use all tools available

Even the best project manager needs help.

Project management tools can be very beneficial for everyone and come with many features that make it extremely easy to manage multiple projects at once.

Using good project management software, you can run day-to-day tasks, track team progress, monitor assigned projects and assignments, and much more at the click of a button.

Also, when project information is spread across multiple files and scattered across different platforms, managing several projects can be difficult.

A project management tool creates a hub for documentation, feedback and communication by providing stakeholders with clarity on end results, deadlines and expectations.

This help provides the project manager with more time to refine plans and ensure that each assigned project stays on track and is completed successfully.

Working on several projects at once requires utmost dedication and skills.

Without good strategies for managing several projects at once, it’s hard to know what work to prioritize, how to help the team manage the workload and get everything done on schedule.

However, probably the most important tip is to choose and use a good project management software.

Try TWProject for free by clicking the button below.

Plan your projects with Twproject

Knowledge management: sharing project knowledge with Twproject

Sharing project knowledge allows you to manage the project effectively, tracking all the steps, choices made, reasons, changes, and what didn’t work.

This know-how should be synthesized into official project documentation that can be helpful in dealing with similar projects in the future, providing more accurate estimates, and generally improving the way work is accomplished within the organization.

However, in many companies, project knowledge sharing is not treated as seriously as it should be.

However, if you define a standard format and make use of a software like Twproject, you can build a knowledge sharing system that will be extremely useful for your organization in the long run.

Let’s see how in this article.

Twproject’s best features for sharing project knowledge

Organizations of all scales have been using Twproject to manage more efficiently:

Here are some features from Twproject to share knowledge and better manage a project:

1. Resource management

  • Easy collaboration with internal, external and remote team members.
  • The virtual workplace promotes collaborative planning and workflows.
  • Project timelines and effort estimation improve resource best allocation.
  • Personal task lists and deadline reminders help you deliver on commitments and meet deadlines.
  • Team members share centralized data, documents and contacts.
  • Information about the virtual workplace and project can be accessed from any device.

2. Activity management

  • Activity priorities are listed and assigned according to deadlines and dependencies.
  • Task lists can be organized, monitored, updated.
  • Task management for individual team members is flexible.
  • Easy identification of due, in progress, and planned activities.
  • View daily activities and progress across teams and projects.
  • Waterfall or Agile methodology
  • Workload recording while working, without extra effort.

3. Planning and scheduling

  • Goal planning and how to achieve them.
  • Option to create virtual project teams even with geographically scattered members.
  • Project requirements definition and management.
  • Activity duration planning, milestones and deadlines.
  • Visualize project schedules, tasks, and dependencies with complex Gantt charts – using the Gantt editor – or custom prioritized lists.
  • Roadmap building for long-term work strategies.

4. Work time management

  • Overview of current and future work commitments across teams and projects.
  • Team member assignment and resource allocation based on availability and capacity.
  • Easy pinpointing of who’s working on what, who’s overloaded and who’s unavailable allowing you to balance the workload.
  • Alerts on weekly email pages for proper worklog management.
  • Powerful worklog search system by person, project, client, date and more.

5. Documents management

  • Safely share files among all team members from multiple devices.
  • Manage and archive documentation in a single, secure, structured, accessible place.
  • Documentation history with version control, change detection, and document history.
  • Software that can be connected to various other document storage services.
  • Document indexing for faster and easier searching.

6. Issue management

  • Issue tracking.
  • Risk management and analysis.
  • User-friendly bug tracking system.
  • Ticket management system that allows you to stay closer to your clients.
  • Issue status customization as needed.
  • Powerful filters to find issues by status, project, customer, date.

7. Cost management

  • Budget allocation to both project and resource.
  • Budget, current cost, and expected outcome analysis by project.
  • Management of in-use and planned resources based on cost of use.
  • Administrative task effort minimization.

8. Enterprise solutions

  • Reliable project management service installed on the server or cloud as needed.
  • Quickly and easily customize fields and forms.
  • Custom reports that can be exported.
  • Feedback system directly from customers at no extra cost.
  • User-friendly database.
  • Advanced analytical data that also includes all changes that have occurred during a project’s lifecycle.
  • Advanced security model that protects data confidentiality, availability and integrity.
  • Customizable roles, permissions, read and write rights.
  • User-friendly interface.
  • Also available in English, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, Russian.
  • Free trial period and honest pricing.

Ultimately, knowledge management must be one of your core strategic resources to maintain a competitive advantage, and without the support of tools that allow you to share knowledge, it can easily be lost.

Twproject is one  best project management software available for boosting project knowledge management, promoting collaboration within a team or teams, and generally improving the performance of an organization.

The comprehensive features of this tool provide efficient planning and scheduling that simplify workflows and project management processes.

Many companies and project managers have already chosen Twproject for the management of their projects and for sharing knowledge, the very core of their corporate culture.

Test Twproject’s functions for yourself for free by clicking on the button below.

Keep up with the times.

PMBOK seventh edition

PMBOK’s seventh edition in English is due October 15, 2021, and it is a completely unexpected and unorthodox version of previous editions.

The origin of the PMBOK® guide and the approach and structure of it over the years are absolutely different than what the 7th edition will bring.

Let’s learn more about it in this article.

PMBOK®: a short story

In 1969, Ned Engman, James Snyder, Susan Gallagher, Eric Jenett and J Gordon Davis founded the Project Management Institute, or PMI.

PMI’s goals were clear from the very beginning: “promote acknowledgement of the need for professionalism in project management; provide a forum for the free exchange of project management problems, solutions, and applications; coordinate industry and academic research initiatives; develop common terminology and techniques to improve communications; provide an interface between users and suppliers of hardware and software systems; and provide guidelines for project management education and career development.

And this is the origin of PMBOK – “A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge” with its editions:

  • 1996: PMBOK® first edition
  • 2000: second edition
  • 2004: third edition
  • 2008: fourth edition
  • 2013: fifth edition
  • 2017: sixth edition
  • 2021: seventh edition

Every few years PMI carries out a definition study to understand how the role of the project manager is evolving, and the PMBOK® reflects project management methodologies, practices, and processes employed successfully in all industries around the world.

What are the key aspects that impacted PMBOK’s seventh edition?

seventh pmbok edition

PMBOK’s seventh version takes a step away from a process-oriented approach by moving to a principles-oriented, and results-oriented approach, thus supporting any type of project delivery.

Simply put, project management standards must focus on successful project and value delivery.

Yet another distinct change lies in the scope, where the focus is on project outcomes in addition to final project outputs.

Specifically, there are two key aspects that influence the changes in this new edition of the PMBOK:

  • Value Delivery System
  • Project Delivery System
  1. Value Delivery System

This is the holistic system through which projects deliver business value by achieving the organization’s business objectives.

Therefore, PMBOK’s seventh edition shows how a good strategy is able to deliver business value.

This is done through the definition of organizational strategies that help identify business objectives, which are then transformed into actionable initiatives such as programs and projects, which in turn produce end results that increase the organization’s capabilities.

The system that allows this to smoothly and predictively flow would be the value delivery system to be built into the organization.

The Value Delivery System consists of portfolios, programs, projects, and operations and uses a governance system to manage issues, enable workflow, and support decision-making capabilities.

  1. Project Delivery Principles

These are the “what” and “why” of project delivery that drive the thoughts and behavior of the people involved so that they can apply their efforts toward the end result.

Note the use of the concept of “project delivery” and not management.

There are 12 principles defined as standards for project management that describe a core norm or value:

  • Be diligent, respectful and considerate
  • Build a culture of responsibility and respect
  • Engage stakeholders to understand their interests and needs
  • Focus on value
  • Determine and respond to system interactions
  • Motivate, impact, teach and learn
  • Customize delivery approach based on context
  • Build quality into processes and outcomes
  • Tackle complexity using knowledge, experience, and learning
  • Face opportunities and threats
  • Be adaptive and resilient
  • Enable change to achieve the intended future status

And what will be the impact of these changes on the PMP and CAPM exams?

It is widely known that the PMBOK is the basis for PMP and CAPM certifications.

Therefore, one of the most frequently asked questions about PMBOK seventh edition concerns the impact of this new edition’s changes on the PMP and CAPM exams.

The PMP exam, for the time being, will continue to use PMBOK sixth edition as one of several references.

PMI is allowing several months before basing PMP certification on the new version of the PMBOK.

The same goes for the CAPM; the current exam will continue to be based on the sixth edition of the PMBOK as specified in the Exam Content Outline.

 

The fast technological advances and the need for organizations and professionals to adapt more rapidly to market changes have resulted in an even more rapid and radical evolution of project management.

Thus, this upcoming edition of the PMBOK will represent these major changes, which will already be visible by the fact that the guide will include only 250 pages compared to 700 pages in the 6th edition.

The seventh edition of the PMBOK will expand its potential audience to appeal to anyone involved in projects rather than being designed exclusively for project managers.

In addition, the guide will include a wide range of development approaches to address the needs of professionals, guide them to be more flexible, proactive, and effective in incorporating the requirements of their projects, and provide best practices for achieving value on the job.

Keep up with the times.

Lead and Lag time management: Benefits of using a software

Throughout the decades we’ve had significant technological advances that allow us to approach methods and issues more efficiently, including lead and lag time management.

In the perfect world, all project activities are aligned sequentially one after the other.

Therefore, it is the project manager’s responsibility to ensure that all of these activities begin and end according to the project schedule.

However, in some cases, the project manager needs to intentionally a speed up or delay dependent activities while still maintaining relationships.

This is where leads and lags come in as the most essential and fundamental building blocks of planning.

Let’s take a closer look at that in this article.

What are leads and lags in a project?

Let’s have a look at what we’re talking about and start by understanding what leads and lags are in a project.

What is lead time?

Lead time is defined in the PMBOK as “the length of time a following activity can be advanced over a previous activity.”

This means that when a task is still running and at the same time work begins on another task, lead time indicates the overlap between the first and second tasks.

Here’s a practical example: when introducing a new order management software, the organization may decide to start the training phase for project team employees at the same time that the development team is still performing testing activities on the software.

What is lead time in project management?

Lead time in project management refers to a finished, one-time project, or the completion of a significant portion of the project.

It is often used in Kanban workflows: if there are tabs labeled “To Do,” “Activities in Progress,” and “Activities Pending Next Steps,” the lead time – would span all three of these columns.

This is a great way to ensure that you are able to get the most out of your work, and that you are able to get the most out of it.

For example, if you have two activities, one that will take 5 days and the other 4, the result is 9 days of work.

If, for example, the second task has two days of lead time, i.e., you can start working on it two days earlier than the previous task ends, the total duration of this cycle can be reduced to 7 days instead of 9.

lead e lag time

What is lag?

Lag time is, according to PMBOK, “the length of time during which a following activity must be delayed relative to a previous activity.”

This delay is rarely intentional or positive and often prevents the project from moving to the next phase.

If the first activity has been successfully completed but there has been a delay with the start of the second, this amount of time is lag time.

What is a lag in project management?

In project management, lag (or delay) can occur when two or more dependent tasks are slowed down by an error along the way.

When one is stalled, the others must wait for the problem to be fixed to move forward.

Project management lag can lead to missed deadlines and budget issues if a backup plan hasn’t been set up in place ahead of time.

Lead and lag indicators in project management and the importance of using a software

Lead and lag indicators in project management therefore help evaluate performance.

By using a project management software you can compare your lead indicator with your lag indicator more easily to see what went well and what failed.

In the case of a series of recurring tasks or projects, you can compare past lead and lag indicators to find patterns, implement changes, and continue to improve.

Using software allows this comparison to be done more quickly because of historical data that can be saved and found again.

The most used planning technique is the precedence diagramming method to implement the critical path method for planning.

This method calculates the minimum time required to complete a project along with possible start and end times for project tasks.

A project management software such as TWproject, thanks to its algorithms for planning critical paths, makes it possible to efficiently manage projects with thousands of activities.

The actual electronic representation of the project schedule generally comprises a list of activities with their durations, required resources, and previous activities.

Graphical representations of the network, rather than using a simple list, are handy for visualizing the plan and ensuring that the mathematical requirements are met.

It can, in fact, be challenging for the project manager alone to identify all leads and lags, so the help of software is essential.

A feature of many planning software is that they incorporate types of activity interactions beyond the simple predecessor end to successor start constraint.

This feature is particularly important to ensure realistic schedules and a view of real work.

However, it is critical to understand how the software handles calculations so that you can use it as efficiently as possible.

Ultimately, lead and lag time allows the project manager to have flexibility in developing a project schedule.

A project manager oversees that a project finishes on time and must keep activities on schedule.

A long delay is often considered a failure in project management and keeping a project on schedule is therefore important to the success of the project management team.

Using project management software, it is possible to effectively manage leads and lags in a project by helping to track the duration of all activities within the project lifecycle.

Leads and lags exploit the flexibility in dependencies between activities that go beyond end-to-start relationships.

Therefore, these techniques are vital for proper and efficient activity scheduling, optimization of a timeline, and as input to determine a critical path.

Plan your work and your project deadlines.

What is project crashing and how to get the most out of it

What is project crashing and how to get the best out of it? This is what we will cover in this article.

Actually, there is never enough time to manage a project and that’s why schedules are made. The goal is to try to manage tasks on time and budget.

Sometimes, however, things go wrong. Project changes are obviously a common thing, but it is the project manager’s responsibility to make sure that these changes do not have a negative impact on the project schedule.

Some steps or situations in project management may need to be reassessed and the plan revised as needs arise.

An example of such reassessment is known as project crashing, a technique used to accelerate the timeline of a project.

What is project crashing?

This technique shortens the duration of a project by reducing the time of one or more tasks through increasing resources or finding shortcuts by eliminating unnecessary tasks.

Needless to say, more resources means higher project cost in general and therefore a change in earned value.

According to the triple constraint of the project – scope, cost and time – in fact, if you shorten the project duration, the costs increase or the project scope is reduced.

In the case of project crashing, the scope must remain the same, i.e., the results expected at the beginning of the project are not expected to change, which necessarily means increased costs.

Thus, the main goal of a project crashing is to reduce the duration of activities while keeping costs to a minimum.

the project crashing

Reasons to choose a project crashing

Choosing this strategy is a fairly extreme action that can be taken for the following reasons:

  • If you may face significant penalties or fines due to delays in the project timeline, it may be worthwhile to add more resources to advance your completion date.
  • If your organization happens to have additional resources, using them can help speed up the project schedule.
  • If you can be eligible for a bonus based on your project completion date, paying the cost of additional resources to complete the project sooner may make financial sense in the long run.
  • When an organization trains new staff members, it can assign additional project activities to those employees while they complete their training.
  • If your team is working on one project and is tasked to take on a new one, the original project may get a crashing so that you can finish it faster and focus on the new project sooner.

Project crashing best practices

Project crashing is generally the last strategy to be resorted to, because it is not risk-free.

There are a few factors you need to consider before taking this route:

  • The activities you are trying to speed up are within the critical path
  • ? If tasks are not within the critical path, you can probably ignore them rather than think about project crashing.
  • What is the task duration? A short task will be difficult to speed up, especially if it is not repeated throughout the project. In the case of a longer task, crashing might make sense, but you need to make sure you have the appropriate additional resources.
  • How long does project crashing take? For example, if the project requires very specific skills and hiring new resources would take a long time, the experts’ suggestion is to avoid this strategy. Also, crashing is most effective early in the timeline, usually when a project is less than halfway through completion.

Project crashing management steps

Once you have decided to make use of project crashing, here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Critical path: The first thing to do is to determine and analyze the project’s critical path. This will help determine which activities can be shortened or accelerated to complete the project sooner.
  2. Determine activities: Get a list of all the tasks, then meet with those to whom they have been assigned to and ask if they believe any or all of the critical path tasks could be reduced. If the answer is positive, start looking for ways to accelerate these tasks.
  3. Calculate costs: After narrowing down the activities in the critical path that you believe can be shortened, you move on to calculate how much it will cost to add more resources.
  4. Make a choice: When it is known how much you will have to spend, in relation to the time saved, on each activity in the critical path, you then move on to make a decision by choosing the least expensive route. Project crashing, in fact, is not just about adding resources to get it done faster, but getting the most for that extra expense. The project manager, in most cases, will need stakeholder approval to receive approval for changes to the project.
  5. Execute changes: After receiving approval for the increased budget and revised project timeline, you can start adding resources and accelerating identified activities. This step may involve training new staff members, redirecting resources to the project, or allowing those involved in the project to learn new skills.
  6. Implement the appropriate changes: Just as in any project, once a decision has been made regarding a change, the next step is to update all project documentation, il schedule, plan, and the Gantt.

 

It is important to stress that project crashing is not a risk-free strategy.

Failing to do it correctly means sending the entire project into a tailspin, driving costs through the roof and missing the original deadline, thus setting yourself up for assured failure.

Therefore, evaluating the execution of a project crash is much easier if you have the right tools for the job.

A project management software allows you to create graphic timelines, and budget and schedule simulations, allowing you to experiment with different crashing strategies and its use then allows you to make the best choice.

Keep up with the times.

Accountability: what it is and why it’s important for a Project Manager

Accountability is important for a project manager, as following a project without accountability is like working without a safety net.

Yes, it is possible to get things done, but these can become disastrous if something or someone is at fault and no one knows or can prove who is responsible for what, and team cohesion falls apart.

Without accountability, a project manager can’t lead a project or be part of a team because failure is virtually assured.

But what does accountability mean?

This term addresses a critical problem in project management.

Accountability is often mistaken with “responsibility,” however its meaning is significantly different: Accountability is the ability to be accountable and responsible for an outcome, while responsibility is about the ability to perform and complete a given task.

An activity may have several managers performing it, but ideally, one accountable person is responsible for the outcome of the work performed.

The concept of accountability thus consists of:

  • Assigning responsibility.
  • Ensure there is a sharing regarding expectations: what needs to be delivered, how long it will take, and how much it will cost to provide a quality result.
  • Communicate on progress and completion status.
  • Be open about issues and risks.
  • Give and receive feedback.
  • Accept the blame or fame associated with the outcome.

Yet while the concept of accountability is clear and straightforward, this is not as easy to achieve as it might seem.

Often, members of a project team report to a different organizational leader, so direct authority may be nonexistent.

In addition, project activities are often considered a second priority to day-to-day responsibilities.

So, how can you ensure accountability in project management?

Some strategies for success include:

  1. Define expectations.
  2. Philosophy of Accountability.
  3. Highlight tasks interconnectedness.
  4. Follow-up on action items.

Let’s have a look at these points in more detail.

accountability for a pm

Setting expectations

It is a common mistake to assume that project expectations and goals are clear when they are vague.

There is often uncertainty in project expectations, which leads project managers to conflict with priorities.

Lack of well-written and clearly stated documents on tasks and responsibilities is the main problem that causes situations where the manager and the team fail to make the right decisions and lose focus on the project.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself in this case:

  • Will the project lose focus if a mini-crisis occurs, such as a potential late shipment or a problem with a piece of equipment?
  • If a team member’s direct manager needs a report or action completed, will the project lose focus?
  • If the project conflicts with the department’s priorities, will the project lose focus?

Most of the time, these problems delay or even fail projects.

A project manager should think through potential conflicts, determine priorities, and communicate clearly in advance.

In these cases, not only project successful, but other needs are usually met as well.

Accountability philosophy

A critical action that falls into the hands of management is to foster an environment of accountability among team members and project stakeholders in general.

The project manager must ensure what individual and team accountability mean, not only for themselves but also for all team members.

This means adopting a philosophy that success depends on more than just meeting deadlines and executing tasks.

Speaking of deadlines, a good Gantt in project management software becomes indispensable.

Project managers, team members, and stakeholders must feel a personal obligation to achieve goals and deliver the highest level of quality and commit to being personally responsible for the project’s success.

Highlight tasks interconnectedness

Projects almost always include interdependent activities, and some things must happen in sequence for the project to be successful.

As a project manager lays out the details of a project to the team, the project manager should intentionally highlight how activities intersect.

With the project manager showing team members how tasks relate to each other and how each person must do an excellent job for the benefit of other team members, the project manager incentivizes everyone to hold each other accountable.

Follow-up on action items

When team members make commitments, the entire team must be able to count on completing the task.

As tasks are assigned, the project manager should ensure that team members keep their word.

Once the first step, the accountability philosophy, has established an atmosphere of responsibility, there is no need for the project manager to reprimand someone for not following through. Group dynamics will take care of the situation.

The project manager may need to ask in-depth questions about why a commitment was not met from time to time. Still, usually, the accountable person will be willing to expose themselves to mistakes and recommit to completing the original action and possibly atoning for any shortcomings in performance.

 

Accountability and responsibility are therefore critical to the success of a project, and a strong accountability philosophy is the first step in ensuring the necessary accountability for projects.

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Project Management (Structure, Roles, Responsibilities, and Objectives)

Project management uses specific knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to deliver something of value to people and/or organizations.

Developing software to improve business processes, constructing a building, relief efforts after a natural disaster, expanding sales into a new market… all of these are examples of projects.

Thus, a project is a temporary effort, lasting more or less over time, to create value through a product, service, or outcome.

All projects have a structure, a team with roles and responsibilities, goals to be met, and a project manager coordinates them.

Furthermore, each project is unique and differs from an organization’s routine operations.

Today, let’s take a closer look at how project management works.

What is project management, and where does it come from?

Project management can be defined as the discipline of applying specific processes and principles to initiate, plan, execute, and manage how new initiatives or changes are implemented within an organization.

Project management is different from regular task management because it involves creating new work packages and activities to achieve agreed-upon goals and objectives.

Throughout human history, project management has always been practiced informally. Still, it began to emerge as a distinct profession in the mid-20th century, thanks to a group of professionals from the aerospace, engineering, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications industries.

Motivated by the need to address the planning and resource issues associated with increasingly complex projects, they met to define and standardize tools for a new profession…

… Thus, in 1969, the Project Management Institute, or PMI, the world authority on project management, was born.

Since then, project management has become a specialized area of business, and projects, in general, have increasingly become the driving force behind the way work gets done.

It is now widely recognized that a basic understanding of project management can provide value to people in various roles across a wide range of activities.

project management structure

Structure of project management

The key components of project management are:

  • Time: the expected duration of the job.
  • Cost: The budget allocated for the work.
  • Scope: what innovations or changes will be provided by the project.
  • Quality: the standard of the project outcome.

While there are a variety of methodologies and approaches to managing a project, most follow these steps:

  • Project Initiation: the project manager defines what the project will achieve and accomplish, working with sponsors and stakeholders to agree on the results.
  • Planning: the project manager records all activities, assigns deadlines for each, and establishes relationships and dependencies.
  • Execution: the project manager assembles the project team, collects and allocates available resources and budgets for specific tasks.
  • Monitoring: the project manager oversees the progress of project work and updates project plans to reflect actual performance.
  • Closure: The project manager ensures that the outputs provided by the project are accepted by the company and releases the project team.

Roles and responsibilities in project management

Project management is recognized as a distinct business function within an organization, and project managers have a specific role and responsibilities in accomplishing the goals of their projects.

The project manager will define and execute the project, lead the team, and decide how to approach the work based on several factors, including the type of project, the needs of the company, and the experience of colleagues working on the project.

As project managers are responsible for delivering the projects they work on, they need a wide range of skills, including good verbal and written communication, leadership, planning skills, problem and conflict resolution, time management, and negotiation.

But project managers are not the only players in project management: the project team and other stakeholders also play an essential part.

The project manager indeed coordinates the project team. Still, a project would be impossible to complete without people who can work professionally on their tasks and who believe in the goals to be achieved.

Project management also involves other individuals and, in some cases, even other organizations whose interests are related to the project and its outcomes.

These are called project stakeholders, and for the outcome to be a success, each individual must know their specific role and responsibilities throughout the life cycle of a project.

 

So, why is project management so important? Because nothing is ever done by accident and without first creating a plan by following the proper processes.

Therefore, project management is the action that helps and enables you to create those expected goals.

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The project status report

The project status report is that particular document that the project manager is required to draft. These are regular reports that include information about the project aimed to update stakeholders on the progress of the work.

To ensure that these updates contain the essential information that stakeholders need, we will detail how to create this type of documentation in this article.

 What is a project status report?

It is a document that describes the progress of a project within a specific time frame and compares it to the project plan.

Project managers use status reports to keep stakeholders informed of progress and track costs, risks, time, and labor. This reporting can be either transmitted directly or communicated during a status meeting.

The project status report will generally include the following:

  • The work that has been completed.
  • The plan for what will follow.
  • The summary of the project budget and schedule.
  • A list of action items.
  • Any problems and risks and what is being done about them.

The benefits of using the project status report are:

  • Create and enable stakeholder consensus.
  • Provide transparency on progress.
  • Help identify problems and risks.
  • Identify the status of the work being done.
  • Provide an indicator of the health of the project.
  • Preventing unpleasant surprises.
  • Provide a method for holding project members and various stakeholders accountable.

How to create a project status report

project status report

A project status report can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Regardless of the scope, the steps for creating this document are essentially the same. Here are which ones:

1. Name the report

A great option is to use the project name for clarity and progressive numbers and dates.

2. Indicate project status

This means indicating whether the project is currently on track, at risk, or off track. The health of the project can be shown visually rather than in narrative form, using a predetermined color code to represent the status of each element:

  • Green = on track,
  • Yellow = at risk,
  • Red = off track.

3. Provide a summary of the status report

The summary of the project status report should be short, about 2-3 sentences. The goal here is to give readers who may not have time to read the most important information and essential facts.

4. Divide into key areas or milestones

Choose and divide the report into key areas; for example, you could break things down chronologically: what we’ve done, what we’re working on, and what will happen next, like a calendar. Or the report can be broken down into weekly, monthly, and quarterly segments. Another option is to group updates by role: marketing, design, IT, administration, etc.

5. Add a high-level overview for each key area

For each key area included in the project status report, it is crucial to add a few summary bullet points that provide a quick overview of progress, accomplishments, and upcoming work.

6. Adding links to other documents or resources

Even if you don’t want to include every little detail in such a report, some people will want to know more. For those interested parties looking for more in-depth information, provide links to documents or resources that allow a more detailed view.

7. Pay attention to any problem or challenge you encountered in the project

All projects face obstacles. Keeping stakeholders in the loop when issues arise will help everyone know what’s going on and adjust accordingly.

8. Include additional notes or highlights

These could be a list of next steps, compliments, and thanks to someone, or anything else worth highlighting in the report.

 

The foundation for effective project status monitoring and reporting is laid as early as project planning.

The project manager and stakeholders set clear goals and checkpoints to measure progress and on which project status reports will be based.

The actual value of a project status report goes beyond its use as a communication channel, as it also provides a documented history of the project.

This can provide historical data that, during a similar project in the future, can help avoid missteps or bottlenecks.

Because project status reports cover many critical topics in a summarized manner, they can take time to be created.

However, good project management software can speed up and significantly improve the reporting process by having instant access to all the most critical information and status of activities.

It is essential to keep in mind that stakeholders rely on the project status report to make decisions.

Therefore, project managers must provide complete and accurate information.

If you have not already done so, try TWproject for free.

Use Twproject to generate your status update reports.

Project manager communication

Effective project manager communication is an essential part of project management.

Their job is to align everyone on one goal and ensure that all the correct and complete information gets to the proper channels.

When thinking about how project managers can improve their communication skills, we often focus only on the output: when to say something, how to say it, and how often to say it.

While these are all fundamental components of communication, a successful project manager knows that they must also consider listening to and managing emotions, their own and those of the team.

Why project manager communication is important

According to the PMBOK, about 75% of a project manager’s work time is devoted to communication.

Communication is a core competency that, when properly executed, connects each member of a project team to a standard set of strategies, goals, and actions.

Unless these components are effectively shared by project managers and understood by stakeholders, project outcomes may be compromised.

When project managers have solid communication skills, they can lead more successful projects, increase ROI and help the organization outperform its competitors.

These strong communication skills enable project managers to establish healthy and trusting relationships with their team and stakeholders at a micro level.

Here are what are three key elements in turning project manager communication into successful communication.

Establish a communication structure

The first step toward effective communication is to establish a framework. This framework is a plan that allows for efficient communication with the team, stakeholders, executives, and customers.

In practice, this means agreeing on who communicates what, to whom, when, and how.

By setting clear expectations from the start, everyone is given the tools they need to succeed.

A comprehensive communication structure includes:

  • A purpose: the reason for the framework, as well as the reasons for each communication method it covers.
  • An outline of the project requirements: the requirements of the project.
  • A list of communication methods to be used and goals associated with each: these include meetings (starting with the Kick-off meeting), email, daily meetings, instant messaging, and any project management software or tools to be used.
  • Time, Dates, and Frequency: It is essential to set expectations and precedents for the timing of communications.
  • Roles and responsibilities: although the project manager will handle most communications, a straightforward process is also needed for how other team members and stakeholders communicate.

the project manager's communication

Practicing active listening

Knowing how to speak well is one thing, but a project manager stands out when they also know how to really listen to someone.

When a project manager practices active listening, they’re not just paying attention to the content of a message – they’re tuning in to nuances like body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

This skill allows the project manager to identify problems, risks, and opportunities better.

Conversely, poor listening is often linked to errors, reduced effectiveness, and missed opportunities.

Becoming an active, mindful listener takes time, practice, and dedication, but it’s worth it for the professional and personal benefits it brings.

Here are some tips for increasing your listening power:

  • Don’t Interrupt: It seems like common sense, but it’s all too easy to interrupt someone when you feel excited by the conversation or don’t want to hear what the other person is saying. Pausing for a couple of seconds when the other person has finished speaking ensures that they have finished their thought.
  • Make time for conversation: nobody can listen adequately when in a hurry or distracted by other activities. It is best not to have a conversation, in person or online, if you are not prepared to give it your full attention. This is where mistakes and misunderstandings can occur. Communicate only when you are ready to receive the message; if the time is not right, politely ask the other person to speak at another time.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal signs: this allows you to engage in a deeper and less superficial level of communication. Often, people tend to say something they don’t believe to avoid arguments or bad feelings; in these cases, non-verbal signs can help you understand where the truth lies.
  • Ask the right questions: when a person listens without asking questions, it can give the impression that they are not interested or involved in what you are saying.
  • Be objective: It is easy to get caught up in your feelings and priorities when communicating with someone. To practice mindful listening, you need to leave behind personal prejudices and ideas and process the message from an objective point of view.

Using the right tools

Using the right communication tools for the situations is critical to making the tone of the communication effective. Let’s examine the various cases.

For non-urgent communication

In this case, the formality of an email might be too much, but even arranging a meeting seems overkill.

When it comes to non-urgent communication needs, instant messaging is, in most cases, the best communication channel to choose.

These tools are excellent for random questions or concerns, don’t require real-time participation, and perhaps most importantly, don’t interrupt the workflow of others.

In addition, using these tools also provides a record of the conversation that you can refer to later.

Chat in a project management software might be the best solution.

For project updates

The communication framework should let everyone know which platforms are preferred for updates and general project status announcements.

Again, using project management software might be the ideal tool to collect content in one place so that the team and stakeholders don’t have to waste time searching for what they need.

Every document, file, discussion, task, a deadline can be viewed here.

For official and important communications

When it comes time to communicate important and official information about the project, the project manager must secure the attention of all team members and stakeholders.

In this case, a meeting where everyone is invited may be the best strategy.

On this occasion, interested persons also can ask questions or present concerns that can be answered immediately.

With effective communication practices and processes, misunderstandings and conflicts can be eliminated.

Communication planning means spending time early in the project planning process to understand the stakeholders and how they want to communicate and receive communications.

By respecting their needs, they will be more involved and motivated for the success of the project.

The details of project communication management may vary based on the project manager’s style, the size of the project, or the industry. Still, either way, communication will play an essential role from the beginning to the end of a project.

With a straightforward communication plan, dedication to mindful listening, and the right tools, the project manager and their team will be better prepared to tackle any project successfully.

Keep up with the times.

Design phases and methods

Managing a project is no easy feat; design phases and methods are required steps regardless of the size and scope of a project.

A lot can go wrong, from planning minor details to managing ever-changing customer demands to timely shipping results.

When you divide a project, whether complex or not, into more manageable phases, each with its own goals and results, it’s easier to control the quality of output and the success of a project.

The best-known method of project management is the Project Management Cycle – PMC, which consists of 4 phases:

  1. Start-up phase
  2. Definition and planning phase
  3. Execution phase
  4. Evaluation and closure phase

So let’s see in this article the design steps and methods in detail.

The 4 project phases

This is referred to as the project cycle because these phases are progressive, meaning that you cannot begin the next stage if the previous one has not been completed.

The PMC is not a static method but can be adapted to the needs of various contexts even if the cycle’s structure does not change.

design method

1. Startup Phase

The purpose of this first phase is to identify and understand the project’s goals and then to transform an abstract idea into something more meaningful.

At this stage, you need to develop a business case and define the project at a general level, its functions, deadlines, tasks, and characteristics.

Also, if the project requires a feasibility study, now is the time to do it. This study allows you to see if the project is feasible by considering the economic, legal, operational, and technical aspects.

Identifying any critical issues will help analyze whether they can be resolved with appropriate solutions.

At the end of this phase, a project plan is drafted to be accepted by the stakeholders, and here, a project manager is officially appointed who will take control of the project.

2. Definition and planning phase

The planning phase is where the project solution is further developed in as much detail as possible, and the steps necessary to achieve the project goal are planned.

This is where all the work to be done is identified with timelines and milestones.

In addition, a project budget is prepared, providing estimates of labor, equipment, and material costs.

Once the activities have been identified, the schedule has been prepared, and the costs have been estimated, the three basic components of the planning phase are completed.

This is an excellent time to identify and address anything that could threaten successful project completion, known as risk management.

In risk management, potential problems, according to varying degrees of threat, are identified along with the action that must be taken to reduce the likelihood of the issue occurring and reduce the negative impact on the project should it happen.

Finally, you will want to set quality goals, assurance, and control measures, along with an acceptable plan, listing the criteria that must be met to gain customer acceptance.

The planning phase of the project requires complete diligence as it defines the project schedule.

Unless you opt for a modern project management methodology such as Agile management, this second phase of the project cycle should take almost half of the entire project time frame.

3. Execution phase

During this third phase, the execution phase, the project plan is set in motion, and the work is done – in practice.

In any project, a project manager spends most of their time in this phase, and their job is to establish efficient workflows and closely monitor the team‘s progress.

Another responsibility of the project manager during this stage is to maintain effective collaboration among project stakeholders consistently.

This ensures that everyone stays on the same page and that the project works and moves forward smoothly.

At this stage, using good project management software can largely help manage the activities and the project team, improving efficiency and increasing productivity.

The success of the execution phase of a project is closely dependent on how effectively the planning phase has been executed.

Project status reports should always emphasize the expected endpoint cost, schedule, and quality of results.

Each project deliverable produced should be reviewed and measured against the acceptance criteria established in the planning phase.

Once all outputs have been produced, the project is ready for the last phase, the closing phase.

4. Evaluation and closure phase

With much time and effort invested in project planning, it is often forgotten that the final phase of the project life cycle is just as important.

Before the closing phase itself, an evaluation phase takes place, which can be more or less considered as part of the last step.

In this case, the quality of the output is assessed against the requirements initially established, and it is noted whether these have been met in full, in part, or the result has not been satisfactorily achieved.

During the actual closeout phase or completion phase, the emphasis is on releasing final results to the client, delivering project documentation to the company, terminating vendor contracts, releasing project resources, and communicating project closeout to all stakeholders.

The last remaining step is to analyze what went well and what didn’t and to identify best practices.

In this way, the wisdom of the experience is transferred to the organization and can help teams working on future projects.

It is important to note that the closure phase does not occur only when a project is completed successfully; it must also happen when a project has failed to understand why and avoid the same mistakes in the future.

Project characteristics

A project commonly has the following characteristics:

  • In the beginning, cost and staffing levels are low and peak when the work is in progress. When the project is reaching completion, these again begin to drop rapidly.
  • The typical cost and staffing curve does not apply to all projects. Substantial expenditures secure essential resources at the beginning of the project.
  • Risk and uncertainty are at their peak at the beginning of the project. These factors are reduced during the project life cycle and especially when the final results are accepted.
  • The ability to influence the project’s final product without drastically affecting costs is most significant at the beginning and decreases as the project progresses toward completion. Clearly, the cost of making new changes and correcting errors increases as the project approaches completion.

These features are present in almost every type of project, albeit in different ways or degrees.

 

Bottom line, regardless of the type of project, it is essential to understand the cycle, design phases, and design methods.

This will allow you to manage your project more efficiently by correctly identifying problems, tasks, resources, and alternative solutions.

Keep up with the times.

Design Reviews – how and when to do them

Setting a standard of project reviews and when to do them can improve efficiency and help keep a project running on time and within budget.

The most common reasons why design reviews are not performed, we find:

  • Fear of facing failure and its causes. If failure is regarded as something to be denied and hidden rather than an opportunity for growth, it is clear how revisions are avoided as much as possible.
  • Blame. If the culture relies on blame and punishment to motivate behavior, there will be resistance and defensiveness to reviews – especially negative ones. Blaming will promote fear.
  • Negative experience, such as when previous reviews were unhelpful or not followed up to implement changes based on lessons learned.
  • Lack of qualified facilitators. Qualified facilitators are needed to make reviews effective by addressing the tendency of project managers and implementers to be action-oriented rather than introspective and reflective. A facilitator will allow participants to confront negative situations without falling into a defensive attitude directly.
  • Lack of time. Stakeholders have already moved on to the next project or go back to their operational activities. The review is not considered a priority and valuable activity and is therefore left undone. If there is not a culture of continuous improvement, there is not enough motivation to sustain the effort of a review.
  • Lack of a documented project management process. The absence of guidelines and templates results in unnecessary effort and the absence of useful information gained during the project.

However, it is now widely accepted that reviews are the key to improving future performance by learning from past performance.

Here are practical tips for successful design reviews.

Types of Design Reviews

Four types of reviews can be conducted during a project.

First Project Review: The first project review will determine if the project meets the requirements defined as necessary.

Completion Review: The completion review will determine if the project has met all requirements, approvals, and deliverables defined by the project scope and if the management process has met all required standards.

Special Reviews: Special reviews will determine if the project meets all requirements, approvals, and deliverables defined by the project scope at the time the special review is conducted. It will also determine that all project management processes are in place and meet all required standards. Finally, the special review may focus on a subset of activities, conditions, or work products highlighted as “at risk.”

Stakeholder Requested Review: A project stakeholder may request an “ad hoc” or “special review.” Reasons for this type of review may include, for example: a change in management, a significant issue that may affect the project’s ability to deliver the requested solution, a project that has been classified as “non-compliant” and requires a specific finding. The format of this review is similar to the standard project review.

Description of the review process

As seen above, there are different types of reviews. It tends to be a similar process for all cases and may vary slightly.

Introduction of design review

The review team initiates the review process by scheduling it with the project manager.

It is essential to schedule the review to be conducted in a way that is not disruptive to the project itself.

This is not always possible; however, interruption caused by a review should be considered.

Design review initiation stage

The project review team compiles an input packet containing materials to help the project manager understand the review process and what they need to make available for project review.

Subsequent meetings will be scheduled with the project manager and designated project team members.

The input package will typically contain process documentation, a checklist, and sample questions.

Research phase of project review

The research phase is divided into two activities: documentation review and interview.

During the documentation review, documents are retrieved for analysis to ensure that the required project deliverables are in the designated location.

During the second activity, the review team will conduct informal exploratory interviews with the project manager and project team, or some members, and any other stakeholders.

The results and documentation will then be analyzed and compared to the approved project methodology.

This phase can take one to two business days, depending on the project’s size, scope, and complexity.
design review

Final project review report stage

A project review report will be provided to the project manager at the end.

This document is to ensure that there are no communication issues about the results between the project manager and the review team.

If there is a difference of opinion, the project manager and review team can arrange additional meetings.

Upon completion, the review team will formalize the information gathered throughout the review process with any recommendations and changes that the project manager will be required to implement.

Based on these results, the project will be classified as red, yellow, or green, and this project status will indicate whether the project meets the standards or not.

If the project is determined to be red, i.e., “at risk,” a follow-up review will be scheduled.

 

Learning to evaluate projects, current or past, is one of the best ways to find out what sectors need improvement and do a better job in the future.

As organizations and their processes mature, effective performance reviews as part of continuous project performance improvement will become a standard.

Work together with your team effectively.

Streamline project processes

Streamlining processes in projects prevents unnecessary complications. Obviously, excessive complexity is one of the biggest obstacles to completing a project on time and within budget.

Even well-planned, clearly defined projects can get out of control and become something they were never meant to be.

Fortunately, several strategies to follow allow you to streamline the processes in a project and stay focused on the end goals.

Let’s see what they are in this article.

Keeping an eye on the big picture

Project management is similar to a jigsaw puzzle: you need to take your cue from the image on the box cover to make the pieces fit together.

The project can stop if you get fixated on one or two pieces and don’t look at the final figure.

People often plan individual activities by focusing on the doing rather than on the end or intermediate results.

In this way, the focus shifts from planning the activity to planning project tasks based on desired outcomes. That’s a whole different story.

Take ideas from or follow already approved processes

When creating a project plan, and generally throughout its life cycle, don’t be afraid to follow methods that have worked for other similar situations.

If another team has successfully developed a process that completes similar tasks, you can either take a cue or copy it entirely.

Best practices are a storehouse of successful tools that can be applied to other projects and shared with other teams. You may find this article about “Lessons Learned” worth to check in this regard.

Assign names, dates, and consequences

Simplifying things doesn’t always require acting on activities. Sometimes you need to use clarity!

Example? When we assign a task, it’s often not enough to say that someone is responsible for this or that and let that person organize.

In most cases, the project manager must name an activity and provide information about the due date and identify any consequences that failure to meet those deadlines may bring.

This does not mean threatening the team with termination but merely letting them know what other tasks are subordinate to this particular activity and the potential cost or result of a delay.

In many cases, the people involved only receive one piece of the puzzle and do not have the opportunity to see the final image in its entirety.

Because of this, they may not be aware of the other moving pieces, and telling them what is involved, will help them better understand the importance of their actions, and ignorance will not be an excuse.

Use project management software

Project management software helps to bring together all the information of a project in one place, allowing you to know at all times its status.

By choosing project management software, we ensure that the project manager and the entire team are on the same page, even when working remotely.

In addition, this type of software is beneficial for daily, weekly, or monthly notifications that can help keep work on track, remind you of deadlines and due dates, and manage priorities.

By freeing team members from remembering their daily tasks, they will have more mental energy to focus on higher types of “non-automated” tasks.

Stay organized

streamline processes

The project manager is responsible for managing all the details that allow a project to progress successfully.

These details include tracking assigned and completed tasks.

To keep the project under control, you need to make the following actions standard to maintain order:

  • Update task status in project management software on a frequent and regular basis.
  • Tick activities as soon as they are finished.
  • Assign tasks to team members at regular intervals but without overloading them to avoid reduced performance.

Maintaining order and always keeping an eye on the workload level of team members helps keep employee efficiency and morale high.

Manage priorities and reduce task size

Especially with multiple projects running concurrently, it is essential to manage priorities and choose an order of work that satisfies the law of diminishing returns.

When this does not happen, plans fail, and projects are not completed as quickly or efficiently as possible.

To simplify the process, the project manager should give more attention to a few projects rather than engage all of them, especially when you have to manage limited resources.

The same applies if you have more than one activity at the same time.

One of the keys to streamlining processes is understanding what’s important – and what’s not – and continually re-evaluating the priority list as new things are added.

In addition, reducing the size of tasks is also a strategy that helps streamline processes in projects.

 

Project managers must therefore develop process simplification as a critical leadership skill.

With a well-structured and organized approach and following the different strategies presented in this article, you will be able to eliminate unnecessary complexities and complete projects faster and more efficiently.

Finally, it’s essential to keep in mind that complexity is like a weed in the garden… even when you eliminate it, it can reoccur at any time.

Whenever this happens, you can revisit these strategies to streamline processes in your projects.

Plan your work and your project deadlines.

Project management: how to best coordinate a project

Project management implies a diverse mix of skills, know-how, time management and communication abilities.

To efficiently approach all these activities, it is very important for any project manager  to follow certain aspects to coordinate a project in the best possible way and to finish it successfully.

So let’s see what are the main aspects of good project management in this article.

Project management: Project scope management

This is the first step in the coordination of any project; this is where the objectives are established and the elements that are not included in the scope of the project are outlined.

This step is always executed at the beginning, before starting the practical work for a project.

All of this should be compiled into official documentation that will serve as a guide throughout the project life cycle.

Project management: Priority management

It should be no surprise that good project coordination comes from good organization.

As a project manager, the main goal should be to make sure that processes run smoothly and are on the same page as the common goal for which you are working towards.

This skill of prioritizing tasks correctly, compartmentalizing the project in more manageable ways, and documenting everything in an orderly fashion is the essence of good project coordination.

Project management: Communication management

A large part of a project’s success depends on having effective communication.

When you improve it, you also maximize success while reducing risk.

A project manager must follow project requirements, so it is crucial that these are clearly communicated to the team.

Everyone needs to know exactly what needs to be done by when and any alternative solutions.

Good communication management is necessary in a variety of situations, including:

  • Inform stakeholders about the project plan and scope.
  • Keep team members informed about changes in the project planning.
  • Be able to highlight project issues and risks
  • To be able to provide clear and genuine visibility of the project status.
  • To get consensus or support from senior management if something goes wrong.

Project management: Managing stakeholder expectations

Project coordination means working with many stakeholders.

From engineers to the marketing team, from the IT department to the finance and legal teams… a project manager will be required to work with all of them.

Therefore, to coordinate a project in the best possible way, you need to ensure that not only team members, but also all stakeholders involved, are aware of what is expected of them.

This means having defined roles and responsibilities and clear time constraints. In addition, it is the project manager’s responsibility to keep everyone updated on a regular basis.

Building strong relationships and good communication with stakeholders promotes efficiency and reduces misunderstandings.

Professionally, but also personally, if you engage in creating positive interactions, you will create a more positive atmosphere and vision.

best coordinate a project

Project management: Having an open mind

The project manager, having many contacts with different stakeholders and departments as previously observed, has a unique opportunity to learn something new.

This cross-departmental communication allows for a better understanding of project dynamics.

By opening your mind, you can better understanding stakeholder interests, expectations, and knowledge gaps.

Being able to merge all of these parts and relate them to larger business goals is also an easy way to increase team engagement and dedication.

Project management: Risk management

Project risk management is an essential part of project management.

Even for the most trivial projects, risk may be around the corner, whereas in the case of more complex projects it will, in most instances, be unavoidable.

Proper project risk management prevents many nasty surprises.

You need to make team members and stakeholders aware of project risks and provide them with a means of communication through which they can communicate quickly in case a problem arises.

Project management: Change management

Even with a well-defined project scope and a solid plan in place, changes to the project may inevitably occur.

Developing a proactive change management process enables the team to get on with the work and not get stuck, moving forward confidently.

Obviously, not every change needs to be approved beforehand, but the issue or risk needs to be identified and the change and what it means for the project weighed.

If the change is approved, you will need to update your project plan and transparently present the change to the team and stakeholders.

Project management:  Improving efficiency through software

Embedding certain project manager software to boost project management efficiency can be a great help.

This allows you to get all the information in one place that can be accessed by stakeholders.

Some features could help automate tasks, freeing up the project team to focus on other tasks.

Also, using project management software helps you track results and make sure the project stays within the tracks.

If you’ve never used project management software, try TWproject for free by clicking here

 

Bottom line, project management can be quite challenging, especially for more complex projects, but overcoming it with a structured plan and clear processes will help the project manager coordinate a project to the best of their ability.

With the tips listed above, the project coordinator will possess the knowledge and tools necessary for establishing a satisfying work environment, increasing productivity and, of course, achieving project success.

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