Gantt vs Agile: differences and combinations

Gantt vs Agile? Choosing between tools and methodologies in project management can significantly impact your project’s outcome.

Understanding the peculiarities of a planning tool such as Gantt and a dynamic methodology such as Agile is critical for project managers who strive to optimize processes and lead their work teams to success.

We will examine their differences, benefits, and potential combinations for effective project management.

Gantt vs Agile: key differences

The distinction between the Gantt chart and Agile is fundamentally rooted in their nature – the  Gantt chart is a visual tool for planning and monitoring project phases, visualizing the length and sequence of activities on a time axis.

Conversely, Agile provides a flexible and iterative methodology designed to adapt to quick changes and promote continuous feedback between development teams and customers.

This core difference strongly impacts how project managers approach the structuring, execution, and adaptation of their projects.

The choice between Gantt and Agile and the decision to integrate them depends on the nature of the given project, the work environment, customer requirements, and team culture. Understanding these key differences is pivotal for project managers who seek to implement the most effective strategy for managing their projects.

Let’s take a look at their key differences:

1. Approach to planning:

  • Gantt chart: It is based on detailed and sequential project planning. Activities are presented as colored bars on a chart, with clearly defined start and end dates. This approach provides a clear picture of the project and makes it easier to monitor progress; however, it can be inflexible and unsuitable for projects with variable requirements or in uncertain contexts.
  • Agile: It is based on an iterative and incremental approach. The project is broken down into short cycles (sprints) lasting 1-4 weeks; a working version of the product is released at the end. This approach promotes flexibility and adaptability to change, making it ideal for projects involving uncertain settings or requirements that may evolve over time.

2. Team involvement:

  • Gantt chart: The team’s involvement in the planning phase may be limited. The Gantt chart is often created by the project manager or a planning team, and the development team may only play a minor role in defining activities and timelines.
  • Agile: The Agile methodology focuses on team involvement and collaboration. The development team is actively involved in sprint planning, task estimation, and decision-making. This approach supports the empowerment and motivation of the team.

3. Change management:

  • Gantt chart: The Gantt chart is a strict tool that is not well-suited for frequent changes. Changing a single activity can have a chain effect on the whole project, requiring an update of the diagram and timetable.
  • Agile: Agile methodology is designed to manage change flexibly. The sprint structure allows the project schedule to be revised and adapted frequently, incorporating feedback received and any changes in requirements.

Gantt vs Agile: pros and cons

Gantt and Agile offer distinct approaches to project planning, execution, and control, and each has its unique strengths.

Exploring both advantages can help project managers choose the best approach for their unique project needs, balancing detailed planning with the ability to adapt quickly to evolving challenges.

Pros of the Gantt chart:

  • Detailed and accurate planning: Gantt provides a visual portrayal of the project plan, illustrating the duration, start, and end of each activity on a time axis. This way, project managers can plan in detail and easily understand the dependencies between different activities, ensuring that all teams are aware of the different activities.
  • Progress monitoring: Project managers can easily monitor progress compared to the original plan, quickly spotting any delays or deviations from the schedule.
  • Deadline orientation: The Gantt diagram is especially useful in projects with well-defined objectives and deadlines, where the sequence and duration of activities are clear from the get-go.
gantt chart dependences

Pros of the Agile methodology:

  • Short iterations and constant feedback: Agile is based on short development cycles, known as sprints, which make it possible to adapt quickly to changes and to incorporate feedback from customers or end users constantly.
  • Better risk management: It helps to recognize and mitigate potential problems in advance.
  • Collaboration and communication: The agile methodology emphasizes collaboration among team members and with customers, promoting open and frequent communication.
  • Adaptability to change: Unlike Gantt, Agile allows for changes even at the late stages of a project, making it ideal for projects in dynamic and rapidly changing environments where requirements may change over time.

Is it possible to combine Gantt and Agile?

Integrating Gantt and Agile in a hybrid approach to project management offers many benefits to project managers, allowing them to leverage both qualities to drive teams to success in an increasingly complex and dynamic working environment.

1. Strategic planning and operational flexibility

The combination of Gantt and Agile allows managers to set a thorough strategic plan, thanks to the Gantt chart’s visibility on project phases and milestones.

Likewise, implementing Agile principles ensures the operational flexibility needed to adapt to changes, enabling the team to respond proactively to project and market needs. This balance between planning and adaptability is critical in complex projects where conditions can change rapidly.

2. Progress monitoring and quick iterations

The hybrid approach makes it easy to monitor project progress effectively, combining the straightforwardness of Gantt’s linear progress with Agile’s ability to implement changes quickly through fast iterations.

Project managers can, therefore, assess project progress concerning the original plan while preserving the flexibility to make corrections or adjustments based on feedback received during sprints.

3. Better communication and customer involvement

By integrating Gantt and Agile, project managers promote better communication within their teams and with customers.

Whereas Gantt provides a clear and understandable roadmap for all stakeholders, Agile supports continuous customer involvement, ensuring the final product is as close to expectations as possible.

This hybrid approach ensures that decisions are made with a full understanding of the project context, improving customer satisfaction and team effectiveness.

4. Resource optimization and efficiency

The combination of Gantt and Agile helps project managers optimize resource use, assigning tasks and priorities more effectively.

Thanks to Gantt’s in-depth planning and Agile’s flexibility, workloads can be balanced, resources can be allocated according to the evolving needs of the project, and waste can be reduced, increasing the team’s overall efficiency.

5. Response to change and innovation

Ultimately, the hybrid approach helps project managers to respond more effectively to change by using the Gantt structure to keep the project on track and the Agile methodology to integrate new ideas and innovations.

This improves the project’s ability to adapt to emerging challenges and promotes a working environment focused on innovation and continuous improvement.

Twproject: the ultimate solution for Gantt and Agile

Twproject stands out in the project management industry thanks to its superior solution that effectively integrates Gantt and Agile.

This tool is designed to simplify project management, making activity planning and monitoring more user-friendly, extremely flexible, and adaptable to different work contexts.

Twproject’s Gantt Chart is known as one of the best on the market for several reasons.

First and foremost, its user-friendliness does not come at the expense of power and versatility. Customers choose Twproject for its clear graphs, ease of monitoring project progress, and advanced features, such as visualization of task dependencies and real-time resource management.

The platform offers a wide range of dynamic features, including:

  • Real-time resource allocation: Twproject provides an easy way to monitor and modify resource allocations, quickly identifying any over or under-allocations.
  • Management of flexible working hours: It offers the option of setting customized work schedules for each team member, ensuring accurate work capacity planning.
  • Project status supervision: Through dedicated dashboards, Twproject provides a real-time view of project progress, making it easier to detect any critical issues.
  • Sharing and communication: The platform emphasizes the importance of communication in project management, providing tools for easy sharing of ideas, documents, and feedback.
  • Task planning and management: This software blends planning management with Gantt and task entry for the whole team, bringing projects closer to the day-to-day work of the resources.

Twproject‘s adaptability to different working methods, its user-friendly interface, and powerful features make it a must-have tool for project managers who want to optimize their project management, improving team communication and overall efficiency.

Plan your projects with Twproject

Gantt chart in Excel: what are the limitations?

The Gantt chart in Excel can be compared to one created in project management software? You will find out shortly by continuing to read.

As you well know, the Gantt chart is a central tool in project management for visualizing the progress of every task.

Project managers often rely on Excel to create these charts, using horizontal bars to portray the series of data relating to tasks’ start and end dates.

Still, what are the limitations of a Gantt in Excel? Let’s analyze them below.

6 limitations in using Excel for a Gantt chart

1.    Static and strict activity management

Excel was not designed specifically for project management (learn more here).

Excel’s spreadsheet format implies a static and strict management of activities using a Gantt chart. This poses several specific challenges, including:

  • Manual updates: Any changes regarding start or end dates, task lengths, or resource allocations must be filled in manually. For a dynamic project, where times and resources can change frequently, this process becomes cumbersome and error-prone.
  • Slow response to change: In Excel, responding quickly to changes is complex. If the end date of a task is postponed, project managers must manually update all dependent tasks. This process is prone to omission mistakes, which can cause inaccurate time and resource estimates.
  • Lack of automation: Since there are no automation capabilities specific to project management, task planning becomes time-consuming, lacking the possibility of quick and automatic adjustments in response to project variations.
gantt excel

2.  Complexity in visualizing dependencies

In a Gantt diagram, it is critical to visualize dependencies between tasks.

Dependencies are vital in any project – they state how the delay or acceleration of one task affects the others. Excel presents significant limitations in this regard:

  • Manual mapping: Dependencies must be mapped manually in Excel, often using comments or complex cell organization. This counter-intuitive method makes it difficult for team members to visualize how activities are interconnected quickly.
  • Complicated updates: When a dependency changes, the project manager must find and manually update each reference. This process is error-prone and highly inefficient, especially in projects with many interdependencies.

Limited visualization: Excel does not offer a straightforward way to visually distinguish between different dependencies (e.g., start-to-start, end-to-end, etc.). This limitation limits the project manager’s analysis and planning powers, and they must rely on external solutions to overcome this shortcoming.

3.  Limitations in scalability

Large projects can become particularly problematic in Excel.

As the number of tasks and team members increases, the file becomes heavier and takes longer to manage. This limitation in scalability can make it difficult to manage complex projects efficiently.

4. Lack of real-time collaboration

Collaboration is a major aspect of project management.

Excel does not support real-time collaboration, so team members cannot simultaneously work on the same file.

This limitation makes it difficult to communicate and update information in real-time, which is crucial in a dynamic working environment.

Collaborating on an Excel project typically requires sending the file via email or uploading it to a shared drive. This approach can lead to confusion about which version of the file is the most up-to-date and increase the risk of unintentional overwriting.

Moreover, with no way to work on the same file simultaneously, team members must wait for one person to complete their work and update the file before another can start. This considerably slows down the process of updating and revising the project.

Also, it is difficult to track who made what changes and when. This lack of traceability can lead to difficulties in managing accountability and understanding the history of changes made to the project.

5. Lack of specific features

Excel does not offer specific project management features such as task progress tracking, alarms for upcoming deadlines, or integration with external tools.

This lack makes it difficult to perform comprehensive and detailed project management.

6. Difficulties in customization and interpretation

As mentioned, creating a Gantt chart in Excel that is visually clear and easy to interpret can be challenging.

Customizing and interpreting Gantt charts in Excel pose unique challenges, particularly for large teams or complex projects:

  • Advanced customization: To adapt a Gantt chart to the specific requirements of a project, users often have to resort to complex manual solutions, such as modifying formulas, editing conditional format bars, or creating macros.

This requires some advanced skills in Excel, which not all team members may possess.

  • Visual clarity: Keeping visual clarity in a Gantt chart can be tricky in Excel.  

With no dedicated tools, differentiating between different project phases, task priorities, or progress states requires significant effort for visual customization, which may not be intuitive or easily interpreted by all team members.Data interpretation: Gantt charts in Excel can be difficult for team members of different skill levels to interpret. Without a clear and accessible presentation of information, communication, and understanding of the project status can be compromised.

Overcome Excel’s limitations with Twproject

Over time, using Excel to create Gantt charts has proven severely limiting, especially when managing complex projects that require effective collaboration between team members.

Twproject is a project management software that includes many advanced and integrative features.

The software creates a dynamic and interactive Gantt chart, which supports detailed task planning and real-time management of resources, task dependencies, and milestones.

gantt chart twproject

Also, Twproject allows Gantt and ToDo lists to be visualized simultaneously, making it easier to manage tasks and their allocation during project meetings. This integration provides a complete overview of the project, improving communication between team members and leading to more effective workload management.

In Twproject‘s latest release, we have introduced flexible dependencies in the Gantt chart to allow greater flexibility in planning activities.

These flexible dependencies allow overlaps and downtimes between project phases to be managed more realistically, better reflecting the dynamic nature of modern projects.

The option of intuitively modifying dependencies and managing the elasticity of project phases is a marked improvement over the rigidity of diagrams produced with Excel.

Moreover, Twproject stands out for its ability to provide a project overview that includes planned activities and actual progress, thanks to the automatic updating of data within the Gantt.

This is key to keeping all team members up-to-date on project progress and making timely decisions based on accurate information.

Twproject is the ultimate solution for project managers, providing a more integrated and dynamic approach to project management.

Its state-of-the-art functionalities and user-friendly interface make it an indispensable tool for successful project management.

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

How to implement the Balanced Scorecard in a business

In the project management domain, the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) has made a name for itself as an essential tool for project managers.

This method provides a comprehensive view of business performance by linking strategic goals with operational activities.

Let’s see what it is about and how to implement it effectively.

Balanced Scorecard origins

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) concept was introduced in 1992 by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton.

These two pioneering thinkers changed the business strategic management and performance monitoring scenario. Their groundbreaking approach stemmed from the realization that traditional methods of assessing corporate performance, based primarily on financial indicators, were inadequate for comprehensive and effective strategic management.

Kaplan and Norton presented the BSC as a framework that balances financial indicators with other measures related to critical success factors.

The idea was to provide managers with a more balanced and comprehensive tool to monitor and guide business performance. The Balanced Scorecard not only considers financial performance but also integrates metrics related to customer satisfaction, the efficiency of internal processes, and the company’s capability for innovation and growth.

Since then, countless businesses have adopted and adapted the BSC worldwide, growing into one of the most influential and widespread strategic management tools.

Over the years, Kaplan and Norton have further developed and refined the BSC concept. They introduced the idea of “strategy maps,” which help organizations visualize cause-and-effect relationships between different strategic objectives. This has further established the BSC as a tool for performance measurement and strategic planning and execution.

Today’s application is more than just performance measurement, influencing corporate culture, internal communication, and strategic decision-making.

Tools like Twproject can play a crucial role in BSC implementation and monitoring, providing an integrated platform for aligning strategic goals with day-to-day activities.

The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard differs in its holistic approach to business performance measurement, structured around four key perspectives.

These perspectives help organizations balance short-term goals with long-term targets by considering various aspects critical to success.

Here is a detailed analysis of each perspective:

  • Financial perspective: This perspective focuses on a business’s economic aspects and financial health. Key indicators in this category include return on investment (ROI), cash flow, revenue growth, and profitability. The goal is to ensure that business decisions and project initiatives contribute positively to financial performance. As such, the BSC helps managers understand how operational strategies affect financial performance.

  • Customer satisfaction: This element estimates the degree of customer satisfaction and loyalty by considering the company from the customer’s point of view. Indicators such as customer satisfaction, market share, number of customer complaints, and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are commonly used. The goal is to improve service quality, customer relationships, and, ultimately, customer loyalty. This perspective stresses the importance of listening and responding to customer needs for long-term success.

  • Perspective of internal processes: this perspective focuses on the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization’s internal processes. It focuses on considering how internal processes can be optimized to improve overall performance. Indicators such as cycle time, product/service quality, and operational efficiency are essential. The goal is to identify and improve critical processes directly affecting customer satisfaction and financial performance.
  • Learning and growth: also known as the innovation and growth perspective, this aspect focuses on developing human resources, information systems, and the organization in general. Indicators such as employee satisfaction and training, rate of innovation, and effectiveness of information systems are central. The purpose is to create an environment that fosters continuous learning and innovation, thus ensuring the long-term sustainability and growth of the organization.

By integrating these four perspectives into a consistent framework, the Balanced Scorecard empowers managers to gain a comprehensive and balanced view of business performance.

This approach ensures that strategic decisions are made by factoring in various critical factors rather than relying solely on short-term financial measures.

balanced scorecard twproject

Successful implementation of the Balanced Scorecard

Implementing the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) in an organization is a process that requires commitment and strategic planning.

Here is a step-by-step guide to a successful implementation:

  • Strategic goal setting: The first step in BSC implementation is to set the organization’s strategic goals. These goals should reflect the corporate mission and vision and be clear, measurable, and achievable. These goals must be aligned with the four perspectives of the BSC to ensure a balanced approach.
  • Performance Indicators selection (KPIs): Having defined the goals, the next step is choosing key performance indicators (KPIs) for each BSC perspective. These KPIs should be directly related to the strategic goals and provide a clear measure of progress toward achieving those goals. It is crucial to select relevant, reliable, and easily measurable KPIs.
  • Engagement and communication with your team: BSC implementation can only be successful with your team’s full support and involvement. Communicating the goals, KPIs, and values of the BSC clearly to all levels of the organization is key. Training and education of staff on how to use the BSC in their daily routines are critical to ensure the adoption and effectiveness of the system.
  • Business processes integration: the BSC should be integrated into existing business processes. This means linking BSC objectives to operational plans, budgets, and reporting systems. This alignment ensures that the BSC is not perceived as an isolated initiative, but as an integral part of business management.
  • Regular monitoring and review: Once implemented, the BSC requires regular monitoring and review – This includes periodic analysis of KPIs, assessing progress toward strategic goals, and adjusting strategies as necessary. It is crucial to set up a regular review process to ensure that the BSC remains relevant and aligned with the organization’s evolving needs.
  • Use of project management tools: Tools such as Twproject can be pivotal in BSC implementation. As a matter of fact, it offers features that help to easily track progress toward goals, monitor KPIs, and generate detailed reports. Using such tools can significantly simplify the monitoring and review process, making BSC implementation more manageable and less burdensome.

Balanced Scorecard: a strategic change in business

Adopting the Balanced Scorecard represents more than simply implementing a new management tool; it is a strategic move that can potentially transform the whole corporate culture.

This transition begins by reconsidering how the organization measures and interprets success, shifting the focus from short-term financial measures to a more holistic, long-term view.

It is an approach that helps pinpoint and close gaps between business strategy and day-to-day operations, ensuring that every part of the organization is aligned with long-term goals.

The introduction of BSC often increases employees’ awareness of the company’s strategic goals. This can increase engagement and motivation as employees better understand how their work contributes to the organization’s overall success.

It also fosters greater collaboration among different departments and encourages a shared vision of the company’s goals.

Another important aspect of BSC-induced strategic change is promoting innovation and continuous learning.

With its emphasis on the learning and growth perspective, the BSC encourages companies to invest in developing their employees’ skills and seeking new opportunities for innovation. This not only improves employees’ skills and productivity but also contributes to the company’s long-term sustainability.

However, this strategic shift comes with its challenges. It requires effective communication from leadership and a commitment to support staff during the transition.

Companies must be prepared to face internal resistance and manage expectations during the BSC implementation process.

The key to overcoming these challenges is to maintain open communication, provide appropriate training, and demonstrate how the BSC can bring tangible benefits through concrete actions.

Why use TWproject for Balanced Scorecard implementation?

Twproject is project management software that can help you implement the Balanced Scorecard in your business. It can be used for:

  • Defining your vision and strategy: It can help you frame and document your company’s vision, mission, and strategy. This information can then be used to create a Balanced Scorecard aligned with your overall goals.
  • Finding critical success factors: You can use Twproject to pinpoint the most important factors for your company’s success. This information can then be used to set goals and measures for each critical success factor.
  • Tracking progress: This software can be used to track progress toward your Balanced Scorecard goals and metrics. This information can then be used to make data-driven decisions about your business strategy.
  • Communicating results: Twproject can help share the results of your Balanced Scorecard with your company’s stakeholders. This information can help align everyone to a shared vision and strategy.

Bottom line is that implementing the Balanced Scorecard requires strategic planning, organizational commitment, and the use of the right tools.

By following these steps, companies can ensure that they adopt the BSC effectively, making it a powerful tool for achieving strategic goals and continuous improvement in business performance.

Keep all your projects under control with Twproject!

 

The best workload management software of 2024

Are you looking for the best software for the workload management within your team? We are here to guide you in your choice.

Workload management is a crucial activity for every project manager.

Perhaps, even more than project management itself, it is important to take into account how tasks are assigned, to whom they are assigned, and why.

All of these, if done empirically, can generate chaos. Inequalities are inevitable if we do not carefully plan the load allocated to each resource.

We have already seen how to calculate operator load and what the benefits are in doing so.

Today we will try to answer this question: who do I rely on to do it most effectively?

But first, let’s focus for a moment on the underlying reasons for wise management of this issue.

Workload management: three crucial factors

The first aspect may seem obvious, but it is often undervalued when planning project assignments.

There is a tendency in some cases to neglect the overall view and therefore it may happen that we distribute tasks to fully-loaded resources.

This happens because the load is only taken into account at a later stage, when it should be the first aspect to consider when assessing the feasibility of the project itself.

When such a mistake happens, delays and slippage of phases and deadlines are inevitable, leading to disordered planning.

Secondly, another fundamental objective in managing the workload is the search for balance.

Several studies claim that an excessive load not only does not improve productivity, but instead it blocks it.

Thus, efficient load management not only reduces costs and increases productivity, but also fosters job satisfaction and prevents burnout.

The challenge for the project manager is to allocate the right load to the team members: this must not be excessive but at the same time must be well balanced among all the people involved.

This will result in a greater sense of fairness and consequently commitment and involvement from the entire team.

We therefore recommend that the activity of allocation distribution and load management is transparent.

This transparency in task allocation is only possible when using a shared system.

A good platform will therefore serve not only the project manager to calculate assignments and loads, but also the recipients of assignments, to know that they are not overloaded and that they can share the work with the other resources involved.

What features should a workload management software have

It is not easy to assign tasks to operators, taking into account priorities, delegating tasks to the right person and checking their availability.

Doing this procedure manually is practically impossible and extremely time-consuming, unless we rely on good software.

One of the crucial points is to find suitable software that carries out workload management automatically. The software will necessarily have to be linked to project and task management, so that we do not have to enter data several times.

Comprehensiveness

Therefore, integration with other functions is a fundamental aspect to look for in a management tool.

Workload management can never be detached from context. That is why there is no software that is solely dedicated to this function.

It is also important that our tool allows us to enter data in an intelligent and simplified manner, without having to repeat the same information within the various sections.

Task distinction

Another tip we give you is to look for software that distinguishes the different types of activities.

On a practical level, in fact, we know that not all working hours are spent in the same way.

There are the routine activities, i.e. ‘business as usual’: meetings, mail processing, supporting colleagues and so on. Depending on the task, this type of activity will have less or more impact on the daily load, but in any case a percentage of our time is spent this way on average.

Then there are the projects with a start and end date, with a planned workload to be done by those dates.

Finally, there are the activities that are not planned within a certain period, but are determined by, for example, a support contract that stipulates a certain number of yearly support hours. These hours constitute the so-called ‘spot’ activities.

These three types of activities do not behave in the same way when we calculate the workload.

In fact, the routine activity hours do not sum up to the following days in the event of absence or commitment on other fronts.

Conversely, project activity hours, if not carried out for whatever reason, are redistributed over the following days until the end date of the project.

And finally, spot activities are not normally included in the daily load, but are only included when an ad hoc intervention is planned for a certain day.

Having a tool that distinguishes between these three types of activities will make workload management much more realistic and useful for consistent planning purposes.

And here we come to the point.

Which software gives us the best performance in terms of workload management? Let’s find it out together.

1. Twproject

Twproject workload management

Twproject is a comprehensive project management software. It offers refined and precise workload management, which makes our work much easier thanks to its automations.

This workload mangement software bases its calculation on two pieces of information: the duration of the project and the estimated work for a resource.

Its algorithm optimises time and when two projects overlap within the same days, Twproject intelligently redistributes the load over the following days, thus not changing the duration of the projects.

If the limit is exceeded, Twproject reports the overload, thus inviting the project manager to revise the timetable or the assignments (i.e. the two basic data provided at the beginning).

The workload interacts with the to-do list and the calendar. The information entered in these fields is automatically carried over to the workload page, which saves a lot of time when making entries.

Moreover, as resources enter their work done, Twproject’s dynamic load automatically redistributes the remaining hours.

Best features:

  • distinction between project, routine and spot activities
  • dynamic redistribution of the load
  • possibility of customising the working time of resources in any way
  • integration with the calendar, Gantt, assignments and to-do lists
  • effective notifications in case of overload
  • agile conflict resolution (even with a single click)

Pricing: from € 7.89 per user/month.

Pros: The workload in Twproject is the result of many years of experience in the field, which has led to the development of an excellent tool that is able to take every need into account. Its operation is intuitive and helps to carry out realistic and accurate planning.

Cons: In our opinion, no flaws exist.

Thanks to its automation and dynamism, Twproject leaves no margin for improvisation, preventing overload and helping you balance your team’s work.

2. Toggl

Toggl workload management

Toogl is another workload management tool with good functionality and some automations.

It aims to help balance the workload capacity of the team and adjust the project load accordingly.

In particular, this tool shows some attention to the visual aspect, but may be a little tricky for beginners.

It has a specific focus on staff well-being and a reporting system aimed at preventing burnout.

One of its types of alerts, for example, suggests when it is appropriate to hire new staff within the company.

Best features:

  • Availability overview accessible on all team timelines
  • Rescheduling of tasks and reallocation of resources via drag and drop
  • Importing data from Google calendar
  • Conflict reporting
  • Visualisation customised according to the role of the resource
  • Scheduling of total hours is only possible at task level and not at project level

Pricing: from $ 9 per user/month.

Pro: Toggl has a good interface and its workload analysis method is well planned. It is a software that offers a good overview thanks to its dashboard.

Cons: Despite a good user interface, Toggl does not offer an equally good user experience. It is somewhat lacking in future planning tools.

A good tool for those whose primary goal is to avoid overloading, but which requires a certain amount of experience in the field.

3. Hive

Hive workload management

In Hive, the load management function, or ‘Resourcing’ as it is called here, is only available for the Enterprise licence.

Its peculiarity is that the process starts with the allocations of resources and then the system determines the timing of the projects accordingly.

Therefore, Hive is characterised by a high focus on internal resource management and is suitable for those who use this specific procedure.

Its resourcing capabilities are also useful in project management, and to allocate time and budget appropriately.

The ultimate goal is for all employees to work at the best of their potential.

Best features:

  • resourcing dashboard from which the manager can retrieve availability for assignments
  • automatic load allocation after entering assignee, date and estimated time
  • use of workspaces for team creation
  • use of filters
  • indication of overruns by different colours
  • possibility of displaying the load in hours or in percentages
  • customisation in the display of assignments among team members

Pricing: from $ 12 per user/month.

Pros: Hive has an inviting interface and at the same time offers a good level of customisation. Its automations are effective and the approval and review system is very detailed.

Cons: Despite being a collaborative tool, Hive has few security measures for data disclosure. Furthermore, at the task assignment level, this tool does not provide for document sharing.

A good tool for those who choose, as a calculation methodology, to start from the availability of resources to establish project timelines.

4. Zoho

Zoho workload management

Zoho aims at an equal distribution of work in order to strengthen collaboration within the team.

Specifically, this software is not a single tool, but a kind of mosaic composed of various applications that can be optionally integrated.

Thus, one does not necessarily have all the functions and this can limit one’s work to some extent and be dispersive.

Best features:

  • Multiple ways of displaying the load
  • ‘Heatmap’ to display the free time of each resource
  • Resource utilisation graphs
  • Possibility of task automation

Pricing: from $ 5 per user/month.

Pros: The main feature of Zoho is the option for customisation, both in terms of the tools used and the data visualisation. Overall, it is an easy-to-use tool with a good level of intuitiveness.

Cons: The need to integrate several apps of the Zoho family in order to have complete management may discourage some users. This also makes the whole infrastructure of Zoho scarcely compatible with other apps.

A composite tool for those who want workload management that can be customised at will according to specific needs

5. nTask

nTask workload management

As its name implies, this workload management software focuses on the management of daily tasks, and therefore has many functionalities related to them, such as task automation, task-related reports and so on.

Therefore, workload management also starts from the tasks entered rather than from a general project schedule.

This aspect makes nTask more suitable for small teams or self-employed workers.

Tasks can be distributed among resources with a kind of kanban board showing the workload.

Best features:

  • Kanban-style load view
  • new tasks assignable via drag and drop
  • Rescheduling according to various parameters (date change or resource commitment change)
  • Filters for customising view or sorting
  • Load settable in percentage or FTE (Full-Time Equivalents)

Pricing: from $ 8 per user/month.

Pros: nTask has good security and also information sharing functions. In the event of an overrun, it allows you to choose how to solve the conflict, as it has various possibilities for adjustment.

Cons: Being designed for small teams or freelancers, it is not very user-friendly when there are several projects going on. It also lacks advanced reporting.

An agile tool with some useful insights, more suitable for freelancers or small teams than for large companies.

Bottom line

To sum up, we have seen that workload management is the process that identifies, monitors and manages the work of a team. Within this framework, there are different ways of carrying out the process and the various tools on the market represent these methodological choices.

It is hence from the choice of tool that project managers can let their skills shine: the right path must be found, taking into account team size, sector, use cases and project style.

We hope this short guide will help you choose the best workload management software for your company.

If you like, share your opinion with us and start planning your load now: with Twproject you can do it for free for the first 15 days.

How to create an effective project backlog

A project backlog is the heart of planning and execution in an agile project management framework.

It’s more than just a list of tasks – it’s a strategic map that guides the team through project complexities and challenges.

This article will explore how to create an effective backlog, a crucial piece of any successful agile project.

What is a project backlog?

A project backlog is an ordered list of all needed to complete the project, including features, functions, technical requirements, improvements, and fixes to be undertaken.

In an agile framework, the backlog is dynamic and subject to change, reflecting evolving project and stakeholder needs.

A well-structured backlog is vital in providing clarity and efficiency. It helps teams quickly understand priorities and organize work more productively.

A clear and detailed backlog helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures all team members are aligned on project goals.

Core elements of a well-defined project backlog

Defining roles in the team

In the agile project scenario, role clarity is paramount to success. Team members are the drivers that turn ideas into reality.

In an agile environment, they work collaboratively, often in cross-functional teams, to complete backlog elements. Team members, specifically the Scrum Master and the Product Owner, have separate yet complementary responsibilities that directly influence the effectiveness of the project backlog.

The Scrum Master acts as a facilitator and coach for the team. Their role is to ensure that the team sticks to the agile methodology principles and uses the most effective practices.

This includes helping teams clear any hurdles that might hinder progress and ensuring that sprint planning meetings are productive.

The Product Owner is the project backlog keeper. This individual is responsible for defining the product vision and ensuring that the backlog reflects this vision.

The Product Owner prioritizes the backlog elements, ensuring that the most critical activities are addressed first. They also work closely with team members to clarify requirements and ensure user stories are well-defined and understandable.

Key elements of a project backlog

A well-defined backlog is more than just a task list; it is a comprehensive roadmap that walks the team through the project.

The backlog must be clear, organized, and strategically structured

 to be effective.

The key elements make it an indispensable tool in agile project management.

  • Clarity and specificity: Every element of the backlog must be described clearly and precisely. This means that each task, user story, or requirement must come with well-defined goals and specific criteria for approval. A vague or generic description can lead to misinterpretations, causing delays and inefficiencies. Clarity helps the team understand exactly what needs to be done and what the expectations are.
  • Strategic prioritization: Prioritization is crucial in a project backlog. Elements should be ordered according to their relevance and urgency. This helps the team focus on the most critical activities, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently. Differentiating between what is essential and what can wait is crucial to project success.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: The backlog must be flexible in an agile framework. It must be able to quickly adapt to changes, which may stem from user feedback, new findings during development, or changes in business priorities. A strict backlog can hinder progress; therefore, it must be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect the current reality of the project.
  • Collaboration and team involvement: An effective backlog results from a collaborative process. Getting the team involved in creating and reviewing the backlog increases the accuracy and relevance of elements and improves team engagement and accountability. Each member should have the opportunity to contribute their insight and expertise.
  • Visibility and accessibility: The backlog should be easily accessible to all team members. A clear understanding of the backlog elements ensures that everyone is aligned and aware of current priorities.

Agile methodology and project backlog

The agile methodology is a groundbreaking project management approach, emphasizing flexibility, collaboration, and swift response to change.

Here, the project backlog is crucial, serving as the backbone for the entire development process. Let’s take a look at how the backlog complements and supports the agile methodology.

In the agile methodology, projects are developed iteratively and incrementally – this means that work is broken down into small, manageable parts, often called “sprints.”  

The project backlog supports this approach by providing an ordered list of tasks and requirements that can be addressed in each sprint. This breakdown allows the team to focus on small, short-term goals, making faster and more flexible deliveries easier.

One of the core principles of agile is the ability to adapt quickly to changes.  

Indeed, the project backlog is dynamic; it is not a set plan but rather a list that evolves with the project. This means it can be tweaked and reprioritized based on stakeholder feedback, market changes, or discoveries made by the team during development.

An agile backlog allows the team to stay agile and responsive, ensuring that the final product is as relevant and high quality as possible.

The agile methodology puts heavy emphasis on collaboration among team members and stakeholders. The project backlog becomes a reference point for this collaboration.

Stakeholders, including clients and end users, can contribute to the backlog by providing feedback and suggestions. This ensures that the final product aligns with their needs and expectations. Likewise, the team can discuss and review backlog elements, ensuring they are realistic and feasible.

The prioritization of backlog elements is often based on the value each task brings to the customer or end user. This value-driven approach ensures that resources are focused on the most critical aspects of the project, maximizing the return on investment and impact of the final product.

User Story: the backlog heart

User stories are critical to the project backlog, particularly in an agile context. These short, user-focused descriptions describe what needs to be done and the value that each task brings to the end users.

A user story is typically worded using a simple but powerful structure: “As [user], I want [goal] so that [benefit].”

This format helps focus on the users’ needs and wants rather than detailed technical specifications. Each user story should be clear enough to provide a straightforward understanding of what the user needs and why it is important.

The focus of user stories is the value they bring to the user. This user-oriented approach ensures that the development team remains focused on creating functionality that improves the end-user experience.

Instead of getting lost in technical details, the team can ask, “Are we meeting the user’s needs with this feature?”.

User stories foster collaboration and open discussion within the team and with stakeholders.

They are excellent tools for facilitating mutual understanding and ensuring everyone is on the same page. They also help break work into smaller, more manageable parts, thus making it easier for the team to estimate effort and plan development.

Each user story should include clear criteria for acceptance, which define the specific conditions that must be met for the story to be considered complete.

These standards help ensure that the work accomplished meets expectations and provide clear testing and quality assurance guidelines.

User stories in backlogs should be prioritized according to their value and urgency. This prioritization process helps the team focus on the most important features to users, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently and that the project makes meaningful progress.

Sprint planning and backlog management

Sprint planning and effective backlog management are critical elements in agile methodology, particularly in frameworks such as Scrum. These steps help teams organize work efficiently and ensure project goals are met systematically.

Let’s take a closer look at these aspects.

Sprint planning meeting

The sprint planning meeting is key when the team, jointly with the Product Owner and Scrum Master, establishes which backlog elements will be addressed in the next sprint.

During this meeting, the team assesses the complexity and time required for each backlog element, laying out a realistic plan for the work that can be completed during the sprint. This process requires a clear understanding of the team’s capabilities and project priorities.

 

Backlog elements selection

Choosing which backlog items to include in a sprint is a strategic process.

The team, headed by the Product Owner, must take into consideration various factors, such as the urgency of the user stories, their importance to the overall project, and their feasibility within that project’s time and resource constraints. The selected elements become part of the Sprint Backlog, a subset of the larger project backlog.

Project backlog management

As we have already discussed, the project backlog is not static; it is a living document that must be constantly updated and refined.

During a sprint, new information may come to light that requires adding new elements to the backlog or re-evaluating existing priorities. The Product Owner is responsible for keeping the backlog up-to-date, always reflecting current project and stakeholder needs.

A crucial aspect of backlog management is the active involvement of the team. Team members should be able to express their thoughts and feedback on backlog items, contributing to their definition and prioritization.

This collaborative approach increases the backlog’s effectiveness and improves team morale and commitment.

At the end of each sprint, the team should revise the completed work and get ready for the following one. This includes analyzing backlog elements that have not been completed and their possible inclusion in the next sprint.

This ongoing review and planning process ensures that the team remains focused and aligned with the project’s long-term goals.

Preparing for the next sprint

After a sprint is completed, allocating time to preparing for the next one is fundamental. This step is critical to maintain momentum and ensure that the project continues to progress efficiently and in a focused manner.

Let’s take a look at some key steps to effectively prepare for the next sprint.

1. Review of the ended sprint

It begins with an extensive review of the recently concluded sprint. This includes an analysis of what was completed, what was not accomplished, and the reasons for delays or obstacles. This analysis helps identify areas for improvement and lessons learned that can be applied in future sprints.

2. Project backlog update

Based on the review, update your project backlog. Remove or edit items that are no longer relevant and add new tasks or requirements that have come to light. Make sure the backlog reflects the current priorities and needs of your project.

backlog project management

3. Next sprint planning

With your updated backlog, the planning for your next sprint begins.  

This process should involve your entire team, ensuring the sprint goals are clear, realistic, and aligned with stakeholder expectations. Determine which backlog elements will be covered and define clear, measurable goals for the following sprint.

Ensure each team member understands the expectations and their role in achieving these goals.

4. Foster communication and collaboration

Emphasize the importance of open communication and collaboration within your team. Promote sharing of ideas, concerns, and feedback to improve the work process and team effectiveness constantly.

Twproject: the ultimate solution for your project backlog

Within the agile project management scenario, choosing the right tool to manage the backlog is crucial. 

Thanks to its dedicated functionality, Twproject stands out as an essential tool for agile backlog management.

It features a user-friendly UI streamlining backlog management, allowing users to easily add, edit and prioritize elements.

The platform fosters collaboration and effective communication within the team, which is critical to keeping everyone aligned on backlog priorities. It also supports progress tracking and provides detailed reports, helping project managers monitor project status and team efficiency.

Its integration with agile methodologies makes it especially suitable for backlog management in dynamic environments, while its support and security features ensure data protection and reliable support. 

Twproject excels not only in project backlog management but also in product backlog support. This helps project managers and teams get a holistic picture of product needs and priorities, making it easier for long-term strategic planning and agile adaptation to evolving market and user needs.

Ultimately, creating and managing an effective project backlog is essential to success in agile project management.

A well-maintained backlog and careful sprint planning empower project managers and their teams to successfully navigate the complexities of projects, maintaining a clear focus on objectives and ensuring that each step is aligned with the overall project vision.

Project managers can lead their projects to remarkable results with the right combination of tools, strategies, and team collaboration.

Plan your projects with Twproject

International projects: Logistics management and challenges

International projects have assumed a core role in the logistics domain.

These projects, ranging from transporting goods on a global scale to managing complex supply chains, are a notable challenge for project managers.

Their successful management is not just a matter of logistics coordination – it is a delicate balance between cultural understanding, technical prowess, and business strategy.

This article will explore the dynamics of international projects in the logistics area, emphasizing specific challenges and strategies for tackling them successfully.

International project management overview

Why should project managers consider international projects separate from those on a local, regional, or national scale? The answer is simple: complexity.

Global projects involve more variables, including political, economic, social, and technological factors in the macro-environment in which they take place.

Furthermore, project managers have to deal with language and cultural barriers, requiring different approaches to management itself. This situation is comparable to trying to drive a car blindfolded: the environment is alien and can lead to confusion, communication problems, conflict, and stress.

A successful project depends not only on finishing on time and within budget but also on the team’s ability to smoothly navigate an ever-changing environment where variables such as international regulations, political instability, and cultural differences can affect every aspect of the project.

International project management is a field that requires deep understanding and strategic management because of its inherently complex and multifaceted nature. This kind of management is characterized by its crucial relevance in several key aspects that extend far beyond the boundaries of a local or national project.

Understanding the global setting

First, international project management requires an extensive understanding of the global setting in which they operate. This includes awareness of the political, economic, social, and technological dynamics that vary significantly from one region to another.

A project manager, for example, must be aware of how a country’s trade policies may affect logistics and procurement or how local regulations may impact project operations.

Cultural and linguistic diversity management

Another crucial aspect involves managing cultural and linguistic diversity. International projects often entail multicultural and multilingual teams, requiring clear communication sensitive to cultural nuances.

The skill to effectively navigate and manage these differences is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and to build a collaborative and respectful work environment.

Logistical and operational challenges

From a logistical and operational point of view, international projects offer unique challenges.  

Managing distributed teams in different time zones, planning international shipments, and complying with local laws and regulations require a much more sophisticated planning and coordination than local projects.

International project management: challenges in the logistics sector

Logistics comes with a unique set of challenges that require particular care and expertise by project managers.

If not managed properly, these challenges can bring significant delays, additional costs, and, in some cases, project failure.

Let’s take a look at some of them:

Coordinating complex supply chains

A major challenge is coordinating supply chains that are often located on multiple continents. This requires thorough planning and the skill to manage multiple suppliers, shipping options, and customs requirements simultaneously.

Complexity increases when labor practices, regulations, and logistics infrastructure variations in different countries must be factored in.

Here is how a project manager can successfully tackle this challenge:

  1. Mapping
  • Begin with an in-depth analysis of your supply chains, identifying all points of contact, key suppliers, and possible risk areas.
  • Understand material flow and timing to avoid delays or unexpected interruptions.

2. Successful collaboration

  • Have regular communication with all partners in the supply chain. Tools such as Twproject can make this communication easier.
  • Ensure that all partners share the same goals and are aligned on the overall project strategy.

3. Real-time monitoring

  • Use real-time tracking technologies to monitor goods movement along the supply chain.

4. Updated planning

  • Keep your planning up to date with real-time supply chain information. Twproject, for example, provides a quick and effective way to make changes.
  • Prepare contingency plans and standard operating procedures to deal with critical situations or crises in the supply chain.

5. Risk Management

  • Collaborate with local experts: when needed, get local experts involved who understand the nuances of laws and business practices in different regions.

6. Adaptability and flexibility

  • Be ready to adapt to sudden changes or unforeseen situations. Flexibility is essential in managing global supply chains.
  • Gather feedback from your supply chain constantly and learn from previous mistakes to improve future operations.

7. Planning and time management

Planning and time management are especially challenging in international settings. Project managers must coordinate activities while considering different time zones and local holidays, as well as managing client and stakeholder expectations for delivery times and project deadlines.

Project manager skills in international project management

In international project settings, the role of the project manager is crucial.

As we have observed, these professionals must not only manage the technical aspects of the project but also navigate through all sorts of challenges.

Let’s explore what skills a project manager who manages international projects must possess:

progetti internazionali

Complexity management

Complexity is an intrinsic part of many projects, both large and small.

Project managers must be able to manage complexity to ensure project success effectively.

These skills include:

  • Managing multiple aspects of a project: They must be able to keep an overall view of the project, even when managing multiple activities and stakeholders.
  • The skill for anticipating and mitigating risks: PMs must be able to identify and manage potential risks before they can negatively impact the project.
  • Knowing how to adapt quickly to change: You need to be prepared for unexpected changes, such as changes in project requirements or unforeseen events.
  • Effective problem solving: Project managers must identify and solve problems swiftly and efficiently.

 – Leadership and strategic vision

PMs must also have a strong leadership and strategic vision. This includes:

  • The skill of clearly defining project objectives: Project managers must clearly communicate project goals to all stakeholders. For example, a project manager leading a new product development project must clearly communicate the product vision to all team members and explain why the product is important and how it will get a foothold in the target market.
  • The skills to devise realistic plans:  Project managers must be able to develop realistic plans that consider available resources and constraints. For example, a project manager leading a corporate restructuring project must be able to develop a realistic plan that considers financial and time constraints, identify potential risks, and develop strategies to mitigate them.
  • The ability to ensure that the team is aligned with the overall scope: Project managers must motivate and inspire the team to pursue project goals. They need to know how to foster a positive and collaborative work environment where everyone feels valued and involved.

– Communication and negotiation skills

Communication and negotiation skills are key.

Leadership in an international context also requires cultural sensitivity and the skill to motivate and lead diverse teams.

Project managers must communicate clearly with teams, suppliers, and stakeholders, often in different languages and cross-culturally. Thus, it is essential to know how to negotiate contracts, settle conflicts, and present information in an understandable way to all project participants.

– Relationship management

Relationship management is also a crucial concern. Positive relationships must be built and nurtured with a wide range of people, from internal teams to external suppliers and customers in different parts of the world, and knowing how to resolve conflicts.

Understanding and respecting cultural diversity is essential to creating a collaborative and respectful work environment.

Twproject the perfect solution for managing complex projects

Twproject stands out as a suitable solution for international projects thanks to its advanced features and user-friendly UI. Let’s take a look at some of its features:

  • The software offers customizable features that can be tailored to fit different project sizes and complexities, making it a flexible tool for any type of international project.
  • Twproject excels at resource management, allowing project managers to allocate and monitor resources efficiently. This is particularly valuable in international projects where resources may be spread across different geographic locations and time zones.
  • The software makes it easier for globally distributed teams to communicate and collaborate. Features such as integrated messaging, message boards, and document-sharing tools ensure that all team members are always up-to-date and able to collaborate effectively despite physical distances.
  • This software offers advanced monitoring and reporting tools that help project managers keep track of project progress in real-time. These tools are crucial for quickly identifying problems or delays and making informed decisions based on accurate data.

Ultimately, international project management comes with unique challenges; however, with the right tools, these challenges can ultimately become opportunities for success.  

Twproject adoption is a significant step toward more effective, efficient, and collaborative project management, enabling project managers and their teams to achieve their goals with greater confidence and success.

Plan your projects with Twproject

Feasibility study of a project

The feasibility study is an essential step before giving the green light to a project that could cost large sums of money.

This in-depth analysis is often requested ‘from the top’ of the organisation to ensure the feasibility and sustainability of the project.

First of all, the feasibility study determines if the project is likely to succeed and if it may or may not be an opportunity for the organization.

The feasibility study is generally conducted before undertaking any initiative concerning a project, including planning. It is one of the fundamental factors, if not the most important, which determine whether the project should be carried out or not.

Although project managers are not necessarily the ones who conduct the feasibility study, they can still act as reference persons during this phase.

Moreover, project managers can use the feasibility study to understand the parameters of the project, the business goals and the risk factors involved.

What is a feasibility study?

Specifically, a feasibility study is used to determine the feasibility of an idea, for example to ensure that a project is legally and technically feasible as well as economically justifiable.

The feasibility study says if a project is worth the investment. For example, if a project requires too many resources, this prevents those particular resources from performing other tasks.

In general, failure to use those resources for the time necessary to carry out the project may also cost more than the organization could earn from that particular project.

A well-designed feasibility study should therefore offer a series of parameters that a Project manager could define as essential for the complete evaluation of a project.

We can start from a historical basis of the activity or project, including the description of the product or service, accounting statements, details of operations and management, market research and policies, financial data, legal requirements and obligations taxes, potential risks and possible alternative solutions. Nothing should be left to chance.

Generally, these studies precede the technical development and implementation of the project.

In this context, the technical feasibility project plays a crucial role, as it assesses the technical feasibility of the project in terms of resources, skills and available technologies.

Five feasibility areas of the project

A feasibility study evaluates the potential success of the project. Perceived objectivity is therefore an important factor in the credibility of the study for potential investors and stakeholders.

There are five areas that relate to the feasibility of a project:

Technical feasibility

This evaluation focuses on the technical resources available to the organization.

It helps organizations determine if technical resources meet capabilities and if the technical team is able to convert ideas into operating systems. The technical feasibility also involves the evaluation of hardware, software, and other technological requirements.

Economic feasibility

This evaluation usually involves a cost / benefit analysis of the project, helping organizations to determine the feasibility, costs, and benefits associated with a project before financial resources are allocated.

Legal feasibility

This evaluation examines whether any aspects of the project can go against legal requirements.

Operational feasibility

the feasibility study

The operational feasibility evaluation involves carrying out a study to analyze and determine whether and to what extent the needs of the organization can be met by completing the project.

The operational feasibility studies also analyze how a project plan meets the requirements identified in the analysis phase.

Feasibility planning

this evaluation is the most important for the success of the project. A project will fail if it is not completed in time.

In the feasibility planning, an organization estimates how long it will take to complete the project successfully.

Once these areas have been examined, the feasibility study makes it possible to identify any constraints that the proposed project could face, including:

  • Internal constraints: technology, budget, resources, etc.
  • Internal business constraints: financial, marketing, export, etc.
  • External constraints: logistics, environment, laws and regulations, etc.

Benefits of a feasibility study

The importance of a feasibility study is based on the organizational desire to guarantee an excellent job before using resources, time, or budget.

A feasibility study could reveal new ideas that could completely change the purpose of a project.

It is better to do this analysis in advance, rather than being halfway and understanding that the project will not work.

Here are some key advantages of a feasibility study:

  • Improves the attention and motivation of the project team
  • Identifies new opportunities
  • Restricts commercial alternatives
  • Identifies a valid reason to undertake the project
  • Improves the success rate by evaluating multiple parameters
  • Helps the decision making process on the project
  • Identifies the possible reasons for not proceeding

How to conduct a feasibility study

Anyone who conducts a feasibility study must follow several steps. These actions include:

  • Preliminary analysis: before proceeding with the actual feasibility study process, many organizations will conduct a preliminary analysis, a sort of project pre-selection. The preliminary analysis aims to discover insurmountable obstacles and risks that would make even a feasibility study useless. If important blocks are not discovered during this analysis, it is possible to proceed with the more detailed feasibility study.
  • Define the scope: it is important to outline the scope of the project in order to be able to determine the scope of the feasibility study. The scope of the project will include the number and composition of both internal and external stakeholders. Moreover, it is important not to forget to examine the potential impact of the project on all areas of the organization.
  • Market research: no project can be undertaken without this analysis. Those who conduct the feasibility study will deepen the existing competitive landscape and determine if there is room for the project within that market.
  • Financial evaluation: the feasibility study will examine the economic costs related to the project, including the equipment or other resources, the hours of work, the proposed benefits of the project, the associated financial risks, and the potential financial impact in case of failure of the project.
  • Alternative solutions: if any potential problems should emerge during the study, alternative solutions will be examined in order to ensure the success of the project.
  • Reassessment of the results: a reassessment of the feasibility study is essential, particularly if time has passed since it was first undertaken.
  • Go / No-go decision: this is the final step of a feasibility study. In short, here it is decided whether the project can be started (go) or not (no-go).

In conclusion, it must be remembered that a feasibility study is more a way of thinking than a bureaucratic process.

As the scope of the project grows, it becomes increasingly important to document the feasibility study, particularly if large amounts of money are involved and / or if the delivery is critical.

The feasibility study must not only contain sufficient details needed for the operational phase of the project. It should also be used for comparative analysis at the end of the project.

It will be at this stage that a project manager will analyze what was produced compared to what was initially proposed in the feasibility study. The smaller the gap, the greater the professionalism of those who drafted the study.

Ready to do a proper feasibility study? Try Twproject’s Gantt

Thanks to Twproject interactive Gantt, carrying out a feasibility study will be much simpler, because you will be able to follow every phase of the process. It will be easier to attach all the necessary documentation to the project, monitor and evaluate results.

Thanks to resource load balancing you will be able to highlight any bottlenecks and tack action before the start of the entire project.

So why not try? Twproject offers you a free 15-day trial, with which you can test the feasibility of your projects. You will be guided by our support team for any technical or conceptual doubt.

Study the feasibility of your projects with our Gantt

Knowledge Management in Project Management: advanced practices

Knowledge management in project management has become a key mainstay for successful projects.

But what is it exactly?

It is a systematic process for collecting, organizing, and sharing information and knowledge within an organization.

This process helps project managers make informed decisions and improve their teams’ efficiency.

Benefits of Knowledge Management in Project Management

Implementing knowledge management strategies yields many benefits, including workflow optimization, corporate knowledge preservation, and the ability to generate new knowledge.

In the case of project managers, it means having access to the information they need at the right time, thereby improving decision-making and team effectiveness.

Adopting effective knowledge management strategies offers many significant benefits that can transform the way projects are managed and brought to success. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Improved decision-making process:

Access to relevant information: Knowledge management provides project managers quick and easy access to crucial information, reducing time spent searching for data.

Data-driven decisions: Having a broad knowledge base at hand, project managers can make more informed decisions based on historical data, trends, and analysis.

  • Operational efficiency:

Reduced search time: An effective knowledge management system cuts the time teams spend searching for information, allowing them to focus on more productive tasks.

Process standardization: Sharing standard operating procedures and best practices helps standardize processes, reducing errors and inconsistencies.

  • Risk management:

Error prevention: Learning from experience and sharing this knowledge helps prevent recurring mistakes.

Proactive risk identification: Collective knowledge can help identify potential risks before they become critical.

  • Innovation and growth:

Incentive for innovation: Sharing ideas and solutions can foster innovation within teams.

Professional development: project managers and their teams can take advantage of continuous learning, improving their skills and knowledge.

  • Collaboration improvement:

Knowledge sharing: Knowledge management tools make it easy to share information among team members, regardless of their geographic location.

Positive business culture: Knowledge sharing helps establish a corporate culture based on collaboration and mutual support.

  • Long-term sustainability:

Corporate knowledge preservation: Knowledge management helps to retain critical knowledge within the organization, even when employees leave the company.

Adaptability and flexibility: Organizations that manage knowledge effectively adapt better to market changes and new challenges.

Knowledge Management Techniques in Project Management

There are many knowledge management techniques in project management that project managers can employ to improve the effectiveness of their projects.

These techniques not only make information management better but also optimize collaboration and innovation within teams.

Let’s take a look at some of them:

Knowledge collection and preservation

One of the major challenges involved in knowledge management is to collect and store knowledge effectively.

  • Procedure Operative Standard (SOP): SOPs are comprehensive documents that outline processes and practices for performing specific tasks. In project management, SOPs help ensure consistency and efficiency by providing clear direction on how to deal with recurring tasks.
  • Guidelines and Reports: Guidelines provide general instructions on how to perform particular activities. By creating detailed guidelines and regular reports, experiences and lessons learned can be documented. These documents become treasured resources for project managers and teams, providing insight and references for future projects.
  • Databases: Use centralized databases to store documents, reports, guidelines, and other important information. This ensures that knowledge is easily accessible and efficiently organized.

Knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing is an important step in knowledge management. Knowledge sharing empowers people to learn from each other, improve their skills, and collaborate more effectively.

  • Meetings and presentations: Hold regular meetings and presentations where team members can share experiences, ideas and best practices. This promotes a continuous learning environment and fosters knowledge sharing.
  • Training courses: Implement training programs that allow team members to learn new skills and share their know-how. This improves individual skills and enriches the team’s knowledge pool.
  • Community of practice: Create communities of practice within your organization where professionals can share ideas, solutions, and common challenges. In these communities, people meet to share knowledge and experiences on a particular topic. They can be used to share tacit knowledge, which is often more difficult to document and share.

Knowledge use

Shared knowledge should be used to improve processes, make decisions, and solve problems. Project managers can use collected and shared knowledge to:

  • Improve planning: Use knowledge gained to hone project planning processes. Analyze historical data and lessons learned to anticipate challenges and identify best practices.
  • Improve execution: Apply knowledge during project execution to optimize resources, manage time, and improve work quality.
  • Improve control: Use knowledge management systems to monitor progress and adapt real-time strategies. This helps keep projects on track and respond promptly to deviations.

By integrating these techniques, project managers can become better at managing their projects and build a solid knowledge base that will benefit their entire organization.

This proactive approach to knowledge management ensures that information is retained, shared, and leveraged effectively, leading to more informed decisions, more successful projects, and a more collaborative and innovative work environment.

Looking ahead: knowledge management and Technological innovations

In the dynamic world of project management, looking ahead means understanding how knowledge management is intertwined with technological innovations.

Technological progress redefines how knowledge is collected, stored, shared, and used, leading to a significant evolution in project management practices.

AI and machine learning integration

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are now revolutionizing knowledge management.

These technologies can analyze big data, identify patterns, and provide valuable insights that might otherwise be missed.

What this means for project managers is more informed decisions based on predictive and prescriptive analytics. For example, AI can predict project delays by analyzing historical trends and helping managers mitigate risks before they occur.

Cloud Computing and collaboration

Cloud computing has transformed the way information is stored and shared. Cloud-based platforms provide easy and secure access to information, regardless of geographic location.

This makes it easier for teams distributed globally to collaborate in an unprecedented way, enabling project managers to manage projects more flexibly and efficiently. Moreover, the cloud offers scalability and agility, enabling organizations to adapt quickly to changing business needs.

Big Data and analytics

Big data and analytics tools are now playing a crucial role in providing thorough, real-time insights.

These tools enable project managers to analyze vast data sets to identify trends, assess project performance, and make evidence-based decisions. Data analytics can also help predict potential problems and identify opportunities for constant improvement.

Automation and efficiency

Automation is becoming ever more important in knowledge management. Automated tools like all in one CRM can handle repetitive duties, freeing project managers and their teams so they can focus on more strategic tasks.

This improves efficiency and the quality of work, reducing errors and inconsistencies.

Implementation of connected and smart workplaces

Lastly, the evolution toward connected and smart work environments is changing how teams interact and collaborate. Technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and user-friendly UI are forging new ways of interacting with information and among team members, making collaboration more engaging and productive.

Still, the future of knowledge management in project management is inherently related to technological innovations. These technologies empower project managers with more advanced tools and open new frontiers for efficiency, innovation, and collaboration.

Adapting to and embracing these technologies will be crucial to staying competitive and managing projects successfully in the digital era.

Twproject’s Role in Knowledge Management

Twproject stands out as a key solution in the applied knowledge management environment. This tool is tailored to meet the specific needs of project managers, offering a flexible and integrated platform that facilitates the collection, sharing, and use of knowledge within organizations.  

Here’s how Twproject plays a crucial role in this domain:

FieldTwproject’s Role
Knowledge Collection and PreservationTwproject centralizes all information and knowledge in a single place, providing convenient access and search. It provides secure and organized storage for documents, reports, SOPs, and other critical resources. It also facilitates effective documentation of processes and best practices, ensuring that information is delivered consistently to all team members.
Knowledge SharingThe platform supports internal communication through discussion forums, group chats, and messaging systems, making ideas and information sharing straightforward. It also allows easy sharing of documents and resources, ensuring all team members can access the necessary information. Twproject promotes a collaborative culture, where sharing knowledge and experience adds value to the organization.
Knowledge UseTwproject supports data-driven planning, using collected and stored knowledge to improve project planning. It helps improve project execution by ensuring operational decisions are based on robust data and proven best practices. It also features tools to monitor project progress and adjust strategies based on acquired knowledge, keeping projects on track and quickly identifying areas requiring attention.

Iniziare con Twproject significa fare un passo fondamentale verso una gestione del knowledge management più efficace e integrata. 

Questi vantaggi si traducono in progetti più riusciti, team più soddisfatti e clienti più felici.

Plan your projects with Twproject

The PERT diagram in a project: When do we have to use it

The PERT diagram is a project management tool used to plan, organize and coordinate activities within a project.

PERT stands for “Program Evaluation Review Technique“, a methodology developed by the Navy in 1957 to manage the Polaris submarine missile program.

The PERT method focuses on the important dates and deadlines of a project, known as milestones

The most important milestone is, without a doubt, the final expiration date, when the project must be complete.

The Pert Diagram or three-point estimation

The project manager identifies the activities that must be performed in sequence, known as serial or dependent tasks, and those that can be performed simultaneously, known as parallel or concurrent activities.

In the PERT diagram, the project is plotted on a flowchart where the nodes are deadlines and the arrows represent dependent activities.

Dependencies are represented by linked paths that move from left to right. A traditional PERT analysis provides on average three different deadlines: the shortest, that is the optimal estimate, the most realistic, that is the probable estimate, and the pessimistic estimate.

For this reason the PERT is also called “three-point estimation“.

The exact formula for defining deadlines is:
(optimistic time + (4 times more likely) + pessimistic time) / 6

It is also possible to track PERT analysis results on a Gantt chart, which shows durations and dependencies.

The PERT diagram can help you during the project planning phase and the Gantt chart can plot time as the project progresses.

In simple words, a PERT diagram is a graphical representation of a project program.

Some of the advantages of the PERT diagram include:

  • Making uncertain deadlines foreseeable;
  • Defining a clear order to complete the activities;
  • Making dependencies explicit.

But there is an important disadvantage: if the calculations are inaccurate, any delay will create a block or a slowdown that will inevitably affect the final delivery date.

However, if you are looking to have a structure and reduce uncertainty in project planning, the PERT diagram will help to establish important milestones and the activities necessary to achieve them.

How does a PERT diagram look like

Planning is shown as a network diagram. The activities are represented by nodes, with a circular or rectangular shape, which define the most important activities or milestones. Instead, the vectors or directional lines illustrate the sequence of activities.

diagramma di pert

The direction of the arrows on the lines indicates the sequence of tasks.

The pert – program evaluation and review technique – is sometimes preferred over the Gantt chart, because it clearly illustrates the dependencies of the activities.

Both tools are often used in the project management of activities.

A network diagram shows the sequence of activities and milestones. However, it also illustrates how priorities and milestones are linked, ie their temporal succession.

It is therefore also supportive in the development of the critical path method.

On the other hand, the PERT diagram can be much harder to interpret, especially in the case of complex projects.

One of the challenges to be faced with this diagram is that many information is shown for each activity, including:

  • Activity name
  • Expected and effective start
  • Estimated Duration
  • Name of the responsible person

This level of detail can quickly get out of hand when dealing with long and complex projects. We are talking about projects that have a high volume of activities with several phases and pivotal points.

One suggestion is to use a PERT diagram with the activities and milestones related to specific teams and / or departments, thus preventing the PERT chart from becoming overly complicated.

What are the pros and cons of PERT diagrams?

PERT diagrams have advantages, but managers must also be aware of the disadvantages when evaluating their use.

Here are the advantages:

1) Activity analysis

A project manager displays information on the likely completion of a project respecting time and budget costraints, displaying PERT activities and events independently and in combination.

For example, the implementation of a software requires the completion of critical tasks such as hardware installation, programming, system testing and training of users. Using a PERT diagram, a project manager can evaluate the completion time and the resources needed for each of these activities.

2) Coordination of the department and members

The PERT analysis improves planning and decision making by integrating and presenting data from multiple departments.

Collecting qualitative and quantitative data from multiple sources also helps to coordinate project activities and improves communication between departments.

PERT identifies the responsible departments and the role of each subject in the project.

The visibility of the areas of responsibility encourages the commitment of the direction towards the project. In addition, the PERT diagram reveals interdependencies of activity and contributes to the development of a general plan that provides a current view of business operations.

3) What-if Analysis

The PERT diagram requires that the project activities are sequenced in a network under a set of rules that specify critical paths (critical path method).

The critical path is the longest sequence of activities and events – milestone – in the project and determines the number of days needed for completion.

A What-if analysis identifies possibilities and uncertainties related to the project activities.

Various combinations of activities are attempted and the most useful possibility is selected, minimizing the project’s surprises and waste.

The What-if analysis also highlights the activities with the greatest risk that require careful monitoring during the project.

Now let’s move on to the disadvantages of using a PERT diagram:

1) Subjective analysis

The PERT method requires the identification of the activities of a new project and the arrangement of the activities in time sequence.

As a result, the process of collecting and analyzing data is subjective. This subjectivity can result in a PERT diagram with equivocal estimates of both time and cost.

The data may not be reliable as they reflect the judgment of the project participants who provide input to the analysis.

Companies base effective decisions on relevant information that is often historical. Estimates of project time and resources, as well as the probability of timely completion, in this case, may therefore not be reliable.

2) The focus is on time

The PERT method is an analysis of the time network that determines the need for labor, materials and capital goods for the individual activities of the project.

Cost estimates are developed for each activity in the network. However, PERT is primarily a time-focused method.

The diagrams specify the time required to complete each project activity and the tasks that must be completed to meet the project completion date.

3) Intensive resource investment

A PERT analysis requires a detailed study of the project activities and the feedback of many people from different organizations.

Moreover, the PERT is a complicated method to implement, especially for beginners. The high intensity of the work required to execute a PERT diagram can make this type of method expensive.

The PERT diagram therefore has advantages and disadvantages, and the project manager has to evaluate whether its use will be necessary or not for the project.

However, it is still a method that will certainly help in the planning and management of the project and that will bring a certain amount of extra security.

How to create a Pert diagram with Twproject

Twproject stands out in the project management software landscape for its ability to simplify the creation and management of Pert diagrams.

  • Activity definition: start by identifying all the key activities of your project. Twproject allows you to define and organise the work of your team, making it easier to plan and prioritise activities.
  • Diagram structuring: Use Twproject’s planning tools, such as the Gantt diagram, to structure your Pert diagram. You can represent activities as nodes and define dependencies between them.
gantt diagram

  • Resource management: you can easily monitor workload and resource planning. This helps you identify who is overloaded or underemployed and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Analysis and monitoring: analyse the critical path of your project and monitor progress in real time in order to proactively identify and manage risks.
  • Collaboration and updates: keep your team informed and involved. Twproject facilitates collaboration and communication within your team, allowing you to share updates and changes to the Pert chart efficiently.

Con Twproject puoi creare diagrammi di Pert efficaci e gestire complessivamente i progetti in modo più efficiente, sfruttando una suite di strumenti integrati per la pianificazione, il monitoraggio e la collaborazione.

Manage your change process.

Change Management: how to manage change in a project

Change management is a critical process for any project manager.

Even the most thoroughly planned projects are subject to internal or external change. In such cases, managing change effectively is paramount to ensuring project success.

A project manager’s understanding and mastery of the art of change management is a highly desirable skill and an absolute necessity

This article is intended to explore in depth how to effectively manage project change, addressing its challenges and seizing its opportunities.

We will analyze the principles of change management, the steps involved in the process, the techniques that can be used, and the role of the project manager.

Key principles of change management

Being successful in change management comes down to understanding and applying some core principles.

These principles provide a robust foundation to build and guide the change process, especially in complex contexts such as business.

  1. Understanding change: the first step involves understanding the change you want to implement. It is important to pinpoint the factors that made it necessary, its goals, and its implications.

The factors that can lead to change include:

  • Changes in the external environment:Changes in economic, social, political, or technological conditions may involve a change in the organization.
  • Efficacy and efficiency:Change may be necessary to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your organization.
  • Innovation:Change can be helpful in introducing new ideas and technologies.

Having first identified the factors that led to the change, it is important to define the objectives of the change. Goals must be clear, specific, and measurable.

  1. Involving people:Change is easier to accept if people are involved in decision-making. It is critical to communicate clearly and transparently, involving people from the very beginning.

Involving people can be achieved through:

  • Effective communication:It is important to communicate clearly and transparently, involving people from the beginning of the process.
  • Participation:It is critical to enable people to be involved in decision-making by providing them with the information and tools they need to make informed decisions.
  1. Providing support:Change can lead to stress and uncertainty. Therefore, it is important to provide people with the support they need to handle change on a practical and emotional level.

Practical support may include:

  • Training:It can help people build the skills and attitudes needed to tackle change.
  • Tools and resources:It is important to provide people with the necessary tools and resources to carry out their work effectively.

Emotional support may include:

  • Active listening:It is important to listen to people’s concerns and provide them with emotional support.
  • Acknowledgement: Acknowledging people’s efforts and providing them with positive feedback is crucial.

Change Management process stages

The change management process can be broken down into distinct phases, each with specific goals and activities.

This structure helps project managers to effectively navigate through change, ensuring that every aspect is carefully considered and managed.

1.    Preparation for change

The change preparation phase is the critical first step in ensuring the success of any change project. At this stage, it is necessary to:

  • Needs assessment: Understand why change is necessary and what problems it is intended to solve.
  • Goal setting: Set clear and measurable goals for change.
  • Stakeholder analysis: Learn who will be affected by the change and how.
  • Leadership preparation: Ensure leaders and managers are on board and understand their role in driving change.

gestione progetti change management

2.    Change planning

At this stage, the change management team must devise a thorough plan to guide the change through its execution.

  • Strategy development: Create a comprehensive plan with a timeline, resources needed, and specific actions.
  • Plan communication: Share your plan with all stakeholders, ensuring transparency and understanding.
  • Training and resources: Plan the necessary training and allocate resources to support change.

3. Change implementation

The change implementation phase is where the change plan comes to life. At this stage, it is necessary to:

  • Plan execution: Implement the actions outlined in the plan.
  • Resistance management: Monitor and actively address any resistance to change.
  • Continuous support: Provide ongoing support to employees during the transition.

4. Communication throughout change

Communication throughout change involves:

  • Regular updates: Provide regular updates on progress and any changes to the plan.
  • Feedback channels: Set up channels to get feedback from employees and other stakeholders.
  • Reassurance and motivation: Keep spirits high through positive and reassuring communications.

5. Support and training

The support and training phase is vital to the success of the change. At this stage, it is necessary to offer:

  • Targeted training: Offer specific training to help employees learn the skills needed for the new environment.
  • Psychological support: Provide support to manage the emotional aspect of change.
  • Skills adaptation: Ensure employees are appropriately prepared for new roles or responsibilities.

6. Monitoring and evaluation

This phase is key to ensuring that change is effective and sustainable:  

  • Impact evaluation: Measure the impact of the change concerning the established goals.
  • Feedback collection: Collect feedback to understand how change is perceived and experienced.
  • Adjustments and improvements: Make changes to the change plan based on the results and feedback.

7. Change strengthening

This is the final stage of the change management process. The change management team must ensure that change becomes part of the corporate culture. This can be achieved through various activities:

  • Incorporation into culture: Make sure that change becomes part of the corporate culture.
  • Celebrating achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate successes to strengthen change.
  • Continuous learning: Leverage the experience to improve future change management processes.

Effective techniques in Change Management

To successfully sail through the change management process, it is crucial to use effective techniques that smooth the transition and reduce resistance.

These techniques help ensure that change is not solely implemented but also accepted and sustained over the long term.

1.Stakeholder Analysis

  • Stakeholder Mapping: Identify all stakeholders and estimate their level of influence and interest in the change.
  • Engagement Strategies: Develop targeted strategies to engage stakeholders based on their position and impact on change.

2.Risk Management

  • Risk identification: Recognize any potential risks involved in change, both at the operational level and at the level of staff acceptance.
  • Mitigation plans: Develop plans to mitigate identified risks, including alternative scenario planning.

3.Training and Development

  • Training programs: Create and implement training programs to develop skills needed to adapt to the new environment or system.
  • Skill development: Focus on continuously developing employees’ skills to ensure they are prepared to manage future changes.

4.Regular Feedback

  • Open feedback channels: Set up open and accessible feedback channels for employees to express their concerns and suggestions.
  • Evaluation and action: Regularly gauge the feedback received and act on it to continuously improve the change process.

5.Strategic communication

  • Communication plans: Develop plans that articulate when, how, and what to communicate to each stakeholder group.
  • Custom messages: Tailor messages according to the audience to ensure their relevance and effectiveness.

6.Support and Counseling

  • Mental health care: Provide mental health support to help employees deal with change-related stress and anxiety.
  • Professional counseling: Provide access to professional counseling to address specific change-related problems.

7.Using change management tools

  • Project Management software: Use project management tools such as Twproject to plan, monitor and communicate effectively throughout the change process.
  • Automation and Reporting: Leverage technology to automate processes and deliver detailed reports on change progress.

By integrating these techniques into their change management process, project managers can substantially increase the odds of a successful change execution.

The key role of the project manager in change management

In the change management scenario, project managers play a pivotal role, serving as the hub between the technical and human needs of the project. This professional figure not only guides the project through its technical phases, but also manages the human aspect of change, ensuring that the whole organization accepts and supports the transition.

What distinguishes an effective project manager is visionary leadership, having a clear understanding of the goals of change, and the skills to communicate them effectively to the team and stakeholders.

This inspirational leadership is critical to infusing confidence and motivation, leading by example, and showing a firm commitment to change.

Communication plays a major role, requiring advanced skills to convey clearly the goals, benefits, and impact of change.

Also, the active involvement of team members and stakeholders is crucial, promoting participation and gathering feedback for inclusive change management.

Dealing with resistance and conflict is also critical. Project managers must identify and understand the causes of resistance to change among team members, employing conflict resolution techniques to turn resistance into opportunities for growth.

Training and ongoing support are indispensable to ensure the team receives the skills needed to adapt to new processes or technologies. Constant support helps manage team members’ concerns, ensuring their voice is heard and supported.

Continuous monitoring and adaptation of the change progress are crucial to assessing whether the strategies adopted are effective. Being ready to adapt to the change plan based on feedback and emerging circumstances shows flexibility and resilience.

Lastly, using project management tools like Twproject is key to effective planning, progress monitoring, and smooth communication. These tools help streamline processes, making change more manageable and less costly for the team.

Twproject: your ally in Change Management

Twproject is proving to be a key ally in the change management process, offering a comprehensive solution that supports project managers at every stage of change.

The versatile platform and its advanced features are designed to simplify change management, making it more efficient and less burdensome.

 

Twproject features Benefits of Change Managementt Practical Application
Agile Project Management Flexibility and adaptability in the change process Agile project planning and re-planning in light of dynamic changes
Mapping and Prioritization Tools Focus on critical aspects involved in change Identification and prioritization of key activities for successful change
Progress Tracking Real-time progress monitoring Continuous monitoring of progress and early identification of deviations
Detailed Reports Clear overview of project progress and informed decisions Report generation to evaluate the effectiveness of the change and make adjustments
Built-in Communication Tools Streamlining of information sharing and collaboration Smooth communication among team members and stakeholders
Information Centralization Facilitated access and sharing of data and documents All project information is available in one place for convenient access
Resource Management Optimized resource allocation Effective allocation of resources to support change activities
Work Capacity Overview Prevention of work overload and balancing of assignments Work capacity monitoring for balanced load distribution
Data Analysis Insights to drive decisions Use of data to inform and guide strategic decisions in the change process
Change Flexibility Adaptability to evolving needs Option to make prompt changes to project plans
Integration with Other Tools Smooth and cohesive workflow Integration with existing systems and software for an integrated work environment
Customization Tailoring to specific business needs Twproject configuration according to the unique needs of the change project

Through Twproject, project managers can provide a smooth transition, keeping the team aligned and focused on project goals.

The power to provide a clear understanding of progress, facilitate communication, and optimize resource management makes the change management process more manageable and less stressful for everyone involved.

 

Keep all your projects under control with Twproject!

 

The project baseline and the measurement of the variables

The project baseline is an “instant photo” of the project taken at its initial moment.

The goal of the project baseline is to see how far actual results have deviated from the initial reference plan.

In project management, it is essential to establish a baseline with clearly defined requirements, an accurate cost structure, and planning estimates, before the project execution and monitoring start.

All this must be completely defined and documented before the actual activities of the project begin.

In the baseline, the following elements of a project are included:

  • Scope
  • Timelines
  • Costs
  • Resources
  • Risks
  • Quality

Project Manager and project baseline

The project manager must examine the deviations from the project baseline when the work is done and throughout the project life cycle.

After the planning process is completed, this plan is agreed by all stakeholders and everyone expects the actual results to match the planned ones.

The role of the project manager is to verify during the execution of the project, if there is any variation from the baseline, in any element mentioned above.

If an event occurs that causes the project budget to be exceeded, for example, or if there is a risk that will cause the project to be delayed, corrective and preventive actions must be taken.

The project baseline can be changed, but it is not an easy process. These changes can be complex and require careful consideration.

In fact, the baseline should allow to verify how much the project is in line with the initial planning.

If a baseline changes too frequently and there are too many deviations from it, this can be considered misleading.

Therefore, in the real world, the baseline of the project is generally modified only if an important request for modification is approved and only with the recognition of the sponsor of the project.

These changes are considered and approved through a specific process, in which the impacts on the project are assessed.

If a change is approved by the control committee, first its impacts are reported in the project plan and, next, the modification can be implemented.

Deviations from the project baseline are often due to incomplete or incorrect risk identification.

There may be a deviation from the baseline of the project, for example, if the cost of an activity or article exceeds the planned values, or if an activity takes more time than the planned duration.

Why is the project baseline important?

Establishing a baseline allows the project manager to evaluate performance and resource optimisation for the duration of a project.

If a project is behind schedule or above budget, it is time to make changes to the baseline or add more resources.

A technique often used by project managers to measure and compare the performance of a project with its baseline, is the following calculation:

Planned Value (PV) = The estimated cost of the planned work

Actual Value (AV) = Actual cost of work done up to the current date

Effective Value (EV) = Planned Value (PV) x % of project completion

Schedule Performance Index (SPI) = EV / PV , measures progress made up to the current date with respect to the initially planned progress.

When SPI <1, less work than expected has been done.

When SPI> 1, more work than expected has been done.

Cost Performance Index (CPI) = EV / AV , measures the value of completed work compared to the planned labor cost.

Finally, baseline determination helps with the accuracy of future estimations. This allows the project manager to get a better idea of how long it will take to complete the project and at what costs.

Estimated at Completion (EAC) = (total project budget) / CPI

EAC is a forecast of how much the overall project will cost, so that it is possible to approximate the correct allocation of resources.

Maintaining an accurate record of current project estimates and actual results allows estimates to be applied to similar future projects.

How to check the status of the baseline

 The check of the progress of the project with respect to the baseline, must follow specific procedures that are established even before starting the execution of the project.

Effective control is possible when these elements are defined:

  • Performance assessment standards and criteria
  • Data collection system
  • Frequency of monitoring, ie. when the checks must be carried out
  • Frequency of reporting
  • Approval process for the new programming
  • Stakholders communication plan.

Practices to follow for optimal calculation and good control of the project baseline

 Let’s see the “modus operandi” to set, track and maintain an optimal project baseline.

 1. Setting of the original baseline

At the beginning of any project, it is very important to set a baseline that represents the starting point of the work. This is a useful method to document the change of various parameters of a project. The goal of setting a baseline is to avoid rewriting its parameters, but eventually just adding new ones. The experience of the project manager in this operation has a very important role.

2. Keep track of previous baselines

As the project progresses, surely the project manager will have to make changes. However, before any change, it is important to save a history of the previous baselines so that it is possible to access the previous baselines for comparisons and restore changes, if necessary.

3. Maintenance of a baseline

Once a change has been approved, it is time to update the forecast by adding the new scope, deadlines, and approved changes. Keeping an accurate record of updates and changes to the baseline allows the project manager to keep the project in line with the new requirements.

In order for the project to be successful, a structured control system becomes fundamental, as well as a good initial planning.

In addition, a project manager must be able to manage contingencies and any changes that may occur during the life cycle of a project.

The control must not only be limited to reporting the changes and rescheduling the activities planned for the future. Instead, control must be a proactive process in which project managers try to anticipate problems.

The project manager must therefore have a continuous and detailed view of the project and must communicate continuously with the project team and with stakeholders.

Managing the project baseline with project management software

Managing projects with a project management software is clearly simpler, but if the software also manages the baselines, even the subsequent analysis will be simpler.
Twproject records every change on your project and allows you to scroll through the whole story in a simple and visually impactful way, managing to get to the starting point to analyze everything that has happened: every time the budget has been exceeded, the hours estimate, time, any correction and advancement.

move timeline

Thanks to this, a project manager can refer to different baselines and it is important that he has an adequate control system available.

A good project software like Twproject that keeps track of project timings and deliverables, can certainly give a big help in the control of the project baseline, too.

Manage your projects effectively with Twproject

One try is worth a million words.

Work packages: what are they and what relation do they have with wbs?

Work packages, what are they and what relation do they have with wbs? That’s what we will discuss in this article.

A work package is a set of inter-related activities within a project.

These activities are grouped to create a sort of mini-project within a project.

Work packages, in short, are the smallest unit of work into which a project can be split during the work breakdown structure creation, the so-called WBS.

What are project Work Packages

A work package is generally established as a result of the following characteristics that activities may share:

  • Type of work involved (i.e. Marketing, finance, etc.).
  • Task Results
  • Geographical location where said activities take place
  • Time when the activities will be completed
  • Technology or materials that will be used
  • Team leaders in charge
  • Specific stakeholders

By bringing related activities together, a work package becomes an element that is easier for the project team to understand.

Team members are thus able to see the connection between different work streams and focus on those that apply to them.

As part of a work breakdown program – work breakdown structure WBS -, using work packages delivers a greater sense of understanding because each block of related activities can be easily visualized.

To tell the difference between what is a work package and a true stand-alone project, you need to examine the outcomes.

Each work package is always just one element of something bigger, so its outcomes will be directly related to promoting the goals of the overall project.

Let’s use the following example: If you add a new feature to a technology product, such as project management software, there may be several work packages related to its development, including:

  • Design
  • Development
  • Test
  • Integration
  • Roll out
work packages

Within each of these packages there will be a variety of different activities. However, by keeping related activities organized, it will become easier to communicate with lead teams and set milestones and deadlines to better manage the entire project’s critical path.

The use of work packages also provides a reference point for describing and managing the various metrics related to a project, such as:

  • Budget: knowing how much is allocated to each area and how well this is being met.
  • Deadlines: how well they are being met and whether some areas are causing more delays than others.
  • Risks: what needs to be monitored to know where and how likely problems are to occur.
  • Priorities: significance of different areas and what you need to focus on first.
  • Stakeholders: knowing who needs to be kept up-to-date on different aspects of the business.

Why are work packages important?

By segmenting a project into work packages, the Work Breakdown Structures development becomes easier and project managers will have a greater level of control over the various tasks.

Other benefits include:

  • Work packages enable simultaneous work by multiple teams on different components of a project. Each team follows tasks defined for that work package and completes them within the given deadline.
  • When teams have completed their individual work packages, the entire project reunites seamlessly. The completion of a work package is often overseen by a specific person who may be the project manager himself or a specifically assigned supervisor.
  • Even though costs are estimated at the activity level, these estimations are aggregated at the work package level, where they are measured, managed, and controlled.
  • For each work package, direct labor costs, direct costs for material, equipment, travel, contractual services, and other non-personal resources, and associated indirect costs can be determined. Then, the individual costs of all work packages are aggregated to reach the authorized cost baseline or authorized budget for the project.

Work package performance measurement

A work package performance can be measured using the earned value management technique.

This integrates project scope, costs, and schedule measures to help the team assess and measure project performance and progress.

It involves preparing a baseline against which the performance of work packages can be measured for the duration of the project.

Earned value management develops and monitors three key dimensions for each work package:

  • Planned value: the planned value is the authorized budget assigned to the work to be performed for the work package.
  • Earned value: the earned value is the value of the work performed expressed in terms of the approved budget allocated to the work package.
  • Actual cost: Actual cost is the total cost actually sustained and recorded for the performance of the work performed for a work package.

Work package preparation guidelines

When breaking down a WBS to the work package level, WBS nodes may be split to extreme levels, wasting time and making the project difficult to understand, manage, and adjust.

There are many factors to consider when deciding how far to decompose the WBS, however the most important are:

  • Work packages should be small enough to estimate time and cost.
  • The project manager and project team should be positive that the current level of detail provides sufficient information to proceed with the following tasks.
  • Work packages should be small enough to be assigned to a single person or group that can be held accountable for results.
  • Although this might differ from project to project, most project managers agree that the 8/80 rule can be applied to measure a work package. This rule says that no work package should be under 8 hours and over 80 hours.
  • Work packages may reside at different levels in the WBS hierarchy. Project managers should not artificially force WBS into a structure where all work packages are at the same hierarchical level. This could lead to problems arising as the project progresses, such as forced details or lack of control where it is really needed.

Get Started

For project managers, the successful use of work packages is key as it allows them to easily differentiate and outsource tasks required to deliver a project, for this reason, having a project management software helping you is essential.

Twproject has allowed us to organize work subdivision in a simple way through the WBS, then planning the duration of the phases and the workload of each assignee by using the Gantt chart.

A software like Twproject could help you designing the WBS easily, deviding the project in work packages for enhancing delegation.

The most important benefit, however, is that work packages allow a major project to be segmented into more manageable parts so that neither the project manager nor the team is overwhelmed by the size of the project undertaken.

Start now designing your WBS

Cost-benefit analysis in a project

Measuring costs and benefits of a project isn’t something that can be left to the feelings of the Project Manager. We are talking about the essence of the company’s business and therefore we need certain elements on which to make assessments.

When managing a project, in fact, you need to make many key decisions, taking into account all aspects, including potential costs.

There’s always something that needs to be done and often it is crucial to the success of the project and the organization itself.

Because of the high stakes, good managers do not only make decisions based on instinct, but prefer to minimize risk to the best of their ability and only act when there is more certainty than uncertainty.

But how is this possible with myriad variables and with an ever changing economy?

The solution is to seek concrete data with reporting tools, graphs and spreadsheets, even better with the help of project management software.

Thus, you can use this data to assess your decisions with a process called cost-benefit analysis (CBA).

A smart use of cost-benefit analysis will help minimize risk and maximize gains for both the project specifically and the organization in general. This method of evaluation is crucial for effective project management.

What is cost-benefit analysis?

Jules Dupuit, a French engineer and economist, introduced the concepts behind the cost-benefit analysis in the 1840s.

This method became very popular in the 1950s; a simple way to evaluate the costs and benefits of a project and, therefore, to determine whether to carry on (or not) with a project.

As the name suggests, cost-benefit analysis involves summing the benefits of a course of action and comparing them with the costs associated with it.

The results of the analysis are often expressed as a payback period, the time it takes for the benefits to pay off, also considering the discount rate.

Many people who use it, in fact, search for a payback within less than a specific period.

You can use this technique in a number of situations. For example, when you want to:

  • Decide whether to hire new team members.
  • Consider a new project or change initiative.
  • Determine feasibility of a capital purchase.

The cost-benefit analysis for project management is an additional tool available that the project manager can make use of.

Cost-benefit analysis purpose

The purpose of the analysis is to have a methodical approach to understand the pros and cons of the various possible options for a project, including transactions, activities, business requirements and investments.

In short, the cost-benefit analysis offers options and the best approach to achieve the goal while saving on investment.

There are two main goals to be achieved with the use of this analysis:

  • Determine whether the project is sound, justifiable and feasible, assessing whether its benefits outweigh its costs.
  • Offer a base for comparison of projects by determining which benefits are greater than their costs.
the costs-benefits analysis

How to use cost-benefit analysis

Here are the steps to perform a cost-benefit analysis.

1) Brainstorming on benefits and costs

Although there are some guidelines on how to draw up a project budget, it is always necessary to spend time thinking about all the costs associated with the project and make a list of them, including any unexpected costs (the ones you can think of).

Then, you will do the same for all the benefits of the project, including any potential unforeseen benefits.

2) Give a financial value to the costs

Costs include both the price of the required physical resources and the cost of manpower involved in all stages of a project.

Costs are often relatively easier to estimate than revenues.

It is important to think of as many related costs as possible. For example, how much will it cost to train team members?

Will there be a decrease in productivity while people are learning a new system or technology and how much will it cost?

Also, it is important to consider the costs that will continue to be incurred once the project is completed.

adding estimate and cost

3) Give a financial value to the advantages

This step is less simple than the second one: first, it is often very difficult to accurately predict revenues, especially for new products.

Second, along with the expected financial benefits, there are often intangible benefits that are still important results of the project.

For example, what is the impact on the environment, employee satisfaction or health and safety? What is the financial value of this impact?

For example, is the preservation of an ancient monument worth $500,000 or is it worth $5,000,000 because of its historical significance? Or, what is the value of a stress-free trip to work in the morning?

In these cases, it is also important to discuss with other interested parties and decide how to assess these intangible elements.

4) Compare costs and benefits

The last step is to compare costs with benefits and use this analysis to decide what course of action to take.

For this, calculate the total costs and total benefits and compare the two values to determine whether the benefits exceed the costs.

At this point, it is important to consider the payback time of the investment, to find out how long it will take to reach the “break even point”, i.e. the time when the benefits will pay off the costs.

A simple example, considering a situation where the same benefits are collected in each period, is to calculate the payback period by dividing the total expected cost of the project by the total expected revenues. This way:

Total cost / total income (or benefits) = duration (depreciation period).

How to consider the cost-benefit analysis

The data collected is used to help determine whether the project will have a positive or negative consequence.

It is essential to keep the following aspects in mind when evaluating this information:

  • What are the effects on users?
  • What are the effects on non-users?
  • Are there any external effects?
  • Is there a social benefit?

It is also important to take into account the time-value of the money spent. This can be done by converting expected future costs and benefits into current rates.

Of course, there is a risk intrinsic to any business and the risk and uncertainty must always be considered.

This can be calculated with the theory of probability.

Uncertainty is different from risk, but can be assessed using a sensitivity analysis to show how the results meet parameter changes.

How accurate is cost-benefit analysis?

The short answer is that the analysis will be as accurate as the data entered in the process.

Some inaccuracies are caused by:

  • Relying too much on data collected from past projects, especially when these differ in purpose, size, etc. from what you are working on
  • Using subjective insights during evaluation
  • Improper use of heuristics (problem solving that employs a practical method that is not guaranteed) to obtain the cost of the intangibles variables
  • Confirmation bias or use only data that supports what you want to find

Generally speaking, a cost-benefit analysis is more suitable for small and medium-sized projects that do not take too long to be completed.

In these cases, the analysis can lead the people involved to make appropriate decisions.

For large projects that run for a long period of time, there may be a number of problematic external factors that need to be taken into account in a cost-benefit analysis, such as: inflation, interest rates, etc.,

There are other methods that complement the cost-benefit analysis in the evaluation of larger projects.

Overall, however, the use of this methodology is a crucial step in determining whether or not a project is worth pursuing.

Cost-benefit analysis reliability

The cost-benefit analysis also suffers from reliability when a project has cash flows that vary from period to period.

Furthermore, the revenue that will be generated by a project can be very difficult to predict and the value that people attribute to intangible benefits can be very subjective.

Also, the production of a cost-benefit analysis requires a thorough awareness of project risks.

The intangible benefits analyzed can easily be underestimated or overestimated.

The benefits might also not arise or the risk that the benefit will not be achieved is too high.

The risk has two main factors that compose it:

Risk = Probability x Gravity

Here the level of risk of an event is proportional to the probability of its occurrence and the level of risk of an event is proportional to the size of the impact it generates.

For example, the office in which the project team works could be destroyed by an aircraft (a “risk event”).

The probability is clearly very low, but the severity is very high.

However, for most people the low probability outweighs the high severity, which leads to the conclusion that this risk event is not worth creating a risk response plan.

Ultimately, cost-benefit analysis is a data-based process and must be tackled appropriately.

With the help of sufficiently robust project management software, it will be possible to collect, analyze and distribute information effectively, so that the greatest possible benefit can be gained from a cost-benefit analysis.

Measure costs and benefits of a project with Twproject.

How to monitor and cut business costs with Twproject

In the project management world, keeping business costs under control is critical to any project’s success.

As projects become more complex and the pressure to keep costs to a minimum grows, project management tools such as Twproject become indispensable.

Here in this article, we will explore how to monitor business costs effectively.

Types of business costs: Fixed and variable

First, it is crucial to understand the nature of business costs, which are mainly split into two categories: fixed and variable costs.

This differentiation is pivotal to effective financial management and implementing cost reduction strategies.

Fixed cost characteristics

Fixed costs are expenses that remain constant, whatever the production volume or level of services offered. They include rent, basic salaries, depreciation, and overhead expenses such as utilities and insurance. The main characteristic of fixed costs is their short-term immutability, even if production volume increases or decreases.

For a company, it is crucial to monitor and manage fixed costs because they are expenses that must be incurred regardless of the level of economic activity. Effective management of fixed costs can lead to greater financial stability and better long-term planning.

Variable cost characteristics

Variable costs, conversely, vary with the volume of production or the level of services provided.

Typical examples include raw material costs, shipping costs, sales commissions, and direct labor costs. These costs generally increase as production grows and decrease when production decreases.

Managing variable costs is vital to maintaining competitiveness and profitability. A major key challenge is balancing the production and services offered with the associated variable costs, optimizing the relationship between costs and revenues.

Why business cost analysis is important

Business cost analysis, comprising both fixed and variable costs, is crucial in gauging the financial health of a business.

Understanding how these costs affect the selling price of products or services and operational efficiency can help companies make informed decisions concerning pricing strategies, production volumes, and cost-reduction methods.

Here, tools such as Twproject become critical.

They provide a clear and in-depth picture of the various costs incurred in a project, enabling managers to make evidence-based decisions and plan more effective cost-reduction strategies.

In the next section, we will explore how Twproject specifically streamlines the management and monitoring of these costs, contributing to more efficient and focused financial management.

Monitoring project costs

The first step in cutting business costs is to monitor project costs thoroughly.

For example, by using budgeting and cost planning, you can ensure that projects are funded appropriately and that there are no cost surprises.

Cost tracking allows you to pinpoint any deviations between budgeted and actual costs so that you can take corrective action.

Cost analysis allows you to identify areas where costs can be reduced, such as by lowering resource, material, or service costs.

 

cost management twproject

Managing business costs with Twproject

Twproject stands out as a key tool in business cost management, providing innovative and customizable solutions to address financial challenges in project management.

Its flexibility to adapt to fixed and variable costs makes it a versatile and indispensable tool for managers aiming to optimize the financial management of their projects.

 

  • Project budgeting and cost control: Twproject offers detailed project budget management, helping managers set and monitor budgets for every project stage. This functionality is critical to ensure that costs are always aligned with forecasts and to prevent budget overshoots.
  • Budget Overflow and Underflow: Twproject’s BUDGET_OVERFLOW_FORBIDDEN feature prevents inputting costs that exceed the allotted budget.
  • This check helps prevent budget overshoots and ensures that each project sub-phase meets the higher phase’s budget. Likewise, the underflow control prevents budget reductions below estimated or incurred costs.
  • Assisted financial planning: Twproject helps project managers input estimates consistent with their available budget, facilitating more accurate and realistic financial planning.

Twproject does not just help in budget management but also offers advanced tools for cost control at all stages of the project:

  • Hourly resource cost management: The USE_REAL_RESOURCE_COST feature helps differentiate the internal cost of resources from the value billed to customers. This is critical for proper evaluation of direct and indirect costs and accurate billing of services to customers.
  • Real-time cost monitoring: Twproject allows access to work logs and updated estimates, providing a clear and up-to-date view of actual and estimated project costs.
  • Worklog control and cost center management: the WORKLOG_OVERFLOW_FORBIDDEN feature prevents the logging of over-estimated labor hours, ensuring that the work performed is always aligned with budget and forecast. Moreover, advanced cost center management simplifies allocating and tracking costs across different departments or projects.

Strategic benefits of using Twproject for enterprise cost management

Using Twproject in business cost management offers many strategic advantages:

  • Greater transparency: Twproject provides a thorough and transparent overview of costs, helping managers pinpoint potential waste areas and savings opportunities.
  • Data-driven decisions: with accurate and up-to-date data, managers can make informed decisions to optimize costs and improve operational efficiency.
  • Flexibility and customization: Twproject‘s flexibility in adapting to different projects and costs makes it a versatile tool suitable for a wide range of business needs.

Twproject is a must-have project management software for any project manager who wants to optimize business cost management.

 

 

Keep costs under control with Twproject

 

Project Management Basics: 4 Reasons to Use Gantt Charts

What is a Gantt Chart? Why it can be useful to manage your project?

If you have never heard of it, it’s important to know that Gantt diagram is a very versatile tool to visualize and track the timing and progress of a task.

Its representation is very simple: it is a Cartesian diagram, on abscissa you find the time scale from the beginning to the end of the project, while in the ordinate there are all the activities to complete it.

The planned time to perform a task is visually represented with a colored bar that runs from the start date to the end date of the task.

What is the purpose of the Gantt chart?

Managing projects with Gantt diagrams allows you to see at a glance the set of activities to be performed, which have closer deadlines, which can be done at the same time, and the entire dependencies grid.

They are universally used to plan and manage all types of jobs, from complex ones to simple personal ones, thanks to their immediate comprehension.

Let us look at the advantages of using Gantt.

With Gantt you can easily see:

  • The start and end date of a project
  • What is the sequence of tasks to be done
  • Who is working on the various tasks
  • How long each task will last
  • The dependencies between the various tasks

Below we explain how you can use them to manage your work project.

4 reasons to use Gantt diagrams:

1) Understand your project better

With the creation of the timeline, you and your team will have to highlight and break your project into phases and sub-phases.

This brainstorming will help you classify the entire work plan more accurately, highlighting more clearly the deadlines, the dependencies between the various steps, and also which figures will complete the various tasks.

This analysis is a key point in project planning and the Gantts will help you visualize it more clearly.

The first step is to create a work breakdown structure within which you can enter phases and sub-phases.

For simple projects, you can use a Excel spreadsheet, for the most complex ones, always in the interest of optimizing time and resources, you can use a project management software like Twproject, that allows you to quickly and easily set up various activities.

creation of WBS through Gantt

2) Define dependencies and deadlines

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, once the phases and sub-phases are identified with their duration, it will be much easier to set milestones and their dependencies.

Once you create these links you will be able to easily understand what impact can have a delayed task to a specific stage.

Being aware of this information at the beginning of the project, exposing what is called “critical path” (the sequence of dependent tasks that determine the end date), will allow you to pay more attention during its course.

Adding dependencies on Gantt

3) Delegate project activities

Identifying sub-phases will also help you figuring out which resources are going to accomplish them and so properly distribute your resource work load by improving human resource management.

Establishing the timeline will help you manage your project optimally, balancing your entire workload and avoiding overloads that would affect your team’s operational capability.

Moreover, the use of the Gantt is also fundamental in the case of project re-planning, thanks to which, with just a few simple changes, you can change the entire tree and immediately realise possible new overloads.

adding assignments on Gantt

Rescheduling activities can be even easier by relying on a project management software such as Twproject which offers the possibility of evaluating the load integrated into the project structure in the Gantt.

Twproject allows you to balance the load of resources by finding the earliest possible end date with a complex algorithm.

workload balance

4)  Check your progress

Project Gantt Diagrams, if created with a specific software like Twproject, are dynamic and evolve as a result of completing the various activities.

Thanks to this, you can constantly monitor job development by identifying progress and delays.

Applying Gantt’s diagrams to your project can therefore bring significant benefits:

  • Improve analysis and planning
  • Reducing errors and risks
  • Better resource management
  • Greater control

These aspects are crucial for every project manager who seeks to manage the work and the team optimally.

Gantt’s diagrams are, from this point of view, a powerful and immediately applicable tool.

In addition, with a specific tool such as Twproject, you will not only be able to monitor the progress of your project, but you will have the possibility, at any time, to compare the progress of your Gantt with its previous versions up to the baseline.ù

It will be easy to identify the phases that have generated the most delay and thus intervene in future cases.

project progress page

Workflow optimisation: one more reason to use the Gantt chart

If you want to optimise your workflow and ensure the achievement of your objectives, adopting a Gantt chart proves to be a strategic choice.

This tool not only facilitates the visualisation of the entire project lifecycle, but also enables the precise identification of critical phases and necessary resources.

In a context where every activity must be executed with precision and timing, the Gantt chart provides a clear and immediate overview of the project’s progress. This allows project managers to anticipate any delays or overlaps, ensuring that each phase proceeds on schedule. In addition, the tool’s ability to highlight dependencies between activities helps prevent bottlenecks and manage human and material resources more effectively.

In summary, the Gantt chart is not only a planning tool, but a true ally in optimal project management, essential for those working in the dynamic world of project management.

If you want to deepen your use by simple tests, by decomposing and analyzing your projects you can try Twproject for free, a comprehensive work management tool that includes an interactive tool for creating these diagrams.

Once you’ve downloaded the demo, you can start creating your own charts right away by dividing the job at various stages, assigning them to your employees. Twproject interactive tool will graphically show you the sequence of activities you enter by updating them progressively.

You can do all the tests you need and evaluate in depth the benefits this tool can bring to your work!

Do you want to create your first Gantt?

Expense report: how to manage it in complex projects

Expense report management is one of companies’ most sensitive and tricky tasks, especially for large projects.

The expense report is a core document that accounts for costs incurred by an employee during a trip or as part of a specific project.

Managing it can be challenging due to the variety of expenses involved and the complexity of the reporting process.

Let’s take a look at how to manage the expense report in complex projects.

The perfect expense report

Expense report management is critical for many companies, and having a clear and comprehensive expense report is fundamental to ensuring accurate and timely reporting.

A “perfect” expense report should be transparent, detailed and comply with current regulations.

The current regulation on expense reports in Italy is Ministerial Decree 55/2014, which defines the requirements that expense reports must meet to be valid for tax filing purposes.

Here is what a perfect expense report should include:

Personal data

The basic information of the employee who sustained the expenses. They should be clear and accurate to avoid possible misunderstandings or errors. They include:

    • Full Name: Complete identification of the employee.
    • Company Name: The legal name of the business or body for which the employee works. It is fundamental to ensure that the expense report is associated with the proper organization, especially in large companies or groups having several companies.

Expense list

A comprehensive list of expenses is vital to understanding the nature and extent of costs incurred:

  • Detailed: Each expense should be described in detail, specifying, for example, whether it is a business dinner, a train ticket, or an overnight stay in a hotel.
  • Broken by category: Expenses should be split into categories, such as travel, food, accommodation, etc. This helps to understand the nature of expenses quickly and facilitates their approval and accounting.

Date and place

These details are key to putting expenses in context:

    • Period: Specifying the dates when the expenses were incurred helps to understand the context and verify their relevance.
    • Context: The place or event at which the expenses were sustained (e.g., a business conference in Milan or a client meeting in Rome) provides additional details about the nature of the expenses.

Reimbursement of expenses incurred

This section of the expense report should make it clear how and when the employee will be reimbursed:

  • Method of reimbursement: Whether by wire transfer, check or other means, it is key to specify how the employee will receive their reimbursement.
  • Refund times: Clearly state when the employee can expect to get reimbursed, for example, within 30 days of submitting the expense report.

Managing expense reports in complex projects

Managing expense reports in a complex project environment can be a significant challenge due to the variety of expenses and the reporting process’s complexity.

Some of the challenges and critical issues that can arise in managing expense reports in complex projects include:

Variety of expenses

In large projects, expenses can come from multiple sources and for different reasons:

    • Travel and transfers: Business travel, both domestic and international, may include expenses for transportation, accommodation, food, and other related expenses.
    • Procurement of goods and services: This may include software purchases, equipment, external consulting, and more.
    • Events and trainings: Attending or hosting events, seminars or training courses may incur significant costs.
    • Unexpected expenses: In any project, unexpected expenses may emerge during the course of the project and must be properly documented and justified.

Complexity of the reporting process

Reporting expenses in complex projects can be a tricky process:

    • Expense approval: Any expense might require approval from different hierarchical levels or departments, such as finance or management.
    • Verification and monitoring: Expenses must be reviewed to ensure they are legitimate, relevant to the project, and in compliance with company policies.
    • Reporting: All expenses must be documented appropriately, with receipts, invoices, and other evidence justifying the amount spent.
    • Reimbursement: Once approved, expenses must be reimbursed timely, per the procedures and timeframes established by the company.

Twproject: a one-stop solution for managing expense reports

nota spese

In an age where digitization and automation are revolutionizing how businesses work, expense report management is no exception.

Manual expense management, relying on spreadsheets and folders full of receipts, has become obsolete and ineffective, especially in large businesses or complex projects.

Twproject stands out as a state-of-the-art solution, offering many features that make it a precious ally for businesses.

Here is a detailed analysis of its key features:

  • Multi-currency management: In an international context, companies must often manage expenses in different currencies. Twproject can manage expense reports in various currencies, ensuring accurate and up-to-date conversions and making reporting and approving costs incurred in foreign currencies easier.
  • Recurring and one-time expenses: Every company has recurring payments, such as subscriptions, but also one-time costs, such as travel expenses. Twproject allows both types to be managed effectively, enabling clear categorization and detailed tracking.
  • Personal expenses: An employee may incur an expense that does not fall under the company’s reimbursable items. Twproject also offers the option to record these expenses, ensuring a clear distinction between reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses, thereby providing transparency and clarity in the reporting process.
  • Efficiency and accuracy: Managing expense reports with Twproject significantly reduces the time spent filling out, approving, and reimbursing expenses. It also minimizes the risk of human error, ensuring more accurate reporting.
  • Allocation to cost center: Whenever an expense report is inserted, it can be automatically associated with a specific cost center. This ensures that each expense is correctly recorded and allocated to the right project or department.
  • Accessibility and traceability: Expense information will become accessible in real-time from any device, allowing better tracking of expenses and greater transparency in the process.

Bottom line, Twproject is not just a project management tool but also a comprehensive solution for managing expense reports.

Its versatility and advanced features make it a great option for companies looking for an effective and reliable way to manage expenses.

Keep costs under control with Twproject

 

The best time management software of 2023-2024

Are you looking for software to help you handle time management in your company? Then you are in the right place.

Our time is the most precious resource we have. And so far we can all agree.

But we know that it is not easy to learn how to manage time, and this is as true in life as it is in the workplace.

For those who have the professional need to monitor not only their own time, but also that of their team, finding efficient ways of approaching this task is crucial: it will help reduce stress and increase company well-being and satisfaction.

It follows that the benefits of accurate time monitoring in work projects are manifold:

  • reducing work stress and increasing productivity
  • meeting deadlines
  • assessing the value of the activities in which you invest the most time
  • the precise calculation of time spent on typical tasks and thus more awareness when making budgets
  • finally, and this applies to teams of any size, this will be complemented by shared responsibility for the work done

And if this list of benefits is not enough for you, take a look at the exhaustive list of reasons why time management is a key activity for your company.

Time management is probably one of the most important monitoring activities of any company, from the smallest to the largest and most structured.

But it has a weakness, which is constancy: we do not always have enough of it to find the right tools and so we risk relying on temporary or inconsistent solutions.

Therefore, shared efforts are needed, along with patience in implementing registration and monitoring, regularity in putting them in place and continuing them over time, but also courage to change course when we see that things are not working as they should.

Time management software is like a fellow traveller who accompanies and guides us in this task.

We need to try out several of them to find the ideal one because, although they are similar, they do not all work in the same way.

Two macro-types of software

Platforms that monitor work schedules and allow the creation of timesheets fall mainly into two categories:

  1. simple time recording apps
  2. comprehensive project management solutions that also integrate other functionalities.

Our advice is to combine time management software with other planning solutions, hence choosing a tool from the second category.

In this way, all parties are involved and working time is a piece of the puzzle that fits in with the others, which is useful for analysing the functioning of projects and the team as a whole.

One example above all?

The typical case where past timesheets are used to estimate the cost of future activities and plan the budget of new projects accurately.

We have already outlined the many advantages and techniques you can implement using a comprehensive time management tool within the broader framework of integral project management.

Our ranking

And here we come to the point. What are the best tools on the market?

So which ones meet the need to combine time management with other aspects of management and which have another feature that we find advantageous, namely flexibility? We are here to tell you.

We tested several software packages, among the most popular on the market, that have time entry and time tracking as their focal point, and came up with a ranking.

Hopefully this will be useful to you!

1. Twproject

Twproject time management

Twproject is the tool that makes flexibility in timesheet recording its strong point.

With Twproject, every insertion mode is covered in order to meet personal needs.

In fact, the platform offers the constant possibility to monitor the recorded worklogs in real time, highlighting overruns compared to the planned schedule and being able to adjust them if necessary.

The recorded data can be easily exported: by person, project, customer, dates and much more.

This data fits into every single aspect of business management with Twproject, from the planning phase, continuing through execution and up to the final invoicing phase of the work performed.

In addition, Twproject has a notification system to help you always remember to record your worklogs, so that you do not miss any information.

Best features:

  • Various recording modes: it is possible to enter the hours worked with timesheets showing a chosen time interval, or with a stopwatch that can be activated when needed, or also through assigned ToDos.
  • Various registration accesses: on any page of the platform you can enter your worklogs, starting from the dashboard and continuing on the individual project and phase pages, on the ToDo list or even on your timesheet, with different time intervals.
  • Calendar: customisable at time interval level (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly), integrated with the timesheet page.
  • ToDo: very flexible and user-friendly tool. Through ToDos the worker can enter the hours worked on individual tasks, manually or with timers. When a ToDo is closed, the worklog window opens automatically.
  • Costs: the budgeting function (for project or phase managers) automatically reports the hours worked on the various nodes of the WBS. In the cost statement, it is possible to view the details of the activities performed by each worker. In addition, a comparison between estimated and performed work can be displayed and additional costs can obviously be added.
  • Revenues: this section also distinguishes estimated from invoiced revenues, and it is possible to save invoicing documents.
  • Worklog management: this function allows you to view the progress of worklogs and also to approve worklogs entered by the project manager. By default, all worklogs have the status “to be approved”, but it is possible to customise this option according to business needs.
  • Workload analysis and management: based on the workload entered, from availability, and taking into account any absences, it is possible to plan in advance the workload of operators or to reschedule assignments in progress. The workload in Twproject is very efficient and also allows to distinguish between routine and direct project activities.
  • Project planning: the hours worked in certain projects can serve as a planning source for subsequent similar projects. Twproject offers tools for detailed planning and allows the project to be broken down into its single phases, assigning specific characteristics to each of them.
  • Interactive Gantt: the first and most useful planning tool is the Gantt chart, which allows you to set phase timings, deadlines, milestones, etc.
  • Statistics page: it collects the worklog data entered to generate graphs on the progress of the project or its phases, relating this data to costs. On this page it is also possible to view the situation at any point in the lifetime of the current project.

Pricing: from €4.89 user/month.

Pros: Twproject is the collaborative tool par excellence, it allows timesheets to be placed in a broader framework, it allows the manager to have budgets, operator load, statistics etc. under control, and the workers to always have a clear idea of the use of their time. It also helps not to forget to enter the hours worked. It adapts to the needs of any team.

Cons: We do not detect any cons.

For those looking for a comprehensive and collaborative time management system, the best choice is Twproject: simple and adaptable to every need, it allows work to be monitored effectively.

2. Clock Session

Clock session

Clock Session is a comprehensive time-tracking and project management software designed to streamline your team’s workflow and boost productivity.

With its intuitive interface and powerful features, Clock Session simplifies time management, task tracking, and collaboration, allowing you to focus on what matters most – delivering exceptional results.

Best features:

  • Time tracking: users can track billable hours, project time, and attendance with Clock Session’s built-in time tracking tools.
  • Task management: it gives the possibility of organising tasks, setting deadlines, and assigning responsibilities to team members for efficient project management.
  • Reporting and analytics: managers can gain insights into team’s productivity with customizable reports and analytics.
  • Integration: Clock Session can be integrated with popular tools like Slack, Trello, and Asana for enhanced collaboration and workflow automation.
  • Mobile app: Clock Session’s mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Pricing: it offers flexible pricing plans to suit businesses of all sizes. Custom enterprise plans are also available for larger organizations with specific needs.

Pros: this tool has an intuitive and user-friendly interface combined with robust time tracking and project management features, such as customisable reports and analytics. It can be integrated with other tools and offers support and regular updates.

Cons: Some advanced features may require additional customization and there are limited customization options for certain reports. Mobile app functionality may be limited compared to the desktop version.

A good solution for businesses looking to streamline their time-tracking and project-management processes. With an intuitive interface and powerful features, Clock Session empowers teams to work smarter and achieve their goals with ease.

3. Timey App

timey app

Timey App is a web and mobile app making time tracking and  project management working together.

It is designed to help  individuals and teams track the time they spend on different  tasks and projects, as well as manage and organize projects.

Best features:

  • Time tracking: Timey simplifies time tracking with clock-in and clock-out features, ensuring precise time recording. It also  effortlessly records break times, allowing for accurate time  tracking and better resource management.
  • Kanban Project Management: you can visualize project progress  through the intuitive Kanban cards, making it easy to transition  projects between “waiting,” “in progress,” and “completed”  stages. 
  • Project overview: you can keep all project-related information in one place with the project overview feature. Monitor tasks,  work hours, reports, and milestones to ensure everything stays  on track.
  • Time-off scheduler: keep track of team’s time-off  requests, including vacation days, personal days, and sick days.
  • Billing Clients: create and send professional invoices to clients, with the ability to track payment status and add discounts or taxes.

Pricing: $6 user/month

Pros: Timey simplifies time tracking, streamlining the process for individuals and teams. Its intuitive interface and mobile accessibility make it easy to track time accurately and efficiently.

Cons: while Timey is a powerful tool, it might have a learning curve for some users who are new to time tracking software. Training or tutorials may be required to fully utilize its features.

A software solution for different individuals or companies that need time tracking and managing tasks or projects.

4. Clockify

clockify

Clockify is an application for recording working hours and creating timesheets that allows you to track work between projects and make it billable.

It also provides information on work habits and reports on team performance.

Best features:

  • Stopwatch or manual time tracker: allows you to record working times and mark them as billable. The recorded timesheets can be edited later to add more information.
  • Calendar: it can also be integrated with the Google or Microsoft calendar, it offers time-off management functions with request and approval protocol.
  • “Kiosk” function: it allows you to create access points to which you log in in order to monitor work times on certain projects. Several users can be logged in to the same kiosk at the same time.
  • Dashoard: it allows you to view statistics on how the team used their time.
  • Reports: They enable data to be exported according to different criteria.
  • Scheduling and project management: task allocation with a simplified operator load view; project management also has basic functions.
  • Budget: it is possible to enter supplementary expenses in addition to personnel costs and subsequently create receipts to the customer.
  • Maps: it monitors the movements of logged users over a given territory, a useful function for teams working on the move.

Pricing: basic licence from $3.99 user/month.

Pros: User friendly, easy to use; accessibility from various devices and good mobile app version.

Cons: little or no customisation. Not suitable for large teams, companies with several departments, etc. Lack of Gantt.

An application that started with the function of time tracking and later expanded to other basic project management activities.

5. Harvest

Harvest

Harvest is a web-based timesheet management system that has a strong connection with budget and invoicing management. For other functionalities it relies on integrations with other parallel systems.

So it can be a convenient solution for freelancers or small teams.

Best features:

  • Projects: it is possible to create projects by customer, of three types: consumable, fixed cost and non-billable. Each project has predefined tasks on which employees work.
  • Timer or manual recording via the weekly planner. The timer does not stop if you change windows or also if you close the browser.
  • Budget per project: settable in hours or money. Addition of extra expenses.
  • Invoicing: functionality with many options to create invoices from the hours worked on projects.
  • Summary graphs: line or block graphs to display trends in income and expenditure and hours worked, divided into billable and non-billable.
  • Team management: it shows a summary of hours worked, reports overruns, but has no real workload balancing functions since it does not allow reallocation of tasks.

Pricing: single pro licence $10.80 user/month.

Pros: a specialised tool offering various analysis tools, including “what-if” scenarios.

Cons: Client-based project management: may not be suitable for teams working differently. It is not possible to mark hours worked at several levels, but only for specific tasks of a project, i.e. not on phases, not on the project in general, etc.

Harvest offers analysis tools for time tracking and is suitable for those who rely on detailed chronological reporting; it has some rigidity.

6. TimeCamp

TimeCamp

TimeCamp is a time tracking application that pays attention to project budgeting and transparency in communication and time management.

Best features:

  • Types of insertion: with stopwatch or manual insertion.
  • Automatisations: automatic entry with url and keyword analysis to identify the project being worked on; “idle tracking” functionality that automatically pauses the stopwatch when the user is not active.
  • Status of timesheets: they are all subject to manager approval.
  • Different views: classic timesheet view or “calendar” style.
  • Reports: presence of more than twenty types of pre-built reports to check the productivity progress of the work group. Possibility of creating customised reports.
  • Invoicing: from workers’ timesheets, to which different hourly costs can be applied, invoices can be created and exported directly.
  • Budget: creation of a budget with addition of expected costs. Notifications in case of overruns.

Pricing: starter licence from $2.99 user/month.

Pros: Useful for those who need a basic tool. For all other project management functions it relies on external tools, allowing some integration.

Cons: Lacking in project management, it has no planning functions apart from time schedules.

Innovative tool with some interesting automations, more suitable for freelancers than for structured companies.

7. Sunsama

Sunsama

Software that uses agile methodology for task management and tracking. It makes main use of the kanban board, within which it inserts timings.

Best features:

  • Customisation of working methods: provides many options for personal planning and time management.
  • Task management: tasks can be added from the calendar, which has a kanban board style view, and assigned (if desired) to a channel and then placed in the right place on the day, week or month. There are tasks that can be set as routine tasks and added by default.
  • Task start and end dates: these can be set as desired.
  • Channels: sort of areas within which you can place your tasks. It is also possible to have sub-channels. Otherwise, tasks remain uncategorised.
  • Archive: can be customised or made automatic. In the latter case, it automatically takes care of saving past tasks.
  • Operator load: it signals in red if an assigned task causes an overrun of the scheduled working hours.
  • Review: it has weekly review functionalities in which the achievement of objectives is analysed.

Pricing: single licence $20 user/month.

Pros: Tool with a strong focus on personal well-being and on balanced working time management.

Cons: Sunsama is a good tool for personal productivity. But it may not be the best pick for larger team projects and collaboration with co-workers.

The philosophy of agile working is reflected in this application both in terms of graphics and content customisation.

8. ActiveCollab

ActiveCollab

Project management tool with time tracking functionality that allows you to monitor and manage work time, per project, per customer, per scope or per assignee.

Best features

  • Project management: it allows you to create projects with data such as description, category and customer. Customers can be included in projects but you can choose to hide certain activities from their view. There are no project sub-phases.
  • Task management: each task has an assignee and a delivery date.
  • Stopwatch: must be activated on projects by the project manager and at that point allows monitoring of work times.
  • Timesheet: it is also possible to add the hours in the timesheet afterwards, and it will show any case of over- or under-hours in different colours.
  • Resource management: it is possible to create different professionals with customised hourly costs, and to change the hourly cost according to individual customers.
  • Reports: they can be filtered by time frame or even by customer or type. They show progress on the work done.
  • Budget: it makes it possible to distinguish between worked and estimated hours, also in percentages, and to calculate the billable total.

Pricing: pro licence from $8 user/month.

Pros: good comprehensiveness of the tools available, ease in learning.

Cons: poorly customisable reports and interfaces. Lack of main dashboard.

A software suitable for different types of professionals and companies. Its lack of flexibility is compensated for by the variety of functionalities.

Final remarks

Thus, we have seen which are the best tools to help managers and workers keep track of the time spent on various tasks, projects and other deliverables.

A good choice will lead to more informed business decisions and an overall increase in productivity and profitability.

Therefore, the ideal is to find a tool that caters for individual needs, takes into account personal peculiarities and at the same time incorporates this activity within a broader framework, so that time tracking does not remain a stand-alone element, isolated from the rest of the business processes.

With Twproject, all resources involved can follow their own patterns and record the work as they see fit. The project manager will later be able to analyse this data with ease, as it will already be correctly integrated under every aspect of project management.

So hopefully we have persuaded you that time management is not a struggle against time. On the contrary, it means embarking on a journey and learning along the way, acquiring the practice that only the right experience can give you.

Try Twproject free of charge for 15 days and don’t miss out on any of the details of your working time!

Delivery performance domain: ensuring customer satisfaction

The Delivery performance domain pertains to everything the project will deliver.

This article will discuss in detail what it is, its elements, and its connection to the other performance domains according to the seventh edition of the PMBOK.

What is the Delivery Performance Domain?

The key elements of the delivery performance domain are scope and quality.

Scope refers to what the project must deliver, and quality, conversely, to the performance standards or levels the deliverables must meet.

In predictive projects, a scope can be predefined during the planning phase, and change control practices are applied during the il project life cycle.

Whereas in adaptive approaches, a new emerging scope is always welcome.

The delivery performance domain involves delivering the project scope according to quality requirements.

This awareness leads to stakeholder satisfaction.

The main sections of the delivery performance domain are:

  • Delivery of value: All projects yield an output or delivery at the end, which must generate value for the organization.
  • Requirements elicitation: It is about collecting and revealing requirements by using a variety of different methods.
  • Scope definition: Scope definition is an endless process until the end of the project.
  • Quality: Apart from the delivery requirements, quality is the performance level to be achieved.
  • Suboptimal outcomes: many projects may fail to deliver expected outputs and, therefore, yield suboptimal results. This is a natural part of the delivery performance domain.

Let’s explore these elements in detail:

Delivery of value

Projects that call for a release of deliverables throughout their project lifecycle can begin to provide value to stakeholders over their entire duration.

Conversely, projects that involve a final delivery of deliverables will generate value only after distribution.

No matter the type of delivery, business value can continue well after the outputs are released.

A business case document will include a forecasted business value projection for the project, which is often used for stakeholder approval at the start of work.

Requirements elicitation

A requirement is a condition or capability that must be present in a product, service, or result to meet a business need.

To elicit means to pull out or bring out.

Here, it means collecting and analyzing requirements to ensure satisfactory project results.

Specifically, the requirements must be:

    • Clear
    • Concise
    • Verifiable
    • Coherent
    • Complete
    • Traceable

Scope definition

As the requirements are identified, the scope that will meet them is also defined.

The scope is the sum of the products, services, and outputs to be delivered by the project.

This can be defined by different strategies, such as by using a work breakdown structure –WBS -that allows for a detailed representation of the required activities.

Alternatively, the scope can be devised by identifying the project’s themes in a roadmap.  

Quality

Quality dictates the levels of performance or delivery that must be achieved.

However, ensuring quality comes at a cost, from training to auditing, which makes it necessary to balance quality requirements with their associated costs.

The cost of quality methodology-COQ-is used to find this balance and consists of four cost categories:

    • Prevention: To guarantee a product free of defects and faults.
    • Evaluation: Incurred to determine the degree of compliance with quality requirements.
    • Internal failure: Involves finding and correcting defects before the customer receives the product.
    • External failure: Defects discovered after the customer has received the product and it needs repair.

Suboptimal outcomes

All projects seek to deliver results, although some may fail or produce suboptimal results.

The reasons behind this may differ; for example, an organization might attempt to create an innovative product, such as a completely new technology.

This requires a deliberate investment with an uncertain outcome.

Alternatively, some projects might provide suboptimal results because the opportunity is past or competitors have arrived first.

delivery performance domain twproject pmbok7

The delivery performance domain and interactions with other performance domains

The Delivery Performance Domain is not standalone but closely related to and interacts with other performance domains.

One of the most prominent connections is with the Planning Performance Domain since planning determines how and when results will be produced and delivered. How often and by what nature deliverables are delivered depends on how work is structured in these domains. 

While the Delivery Performance Domain focuses primarily on progress toward business objectives and delivery of value, it is paramount to consider how it fits within a more extensive network of operations and goals.

This interconnection ensures that deliverables are high-quality and meet stakeholder needs and expectations, resulting in a well-executed project that is integrated into the overall business context.

In conclusion, the Delivery Performance Domain is a pivotal element in project management.

It not only drives the operational phases of a project’s output but also acts as a compass to ensure that the results meet the needs and expectations of stakeholders.

Understanding and effectively implementing every aspect of this domain, from value delivery to scope definition, from quality to possible suboptimal outcomes, are critical to the success of any project.

By integrating these practices with tight coordination with other performance domains, project managers can ensure they deliver high-value outcomes that benefit the entire organization.

Plan your projects with Twproject

How to use the cost center to simplify large projects

The cost center is a valuable tool for simplifying the financial management of projects.

Accurate and detailed cost management is critical to ensure sustainability and growth in any company. Elements such as raw material, unit cost, and other economic factors are essential to the success of any business.

But how can all these elements be successfully managed?

The answer lies in the strategic use of cost centers, which provide comprehensive control over every financial aspect of your business.

Let’s examine how the cost center can help you simplify cost management for large projects.

What is a cost center?

A cost center is a department within a company that is in charge of certain costs.

Each single cost center is responsible for the costs involved in manufacturing products or providing services. It can be a production line, a department, or a subsidiary.

The cost center allows information to be collected regarding the costs of all project activities and components. This information can be used to:

  • Getting an overview of project costs
  • Identify cost areas where improvements can be made
  • Monitor cost trends over time

The various cost centers within a company can be associated with different products or services. Each product or service may have different related costs, which can be monitored and analyzed separately.

 

Why create a cost center map

Creating a cost center map is critical. The map helps to understand where costs occur and how they are distributed within the company.

Twproject is project management software that can streamline this process. It allows specific costs to be assigned to each cost center, providing in-depth insight into the allocation of costs within the company.

 

Notably, Twproject makes it possible to create a cost center map tailored to the company’s specific needs and defines cost centers based on the activities carried out by the company, products or services offered, or other criteria.

It also assigns costs to each cost center accurately and efficiently.

Information about costs provided by Twproject can be used for many different purposes, including:

  • Calculating the cost of products or services
  • Cost analysis
  • Cost management
  • Improving efficiency and productivity

 Project managers can easily monitor direct and indirect costs, production time, and other crucial aspects. Twproject allows assigning and tracking costs for each project, significantly simplifying cost management and analysis, providing greater efficiency and control.

It offers a clear, detailed, and up-to-date view of costs incurred, helping companies optimize resources and improve efficiency.

6 tips on how to simplify large projects with the cost center

Here is a guide on using the cost center to streamline large tasks while ensuring efficiency and financial control.

1. Get a cost management software

Begin by getting a cost management software such as Twproject. This tool centralizes and automates cost center management, allowing you to monitor costs in real-time, assign specific budgets, and generate detailed reports on a one-stop platform. This will save you time and reduce the risk of human error.

2. Clearly define your cost centers

A clear definition of each cost center within the project is key. This step eliminates confusion, makes communication with your team, and ensures that everyone is on the same page about the project’s cost structure.

3. Assign a specific budget

Assigning a specific budget to each cost center also prevents overshoots and ensures that each cost center has the financial resources it needs to operate efficiently.

This step is crucial for maintaining financial control of the project and preventing unexpected expenses.

cost management

4. Monitor costs regularly

Regularly monitoring actual costs compared to projected costs for each cost center allows you to spot any discrepancies quickly and make timely corrections. This practice ensures that the project remains within budget and time constraints.

5. Build your team

Make sure your team is properly trained on effective cost center management. An informed team is invaluable for cost control and effective project management.

6. Perform regular reviews

Don’t forget to regularly review your cost centers to ensure they stay aligned with project objectives. This allows you to make adjustments based on project needs, ensuring that cost centers are always optimized.

By implementing these steps, cost center management will become a more seamless and manageable process, thus contributing significantly to the success of your large project.

By streamlining internal project management via Twproject, we were able to implement a very strong and effective cost control on the resources directly involved in account-based projects.

Managing cost centers with Twproject

Recently, we released a new Twproject version with improved cost center management features.

Here’s an overview of its new features:

  • Cost center propagation

This feature allows you to change the cost center of a task or resource and automatically propagate the change to all subordinate subtasks or resources. This way, you will not have to update each item manually.

For example, if you change a project’s cost center, all project tasks and resources will automatically be updated with the new cost center. However, if a task or resource has a different cost center from the project, it will remain unaffected.

 

  • Choosing the type of cost center

Before, cost centers were used for both projects and resources. This new feature allows you to manage cost centers for projects and resources separately. This allows you to choose whether to use cost centers for projects, resources, or both and have a clearer and more organized view of your data.

 

  • Cost center legacy

This feature automatically allows project add-on costs to inherit the cost center from their phase. This way, you can skip manually editing the cost centers for each add-on cost.

For example, if an additional cost is related to a project phase, the cost center of that extra cost will automatically inherit the phase’s cost center.

In short, these new features allow you to:

  • Save time since you won’t have to update cost centers manually;
  • Improve accuracy, preventing potential errors;
  • Have a more transparent and structured overview of your data.

Ultimately, the cost center is a powerful tool for streamlining the financial management of large projects. Properly using the cost center can improve cost transparency and efficiency, reduce risk, and improve the odds of achieving project success.

Remember, sound cost control is the foundation of successful project implementation.

 

Keep costs under control with Twproject

 

Corporate projects: how to keep them under control

In the vast landscape of corporate projects, one of the most pressing challenges for project managers is maintaining constant and rigorous control over every phase and aspect of their project.

Keeping corporate projects under control is a key activity to ensure success. This allows you to keep track of project progress, spot any deviations from the plan, and take corrective action on time.

Projects, by their nature, are fluid and dynamic, with variables that often change unpredictably.

These variables may include changes in stakeholder expectations, resources suddenly becoming unavailable, unexpected risks arising, or changing deadlines.

In this mutable environment, project managers must foresee and prevent potential obstacles and react quickly when these hindrances appear.

 

How do you ensure that a project proceeds as planned on time and within budget?

The answer lies in the use of specific metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

This article will explore the main metrics and KPIs that every project manager should know and use, which help monitor business projects.

5 steps to keep business projects under control

1. Define goals and metrics for success

The first step in keeping track of a project is clearly defining success goals and metrics. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Success metrics must be quantitative and measurable so project progress can be monitored, and deviations can be identified.

For example, a project goal might be “Collaborate with a partner to develop a new product by December 31, 2023.

A success metric for this goal could be “The new product was developed and launched by December 31, 2023.

2. Create a monitoring plan

Once goals and success metrics have been set, a monitoring plan must be created. The plan should outline the monitoring activities, the frequency of data updates, and the people responsible for monitoring.

The monitoring plan should be project-specific and take into account the project’s size, complexity, and nature. For example, a product development project might require more frequent monitoring than a corporate restructuring project.

3. Collect data and analyze it

Monitoring involves collecting and analyzing data to identify any plan deviations. Data can be collected from a variety of sources, including:

    • Progress report
    • Project meetings
    • Project management software
    • Performance data

The data collected should be analyzed to identify any trends or problems. For example, if performance data indicate that the project is lagging, the cause of the delay must be found, and corrective action taken.

 

 4.    Apply corrective measures

If monitoring reveals deviations, corrective measures must be taken. Corrective actions may vary depending on the nature of the deviation. For example, if the deviation is due to a delay, resources can be reallocated, or the plan amended.

It is key to take corrective action promptly to prevent deviations from worsening.

5.    Report the results

It is crucial to communicate monitoring results to project stakeholders. Regular communication helps everyone stay up-to-date about the project’s status and find problems before they become critical.

Monitoring results can be communicated through a variety of channels, including:

    • Project meetings
    • Periodic reports
    • E-mail communications

The essential metrics for keeping track of business projects

As mentioned above, metrics are crucial because they allow us to measure the progress of projects and identify any deviations from the plan.

metriche progetti

 

Let’s look at the most used ones for project monitoring below:

1. Basic metrics

Basic metrics, often also called fundamental or key metrics, are standardized measurements used to assess and monitor the progress, performance, or quality of a process, activity, or project.

These metrics provide a clear and objective view of the current state and help make informed decisions.

Here are some of the basic metrics commonly used:

    • Time planning: This metric is about meeting established deadlines. If a project begins to slip from schedule, early action is essential.
    • Budget: Constantly monitoring costs is crucial. If you go over budget without valid justification, serious problems could arise.
    • Resources: Whether it is workforce, equipment, or other, it is vital to ensure that resources are used efficiently.

2. Specific KPIs

Specific KPIs are key performance indicators used to measure and gauge the effectiveness of specific activities, processes, or objectives within an organization or project.

They are essential for monitoring progress toward strategic and tactical goals. These include:

    • Cost Performance Index (CPI): This KPI measures the project’s cost efficiency. A CPI above 1 indicates that the project is under budget, while a value below 1 indicates that it is over budget.
    • Schedule Performance Index (SPI): Similar to CPI but focused on time. An SPI above 1 indicates that the project is ahead of schedule, while a value below 1 indicates a delay.
    • Earned Value (EV): This KPI represents the value of work completed at a given time, compared to what was planned.
    • Cost at Completion (EAC): An estimate of total costs at project completion based on current performance.

3. Qualitative metrics

Qualitative metrics evaluate and interpret nonquantifiable or nonnumerical aspects of a phenomenon or activity.

Unlike quantitative metrics based on numerical data and objective measurements, qualitative metrics focus on perceptions, opinions, qualities, and other subjective attributes.

These metrics are often used in contexts where evaluation requires a deeper, more interpretive analysis rather than a simple count or measurement.

Here are some examples of qualitative metrics:

  • Customer satisfaction: Even if a project is completed on time and budget, if the customer is unsatisfied, something has gone wrong. It is essential to collect feedback regularly. This can be measured through surveys, interviews, or focus groups.
  • Quality of a product or service: Although there may be associated quantitative metrics (such as defect rate), customer perception of quality is often qualitative. This can be measured through expert ratings or customer reviews.
  • Usability of a product or service: The extent to which specific users can use it to achieve specific goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction. It can be measured through usability tests or surveys.
  • The impact of a project is the measure of the positive or negative effect the project has on people, organizations, or the environment.

It can be measured in terms of:

    • Benefits: The benefits that the project has generated
    • Results: the results that the project has achieved
    • Change: The change that the project brought about

4. Quantitative metrics

Quantitative metrics are performance indicators that measure aspects that can be measured quantitatively. They are often used to measure time, cost, quality, and productivity.

Some examples of quantitative metrics include:

  • Time: Can be measured in days, weeks, months, or years.
  • Costs: Can be measured in euros, dollars, yen, or other currencies.
  • Quality: Can be measured in terms of errors, compliance with standards, or customer satisfaction.
  • Productivity: Can be measured in terms of output per unit of time.

Quantitative metrics are often easier to measure than qualitative metrics, but they may be less useful for measuring quality and user satisfaction.

 

Here are some tips for measuring quantitative metrics:

  • Clearly define the goals of the metric: What are you trying to measure?
  • Select an appropriate measurement method: The measurement method must be valid and reliable.
  • Collecting data from various sources will help ensure that the data are accurate.
  • Systematically analyze data: This will help identify trends and problems.

Project managers should use a combination of qualitative and quantitative metrics to monitor the progress of their projects.

Quantitative metrics can provide valuable information on time, cost, and productivity, which can be critical factors in the success of a project.

Some common quantitative metrics for business projects include:

Time:

  • Development time: The time it takes to complete the project
  • Delivery time: The time it takes to deliver the final product or service to the customer
  • Cycle time: The time it takes to complete a task or process

 Costs:

  • Total costs: The total cost of the project
  • Development costs: The costs associated with creating the final product or service
  • Distribution costs: The costs associated with distributing the final product or service to the customer

Quality:

  • Number of errors: The number of errors detected in the final product or service
  • Compliance with standards: The extent to which the final product or service meets established standards
  • Customer satisfaction: The degree of customer satisfaction with the final product or service

 Productivity:

  • Output per unit of time: The amount of work completed in a unit of time
  • Efficiency: The extent to which resources are used effectively
  • Effectiveness: The extent to which goals are achieved

These are just a few of the many quantitative metrics that can be used to monitor business projects. Project managers should choose the most appropriate metrics for their specific project.

5. Team metrics and communication

Team and communication metrics are specific indicators used to assess and monitor the effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of interactions and dynamics within a team and the quality and effectiveness of communication among team members and with external stakeholders.

These metrics are critical to ensuring that a team works cohesively, and that information is shared clearly and timely.

Some of these may be:

    • Team morale: A motivated and satisfied team is more productive. Monitoring morale can help identify and solve problems before they become serious.
    • Communication efficiency: Communication is vital in any project. If information does not flow properly, misunderstandings and delays can arise.

Best practices to monitor business projects

In addition to the tools and metrics mentioned, there are other strategies and practices that project managers can adopt to get business projects under control:

    • Regular reviews: Schedule periodic reviews of the project to assess progress against established goals. This helps to identify any deviations early and take necessary corrective action.
    • Stakeholder engagement: Maintain open and regular communication with all project stakeholders. Understanding their expectations and concerns can help prevent future problems.
    • Risk management: Identify potential risks at the beginning of the project and develops mitigation plans. Monitor these risks regularly and adjusts mitigation plans accordingly.
    • Team training: Ensure your team has the skills and training to execute the project successfully. Ongoing training can help fill any gaps in skills.
    • Use of agile methodologies: Adopting agile methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban, can help to manage projects better, allowing for greater flexibility and adaptability to change.
    • Complete documentation: Maintain detailed documentation of all phases of the project. This helps in tracking and serves as a reference for future projects.
    • Continuous feedback: Promote regular feedback from the team and stakeholders. This can provide valuable information about what is working and what may need modification.
    • Use of collaboration tools: Project management tools, such as Twproject, can facilitate communication and collaboration among team members, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
    • Workload balancing: Monitor the workload of each team member to make sure no one is overloaded. Distributing work fairly can prevent delays and quality problems.
    • Post-project evaluations: At the end of each project, conduct a post-project review to discuss what worked, what did not work, and lessons learned. This can provide valuable insights to improve the management of future projects.

Corporate projects: everything is under control with Twproject

Twproject is a project management software that allows you to keep track of all kinds of projects, regardless of their size and complexity.

The software offers several features essential to any project’s success, helpful in collecting and analyzing data, identifying deviations, and taking corrective action.

Here is how you can use Twproject to monitor projects:

  • Gantt Chart: Twproject offers an interactive Gantt chart that visualizes the project schedule regarding tasks, dependencies, and deadlines. This tool provides a clear view of the project’s progress and allows changes to be made in real-time.
  • Kanban board: For those who prefer an agile approach, Twproject offers a Kanban board that allows you to visualize and manage activities at different stages, making it easier to monitor progress and identify bottlenecks.
  • Timesheet: The software allows you to track the time spent on each activity by team members. This helps ensure that resources are used efficiently and that the project stays within budget.
  • Dashboards and reports: Twproject offers many customizable dashboards and reports that provide an overview of the project, including progress, resources used, costs, and other important KPIs.
  • Notifications and alerts: Receive real-time notifications about any problems, delays, or changes in the project. This allows you to take timely action and make informed decisions.
  • Resource management: Uses the interactive workload and schedule view to monitor resource allocation. Quickly identify who is overloaded or underutilized and adjust.
  • Mobile access: Twproject’s mobile platform allows you to monitor your projects on the go. You can access data, receive updates, and make decisions wherever you are.
  • Document management: In addition to tracking activities and resources, Twproject allows you to keep track of all documents associated with the project. You can quickly access specific versions, lock files, and organize documents efficiently.
  • Agile support: The software allows you to monitor activities, ideas, bugs, and features within your projects, ensuring that everything stays aligned with project goals.

 

By incorporating these features and tools, Twproject provides a comprehensive solution to effectively monitor corporate projects, ensuring they stay on track and achieve their goals.

Keep all your projects under control with Twproject!