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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

Sizing Up the Right Project Management Tool

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 @ 04:18 PM

In addition to the project management tools that we teach at People-OnTheGo, such as Microsoft Project, Microsoft SharePoint, Google Sites, Asana, and project wikis, our guest blogger will shed some light on additional PM tools for various project sizes.

projectmanagement tool software people onthego

Guest blog post by Jose Maria Delos Santos

Initiating a project needs adequate preparation. A significant percentage of projects have failed because of the lack of it. Aside from the necessary project management skills and processes, people also need to use the correct tool for the job. As projects come in different sizes, it is also important to use the right-sized PM tool for the project.

The defining line whether a project is small or medium-size can be difficult but is generally relative to the sponsoring organization. As such, PM tools for small and medium-size projects sometimes fall into one group. However, a PM tool having more core PM functionality, such as project tracking, task dependencies, time and expense tracking and resource management, is better suited for medium-size projects. Large projects have a bigger impact in terms of duration, resources, cost, risk and deliverables, and therefore need a PM tool that has a comprehensive set of integrated and sometimes customizable features.

PM Tools for Small Projects

Producteev is a web-based social task management platform that is well suited for small projects. The first interface is called the Workspace, and from this page, the user can create and complete tasks as well as invite people for collaboration on the task. It is available on many platforms such as a PC, Mac, mobile devices, and even just with an email.

Teambox is a project management and collaboration platform that is relatively easy to use. All communications of the team can be organized by projects for easy reference. The discussion may be converted easily into tasks and tracked for progress through a workload view, calendar, or Gantt chart.

ProofHub is an online PM tool that offers cloud-based storage, flexible pricing, and unique inbuilt chat and proofing tool that improves work efficiency greatly. For example, team members and clients alike can use the online collaboration tool that is faster and more powerful than email. All chat history is then stored for easy reference and update.

PM Tools for Medium-size Projects

AceProject is an online application that has strong project management features including Gantt charts, project tracking, time and expense tracking, document management, reporting, and mobility. It also has important human resource management features critical for medium-size projects involving a greater number of people. It can include external collaborators to the project while maintaining security and integrity with access rights. Since projects always involve resources, their availability and their assignment, AceProject’s time tracking, expense tracking and reporting features become indispensable.

LiquidPlanner is an online PM and analytic tool that has more than just a built-in project collaboration feature. It also has the important scheduling and organizational features that can be set by priority. It also has time tracking and approval features that make it easy for team members to fill up their timesheets and for project managers to approve them.

Intervals is an online software that helps users take control of their time, tasks, and projects. Many businesses in over 100 countries are using it, which resulted in successful projects and expansion of their business. It has powerful reporting features that allow the project manager to see how the projects are advancing, what the workload is on a team member, and how well within budget is the project costing.

PM Tools for Large Projects

EPM Live is a work management platform for managing projects. Aside from project management tools such as scheduling, collaboration, timesheets, and reporting, it also has portfolio management, cost management and work management features. It has powerful workflow automation features that can be implemented across the organization for the total picture of project performance. It may be deployed online through the Internet or on-premise within the company.

Project Insight is a customizable online PM software that boasts of a long list of features but still retains ease of use. It is flexible as well to be deployed online or on-premise. It has the needed features to support project scheduling and resource allocation. It also has issue tracking, MS Outlook and Office integration, and portfolio management features.

Genius Project is an enterprise project management system that has all the needed PM features and more. It has project portfolio management, invoicing, demand management, risk and change management, and Agile SCRUM support. It can be deployed as software-as-a-service or hosted on-premise. It also has integration with IBM’s Lotus Notes and Domino.

Conclusion

Web-based PM tools are being adopted more by SMBs because of low initial costs, scalability, and rapid deployment that have increased their ability to compete with larger competitors. Security issues that have made bigger enterprises hesitant to adopt cloud services are now being addressed by on-premise deployments of these same PM tools. Clearly, whatever the size of the project or organization, a PM tool now exists with a right fit.

About Jose Maria Delos Santos: Jose is a freelance article writer for Project-Management.com, a website dedicated to provide PM articles, detailed project management software reviews, and the latest news for the most popular web-based collaboration tools.

Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: virtual teams, document collaboration, Microsoft Project Training, Microsoft SharePoint Training, Technology, management, collaboration

How to Be More Productive When You Work From Home

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 @ 02:31 PM

At-home workers often bear a stigma of being less productive and effective than office workers—but that's simply not the reality. Whether you work at home or not, employees who create a more controlled and distraction-free work environment can see huge gains in their productivity and results. And when you work from home, where you alone define your surroundings, you truly have a powerful opportunity to accomplish so much more.

To find out how, check out my guest blost post for Dell's Tech Page One.

ResultsCurve People OnTheGo 2013

Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: virtual teams, interruptions, productivity

How to Create a Mind Map with MindJet Information Mapping Software (Video Tutorial)

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Jul 05, 2013 @ 04:07 PM

Here's a great video tutorial, below, on mind mapping with MindJet software. For more tips and tools about visual project mananagent, join us for our next free Lunch & Learn Webinar on 7/11/13 at noon PT: How to Use Visual Project Management for Greater Productivity.

Click to register for the free webinar.

Topics: virtual teams, Technology, business results, productivity, Lunch & Learn Webinars, management, collaboration

A Visual History of Project Management (Infographic, and Free Webinar on 7/11/13)

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 @ 02:22 PM

Project management has been around for as long as human beings have endeavored en masse to complete tasks and projects of all shapes and sizes: from the Great Pyramid and Great Wall of China, on through 21st century workforce management by way of virtualization and the cloud.

Below is a brief, visual history of project management that illustrates a rich timelime of project management methodologies, advancements, and the overall evolution of the field. Now, more than ever, the ability to effectively manage projects large and small to successful completion is a vital and in-demand skill.

We hope you'll consider joining us at our next free webinar, "How to Use Visual Project Management for Greater Productivity" on 7/11/13 at noon PT where you'll learn the latest visual approaches to project management including virtual whiteboards, and much more.

—> Register now for the FREE webinar!

Click on the image below to enlarge:

A Brief History of Project Management

Topics: virtual teams, document collaboration, emerging technology, productivity, Lunch & Learn Webinars, management, webinars

Yahoo and the Work-from-Home Debate: Is Remote Work Bad for Productivity?

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 @ 03:26 PM

describe the imageBy Pi Wen Looi, Ph.D.

Dr. Pi Wen Looi and Dr. James Ware will be presenting at our complimentary Lunch & Learn Webinar, Leveraging Mobile Work to Engage Your Employees, Thursday, March 7 at noon PT. Register now for this free information session on the latest remote work findings. 

The recent Yahoo internal memo that requests employees to work in their offices has stirred up quite a lot of discussion on the Internet. And it’s no wonder—most knowledge workers and Gen Y employees are accustomed to the flexibility of working from home sometimes. People are increasingly working on-the-go. The boundaries of office, workspace, home, and third-places are increasingly blurred. Enabled by the latest mobile devices, tablets, and easy access to the Internet, work is more about what you do or accomplish, not where you get it done.

Numerous studies have shown that people working away from their offices are more productive because they are less likely to be interrupted by coworkers who drop by their cubicles, take fewer sick days, and save time on their long commute. These positive results extend to call center employees, as well. People who telecommute are also more satisfied with their work/life balance as they are better able to control their workflow during the day.

So why is Yahoo requiring their employees to return to work in offices?

describe the imageIt is hard to say what’s the ultimate goal of the new policy. Based on discussions on the Internet and blogosphere, it seems that some Yahoo employees have taken advantage of their telecommuting policy and are not performing at their jobs. The memo points to the benefits of having better communication and collaboration when people work side-by-side, and increased insights, speed, and quality when employees work in the same physical locations.

Regardless of the tone of the memo and how it’s communicated with Yahoo employees, let’s take a look at the key issues Yahoo raised:  productivity, communication, and collaboration.

Productivity. By now, many studies have shown that doing work remotely or telecommuting does, in fact, increase workers’ productivity. The issue at Yahoo seems like a performance issue, not a telecommuting issue. If Yahoo employees abuse their telecommuting policy, it’s imperative that managers/leaders take action to hold employees accountable, recognize their performance, and follow-up with employees who do not perform. Perhaps this new policy is the first step Yahoo leaders are taking to hold employees accountable for their performance.

Communication. While it is true that the serendipity that happens at cafeterias, hallways, or water-coolers can lead to great insights, there are many technologies that facilitate effective communications, from smart-phone to online meeting tools. Regardless of whether you work in the office or in a remote location, there are ways to communicate with coworkers. The key is to ensure that access to the company intranet, relevant technology, and the speed of connection are not barriers to remote workers.

Collaboration. Similar to communication, there are many online collaboration tools that enable employees to work together while they are physically apart. Work is increasingly distributed. For companies that have dispersed geographical locations, it is impossible to require a team of employees to always work side-by-side in a conference room. There are stages of collaboration. Sometimes your team will need to work together to ideate, confirm objectives and strategies. Other times your team members will need to go off to do solo work or have quiet time to think before they get together and collaborate on ideas. Solo work and thinking may best be accomplished while working from home or in a space without constant interruptions.

The bottom line:  remote work is here to stay. It’s the employees’ responsibility to earn trust from their managers, be accountable for their performance, and accomplish what they set out to do. It’s the management’s responsibility to have relevant people practices that facilitate remote work, hold employees accountable, and have clear consequences when employees do not perform. Last but not least, employees should have easy access to the information and resources they need, either in the cloud or on company servers, to enable productive work from anywhere.

What do you think? Is remote work a peril to productivity? How would you address the issues highlighted by the Yahoo memo? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Join Dr. Looi and Dr. Ware at our free Lunch & Learn Webinar, Thursday, March 7 at noon PT:  Leveraging Mobile Work to Engage Your Employees. Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat now!

Pi Wen Looi, Ph.D., is the founder and principal of Novacrea Research Consulting. For more information, please visit www.NovacreaResearch.com.

Topics: generations in the workplace, virtual teams, productivity, Lunch & Learn Webinars, webinars

Creating your Collaboration Zone™! Three ways to get the most out of team work

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 @ 11:16 PM

"Team Meeting" by Jennifer MorrowCollaborating with others is crucial for getting meaningful goals accomplished, especially in today’s work environment where we are increasingly interdependent on each other. Trying to be collaborate all the time however, responding to incoming requests as they come in, being constantly available and responsive on e-mail and Instant Messaging and ad-hoc interactions, would leave us drained and would be at the detriment of our individual focused effort, not to mention that it would also reduce the effectiveness of our collaborative effort. So how can we solve this puzzle and fully leverage our collaborative effort while staying energized and maintaining our ability to focus, imagine, and create?
 
Have you ever considered creating a Collaboration Zone™? This means dedicating time for collaborative effort. During this time you are fully collaborative and open for interactions with others. These collaboration sessions can be structured or ad-hoc, and probably a combination of the two.

Make your Collaboration Zone™ shine

Here are three ways to make your Collaboration Zone™ shine and get the most out of team work:
  • First: Make it known to your team that you are in the Collaborative Zone™. Whether this means scheduling “office hours” or informally indicating your availability via your instant messaging status, your open door, or your bowl of M&M’s at your desk (or fruits and nuts, fresh or dried, for a healthier environment). Occasionally, you might even take a walk around the office and see who is available for some brainstorming or informal learning.
  • Second: Move from e-mail to more modern and effective collaboration technologies, so that collaboration and valuable knowledge don’t get buried in e-mail, and so that collaboration doesn’t stop when you are out of the Collaboration Zone™. Consider blogs, wikis, Microsoft SharePoint, Google Apps, and social tools such as Chatter from Salesforce.com and Jive from Jive Software, among others. The Collaboration Zone™ is a great time for live interactions, however, ideas and breakthroughs are likely to happen unexpectedly well after these interactions. Collaboration technologies enable everyone to continue to collaborate anytime and from anywhere.
  • Third: Rethink meetings and transform them into highly effective working sessions with clear purpose. Meetings can be a great platform for collaborating. There are four elements that need to be explored however to make meetings so. First is facilitation and participation skill development. Second is the use of both in-person and virtual meetings in conjunction of the collaboration technologies mentioned above to create the ultimate interactions irrelevant of time and space. Third is being strategic and focusing meetings on the issues that will create results. And fourth, going after the root causes of ineffective meetings and stopping our obsession with the symptoms.

Additional Resources

Topics: virtual teams, collaboration, team work

Virtual Team Challenges & Solutions from career experts at the Kenan-Flagler business school

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Sat, Mar 31, 2012 @ 01:39 PM

describe the imageA recent report by RW3 LLC, a cultural training service, found that 46 percent of employees who work on virtual teams said they had never met their virtual team cohorts and 30 percent said they only met them once a year. The report, The Challenges of Working in Virtual Teams, was based on a survey of nearly 30,000 employees from multinational companies. The survey also found that:

  • The top challenge for virtual team members was the inability to read nonverbal cues (94%).

  • There is an absence of collegiality among virtual team members (85%).

  • It is difficult to establish rapport and trust in virtual teams (81%).

  • Most virtual team members (90%) said they don’t have enough time during virtual meetings to build relationships.

  • Managing conflict is more challenging on virtual teams than on conventional teams (73%).

  • Decision making is more difficult on virtual teams than on conventional teams (69%).

  • It is more challenging to express opinions on virtual teams than on conventional teams (64%) (Hastings, 2010).

If you have been part of a virtual team, you've probably dealt with your share of these challenges and you are wondering about where to do from here. 

Career experts at the Kenan-Flagler business school have produced a comprehensive white paper exploring virtual teams, their benefits and challenges to organizations, and outlined the three key steps that HR and talent management professionals can follow to ensure that virtual team members and leaders in their organizations have the skills, competencies and tools needed to succeed inspite of these challenges. These important steps are:

  1. Participate in the selection process of virtual team members and leaders.

  2. Ensure for the appropriate selection, training and use of virtual team technologies.

  3. Provide training for virtual team members.

Refer to the white paper online or the PDF version for the in-depth review and recommendations.

And how about your experience and recomendation on how you have addressed the virtual team challenges in your environment? 

 

Topics: career, virtual teams, management

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