Investing in a project management tool is the best thing you can do to your business and team. It is not about having a fancy brand or tool on-board but a platform that is in-sync with your desired business outcomes and gets the work done!
Let’s see how our teams typically start their day and go about doing their business from task to task or one project to another, the challenges they face and how a collaborative project management platform can help us save the day.
What is the latest status of the tasks I assigned to my team? Isn’t it the question you begin your day (almost every day!) with?
How many times have you been clueless because someone forgot to hit “Reply All” on an all important progress update?
It happens! And it happens more frequently than we would expect.
These are just two of the million such things that put us on the spot or out of it while we continue to run and manage our projects the traditional way. Emails, Spreadsheets, Word documents etc.
And the result
- The documents and spreadsheets become obsolete almost the moment they were created.
- Status updates and tasks progress not updated in time. And to update, the teams need to manoeuvre their way through are a cumbersome process.
- Add to the mix, the project or document owner has not granted the right permissions to the team and neither the proper steps or agreed flow for updating these crucial project documents.
- All the action is in the emails. And there is no link between your documents and the emails. Thereby, your project update and progress is shelved in multiple disconnected mailboxes.
- The bigger picture and the vision are almost lost in these uncoordinated actions.
- There is no place for you and your team to see the entire flow, the progress of the project end to end without having to mine multiple documents and inboxes.
Not a good place to be! Rather a risky affair; highly detrimental to team productivity, transparency, motivation and client delivery.
I would look out for a platform that brings the benefits of our beloved yet traditional tools as well as my entire team on a single platform.
There are lots of project management software that offer these common tools as a standard offering. But what we need is
- Something very intuitive and easy to use with very low adoption time
- That brings all our work on one platform
- Allows instant collaboration for my time
- Provides real-time insights and “true” state of affairs at all times
Let’s see how I tried and brought my team aboard one such simple yet highly comprehensive and powerful solution – Orangescrum.
Change is always tricky!
Change brings with it a range of emotions – fear of the unknown, anxiety – why do we need to change the way we work, uncertainty – will it add to my work, trustworthiness – is this to monitor me and a host of other such questions.
What is most important is, first to address the team’s pain-points.
Start with a simple discussion or ask the team to list down –
- How they can work more efficiently?
- How much time do they spend on non-productive work (searching for docs, schedules, project plan, making reports)?
- How good is their work-fun balance?
- Do they get enough time for self-learning, training, upskilling?
- How much time do they spend on managing their inboxes?
- What could be a better way to simplify their work?
Once you have all the ideas and feedback recorded identify the bottlenecks in your current processes and the way you do certain things.
This exercise will help your team understand what they are dealing with and most importantly the revelation of the #hours spent on work that could have been spent on productive pursuits.
More than that, your team will see value in your suggestion and the need to change, adapt and adopt!
Once the ice is broken!
You have not only gotten your team on-board to the idea of change but also have a healthy mix of requirements in place. Begin your research with the offerings available and zero down on the ones that are the closest match between your requirements and budget.
Let us take a quick look at some of the key requirements that we had in mind –
- Simplified Task Management with clear assignments, start and due dates, estimated hours, priority etc.
- Time Sheets for accurate time tracking, actual vs estimated hours, billable and non-billable hours
- Alerts & Notifications upon task updates, status changes, posts and comments
- Get all updates related to a specific task on a single page with appropriate time stamps for audit trail
- Overarching dashboard for real time insights on time and cost
- Resource availability, allocation, leave planning and utilization
- Instant chats, discussions, and ideation without having to wait for approvals and review
- File sharing, a central repository for all project files
- Relevant role based access – departments, roles, and applicable privileges
- Calendar and Kanban views for agile project management
- Role based rates, budget and expense management
- Smart and handy mobile app for your dispersed and diverse workforce
Lastly, all of these were to ensure, that all project members get the true status of their tasks and project in a single frame without having to time travel and fight a data battle.
Map your path – It’s the Journey that matters!
With the bulk of heavy-lifting behind you, it is time to get your hands dirty. Plan to implement your actual use case, real work scenario on the chosen platform.
Here is what I did with Orangescrum.
1. First-up, create a project, assign a project manager, define project start and end date, estimated project hours, budget, cost approved, custom project status, type and subtype, add our client info and currency we would charge them in
2. Next, invite your team members to the platform
3. Define various departments, roles, and grant rights as applicable.
4. Create all the relevant tasks and start assigning them with start and end dates, estimated hours, relevant task types (categories meaningful to us in our own terminology) and task notes.
5. Set things in motion – task updates, time entries, leave planning, document uploading, insta-chats, notifications all of it
6. Review Gantt charts, define task dependencies, mark billable and non-billable hours against actual time spent.
7. Set up Daily Catch-up for the project
I let the team, play around and apply all their gimmicks and magic if you may and experience the power of collaboration, transparency, and productivity.
About a week or 10days later, we gathered to take a look at our project, where are we, what did we achieve and most importantly how close (or far) are we to our goal.
We headed to the Kanban view to review the “Task Status” cards and understand where our tasks stand now. How many did we complete, what is our true progress and what is still left to be done. Next was a tour of the Milestone based cards to see how the milestones progressed over the week and how many tasks are still open for milestone completion.
Now it was important for us to see how we fared against time!! The “Resource Utilization” report quickly showed how each one of us had spent their time in the last week.
To make it better, we had the “Time Log Card View” that gave us an instant yet clear picture of each day with its intuitive pie-chart and information rich card.
We could quickly gather the total billable hours, non-billable hours and an accurate view of estimated hours vs actual spent. The information was overwhelming and surprisingly pleasant!
Results speak for themselves!
The entire team was consumed in themselves. They were sparkling eyes all around as they could see the impact their work has on the client delivery. Knowing they have clocked the right billable hours was a huge ego-boost.
There was a straight rise in billable hours by 38%. Whoa – where did this time come from?
It was time saved from digging our mailboxes, tracking our emails, struggling to maintain our documents etc. More so, the Task Type categorization helped us see which tasks consumed the maximum time and why.
The transparency around everyone’s actions had led them to collaborate and share information at a pace unknown to them so far.
The realization that they can seamlessly interact with each other irrespective of their presence was a huge motivator and productivity booster.
Having experienced the benefits of collaboration, instant information sharing and transparent workload management first hand had led them to take pride in themselves and their work.
Not only that, they all had their own plans on flaunting their new work toy and were active advocated to ring in the organization-wide change.
It’s time for you to try!
There hasn’t been a day where my team hasn’t come up with one or another idea to suit the tool to their use case and its comprehensiveness has made them a winner all the time.
Let me know how you plan to ring in the productive season for your team at this time of the year?
Set things in motion, try it yourself or raise a hand! We are just a shout away 🙂