Nutcache http://www.nutcache.com Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:18:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.1 Project Management Evolution: What The Pyramids Of Egypt Tell Us About The History Of Project Management [Infographic] http://www.nutcache.com/blog/project-management-evolution/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/project-management-evolution/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=39710 It’s so exciting to see how project management has evolved from a non-structured, non-recognized practice to one whose impact can be felt in almost every field of endeavor. Spreading its tentacles to IT, marketing, Administration, HR – project management is dropping anchor as it arrives at the port of all these other professions. A significantly [...]

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It’s so exciting to see how project management has evolved from a non-structured, non-recognized practice to one whose impact can be felt in almost every field of endeavor. Spreading its tentacles to IT, marketing, Administration, HR – project management is dropping anchor as it arrives at the port of all these other professions. A significantly varied version of the profession can be traced back to as early as the Biblical age, with the Egyptian pyramids – which have their place in history as one of the most popular, mind-blowing man-made wonders of the world.

Such a significant project like that would have seen the pharaohs of that period, unknowingly draw on the basic principles of project management.

They would have had to:

Justify the reasons for the project – The ruling class may have had a solid reason for constructing these massive tombs in the shapes of pyramids. Historians posit that the peculiar design was to help the structures withstand the elements and the test of time.

Plan for the project – They would have needed to develop elaborate plans for the pyramids, the architects would have given an estimate of how much material would be needed for construction and plans would have been made on where to source those materials from.

Those in charge of constructing these tombs would have anticipated several risks and made changes to accommodate those risks as it is evident in the various modifications that took place through 5 dynasties.

Fast-forward centuries later where projects are bigger, trans-national and much more complex; project managers are now relying on collaborative management tools to help them stay more organized and efficient.

Here’s an awesome infographic that tells us just how far we’ve come.

The history and evolution of project management.

Should you wish to share this infographic on your site, please include attribution to nutcache.com with this graphic.

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8 Top Project Management Methods, Approaches, Techniques http://www.nutcache.com/blog/8-top-project-management-approaches-methods-techniques/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/8-top-project-management-approaches-methods-techniques/#respond Thu, 12 Jan 2017 11:00:12 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=40187/ Frequent visitors to this blog section, must have heard the terms Prince2, Scrum, Agile…being thrown around quite casually; These are just a few of the project management methods or laid down procedures for the successful execution of a project. Some of you might be quite conversant with these project management methodologies while others may still [...]

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Frequent visitors to this blog section, must have heard the terms Prince2, Scrum, Agile…being thrown around quite casually; These are just a few of the project management methods or laid down procedures for the successful execution of a project.

Some of you might be quite conversant with these project management methodologies while others may still be trying to navigate the complex but exciting world of project management and these terminologies  may sound a bit foreign to you. That’s okay, the purpose of this post therefore, is to totally immerse you in the project management methodologies that project managers, for decades, have come to rely so much on. For the seasoned project manager, here’s another great opportunity to remind yourself of some of the best techniques and methodologies that have birthed some of the world’s greatest products.

Why Project Management Methods?

The answer- why not? Think about it for a second, at one point in your life, you must have placed an order for an equipment or tool with a lot of disconnected parts that cannot be correctly put together with the aid
of an instruction manual. Same goes for project management. There are a lot of interconnected and interdependent tasks; ergo the need for a set of generally accepted instructions to serve as a guide for managing project activities.

12 Common Project Management Methodologies

1. Agile

The Agile Project Management Process is a value-centered methods of project management that allows projects to get processed in small phases or cycles. The methodology is one that is extremely flexible and projects that exhibit dynamic traits would benefit from this process as you would find that project managers working in this environment treat milestones as “sprints”; the goal being to continuously adapt to abrupt changes from client feedback. It is best suited for small software projects made up of a highly collaborative team or a project that requires frequent iteration.

2.Waterfall

The Waterfall Methodology, on the other hand, is a traditional approach to project management and more commonly used in the manufacturing or construction sectors. A lot of experts believe that it was the first model to have been adopted in software engineering. The model takes a linear approach towards project management with the project being broken down into sequences with the kickoff of a phase dependent on the completion of the preceding one.

This method primarily consists of 5 stages:

Idea Engineering – System Design – Implementation – Testing & Validation – Maintenance

3. Scrum

The Traditional Waterfall method reveals a more lengthy process where planning alone could take a couple of months before moving to the next stage – design. The design phase could also take a couple of months; this could lead to the launch of a product that could be termed obsolete in the current marketplace.

With Scrum, however, the planning is just enough to kick off the project as it is based on the Agile framework that was discussed earlier. It’s a great way to prevent delays in product launch because the entire process focuses on team collaboration. The Scrum master facilitates the scrum sessions (sprints) which occur within a time frame of 1-3 weeks. The result is an iterative process that significantly saves the company a lot of time and money.

4. PRINCE2

PRINCE2 is an acronym for Projects in Controlled Environments; it originated from the UK and has come to be accepted in the UK as best practice for project management thanks to its very flexible nature. With Prince2 the outputs are clearly defined and there is a business justification for every project.

This project management method is also characterized by products that are delivered on time and well within cost estimates. The roles are predetermined before the kickoff of the project and every member of the project is well aware of their responsibilities towards to successful execution of the project.

5. PERT  

PERT stands for Project Evaluation Review Technique; in an earlier post, we stated, that it most often combined with the Critical Path Method. This project management method is a favorite of most manufacturing companies as it takes into cognizance the time it takes to complete a task. Time is an important factor in project management as it also determines the budget for the project.

6. Adaptive Project Framework

Robert K. Wysocki is an authority on the Adaptive Project Management Framework and in his book, Adaptive Project Framework: Managing Complexity in the Face of Uncertainty, he talks about the discovery of new applications for which the traditional linear approach may not be suitable for. He goes further to identify “…the difficulty in specifying complete requirements at the beginning of the project” as the major reason why present-day projects fail to meet the requirements of the Traditional Project Management Approach.

The solution to this dilemma lies in the adaptive project framework; a process that was created out of the need to adapt to the continuously changing phases of a project.

7. Extreme Programming (XP)

This methodology which also has its roots in the agile framework was developed by in the 1990s by Kent Black. This short life-cycle method has as its main objective, the improvement of product quality, client satisfaction. Its characteristics and principles make for a project management team that strives for excellence in the development process. In his book – Extreme Programming Explained, Kent explains that the methodology is becoming more prominent because “…XP is particularly well-suited to help the small software development team succeed.”

8. Kanban

The Kanban project management process does away with the sprints and milestones that are attributed to the scrum and traditional methods of managing projects respectively. What you would find, is a more visual approach to managing time, project scope and budget; these 3 factors determine the success of any project.

Kanban, a lean scheduling project management method was developed by the Japanese Toyota Corporation based in the 1940s. The idea behind Kanban is continuous delivery, especially when combined with the scrum methodology. It uses a system of visual cues that let the project team know what is expected of tasks within the project in relation to quantity and quality as well as when the tasks are expected to be accomplished.  

Choosing the Right Project Management Method

The project management methods outlined above are by no means exhaustive; there are quite a lot of offshoots and hybrids out there that have churned out fantastic results. The issue, however, lies in the identification of a suitable approach for managing your projects because these approaches serve as blueprints and the approach utilized could mean the difference between the failure or success of the project so here are a few points to guide you.

  1. Find out from team members what has worked in the past – This will help narrow down the choices
    you have to make.
  2. Clearly, define the needs or expectations of your clients – Keep in mind the fact that requirements could be fixed or dynamic.
  3. Outline organizational goals, keeping in mind project costs as well.
  4. Consider the structure of the team – Are they virtual or physical? Is some of the work being outsourced?
  5. Lastly, you need not decide on a one size fits all kind of approach; keep in mind that it is perfectly acceptable to pick the various positive elements from all the individual methodologies to create a process that could work marvelously well for your team.

 

What do you think? Does this work for you? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

 

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21 Best Project Management Books for Beginner and Advanced Project Managers http://www.nutcache.com/blog/21-best-project-management-books-for-beginner-and-advanced-project-managers/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/21-best-project-management-books-for-beginner-and-advanced-project-managers/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 14:24:06 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=40191/ There are tons of project management books out there with precious little time to read them in between, riding the subway, preparing a project kickoff checklist and eating a burger for lunch. This year, it’s all about effective time management, efficiency, and improved processes. This is why we have brought you a roundup of the [...]

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There are tons of project management books out there with precious little time to read them in between, riding the subway, preparing a project kickoff checklist and eating a burger for lunch. This year, it’s all about effective time management, efficiency, and improved processes.

This is why we have brought you a roundup of the top 21 best project management books to help build your arsenal. It’s even been grouped into beginner, advanced or management categories to help with decision making.

Now you know what you’ll be reading in your spare time this year, and yes, you’re welcome.

Category: Beginner and Accidental Project Managers Best Project Management Books

1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)–Fifth Edition 5th Edition

Author: Project Management Institute

Insights: This is a great guide for beginner project managers as it comes fully packed with well-defined processes. It is a must-have for those who are yet to take the PMP test.If you are already a member of PMI, then you should be able to download a free pdf version in English, French and some other major languages.

It also comes with some memorization aids for theories and formulas that you would find really helpful.

2. The Project Management Answer Book, Second Edition

Author: Jeff Furman

Insights: The author has over 15 years of IT projects management under his belt so you can be certain he knows one or two things about project management. This book primarily focuses on the fundamental principles of project management with relevant examples cited. The author does a fabulous job of providing relevant information in an easy-to-read Q&A format, all laced with an appropriate dose of humor.

3. Project Pain Reliever: A Just-In-Time Handbook for Anyone Managing Projects

Author: Dave Garrett

Insights: With an ability to provide real solutions to specific project management problems, this book is exactly what it is – pain relief for project management. Accidental project managers would fall in love with this book that gives practical solutions to project issues.

4. The Scrum Field Guide: Agile Advice for Your First Year and Beyond (2nd Edition) (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) 2nd Edition

Author: Mitch Lacey

Insights: Struggling to adopt Scrum and Agile methodologies? Fret no more; this book is more than an introduction to Scrum, the advanced sections shed more light on managing conflicts, optimization, value measurement just to name a few. When you do get it, we would love to know what you think about the “Story” sections at the beginning of each chapter.

5. Project Management for Non-Project Managers

Author: Jack Ferraro, PMP

Insights: Yet another great resource for accidental project managers; this book talks about the critical project management skills even as it lists out step-by-step guidelines for project management process. It also highlights the crucial roles that both functional managers and project managers play in the successful execution of any project.

6. Bare Knuckled Project Management: How to Succeed at Every Project

Author: Tony Gruebl and Jeff Welch

Insights: With over 25 years experience in improving business processes, deploying leading technologies, managing teams, Tony sure has a lot to tell his readers about his career in project management. His book gives tactical insights into the rescue of complex projects, even as he shares a few secrets for improving organizational performance. Great for beginners and advanced project managers alike

7. Project Management Jumpstart, 3rd Edition

Author: Kim Heldman

Insights: In this book, Kim discusses the basic principles of project management, breaks down budgeting and monitoring in an easily comprehensible format. If you also want to know more about goal setting and risk assessment, and what project management certifications are available or required, then this is the book you should be reading.

8. Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide (3rd Edition)

Author: Gregory M. Horine

Insights: Find out what mistakes are common with new managers, master the essential skills required of every good project manager, learn to lead projects and create budgets and schedules like a pro and construct and accurate work breakdown structure like you’ve been doing it all your life.

Category: Advanced Project Managers Best Books on Project Management

9. The Agile Mind-Set: Making Agile Processes Work

Author: Gil Broza

Insights: This project management book might just reveal the secret ingredient your organization may have been missing. Gil takes readers way past best practices and tools to revealing what having the “Agile-mindset” is all about.

10. Advanced Multi-Project Management

Author: Gerald I. Kendall, PMP and Kathleen M. Austin

Insights: Project environments are often plagued with numerous problems depending on the scale and nature of the project and both authors do a very good job of identifying those problems. This book is an authoritative resource material from veterans who have seen it all and done it all. Find out their secrets to managing complex multiple projects concurrently.

11. Large- Scale Scrum: More with LeSS (Addison – Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) 1st Edition

Author: Craig Larman and Bas Vodde

Insights: This book will help project managers better define their products, get a better understanding of Scrum and it’s scalability, even as the authors educate their readers on the Scrum master roles.

12. Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams

Author: Terry Schmidt

Insights: A practical guide to getting the results you want through a time-tested change methodology. Find what strategies Terry employs in tackling issues that have given more than one project manager cause for concern.

13. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling 11th Edition

Author: Harold Kerzner, PH.D

Insights: This 1296-page book on project planning, scheduling and control is a favorite of both beginner and expert project managers alike. Join Harold as he takes you through the rudiments of project management and business intelligence. It even comes equipped with hundreds of discussion and multiple- choice questions to help prepare you for the PMP Certification Exam.

14. The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer

Author: Jeffrey K. Liker

Insights: The Toyota Corporation’s approach to management and leadership is one that seen a series of discussion, deliberations, and reviews: their approach has birthed tremendous success in companies who have embraced their methodology. It thrives on the principles of continuous improvement and respect for people and Jeffery does a good job of chronicling the Toyota culture.

15. Managing Public Sector Projects: A Strategic Framework for Success in an Era of Downsized Government (ASPA Series in Public Administration and Public Policy) 1st Edition

Author: David S. Kasse

Insights: With this book, David aims to tackle the issues that come with managing projects in the public sector. It’s just 278 pages but it clearly points out the unique aspects of managing sector public projects; a great transition tool for managers coming in from privately owned establishments.

16. Digital project Management: The Complete Step-By-Step Guide to a Successful Launch

Author: Taylor Olson, PMP

Insights: Project managers working in a technology focused environment will find Taylor Olson’s book very helpful as it gives a step-by-step guide to digital project management. From creating a project scope document to search engine optimization, Taylor tackles everything a digital project manager may face in a very concise manner.

Category: Best Books on Management 

17. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t
Author: Jim Collins

Insights: What’s an enduring great company? How can a company move from good to great? How is growth sustained in a good company? The author answers this and more in this 400 page-turner.

18. Leadership Excellence

Author: Jim Denney

Insights: This book can be described as a go-to-guide for attaining excellence in leadership as the author takes us through not only his experiences but that of some of the world’s top leaders; sharing the seven sides to leadership as he goes along.

19. The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management (Collins Business Essentials)

Author: Peter F. Drucker

Insights: With over 25 books under his belt, Drucker is considered an authority in the field of management; with sections like “Management Challenges for the 21st Century”, “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” as well as a chapter that talks about the Post-Capitalist society, this book is gem for any aspiring manager or management executive.

20. Managing Stakeholder Expectations for Project Success: A Knowledge Integration Framework and Value Focused Approach

Author: Ori Schibi, PMP

Insights: Stakeholder management is one area that is often overlooked in project management but experienced project managers would be quick to point out the challenges that come with managing stakeholder expectations. If you hope to develop a skill in stakeholder analysis and management, then you would love the checklists that the author has included.

21. Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition)

Author: Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

Insights: A perfect resource material for those working in a software-related environment. The software industry is quite a complex one, requiring tremendous skill and dexterity to operate in, let alone manage. Project managers operating in this industry would, therefore, appreciate the tips and ideas that both authors proffer for effectively managing teams and improving their productivity.

 

What do you think of our roundup? Have you read any of these books? Then please leave a comment below, we would love to know what you think; besides, someone could find it useful.  

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Understanding the Rudiments of Web Based Project Management Tools http://www.nutcache.com/blog/understanding-the-rudiments-of-web-based-project-management-tools/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/understanding-the-rudiments-of-web-based-project-management-tools/#respond Fri, 06 Jan 2017 13:54:28 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=40155/ The internet has contributed in no small way to the advancement of the practice of project management; with web based project management, project managers can easily process information pertaining to a multitude of projects or different phases of a singular project. Web-based project management software leverages the internet to help project teams create and monitor [...]

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The internet has contributed in no small way to the advancement of the practice of project management; with web based project management, project managers can easily process information pertaining to a multitude of projects or different phases of a singular project.

Web-based project management software leverages the internet to help project teams create and monitor tasks, schedule activities, calculate critical paths and build timelines. They often come as an integrated package with the capacity to host millions of users all over the world simultaneously. This is made possible by the installation of the main software on a central server; this enables multiple users, have access to it.

The History of Web Based Project Management Tools

The job of planning, executing and monitoring a project is not an easy one. Experienced project managers would be quick to point out the series of complex activities that pave the road to the completion of any milestone. What you would also commonly find in the field of project management are the interdependencies of tasks. The Nest describes the concept of interdependency in the workplace as “The idea that two parties in a conflict need each other to complete their own tasks.” A situation where a worker’s deliverables rely solely on the completion of the task assigned to another worker within or outside the organization.

Often times, team members are geographically dispersed and effective collaboration would require the use of certain tools in order to achieve organizational objectives and web based project management software was a perfect solution to the dilemma.

As early as 2570 BC the practice of project management has been in existence as is evident in the historical Pyramid of Giza; fast forward to 208 BC where the world gets treated to another architectural wonder, the Great Wall of China. Both projects would have elicited a great deal of planning, implementation, and monitoring – the hallmarks of project management. However, it wasn’t until 1917 that we saw Henry Gantt come up with an exceptional scheduling tool to aid the practice of project management. That tool is what is known today as the Gantt chart.

Since then, the world has witnessed the birth of several other project management techniques and tools like the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and PERT just to mention a few. However, modern project management kicked off around the mid-80s when information technology witnessed a rapid growth spurt. Companies like Oracle and Artemis were the first to get on the train with the Scitor Corporation (now SAIC – a technology and engineering company) following closely. The internet facilitated the rapid exchange of information; email allowed people track project progress, documents were easily accessed and as the concept of remote working grew, we began to see more and more project teams collaborate on tasks from different parts of the world.

In 2008, project managers were introduced to the concept of Cloud-Based Project Management Software. This development was a very welcome one for the industry as it allowed remote teams to work more efficiently, simultaneously increasing productivity. Today, we see project management apps that allow users access information, track progress, send documents, approve costs etc., while on the go.  

Advantages of Web Based Project Management Tools

Web-based project management tools are very advantageous to project managers; With these tools, project managers can:

  1. Collaborate with team members in real-time

Project management software serves as a platform for team members to easily communicate with one another in real time. The advantage of this is that updates are usually faster and team members are kept in the loop at every point in time.  

  1. Drive Efficiency

Web-based project management software automatically optimizes an organization’s efficiency and productivity, drastically cutting down the amount of time it would take to accomplish certain tasks.

  1. Ensure Optimum Collaboration Amongst Team Members

It also lends a boost to the collaborative efforts of the team as it not only serves as some type of communication hub for team members or between an organization and its clients regardless of what niche they operate in, but it also assists in coordination, monitoring, and control of individual tasks.

  1. Reduced Cost of Operations

Organizations need not hire skilled IT personnel to download the software on any number of computers; expenses for web-based tools are only incurred based on the frequency of use and in some cases, the scale of use.

  1. Be Assured of Data Security

Web-based software is the best when it comes to the security of company data; this is because the information is usually stored on a secure server. These servers are often managed by cyber security companies whose sole job is securing clients’ information.

  1. Furthermore…

Web-based project tools help anticipate project risks, aid project scheduling, reporting, document sharing and are surprisingly easy to use.

How to Identify The Best Web Based Project Management Tools

Choosing the right software for your team will largely depend on the size of the team and your scale of operations. Nonetheless, there are some key features you may want to watch out for when deciding on what tool to use.

  • Time Tracking  – This is one feature you should not overlook; project teams become more efficient when they are not only able to accurately ascertain the time spent on tasks but make sure deadlines are met as well.
  • Budgeting and Expense Management– With this feature, project managers are able to keep the project under budget. With Nutcache, for example, project managers can quickly get an overview of how much has been spent so far and it can be grouped according to tasks or by members.
  • Online Invoicing – This allows you automatically send an invoice to a client when a milestone has been reached.
  • Effective Collaboration – What is effective project management without collaboration? Whatever tool you get should be able to keep all team members connected. Clients should also be able to leave frequent reviews or comments on any task.
  • Document Sharing  – Any good web-based project management tool should support document sharing; you want to be able to quickly receive and send a document across for review or approval.

 

What are your thoughts on this post? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

 

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Revealing the Secrets to Effectively Managing Multiple Projects http://www.nutcache.com/blog/revealing-the-secrets-to-effectively-managing-multiple-projects/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/revealing-the-secrets-to-effectively-managing-multiple-projects/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 14:40:32 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=40152/ The Project Manager is a Multi -Tasker One of the most valuable skills any project manager worth his salt should possess is the ability to manage multiple projects. Whatever career you decide to pursue, chances are, you will find yourself handling more than two or more tasks concurrently; they could be short tasks that require [...]

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The Project Manager is a Multi -Tasker

One of the most valuable skills any project manager worth his salt should possess is the ability to manage multiple projects. Whatever career you decide to pursue, chances are, you will find yourself handling more than two or more tasks concurrently; they could be short tasks that require just a couple of hours to complete or projects and programs that span months. One way or another, there would be a time in your career where meeting several deadlines simultaneously become all you can think of. You begin to wonder how best to manage these projects and what tools you can employ to help streamline your processes in order to make you more productive.

How to Manage Multiple Projects

In this post, we would be looking at strategies to help you manage multiple projects and the best tools to help you become more prolific in your career as a project manager. The ultimate aim being not only to help you beat deadlines but to do them in such a way that you are not keeling over under tremendous pressure even as you strive to remain organized and stay proactive. Being proactive is one of the first steps towards eliminating anxiety in the workplace, even as one seeks to control various situations as opposed to reacting to events or situations when they occur. It then goes without saying that a proactive manager should know how to manage multiple tasks/projects concurrently.

So without much further ado, here are 3 secrets to achieving superman status at the workplace.

1.       Plan

The world we live in today is one that is evolving at a very fast pace. Companies are constantly innovating and launching the-next-big-things, we constantly seek faster modes of transport, the world needs a permanent cure for cancer, we want more durable tools, we want computers that process data faster than the speed of light etc All these changes taking place are sure to keep any project manager on his toes – the secret to maintaining one’s sanity is planning.

The absence of a project management plan is the first indicator of failure for any project. Planning helps you align projects requirements with your organization’s overall business strategy. A good plan helps the project manager anticipate risks and ensures that resources are utilized judiciously.

2.       Delegate

Even superman had help. The biggest mistake any project manager would make, is trying to accomplish every task solo. It’s not only irritating to your employees, but it increases the amount of time needed to get things done. You also do not want to be micromanaging your team members as it stifles creativity, it does not elicit loyalty to the project, employees are not given the opportunity to prove themselves and when left unchecked can lead to a high rate of employee turnover.

A good project manager should learn to delegate as delegation significantly reduces the project manager’s workload, leaving you with ample time to attend to strategic issues that demand utmost attention. This in no way relates to abdication, rather project managers should see this as a step towards delivering quality projects in record time.

For best results;

  • Work on assigning tasks to subordinates – Some great tools to help you with this would be the Work Breakdown Structure and the Project Scope.
  • Transfer authority alongside tasks – Assigning tasks without the authority to perform said tasks often poses some form of complication among project team members.
  • Help your team members understand the level of responsibility that is being handed to them and ensure they understand that they would be held accountable for whatever task is being assigned to them while you concentrate on providing oversight functions.

3.       Prioritize

This is a skill you MUST master if you aim to take your multi-tasking skills to a whole new level. People who handle 3-5 projects simultaneously have the same number of hands as everyone else, but what they have learned to do differently is prioritize. Of course, there is the 80/20 rule that posits that 80% of the work we typically do in a day contributes to less than 20% of the value of our work. That means you want to be spending more time on things that actually add value and less time on activities like reading and responding to emails.

Want to join the high-flying train? Here’s what you should do:

  1. Make a list of all the tasks or projects that require your attention.
  2. Categorize the tasks on your lists as either high priority, medium priority or low priority. You can also check out Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix.  It’s a simple but very effective time management tool anyone can use.
  3. Create a timeline based on the information you got from the second step, keeping in mind all the deadlines you are expected to meet.
  4. Get cracking!

To find out more about prioritizing, take a look at this very informative post.

In Conclusion, Here are Some Tools for Managing Multiple Projects

Earlier on, we introduced you to the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), the project scope and Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix but here are some other tools worthy of note. They include:

 

We always love to hear from our readers, feel free to drop a line or two below, letting us know what you think.

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Introduction to Project Management Organizational Structure http://www.nutcache.com/blog/introduction-to-project-management-organizational-structure/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/introduction-to-project-management-organizational-structure/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2016 13:21:52 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=39589 Project management structure is very vital to the success of any project team; an organization or project team that is structured gives support to the work that’s being done. Misaligned project management teams or organizations create a negative impact on the outcome of a project.  This is simply because the organizational structure has an influence [...]

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Project management structure is very vital to the success of any project team; an organization or project team that is structured gives support to the work that’s being done. Misaligned project management teams or organizations create a negative impact on the outcome of a project.  This is simply because the organizational structure has an influence on the authority of the project manager, thereby affecting how projects are run. It goes without saying that non-structured project management teams often  lack guidance and a guided team drives successful projects.

In this post, we are going to be looking at the project management organizational structure from two angles; we will be studying them in terms of who the project leader is and who is responsible for decision making where the project is concerned.

As we know, an organization could be defined as a group of persons who come together to accomplish set goals; in order to successfully achieve those set goals, a project manager would need to familiarize himself with the project management office structure.

Three Types of Project Management Structures

An organizational structure could be described as the official line of authority and control within an organization. Project management structures tell us how reporting relationships work in a particular organization.

Depending on the environment the organization finds itself operating in, the goals they set for themselves and the nature of work being done, you would find that organizations are structured in 3 ways:

  • Functional Organizational Structure
  • Matrix Organizational Structure – This can be further broken down into – Balanced matrix, Strong Matrix, and Weak Matrix
  • Projectized Organization Structure

Now that we know how organizational structures are categorized, let’s take a closer look at each one of them to see what makes them unique.

Functional Organizational Structure

In a functional organizational structure, you would find the components of a hierarchy system where authority-driven decisions on budget, schedule, and equipment rest on the shoulders of the functional manager who possesses a significant level of expertise in the same field.

That is to say that the project manager, in this type of organization has little to no authority here; in some functional organizations, that position does not even exist.

What would you find, however, is that the work is broken down into departments such as the human resource department, sales department, finance, public relations, administration, etc.

In simple terms, it can be likened to that of a more traditional company where staff is presided over by a supervisor, based on their functions within the organization and communication is most often done through the department heads to senior management.

What is fascinating about this type of organizational structure is that employees appear to be more skilled in their respective departments, thereby leading to greater work efficiency. Everyone knows who to hold accountable if something were to go wrong as responsibilities are predetermined.

On the downside, the work may prove monotonous over time, which could result in less enthusiasm and reduced loyalty to the organization. In addition to that, you would also find that cross-departmental communication becomes poor and the high level of bureaucracy could affect decision-making negatively.

Projectized Organizational Structure

The projectized organizational structure is the complete opposite of the functional organizational structure even though the organization may still group staff according to their work functions.

In this case, the project management team structure is organized in such a way that the project manager has project authority. He has jurisdiction over the project’s budget, schedule, and the project team. You would find him at the top of the hierarchical structure, calling all the shots; with employees playing supporting roles for the project. At the end of the project, the project team members are released and resources directed towards more relevant areas.

What’s great about this kind of structure is that there is a clear, established line of authority; resulting in faster decision-making and approval. Communication becomes easier and more effective and project team members gain more experience working on different types of projects as the need for them arises.

A major disadvantage to this type of organizational structure, however, would be that employees could see themselves being under a lot of pressure most of the time, especially if they happen to work on multiple projects at the same time. This often leads to poor communication amongst the team members as everyone is left more or less playing “catch-up”.

Matrix Organizational Structure

The matrix organizational structure can be found lying somewhere between the functional organizational structure and the projectized organizational structure depending on what type of matrix structure is being run.

For instance, the strong matrix organizational structure has some similarities with that of a projectized organizational structure in the sense that the project manager is responsible for a project. If the organization is running a weak matrix structure, then the project authority would fall to the hands of a functional manager – as it is in a functional organization. Interestingly enough, in a balanced matrix organization, both the project manager and the functional manager shares equal authority for the project.

If an organization finds itself working in a dynamic environment, then this might be the right structure to run with it and it promotes greater efficiency, helping the organization respond to customer demands or changes in the marketplace, faster.

This is easily achieved because while the project manager exhibits project authority in a horizontal manner, the functional manager does so in a vertical, flowing downwards. For example, the project manager could be responsible for handling project schedule or budget while the functional manager would be responsible for outlining and distributing responsibilities, overseeing the performance of the equipment, etc.

In Summary

In this post, we looked at what an organizational structure was and how vital it was for project managers to understand the different organizational structures.

We looked at the merits and demerits of running a functional, projectized and matrix structure and we noted that the decision to go with either of them would depend on the kind of environment in which the organization operates in, their goals and the nature of work being done.

 

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Setting Smart Goals – What Is A Smart Goal? http://www.nutcache.com/blog/setting-smart-goals-what-is-a-smart-goal/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/setting-smart-goals-what-is-a-smart-goal/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:57:12 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=39585 Introduction – What is a SMART Goal? The phrase SMART goals often pops up from time to time in the world of project management. So you would find that there are goals and there are “SMART goals” and the latter is what you would find most commonly used in organizations. However, SMART goals are not [...]

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Introduction – What is a SMART Goal?

The phrase SMART goals often pops up from time to time in the world of project management. So you would find that there are goals and there are “SMART goals” and the latter is what you would find most commonly used in organizations.

However, SMART goals are not just specific to the work environment; individuals seeking to add value to their personal lives or seeking to improve on their roles in the workplace can only achieve these by setting smart goals. This is otherwise known as Personal Development Goal.

Smart Goal Definition

Although having several variations, SMART is an acronym for:

Specific / Significant

Measurable

Attainable / Achievable

Relevant / Realistic

Time Bound / Time-based

As you can see from the breakdown above, for any goal to be considered “smart” it should be specific – spelled out clearly, answering the questions ‘what’, ‘when’ why, ‘who’, ‘where’ and ‘which’ . As a project manager, your project team can only add value to your team when they know what exactly that goal is and just how significant it is to the success of the project.

The goals should be measurable; how would you track progress? It’s all about metrics; knowing what number represents failure and what represents success.

Building a staircase that can get you straight up to the sun is not an achievable goal, the same way asking the design team to come up with a prototype of a particular piece of technology, complete with all the technical specifications and parameters in under 30 minutes, is not either. When you set goals, the project team should be able to envision it and come up with a plan for achieving it.

Equally, project management goals should be relevant to the project and should have a time frame for accomplishing them. If the goals are not constrained by time, then it does not attract any sense of urgency and therefore it is deemed inconsequential. For help tracking time spent on the project, consider using time tracking software.

This article from Sid Savara talks about how setting smart goals saw 3% of Havard MBAs makes 10 times more than the rest of their counterparts. Although this claim is not substantiated, it does make for a very interesting read.

Here’s an Example of a SMART Goal

Let’s take a look at a certain event management company called XYZ. The office of XYZ is located on a very popular business district where over 200 organizations have set up shop. They currently cater to only weddings and birthday parties and their clients are happy at the moment. However, XYZ is barely making profits despite the fact that they have over 90% rate in customer satisfaction. If they continue down this lane, in less than 12 months, the company would cease to exist.

In order to prevent that from happening the CEO of XYZ event management company got a new manager who explains that to survive the coming months, they would need to make an additional $15000 every month.

She then proposed that they include corporate events as part of their services; she then gives the 3 full-time employees the task of marketing 5 organizations every month with the aim of acquiring the patronage of at least one with a minimum proposal bid of $5000.

From this example, you would clearly see that the goal is:

Specific – Make an additional $15000 every month.

Measurable – They are working with numbers, the employees know that anything below $5000 per month is not considered successful.

Attainable – The can easily get this done because their office happens to be located in a business district with over 200 organizations in residence.

Relevant – The goal is relevant because it would help to keep the business from sinking.

Time bound – She has given them at least one month to each land a new client.

A Guide to Setting Smart Goals

The first step to turning project objectives to smart goals would be to note down the key outcomes that are pertinent to the successful execution of the project or the organization.

So if we consider an organization’s objective of increasing sales by 30% by the end of the 2017 financial year, here’s how it could look like…

1. Write down your objectives

According to the results of a study conducted by Psychology Professor – Gail Matthews at Dominican University, individuals who wrote down their goals achieved significantly more results than those who did not.

2. Break them down into SMART goals and ensure they are few & manageable.

This is because focusing on too many goals at the same time could have adverse effects on the achievement of our objects. Individuals begin to feel overwhelmed; the willingness to pursue those goals becomes non-existent.

3. Goals should also be reviewed often

The idea behind this is that you can see how far you’ve come and it helps to keep you motivated. As you review your goals, you gain more clarity on what your next steps ought to be.

4. Share your goals with your team members

Every member of the team ought to be in the loop as it helps employees identify their roles within the grand scheme of things.

5. Celebrate your achievements

You and your team have come a long way and celebrating small wins as well as major ones reinforces a positive organizational culture and also helps to build self-esteem amongst the employees. The implications of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as one of the theories of motivation point to the fact that fulfilling an employee’s self-esteem could prove to be quite motivational for the employee. This is also one of the most cost-efficient ways of promoting employee satisfaction within an organization, leading to more productivity and a reduced rate of employee turnover.

Was this post helpful? Please share your opinions in the comment section. We love to hear from you.

 

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An update that focuses on continuous improvement http://www.nutcache.com/blog/an-update-that-focuses-on-continuous-improvement/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/an-update-that-focuses-on-continuous-improvement/#respond Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:49:42 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=39599 Although winter has begun slowly but surely it does not mean Nutcache is going into hibernation! Indeed, our team of developers spared no effort to improve our product by taking into account your comments and suggestions and provide you with the best possible user experience. This update focuses on 4 different areas: New features The list [...]

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Although winter has begun slowly but surely it does not mean Nutcache is going into hibernation! Indeed, our team of developers spared no effort to improve our product by taking into account your comments and suggestions and provide you with the best possible user experience.

This update focuses on 4 different areas:

New features

The list of projects to invoice has been improved with new features such as the ability to drill-down to the client file (1) as well as the project file (2) without having to leave the project list. Moreover, clicking directly on a detail line allows for direct access to the project invoicing detail screen (3).

invoice project

It is now possible to change the row order from an invoice/estimate/recurring invoice detail section as well as the project task list with a simple “drag-and-drop” move.

invoice row

The timesheet approval feature now includes all expenses, both those linked to projects and those that are not.

expense approval

Checklists included in cards and available with project collaborative boards can also be moved, or duplicated, within the same board.

checklist duplicate

Improved menu organization

Nutcache has made some changes to the structure of the main menu in order to make it simpler and more intuitive. As such, the Organization menu, previously located under the logo of your company, has been relocated directly under the Home menu making it now more visible and accessible. In addition, and in order to reflect a better and coherent project workflow, the Collaboration menu has changed name to Boards and is now fully integrated into the Projects module.

application menu

 

Increased performance

Over the past few weeks, our team of developers has pegged away at the collaborative project boards to improve their ease-of-use and performance, especially in regard of the loading time for tables, lists and cards, which is now much faster. The card “drag and drop” action from one list to another has also been improved as it is now instantaneous.

drag and drop cards

Better guidance

In order to avoid unpleasant surprises and unnecessary frustration, Nutcache has set up an automated subscription renewal reminder system which informs you a few days in advance (5 days prior to renewal date for monthly subscriptions and 15 days prior to renewal date for annually based subscriptions) that your subscription is due for renewal soon. Maintaining your subscription active is the best way to not lose your organization’s basic settings and any current entries (projects, members, clients, etc.) you’ve made.

Whatever the time of year, the Nutcache team is always working hard to enrich and improve your preferred management application, and it’s all yours to enjoy!

 

Boost your productivity today! Log in to Nutcache.

 

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Incubators VS Accelerators: Understanding the Difference [Infographic] http://www.nutcache.com/blog/incubators-vs-accelerators-understanding-the-difference/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/incubators-vs-accelerators-understanding-the-difference/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2016 11:00:42 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=39308 According to this article from Fortune, 90% of startups will never make it to the big leagues, with the following given as some of the major reasons: Ran out of Cash Poor Product Lack of a business model Disharmony on team/Investors Lack of Financing (Investor Interest) Just to name a few… It is, therefore, crucial [...]

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According to this article from Fortune, 90% of startups will never make it to the big leagues, with the following given as some of the major reasons:

  • Ran out of Cash
  • Poor Product
  • Lack of a business model
  • Disharmony on team/Investors
  • Lack of Financing (Investor Interest)

Just to name a few…

It is, therefore, crucial that a startup aiming for the world stage seek the support of an incubator or accelerator to help mitigate some of these issues that may pop up in the new future. Eliciting the support of either an incubator or accelerator will also depend on what stage of growth they are in as at that time.

That being said, business incubators are private companies that are primarily focused on early stage startups. They provide support to these startups by linking them to potential sources of funding; they provide coaching and mentoring, office space for them to work out of as well as access to legal counsel and networking opportunities.

Depending on what type of incubation program they run, they put together programs for small businesses that help turn their ideas into minimum viable products. This they do, in exchange for some amount of equity from the business.

Business Accelerators on the other hand help scale these minimum viable products into full-fledged companies. The accelerator program is more like a rapid months-long, immersive program targeted at accelerating these startups by providing them with mentorship, supply chain resources, and investment, also in return for equity.

They make the work of potential investors easier, via their strict vetting process that ensure that only the startups with the most potential make it through to the program. Often times, investors would prefer to go the less time-consuming route of investing in the accelerator programs as opposed to investing directly in the startups themselves.

Here’s a great infographic that makes it all easier to understand.

nutcache incubators vs accelerators
Should you wish to share this infographic on your site, please include attribution to nutcache.com with this graphic.

Accelerator

Timescale: Typically limited to a 3-4 month period.

Goal: Grow the size and value of a company as fast as possible in preparation for initial funding.

Funding: Provides capital to startups in exchange for a small amount of equity.

Support: Guidance and advice are provided through a mentor network typically composed of startup executives and outside investors.

Incubator

Timescale: Last for varying durations, from 12 to 24 months.

Goal: Nurture the business in its startup phase, allowing it to develop at its own pace.

Funding: Incubators take little to no equity in the startups because they do not provide upfront capital.

Support: Typically provided by proven entrepreneurial investors and consultants.

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Project Cost Management, Resource Allocation and Budget Control http://www.nutcache.com/blog/project-cost-management-resource-allocation-and-budget-control/ http://www.nutcache.com/blog/project-cost-management-resource-allocation-and-budget-control/#respond Thu, 17 Nov 2016 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.nutcache.com/?p=39256 In an earlier post, we identified “non-feasible budgets” as one of the major reasons projects fail; the post highlighted the demerits of working with an unrealistic budget and how adequate budgeting was critical to the success of any project. To expatiate on that, we would be studying the concept of project cost management. What is [...]

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In an earlier post, we identified “non-feasible budgets” as one of the major reasons projects fail; the post highlighted the demerits of working with an unrealistic budget and how adequate budgeting was critical to the success of any project. To expatiate on that, we would be studying the concept of project cost management.

What is Cost Management?

Cost management in project management is the science behind the planning, allocation and control of the budget for a project or an organization. It is a process that makes certain that a project would be completed within an agreed upon budget and cost management in project management is a prerequisite skill for establishing yourself as a great project manager.

A good project cost management plan ensures that the organization does not overshoot their budget, thereby maximizing profitability.

The process involves a lot of project cost estimations and calculations, cost-tracking spreadsheet development, reviews and approvals from top management and the integration of a project cost management software.

4 Steps to Creating a Project Cost Management Plan

1. Resource Planning

Resource planning helps the project manager determine how much human resource, raw material, equipment and facilities that would be required to deliver on the project. At this phase, the project manager would be looking at all the physical resources necessary for executing the project.

So let’s say, a project manager is working on an IT related project, he would need to be made aware of what IT skills are vital to the project and what software or applications are relevant to the project.

A great way to do this would be to have a sit-down with a subject matter expert, professional associations and members of the project team to create a workflow structure (work breakdown structure). This will aid in the identification of components of the project that would require certain resources.

The project manager can also refer to data from past projects, consult the SOW document and ensure that all activities and requirements are in-line with the organization’s policies and procedures.

2. Cost Estimation

This involves developing an approximate value of how much the resources identified are going to cost. The process involves identifying and examining different pricing alternatives with the aim of going with the option that is most profitable for the company without necessarily compromising on quality.

At this stage, the project team would want to be considering resource requirements, the duration of activities, the work breakdown structure, information from previous similar projects concluded and resource rates (labor fees per hour, wholesale versus retail costs) .

There are 4 techniques for estimating costs, they include:

  • Analogous estimating
  • Parametric estimating
  • Bottom-up estimating.
  • The use of cost accounting tools or computerized tools

You can find out more about them by reading this post on, “How to Accurately Estimate Project Cost and Duration”.   

3. Cost Budgeting

Now that we have gotten our cost estimates, the next step would be to do the cost budgeting. This refers to the allocation of cost estimates to the identified project components that require a certain amount of resources.

It makes use of the project schedule (where costs are allocated by time periods), work breakdown structure and cost estimates to come up with a cost baseline for the project. The cost baseline is essential for tracking project management cost during the project life cycle.

4. Cost Control

Cost control involves tracking and measuring financial variances from the cost baseline that we came up with during cost budgeting.

These changes could be as a result of an increase in the supplier’s rates that may be attributed to the scarcity of certain raw materials in the market.

It could also be that the time duration for certain components of the projects were just not enough or the introduction of a more efficient software of tool into the market that was not available during the resource planning phase but which the project manager felt was a better fit for the project as opposed to a lower priced one that was initially agreed upon.

It takes into cognizance any changes that might have occurred at the different project phases and alerts top management and stakeholders of all the relevant changes.

Project Cost Management Software

If you are looking for a great project cost management software, then you should check out the Nutcache project management web app.  Nutcache is a great all-inclusive, cloud-based project management solution that comes with project cost management features. With that, project managers can easily:

  • Set up a budget with milestones and alerts
  • Decide if the budget scope will be global or specific (per member/per task)
  • Track the progress of the budget as it approaches its threshold
  • Quickly and easily customize project invoice by Task hourly rate, Member hourly rate, Project hourly rate or by Project fixed-fee.

Was this post helpful? Please do let us know by leaving a line or two in the comment section below.

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