Best Practices to Succeed in the Project Management Jungle

Peter Drucker Quote
Managing or playing a role in a project is something that every professional will have to do at some point during their career. Irrespective of the degree of project’s complexity, it can be quite challenging. Handling multiple tasks, people, responsibilities and deadlines can easily keep even experienced managers on their toes. There are many methodologies to ease the project management process, but without a solid foundation it will eventually succumb to failure. Let’s now go through the best practices for a successful project.

  • Project Scope, Schedule and Budget

The first task as a project manager is to understand what needs to be achieved out of the project. Project scope sets the boundary of the project and to understand it we need to take into account who the stake holders are, what are their expectations and what kind of support they can provide. For example in a web application development project, the scope can include design, development and testing of the app. But, the integration with some third-party service may be out of scope.

Scope, schedule and budget allocated for the project are the three inter-related factors which will have crucial impact on the outcome. The illustration given below depicts the trade-off among scope, budget and schedule. If one of them is affected, it will have an impact on the other two.

Project Scope Budget Schedule

The key takeaway is to have crystal clear understanding of these three and make sure that they all are in tandem with each other till the completion of the project.

  • Deliverables

Once the scope is set, the manager will need to set the deliverables. For example, a digital advertising agency might have the following deliverables for a social media management project:

    • Setting up social media pages and claiming the custom URL
    • Content Calendar
    • Social media ad campaigns
    • Monitoring and responding to audiences
    • Social media analytics and reporting

In short, there must be a detailed documentation about project deliverables and the same should be signed off by the stake holders.

  • Project Planning

Project plans help managers in estimating budget, time for each deliverable and assigning them to team members. To create an effective plan, there should be a Work Breakdown Structure. The project manager should breakdown the project deliverables into tasks and sub-tasks. Now, the following factors must be taken into account to proceed with the plan:

    • Inter-dependency of the tasks
    • Priority of tasks
    • Time and effort required for each task

Depending upon these three factors, the manager should allocate suitable resources and create realistic milestones. This will indicate key dates on which various tasks will be completed and help with the management of resources (both time and team members) efficiently.

  • Communication

Communication is one of the most important element of any project. It covers whole gamut of project level efforts from delegating, motivating, guiding to reporting back to the stakeholders. A project communication plan will cover the following:

    • Information about communication channel, reporting hierarchy of team members, frequency and format of communication.
    • Improving team performance by clearly communicating the project objective and tasks to be completed
    • Keeping project stake holders in sync with the progress and criticality of various milestones

Project manager also needs to make sure that micromanagement of all aspects of project and excessive communication must be avoided.

  • Reporting and Tracking Progress

After commencement of the project, manager needs to keep a track of the progress and make sure that it is in accordance with the plan. The report given by the team members should be used to measure the variation in terms of budget, schedule and scope. In case of any variation from the proposed plan, project manager must communicate the same to the stake holders and take necessary corrective action to bring the project back on track.

  • Change Management

The assumptions made from the very beginning of the project may not always hold good till the end of the project. Because of changing business scenarios the project scope might change and it would invariably lead to change in deliverables. Thus, the project manager should have a keen eye on these changes and take decision about whether or not to include the deliverables or post-pone the deliverables to future releases. Incorporating all the changes in the project will make the budget and schedule go overboard and result in a failed project.

  • Project Management Application

There are plethora of options available when it comes to project management applications. In order to choose the right tool the manager needs to have deep understanding of business requirements, constraints and resources.

At the primary level, the project management application should have features to breakdown the project into tasks, facilitate team collaboration, time tracking and cost estimation. TeamWave Projects application has been developed by keeping in mind these factors to help small and medium size businesses manage their projects. You can have a sneak peek at the features of the application from the link given below:

TeamWave Projects

Summary

Adopting the best practices mentioned above can eliminate many roadblocks and save the project from going kaput. These can be considered as effective starting points and their application will surely lay a robust foundation for a successful project.

TeamWave Projects: Task management, Team collaboration, Time tracking & More

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TeamWave Projects helps cross-functional teams achieve better results through collaborative working. Here’s a look at some of the key features of TeamWave Projects:

Task organization for easing complex projects

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Projects can easily go out of hand when there’s no clarity about what needs to be done or the exact roles and responsibilities of everyone working on the project. TeamWave helps teams collaborate in an organized way, by allowing you to manage tasks more effectively. Organize your project by creating task lists for each area of the project like planning, design, sourcing etc. Create tasks within task lists and assign them to your team members, so everyone knows what they have to do.

Milestone planning for time-sensitive projects

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Mark important milestones and events on a dedicated project calendar. Associate task lists with milestones and set due date for individual tasks to ensure that each phase of the project is completed on time.

Social collaboration and resource sharing

Empower your team to communicate actively and share resources with ease. Every project has its own file repository where team members can share their work files directly from Dropbox or Google Drive. This way all the work done by the team is available in one place, and can be peer reviewed by everyone on the team. Discussions screenshot here The project discussion board is where the entire team comes together to discuss ideas and strategies, as well as give feedback on tasks and files.

Project sharing for cross-organizational collaboration

Enabling your team to collaborate effectively is just one part of the game, the real challenge is to help your team members work effectively with people from other organizations. Activity stream page featuring the name of organization with which the project is shared. The project sharing feature allows you to form cross-organizational teams to enable unrestricted collaboration between your team members and people from client or vendor organization. This way everyone associated with the project can track progress, discuss ideas, assign tasks and provide feedback.

Time tracking for cost estimation or invoicing

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Provide your team a convenient way to log time on tasks. Get detailed reports that show total hours spent on the project or drill-down to view total time spent on each task. TeamWave also provides the option to make time logs billable, so you can easily create invoice for pay-by-hour projects.

Introducing TeamWave – Everything Your Business Needs!

Our experience of using multiple SaaS applications left us disappointed. We knew that there had to be a better, more holistic approach to managing our agency business. That led us to build TeamWave

What is TeamWave?
TeamWave is an integrated suite of business applications for small & medium-sized companies. Applications include CRM, Project Management, HRMS & Contact Management.
TeamWave is inspired by best of breed SaaS vendors like Basecamp, Trello, Pipedrive, BambooHR & HubSpot; we are taking some of their features & capabilities, to build ONE unified platform.

How is TeamWave better?

  • One place for your team to collaborate. Sales, support, dev & marketing departments are now on the same page.
  • One place to sell, deliver and support customers
  • All apps share the same information. No more duplicating, copying or pasting. Update a contact in one place, and the update happens across all applications.
  • Eliminate painful integrations, multiple logins & data inconsistency.
  • With TeamWave’s cloud-based web and mobile apps, you can manage your business at work, at home or on the road.

Our mission is to make TeamWave a unified platform that delivers everything YOUR business needs

To get product updates and news, please follow our blog.

Best-of-Breed SaaS Applications are Failing Small Businesses

Our parent company is a web development/design agency. Over the years, we’ve used best-of-breed SaaS applications to help us manage our cross-functional teams, clients and business process.

When we needed to manage leads & sales pipeline, we used Pipedrive. Then we needed a tool to invoice clients and track their payments, we used FreshBooks. Then we needed something to help us manage projects & collaborate with clients, we used Basecamp. As we grew, we found ourselves going over budget on projects so we started time and budget tracking, we used Harvest. Finally our marketing team wanted automation, we used HubSpot.

We found ourselves using and paying for 4 or 5 apps; each solved a specific problem well, but lacked a holistic approach to business management. Working with multiple apps built by different companies can be challenging for a growing company; especially when apps don’t play nicely with each other. In-fact our experience of using multiple applications is that it leads to reduced business efficiency & higher costs over a period of time.

SaaS Vendors

Here are some major issues:

  • Different apps made by different companies deliver different experiences. This impacts data consistency & design consistency.
  • As your company (and data) grow, your information is divided between different tools. Contacts in one place, invoices in another, project milestones somewhere else, conversations here, accounting reports there, the confused and disjointed list goes on.
  • This also means you can’t reuse information from one place in another. For example; you can’t use client feedback/testimonials (added in the project) for evaluating quarterly employee performance (in HRIS)
  • Departments in an organization (sales, support, dev & marketing) are never on the same page. Its a classic case of; the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing
  • Total Cost of Ownership is high. You pay for each tool, training & support. And sometimes integration cost too.
  • Integrations can be painful & expensive.

Bottom-line: Collaboration & productivity tools for small business are broken. A different approach is necessary to streamline business management and make it more efficient.

We are attempting to solve this problem with TeamWave – an integrated suite of business apps.