How to make more time in your day

Do you struggle to fit everything into your working day?

Most Project Managers find it hard to get all their tasks done each day, but you can get more out of your working hours by working smartly. Here’s how to do it…

How to make more time in your day

#1: Use templates
Templates are documents or files that you can use time and time again. Don’t create a new Project Charter for every project, for example. Use a template and simply fill in the relevant bits for this project. You’ll save time because you won’t have to set up titles, headers or footers or any other style elements.

You can also use templates for creating schedules, task lists, reports and anything else that you use on your project. Don’t just limit yourself to documents!

#2: Use time sheets
The key to getting more done is understanding what you currently do with your time. Time sheets will show you what you have actually been working on, so you can assess how your time is being spent. You might, for example, find that you spend too long in meetings each week, or working on a particular element of project management like budgeting. Using timesheet software will help you keep track of where your time is going.

Once you have completed time sheets for a couple of weeks you will be able to see where you are wasting time in the day. You can also decide if there is anything you could delegate to another team member as a learning opportunity.

#3: Take breaks
It might seem counter-intuitive, but it really will help you get more done if you schedule some breaks into your day. Breaks help refresh your brain and your body, which means you come back to your desk feeling more motivated and capable of completing your tasks. Go for a walk, talk to a colleague or simply get a cup of coffee. Anything that gives your eyes a rest from the screen and your mind a change of scene will do.

#4: Use dashboards
Dashboards are visual representations of project progress and they are a great way to see the big picture status of your project. You won’t have to review every element of the project to get a status update as you’ll be able to see it all at a glance.

Dashboards are also great to share with your stakeholders. They will save you time producing bespoke reports month after month as instead, your project sponsor and anyone else who is interested can simply log on and see the status for themselves in real-time.

#5: Store your files online
Project managers and their teams spend a great deal of time looking for important project files. You can save time if you set up an online filing system that will structure your files for you and keep them secure. Then you’ll always know where the latest copy of a document is kept, and you won’t waste time hunting for it when you need it. This will also help your project team save time!

Of course, you don’t need to spend your extra hours on project work! Why not use some of it to study for a professional qualification, or to catch up with a good book, or to just get home earlier and spend more time with your family?

Use the professional time sheet features in ProjectManager.com to track your time and work out where you could be spending it differently.

You can also store documents securely online, create tailored dashboards, store templates and produce reports with just a few clicks—all great ways to get a bit of time back during your working day. Give it a free try now.

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How to creat a Quality Plan

Most Project Managers are aware that delivering projects within “time, cost and quality” is critical to success. However the term quality can be elusive and is often not clearly defined. In this issue, we describe what it really means to deliver quality within a project and we will help you to understand the:

4 critical steps to creating a Quality Plan

So what does the term “quality” mean? Method123defines quality as producing deliverables which meet the requirements of the customer.

To ensure that your deliverables meet your customers requirements, you need to create a Quality Plan, by taking these 4 steps:

Step 1: Define the Quality Targets

We all know that its pretty impossible to meet your customers expectations unless you draw a line in the sandbefore you start. By asking your customer to state upfront exactly what it is that they require, you will greatly improve your chances of success.

Ask your customer to provide a list of their requirements for a solution to be delivered by the project. Then help them to list the key deliverables which once produced, will satisfy their requirements. For each deliverable, list its components and then go one step further – by describing the detailed quality targets (i.e. quality criteria and quality standards) to be achieved by each component. This will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of exactly what it is that must be produced by the project, to meet the expectations of your customer.

Step 2: Create a Quality Assurance Plan

The next step is to create a plan to assure your customer that you can meet the quality targets set. By scheduling a suite of Quality Assurance Reviews to be undertaken by an independent person to the project, your customer will be provided with a “trusted view” of the overall progress of the project and the likelihood of the deliverables actually meeting the quality targets agreed.

Step 3: Create a Quality Control Plan

Internally within the project, you need to create a schedule of “Quality Control” measures to control the actual level of quality of each deliverable, as it is being produced. Examples include putting in place peer reviews, deliverable reviews, documentation reviews and end-of-phase reviews. Each review will measure the deliverables produced and identify any deviations from the quality targets set.

Step 4: Define the Quality Process

Of course, creating plans for assuring and controlling the quality of deliverables is a good start. But you also need to put in place a Quality Process to ensure that each of the actions listed in the Quality Plan are undertaken as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Download a Quality Plan template to take these steps. Or download the Project Management Kit which includes all of the templates you need to manage quality on projects

How to write an action plan

http://www.time-management-guide.com/plan.html 

 

When writing an action plan to achieve a particular goal or outcome, you can get much help from the following steps.

  • Clarify your goal. Can you get a visual picture of the expected outcome? How can you see if you have reached your destination? What does make your goal measurable? What constraints do you have, like the limits on time, money, or other resources.
  • Write a list of actions. Write down all actions you may need to take to achieve your goal. At this step focus on generating and writing as many different options and ideas as possible. Take a sheet of paper and write more and more ideas, just as they come to your mind. While you are doing this, try not to judge or analyze.
  • Analyze, prioritize, and prune. Look at your list of actions. What are the absolutely necessary and effective steps to achieve your goal? Mark them somehow. After that, what action items can be dropped from in the plan without significant consequences for the outcome. Cross them out.
  • Organize your list into a plan. Decide on the order of your action steps. Start from looking at your marked key actions. For each action, what other steps should be completed before that action? Rearrange your actions and ideas into a sequence of ordered action steps. Finally, look at your plan once again. Are there any ways to simplify it even more?
  • Monitor the execution of your plan and review the plan regularly. How much have you progressed towards your goal by now? What new information you have got? Use this information to further adjust and optimize your plan.

The 5 Goals of a Project Manager

As a Project Manager, you need to manage people, money, suppliers, equipment-the list is never ending. The trick is to be focused. Set yourself 5 personal goals to achieve. If you can meet these simple goals for each project, then you will achieve total success. So read on, to learn…

The 5 Goals of a Project Manager

These goals are generic to all industries and all types of projects. Regardless of your level of experience in project management, set these 5 goals for every project you manage.

Goal 1: To finish on time

This is the oldest but trickiest goal in the book. It’s the most difficult because the requirements often change during the project and the schedule was probably optimistic in the first place.

To succeed, you need to manage your scope very carefully. Implement a change control process so that any changes to the scope are properly managed.

Always keep your plan up to date, recording actual vs. planned progress. Identify any deviations from plan and fix them quickly.

Goal 2: To finish under budget

To make sure that your project costs don’t spiral, you need to set a project budget at the start to compare against. Include in this budget, all of the types of project costs that will accrue, whether they are to do with people, equipment, suppliers or materials. Then work out how much each task in your plan is going to cost to complete and track any deviations from this plan.

Make sure that if you over-spend on some tasks, that you under-spend on others. In this way, you can control your spend and deliver under budget.

Goal 3: To meet the requirements

The goal here is to meet the requirements that were set for the project at the start. Whether the requirements were to install a new IT system, build a bridge or implement new processes, your project needs to produce solutions which meet these requirements 100%.

The trick here is to make sure that you have a detailed enough set of requirements at the beginning. If they are ambiguous in any way, then what was initially seen as a small piece of work could become huge, taking up valuable time and resources to complete.

Goal 4: To keep customers happy

You could finish your project on time, under budget and have met 100% of the requirements-but still have unhappy customers. This is usually because their expectations have changed since the project started and have not been properly managed.

To ensure that your project sponsor, customer and other stakeholders are happy at the end of your project, you need to manage their expectations carefully. Make sure you always keep them properly informed of progress. “Keep it real” by giving them a crystal clear view of progress to date. Let them voice their concerns or ideas regularly. Tell them upfront when you can’t deliver on time, or when a change needs to be made. Openness and honesty are always the best tools for setting customer expectations.

Goal 5: To ensure a happy team

If you can do all of this with a happy team, then you’ll be more than willing to do it all again for the next project. And that’s how your staff will feel also. Staff satisfaction is critical to your project’s success.

So keep your team happy by rewarding and recognizing them for their successes. Assign them work that complements their strengths and conduct team building exercises to boost morale. With a happy motivated team, you can achieve anything!

And there you have it. The 5 goals you need to set yourself for every project.

Of course, you should always work smart to achieve these goals more easily. Use online software to help you manage projects on time and under budget, like ProjectManager.com

5 Tips on Project Reporting

As a Project Manager, now that the New Year has started you will need to report on the status of your projects. Your Project Sponsor will want to know if you’re on track and when their project will be complete. To help you do this, read these…

5 Tips on Project Reporting

  1. Project status: Create a weekly Project Status Report to show your actual vs. planned effort, percent complete and actual vs. forecast spend. Specify the number of open risks, changes and issues, and state whether action by your Sponsor is required to resolve them. Also show the forecast amount of time, effort and money required to finish the project. Always try and forecast as accurately as possible. Never forecast optimistically, always conservatively.
  2. Task completion: You need to regularly show your Sponsor your progress against the tasks listed on your schedule. Create a summarized view of your project plan and update it to reflect the percent complete for every task. Then append this summary view to your Project Status Report. This way, your Sponsor can drill down to see further information about each task, if they want to.

    By offering your Project Sponsor both summary and detailed information weekly makes them feel like your project is an “open book”. They will have all of the information about your project at their finger-tips. This way, you will get more buy-in from your Sponsor and more support when it’s needed.

  3. Milestones: You need to add Milestones to your project plan to show when the major project deliverables will be produced. You then need to report on the progress of each milestone to your Sponsor. Show the percent complete of each milestone, and again, forecast the completion dates.

    Here’s another tip: You will get more out of your team if you motivate them to complete milestones, as opposed to tasks. That’s because people are usually proud of the things that they have achieved in life (i.e. milestones), as opposed to the things they have done to achieve them (i.e. the tasks).

  4. Getting help: Project Sponsors don’t always want to hear “we’re on track and under budget” in their project reports. They just want to hear the truth. So if you’re behind schedule and you need help to get back on track, then tell your Sponsor about it in your project reports.

    State exactly what you need from them. Show them that you’re doing the best you can and that you’re the best person for the job, but that you still need their help to deliver the project. If you need more time, money or resources, then ask for it. Don’t be afraid. And remember, the best time to ask for help is before you really need it. This gives you contingency, because it always takes time for help to arrive.

  5. One version of the truth: Your project reports need to depict “one version of the truth” to your team. Keep them 100% accurate and be as open as possible about real issues that are affecting your team. Remember that if you communicate an issue to your Sponsor, then it becomes their issue to fix as well. Reporting issues is a great way to share the responsibility for fixing them.

So there you have it, 5 unique tips for reporting on projects. To take the hassle out of project reporting, use www.ProjectManager.com

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