03 Aug 2017

6 Ways To Prevent Employee Burnout

No matter what industry that you are working in, chances are you are working in what feels like fast forward. Keeping up pace is easy at first as you get momentum but eventually the inevitable happens – you burnout.

It happens to all of us! It comes at a time that feels like the worst time ever but no matter how hard you try to keep up you can’t. Eventually you will need a break unless you are actively working towards preventing the burnout from happening from the beginning.

Make sure that you are properly honouring work-life balance or everyone will burn out eventually. So how do you prevent it before it happens? Simple…

  1. Don’t overdue it when assigning work. Be realistic with the amount of work and the timelines you set for your employees.
  2. Listen to your employees and create an environment where they feel comfortable telling you when/if they feel stressed.
  3. Keep fueling passion! Passion is everything when it comes to great results in work. If someone is not really passionate about what they are working on (within reason) try to integrate their passions into something that would benefit the business.
  4. Encourage employees to do side projects or training. This takes away from the everyday grind and gives your employees a chance to grow.
  5. Try and be flexible and reasonable of work hours. The workforce is becoming filled with millennials who work a little different than those in the “old days” so make sure that you are accommodating to their needs and they will accommodate yours.
  6. Have fun!! Do team building activities, go out for lunch every once and a while, make a point to enforce breaks throughout the day. This will relax the overall environment in the office and keep employees feeling loved.

Employee burnout is a serious problem in this world. Help your employees by not being the cause of it. What do you do to help prevent employee burnout? We would love to know! Share your stories in the comments.

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27 Jul 2017

New Feature Announcement – Budget Burndown Charts!

Budget Burndown Chart Example

We are excited to announce an exciting feature that has been launched! As an administrator or project manager, you now have the ability to build budget burndown charts! These awesome charts will allow you to know how much budget you have left in your project in graph so that you can visually see if your planned budget is in accordance with what is actually happening.

Want to see something specific added into Sheldon? We would love to hear from you! Contact us with your request.

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06 Jul 2017

Transparency in a Service Company

Recently, the Sheldon team, got together and reviewed our company values. As we went through the exercise, we realized that these values also applied to Sheldon. One important value that we all agreed on was transparency.

We learnt that “being transparent” means different things to different people, so we had to pin down what it meant for us. As a service company, and for Sheldon.

 

Transparency as a Company

Transparency for employees

As a service company, we believe that being transparent means showing regular status reports to our customers and letting them know about roadblocks as early as we can. But what about for employees? They’re the backbone of our business, they do all the work, and the client pays for their time. If you want to be profitable, you’ll obviously want to charge your client more than what you pay your staff.

The question…

Do you let your employees know how much your client is paying for them?

That’s a tough one. Most people react almost instantly to that question with a yelping “absolutely not!”. But why not? Probably because they think an employee’s reaction to that information is asking why they can’t have a higher salary: “If I make $50 an hour and you’re getting $100 an hour for my time, why can’t you pay me $80?!”.

Here at Sheldon, we try to stay true to our value of transparency. Our staff members do know how much they’re bringing into the company. And yes, some of them had a poor reaction to the information at first. Here’s where it gets interesting…

By explaining to our employees how overheads worked, how they tied into their rates and margins, and talking about company goals, we converted most employees into a true “team” mentality. Most understood that they were part of something real and that they could grow as the company grows.

You don’t always have to shy away from dollar amounts and you don’t have to hide project contracts or RFPs or create versions without rates before getting your developers’ opinions on timelines.

Maybe if everyone understood the business, each member of your team could properly contribute to these contracts, and maybe estimates could be that much more precise!

Exercise Findings for Sheldon

Going back to that exercise, and how we all agreed that transparency was a value of ours, we had to ask ourselves if our product would enforce the same values. Obviously, we wanted it to, but was it the right call?

Right now, Sheldon tracks roles and rates on projects. Project managers and administrators can see those rates and they’re used for various reports and graphs. The graphs are useful! One of them lets you know if you’re running out of money so you can react earlier (like I said in my last post).

Regular users can’t see these graphs. They can’t see rates, or any other dollar amount in Sheldon. So, should they? Should every person on your team be capable of reacting to early warning signs? This is actually what we’re discussing internally right now (speaking of transparency!).

I’d love to hear from you guys! How do you handle transparency in your company? And if you’re using Sheldon, do you think it would help if all your users could see a bit more about your company?

Let me know in the comments!

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03 Jul 2017

What to do When You Realize Your Project is Over Budget?

It happens to the best of us. At some point or another, I’m sure even Google and Apple miss a deadline or spend a little more than they wanted to on a project.

I’m not talking about them though. They’re setting their own targets and they’re the only ones who will be disappointed if they spend too much. You’re a service company and you have clients setting your budgets and timelines. When you run out of money, you don’t have many choices.

But just for fun, let’s talk about those choices!

Cry

This one’s my go-to. It should be yours too. A good cry can help stimulate the part of your brain responsible for complex reasoning and problem solving. No, but seriously…

Most people will panic at this point or start blaming one another. The fact is that it wasn’t any one person’s fault. A lack of planning was probably part of the problem, but it’s not the whole story. Anything can happen. People get sick, bugs can take longer than expected to stomp, etc.

So, don’t panic, and don’t cry. Okay?

Eat into your profits

Yup, sometimes you have to. But not always. You have to consider your relationship with the client. We all want to be client-friendly and it’s sometimes hard to admit that we’ve had an unsatisfied customer or two.

Once, I promised a customer that we’d build camera support into their app and I had no idea how to do it. Half way through the project, I confronted them and convinced them to remove the feature. They weren’t happy, and you can imagine how enraged they were going to be if a month later I told them I still needed more money from them (and I did need more).

Needless to say, we ate almost all of our profits for that project. But that’s not to say that we hid anything from the client. In fact, letting the client know that you went over budget, but didn’t charge them any more can be a way to find a silver lining in a bad situation. If you word it right, they’ll see that you care and they’ll be more likely to engage your services in the future.

Don’t go over budget in the first place

Like I said earlier, you can’t always plan for everything. What you can do, is detect the catastrophe early. Use a tool like Sheldon do show you how quickly you’re burning through your budget.
Look at spikes and trends. Talk to your customer well before you run out of money. They’ll be more forgiving that way and you can discuss what features to remove instead of how much more money you need.

Comment with one of your horror stories and how you mended your relationship with that client, I’d love to hear how things turned out.

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15 Jun 2017

The future of project planning

As work evolves and jobs become more complex so will the job of a project planner. Accommodating the needs of your target market is not going to get any easier and therefore it comes down to if companies have the right tools and automation to do the job right. We believe that the future of project planning is going to be complex.

The top-down employee hierarchy will be no more

We are soon going to start moving away from complected business hierarchies and start moving towards a more linear approach to business. Since technology advances are eliminating mundane jobs individuals will be looking to specialize in a specific portion of their field in order to make themselves valuable again. This means that project planners and operation managers will be looking for more specific skill sets in individuals.

Strategy will be key to success on even the smallest of projects

The age of the “jack of all trades” will be a thing of the past for many industries and therefore when a new project arises there will be a lot of strategy in planning for it’s success. Project planning will focus on the time, resources and budget it needs to be successful. Because individuals will be required to become specialists in their trade it will mean that there will be more resources assigned to a project to fill the gaps that automation and AI cannot do. Strategy will be key!

Social responsibility will be at its highest

With the whole world watching your every move online there will be no such thing as an anonymous contributor to any project. Therefore, businesses will have to be strict with their employees about their social responsibility. People and businesses are looking for companies that show strong ethics, social accountability and are able to be responsible for their employees. This goes the same for projects as well.

Do you have an opinion on what the future will be like for project planning? We would love to hear from you! Comment below!

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