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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30 May 2017

Integrating gamification into your time tracking can be fun!

Getting your employees to track their time for projects can be like pulling teeth. All you want is to make sure everything is going roughly according to plan. You just want to help, but all they understand is “big brother is watching.” We thought that time tracking could be encouraged through gamification.

Let’s Play a Game

Most people respond to positive reinforcement. So, it stands to reason that if you make time tracking fun, everyone will want to use it. For example, fitness trackers with goals, objective tracking and competitive elements in sales tools, and tools for studying new languages. This should work for time tracking as well!

Some Ideas

We played around with this idea. It seemed like a good fit! Maybe people can compete over how well they’re tracking time? Maybe you could draw “X”s on a calendar making a chain like Seinfeld used to do (http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret). You could even have leaderboards of who is entering their time most regularly or punctually. These ideas are great but can seem gimmicky.

What Sheldon Suggests

We think the reason why these seem gimmicky is that people just want to get to work, and to feel productive and valued. Time spent tracking time is time not making progress on your tasks. To keep things going, people need to understand the true value of what they’re doing. Tracking time helps you get clarity into your business. It helps you plan, and adjust when you need to.

In the End

It wasn’t about making time tracking fun but more the perception of value in time tracking. Time tracking helps the company grow and succeed, and if the team succeeds with it, they won’t feel watched. We know that every company is unique and so is their staff. Instead of focusing on a “fun” gimmick, just help your teams understand the importance of time tracking so that they know what a positive impact they’re having.

So what do you think? We would like to reach out and ask you! What do you do to motivate your staff to use time tracking?

 

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25 May 2017

The reasons behind why projects fail [infographic]

It is remarkable how many projects either never finish or are considered a failure in the eyes of business owners and project managers. We saw the need to explain the reasoning behind why projects keep seem to fail and how you can prevent it from happening to you. In our latest infographic we have gathered up some of the most common issues that business owners and project managers face when planning their projects. We encourage you to check it out and provide some feedback!

 

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18 May 2017

Project Planning vs. Project Management. What is the difference?

Throughout the internet there seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between project planning and project management. We wanted to clarify what project planning and project management means to us. Since the main purpose of Sheldon is to help your operations team become more organized and productive, it does involve projects and it does involve planning.

Project planning vs. project managementProject Planning

Someone that is a project planner is usually works hand in hand with the operations manager or does the operations side of the business or project. Their responsibility is to make an integrated project management plan.  Their responsibilities are:

  • Setting a due date for the project
  • Resource management for the project
  • Ensure that time tracking is being done
  • They keep the project on budget
  • They make sure that the budget is completed on time

Project Management

Someone that is a project manager is the one that manages the specific tasks in the project. They are the ones that work directly with the staff working on the project to make sure that every part of the project gets done on time. Their responsibilities are:

  • Assigning tasks associated to the project to the right people
  • Resource utilization assigned by the project planner
  • Checking in with staff on status updates
  • Communicating with the operations manager or project planner on project progress update
  • Providing project status reports to the project planner or operations manager

The role of a project planner or project manager can change depending on the business. We understand that what we consider to be a project manager may be different for you and that’s ok! But we thought we would clear the air and explain how we see these roles in relation to how Sheldon works.

We encourage you to provide your opinion on these differences.

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09 May 2017

Sheldon’s Insights: How to be a successful service company

A row of consultants clapping about successRunning a service company seems like a great idea: get projects, hire people to do them, charge clients more than you pay your employees, make money. Simple right?

It’s often not that simple. We are sure you have already found out it is a lot of work to build a successful service company and the best way to learn is from making mistakes and trying again. We would like you to skip the step of making the mistakes and learn from us.

Here are a few things that we learnt from.

Too much work can be a bad thing

Can it though? Yeah, probably. As a small service company, we jumped on every deal we could get our hands on. We spent hours filling out RFPs, gathering requirement and giving estimates just to be undercut by smaller groups or even oversees talent. The deals we ended up with were okay. Just okay…

We learned that it’s sometimes better not to be the lowest bidder. There’s something to be said about perceived value and this is especially true in the service industry. Let’s face it the meal tasted better when it cost more at a more fancy restaurant!

You’ve heard of product/market fit…well…

We developed a resource/project fit. Part of our problem was that we just threw anyone who was available together on a project and made a “team”. Anyone with a technical background will tell you that you can’t just throw people at a problem and expect it to go faster.

There’s another layer to this though. You also can’t just throw many similar people on a problem. Too many introverts can make a team feel stiff and un-collaborative. Having too many extroverts means everyone has a voice, and depending on their other personality attributes, they may never come to an understanding.

Not all projects are created equal

We didn’t know who we were, and that meant that we didn’t know what projects to take on. Hanging out on freelancing boards forced us to bid too low. Even a small company has overhead that makes it unable to compete against independent freelancers.

When every project starts to look tantalizing, you know you have a problem. Sometime, we took on project before having someone with the skill sets to do it. A small company always thinks it can be flexible: “No problem, we’ll hire someone short term”. Finding the right person for the job is a whole other topic, but most of you will know how difficult that is. We ignored that difficulty and rushed to find anyone with that skill set on their LinkedIn profile who could start immediately. We all know how that story ends…

We did get better over time. And in the process we realized that there is more about the people than the projects. This ties into perceived value again. We learnt that we can justify our quotes because are already doing a better job then everyone else. Once we started playing to our strengths, things started looking up.

Gantt Hell

We had a problem. We had too much work for some resources and not enough for others; we didn’t have the clarity to fit the right people into the right projects; we didn’t build on our strengths by taking on the best projects for our people; we didn’t – or couldn’t – keep track of everything so that we could make the right decisions.

We tried to keep track of our projects and people using excel spreadsheets and Gantt charts and nothing was working! In hindsight, that was the real reason for all the other problems we had. Even with the small team that we had, we didn’t know what was going on.

What’s the solution?

We’re working on it. And it’s coming together nicely! Sheldon will help you get a closer look at your ongoing projects and how your people are being utilized. Over time, you’ll see exactly what projects are the most successful so you can choose to take on only the most valuable ones. Give it a free try by going here.

Hopefully, some of you can relate with the problems that we’ve had to learn from. Leave a comment and let us know how you feel.

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