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This article is part of the series on the 10 areas of knowledge. Visit the two articles already published on Project integration:

The 10 areas of knowledge. 1: Project integration management

Integration with the ITM Platform Project Menu

The 10 areas of knowledge. 2: Project scope management

 

Time management is not divination

Try ITM Platform and start managing the time of all your projects.

The PMBOK guide includes project time management as the third area of ​​knowledge.

The time variable has a fundamental value in project management in order to meet deadlines and manage resources correctly. Programming is the axis from which we try to manage time with the objective of executing the action plan. To do this, the duration of the activities must be estimated according to the resources available to them. Exceeding the established limits will always incur an additional cost.

A very frequent mistake when managing projects is to think that it is enough to make an excellent plan to achieve good time management. This error is usually corrected with experience, once you understand that to get the estimates right and to know the time required by each task in detail it's only the beginning of the work.

In general, delays of some kind are inevitable, so the most important thing is not to be able to eradicate them by means of precise estimates.

No, the fundamental thing in time management is to go beyond planning, not to think that a realistic estimate is the final success: if it comes out, it will be by chance and by the lack of concurrence of the adverse circumstances envisaged in the risk plan. It is much more important to perform constant follow-ups, listen to the team, measure deviations and keep clients and project sponsors informed about the project progress.

Translator metaphor

Imagine a simple, linear project consisting of a single task and a single resource. For example, the translation of a book. A translator confronts each book with a different project with a unique result. Each book is unique. But all the projects look very similar.

When evaluating the time it will take to complete each translation, the translator performs a simple calculation: translate a test page, after which multiply the elapsed time by the number of pages and by a factor of 1.5. This factor allows the translator to conduct the review and documentation phases, without which the project would not have the required quality.

So the calculation has allowed the translator to deliver on time.

However, one day he agreed to coordinate the translation of a botanical volume composed of different authors in different languages. Although he will have to translate most of the content, other translators will take care of different articles.

The translator applies his method to estimate the approximate time that the translation of the articles will take, asking each collaborator to do the same. Due to the first estimate not taking this into account, the success of delivering the project on time would be pure chance. In contrast, our translator provides biweekly deliveries to check the project progress. When identifying delays, talk to the employee to know what has been done and take action accordingly, such as incorporating a terminology expert into the project; or the extension of delivery time.

This simple example shows how important planning is to be able to act when a delay arrives.

Steps to manage the time of your project

1. Define activities

The first step is to define the tasks, the milestones and the stipulation of all the activities that are necessary to complete the project.

At this point you can accumulate all the tasks in a Gantt diagram, which allows you to simply and quickly sketch the entire plan. It is more important to focus on defining the time required for each task, without setting specific dates.

2. Sequence of activities

When the tasks have already been defined, they must be organized. The dates are still not important at this point, we should now focus on ordering the activities giving them meaning and apply logic. Sub-tasks can be created when deemed necessary to improve time management.

Once activities are in order, add dependencies between tasks, specifying whether they are start-start, start-end, or end-end dependencies. For example, if the project consists of building a villa, before starting to project, it will be necessary to select the land on which it will be built, since it has many easements with constructive characteristics. If the terrain selection is delayed, the entire project will automatically be delayed.

3. Predict the resources available for each activity

In this step, we must evaluate the demand for human resources and compare it with the existing supply for it. Once developed, you will get a perspective on whether the estimated resources are sufficient for development in the time set for each task. The scarcity of certain skills (or their higher price) can cause delays in the plan.

After allocating resources to the various activities, it is advisable to review the dependencies of each task and associated resources. Once all the information has been broken down, it will be possible to check if there are overlapping activities and therefore require additional resources.

4. Develop and monitor the program

It is important to review the Gantt chart with all participating teams to ensure that you have full compliance before you start. At this meeting, it is important to:

  • Move any doubts you may have after planning
  • Collect suggestions and comments from team members who can help with time management, such as the existence of technical difficulties or experience with similar projects.
  • Ensure that all participants or team members understand their role in the project and commit to carrying out the assigned activities or tasks.

As we said, the phase of control of the calendar is more complicated than that of planning, since it involves the effort to impose contingencies and the natural entropy of the project. Therefore, time management implies an almost obsessive dedication to supervision and verification in which it is essential to have methodologies, processes and technological systems that support such activity control.

Performing correct planning of the time following the indicated steps will result in company objectives being achieved, create confidence, improve competitiveness and profitability. If it is considered that sufficient resources are not available to carry out a specific task or activity, and there is no way to obtain more resources, there is a margin of reaction that will allow to modify the task based on the resources available in the organization.

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The management and planning of resources is an essential process in business, since it allows the monitoring of projects and their results, as well as anticipating the emergence of risks. a hipster caucasian businessman with beard standing angry pointing his wristwatch inside his office. angry concept . a contemporary style with pastel palette soft blue tinted background. vector flat design illustration. square layout.

The best way to handle the management of resources is to use some kind of assistant that helps to know, plan and manage the economic and human resources that are available, with the goal of achieving maximum efficiency. For this reason, many companies consider resource management as a priority.

Here are some practices that resource management can bring to your company.

Understand the difference between occupied time and utilized time  

If you realize that the employees are working all the time but are not reaching the goals set, there is something that is not working well: there is a mismatch between the time spent and the use of time efficiently. They may not be using the right procedures; they do not have the necessary technology or they need to update their training.

Are you ready to own your time? Start tracking your estimates live with ITM Platform for free.

Of course, it is also possible that project managers are not taking into account precautionary measures when estimating. Here are the 3 keys to estimating realistic times for your projects:

  1. Two out of ten working hours are not productive

In most countries, you have 8 working hours. However, keep in mind that if you have resources in France, for example, then there are 7 working hours.

However many hours there are in a working day, not all of those hours are productive. Employees will have to participate in meetings, interact with clients or engage in unplanned tasks.

Therefore, it is advisable to calculate that around 80% of actual hours worked will be productive. This is not a guarantee, on the contrary: although the efficiency of your equipment will exceed this threshold, a lot can happen that may reduce the amount of hours dedicated to a project.

  1. Find out how many resources are assigned to each project

Although it would be most efficient to have your analysts dedicated exclusively to a project from start to finish, there are plenty of reasons why this is neither usual nor practical: from small projects where only specific participation of certain experts is required or highly specialized tasks concentrated in certain phases of the project, to very complex projects that displace some resources from their usual projects.

It is logical that effectiveness decreases as the number of projects to which a resource is allocated increases.

via GIPHY

For example, if you only assign one hour a day for a critical task, it is very possible that your project will be delayed: the employee assigned to the task is likely to perceive that there are more important things to do, unless you properly communicate that this task is your top priority.

  1. Calculate how much time will be spent on learning

Estimates are usually based on the time spent on a similar project. But, as it is said, the devil’s in the detail.

It is possible that some of the differences in the new project will hide challenges that team members will have to learn before overcoming, either in a planned or on-the-job process. Detecting these critical points will allow us to better identify if there are more suitable team members for the project than others or if it is worth outsourcing some parts of the process.

Support estimations with applications

Adequate project management begins by identifying these problems before undertaking new projects. Whether it be short-term or business operations, which can become problems to estimate and correctly allocate the times.

That is why it is so important to use applications that monitor the exact state of all projects of the company in real time.

For example, with ITM Platform Teambot, you can make it easier for your team members to:

  • Consult active projects, reducing the transit from one project to another
  • Report time spent on a task in real time, improving your future estimates
  • Send feedback from a contrasting chat environment, such as Slack

Once the results of the analysis are known, the reasons for deviations can be detected and decisions can be taken to make production processes more efficient.

If you want to discover how to better control the time management of your team with ITM Platform, we invite you to request a personalized demo, where you can speak to one of our experts.

 

Juan Delgado
Blogger
ITM Platform
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A professional business is only as successful as the projects they do for their clients. Whether they are short or long term, making clients happy is the focus of the company. If projects fail, the business can lose their source of revenue. This, in turn, can end the business.

As your company continues to grow, the risks that come with not managing it effectively do as well. Right now is when you need to focus on avoiding three deadly project management mistakes that managers continue to make!

1

1. Failing to effectively communicate with clients

According to the results found in a recent study conducted by Accelo, communicating with clients is one of the most important influences that determine whether a project will be successful or not. Over 90% of the participants believed that e-mail is one of the top communication methods to be used while working on projects. The reason this may be the case is because many companies don’t have access to project management tools or softwares that provide them with alternative options. Therefore, they are left with less effective choices such as e-mail.

Solely relying on e-mail is stifles productivity because it creates silos between teammates. Project members have more difficulty quickly communicating with one another because e-mail is built for communication amongst only a few individuals, making it hard to share important information without creating long chains of communication.

As your team begins to grow and you have more work and projects in your hands, it will become increasingly problematic to try and keep track of all of the information being passed around and ensure everyone is aware of even the smallest project details. The solution isn’t to completely replace e-mailing. You should integrate a project management software that will work side-by-side with e-mailing by providing teammates with an alternative platform they can use for immediate communication and collaboration, saving e-mail for less urgent work.

2. Ineffectively tracking your budget

While the logical choice would be to connect a timesheet with your project management software to prevent this from occurring, only 30% of managers choose to do so. That’s right, once again Accelo found that approximately 69% of companies are left in the dark by manually calculating the time and budget needed to complete a project. This can easily lead to long delays and financial catastrophic failures for projects.

Even though this may seem to only impact individual projects, it has the potential to do damage to the entire firm in the future. Projects will need to be consistently monitored with the help of a project management tool. It’s important to understand how your budgets are impacting project success and whether or not the project is profitable. Knowing this information will be extremely beneficial when planning sales approaches for future projects.

Since payroll is one of the biggest expenses for most companies, losing track or creating an inaccurate picture of employee resources and time can be catastrophic. As a project manager, you have to make sure you do not take on any new projects or clients without knowing how much staff you have. Employees can easily end up overworked and stretched to their limits, missing deadlines and exceeding budgets.

3. 3. Not managing all projects- even the short ones

For the most part, professional services have relatively short projects that need to be done. The majority can often be completed in under 3 months. However, this creates a common misconception that short-lived projects require less effort and have a small impact on the company if they fail. In return, over 27% of service projects end up going over budget. And since Accelo found that the average profit margin of firms is approximately 15% per project, this would mean that failing at a single project could wipe out all revenue and profitability for that company for an entire year. All in all, the business would need to then have two successful projects in order to make up for the money lost in the unsuccessful one.

All growing businesses need to take a step back and re-evaluate their project management team. See if any changes need to be made and consider implementing new technology into the business to help ensure success in the long run.

Related blogs on ITM Platform:

The Monte Carlo Method in Project Management

Extra Extra Extra!

Three disastrous project management failures

The project in the face of adversity: what should a project manager do?

What is the Virtual Sock Management or Periodical Online Management?

 

Isidora Roskic-Blogger ITM Platform

 

 

 

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Time is gold. This phrase has even more meaning in the field of project management.

Technology should provide tools capable of making projects more efficient. Nowadays, collaborative platforms should not only allow task status information to be shared between team members and clients or offer instant messaging and videoconferencing services.
They should go a step further and seek more functional and time-monitoring roles.

Those companies that switch from a more classical system to a more modern and functional system notice the difference; even if they were already leading companies in their sector. This is the case of an Australian company that uses cloud-based IT systems. In 2013, this company had developed approximately 600 websites and created approximately 100 applications for companies. If there was one word to define the development of this company, it would be “success”.
In 2012, with 12 years of experience, its client portfolio included major companies in all sectors - both national and international - and it had become a benchmark in its industry. However, economically-speaking, the situation was not so wonderful. When the CEO checked the company budgets, he realized that profits did not match the number of projects or the quality of the clients in the company’s portfolio.

Control tiempo

While trying to analyze the reasons for this, he discovered certain periods of “dead time”. In other words, despite time being clearly distributed on tasks, there were many time periods that were apparently not allocated to any work and there was no way of knowing what had been done during those periods.

Besides this wasted time, there was time supposedly used for tasks that proved useless. It could therefore be considered that this time had also been wasted. In other words, many employees - while thinking they were doing their job right - were actually wasting time on paperwork or “fighting” with the software instead of applying their skills to genuinely productive tasks.

In the case of the company in question, most of its work plans were being created in Excel spreadsheets while ignoring the possible use of more advanced and specialized project management software.

To begin with, considering that the company was small and only had a few clients, it was able to complete all its projects in spite of the fact that the tools being used were unproductive. Nonetheless, as time passed and the workload increased, the company realized it was often unable to deliver projects on time. When completing a project behind schedule, payments also arrived late. This began to create budgeting problems and complicated the employee remuneration policy. Furthermore, the accumulation of delays prevented more orders from being accepted that could have been carried out if the previous projects had been delivered on time.

Faced with this situation, company executives decided to seek new IT solutions that would enable more streamlined development of the company and began to gradually implement their discoveries.

The first few months were tough. Not only did employees have to get the work done but they also had to learn how to use the new tools. However, following an initial period of adaptation, everyone was satisfied with the results. Productivity had increased, projects were being delivered on time, employees felt more fulfilled and wasted less time on useless tasks, and the company was obtaining much larger profits.

According to the CEO of the company, the result was a reduction in total project cycle duration from approximately 60 days before the two systems were implemented to approximately 18 days.
One of the main challenges faced by the company was monitoring the time spent on each task, which was unusual at the time for the sector in which the company operated. Time monitoring provided information on which tasks were inefficient and also allowed the holes through which time was “leaking” to be plugged.
Prior to implementing the new software tools, company executives could only monitor 36% of the time worked. Only one year later, with the tools partially in place, they were capable of monitoring 62% of the hours worked.

Returning to that phrase at the start of this article, time is golden. The executives produced an estimate of the economic impact caused by the loss of these hours. The result was between 30,000 and 50,000 dollars in one month.

The Australian company is now a staunch proponent of new technologies. It uses them every day for everything it does: it works in the cloud, it monitors its projects and its employees stay in touch via IT platforms.

This new management method is not only supported by inferred results but by the statistics and actual results obtained in recent years.

At ITM Platform, we offer you a cloud-based system for managing your projects. We include features that allow collaborative work and instant communication between the various members of a project. At the same time, we are a flexible platform that can be run from multiple devices. This means we can accompany you at any time and in any location.

If you seek the best for your company, go right ahead and commit to technology. Commit to ITM Platform.

Article written by: Juan Delgado, Blogger at ITM Platform
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