Category Archives: Virtual Project Management

Trouble relaxing during a big project?

Deadlines, delays, emails, and weekends seem to slow down projects, sometimes to a grinding halt. These same things leave the project manager feeling they can never take a vacation or even just a day or two away from the office. Without taking time away from tasks it has been proven that we are less productive and make more mistakes. Society seems to pride itself on the ability to work endless hours for the company, though  it hurts the firm .

I fall trap to the same mindset as most workers in this high-tech world at times. Last week, I decided to change things up and go on a vacation with my wife without my laptop. We strolled the streets of Orlando, playing putt-putt at Citywalk. Then drove up to Savannah, GA for a few days. I was able to relax and unwind without having to worry about work for an entire week.

Notice I did not mention that I did not work during the week. I managed all the projects I started before the trip from my iPad and iPhone. I spent a few minutes here and there updating project statuses for customers and directing my developers through our online collaboration software. This gave me the freedom of enjoying my vacation while still keeping in the loop on all tasks with my global team.

I have found that quality of life does not have to diminish just because you are running a team or an entire organization. In a way, it is almost like having a superpower, you can complete more than anyone else in other organizations with half of the effort. How many entrepreneurs do you know that take a week off after just three months of opening the doors? I was not even able to get that kind of time away from the office after two years with the last company I worked.

Isn’t it time you take a break from the desk and start enjoying life with your family and friends?

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Mobile project collaboration

As days pass, less and less people are working from laptops and desktop computers. Nearly 50% of my traffic is from cell phones and tablets. This was different from what I expected. I was sure there would be mobile users but I did not anticipate half of all of my traffic to be mobile.

I am rethinking some design decisions that were made in the initial development. Hover buttons that are invisible, until hovered over are quite worthless in the mobile world. I have already addressed those glaring over sites in the development. Now I am beginning to focus on speed for mobile users. 2tasks is already faster than the competition in this area, however, there is still room for improvement.

I have also been in touch with an app owner that I am looking to partner with to add IOS to the mobile project management offering from 2tasks. There will be new landing pages with easier “call to action” coming this week. This blog may find a new home soon as well to improve the SEO on my domain instead of the generic WordPress domain.

It is a busy time of year, follow this blog for all of the latest happenings. Keep the suggestions for 2tasks coming. I have added over 200 hours of development from suggestions on this blog alone! I truly have the greatest followers on the net.

Virtual Teams that Work

Communication can take form in many ways, when it comes to project management. One can share documents  and distribute them in global teams. Send Emails in a moments notice, while on the phone with a client. Text messages, tweets and Facebook posts are all becoming a daily chore for workers, not just those in the media any longer. Fast collaboration, which leads to lazy communication.

How does a team keep these forms of communication from taking on a life of their own and wasting more time, than keeping a project moving? The answer is to keep the focus of the group in a single system that offers all the advantages of the aforementioned solutions. Some of the options listed above are poor choices for business communication. Texting is a useful tool for a quick reminder, however, some users try to use it as a communication tool to give instruction to a teammate. This is a bad practice and typically leads to confusion and more wasted time in lengthy exchanges. Tweets and Facebook are great to tell the public of an event, or general advertising but also are not necessarily beneficial to teamwork and lead to wasted time pulling attention from work activities toward the social and family life of the users.

With 2tasks.com a user can share documents with teammates and customers, they are notified by email of a new document on a given project. They can edit the document, or comment on the upload as well. With this communication tied to the specific document within the project, there is no trying to figure out what the communication is relating to. The chat sessions are an easy option for members of a team to quickly communicate while the focus is solely on a given project. They are not distracted by outside forces like a sms message to their phone, where you are competing for the teammates attention with their high score in Angry Birds.

With a free 60 day trial, you can try out this new technology that is changing the way businesses get things done. Just create an account in 30 seconds, and start your new project in two minutes with up to 10 team members. Start your free trial today!

What changes when teams are virtual?

To be successful, virtual managers must be aware of the challenges of overseeing virtual teams:
* The absence of non-verbal communication. Subtle indicators such as the silent nod of approval or the raised eyebrow of disapproval are eliminated in virtual teams. Words of praise for a job well done should be conveyed in virtual meetings so that practitioners know they are on the right track.
* Working across time zones. Schedules for meetings must be sensitive to team members in multiple time zones. In extreme cases (such as a team with practitioners in both Asia and North America), the number of common waking hours is limited and finding meeting times can be difficult.
* The difficulty of building rapport. Rapport is essential for functional team work but often difficult to establish and develop when people don’t have the opportunity to meet in person and get to know each other. This can be overcome by facilitating social interaction between team members.
* Over-reliance on email and telephone communication. The narrow communication channel available to virtual team members can lead to a sense of isolation. It can also cause frustration if colleagues err in causing email overload by their efforts to provide information.
* Managing conflict at arm’s length. Research has cited conflict management as a challenge for virtual teams, although it could be argued that less contact means less conflict.

VIRTUAL TEAMS SUCCEED BY USING BEST PRACTICES
The growth in popularity of virtual teams has prompted a number of researchers to take a closer look at what makes the good ones work. They have found that the most successful teams follow these best practices:
* Institute strong leadership. Executives must fully support the virtual structure and be aware of the potential challenges of managing a virtual team. They should consistently monitor the team’s progress to ensure deadlines are being met and budgets are on track.
* Choose the right team members. Individuals should be selected with a view to forming a successful team. Not all practitioners will thrive in a virtual environment. Those who are self-reliant and self-motivated will fare best.
* Set expectations from the start. Articulate objectives and define team member roles up front to avoid the possibility of overlooking or duplicating aspects of the work. This is especially important given the geographical distance between members of a virtual team.
* Implement strict protocols. Establishing protocols will ensure that each team member knows when and how quickly to respond to action items, and will determine the steps to take when a team member fails to do so. Team meetings should be run by a strong chair. People should be prompted to give their opinions as opposed to volunteering them. Digressions should be discouraged as they tend to disengage other team members. Multitasking during meetings should be prohibited.
* Use proven processes. Teams need processes that govern the way they work and how the work will get done, from being aware of individual responsibilities and decision-making procedures to the consequences of poor work or missed deadlines. Virtual teams have little margin for error when it comes to project management, as problems can go unnoticed and grow into major issues.
* Manage timelines and budgets carefully. Often a project budget will dictate the number of hours that can be charged to a client. Because freelance practitioners are paid according to the time they take, budgets can easily be exceeded if not properly monitored.
* Establish meaningful project milestones. Milestones should be implemented to chart a project’s progress and act as checkpoints for the timeliness and quality of virtual team work.
* Encourage interaction. Leadership must ensure that team members have some mechanism by which to develop strong working relationships. They should also bring team members together by organizing social functions every few months to help them build rapport.
* Communicate more efficiently.Virtual teams can be connected by various technologies, including phone, email, instant messaging, video or web conferencing, or virtual project collaboration software like that found at 2tasks.com. Use more than one of these options so team members can choose the technology they’re most comfortable with. In addition, more communications do not necessarily mean better communication. Too many emails can lead to information overload and cause important issues to be overlooked. The key is to convey only relevant information, and to do so clearly and consistently.
* Minimize team conflict. Although conflict can lead to better ideas and solutions, conflicts within a virtual team should be dealt with immediately, because they can escalate quickly. Virtual teams do not build rapport as easily as other teams, and managers may have to become more involved in conflict resolution.

Virtual Project Collaboration

Eric Stacy

Virtual project collaboration is a growing industry in the United States and around the world as more companies are utilizing the traditional less often than any other time in history. Teams  around the world and workers need a way to collaborate with one another and their customers. Small companies are finding it easier to compete with larger firms by leveraging tasks with lower overhead and a diverse workforce.

This trend not only increases the job market in remote cities, but also gives employees the freedom to work from anywhere they want. Not being limited to a cubical in an office setting, younger employees now travel while they work, or raise families without missing out on important family functions.

As with any change to a company’s culture, management still needs to feel they have control of projects assigned to people and/or teams. This is now done in Virtual Project Collaboration software. Teams can attach documents, images, source code, etc. all in an easy to use online offering free, or with a low monthly cost. Outside of document retention, chat, task lists (to-do list), and time stamped history, managers have all they need to manage projects successfully.

There is no need to spin up a server, do maintenance, conduct backups, or any other form of IT tasks. Being cloud based, the data is available to you and your team 24x7x365 with full redundancy and secured is a way that is parallel to that of the large banks.

For a free trial, follow this link over to 2tasks.com and check it out. There is no need to enter credit card or personal information to start a project in two minutes that is free for 60 days. If you decide it is not a fit for you or your organization, simply don’t upgrade and there will be no billing. You are free from spam as well, as your email address will never be sold or shared with any third-party.

Let us know what you think of the product and if we can help, we will even add your requests to the next release.

Why do projects fail?

There are several reasons projects fail. The most common reason being a lack of communication amongst team members. Just like any relationship, with a lack of communication people tend to start going in seperate directions. Once this starts in a project, it is hard to reverse. Then the project takes longer than planned, goes over budget and often under delivers in performance.

There are ways to prevent this from happening. The use of traditional project management software will help maintain goals and deadlines, however, it does nothing for effective communication. This is where a new breed of software is coming into play. Project Collaboration software is a fast growing industry. It is easy to use and very affordabe for small and large companies alike.

This is where 2tasks thrives. The online software is written to imitate a social network. This makes it easy for people to adapt to the format and employees are willing to use it on a regular basis. Managers no longer have to force associates to update projects. Tasks are now as seen as a simple update which reminds them of their off hours online.

If you have not done so already, go try it out for FREE on a project today. Let us know what you think…

Alexa Ranking and Virtual Project Management

Alexa ranking is important when it comes to checking the results of your SEO efforts. I find myself rushing to the computer like a child to the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. I stare at the screen intently while it calculates my score. I started at 1,279,090 with https://www.2tasks.com and have been working my way toward the 500,000 mark all month. I have learned some great tricks along the way that I will now share.

  1. Follow blogs that match your niche market and comment regularly.
  2. Don’t yourself if a site is a “do follow” or “do not follow.”
  3. Use Fiver.com to have a press release posted on a PR site like prbuzz.com
  4. Make a comment on all “.edu” sites you possibly can, but not more than a couple a day.
  5. Use Google and Bing webmaster tools and Analytics.
  6. Invite reputable guest bloggers to your blog for an article.
  7. Set a goal that is SMART for your SEO campaign.
  8. Review your landing page and ensure you are using a “Call to Action” page.
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice.
  10. Visit http://www.2tasks.com for a free trial!
  11. Register your company at YP.COM
  12. Set up your company on Google+ and all other social sites.
  13. Manage all of your social sites from hootsuite.com
  14. Do A/B testing on your website For every change you make to the appearance.

SMART Project Management

The November 1981 issue of Management Review contained a paper by George T. Doran called There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. It discusses the importance of objectives and the difficulty in setting them. The paper said “Ideally speaking, each corporate, department, and section objective should be:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Attainable – is it possible
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Paul J. Meyer describes the characteristics of S.M.A.R.T. goals in Attitude is Everything.

Specific

The first criterion stresses the need for a specific goal rather than a more general one. This means the goal is clear and unambiguous; without vagaries and platitudes. To make goals specific, they must tell a team exactly what is expected, why is it important, who’s involved, where is it going to happen and which attributes are important.

A specific goal will usually answer the five “W” questions:

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Measurable

The second criterion stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether a team is making progress toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help a team stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.

A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable

The third criterion stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable. While an attainable goal may stretch a team in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. The theory states that an attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals.

An attainable goal will usually answer the question:

  • How: How can the goal be accomplished?

Relevant

The fourth criterion stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter. A bank manager’s goal to “Make 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by 2:00pm” may be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound, but lacks relevance. Many times you will need support to accomplish a goal: resources, a champion voice, someone to knock down obstacles. Goals that are relevant to your boss, your team, your organization will receive that needed support.

Relevant goals (when met) drive the team, department, and organization forward. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal.

A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Are you the right person?
  • Is it applicable in current socio- economic- technical environment?

Time-bound

The fifth criterion stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps a team focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the SMART goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.

A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?
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