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Project Management On Mobile and Handhelds!

Project Management Mobile And Handhelds

Project Management Mobile and Handhelds

Project Management On Mobile! – Project Planning Pro

The world evolving at breathtaking pace and the technologies have changed the way we carry out our tasks, be it in any field. You’ve got to be on your toes to have a competitive advantage over your competitors or just stay ahead in game.

More than 80% of the world population access Internet, emails or work related documents through their mobile phones. Mobile phones and tablets have changed the way we function and carry out our operations today. People are no longer confined to their cubicles or their desktops and today’s millennial prefer operating on the go anytime and anywhere.

Imagine you are Project Manager at a Construction Site.

  • Will you wait to get back to office to update the progress?
  • Wouldn’t it help if you could just update the tasks as and when you inspect it or your colleagues could notify you about task completion?
  • There are many things you come to know when you’re on site and have to make note of it and update it when you access your project back at your office. Isn’t this open to missing out on vital information? Wouldn’t adding note right there in tasks at that very moment be critical?

It would save lot of time, increase your productivity and may also save you from project failure if all this was possible. This drawback is not restricted to Construction Industry. Similar problems are faced if you are IT Industry, manufacturing, marketing, logistics where you have make changes in plans on immediate basis and missing them later would affect the cost and success of project.

Project Planning Pro to fill up these gaps and makes your life a bit easier. With Project Planning Pro you can import projects created in Microsoft Project on your iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices. You can create new plans or edit existing ones anytime and anywhere thus helping you to save time and improve your productivity. You can sync it with dropbox and make it available for your colleagues anytime and anywhere.

Get this app on iPhone & iPad, Mac, Android! 

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How to Estimate Project Cost?

If you are a project manager, you would be more competent in the planning and managing aspects of a project. However, it is equally important that you are able to estimate costs so as to successfully close projects within a specified budget. The stakeholders and investors in your project have certain expectations of making profits. A project manager’s task would be to determine ways to get the maximum returns on investments. If you estimate project costs accurately, you will be in a better position to manage within the budget.

The following are the main benefits of estimating project cost:

  • It helps to gauge the feasibility of the project while comparing the anticipated benefits versus the anticipated costs.
  • It helps to analyze whether sufficient funds are available to run the project.
  • It serves as a benchmark to ensure that financial resources are utilized in the best possible manner.

Must Read: How to Give Time Estimation in a Project?

Project Budget will include direct costs as well as indirect costs. Direct costs can take the form of salaries of team members, travel expenses, machinery and equipments for the project, raw materials and sub-contracts supporting the project. Indirect costs involve employee benefits, rent, furniture and fixtures and administrative costs.

The 4 major techniques of project cost estimation are mentioned below:-

Analogous Estimation:-

This method is used to estimate project costs when you have very little detail about the project. Therefore, this technique may not give a reliable and accurate estimate. It is also called as Top-Down Estimation. In the Analogous Estimation, the project cost is estimated by comparing it with similar projects previously completed within the organization. You will have to select a project which is the most similar to your project and use sound judgment to determine the cost estimate of your current project. This technique is the least time-consuming and does not cost much to arrive at an estimate.

Parametric Estimation:-

The only difference between Analogous Estimation and Parametric Estimation is that Parametric Estimation uses historical, statistical data to calculate cost estimates. This method involves taking different variables from similar projects in the past and applying them to your current project. Note that the measurement should be scalable in order to be accurate. For example, if in a previous construction project, the cost of concrete per cubic meter was $100, then to calculate the cost of concrete for the current project you need to multiply it with the total construction area in cubic meters. In the same way, requirements of man-power and materials can be calculated and thereby the inherent costs.

Three-Point Estimation:-

This technique aims at reducing the biases and uncertainties involved while making estimating assumptions. So, instead of having just one estimate, three estimates are determined and then aggregated to arrive at the Three-Point Estimation.

The three different estimates are determined as follows:

  1. Most Likely Cost (Cm):Considers a normal scenario where everything goes as per the plan.
  2. Pessimistic Cost (Cp):Considers the worst scenario and assumes that everything goes wrong.
  3. Optimistic Cost (Co):Considers the best scenario and assumes that everything goes better than what was planned.

The PERT Estimate Formula is: Ce = (C+ 4C+ Cp)/6 where Ce = Estimated Cost

Cost estimates derived using this formula are more accurate than the previous two techniques since the biases, uncertainties and risks are done away with.

Bottom-Up Estimation:-

This technique is the most accurate, costly and time-consuming method of cost estimation. Here, the cost of every single activity is estimated and then added up to arrive at the total project cost. For this purpose, the project manager has to first list out all the activities, tasks and other requirements in great detail before beginning the cost estimation. However, this technique can be used only when every detail about the project is available.

Conclusion:

We have seen the various ways in which cost can be estimated. But, a project manager has to use his sound judgement to determine the most suitable technique depending on the availability of historical and statistical data as well as the time to calculate the most accurate cost estimate.

Related Topics:

8 Ways to Improve Productivity for Startups

We all are bound by time and if you’re working in a startup, time is as precious as the funding that you receive or invest. Apart from managing a zillion things to make your firm work, managing time to execute your plans is quite critical. Increasing your productivity and reducing your stress should be your utmost priority and below are few tips that can help you achieve it.

1) Small Goals, Win Big!

Start with setting small goals for yourself. This will help you to concentrate on little things, which really changes the bigger picture.

2) Prioritize your Work!

Setting goals doesn’t make sense if you don’t prioritize your tasks. Make a to do list for yourself in a day and prioritize the tasks. This will help you to meet deadlines and reduce your stress. Use project-planning apps to synchronize your work.

3) Know your Appetite!

Have you ever filled your plate with lots of food and left it cause you were full? Happens a lot right. When at work it’s a similar scenario, don’t take extra work or assign yourself more tasks if you already have your hands full.

4) Learn to say No!

Being in a startup you always want to impress or make a mark for yourself and end up saying yes to everything you’re asked to do. It’s not a good practice, as this will just increase your workload, stress and reduce the quality of your work.

5) Do it Now!

This is what I keep telling myself every few hours cause I am a big Procrastinator! Humans work similar to rockets; we don’t work till our ass is not on fire. Avoid working on the last day to meet your deadline, this affects the quality of your work and takes your stress level to infinity.

6) No Long Meetings!

Meetings are the most time consuming and make sure you take meetings in the most efficient way. Brief the team about the meeting earlier through mail so you don’t end up wasting time telling everyone what is it about. Also, it doesn’t always have to be a conference room. Conduct stand up meetings to save time.

7) Take small Breaks

Make sure you have a 5 minutes break after completing your tasks. You deserve it, more importantly you need it! Working constantly stagnates your brain and will block all your creative ideas. Your brain and body needs to relax to get the best out of you!

8) Be an Optimist!

Staying positive and happy about your work will get half of your work done. If mentally you can visualize your success and maintain that thought process throughout you will execute it. Believe in yourself.

Seven Early Signs of Project Failure

Seven Early Signs of Project Failure

Seven Early Signs of Project Failure

In the field of project management, changing dynamics and uncertainties always pose a risk. If you want to step up your game as a project manager, you can learn through various resources how to successfully run a project. However, it is equally important to know the causes of project failure so that you are able to turnaround the situation in the nick of time. If you are aware of the warning signs, then you can make appropriate changes to achieve the desired outcome.

The following are seven early signs pointing that your project is headed towards failure.

1. Undefined or poorly defined project objectives and requirements:-

Project managers must collaborate with project stakeholders to clearly define the project requirements and deliverables. Defining project objectives and requirements is essential in order to define the project scope. If the project scope changes frequently, then it negatively impacts the schedule, budget and resources of the project. This can cause project delays and eventually failure, if not tackled in the early stages.

2.  Lack of adequate project planning:-

Once the project manager has defined the project scope, project planning is the next step to jumpstart the project. You must understand that there may be more than one way to achieve the project requirements and that scope and cost vary based on the project management approach. Therefore, the project manager must develop a scope management process to frame clear and concise project scope statements and reasonable budget and schedule estimates.

3. Lack of change management process:-

Due to unforeseen and uncontrollable reasons, project changes are bound to occur. However, lack of suitable change management process will increase the chances of project failure. A strict change management process needs to be incorporated so that the effects of changing project requirements are duly analyzed, prioritized and adjusted as per the scope, budget and schedule of the project.

4. Lack of stakeholder involvement:-

Project managers must engage the key project stakeholders and seek their involvement since the beginning and throughout the entire project. This will ensure that project requirements are clearly defined and communicated to the project team. Lack of stakeholder involvement results in tasks and deliverables not meeting expectations; thereby causing project delays and failure.

5. Bad timing:-

Bad timing means that it may not be the right time to do a project. The reasons for it may be many- either the organization does not have an appetite for it or the end users aren’t ready for a change or the market is unfavorable. If the timing or the environment isn’t right, then the project is bound to fail.

6. Power struggle and personal agendas:-

Power struggle between the project team members can be destructive and negatively impact the project. A power struggle can fuel inter-personal conflicts and dilutes the focus towards achieving the desired outcome. Also, some people may enter a project with personal agendas to use it as a platform to attain personal gains. The project manager has to ensure that the project team concentrates on organizational objectives rather than their personal agenda.

7. Inadequate Documentation and Tracking:-

Lack of documentation or proper tracking of milestones will add to the confusion. It is important that the project manager maintains proper records and monitors the tasks and deliverables at regular intervals. This will help him to identify the areas where more resources are needed to complete the project on time.

Conclusion:-

These early signs of project failure need to be taken seriously so that the management takes timely action. By simply stopping or restarting the project at an earlier stage will help avoid huge losses or project failure. There are many other reasons which can lead to project failure such as insufficient resources, unrealistic expectations & deadlines, lack of proper communication, inefficient project team, absence of motivation and unhealthy client/vendor relationships.

Save Your Projects from Failing by Managing it on Project Planning Pro – Available on Mac, Android, iOS and Windows

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Related Articles:

Must ReadWhy Projects Fail?

Also ReadHow to Define the Project Scope?

How to Define Project Scope?

In project management, the first step of project initiation is to define the scope of the project. Defining project scope is a part of project planning which involves the determination and documentation of various project goals such as tasks, deliverables, functions and features. The project scope needs to be well-defined and detailed in nature. Also, it should be approved by all stakeholders. Project Scope is crucial to project management since it can greatly impact the schedule or cost (or both) of a project. Only after defining project scope, the project manager will be able to allocate tasks and direct his team to complete the project successfully.

Must Read: 7 Quick Tips Regarding Project Management App

Mentioned below are the steps for defining project scope:-

1. Define the project objectives:-

The objective or goal of a project could be anything- creating a new product, creating a new service model for an organization, developing new software, etc. But it is the responsibility of the project manager to adequately define the project objectives so that his team delivers something that matches the client’s requirements. Identifying project objectives is critical to define the project scope since they help the project manager to decide what project methodologies have to be applied to the project to make it a success.

2. Define the process requirements:-

It is essential that the project manager understands the process requirements as it helps in defining the project scope. The stakeholders, senior management and project team members need to have a common understanding about what has to be included in or excluded from, a project. This will make it clear to all parties concerned as to what product or service will be delivered.

3. Involve the correct stakeholders:-

For a project to become a success, the stakeholders who are commissioning the project have to be closely involved at various stages of the project. If the stakeholders do not actively participate in every aspect of the project, then the project manager will have to lead making assumptions. This can add to confusion and even lead to scope creeps.

Also Read: 5 Tips to Succeed in Project Management

4. Identify the limitations:-

Rather than focusing on what is out-of-scope for a project, it is essential to document what exactly will be delivered as an outcome. However, it is also important to make known what will not be done; otherwise certain tasks will be executed on assumptions and cause time and cost overrun.

5. Change Management:-

It is natural for parts of any large project to change along the way. Though it is advisable to avoid scope creep, there are times when a particular part of a large project may require change due to the dynamic nature of business. In order to avoid disagreements and changes to a project’s scope by all stakeholders, it is advisable to have a strict change management process in place. Once the project scope has been defined, it should not be changed without the proper change management functions taking place, at which point appropriate action can be made to address the moving project necessities.

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Conclusion:-

For a project manager, defining the project scope will give a sense of purpose when executing the project. Understanding the project scope helps in dealing with challenges and risks. Moreover, the project scope acts as a foundation on which the schedule, budget and resources of the project are planned. A well-defined scope is the secret to keep the project under control and avoid scope creeps which will lead to successful closure of the project.

Leadership Techniques for Project Managers

Leadership Techniques for Project Managers

Leadership Techniques for Project Managers

Leadership (see wiki. Leadership) can be defined in innumerable ways; it has different meanings for different people.  However, the most common definition would be – “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to willingly do something you want him to do.”

As a project manager, do you sometimes feel that even though you’re doing everything “right”, the others are not equally contributing to your project? Or, that inspite of trying to manage things well, someone else seems to have a greater influence over everything that happens? Or, are you wondering what are the leadership skills and techniques required to be an efficient project leader?

Leadership techniques are an important aspect of project management and are essential to make a project successful. It does not involve making friends while managing a project; it is about earning respect for delivering the desired value in a project. The following are the most commonly used leadership techniques:-

Know the project goals:-

To be able to efficiently lead a project, the project manager has to first have a well-defined project goal. Without knowing the direction, the leader cannot figure out which way to go. If goals are not defined or poorly-defined, then there are high chances of project failure. Moreover, to analyse the progress of the project, the manager would need to compare the output with the goals.

Must See: Increase Demand for Project Managers Globally and Impacts

Ensure that your team is aware that you care:-

An effective project leader has to make his team-mates know that he likes them and cares for their needs. He should always find ways to appreciate and motivate his team to give their best to everything. The fact is that if your team-mates are fond of you, they would go to any lengths to help you with the project and face all odds alongside you. Build a good rapport with them so that they open up to you.

Be a good example:-

If you want others to follow you, first you have to set an example. Therefore, practise what you preach. After all, action speaks louder than words. Keep away from the blame game and ensure that each one is accountable for the activities assigned to him.

Create a harmonious work environment:-

A project manager needs to create an amicable atmosphere where people enjoy working. He should shower recognition and appreciation on team members who are performing remarkably. Having a positive attitude and an enthusiastic personality really helps in achieving the desired results.

Bring competitive energy to the workplace:-

A project manager must lead with high energy. He needs to be enthusiastic about his project and make others feel the same and encourage his team to give their best. Building a competitive environment at the workplace will ensure that everyone contributes to the success of the project and help weed out complacency.

Analyze the data to develop solutions to problems:-

It is imperative that a project manager analyzes the data and project statistics to understand where the project is heading. It also helps him to understand various problems and equip him to find effective solutions. The project manager should discuss the problems with his team and see how they can collectively deal with the situation.

Also Read: Top 10 Myths About Project Management Software

Change the leadership style:-

A leadership style is a leader’s style of providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people. There are various kinds of leadership styles which can be applied by project managers. But, the most common leadership styles are- Autocratic, Democratic, Paternalistic, Transactional, Transformational and Laissez-Faire. It is in the hands of the manager to change his leadership style to adapt to the particular demands of various situations or the particular demands of his team-mates or the particular challenges facing his project.

Conclusion:

Project managers are trained to control the three key project influences- scope, budget and schedule. However, it is equally important that he understands the nuances of team dynamics. A successful project manager needs to be well-equipped with ample leadership skills and techniques as well as incorporate the appropriate leadership style. In order to take a team towards extraordinary performance, he needs to understand the difference between management and leadership.

Join us and be a volunteer of Project Planning Pro

In the past many of our loyal users have contributed to Project Planning Pro and helped make it a huge success that it is now. With all your support and feedback we have made Project Planning Pro an app that is used by over a million users worldwide. To make it even better our users’ participation really is the key.

We are planning to release many new features in the months to come on all the platforms the app is available on. However we would like to hear from our users first hand, as to what you guys feel is need of the hour. This will help us prioritize our development efforts and bring out the features that matter to you first.

Therefore we are forming an official volunteers team called ‘Builders’. The team will have very simple responsibilities and specific rewards. We will listen closely to each of our members and analyze your feedback. We hope everyone will consider joining to improve Project Planning Pro and we in turn will tell thousands of our Social fans about who our Builders are.

Builders Team:

Builders will get assigned levels as soon as they sign up, which means you are a special user of Project Planning Pro who works with us. The highest Level 4 is also called the Ninja level. We will credit our Ninja’s on our social pages for every new app update. We will also give out iTunes gift cards to our Ninja’s from time to time.

Builder Level:

Level 1: As soon as you sign up

Level 2: 1-2 Email feedbacks

Level 3: 2-4 Email feedbacks

Level 4 (Ninja): 1 Phone/Skype call OR > 4 email feedbacks

Come join us and be part of our awesome Project Planning Pro team. Simply fill up the form below to get started.

 

Step 2: Entering the Project Scope or WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)

Now that we have created a project and entered the basic information, we can enter the project scope. Project Scope is simply a list of every task, activity or milestone in a project. You can enter this in the task name column as shown below. Start by creating a simple list of all the tasks without any indentation, duration or dates.

For example, if you were planning a party, a basic task list would look like this.

Project Scope or WBS

 

You can later group these tasks by indenting them, thereby creating a group of tasks having a summary task. These groups are also referred to as phases of a project.

In the image above, note that tasks 1 – 9 can be grouped together by making task 1 (Prep Work) the summary task of tasks 2 – 9. Similarly tasks 10 – 12 can be grouped together by making task 10 (Let the party begin) the summary task of tasks 11 – 12 (See image below).

 Project Phase and Milestone

 

The next thing you can do is, enter milestones. Milestones are reference points in a project usually marking a significant event in the project lifecycle. Eg: A phase completion in a project. Milestones are useful to monitor project progress. Tasks set as milestones will have zero duration and will be displayed as a diamond shape.

Set project milestones - Project Planning Pro

 

Once you have the WBS ready, we can move on to the next step – Entering durations for your tasks.


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Step 5: Assign Resources

Once you have added dependencies to your tasks the next step is to add resources. Project Planning Pro allows you to add work type resources to your project. Work type resources are people who are part of your project who will be assigned specific tasks. You may also enter cost/use or cost/hour for your resources and Planning Pro will calculate the cost for the tasks and the project cost for you.

 There are 2 ways to add a resource to a task:

Method 1: Using inline editing mode

Double-tap on a task to activate the inline-editing mode and tap on the resource name field. You can select from the available resource or add a new resource for your project (See screenshot below).

 

Add Resources - Project Planning Pro

Method 2: Using the Task Edit View

Tap on the gear icon next to a task and launch the Edit Task view. Tap the Resources tab and tap on resource name field to select resources or add new resources for your task. You can also manage resource allocation for your task in this view depending on the hours each resource is going to work on that task.

Resource Allocation - Project Planning Pro

 

Conclusion:

These 5 basic steps should help you get started with a project in no time. You can also sign up for our newsletter below for regular updates and Tips-n-Tricks.

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Step 3: Enter Durations

Step 3 covers, adding durations for your tasks. Duration of each task would the effort required to complete the task in hours or days. Note, the duration and date of the summary task (eg: Prep Work) is auto-calculated based on the duration and dates of all its child tasks (task 2-9).

Enter Durations - Project Planning Pro

 

In the next section we will see the most powerful feature of Project Planning Pro – Adding dependencies to tasks.


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