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Project Management

How to Choose the Best Project Management Tool for Your Business

Working on a project can be challenging. It requires proper planning and teamwork. Without these, you might find yourself missing out on deadlines and putting out low-quality output. To avoid such a fate, you might want to start looking for the right project management tool for your business.
According to Statista, 65% of businesses claim to have felt the positive impacts of project management tools. It increases their overall productivity and helps them accomplish tasks and goals on time. Most importantly, it ensures that everything goes smoothly from start to finish.
And with the rise of cloud technology, having access to such solutions is easier than before. A quick search on the internet will give you a wide range of options to choose from. However, searching for the best could be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. You might find yourself at a loss with where to start.
So to help you with your search, here’s a quick guide on how to choose the best project management tool for your business.

  1. Identify your business needs

First, you have to determine what your specific needs are based on the project and its required processes. Various methodologies could fit what your team is looking for such as waterfall, agile. If you need a combination of agile and waterfall, you can opt for a hybrid approach. 
Other factors to consider include your company size, the number of employees and teams you have, what types of projects you usually handle, what systems do you currently use, and how much IT support you can provide for the software.
Knowing what your business would need for its projects makes it easier to determine what to look for in a project management tool, helping you narrow down the list of tools and features you need for your business.

  1. Evaluate available tools and functions

Each project management tool has its own unique set of features and functions. Nonetheless, some essential project management tools that you should look out for include project planning and scheduling, team collaboration, tracking, and reporting.
When managing team projects, you should have the right tools to keep track of tasks, agenda, goals, and deadlines. Your teams would need to access a centralized calendar or dashboard so that everyone is aware of the project’s progress. Likewise, collaboration tools such as live editing and real-time messaging or commenting could help improve team productivity in the long run.
And with the currently available technologies, you can also keep an eye out for software powered by artificial intelligence. This can help your teams further streamline their workflow and lets them work less while still being more productive than ever.

  1. Consider customization

Customization is another essential criterion for selecting a project management tool. This includes having control over what type of methodology you can use for your project. From Kanban boards and Gant charts, you would need a wide range of options to choose from to help your teams handle any types of projects. 
Features such as a drag-and-drop editor can make it easier to reassign tasks, reschedule deadlines, and move around priorities within teams. This also makes it easier to rearrange your project boards to accommodate various changes. Widgets can further improve personalization by adding optional functions such as notes and reminders for personal use. 
Through this, your teams and projects can be flexible enough to adapt to any workplace’s rapidly changing environment. Likewise, it gives you the freedom to tailor-fit your software according to your projects’ specific needs.
Easynote PM tools

  1. Take into account your budget

With so many project management tools available out there, your goal is to find the most cost-effective one. After all, you will surely have a planned budget before your search. But don’t let the price tag hold you back from finding the best one.
You might think that investing in more expensive software for your business would guarantee a better user experience and results. However, you can find some decent, if not great, project management tools for an affordable price.
Some offer a subscription-type of payment for their services that allow you to cancel anytime you want. This makes it easier for you to control and manage your expenses in the long run. EasyNote, for example, offers different pricing plans or subscriptions to accommodate your needs while also taking account of your budget.

  1. Consider multi-platform compatibility

Flexibility is the name of the game nowadays. As 25-30% of the global workforce begins to shift towards the remote setup, your project management tool should be able to run on any type of device regardless of size, specifications, and hardware.
With multiplatform compatibilities, your teams can work on their projects anytime and anywhere. They can seamlessly carry over their tasks from their computers from the office straight into their smartphones or tablets at home without disrupting workflow.
This can greatly increase their productivity and ensure that everything is done on time. Furthermore, this flexibility paves the way for easy scalability since it allows you to open the software on multiple devices.

  1. Consider integration capabilities

To keep your entire processes streamlined, you must also consider your software’s integration capabilities. After all, project management is just one aspect of your business operations. You might have other software assisting you in other processes.
For example, you can integrate your project management tool with G Suite to help enhance your project management software’s collaboration functions. This gives your teams access to a collection of cloud computing and productivity tools marketed by Google, making collaboration easily accessible through your web browsers. 
Integrating your software has several benefits. It gives you access to more tools and functions that are beyond what your project management tool offers. Likewise, it lets you move on from one task to another without disrupting workflow or compromising data integrity.

  1. Test its usability

Nowadays, there are many ways on how to evaluate project management tools. You can research them on the web or read customer reviews and feedback from various sources. However, these alone might not be enough to give you the whole picture.
Fortunately, more and more service providers offer demos and trials for their software. It gives you first-hand experience with the product itself without having to pay for anything. In this way, you have an idea of how it works and what it can do to help your teams.
So, before you can purchase a project management tool, take advantage of the demos or trials available. After all, expectations can diverge wildly from reality. It’s better to give it a try first before fully committing to it. To give you a head start, here’s a long list of project management software examples ranked according to user satisfaction and its usability.

A better way to manage your projects

Technology has changed the way businesses handle their projects. It has provided you with tools and software to help your teams avoid common project management mistakes out there. And with the prevalence of cloud technology and SaaS, project management tools are even more accessible than before.
Working on a project can be tough. Without proper planning and teamwork, your teams might end up performing poorly, resulting in delays and other issues. To prevent that from happening. It is high time that you consider getting project management tools for your business. And with these tips in mind, you’ll find the best one for your business in no time.

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Project Management

6 Project Management Mistakes and Fixes

It’s not easy being a project manager. You need to carefully manage systems, schedules, budgets and most importantly, people. And then there’s inevitable problems that you’ll need to overcome. All told, it’s a job that requires serious discipline, patience and above all, perseverance.
Seeing a project through, particularly a complex one, is rarely easy. Costs overrun, delays happen and mistakes are made. However, there are ways to overcome these issues, even before they arise. In this article, we identify six common project management mistakes, and ways you can address them.

1. No clearly defined plan

The first thing a good project manager does is make a clearly defined plan. If you don’t, failure isn’t just possible, it’s inevitable around the corner. You need to work with your stakeholders-your employees, your seniors, and your clients-to establish the project’s desired outcome. Once you’ve done so, break the project down into smaller, more manageable goals. Make a timeline with key milestones, and come up with a way of measuring success, both at a micro and a macro level. If you do this soon, and if you do this well, the more likely it is you’ll succeed.

2. Not getting stakeholders onboard

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a project manager is getting all you stakeholders to buy into your vision. The failure of stakeholders, particularly senior management, is one of the most common reasons project’s fail. If you want the project to succeed you have to get stakeholders to buy into your vision from the start. Be honest with them (in a constructive way), include them and, most importantly of all, involve them. A stakeholders should, as the word suggests, have a stake in the project. It’s your job to make them feel that they do.

3. Not properly addressing changes

As you well know, unforeseen changes happen, and they’re rarely if ever welcome. You’ll likely be faced with fewer resources and/or more requests. That’s just how project management is. How you address these changes will almost certainly determine whether the project succeeds or fails.
Top Tip: A task management tool is a great way to ensure the success of any project, big or small. Try Easynote, one of Capterra’s favourite free task managers, for free today.

4. Too much micromanagement

If you’ve assembled a team to do a project, then you’ve got to trust all of them to do it. It may be hard for some of you to do, especially if you’re heavily invested in the project, but you have to let them get on with their work. Too much micromanagement can be detrimental to the project. Team members may feel less valued and at times, disrespected, leading to probably conflict and possible failure. It’s imperative that you give them space and let them repay your trust.

5. Expanding scope

Part and parcel of being a good project manager is dealing with expanding scope, or scope creep, as many call it. It may be that you need to make additional products, find additional venue space or provide for more customers. Over time these new changes and considerations can really add up and the project can become unwieldy.  However, you can guard against this by planning ahead, monitoring the project’s scope and updating it’s goals and budget accordingly. Remember, scope creep happens. It’s up to you to deal with it.

6. Lack of regular communication

Unless you’re hellbent on failure, you need to communicate regularly with stakeholders. To be a good project manager you need good communicate well and, just as importantly, you need to communicate regularly. If you want the project to run smoothly, and avoid awkward conversations, schedule regular updates and reviews. Also, don’t be afraid to ask others how they’re doing. Both you and them will feel more involved and committed to the project.
 

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Leadership Project Management

Tips for Remote Working-Part 2

Ways to make the most of remote working

Last week we gave you three very useful tips on how to make the most of remote work. This week we look at three more ways to overcome the challenges of working remotely.

Keep in contact

One of the big downsides (or upsides, depending on your personality) of remote work is that you’re not face-to-face with your co-workers. It can be problematic, especially if you’re part of a team. To overcome this problem make sure you and your colleagues are all using the same chat program. Create a chat group, schedule regular catch-ups (at the start and end of the week), and be as engaged as much as you can. Just because you work remotely doesn’t mean that you can’t collaborate as well as if you were in an office.

Try and be social

If you’re a solitary type who’s happiest when alone, then remote work is an ideal situation. However, if you’re not that way inclined, it can get pretty lonely. It’s important that you don’t isolate yourself. You need to make sure that you schedule social interactions. It could be a regular lunch date with a close friend, a video call with a loved one abroad or a simply a group exercise class. You need to guard against ‘cabin fever’, not just for your piece of mind but your productivity also.
Top tip: One of the best ways to get a handle on working remotely is with a great task manager. Try Easynote today, the web’s easiest-to-use project management tool.

Don’t get disturbed

Yes, it’s important to be social. Yes, it’s important to keep in regular contact. But sometimes you need to drop off the grid. Some team members, especially ones you get on well with, can be distracting. You know how it goes. You’ve to meet a 5pm deadline but every two minutes you get another message from your co-worker about last night’s Game of Thrones episode. It can be pretty frustrating, especially if you’re tempted to chime in. So next time, instead of getting distracted by dragons and white walkers, ‘mute’ the group chat or use a ‘Do not disturb’ function, to let your colleagues know that you’re busy at work.

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Project Management

Tips for Remote Working-Part 1

How to make the most of remote working

More and more of us work remotely. For some, remote working is their dream come true. They don’t want to wake up at six just so they can get a seat on the train. They’d rather roll out of bed at nine and get straight to work while in their Spiderman pyjamas.
For others, it’s a tricky prospect. The early morning commutes, the smart clothes, and the ordered office environment is what makes and keeps them productive. It’s not just part of their routine, it’s their entire routine. Without it, they find it hard to be disciplined and worry about the temptations of Netflix, Amazon Prime and the Playstation 4, lurking just a few feet away. Here, in the first of two articles, are a few tips on how you can make the most of remote work.

Make a schedule

If you work from nine to five then you don’t need to worry. However, a lot of remote workers have to make their own schedule, which can be easier said than done. What’s best is to schedule work in a way that works for you the best. If you’re someone who’s most productive in the morning, like a true ‘Master of the Universe’, then schedule your hardest tasks first thing. If you’re more of a night owl, then sleep in, chill out and get to work when the sun goes down.

Create processes

One of the best things about working from home is that you can work how you want without the worry of upsetting co-workers. If you’re a designer that finds that listening to Mozart at full blast gets your creative juices flowing, then stick on Symphony 25 in G minor and crank it up to 11! Or maybe you work better with old episodes of Game of Thrones on in the background. Whatever it is that helps you to work better, make sure to incorporate these processes in your work schedule.

Switch up your scenery

As great a prospect as working from home sounds, the novelty can wear off for some. So instead of spending hours staring at the ceiling, why not switch up the scenery. It may be a total cliche, but a roomy coffee shop with a comfy work space and a good Wi-Fi connection is a great place to get work done. Or, if you live in or near the city, why not check out a co-working space. These serviced office spaces are popular with remote workers, especially with those who’d rather work in a more professional setting.

Take breaks

One of the advantages of remote working is you don’t have to deal with co-workers who want to bend your ear every half hour to talk about last night’s episode of House of Cards or some other ‘must watch’ TV show. However, these co-workers, whether you like them or not, might be doing you a favour. Research shows that people who take regular breaks tend to be more productive. So makes sure that you include plenty of breaks into your work schedule, and keep those batteries charged!
Top Tip: With Easynote you can easily design a remote work schedule, including a list of tasks, subtasks and deadlines. So sign up today!
 

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Project Management

Foods to keep you productive

3 Foods to make you more productive

We all know healthy foods are great for our physical well-being. However, some of these foods benefit our mental well-being too, helping you to stay calm, positive and best of all, productive. Here are three foods that will help you get over that midday funk, and have you feeling and working better in no time at all.

Avocados

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the past few years, you know that avocados are very much the ‘in food’ right now. Whether you’re on Instagram, Facebook or Tumblr, you can’t move for all the snaps of delicately carved avocados on clean white plates. But there’s much more to avocados than just a source of social media snaps. They’re high in vitamin K and folate, which help improve cognitive function, including memory and concentration.

Blueberries

Not only are they delicious, blueberries have great cognitive benefits as well. Rich in antioxidants, they contain plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber, and according to a study by Tufts University, may reduce memory loss. What’s more, they also help alleviate stress. So next time work’s getting on top of you, head down to your local grocery and nibble on some succulent blueberries. You’ll feel better in no time!

Dark Chocolate

Okay, so chocolate might not be the best food for you if you’re trying to get a beach body. However, dark chocolate is one of the best foods for your mental well-being. It’s packed with flavanols, which help improve blood flow to the brain. There’s also lots of magnesium to stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin, which makes you feel good and brightens your mood.
Why not work out a healthy snack schedule by signing up to Easynote, the web’s premier task manager.

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Leadership Project Management Top News

Ways to Work Faster-Part 3

How to work faster and be more productive

Now that you’ve read parts one and two on ways to work faster, you’ll have noticed that you’re getting through work faster than ever before. But don’t rest on your laurels just yet. Strive for more, and try these three ‘practical’ methods to help you work faster, and maximise productivity:

Create Templates

Let’s be frank here! Life can be pretty repetitive, work especially. Chances are you’ve created the same spreadsheets, written the same e-mails, and done the same day-to-day tasks over and over, and over again.
Save yourself a lot of time and effort, and create some templates. Whether it’s customer reply e-mails, blog posts or reports, chances are that large parts can be re-used every time. While it may take you some time to create these templates, there’s few better ways to save time, relieve stress and work faster.

Keep a Checklist

Whenever you’re working on an important task, it’s crucial to know what you’ve done, and what you need to do. Before you start on a task, especially a big one, create a checklist. It’s a sure-fire way to remember what steps you need to take to get the task done.
Also, as we’ve talked about above, it’s likely you’ll do the same task again. So it’s a good idea to keep your checklists so you can use them the next time.
Top tip: You can create checklists in Easynote, so you’ll always be on top of your task, no matter how big or small.

Reward Yourself

Work shouldn’t be just an end in itself. It should be a means to an end. Make that ends, in the short run at least, a nice reward for yourself. It could be something small like a cool beer at the end of the day (or a cold drink if you’re a non-drinker), or something a little more grand-maybe a weekend away with your better half!
Whatever it is, make sure it motivates you enough to get the task done on time. Hopefully you’ll find that the more you reward yourself with every finished task, the more likely you are to get your work done faster.
 
 

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Project Management

Ways to Work Faster-Part 2

How to work faster and be more productive

Still want to work faster? In the first of our three series on how to do so, we talked about how important it is to have a plan, set deadlines and do the hardest task first. In this second part, we look at three more ways in which you can work even faster and be more productive with no added stress. Here we go:

Take breaks

Yes, that’s right! If you want to work faster you need to work less. Studies have shown that when you take regular breaks you tend to be more focused. Rather than treat work as marathon, think of it as a series of sprints.
So, rather than slog it out for four or five hours straight, try and be super-productive for 50 minutes or so, take a break and go again. You’ll find that when you do work, you’re ‘really’ working, rather than going through the motions.

Ration e-mail time

Let’s be honest! How many e-mails in your inbox do you need to get to right away? Chances are not many. The truth is that too many of us waste our time on unimportant e-mails when we could be doing something productive.
So, what can you do? It’s easy, only look at your e-mails a few appointed times a day. Or, if you want to be really disciplined, use a tool like Inbox Pause to keep emails from showing up until you’re ready to get to them.  And remember, if it’s urgent they’ll call you!

Don’t get distracted

Distractions-they can happen anywhere and anytime. It could be in the office kitchen, at the water cooler, or even your desk. It could be about Janet’s new squeeze, Dave’s new wig or last night’s game. Whatever it is, it can wait.
Idle talk adds up and impedes progress, especially when you’re ‘in the groove’. So next time your office buddy comes to your desk to chew the fat, just look busy or failing that, politely tell them you’ll catch up on your break.