When you’ve established your team and the project plan, it’s a good time to look at the tools that your team will need to be successful. Working across spreadsheets and email is not an efficient way to spend your time. The right tools will enable your team to save time, be productive, and achieve their goals.
Project Management and Productivity Software
The most important tool you can get your team to use is project management software. The kind of software you choose depends on the types of projects that your team works on, the methodologies you like to use, and the size of your team (s). There is a lot to think about so we’ve put together some resources that can help.
Team Collaboration & Communication Tools
Before your project gets going, you want to let your team know what channels will be used for communication. The reason for this is because you don’t want things to be missed. A missed message about something that needs to be done or is ready to be passed on the next team could temporarily derail your project. This is especially important if you have remote teams like we do and need to have video conferences often. For basic real-time communication for teams, we like to use Slack. For real-time access to project info, we use, as expected, Easy Projects. You’ll need to choose reliable tools and lucky for you, the options are endless.
It’s also important to think about where your team is storing all of their documents. You want something that is secure and reliable. At Easy Projects, we like to use Google Drive for all of the big stuff. Each team has their respective folder with everything organized in an easily searchable way. You can also use tools like Dropbox Paper, Quip, Evernote, Microsoft 365 for sharing files across departments and teams.
Now that we’ve taken a look at and you’ve chosen the tools that your team will need to be productive, it’s time to take a deeper dive into collaboration and how it can help you succeed. When people work together, they are more productive. In a 2015 study conducted by the New York Times, executives said that profitability increases when workers are persuaded to collaborate more. When you collaborate with your external stakeholders, you’ll find that your team’s creativity and problem solving abilities increase. Many minds are better than one. 7 Studies that Prove that People Work better in Teams
Setting Communication Guidelines
Teamwork makes the dream work, but it can also be the most challenging part of your job as a project manager. Setting up communication guidelines is a good place to start. Communication guidelines should include things like:
- The channels being used to communicate
- The time frame for when team members should respond to each-other
- Who to contact if you have questions regarding different parts of the project
- Rules for Conflict Resolution
It would be useful if you put all of the guidelines and info in an accessible folder so your team can refer back to them as needed.
Working with people from all over the world is common practice for businesses these days. At Easy Projects, we’ve been working with remote teams since we got started and we’ve become experts at working with team members who are thousands of kilometers away. This does not mean that we don’t face challenges. Juggling time-zones and work expectations require strict communication practices as well as choosing communication tools that everyone is comfortable with.
Since organizing your inbox can sometimes become a task in itself, Easy Projects’ message boards allow everyone to keep track of all relevant conversations-be it comments, requests, or changes-under each task or project. Click a project and receive up-to-the-minute conversation information, without searching through thousands of emails. Additionally, all messages are stamped with the correct time, date and name you know the “who”, “what”, and “when” of all correspondence instantly.
With Easy Projects, clients can access project message boards as well, giving them an avenue to quickly ask the project team whatever questions they have and receive responses in-real time. This easy access to the project team assures clients that their project is progressing well, and that their wants are being answered by the team.
- 5 client management skills that every project manager needs to have
- Client Management 3: Keep Your Clients Up to Date (Video)
- Client Management: How to get your Project Approvals right …
- 9 Reasons to Let Clients Access your Project Management Tool
- Clients Management Part 2: Three “W’s” of Project Approvals
- How to Define Project Deliverables
Get Frequent Status Updates
Sometimes, our tendency may be to avoid confrontation, overlook issues in the hopes that they will go away, or delay tasks that seem unpleasant or stressful to us. This practice is the exact opposite of what is productive in project management. It is a big mistake to wait until the last moment to find out that the project you thought was going well is actually suffering from a critical problem. Therefore, you should encourage your team to report any and all issues and delays to you as soon as they become aware of them.
Delays to you as soon as they become aware of them. Now you might be thinking ” how can I convince my employees/teammates to basically blow the whistle on themselves?” This is a valid concern; rarely do people consciously make the decision to admit weakness or problems when it comes to their own performance. What you can do to overcome this issue is to encourage a team culture that rewards timely updates, and doesn’t punish for delays/problems if they are reported early.
At Easy Projects, we have spent a significant amount of time pondering how we could make status updates as effortless as possible, and came up with the three small buttons you see on the “My Assignments” page, next to each task. With one click, each employee can update a task as being a-okay, raise a non-critical issue for discussion, or suggest a new end date if the issue is a serious one.
- How to Get Status Updates and Not be a Pest
- How to Keep Everyone Up-to-date on a Project Status: Part 1
- How to Keep Everyone Up-to-date on a Project Status: Part 2
Conflicts within teams can happen, and when they do, it’s your job to quickly resolve them and get everyone focused on the end goal again. Conflicts are also not always a bad thing. If you look at them as positive experiences for your team to grow from, everyone can come out of them stronger and more focused than before.
The Art of Making Sure Things Get Done
Accountability is crucially important for the success of your project. But sometimes a lack of accountability isn’t the fault of your team members or your clients but the methods of task management. Read on to learn the best practices to avoid potential conflicts and those “I don’t remember saying that…” responses sometimes heard from project team members or clients.
Confirm and Accept Assignments in Writing
The first, and most important, piece of accountability advice is to never accept or assign verbal requests. Document any tasks assignments that you are delegating, or that you’ve received, to eliminate any confusion or forgetfulness on the part of either party regarding what needs to be done.
Stop assigning tasks in casual conversation. Always email assignments to team members. Documentation, at least in the form of email, provides a formal outline of the task that can be referred back to by all involved parties. If there are any questions regarding a deadline or expectations, a written document can quickly end all “he-said, she-said” debates.
The same intolerance for verbal assignments applies when you receive a project from a client. Request that your client document all project requirements by writing out project expectations in full. Keep a copy for yourself, and get your client to do the same.
After meetings, send an email to the client or team with the discussion summarized. Ask for confirmation that your interpretation of the meeting was factual. Email confirmation removes any potential for uncertainty regarding the agreed upon assignment. Furthermore, it provides approved original project plan for reference, if the need arises.
For A+ Accountability
Easy Projects helps you with team accountability by sending out automatic notifications that alert the appropriate person on a team as soon as a request or assignment is reported. These instant notifications allow for timely transfers of information, to ensure all team members are informed of new requests as soon as they happen.
Easy Projects also encourages accountability between the client and the project team by allowing the client to enter his/her requests right into the project database itself. This allows all requests to be recorded exactly as the client envisioned it, and there is unity across formats if there are multiple requests from the same client.
Additionally, Easy Projects’ audit trail keeps a record of everything that is happening in a project. It helps improve accountability by providing a point of reference in case someone forgets something and establishes evidence in case things go off-rail in a project. Needless to say, both sides benefit from an audit trail, so that relationships are not strained by someone forgetting to record a critical piece of information down, or requests being slightly altered due to incomplete memory.
- The Three “D’s” of Project Accountability
- Project Accountability 101: Don’t Play the Blame Game
- Authority delegation, the ultimate factor of successful bizz
Monitor Team Workload
In successful projects, the project team works effectively to their full capacity-but not further. Monitoring team workload ensures you don’t overburden members of your team with more work than they can handle. Since an overworked employee may feel too demotivated to complete the extra tasks assigned, it’s important to be aware of everyone’s current assignments.
Encourage Monday morning Goal Setting & Review (GSR) updates from all team members. Employees write a quick document that reminds project managers what they have to do in the coming weeks and gives them a chance to flag concerns about the size of their workload, if necessary. By holding the GSRs on Monday morning, team accommodations can be made quickly in the week. Visibility of tasks is a very important step in accountability, and GSRs go a long way in doing that.
Keep a white board for your team in the office with a list of the weekly or monthly project tasks. Ask each team member to write their name beside what task they are working on. Displaying who is accountable for what is a public form does two good things. First, it acts as a reminder for everyone to know the project’s current tasks and who is undertaking them. Second, it encourages each team member to do his/her share on-time and to the best of his/her ability.
Promises made in public (like writing your name next to a task) strengthen task commitment and encourage action. This is evident in all aspects of life. Have you ever felt embarrassed about failing your new diet after you told your friends you were committed to losing weight? Did you ever feel an extra surge in motivation to quit smoking after telling your spouse you could do it? Don’t hide away team to-do lists, post them prominently in common staff areas so the big picture goal in always in sight.
- Project Management – Managing Your Team Workload
- 5 Essential Resource Management Tips
- Smart resource allocation and task scheduling; How do you do this
- How great Project Managers handle team performance
- 5 steps of Crisis Management that project managers should…
- Project Management – Monitoring and Control