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Whether planning your wedding, developing a new website or building your dream house by the sea you need to employ project management techniques to help you succeed. This article summarises 7 key project management best practices to help you achieve project success.

Project Management Success with the Top 7 Best Practices

Project Management Success with the Top 7 Best PracticesManaging a project can be daunting. Whether planning your wedding, developing a new website or building your dream house by the sea, you need to employ project management techniques to help you succeed. I'll summarise the top 7 best practices at the heart of good "project management" which can help you to achieve project success.Define the scope and objectivesFirstly, understand the project objectives. Suppose your boss asks you to organise a blood donor campaign, is the objective to get as much blood donated as possible? Or, is it to raise the local company profile? Deciding the real objectives will help you plan the project.Scope defines the boundary of the project. Is the organisation of transport to take staff to the blood bank within scope? Or, should staff make their own way there? Deciding what's in or out of scope will determine the amount of work which needs performing.Understand who the stakeholders are, what they expect to be delivered and enlist their support. Once you've defined the scope and objectives, get the stakeholders to review and agree to them.Define the deliverablesYou must define what will be delivered by the project. If your project is an advertising campaign for a new chocolate bar, then one deliverable might be the artwork for an advertisement. So, decide what tangible things will be delivered and document them in enough detail to enable someone else to produce them correctly and effectively.Key stakeholders must review the definition of deliverables and must agree they accurately reflect what must be delivered.Project planningPlanning requires that the project manager decides which people, resources and budget are required to complete the project.You must define what activities are required to produce the deliverables using techniques such as Work Breakdown Structures. You must estimate the time and effort required for each activity, dependencies between activities and decide a realistic schedule to complete them. Involve the project team in estimating how long activities will take. Set milestones which indicate critical dates during the project. Write this into the project plan. Get the key stakeholders to review and agree to the plan.CommunicationProject plans are useless unless they've been communicated effectively to the project team. Every team member needs to know their responsibilities. I once worked on a project where the project manager sat in his office surrounded by huge paper schedules. The problem was, nobody on his team knew what the tasks and milestones were because he hadn't shared the plan with them. The project hit all kinds of problems with people doing activities which they deemed important rather than doing the activities assigned by the project manager.Tracking and reporting project progressOnce your project is underway you must monitor and compare the actual progress with the planned progress. You will need progress reports from project team members. You should record variations between the actual and planned cost, schedule and scope. You should report variations to your manager and key stakeholders and take corrective actions if variations get too large.You can adjust the plan in many ways to get the project back on track but you will always end up juggling cost, scope and schedule. If the project manager changes one of these, then one or both of the other elements will inevitably need changing. It is juggling these three elements - known as the project triangle - that typically causes a project manager the most headaches!Change managementStakeholders often change their mind about what must be delivered. Sometimes the business environment changes after the project starts, so assumptions made at the beginning of the project may no longer be valid. This often means the scope or deliverables of the project need changing. If a project manager accepted all changes into the project, the project would inevitably go over budget, be late and might never be completed.By managing changes, the project manager can make decisions about whether or not to incorporate the changes immediately or in the future, or to reject them. This increases the chances of project success because the project manager controls how the changes are incorporated, can allocate resources accordingly and can plan when and how the changes are made. Not managing changes effectively is often a reason why projects fail.Risk managementRisks are events which can adversely affect the successful outcome of the project. I've worked on projects where risks have included: staff lacking the technical skills to perform the work, hardware not being delivered on time, the control room at risk of flooding and many others. Risks will vary for each project but the main risks to a project must be identified as soon as possible. Plans must be made to avoid the risk, or, if the risk cannot be avoided, to mitigate the risk to lessen its impact if it occurs. This is known as risk management.You don't manage all risks because there could be too many and not all risks have the same impact. So, identify all risks, estimate the likelihood of each risk occurring (1 = not likely, 2 = maybe likely, 3 = very likely). Estimate its impact on the project (1 - low, 2 - medium, 3 - high), then multiply the two numbers together to give the risk factor. High risk factors indicate the severest risks. Manage the ten with the highest risk factors. Constantly review risks and lookout for new ones since they have a habit of occurring at any moment.Not managing risks effectively is a common reason why projects fail.SummaryFollowing these best practices cannot guarantee a successful project but they will provide a better chance of success. Disregarding these best practices will almost certainly lead to project failure.

Business Uniforms: Success Is In The Look

Business Uniforms: Success Is In The Look

As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This definitely applies to the required business uniforms of a company or money-making establishment. What the customer witnesses when they first walk through the doors of a retail store, bank, Real Estate office or print shop instantly instills an impression in their minds as to whether they want to patronize the business and/or become a regular customer. Nothing shouts customer service more than clean-cut professional-looking employees. Given this fact, it's simply vital for business owners and supervisors to mandate superior business uniforms that clearly represent the demeanor and expectations of employee service.For a corporation that provides sales or advisory services, selecting apparel that screams competent, experienced and efficient is an absolute must. While it may be less expensive for a business owner to simply provide their employees with an idea of the expected attire and leave the purchase up to them, ordering business uniforms from a respected provider is a more ideal endeavor. Why?Imagine that you have given your company employees the instruction to purchase tan pants and a green shirt for work. However, one of your employees may show up in teal-green top and brown trousers. It's important to remember that everyone has their own interpretations of colors and designs, and leaving the business uniform choice up to the employee might result in mismatched clothing that exhibits personal comfort and style rather than professionalism. This is a sure-fire way to have a uniformed appearance on the sales floor or behind the desk fly out the window!Also, once a certain look for employees is chosen, it is important for the supervisor or manager to keep a strict attitude on business uniform formalities. If one employee gets away with not wearing a tie for two or three days, others will follow their lead and use the excuse, "Well Joe didn't wear his, why should I have to wear one?" Such conduct can lead to disregarding rules and an overall lackadaisical disposition among employees. Choosing business uniforms for more relaxed and playful atmospheres such as a children's play land, toy store or a merrymaking restaurant allows for more colorfully attractive and flashy attire to exhibit a lively atmosphere that will draw in kids or kids at heart. There is no end to the possibilities of these types of business uniforms. While each business uniform should be alike as to distinguish employees from patrons, allow for a little creative room for each employee. Opt for colorful Polos plastered with buttons, charms or logos ironed on the backs, character-themed ties, funny hats, decorated aprons, mismatched socks or funky (but non-slick) shoes. Projecting an exciting restaurant establishment or game room assures that, come Friday night, kids will be tugging their parent's arms to eat or play at the "fun place". There is one exception to the professional business uniform rule. If a non-profit organization is established to help the less-fortunate, it is still kosher to require volunteers to wear uniforms. However, if possible, tone down the "business" look of the attire, and adapt more casual business uniforms that don't intimidate visitors who come for help by making volunteers seem unapproachable.

6 Ways to help your employees beat stress and work more

6 Ways to help your employees beat stress and work more

If you would like your business to employ highly motivated and high-energy level employees then investing in the workplace atmosphere and facilities will help and will reduce work-place stress significantly. Research confirms that if your employees are stressed then that will cost you even more money in missed workdays and increased on-the-job injuries over both the short term and the long term. In addition to the negative repercussions of having stressed out employees, your business may be experiencing lower productivity and poor quality of output. It is both clear and obvious that some very cost effective strategies could minimize stress on the job and provide your employees with opportunities to reduce other stress related problems. Below is a list of 6 ways in which you can help your company reduce stress for your employees while increasing the output of your business:1. Provide an attractive and comfortable work environment whenever possible to reduce stress. Pleasant surroundings can do more for a persons attitude then we often realize. Create a less formal atmosphere by adding plants or improved decoration, even if that is just in a rest room it will help.2. Supply a quiet room for your employees to take their breaks in. Not the canteen or games room, this room should be separate from the normal "hustle and bustle" of the work-place. It will give your employees an opportunity of a quick 10 minute break from work and anywork related stress that they may be experiencing.3. Instead of giving orders 100% of the time try to create opportunities for employees to make decisions that will directly affect their job performance. This gives them a sense of personal power and less stress because they feel they have some control.4. Thank your employees for work accomplished and recognize them for exemplary performance. A quick thank you will go a long way in reducing complaints and stress. Be genuine and only thank when workers have worked well otherwise you will be rewarding sub-standard activities.5. Always choose ergonomically sound equipment, tools, and furniture. These will make work easier for your staff, reduce workplace injuries and therefore limit any compensation claims. In addition workplace stress will be reduced and staff, equipped with the correct tools, will be more productive.6. Go out of your way to create opportunities for the employees to meet, socialize and build relationships away from work. Set up a bowling team from work where you gather and play once a week or maybe a softball team, or even a book club, for employees only.When staff realize you have their interests in mind and are doing all you can to improve working conditions they will respond and you will see an improved atmosphere and productivity.

Business Team Building - What Is It?

Business Team Building - What Is It?

Simply put, a team is a group of people working towards a common goal. Therefore, Business Team Building is a process that enables a group of people in a business environment to reach their goals using the team resources. It refers to the selection and motivation of your staff towards your organizations development and establishing a team feeling among them. There are several factors that contribute to business team building:Clarifying the team goals Identifying issues which hamper the team from reaching its goals Addressing issues, removing the obstructions, and enabling the goals to be achievedThe primary skills required for business "team building" are identifying and recognizing the right issues, and dealing with them in an appropriate manner. Our personal and business lives are increasingly involved with people of various cultures and diverse backgrounds and we are expected to get along with them instantly. Therefore, there is a need to adapt to these changes as swiftly as possible. Business team building can also take a different form depending on the size and nature of the team. Business Team Building The EnvironmentIn a business where the composition of the team continuously changes, such as in a project environment, business team building would entail developing the skills of individuals to become effective team members. There is a need to change the skills and abilities of an individual to operate efficiently with the team, assimilate properly with the team or within multiple teams. In an environment where the team membership is unchanging, such as in a management team, the relations between the team members have a bearing on the performance of the team. If a team member leaves or another joins, it greatly affects the dynamics of the team and there is a need to foster healthy relationships between them. Business Team Building Vital to Your SuccessThe key to the success of any business is an effective teamwork. The more cohesive a team, and the more harmonious the team environment in which people work together, the better the results you achieve. A fractured business team is a serious handicap for any organization. Business team building is vital for success because it is not natural for people to come together in a new group and hit it off immediately. Business team building starts with a common vision and a common goal, leading to functioning together to promote the best qualities of each member of the business team. Business team building involves in making the team members to stop thinking of themselves as competitors. Some of the advantages of business team building are:Implementing complex plans and strategies as work is split into different areas of responsibility, enabling the team to tackle complex problems efficiently as a group than as individuals.Networking together, the business team can come up with creative solutions. Brainstorming leads to solutions that would probably not evolve singly. Business team building is a necessity because teams are more enduring than individuals are. If one person of the team leaves, it may make the project difficult for some time, but will not cripple it.

Employee Time Tracking

Time tracking is the act of tracing out the time spent on each activity in a particular period of time. With so much pressure on time these days, time tracking and management has become absolutely necessary. Though time tracking was initially just a method for keeping track of the way employees use their time, today it is a major program that is used for several other things like: payroll processing, employee productivity, revenue management, client management, invoicing, database management and project management.Employee time tracking was first done using simple time cards or punch cards. Employees had to punch in their cards, when they came in or out, into a machine that would record the time. The timings were later copied onto spreadsheets and analyzed manually to determine how much time an employee spent in the office. This simple mechanism was sufficient in the days when there was not too much stress on the productivity of employees. However, with technological diversions like the Internet, e-mails, and phones, it has become very important to track the exact time the employee spends working. Besides, some enterprises have thousands of employees located at different locations across the world, working in different time zones, which make employee time tracking even more important. There are several advantages of employee time tracking: it makes payroll processing easier by tracking the exact hours an employee worked, increases revenues by correct invoicing, and makes database management easier. There are also some disadvantages: employees do not appreciate it they feel too much pressure for showing results for every minute; or the information may not be used properly.Today, there are hundreds of employee time tracking programs and software packages available. These not only make tracking, but also billing, payroll, project costing and estimation easier. Besides, they can track the employees use of time in the absence of the supervisor. Employees located even thousands of miles away can be tracked using this software. These software programs can be downloaded easily onto any platform and used either offline or online. They can also be customized to suit exact requirements. Information about this software can be obtained over the internet.

The Top Ten Hiring Mistakes

Hiring a new employee is something that professionals often postpone as long as possible. It is important to find the right person to fill the vacancy. The hiring process takes time and effort. There is a big temptation to add someone who is available at that moment and looks like they have the skills to do it. This is often a mistake. Here is a list of other hiring mistakes that professionals frequently make:1. No job description By writing down in detail the tasks that this employee will be required to do the hiring manager will be able to see clearly the qualifications a person will need to do this job.2.Hiring someone without the necessary skills It will be clear from the "job description" what skills are necessary for the job. Testing the candidate to be sure that his or her skills are current is also important. (Use a Proof reading, filing, or grammar skills assessment.)3.Hiring someone without having the person take a behavioral assessment The assessment will help you see if this person will fit into the office and compliment the skills of the other people. It will also help you to communicate with the person in a way that that person will hear. Most managers tend to hire people like themselves when in fact they may need someone who can do some of the things that the manager doesnt enjoy.4.Hiring someone whose temperament or personality is wrong for the job Some positions require people who are talkative and friendly and others require people who enjoy working by themselves. Certain tasks require a detail oriented person while others need some one who sees the big picture. Knowing the personality type and temperament that is best for the particular position will help the manager find the right person.5.Hiring friends and/or relatives Often people hire friends or relatives to be kind or to do a favor for someone. If the decision turns out to be a bad one, the situation can get really uncomfortable. It is often difficult to give feedback to friends or relatives and they often resent being put in a position where they have to be grateful for the opportunity but are really angry with you for the criticism.6.Not interviewing the candidate To really get to know if you can work with someone you need to speak with him/her directly either face to face or by phone. 7.Not preparing for the interview by creating a set of questions that you ask everyone Spending time preparing a set of probing questions for the candidates will help you to determine which candidate most closely fits your job description. 8.Not posting the job, advertising it in the paper and/or using a recruiter so that you get multiple candidates giving you a choice Some are tempted to hire the first applicant. If you advertise for candidates in multiple ways and use a recruiter too, you should have a variety of candidates to interview and select from.9.Not screening the candidates so you interview everyone Once you have a group of candidates it is easiest to have screening interviews to weed out those who are definitely inappropriate. Often screening interviews are done by phone but also could be done by email.10.Not checking references and background. It is tempting once you have settled on a candidate to hire him/her on the spot. It is worth taking the time to check references and background to be sure that this candidate has honestly presented him/herself.

Summary

Whether planning your wedding, developing a new website or building your dream house by the sea you need to employ project management techniques to help you succeed. This article summarises 7 key project management best practices to help you achieve project success.