Remote Project Management: A Quick Guide with Best Practices

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

At the beginning of project management, everyone was physically working together. But work management is no longer under one roof. People are now working remotely more than ever.

Remote teams are hybrid teams, and they work in different locations with different tools and skills. How do project managers keep them collaborating and productive? Remote project management and project management software, that’s how.

What Is Remote Project Management?

Remote project management is how project managers connect remote and hybrid teams and ensure everyone works together to meet the objectives of the project. In that sense, it’s no different than managing any project, except that you execute the project remotely.

Managing a remote team creates unique challenges that traditional project managers don’t need to consider. That’s why remote project managers use online project management tools to virtually connect people who are physically distant. Recent events have proved that many industries could survive, and even thrive, using remote project management.

Unlike other methodologies, remote project management is flexible. It doesn’t follow a rigid set or rules, though it is viable with both traditional and agile approaches. It can even support hybrid work management that unites disparate styles of work and makes them compatible.

ProjectManager has multiple project views and real-time data that makes hybrid teams feel as if they’re working together, no matter where they are. Task lists organize the project and your individual work, plus you can set priority and view status to know if you’re on schedule. Teams can comment on tasks for better collaborations. Try ProjectManager today for free!

ProjectManager's task list project viewProjectManager's task list project view
Keep track of your work no matter where you are with ProjectManager’s task list.—Learn More!

Benefits of Remote Project Management

As recent events have shown, the benefit of remote project management is that it keeps the lights on. That is, many businesses were able to continue to stay in business thanks to project management tools that keep them working from home. Important as that is, though, there are other pros to remote project management.

Task Management

Remote project management tools let teams take ownership of their work, and give managers the transparency to monitor their work without getting in their way. A planning tool can assign them work with detailed descriptions. Then, teams can manage their backlog and plan sprints. This leads to more empowered teams and that creates good morale, better retention and productivity.

Cost-Effective

If you have a remote team, then you’re going to save money on office space and utilities. Those savings can go towards growing the business or your team’s salaries. Speaking of teams, they benefit too. No longer do they have to spend money on commuting, whether that’s public transportation or gas and the normal wear-and-tear on their cars.

Work-Life Balance

Work as a fully remote team or in a hybrid model can boost morale. A happy team is a productive team. Whatever you work out between management and employees, it’s sure to benefit both. Less travel means more time at home with the family. This can also help you recruit talent farther away than was ever possible.

Reporting and Feedback

Project management for remote teams excels in transparency through better reporting on progress and performance. Communication is a two-way street, and feedback from teams is also a powerful way to continuously improve processes. Remote collaboration builds stronger bonds, and reporting allows for better decision making.

Challenges of Remote Project Management

Project management for remote teams is not a magic bullet. There are project management challenges, and those beyond project management. Some industries cannot work remotely even if they wanted to. But those that do have the luxury of working outside the structure of an office can still find hurdles, regardless of what project management method they work in.

Collaboration

While there are collaboration tools that connect people, some contend that collaboration is always better when teams are physically in the same room. Text, chat and other messaging tools lack nuance and can often be confusing. Using a voice or video conference is a solution, but even they are not the same as a team working side-by-side.

Productivity

As you might have guessed, each positive for remote project management can also be thought of as a negative. For instance, productivity can suffer when teams work from home. There are distractions that are just not in an office, like the dishes, kids and so on.

Team-Building

Creating a team is easy, but having that team bond and developing trust is hard, even when they’re working physically in the same space. This can be exponentially more difficult with hybrid teams and clients when you’re not together in person. Team-building can happen, but it might be harder and take longer.

Assembling a Remote Project Team

To get a group together, follow these steps:

  1. Know what type of remote structure you’re working with.
  2. Find the right candidates. Those whose skills match your needs, of course, but you also want people who are good communicators and respond to things quickly.
  3. Make sure your guidelines and expectations are clear, from work hours, frequency of check-ins, time tracking, goals, who has authority for what, etc.
  4. Stay engaged with the team through virtual meetings, chat, etc., in order to keep teams feeling connected.
  5. Make sure you have a reliable channel that everyone is using for both direct chat, announcements and feedback.
  6. Have the right collaboration tools for the project team to work together no matter where they are.
  7. Have management tools such as time-tracking to keep your team accountable on how much time they’re spending on tasks.

Types of Remote Project Teams

There are various types of remote teams. You have to decide which fits with your company culture and meets your employees needs. In general, there are three types of remote project teams. They are as follows:

Fully Remote

As you would expect from the name, a fully remote team is one in which everyone is working from home or in separate offices across the region or even different time zones.

Hybrid

The hybrid team is one in which team members are distributed, some working together in an office and others from home or different offices.

Flexible

Flexible or flex teams can work from home or in the office as well as a co-located space as determined by an agreement between themselves and management.

How to Manage a Remote Project Team

When you have assembled your remote project management team and defined their work structure, the real work begins.

  • The first thing you need to do is get the remote teams together for a meeting and set clear expectations for them when project planning. Hopefully, you’ve hired team members who are able to manage themselves while remote working, but regardless, everyone needs to know their roles and responsibilities.
  • Each day should start with check-in. People can explain what they’ve done and what they expect to do over the course of the coming day. This is a good time to make sure everyone understands their assignments. The lines of communication should remain open but a daily standup meeting is a good place to start.
  • While you want to have self-starters, team players and independent team members who can manage themselves, the project still requires processes to manage work and keep productivity high. Whatever methodology you prefer or is right for the project is fine, but make sure everyone on the team knows what it is, how it works and how often they’re expected to update their status.
  • You’ll want to support your remote teams. When there’s no constant face-to-face interaction as in an office, team members can feel isolated and abandoned. That leads to poor morale and unhappy team members, which is nothing you want. Find ways to stay in touch with them, whether weekly one-on-one meetings or other ways to let them know they’re being heard.
  • Finally, you need to have a hybrid work management tool that connects teams no matter where they are, what their skill level or department is to allow them to connect with others and work with the tools they want to get the job done. Cloud-based work management tools help break down the barriers of distance so look for one that is flexible enough to serve project managers and team members.

Best Remote Project Management Tools

There are a lot of remote project management tools on the market. Some are better than others at connecting hybrid teams and facilitating more productive work management. Here is a shortlist of some of the better remote project management tools to help you connect hybrid teams for productive work management.

projectmanager logo, a team management softwareprojectmanager logo, a team management softwareProjectManager

ProjectManager is a cloud-based tool that facilitates remote project management with real-time data, file sharing, commenting at the task level and the ability to tag anyone on the project team and get them into the conversation. You can assign tasks and manage notifications by email and also in the tool to keep everyone in the loop.

Multiple Ways to Work

There are multiple project views that allow everyone to work how they want. Managers can create structured plans in advance with project planning tools such as an online Gantt chart that filters the critical path and sets baselines so when the project is executed the planned versus actual effort can be tracked. Gantt plans can then be shared with stakeholders and the entire team.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart viewProjectManager's Gantt chart view

Powerful Team Collaboration Features

Teams can work on task lists that do more than collect work. They show priority, status, can attach files to tasks, add comments and much more. There are also kanban boards to visualize workflow and a calendar view, too. All project views are simultaneously updated so no one is ever working with old data.

ProjectManager's kanban board viewProjectManager's kanban board view

Real-time Data

Project managers can monitor progress and performance no matter where or when their teams are working. Real-time dashboards require no timely configuration. They automatically gather project data, crunch the numbers and display charts and graphs that show project variance, cost and more. One-click reporting goes even deeper into the data and can be filtered and shared with stakeholders.

ProjectManager's dashboard viewProjectManager's dashboard view

Slack

Slack is a communication tool that connects teams. You can create specific channels for teams, departments, etc. There is one-on-one chat as well as video and voice conferencing. It’s a great tool to keep everyone working on the same page even if they’ve never met in person.

Google Workplace

Google Workplace is a tool that helps teams collaborate. There is a suite of apps that keep everyone connected, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Meet and Drive, which has free documents, spreadsheets and presentation software that can be shared and used by teams.

trello logotrello logo Trello

Trello is a way to manage projects and help teams collaborate. It uses a kanban board model for task management and integrates with other apps. If you’re looking for a kanban-only solution this might be the right tool for you.

Remote Project Management Best Practices

Some project management tips to keep in mind is that, regardless of whether you go fully remote or hybrid, is that you must be transparent when stating the objectives of the project and the process you’ll be using. This keeps teams on the same page as you are and helps motivate them. It doesn’t hurt to start each day with a standup meeting when the agenda is clearly stated for the upcoming workday.

Status reports are the lifeblood of remote project management. Teams need to keep project managers updated, and project managers need to be able to clearly communicate with teams. When team members are not together under the same roof it’s easy to lose touch. Maintaining strong communicative bonds is what keeps remote project management working. You want team members to know what they need to do and project managers must stay open to feedback from the team.

Having one source of truth is critical to keep the team management of remote project management moving ahead without costly delays. If teams are working on one set of data and project managers have another there’s trouble on the horizon. Having a remote project management tool that is cloud-based means real-time data that is shared across all project views to keep everyone working on the most current information.

ProjectManager is an award-winning remote project management software that organizes work and facilitates hybrid teams across the world and the company. Its multiple project views allow teams to work how they want and managers get the reporting tools they need to monitor resources, progress and performance to keep the project on track. Try ProjectManager today for free!

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What Is Lean Manufacturing?

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Lean manufacturing addresses one of the worst things that can happen to any enterprise: waste. To not take full advantage of all of your resources is to lose efficiencies and, in so doing, stunt production. These neglected resources include everything from manufacturing project management tools, to the skills of the staff members.

Industry is, of course, rife with waste. Whether it’s idle workers or unused materials that cannot be recycled or repurposed, the results are the same: a drag on productivity. This insistence on eliminating waste and improving the manufacturing process is where the idea of lean as a management system developed.

Called lean manufacturing or lean production, the truth is that lean techniques like value stream mapping or just-in-time delivery can be universally applied for process improvement, inventory management and supply chain management. Lean manufacturing principles can help your business processes gain efficiencies and, as a result, become more effective and competitive in any marketplace.

A screenshot of the gantt chart in ProjectManager.com, which is a great way to capture your statement of workA screenshot of the gantt chart in ProjectManager.com, which is a great way to capture your statement of work

Use ProjectManager.com’s Gantt charts in lean manufacturing to increase productivity and reduce waste!

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is a production system that focuses on reducing waste, creating customer value and seeking continuous process improvement. This is achieved by applying lean project management principles, techniques and tools. The lean methodology was first implemented in the Toyota production system (TPS) which revolutionized the company’s manufacturing process.

Lean Manufacturing Principles

Here are the five lean management principles that are applied to optimize lean manufacturing systems:

  1. Value: Before you start identifying and eliminating waste, you need to define what’s valuable for the customer. Once the customer defines what’s valuable for them, you can create a product that has only what’s necessary, and remove all the unnecessary work and components associated with it.
  2. Value Stream Mapping: A value stream map allows managers to visualize each step in the production process to identify waste and opportunities for improvement.
  3. Create Flow: One of the goals of lean manufacturing is process improvement. That is because once you improve the steps in the value stream, you can reduce your production lead time.
  4. Pull System: The pull system consists in starting new work only when there’s customer demand for it. This is what supports just-in-time production.
  5. Continuous Improvement: This lean principle consists in constantly using lean techniques like value stream mapping to find and eliminate waste.

It is through these lean manufacturing principles that the lean methodology helps improve production systems. It simplifies operational structure to understand, perform and manage the work environment. To do all this at the same time, Toyota applies a mentoring methodology called Senpai and Kohai, which translates to senior and junior. This fosters lean thinking throughout an organizational structure from the group up.

Types of Waste in the Lean Manufacturing Process

Waste is not a simple concept in lean management. If approached simply, then the reduction is going to be limited. In order for lean project management to be most effective, all types of waste must be identified and eliminated. We’ll go over eight types of waste in lean management.

First, let’s look at the seven lean manufacturing waste types developed by Taiichi Ohno, chief engineer at Toyota, for the Toyota production system (TPS).

  1. Unnecessary transportation: Unnecessary transportation of employees, tools, materials or equipment is a waste that must be eliminated by optimizing factory layouts.
  2. Excess inventory: Having excess inventory can lead to several problems like not identifying defective products in time or increased lead time in the production process, among others.
  3. Unnecessary motion of people, equipment or machinery: This waste is eliminated by applying scientific management techniques to optimize the motion that people, equipment or machinery do during the production process.
  4. Waiting (Idle Workers or Idle Equipment): This waste type occurs when employees can’t work because they’re waiting on materials or equipment, or in the opposite case, there can be idle equipment waiting on maintenance.
  5. Overproduction: Overproduction leads to excess inventory and other issues in the manufacturing process. That’s why lean manufacturing implements the just-in-time production method which consists in only producing what is demanded by customers.
  6. Over-processing: This waste consists in adding components or features to a product that are not required by the customer, which makes them unnecessary.
  7. Defects: Having defective products it’s a waste that must be reduced as much as possible. They can affect customer satisfaction and increase costs.

In addition to these waste types, lean manufacturing experts have proposed an eight waste type called “unused talent or ingenuity”, which occurs when workers’ opinions are not taken into account when identifying waste types and improving manufacturing processes. Their feedback it’s important because they get to experience issues every day and their thoughts can be very helpful in the value stream mapping process.

To simplify things and make it easier to understand for your team members, these waste types can be grouped into 3 broader categories.

Mura: Unevenness, or waste due to fluctuations in demand. This can come from customer requests, but it can also be due to an organization adding new services and thus additional work.

Muri: Overburden, or waste due to trying to do too much at once. This has to do with resource allocation. When too few people try to do too much work, they often waste time switching from one task to another.

Muda: Non-value-adding work, or process waste. This waste comes as a byproduct of something else. Think about three things: value, work that adds immediate value for a customer; necessary waste, which are supporting activities that add value; and unnecessary waste, activities that don’t add value. Therefore, lean maximizes value, minimizes necessary waste and removes unnecessary waste altogether.

Lean Manufacturing Tools

To apply lean principles to your manufacturing process, you’ll need a set of lean manufacturing tools to help you identify and eliminate waste. That waste can be created through an overburden and unevenness in workloads. The removal of waste from any manufacturing system improves quality and production time while reducing cost.

Some of those lean management tools include:

  • SMED (single-minute exchange of die, which is fast way to move from one manufacturing process to another)
  • Value stream mapping (A value stream map allows managers to visualize each step of the manufacturing process to identify process improvement opportunities)
  • 5S (a workplace organization methodology)
  • Kanban boards (visualizes workflow)
  • Poka-yoke (error-proofing)
  • Total productive maintenance (improves integrity and quality of manufacturing process)
  • Rank order clustering (production flow analysis)
  • Single-point scheduling
  • Redesigning working cells
  • Multi-process handling
  • Control charts (for checking workloads)

Other ways to approach lean manufacturing are just-in-time manufacturing or the Toyota Way, as it was developed by the company for its famous Toyota production system (TPS). Here the focus is on improving workflow to remove unevenness as opposed to wastefulness. Kanban boards are essential for this type of lean management.

kanban for lean manufacturingkanban for lean manufacturing
A kanban board in ProjectManager.com—Click to learn more!

The goals for both approaches are the same, but the means to achieve them are slightly different. In the Toyota Way, improving production workflow is the goal, but in doing so waste is also eliminated naturally. Proponents of this production process state it takes a system-wide perspective as opposed to a lean production system that focuses solely on waste removal.

Lean Manufacturing Benefits

Reducing or eliminating waste is essential to lean project management, but the benefits of lean manufacturing can be different depending on who is asked. Some say it is increasing company profit while others maintain its improvements are solely to create customer value and increase customer satisfaction. Some common goals follow.

how to build a lean manufacturing systemhow to build a lean manufacturing system

  • Improve Quality: To stay competitive, companies can’t be complacent, but must meet customers’ changing wants and needs. Therefore, processes must be designed to meet their expectations and requirements. Adopting total quality management can make quality improvement a priority.
  • Inventory Management: Thanks to the just-in-time production method, lean manufacturing reduces excess inventory, which reduces costs and prevents production issues.
  • Process Improvement: Lean production systems are always being improved, thanks to the “continuous improvement” lean principle. Value stream mapping it’s essential for this.
  • Eliminate Waste: Waste is bad for costs, deadlines and resources. It takes without adding any value to a product or service. By eliminating waste, a lean manufacturing system can produce better products, at lower costs.
  • Reduce Time: Time is money, as the adage goes, and wasting time is therefore wasting money. This is especially true for the manufacturing industry. Reducing the time it takes to start and finish a project is going to create value by adding efficiencies. Learn and apply some time management strategies.
  • Reduce Total Costs: Money is saved when a company is not wasting time, materials and personnel on unnecessary activities. Overproduction also adds to storage and warehousing costs. Understanding the triple constraint is the first step to understanding cost management.

How ProjectManager.com Helps With Lean Manufacturing

Using a project management software with features that assist in that ambition, such as ProjectManager.com, is the perfect way to pursue lean manufacturing. You can do this by visualizing the workflow to avoid bottlenecks and give teams only the work they have the capacity and resources to complete.

This is where our kanban project view comes in. The board-and-card system offers transparency into the different stages of production. Cards, which represent tasks, can be moved throughout the board to convey progress, giving teams a quick look at the most pressing tasks.

Product backlogs can be managed in this fashion, and the production flow is controlled for greater productivity.

A screenshot of the Kanban view of ProjectManager.com, showing multiple columns labeled "To-Do", "Test" and "Deploy", with tasks underneath each representing their stage of progress.A screenshot of the Kanban view of ProjectManager.com, showing multiple columns labeled "To-Do", "Test" and "Deploy", with tasks underneath each representing their stage of progress.

Easily Measure and Report Your Progress

To improve processes, another fundamental for lean, you need data. How are your processes doing? Are they meeting your planned expectations? To measure this, use our real-time dashboard that automatically monitors six key project metrics and displays them in colorful, intuitive graphs. See at a glance how you’re performing in real time—and with single click reporting, share key data points to keep the team informed.

A screenshot of the Kanban view of ProjectManager.com, showing multiple columns labeled "To-Do", "Test" and "Deploy", with tasks underneath each representing their stage of progress.A screenshot of the Kanban view of ProjectManager.com, showing multiple columns labeled "To-Do", "Test" and "Deploy", with tasks underneath each representing their stage of progress.

If you’re in the market for reducing waste, improving efficiencies and adding to your productivity through lean management, then you’ll want to use tools that can enhance your workflow, resource allocation and monitoring. ProjectManager.com is the perfect cloud-based project management software to assist you every step of the way. Cut waste today by trying ProjectManager.com with this free 30-day trial.

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What Is Project Collaboration? Tools & Tips for Team Collaboration

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

What Is Project Collaboration?

Project collaboration is a method by which teams and team leaders plan, coordinate, control and monitor the project they are working on. This collaborative project management process works across departmental, corporate and national boundaries and helps especially with projects as they grow in complexity.

With the trend towards remote teams and moving data to cloud servers, project collaboration, which has always been foundational to effective project management, has become even more of a buzzword. But what does project collaboration mean? Simply, to collaborate means to work together towards a common goal. Sounds just like project work, right? Well, not quite.

Collaboration has been a big buzzword the past several years, as organizations realize that effective team collaboration is key to innovation. New project management methods have emerged to extend the meaning of team collaboration from the simple act of working together to a more complex function of inter-relating diverse project teams to achieve new ideas, innovative practices and to yield superior results. These methods include practices and project collaboration tools that promote communication, idea sharing and transparency for local and remote teams.

Why Is Project Collaboration Important for Project Management?

To understand project collaboration as it relates to project management, then we must first have a firm handle on what project management is. Traditional project management is the process by which a project manager, along with his project team plans, monitors and reports on getting a project done over a set period of time known as the project schedule.

As a project manager, you want to encourage collaboration among your team members because it’s good for the project and good for your project team. Yes, you are the one who is in control of the decision-making process, but it’s also important to build a collaborative project environment for your team members so they can work together to complete tasks and deliverables.

To do so, project managers use project management software equipped with task management and team collaboration features. Let’s look at the most popular project collaboration tools and how to use them to manage your teams.

ProjectManager is cloud-based software that connects teams in real-time. With multiple project views, team members can work how they want and project managers get the transparency they need to keep them from being blocked. Kanban boards are visual workflow tools that let team members manage their work and project managers keep them working without costly delays. Try ProjectManager today for free.

A screenshot of a kanban board in ProjectManager.comA screenshot of a kanban board in ProjectManager.com
Use ProjectManager’s online collaboration tools to manage your projects Learn More!

Project Collaboration Tools

Project collaboration tools could be simply defined as all the task management, team communication and resource management software features, apps and platforms that allow project managers to manage their teams’ workflow.

Kanban Boards

Kanban boards are task management tools that allow for team collaboration by visualizing workflow. This online collaboration tool breaks up the project cycle into columns under which tasks are represented as carts.

Cloud-based project management software gives managers a real-time window into their team members’ work no matter where they are and helps them catch bottlenecks, which they can then resolve quickly by reallocating resources. Teams meanwhile are able to manage their backlog and collaborate when planning agile sprints.

Gantt Charts

Gantt charts are the foundation of traditional project management. Project managers use them to organize tasks, link dependencies and set milestones when creating the project schedule. Some project management software goes even farther, allowing to filter for the critical path and set a baseline to track project variance when executing the project plan.

Having multiple project views that enable project managers to plan ahead with Gantt charts and then allowing teams to work how they want, whether on kanban boards, task lists or calendars, creates a bridge that connects hybrid teams and gives everyone the tools they need to get their work done.

Project Calendar

A project calendar highlights all the important dates in a project. It can also be used to manage one’s own work and personal deadlines. When the project calendar is shared then everyone can see the big picture and stay on the same page without meetings, emails and other distractions keeping them from being productive.

Team Collaboration Features

There are other team collaboration features that connect one team member to another, whether they’re in the same office, department or even level of skill sets. Document management allows for hybrid teams to share documents and work on them collaboratively. They should also be able to share files, ideally attaching them to the task they’re working on.

Communication is key to collaboration. Video calls, chat and comments on tasks delivered in real time create a virtual collaborative platform that connects hybrid teams and promotes greater productivity. Having email or, better still, in-app notifications to keep you updated without having to leave your project management tools is also a plus.

Tips to Improve Team Collaboration

Collaboration doesn’t just happen. Whether your team members are all together in the same office or working remotely across time zones, getting a group to work as one takes time and practice. There are ways to facilitate team collaboration. Here are a few things you can try.

1. Team Building Activities

There are team-building activities that accelerate bonding between team members. These can be as simple as taking everyone out to lunch to engaging in more structured games, such as charades, sports and so forth. Whatever you choose to do it should be prior to the project to start building more collaborative teams.

2. Focus on Team Communication

Communication is the glue that holds together any collaborative environment. Whether that’s regular meetings, setting up a real-time chat tool or even a message board, there must be a way to disseminate information to everyone quickly and also capture feedback from team members.

3. Equip your Team with the Right Task Management Tools

Managing tasks is how to get teams working not only collaboratively but more productively. It’s best to have a multitude of tools from which your team can use, such as kanban boards, task lists, etc. If all these project views are updated with the same real-time data then it allows everyone to work better together with the tools they’re most comfortable with.

4. Manage your Team Members’ Workflow

Workflow is essential to productivity and works hand-in-glove with task management tools. Having a task management tool like a kanban board fosters team collaboration and gives project managers transparency into their process. This lets team members work how they want, managing their workflow, while project managers get visibility into their work to make sure they have the resources they need to work at capacity.

Where Is Project Collaboration Done?

Where does project collaboration take place? The short answer is anywhere. As long as there is more than one person in the project team, then collaborative project management can exist and even flourish. But with project teams being increasingly distributed across borders, online project collaboration tools are critical for remote teams.

Now teams can easily share files in real-time, meet, chat and even work on crossing off items from their task lists all in a virtual shared space. But it’s important to remember that your collaborative project management tools are only as good as your managerial style. Team collaboration cannot be automated.

Why Do You Need Collaborative Project Management Software?

Think of collaboration as the whole being better than the sum of its parts. If you have assembled a strong project team then a collaborative project management environment will only improve their productivity. Some of the benefits of project collaboration software are included below.

  • Increases productivity: Project collaboration tools allow project managers to evenly distribute tasks to team members, rather than burdening one team member with too much work. Proper task management gives teams more time, which facilitates team collaboration.
  • Better problem-solving: Giving team members the project collaboration tools to share files and communicate in real time allows them to work together to solve problems.
  • Boosts Team Communication: The lines of communication need constant maintenance or misdirection can sidetrack a project. Project collaboration tools facilitate clear communication among your project team members and provide a solution to communicate effectively among even remote teams.
  • Great for Remote Teams: One of the bigger costs in any organization is renting or buying a physical office in which everyone can work. With online project collaboration tools, however, remote teams can collaborate in real time.
  • Facilitates Team Building: By fostering team collaboration you’re not only building relationships but creating loyalty that helps build a collaborative project management environment.

How To Create a Collaborative Project Management Environment

Okay, you’re on the team collaboration bandwagon. But rather than just giving it lip-service, what can you do to cultivate a collaborative project management climate in your company? While the benefits of project collaboration are clear, implementing them can be hard, especially if you’re managing remote teams. Here are a few things you can do to give project collaboration a healthy start in your organization.

  • Use Project Collaboration Tools: Old habits die hard, but you need to get your team to move away from old methods of communications, like emails, and get comfortable with more interactive and collaborative project management software.
  • Communicate: As a project manager you know that good communication is the foundation of everything, so it goes with installing a collaborative environment. Not only must you properly communicate, but give your project team the collaboration tools to do so, too.
  • Train your Project Team: Like learning anything new, you need guidance and direction. Set up a training session for your team to teach them how to use and why they need online project management tools that make project collaboration possible.
  • Share: That’s what collaboration is all about, and it won’t work unless you break down the virtual walls that have separated team members in the past. For example, share you calendars, that way everyone is on the same page with deadlines, meetings, etc.
  • Check-in: When you lead a project you don’t set the path and let it run its course. The same goes with implementing team collaboration. That’s why you must monitor and have regular meetings with them to field questions and track their progress.

Well, there you have it. Project collaboration is a real thing and it works hand-in-glove with project management. If you’re leading a project you want to have all the team collaboration tools you can get handy. When it comes to planning, monitoring and reporting in real-time on a collaborative online network, then you’ll want to use ProjectManager. To see how it can help you do your job better, take our free 30-day trial.

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Project Management Fast Tracking: How to Fast Track a Schedule

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Fast-tracking in project management is a way to manage time, schedule and activities. This method rejects traditional project management methodologies to work in a way that allows for quicker project execution.

But is fast-tracking right for you and your project? Read on to learn exactly what it means to fast-track a project and how it differs from other techniques in dealing with the project scope.

What Is Fast Tracking In Project Management?

Fast-tracking in project management involves executing activities at the same time rather than sequentially. This is called performing in parallel. Unlike one activity following the other as most projects are done, fast-tracking doesn’t wait for one activity to end before another begins.

Some activities are dependent on others, and cannot start or stop until another starts or stops. Fast-tracking in project management will only work if all the activities are able to overlap with one another. However, if project activities don’t overlap then fast-tracking is a viable alternative, as it usually doesn’t add any extra costs.

That said, rearranging activities in your project to fast-track them can increase risk. Because you’re now executing all activities at once, project managers might have to rework the project. Rearranging your project is likely to result in losing time and having to push your final deadline further out.

Therefore, fast-tracking in project management might not be for everyone. There are, of course, other techniques that can be used when executing the project. A project manager must make the decision as to which of these is best for the project and its stakeholders.

What Is Schedule Compression in Project Management?

Schedule compression in project management is a technique to shorten the length of the project, but keep the project scope unchanged. It’s commonly used to adjust the project schedule when falling behind, or when you need to complete a project sooner than expected.

Fast-tracking is one of the techniques used by project managers when needing schedule compression. Another technique that project managers is called project crashing. More on that in a moment.

Whichever technique you use, controlling your schedule, especially manipulating it to get done quickly, is going to require project management software. Most scheduling for projects is done on a Gantt chart.

ProjectManager has an interactive Gantt chart that does more than just organize activities, link dependencies and show the whole project on a timeline. For one, you can filter for the critical path, which is essential when using schedule compression. Try ProjectManager today for free.

Project Manager's Gantt chartProject Manager's Gantt chart
Fast track all your activities on ProjectManager’s Gantt chart project view.—Learn More!

What Is Project Crashing in Project Management?

Project crashing is a technique wherein more resources are added to the project while attempting to not greatly increase costs.

These cost and schedule changes are analyzed in order to get the maximum compression for the least cost to the project. However, crashing will add costs to the project because it involves increasing resources.

The analysis of cost and schedule tradeoffs is based on the lowest crash cost per unit of time. This gives teams insight into which activities have the most value while not racking up too much cost. The results of such analysis are shared as a crash graph. The crash graph shows activities that save the most time with the least increase in cost.

Project crashing is only viable when adding resources will complete the project sooner. The extra resources can include overtime, incentives and more. The additional costs of achieving this goal are reviewed.

Project Fast Tracking vs Project Crashing

Schedule compression is used to shorten a project duration. That can be achieved through two techniques, fast-tracking and project crashing. Both have their pros and cons, so let’s take a closer look at both and see how they compare.

Fast-tracking is executing your project activities at the same time. Project crashing is adding resources. Therefore, both can help you make up for lost time, but fast-tracking is not likely to impact your budget, while project crashing will require additional costs.

As noted, there is more risk associated with fast-tracking and more costs with project crashing. These differences don’t make one better or worse than the other. They’re really just different, and should be used for different reasons. In short, it depends on the project.

If you choose fast-tracking the project, be sure to keep those activities you’re working on in parallel to be those that are on the critical path. If the critical path cannot be made shorter, then there is no chance you’re able to shorten the duration of the project.

Should I Fast Track My Project Schedule?

When fast-tracking a project schedule you first have to ask yourself five questions. If you answer yes to the following, then it means you can fast-track your project:

  1. Is your schedule realistic, with all tasks and activities identified?
  2. Do you know your dependent tasks?
  3. Can you define the project requirements, objectives and priorities?
  4. Are you working well with stakeholders?
  5. Does the project have governance, oversight and problem management?

How to Fast Track a Project Schedule

Once you’ve determined that your project can benefit from fast-tracking, then it’s time to follow these seven steps.

  1. The first step is to define what your goals and capabilities are when fast-tracking. You can’t move forward without a clear picture of your capabilities and an understanding of the project goal.
  2. Next, you’ll need to identify any task dependencies in the project. You can’t work parallel if you have tasks that must finish or begin before another can stop or start.
  3. Then you want to look over your project schedule and see where there are opportunities to fast track, such as the activities that can be done simultaneously without negatively impacting the project.
  4. You’ll also want to note all the viable alternatives to the schedule. What can be adjusted and what is not able to change?
  5. With those alternatives in mind, you’ll want to start making decisions on the project schedule and what can be fast-tracked and what cannot.
  6. These decisions shouldn’t be made in a vacuum. Seek consensus from your team and stakeholders before moving forward. You want to get buy-in and make sure everyone is on the same page before starting.
  7. Finally, as in any project, you must monitor and track progress and performance. As issues arise, identify them and work swiftly to resolve them.

Benefits of Fast Tracking

Fast-tracking is not without its risks, which we’ll get to. In fact, fast-tracking will increase your chances of risks occurring. But there are benefits to fast-tracking—or project managers wouldn’t turn to it when they need to tighten up their schedules.

One of the reasons that project managers will fast track a project is that it increases productivity in the scheduling resource utilization of the project. Of course, fast-track projects will help you make up for lost time or complete the project sooner if that’s necessary.

You might need to end the project sooner than planned because of circumstances changing which make it impossible to keep to the original schedule. It will also allow for meeting specific priorities that might have been impossible with the original schedule.

What Are the Risks of Fast Tracking a Project?

Fast-tracking a project will increase risk. The reasons are obvious—you’re no longer working in sequence, but all at once. Parallel work is simply harder to manage because you’re trying to control everything at once.

Also, when you’re managing all the activities in a project at once, you still have to deliver on the quality, scope and stay within the budget. That’s hard when you’re working one activity at a time and only becomes exponentially more difficult as you fast track.

Fast-tracking requires extra care in planning because of the increased risk level. If you’re not careful, the project becomes too risky to attempt fast-tracking. Any benefits you might achieve would be overshadowed by issues and problems that can sidetrack the project or worse.

How Can Project Management Software Help You with Fast Tracking?

Planning is key to successful fast-tracking in project management. Not only planning, but you must monitor and track the project closely to identify risks when they arise and resolve them quickly. ProjectManager is cloud-based project management software that gives you real-time data to make better decisions more quickly to help keep your project on track.

Track Key Project Metrics on Dashboards

We’ve already explained how you can plan your fast-tracking on our Gantt chart, which filters for the critical path, but once you have your schedule fast-tracked you need to make sure it keeps on track. That’s where our real-time dashboard comes in. Unlike other tools, our dashboard doesn’t have to be configured. It’s ready to go, automatically collecting and calculating live data that is then displayed in easy-to-read charts and graphs. It’s like an instant status report whenever you need it.

ProjectManager's real-time dashboardProjectManager's real-time dashboard

Work How You Want to Work

Your teams need to execute all activities at once, but it’s unlikely they’ll want to use a Gantt chart. Our multiple project views allow teams to work how they want. Robust task lists, kanban boards that visualize workflow or a calendar that keeps important dates front and center, teams can work how they want. All data is updated simultaneously across every tool so everyone is working on the most current data. This is especially helpful for hybrid teams who might be working in different locations.

ProjectManager's list viewProjectManager's list view

Generate Instant Reports

Our collaborative platform keeps your teams connected and productive, but you also have to update stakeholders. They’re not going to need the same granular information teams to require to execute activities, which is why ProjectManager’s reporting feature can be filtered to show just the data stakeholders want to see. Get reports on costs, tasks, workload and more. They’re all easy to share with stakeholders whether they want a PDF or printout.

ProjectManager's status report filterProjectManager's status report filter

ProjectManager is award-winning software that organizes work to keep you productive and organized. Control your schedule with Gantt charts, monitor in real-time and easily reallocate resources to help you fast track your projects and get them in early without substituting quality or breaking your budget. Try ProjectManager today for free!

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