5 Human Interaction Skills Needed for Effective Elicitation

PM Articles by Project Times. 

In my previous article on Elicitation, I discussed many techniques for effective elicitation. Missing, however, were the human interaction skills[i] that are needed to be successful. Some, like Facilitation, are so large a topic that I’ll write about them in separate articles. In this article, I’ll describe five common human interaction pitfalls relating to elicitation and how to avoid them.

Pitfall #1 – Passive listening. In the previous article, I noted that elicitation is about asking questions and actively listening to the responses. A common misconception is that active listening means keeping our mouths shut and nodding our heads. However, that’s really a form of passive listening and it’s a common pitfall. We’re so afraid of interrupting that we rely entirely on those non-verbals to communicate that we’re listening.

Avoiding the pitfall. Active listening, however, involves making sure we understand what’s being said. That sounds easy, but it’s hard to be sure that we’ve understood correctly. Sure, we use those non-verbals noted above to indicate that we understand. They’re important, but not sufficient in themselves. Active listening requires asking clarifying questions, paraphrasing what we think we’ve heard, and asking related questions. These techniques help ensure that we understand and that we’re interested. They also provide an opportunity for the stakeholders to expand and change their thoughts and opinions.

Pitfall #2 – The prosecuting attorney. This pitfall happens when we ask the right questions in the wrong way, in a way that puts the person we’re talking to on the defensive. It’s difficult enough to elicit information when people trust us. If they don’t, it can be a very difficult process indeed. And there are many reasons why they might distrust us. When we sound like prosecuting attorneys, we risk having our stakeholders shut down or give us bad information or none at all.

Advertisement

Avoiding the pitfall. Elicitation is where we learn, and one of the key ways we learn is by asking for the reasons behind statements. Most of us are taught to ask “why” to get at the true meaning, the cause of a problem, the steps in a process, or the usefulness of current information. However, asking why can be an easy way to bust trust, so we have to be careful how we ask it. So how do we ask “why” without asking “why?” I like the old “can you help me understand?” Or preceding the “why” by softening it with something like “I’m curious why…” Or “do you know why…?” Any words that put our stakeholders at ease can help build the trust we need to learn from them.

Pitfall #3 – Misconstruing non-verbals. As PMs and BAs, it’s important for us to pick up on both verbal and nonverbal cues. This can be tricky. Sometimes non-verbals can be misleading. And different cultures have different non-verbal cues. So relying entirely on non-verbals is a pitfall we need to avoid. Here’s a common example. If I bring up a tough topic and the person I’m talking to has their arms crossed, what does it mean? Maybe they disagree with what I’m saying. Maybe they agree but are struggling with the issue. Maybe my timing is off, and they don’t want to discuss the topic at that time. Or maybe they’re simply cold.

Avoiding the pitfall. It’s important not to make assumptions, but rather to ask for clarification. And don’t forget about the “pause/silence” technique. We ask a clarifying question and wait for a response. And wait some more if necessary. I’m the type of person who’s uncomfortable with silence. If the stakeholder doesn’t respond immediately, I have a tendency to jump in with another question. I find it more effective, as hard as it is for me, to count to ten before moving on.

Pitfall #4 – Boomerang conversations. How many people do we know who ask a question and use that as a springboard to talk about themselves? Chances are a lot. It’s important to show interest in what others are saying, and one way to do that is to share similar experiences. But when the discussion becomes a monolog instead of a conversation, it can build boredom and mistrust.

Avoiding the pitfall. Before we share our own experiences, we should ask questions about what our stakeholders are telling us. Even one or two questions can indicate that we value their thoughts. And again, it allows them to expand their ideas.

Pitfall #5 – Hidden agendas. It’s not uncommon for stakeholders to come to a meeting with something on their mind that they haven’t previously mentioned. There are many possible motivations, and we should not assume the worst. For example, perhaps an important new issue has just arisen and they haven’t had time to let us know. Perhaps it’s difficult to get stakeholders together and they don’t want to lose the opportunity to discuss a certain topic. Perhaps we’ve discouraged their ideas and they don’t trust us enough to notify us in advance. Perhaps they have gathered support from others prior to the meeting. Regardless, it is easy to feel that we have been blindsided. And let’s not forget that we may be the ones with the hidden agenda—for many of the same reasons. Even if our intentions are the best, our stakeholders might feel blindsided.

Avoiding the pitfall. I like one-on-one premeetings with an objective but without an agenda. I like to be open about wanting to meet to find out if the stakeholder is comfortable with the upcoming meeting and its agenda and to discuss issues individually. If need be, we can modify the agenda to accommodate additional needs.

In summary, elicitation is one of those critical skills that we all need in order to be successful. It involves not only core elicitation techniques, but also human interaction skills, without which all the great interviewing, business modeling, and other important techniques won’t suffice. This article presented five human interaction pitfalls and tips on how to avoid them. These tips will help us be more effective in doing our work as BAs and PMs.

[i] These are often referred to by other terms. They are sometimes called “soft” skills, but in my experience, they represent the hard stuff. While they can be practiced in a classroom setting, they can only be truly learned through experience, often in the form of a tough lesson learned. Also, I am not fond of the more current term “essential” skills, which implies that skills like interviewing and process modeling are not essential, but they are.

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!

Related Posts

What Is Work Management? Creating a Work Management System

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Project managers spend a lot of time planning how work will be executed. Doing a feasibility study, planning for its success, scheduling tasks, organizing resources and building a budget are all important.

Then comes the execution phase, and then, much of a project manager’s attention is focused on work-related project management areas such as task, resource, and time management. Project managers need to build a work management system to keep an eye on all these aspects at the same time.

Getting the most out of your team, making sure they have the necessary work management tools to match their capacity at a specific point in the project is key to maximizing productivity. To create that optimum workflow structure requires a work management system.

What Is Work Management?

Work management can be defined as the use of management tools and techniques to manage time, resources, teams and tasks. The main goal of work management is to improve productivity in business processes or projects.

Work management is key to controlling the project scope and avoiding resource, time or task management issues. Either way, the purpose of using work management tools and techniques is to streamline these processes to better schedule project tasks, meet the expectations of stakeholders, manage resources and evaluate performance to further improve productivity.

A screenshot of ProjectManager's kanban board, showing a task moving from column to columnA screenshot of ProjectManager's kanban board, showing a task moving from column to column
Manage work online with your team with the best work management software on the market.—Try it free!

Work Management vs. Project Management

Work management and project management are not exactly the same thing but teams can benefit from both. Both are methods to manage teams, time and work and both can be used in business. However, the main difference between them is that work management focuses on managing the project scope while project management is a much broader discipline. They can both use collaborative tools to assist team members, and apply work management software, work management tools and project management software.

A project manager is concerned with both and uses business intelligence to better deal with real-time project tasks and project work. A work management system is part of project management tools, which includes file storage and acts as a central hub for project teams and their work. Therefore, work management and project management work hand-in-glove to provide the tools project managers require to better manage their projects.

The Work Management Process

The work management process starts with identifying the project scope, planning, scheduling, and then executing the work. But it doesn’t end there: follow-up is important. Use project status reports and work management tools to figure out what’s helping and what isn’t.
Work management is about taking many of the different parts of managing a project as they relate to the team and integrating them into a work management system that boosts productivity. Therefore, work management touches many aspects of project management.

  • Identify: To manage work, you first have to define how, when and in what way that work is done. Be thorough and accurate. When managing projects, you can use a work breakdown structure to visualize every task in your project scope.
  • Plan: Now comes the time to plan what work must be done. As said before, a work breakdown structure will help you make a time estimation of how long that work will take and the resources involved.
  • Schedule: You have the work planned out and a timeline, now you have to create a work schedule, whether daily or weekly, to define workflow and responsibilities.
  • Document: Always make a paper trail of the work management process to capture anything learned and the communications involved throughout.
  • Analyze: Finally, use the experience and documentation to refine your processes. Work management is a continuously improving system.

What Is a Work Management System?

A work management system is a set of management tools and techniques that are employed to manage teams, tasks, resources and time. Most work management systems today rely on work management software because it gives organizations collaborative tools and project management features to control and optimize the productivity of their teams. These are some of the key features that you’ll need from work management software.

  • Project views such as Gantt charts and project calendars to visualize project timelines and schedules
  • Real-time team collaboration tools such as message boards and unlimited file storage
  • Task management, time management and resource management features
  • Timesheets and workload management tools
  • Integrations with other project or business management software

The elements of a work management system read like the features of a powerful project management tool. They incorporate resource management, team collaboration, time and task management, budgeting, reporting and more. In a sense, work management is the hub around which all these spokes turn. If you set it up correctly, you’ll get more out of your project teams.

How Work Management Software Helps You Manage Work

ProjectManager is an award-winning project management tool that organizes work to streamline processes and boost productivity. It is packed with the key work management features you need to elevate your project and team to higher levels of efficiency, such as:

  • Work Management
  • Resource Management
  • Time Management
  • Collaboration tools

Plan your projects collaboratively with our online Gantt chart. Everyone can be part of the work management process and once you collect all the tasks needed to reach your final deliverable, just add the duration and they populate a project timeline.

A screenshot of a Gantt chart in ProjectManager, great for work managementA screenshot of a Gantt chart in ProjectManager, great for work management

Further, control workflow by breaking the larger project plan into smaller phases. Our work management tools allow you to customize colors and views to differentiate the project phases and then add milestones that indicate when one phase ends and another begins.

Any tasks that are dependent on another task to start or finish can be linked, so there are no bottlenecks slowing down work later in the project. Because our software is cloud-based as changes occur, just drag and drop the task to the new date and every related task is instantly updated.

Instant Updates to Keep Work Moving

Team members get notified of any changes to the project plan instantly by email or in-app alerts. Cloud-based file storage and real-time collaboration tools allow managers to add direction and attach documents and images directly to the task when assigning and teams can comment no matter where they are or when they’re working. Everyone is on the same page working together with a work management software.

A screenshot of ProjectManager's in-app notifications, which provides updates to your workA screenshot of ProjectManager's in-app notifications, which provides updates to your work

Balance Workloads

Managers don’t want to get in the way of their teams, but also need a work management software to have transparency in their work. The team management page lists everyone, their tasks and the percent complete they share. Use the workload page to see if anyone is not performing because they’re overallocated. Then reallocate to free them up.

A screenshot of ProjectManager's workload page, which helps managers balance workA screenshot of ProjectManager's workload page, which helps managers balance work

Track Progress with Dashboards

Finally, get a high-level view of the project with a real-time dashboard that automatically tracks six project metrics, doing the task, resource and time management calculations for you and then displaying the results in colorful graphs and charts. For greater detail use one-click reporting tools to see costs, overall health and project variance.

ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management software packed with work management tools to help managers and teams work more productively. From planning to monitoring and reporting on progress, you control every aspect of your work throughout the project life cycle. See why it’s the preferred tool of tens of thousands of project teams and take our free 30-day trial today.

Related Posts

VISUAL – The Catalyst for project acceleration

PM Articles by Project Times. 

An effective PM pushes obstacles out of the way of the team to make a clear path for the project to move ahead, communicate, etc. If unable to move or eliminate the obstacle themselves, a successful PM finds ways to influence others or alternate mechanisms to employ.

Obstacles can be any item that is hindering progress or the ability for the team to collaborate and communicate.

Advertisement

There are the seven key techniques:

Seven key Techniques: “VISUAL”

  • Visibility – Bring items to the forefront that need attention and increased visibility. This also involves being sensitive, intelligent, and creative with regard to who’s on copy in your communications. Unfortunately, certain individuals need a bit more management scrutiny than others.
  • Integrate – Drive effective communication within the project and connect parties. Leaving messages or sending emails with dozens of folks in the to and cc line and hoping for answers is a futile pursuit. The PM must drive integration

Identify key decisions that need to me made to remove roadblocks and get moving! Step up and ask the difficult questions your team does not want to.

  • Show Empathy and commitment– Realize that you work for your team, not the other way around. Provide constant care and support, even when team members are not asking for it. Set aside personal wants and needs and lead by example.
  • Urgency – Remain focused on results and deadlines, and bring continued visibility to them until tasks are completed. Keep focus on priority tasks and associated dependencies and drive them forward.
  • Anticipate – Anticipate the materialization of a road-block and take measures to prevent it from coming about. Part of this is early and often communication with stakeholders regarding needs and expectations.
  • Listen (then clarify)- Actively listen to what your team members are telling you. There will be no doubt what their obstacles are. Your job is to get creative and quickly remove them. Seek to understand, then to be understood. Remember that a problem clearly stated is a problem half solved. Lack of clarity breeds problems and frustration. In absence of clarity, the PM should make assumptions and present them to the team. Folks are quick to refute assumptions that indicate they owe or are responsible for something that they are not. It should be no surprise that a fairly enlightening conversation ensues.

Utilization of these tools will greatly enhance your effectiveness as a PM. Your team will immediately notice your actions. The momentum created by the acknowledgment and positive reciprocation will accelerate your project forward!

Top 10 Project Management Methodologies – An Overview

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

What Is a Project Management Methodology?

A project management methodology is a set of principles, tools and techniques that are used to plan, execute and manage projects. Project management methodologies help project managers lead team members and manage work, while facilitating team collaboration.

There are many different project management methodologies, and they all have pros and cons. Some of them work better on particular industries or projects, so you’ll need to learn about project management methodologies to decide which one works best for you.

We’ll go through some of the most popular project management methodologies, which are applied in many sectors such as software development, R&D and product development.

Top 10 Project Management Methodologies

If you manage projects, you need to learn about project management methodologies. Here’s a quick overview of the most commonly used project management methods that you can use.

1. Waterfall Methodology

This may be the most straightforward and linear of all the project management methods in this list, as well as the most traditional approach. The name is apt, as the waterfall methodology is a process in which the phases of the project flow downward. The waterfall model requires that you move from one project phase to another only once that phase has been successfully completed.

When to Use It: The Waterfall approach is great for manufacturing and construction projects, which are highly structured, and when it’s too expensive to pivot or change anything after the fact. The waterfall method makes use of Gantt charts for planning and scheduling; an example is below.

2. Agile Methodology

What It Is: In a nutshell, Agile project management is an evolving and collaborative way to self-organize across teams. When implementing the agile methodology, project planning and work management are adaptive, evolutionary in development, seeking early delivery and are always open to change if that leads to process improvement. It’s fast and flexible, unlike waterfall project management.

The agile methodology offers project teams a very dynamic way to work and collaborate and that’s why it is a very popular project management methodology for product and software development. That’s because what we think of as agile really appeared in 2001 with the publication of the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development,” authored by 17 software developers.

When to Use It: The practice originated in software development and works well in that culture. How do you know if agile is for you? It has been applied to non-software products that seek to drive forward with innovation and have a level of uncertainty, such as computers, motor vehicles, medical devices, food, clothing, music and more; and it’s also being used in other types of projects that need a more responsive and fast-paced production schedule, such as marketing.

Related: Agile vs Waterfall and the Rise of Hybrid Projects

3. Scrum Methodology

What It Is: Scrum is a short “sprint” approach to managing projects. The scrum methodology is It’s ideal for teams of no more than 10 people, and often is wedded to two-week cycles with short daily meetings, known as daily scrum meetings. It’s led by what is called a Scrum master. Scrum works within an agile project management framework, though there have been attempts to scale Scrum to fit larger organizations.

The term scrum was introduced in a “Harvard Business Review” article from 1986 by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. It became a part of agile when Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle wrote the book “Agile Software Development with Scrum” in 2001. Schwaber formed the Scrum Alliance in 2002, a certified scrum accreditation series. Schwaber left the Scrum Alliance in 2009 to start a parallel accreditation organization called Scrum.org.

When to Use It: Like agile, the scrum methodology has been used predominantly in software development, but proponents note it is applicable across any industry or business, including retail logistics, event planning or any project that requires some flexibility. It does require strict scrum roles however.

4. Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

What It Is: This is the granddaddy of methodologies, if it’s a methodology at all. The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a not-for-profit membership association, project management certification and standards organization.

This organization produces a book called the “project management body of knowledge” or PMBOK. The PMBOK provides definitions and guidelines for project planning, scheduling, executing and controlling. For example, the project management process groups describe the project life cycle while the 10 project management knowledge areas explain how to manage a project.

A screenshot of ProjectManager's project dashboardA screenshot of ProjectManager's project dashboard
Get work management software that fits with every methodology. Try ProjectManager for free!

First off, PMBOK® is an acronym for Project Management Body of Knowledge. It’s a book, published by PMI, that collects the processes, best practices, terminologies and guidelines that are the accepted norm in the industry. It was first published in 1996 and is about to publish its sixth edition in the fall of 2017.

When To Use It: Almost any project can benefit from PMBOK, as all projects big and small are going to go through the various stages outlined in the book. It’s a great way to keep everyone on the same page, so to speak, and offers a clear definition of how a project is managed.

The Project Management Institute it’s also the organization that grants the PMP certification, which is the gold-standard among project managers, and recognized all over the world. PMBOK is a great traditional framework to run a project.

5. Critical Path Method (CPM)

What It Is: In the critical path method (CPM), you build a model of the project, including all the activities listed in a work breakdown structure, the duration of those tasks, what if any task dependencies there are and marking off milestones to indicated larger phases of the project or points in which your project deliverables are due.

With this information, you can identify the longest sequence of tasks to finish the project, which is called the critical path. You’ll need to keep an eye on those tasks, because if one of them is delayed, the whole project will be delayed.

The critical path method was developed in the late 1950s by Morgan R. Walker of DuPont and James E. Kelley, Jr., of Remington Rand. DuPont was already using a precursor of CPM as early the the 1940s, and it was applied to the Manhattan Project.

When to Use It: CPM works better with smaller or mid-sized projects. The larger the project, the more difficult it can be to take all the data you need to diagram and make sense of it without project management software.

6. Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

What It Is: In CCPM, you’re focusing on resources that you’ll be using to complete the project, such as teams, equipment, office space, etc. It’s a less technical method of project management that doesn’t put as much emphasis on task order or scheduling, but rather on balancing resources and keeping them flexible.

First introduced in 1997, in the book “Critical Path” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, it has been credited with making projects anywhere from 10-50% faster and/or cheaper.

When to Use It: Can be applied to both large and small companies, and for projects that include industries such as construction, software development and tech research and development.

7. Kanban Methodology

What It Is: The Kanban methodology is visual approach to project management. The name is literally billboard in Japanese. It helps manage workflow by placing tasks on a Kanban board where workflow and progress is clear to all team members. The Kanban methodology helps reduce inefficiencies, and is a great project management tool for many purposes such as lean manufacturing or agile projects.

Kanban project management has been around since the late 1940s, when it was studied by Toyota to use the rate of demand to control the rate of production of its vehicles. The car company applied it to their lean manufacturing model, known as the Toyota production system.

With the dawn of visual planning boards in software in our era, like Trello, there are now new uses for Kanban tools and Kanban methods. Agile teams use Kanban boards for story-boarding user stories and for backlog planning in software development.

When to Use It: Another process developed initially for manufacturing and for software teams, the Kanban method has since expanded and has been used in human resources, marketing, organizational strategy, executive process and accounts receivable and payable. Almost anyone can plan with Kanban boards, adding cards to represent project phases, task deadlines, people, ideas and more. Kanban software makes this methodology especially accessible.

kanban software for kanban methodologykanban software for kanban methodology

8. Extreme Programming (XP)

What It Is: It sounds like some dangerous sport the kids are into, but in fact XP is a type of agile software development with short development cycles and multiple releases to improve productivity. Customer requirements are sought and can adapt the course of the project.

Created by Kent Beck while working on the Chrysler Comprehensive Compensation System payroll project, he literally wrote the book (“Extreme Programming Explained”) in 1999. But many of its practices have been around for awhile.

When to Use It: When requirements change frequently, then you’ll want to use a methodology such as XP. It’s good for when your customer doesn’t have a clear idea of what they want.

9. Lean Methodology

What It Is: Lean project management is what you’d think it is from its name: a way to cut waste and in so doing increase value in projects and manufacturing processes. So, lean focuses on eliminating waste from key processes to continuously be impacting positively on the value stream. It does this by optimizing separate technologies, assets and verticals.

Lean project management goes back to Henry Ford and his flow production for automating the process of building cars. Toyota picked up on the idea, as well, extending their idea beyond manufacturing to the continuous improvement of the product development process.

Today, software development teams run lean processes to focus on end user feedback and increased value, which means Lean methodology has taken on a new meaning, particularly with the publishing of Lean Startup, by Eric Ries, who advocates for rapid prototyping, end user feedback and early and rapid product delivery.

When to Use It: Lean project management was first developed by Toyota and is obviously a great methodology for manufacturing. In fact, it’s also referred to as lean manufacturing, but it has been adopted by construction and education industries, among others in the manufacturing space and countless startups and software development firms looking to drive products focused on the end user.

10. Six Sigma

What It Is: Introduced by engineers working at Motorola in the mid-1980s, Six Sigma works to improve quality by identifying what is not working in the project. It applies quality management, including empirical statistics, and employs personnel who are experts in these disciplines. There is also a Lean Six Sigma that adds lean methodology to eliminate waste.

As a doctrine, it says that continues efforts to achieve results that are stable and expected are most important to success. Processes can be defined and improved. It takes the whole organization, from the top down, to sustain quality in a project.

When to Use It: This methodology works best in larger organizations. Even companies with a few hundred employees are likely too small to take advantage of its benefits. It requires a certification to practice. Learn about six sigma certification here.

11. PRINCE2

What It Is: PRINCE2 stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments, and is a structured certified methodology. It was initially created by the UK government for IT projects. PRINCE2 is not like other traditional methods like waterfall, in that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but follows seven principles, themes and procedures.

When the UK government adopted standards for IT systems in 1989, they called in PRINCE. PRINCE2 came about in 1996 as a more general project management method. It is now a popular project management methodology throughout all UK governmental agencies and the United Nations.

When to Use It: Adopted by many other country’s governments, PRINCE2, so, as you can imagine, it’s not always suitable for smaller projects.

ProjectManager Works with Any Project Management Methodology

There are almost as many methods to manage as there are projects. But they all share one thing in common: getting deliverables done on time and within budget. No matter which project management methodology you choose ProjectManager is the one software you’ll need to do it.

Tools for Waterfall Project Management

Waterfall is structured. One thing follows the next and it’s all planned out. No problem. ProjectManager has an online Gantt chart.

Import your task list to start a new project. Add due dates and the tasks populate a timeline. Link dependent tasks to avoid bottlenecks. Set milestones to separate the project into phases. You control the project step by step.

Gantt chart screenshot in ProjectManager.comGantt chart screenshot in ProjectManager.com
Gantt charts are ideal for planning long-term, waterfall projects.

Tools for Agile Project Management

Gantt charts aren’t going to help if you’re working in an agile framework. That’s true, but ProjectManager is flexible enough to serve scrum teams with multiple project views.

Use the kanban board to visualize your sprint. Product backlogs are collected on cards, which can be prioritized for scrum teams to know which user story to work on first. Then the sprint can be archived, so when doing a sprint retrospective, teams can learn from their mistakes and improve the process.

kanban screenshot in ProjectManager.comkanban screenshot in ProjectManager.com
Use kanban boards to manage agile projects. Prioritize tasks, make workflows and more.

Multiple Views for Diverse Teams

What if your organization is larger, with different divisions, some that work with an agile project management framework and others with a more traditional waterfall methodology? What’s great about ProjectManager is that it can switch from one view to the other, giving IT teams a kanban board view for their scrum sprints and managers a Gantt chart for a bigger project planning overview.

The real-time dashboard and reporting features gather the same data and crunch the same numbers, so whatever project management method you use is tracking the same results.

project dashboard screenshotproject dashboard screenshot
Real-time dashboards in ProjectManager.com show live data for better tracking.

Yes, ProjectManager is an award-winning project management software for a reason. It is flexible enough to work in an agile environment, traditional waterfall methodology or a hybrid of the two. You decide, not the software, which means ProjectManager is the one tool to bring in your project, however you manage it, successfully.

There are more project management methodologies, but these are some of the most popular. Regardless of which you use, you need a project management tool to best manage all your processes and projects. ProjectManager is a cloud-based PM tool, so whatever methodology is right for you our software will help you apply it to a successful end. Try it free for 30 days and see for yourself.

Related Posts

Project Management Process Groups: A Quick Guide

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Projects are complicated. There are a thousand things that constantly impact the project and require you to reallocate resources to stay on track.

To keep to your schedule and manage costs, you need to gather and process project data throughout the five PMBOK project management groups.

What Are the 5 PMBOK Project Management Process Groups?

To begin, let’s look at the five project management process groups defined in the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), published by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the leading industry trade group.

Project managers use the five project management phases to structure projects and lead them from beginning to end. Each of these phases serve a specific purpose, and project managers must control them to ensure that the project stays on track. Project management software helps project managers stay on top of each of these process groups.

The project management process groups are the following.

Initiating Phase

The PMBOK defines the project initiation phase as “the process of formally recognizing that a new project exists or that an existing project should continue into its next phase.”

In this phase, project managers discuss the business value of the project, as well as if the project is feasible. You also explore the impact on stakeholders. If the project is considered viable and valuable, it is pursued. If it’s not, it’s abandoned.

During this phase, you must also create a business case that answers those questions. The business case includes the estimated costs and benefits of the project. There is also a feasibility study to see if the project makes sense to the organization and its stakeholders. That’s followed by a project charter, which answers the who, what and where of the project.

There’s more, of course, such as:

  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Selecting the team
  • Defining roles and responsibilities
  • Selecting the project office
  • Choosing the right tools, equipment and communication infrastructure

Once the project has been signed and is ready to move forward, there is a kickoff meeting. Use a kickoff meeting to get everyone on the project team on the same page so the project can start off right.

Planning Phase

Once the project initiation is complete and the project has the green light to go ahead, the project planning phase can begin. The planning process is when stakeholders and the project team learn how to achieve the final deliverable of the project or service.

At this point, you document the project plan, as well as define the project deliverables and requirements. You create a project schedule, designed to manage time, cost, quality, changes, risk and any project-related issues.

You also take this opportunity to control resources, such as teams, external suppliers, materials and equipment. You also define roles, responsibilities and where team members sit in the project structure.

There is also the creation of a stakeholder register. This is a crucial document that lists all the key stakeholders and project sponsors in a project. It is part of stakeholder management, and can include how and when you update project stakeholders on the progress of the project.

The project manager is responsible for leading the project planning phase and making accurate estimates on time, budget and resources. It’s at this phase in the project that you plan the scope, use a work breakdown structure (WBS) to organize tasks, make procurement plans and define communication channels and frequency.

When making a project management plan, it helps to have project management software to organize your work. ProjectManager has robust task lists that do more than just collect tasks. The task list view (one of five different project views that let hybrid teams work how they want) can set priority, attach files, add descriptions, be assigned to team members and track status. Try ProjectManager for free today.

ProjectManager's task list viewProjectManager's task list view
Planning, executing or monitoring process groups, ProjectManager’s task list keeps you informed.—Learn More!

Executing Phase

At this point, you’re ready to build the product or service that you’ve planned for. This phase, therefore, tends to be the longest of the project. It’s where you devote most of your energy and resources as you keep the project on track against various project constraints.

The execution phase is deeply connected to the next phase of the project, monitoring and controlling. The project manager is tasked with tracking performance and progress to ensure actual effort is aligned with the planned effort.

Monitoring and Controlling Phase

While executing the project plan, the project manager monitors and controls performance to keep the work going as scheduled and within budget. Project manager continuously measure metrics to make sure they meet their milestones.

Some of the key tasks associated with this project phase are:

Closing Phase

Handing off the final deliverable on time, within budget and within the quality expectations of your stakeholders is important, but it’s not the end of the project. You still need to tie up some loose ends. All activities conclude at this point and the project is closed, which means you need to sign off on documents and fulfill contracts.

A post-mortem of the project is recommended. During a post-mortem, the project manager and team go over what worked and what didn’t to learn how they can improve processes in the next project. They do this by listing best practices and the lessons they’ve learned.

Then, you can release your team and celebrate the success of the project. The last part might not seem crucial, but it is! Keeping team morale high by validating their hard work will positively impact future projects.

Difference Between PMBOK Project Management Process Groups and Knowledge Areas

We’ve detailed the five process groups in project management, all of which are subject to the controlling process in project management. To manage those project management process groups, you need to utilize the knowledge areas of project management.

The Ten Project Management Knowledge Areas

There are 10 project management knowledge areas. They are:

  • Project integration management
  • Project scope management
  • Project time management
  • Project cost management
  • Project quality management
  • Project resource management
  • Project communications management
  • Project risk management
  • Project procurement management
  • Project stakeholder management

Project management knowledge areas are not the same as the project management process groups. The major difference is that the process groups outline what a project manager needs to do, while the knowledge areas are what a project manager needs to know.

More specifically, the knowledge areas are used throughout the project management process groups. The knowledge areas are made up of processes. They have inputs, tools, techniques and outputs. They are project management functions that help deliver successful projects.

When Do You Use Project Management Knowledge Areas?

The knowledge areas work within all of the project management process groups. The process groups are where you break up and categorize a project. It’s the sequence of the project from start to finish. You can use the knowledge areas throughout each stage of the process.

A good way to understand the difference is that knowledge areas categorize processes, while project management process groups are stages or phases of the project. The knowledge areas don’t have a logical relationship, but the project management process groups lead from one to the next.

Both project management process groups and knowledge areas work better together when they’re powered by project management software. Project management software will help you control the process groups and lead you to a successful project.

How ProjectManager Helps With PMBOK Process Groups

ProjectManager is cloud-based software that gives project managers more insightful data to make better decisions while equipping hybrid teams with multiple project views to get work done how they would prefer. There are features that help throughout each process phase. From unlimited file storage for a central hub of documentation when initiating to reviewing what worked and didn’t during close.

Get Started on the Right Foot in the Planning Process Group

Planning is one of the more complex process groups. You need a tool that can organize your tasks, link dependencies and set milestones. ProjectManager’s Gantt chart project view does that and more. You can filter for the critical path instead of having to make time-consuming calculations. Then, set a baseline and track planned versus actual effort.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart viewProjectManager's Gantt chart view

Nail Your Execution Phase with Different Project Views

ProjectManager has multiple project views. Managers can use the Gantt or Sheet view, while teams can manage their own workload on kanban boards, task lists and calendars. This connects hybrid teams, no matter where they are. The kanban board visualizes workflow during the execution phase, letting team members manage their backlog and plan sprints. Meanwhile, managers get the transparency needed to accurately allocate resources and keep teams working at capacity.

ProjectManager's kanban board viewProjectManager's kanban board view

Track Progress in the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

During the monitoring and controlling process group, real-time data comes in handy. Data gives managers a window into the progress and performance of the project. ProjectManager’s live dashboards calculate metrics such as project variance, costs and more for an instant status report without having to take time to configure the tool, as with other tools.

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

ProjectManager is an award-winning software with features to organize, monitor and report on your project. One-click reporting features filter detailed data and can be easily shared with stakeholders, and resource management software makes sure everyone has what they need when they need it to complete their work. Try ProjectManager today for free!

Related Posts

Modern Challenges of Hybrid R&D Teams in Manufacturing

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Manufacturing is an all-encompassing industry that touches everything, from food production to biotechnology to building materials. From the moment you wake up from the moment you go to bed, you interact with the manufacturing industry.

At the core of all manufacturing innovations are research and development (R&D) teams. These teams drive economic growth by producing strategies, designs, process improvements and products that bring value to both consumers and companies—as well as create competitive advantages for manufacturers.

As of 2020, the U.S. manufacturing market is worth an estimated $176 billion. In 2021, global spending on research and development teams has hit an all-time high of $1.7 trillion.

There are more eyes (and pressure) on manufacturing R&D teams to quickly produce quality products than ever before. This leads to new challenges in a hybrid environment.

Major Challenges Facing R&D Teams in the Hybrid World

One of the biggest challenges facing research and development teams is adjusting to the transition to remote work. The pandemic turned the workforce on its head, resulting in hybrid R&D teams that are spread across different time zones. Pew Research Center conducted a 9,000-person survey where 83% of respondents said a hybrid work environment is ideal going forward.

Hybrid teams are here to stay. The shift to hybrid teams is logical, but it doesn’t come without speed bumps. Teams not only have to work with each other remotely, but also need to consider different working styles and preferences. This is necessary to keep projects moving at the same pace and quality as in an office environment.

If you’re interested in learning more about optimizing hybrid R&D teams in manufacturing, we encourage you to download How R&D Teams Increase Speed & Quality with Hybrid Work Management, our white paper on this subject.

An image that says 'How R&F Teams Increase Speed & Quality with Hybrid Work Management: Download Report NowAn image that says 'How R&F Teams Increase Speed & Quality with Hybrid Work Management: Download Report Now

This blog touches on many of the topics explored in the white paper. Let’s start with the obstacle of speed versus quality.

Difficult to Balance Speed and Quality of New Product Development

R&D teams are already under constant pressure to deliver new products as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. Doing so in a hybrid environment is even more challenging.

As 42% of fast innovators are also strong innovators, R&D teams are always racing to push new products to market. The first-mover advantage in research and development is real. It gives those who go to market first a leg up in gaining market share and lowering development costs. Yet, at the same time, the need for high quality is also ever-present. Balancing these two demands is difficult.

Project managers in this space often gravitate toward a particular methodology that may not align with how their team prefers to work. Waterfall is ideal for mapping projects into linear, sequential phases. This makes it appealing to engineering and quality assurance teams at the outset of a project. Each phase is dependent on the previous phase’s deliverables, which makes this methodology more rigid compared with other options.

Agile is another common project management methodology that is significantly more iterative compared to waterfall. Agile gives R&D teams more flexibility to adapt as they accumulate feedback from stakeholders and customers.

Focusing on just one work methodology can lead to trade-offs in the speed of innovation versus product quality.

The Solution: Mix Methodologies Through Hybrid Work Management

Hybrid work management lets teams embrace multiple methodologies within the same project. While a strict waterfall plan is often ideal at the outset of a project to provide a predictable path to a quality product, R&D team members solving specific challenges within that plan— such as evaluating new materials to reduce friction or add durability—will likely find an iterative agile approach more useful. Hybrid work management can accommodate both within one initiative.

Related: Agile vs Waterfall and the Rise of Hybrid Projects

Unreliable Resource & Timeline Planning Slows Down Projects

Another challenge hybrid R&D teams face is accurately planning project resources and timelines. It doesn’t matter how big or small the manufacturing research and development project is. Its success hinges on thorough planning and organization from the start. Without the ease of a quick hallway conversation or project update, it’s increasingly difficult for R&D teams to grasp a full understanding of resource visibility and timeline tracking.

In a hybrid environment, understanding who’s working on what, as well as the expected completion date for that work, takes on new meaning. A Gartner study found that without accurate resource management data, teams overestimate their capacity to take on new work. That overestimation can have a significant impact on project timelines, potentially extending the duration of a 4-month project to as much as a year.

The Solution: Unite Resource Management and Project Planning Through Hybrid Work Management

Many R&D teams struggle with juggling multiple point solutions to track tasks, assignments and time separately. Hybrid work management establishes one comprehensive plan that encompasses tasks, assignments, resource workload and more. This centralized approach eliminates uninformed decisions that could jeopardize important timelines.

Hybrid work management not only accounts for the availability of a resource, but also his or her unique expertise. For example, if the bottleneck is finding machinists, but leaders instead add more mechanical engineers to the team, they will continue running into roadblocks. Having a single source of information helps R&D leaders pinpoint job skills necessary for project success.

For additional information on hybrid work management in R&D teams, make sure to download our insightful white paper.

An image that says 'Hybrid work represents the biggest shift to how we work in our generation: Download FreeAn image that says 'Hybrid work represents the biggest shift to how we work in our generation: Download Free

Catering to Team Members with Different Roles and Skill Sets

Who is responsible for what aspects of the project, and what is the feedback process like? You can’t keep this information in a black box that’s supported by ad-hoc collaboration methods.

There are three basic roles within R&D teams: sponsor, leader and team member. Sponsors are focused on the outcome of the project and keep track of key milestones; however, they don’t require task-level visibility. Project leads are focused on milestones as well as the details surrounding individual tasks. Team members often work in a silo and are focused on their specific set of tasks. For maximum productivity, all three roles require a clear, intuitive path to the data and insights they need.

Typically, research and development teams in the manufacturing industry rely on outdated tools such as Excel spreadsheets, emails and instant messaging to collaborate and keep track of projects. But when each role or skill set within the team has unique data needs, those siloed sources of information begin to quickly multiply. You need to create PowerPoint slides manually for executive updates, while team leaders manage master spreadsheets and assign individual tasks over email.

Once again, in a hybrid environment, siloed information and workflows accelerate the difficulties these teams already face to perform at their peak. Too much time is wasted searching for the right information or the latest document update. Collaboration and productivity slow, while misunderstandings and frustration rise.

The Solution: Hybrid Work Management Caters to Unique Needs for Maximum Productivity

Diversified skill sets thrive in hybrid work management as R&D team members can easily find the data that’s meaningful to them while still working in the format of their choice. Collaborating at the task level through tools such as kanban boards and Gantt charts let team members see data and assignments in one place without being overwhelmed with too many details that don’t involve them.

At the same time, executives can see high-level metrics in a real-time dashboard, while team leaders can manage and assess even the smallest detail.

Our Modern Project and Work Management Software Can Aid in the Hybrid Teams Transition

The fact remains: some manufacturing companies are inherently more successful in R&D than others, so it’s important to give your business a leg up whenever possible. If you haven’t yet considered how to ease the transition into a hybrid work environment, now is an excellent time to do so.

Download the full version of our white paper to learn about the in-depth solutions to these common R&D obstacles.

Related Posts

What Is Workflow Management? 5 Tips for a Better Workflow System

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Planning a project, setting up a schedule and assembling a skilled team only sets the stage for productive work. To make sure everyone works at capacity and keeps things moving forward, you need to implement workflow management.

If you want to manage work effectively and efficiently, you need to understand workflow tools, such as workflow management software, and set up a workflow system that lets you continue improving the workflow process.

What Is Workflow Management?

Workflow management is when managers identify, organize and coordinate tasks that lead to a specific deliverable to optimize and automate processes. Doing this increases outputs, gets rid of redundancies and reduces errors.

Tasks, people, systems and machines can all be included in a workflow. The coordination of these elements is crucial to prevent bottlenecks. A bottleneck stops or slows down production and backs up everything preceding it.

In general, a workflow can be broken down into three main components:

  • There are predefined steps or tasks, which explain what happens each step of the way until the end. These steps can be either linear, branched or a blend of both.
  • In the context of a workflow process, stakeholders are those on the team who are responsible for executing the tasks. They can be assigned to one task or the entire workflow.
  • Finally, there are conditions, which are the rules for the workflow. They define when one task is done and another can begin.

Workflow Management vs Project Management

Workflow management is part of project management, but they’re not interchangeable terms. Project management is done over a specific duration of time that ends with a deliverable, either a product or service. Workflow management, on the other hand, is optimizing a sequence of tasks or processes necessary to complete a task.

That doesn’t mean that the two are completely different—in fact, the two are complementary to one another. Both serve to deliver a specific outcome. Workflow is part of any project, and without workflow management to keep that process running smoothly, projects will fall behind schedule and costs will balloon.

While there are similarities between workflow management and project management, there are also differences. Projects end, but workflow repeat, as it’s a function within an organization. It can even be a standalone process, such as creating documentation or scheduling appointments.

Projects are about plans, overseeing processes and teams and managing tasks, while workflows are focused at the task level, connecting tasks to optimize the process and deliver greater efficiency. But both can be served with project management software.

ProjectManager is cloud-based work management software that helps manage workflow. Our task list shows your team what they need to complete, the status of their work and lets them make comments to foster collaboration. Try ProjectManager free today!

ProjectManager's task list viewProjectManager's task list view
ProjectManager has tasks lists to keep teams updated on the status of their workflow.—Learn More!

Workflow Management vs. Business Process Management (BPM)

Though workflow management and business process management (BPM) are similar, there are differences in the type of process management. A workflow management system is a tool that helps you set up and monitor the execution of your tasks. It’s usually formatted like a flowchart. It’s often not detailed, but clear enough for teams to follow.

Think of workflow management as a less involved form of BPM. Workflow management captures the workflow process, and some tools will even let you automate basic workflows. You can use this for a variety of workflows, such as onboarding a team or document management. Workflow management tools are people-focused rather than process-focused. BPM tools are more process-oriented.

BPM is about capturing and improving business processes. It’s used to improve the efficiency of an organization. First, you need to identify the current state of the business processes and document these actions. Once the company’s full processes are mapped out, you can analyze the BPM. This should expose bottlenecks in your process and help you reduce cost and improve processes by making insightful changes.

The difference between workflow management and BPM is that the former is more geared towards organizing people and documents, following the right steps at the right time. The latter is about business processes and how to improve them. Workflow management coordinates people and software systems, while BPM coordinates how resources in an organization interact. BPM systems are more complex and involved in continuous improvement, while workflow management tools just automate steps in a process.

What Is a Workflow Management System (WMS)?

A work management system is how a workflow is set up and monitored in a project or organization. A WMS is made up of procedures and tools that are used by an organization to identify, run and improve workflow. It will involve some manner of workflow software, but can be more than just using a tool.

Therefore, WMS organizes company policy, procedures and software tools to better manage the workflow process of the organization or project. It includes everything from form modeling, role-based accessibility, reporting, notification, cloud-based storage and more.

What Does a Workflow Management System Do?

A workflow management system gives people the opportunity to define the different workflows in their project or organization as it applies to tasks or processes.

A WMS also allows repetitive tasks to be automated for greater efficiency. Some can also make sure that an uncompleted task in the process is not forgotten. It does this with notifications that keeps your team in the loop.

Using a workflow management system is a good way to have one source of truth. Rather than having teams communicate with one another on Slack or email, they can respond at the task level and keep the communications inside the app. It also lets businesses move away from static spreadsheets. When too many Excel spreadsheets are shared, it can be difficult to know which one has the most current data.

What Is Workflow Software?

Workflow software is part of a workflow management system. It’s a tool that shows tasks you need to complete, tasks that are being executed and their status. It also shows steps that you have completed. A WMS lets you give assignments to team members that have detailed descriptions of the work.

It provides transparency into the workflow process, which lets managers catch issues before they become problems. They can then reallocate resources to the project and make sure that they resolve the potential bottleneck before it slows the team down.

There are also reporting features that collect data and calculate that information to show project metrics, whether in reporting tools or dashboards. All these features are designed to improve productivity and efficiency by streamlining processes, reducing paperwork and identifying bottlenecks.

Benefits and Features of Workflow Management Software

The benefits of using workflow management software should be obvious. The better your workflow, the better your project or organization. One of the ways WMS does this is by reducing the number of errors. Even if a few get by, which always happens, the software can tell you and you can set up procedures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Workflow management is also like connective tissue keeping people, software and work culture productive. Teams can communicate with one another, which facilitates collaboration. It also integrates different software systems to help them work better together, too.

There are so many pros to using workflow management software it’s hard to stop listing them. From helping you work on multiple tasks at the same time to increased control and transparency, workflow management systems also improve the work culture in an organization. Disorganization erodes morale.

WMS generally have features that show task status, reporting tools and email notifications to keep everyone on the same page. Some will also have resource management tools to reallocate resources and keep teams working at capacity without over-allocating their workload.

Choosing a Workflow Management System

Convinced that a workflow management system will help you run a more efficient project or organization? First, ask yourself this question – “how do I know which is the right workflow management system for me?”

Well, there are always going to be constraints beyond the tool itself, such as price, and what your organization is willing to invest to install new software. Outside of those things, you should look for software that has the following features.

  • Cloud-based software to get real-time data and make more insightful decisions
  • Notifications to keep you updated on changes to your workflow
  • Multiple project views, such as Gantt, kanban, task lists, etc., to allow everyone to work how they want
  • Monitoring and reporting tools to analyze workflow data and make better decisions on improvements
  • User-friendly interface and quick onboarding
  • Integrates with other apps that you use
  • Collaborative communications to keep teams connected

Workflow Management Best Practices

Finally, once you’ve selected the workflow management software that fits your project or organization’s needs, here are five tips to get the most out of your workflow.

  1. First, have a workflow plan. But more than that, have one that is written out or, better yet, visual. It’s better to prepare ahead and having a visual representation of that plan makes it easier to share and grasp.
  2. It’s also a good idea to think about things that could go wrong in your workflow system and how you’ll respond to them. Risk mitigation is always good practice because it’s inevitable that something will go wrong. Try to figure out where there might be delays or bottlenecks that will slow down production and how to resolve them quickly if they should appear.
  3. If you’re using workflow for a project, it can be helpful to apply the same workflow management to the whole organization. There can be issues in your project that are outside of your purview and part of a poorly thought-out workflow in the organization of your company.
  4. Make sure you’re using workflow management software and that it has tools that fit with your project or organizational structure.
  5. Also, don’t rest on the workflow once you have one set up and running, even if all is going well. Also, take time to do an audit, review the process and come back with ways to improve it. Workflow is not a once-and-done process but an ongoing and constantly evolving system.

Why ProjectManager is the Best Workflow Management System

ProjectManager is a cloud-based workflow management software that organizes workflow, connects teams and lets you build efficiencies and boost productivity. Teams can collaborate wherever they are in real time and stay updated with workflow automation tools, such as email notifications and in-app alerts.

Work in Multiple Project Views

Having multiple project views means that teams can work how they want, whether they’re remote or in different departments. Experts and newbies alike can visualize the workflow on ProjectManager’s kanban board view. Teams can take control of their backlog and manage those tasks. Then they can work together and plan sprints, while managers can transparency into the workflow and can reallocate resources to clear bottlenecks before they slow down work.

ProjectManager's kanban board viewProjectManager's kanban board view

Track Issues on Dashboards

Keeping an eye on the workflow is how you can catch issues and resolve them before they become problems. Using ProjectManager’s live dashboard is like having an instant status report. It captures project data in real time and then automatically calculates information in easy-to-read graphs and charts showing workload, tasks and more. Unlike other software that requires a lengthy setup, ProjectManager’s dashboard is ready when you are.

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

Improve Processes Through Reporting

To find ways to improve your workflow, use ProjectManager’s one-click reporting tools. They generate detailed data on time, cost and more. You can filter each report to let you focus on only the information you want to analyze. You can also share reports to keep your stakeholders updated.

ProjectManager's project status report filterProjectManager's project status report filter

ProjectManager is the best workflow software with resource management tools to adjust workflows fast and easily. Our tool integrates with most apps and can help enterprise workflow management with portfolio management features. Get organized and try ProjectManager today for free!

Related Posts

5 Reasons Why Xebrio Can Uniquely Take Your Project from Requirements to Deployment

PM Articles by Project Times. 

My next instalment in my “5 Reasons Why…” series will look at Xebrio’s project management too. This offering is a software tool that will help you fulfil your story from Requirements to Deployment. Xebrio is an ecosystem for tracking projects starting from requirements to releases, all under one roof. Xebrio helps teams achieve maximum productivity by enabling precise and comprehensive requirement analysis and tracking, milestone tracking, hassle-free collaboration and task assignment, issue tracking, and much more, ensuring that your team never misses a deadline and works efficiently. It offers you the flexibility that your team needs without making following up on tasks harder than the tasks themselves. Here are my 5 Reasons Why you should check out Xebrio…

Manage Requirements with Stakeholder involvement

Xebrio’s requirements management suite differentiates it from other project management tools. Xebrio’s makers have understood that it is vital to start a project correctly with careful and efficient requirements management to be able to end it successfully. Xebrio helps teams leverage stakeholder collaboration and input for productive and efficient requirements management. So, it allows external stakeholder collaboration & review and connects requirements to all the ever-important primary functions of project management.

Advertisement

Link Test Cases to Requirements 

The second-best thing (after the requirements management suite) in Xebrio has to be its test case management tool. This is one of the rare tools that offer support for requirements management as well as test case management. Xebrio is jam-packed with features that make test engineering a breeze. It has a lucid QA dashboard that enables a holistic view of all test engineering activities, which allows teams to gain in-depth data-driven insights into the project’s testing efforts.

Customizable Task Management

Xebrio’s task management suite is a virtual, improved to-do list and makes completing tasks a pleasure. Xebrio helps teams to record tasks and sub-tasks extensively. You can easily delegate tasks to individuals and teams and invite teammates to collaborate or review & share feedback on tasks in real-time. You can make tasks visible to external stakeholders or work on certain tasks together with just the flick of a button. Xebrio also allows the sharing of files and resources. No more attachments getting bungled or lost in emails!

Efficient Milestone Tracking

Xebrio allows milestone-oriented delivery — the delivery of the project in chunks of tasks. Milestones can act as check posts for project’s progress, such as the project kickoff dates, the submission of an important deliverable, or the completion of a bunch of similar small tasks grouped together that make up a bigger phase of a project. You can schedule and track milestones and keep an eye on project progress. You can analyze your project’s progress with Xebrio’s milestone tracking suite in one glance since milestone stats and data-driven insights are represented visually. Reporting against milestones is very straightforward and helps to check how much of a project is completed, and what is outstanding. You can then relay this progress to your stakeholders and clients more effectively.

Effortless Team Communication and Collaboration

Understanding the significance of proper communication and seamless collaboration between geographically dispersed teams, Xebrio offers a variety of features for excellent real-time communication. With their ‘Discussions’ feature, you can access a virtual idea board where brainstorming sessions can take place as organically as they would in person, but with the added benefit of structure, a detailed record of every conversation, and the ability to work on ideas derived from the discussions immediately and within the same tool.

Summary – call to action

In addition to being meticulously designed to streamline and ease project functions, Xebrio makes the users’ experience more comfortable with good user-care practices and reasonable pricing points. Are you ready to try it? Either contact Xebrio for a personal tour or signup now to try it. You won’t be sorry.

Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. He has been named the “#1 Provider of Project Management Content in the World” with over 7,000 published articles, eBooks, white papers and videos. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s site at http://www.bradegeland.com/.

Production Planning in Manufacturing: Best Practices for Production Plans

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

As the creation of products and services has become more extensive and varied, the manufacturing industry has become more competitive. There are many things to keep an eye on such as material requirements planning, supply chain management and inventory control. Operations continue to become more complex, and this means manufacturing companies require more thorough production planning.

A production plan is the best way to guarantee you deliver high-quality products/services as efficiently as possible.

A screenshot of a gantt chart in ProjectManager.comA screenshot of a gantt chart in ProjectManager.com

Hone your product plan with ProjectManager’s Gantt charts. Click to learn more!

What Is Production Planning?

Production planning is the process of deciding how a product or service will be manufactured before the manufacturing process begins. In other words, it is how you plan to manage your supply chain, raw materials, employees and the physical space where the manufacturing process takes place.

Production planning is very important for manufacturers as it affects other important aspects of their business such as:

  • Supply chain management
  • Production Scheduling
  • Material requirements planning
  • Production lead time
  • Capacity planning

Why Is Production Planning Important?

If a manufacturing operation wishes to expand, that evolution demands careful production planning and production scheduling. Someone must take on the responsibility of managing resources and deciding how they will be allocated. This process is a big part of capacity planning—how much can be made in a certain period of time, with the available resources?

Without production planning, it is easy to use too much of a resource for one product and not leave enough for another, or fail to schedule your resources properly, which results in delays that affect your production scheduling. It’s just as easy to let resources go to waste. These issues indicate a lack of efficiency in your production planning process.

No matter the product or service or the size of the operation, production planning is the best way to ensure resources are used appropriately, products and services are high-quality and nothing goes over budget.

Types of Production Planning

Every operation is unique, and the same production plan isn’t right for everyone. In order to get the most from project planning, you need to decide which method is best for your manufacturing process. That said, here’s a quick intro to the different types of production planning.

Job Method

The job method is often used when manufacturing a single product, for which a unique production plan is created. This production planning method is generally used in smaller-scale productions, but it can also be applied to larger manufacturing facilities. The job method is especially advantageous when a product or service requires specific customizations.

Batch Production Method

Batch production consists in manufacturing goods by groups, instead of being produced individually or through continuous production. This method is useful when manufacturing products at a large scale.

Flow Method

The flow method is a demand-based manufacturing model that minimizes the production lead time by speeding up the production line. The manufacturing process starts based on work orders, and once it starts, it doesn’t stop until all finished goods are produced. This is called continuous production and it’s achieved by using machinery and little intervention to minimize waiting time.

Process Method

The process method is more or less what most people picture when they think about production—an assembly line. With the process method there will generally be different types of machinery completing separate tasks to put together the finished goods.

Mass Production Method

The mass production method is primarily focused on creating a continuous flow of identical products. It’s similar to the flow method, but at a much bigger scale, which cuts production costs. When uniformity is just as critical as efficiency, you need to use “standardized processes” to guarantee all products look exactly the same.

What Is a Production Plan?

A production plan is a document that describes how production processes will be executed, and it’s the final outcome of the production planning process. It describes the human resources, raw materials and equipment that will be needed and the production schedule that will be followed.

kanban board for manufacturing projectkanban board for manufacturing project
Kanban boards can be a big help in the production planning process

The person responsible for production planning must also be very familiar with the operation’s inner-workings, resources and the products/services they produce. This usually entails collaborating with people on the floor, in the field or in different departments to create products and deliver services.

How to Make a Production Plan

When you set out to create a production plan, make sure to follow these 5 steps to make it as robust as possible.

1. Estimate/Forecast Product Demand

Understanding product demand planning is the best way to decide which product planning method is the best choice for your operation. From here, you’ll be able to estimate which resources are required and how they’ll be used in the manufacturing process.

2. Access Inventory

Accessing inventory is about more than simply taking stock: you should make an inventory management plan so that you don’t experience shortages or let things go to waste. For this step, focus on the inventory control and inventory management techniques you can use to handle inventory in the most efficient way possible.

3. Resource Planning

A successful production plan requires you to be familiar with the resource planning details of the manufacturing process. Note the minimum number of people and raw material requirements necessary to create a product or execute a service. You need to also consider what machines and systems are essential for executing your production plan.

4. Monitor Production

As production takes place, monitor how the results compare to the production schedule and resource management projections. This is something that should continually take place and be documented during the production process. Monitoring production is especially important to the fifth step in the production planning process.

5. Adjust the Plan to Make Production More Efficient in the Future

The final step of production planning is to reflect on the information you gained in step four and strategize what can be done to make the production plan run more smoothly in the future. Production planning is about manufacturing a product or service, yes, but it should also be a learning experience for creating even better production plans for next time.

Common Production Planning Mistakes

As you go through the production planning process, you must stay vigilant of common missteps. Here are three mistakes often made during production planning. Luckily, they can be prevented.

Not Expecting the Unexpected

This means having risk management strategies in place if things go awry. The goal is to never have to employ them, of course, but it’s better to have them and not need them. Production planning is not complete if it doesn’t anticipate risks, issues and changes. When you plan for them, you’re ready to problem solve if and when they happen.

Getting Stuck Behind the Desk

You should work with intelligent production planning tools, but that doesn’t mean you should only rely on an enterprise resource planning software for production planning and not oversee resources and operations in person. When production planning is only done from behind a screen, the end result will not be as informed as it could be. The best production planning is active and collaborative.

Neglecting Equipment

Regardless of the product or service, manufacturing means using tech. In order to get the most from your equipment, you need to take care of it. This means tracking usage and keeping up with regular maintenance. This looks different depending on the industry and product or service, but the principle is the same: continually take care of your equipment before it becomes a problem that will slow down production.

Production Planning Best Practices

No matter what product or service is being manufactured, there are many tried-and-true best practices that set your operation up for success. When creating a production plan, keep these two in mind.

Make Accurate Forecasts

When you don’t properly estimate the demand for your product or service, it is impossible to create a detailed production plan. Demand planning is never static. You need to consider buying trends from previous years, changes in demographics, changes in resource availability and many other factors. These demand planning forecasts are the foundation of skillful production planning.

Know Your Capacity

Capacity planning means knowing the maximum capacity your operation can manage—the absolute most of a product or service it can offer during a period of time. This is the only way to anticipate how much of each resource you will need in order to create X amount of products. When you don’t know the production capacity, your production planning is like taking a shot in the dark.

Use ProjectManager for Production Planning and Scheduling

As the nature of manufacturing goods and services changes, you need modern tools to plan production and make schedules. ProjectManager is an award-winning project management software that offers all the tools you need for excellent production planning and scheduling. With it, you can plan projects, create schedules, manage resources and track changes with one tool.

Plan with Gantt Charts

Manage your product manufacturing across a timeline with our Gantt chart view. With it, you can view your resources (such as raw materials) tracked by cost to make sure you’re never overspending. You can then link any dependent tasks to avoid bottlenecks in your manufacturing.

A screenshot of the Gantt chart in ProjectManager.com with a project plan.A screenshot of the Gantt chart in ProjectManager.com with a project plan.

Get a Birds-Eye-View

To keep your production plan on track, you need to have a high-level view so that you can pinpoint setbacks before or as they occur. Our real-time dashboard collects your data and converts it into colorful graphs and charts that give you at-a-glance analytics.

A screenshot of the dashboard in ProjectManager.com which tracks plans and schedules.A screenshot of the dashboard in ProjectManager.com which tracks plans and schedules.

Easily Measure and Report Your Progress

Any operation will have stakeholders, and they want to be kept in the loop. ProjectManager’s project status reports make it easy to share key data points. They can be generated in a single click, making it simple to generate them before important meetings.

A screenshot of the status report in ProjectManager.com which can be used for monitoring production plans.A screenshot of the status report in ProjectManager.com which can be used for monitoring production plans.

Manage every detail of your operation with ProjectManager’s powerful cloud-based project management tools. Our suite of tools is trusted by tens of thousands of teams, from NASA to Volvo, to aid them in the planning, scheduling, tracking and reporting on the progress and performance of their production plans. Our software makes lets you get out from behind your desk and make adjustments on the go. Try it for yourself for free for 30 days!

Related Posts