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A Guide to Work Orders & Work Order Management (Template Included)

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Work orders help organizations manage their maintenance work. They act as the paper trail defining what needs to be done, by when and for what period of time within an organization. Work order management is critical in industries such as manufacturing, construction and others that rely on the use of heavy equipment and machinery.

What Is a Work Order?

A work order is a document that describes how maintenance work will be performed. A work order should include a description of the maintenance activities and information such as who requested and approved the work order, the maintenance technician responsible for executing the work as well as the associated due dates, costs and resources.

Work orders can be either executed by an internal maintenance team, or if your organization doesn’t have one, you can hire a third-party maintenance contractor.

What Is Work Order Management?

The term work management simply refers to the tools and strategies that are used to plan, schedule and manage work orders efficiently so that you can solve critical maintenance problems, keep equipment in optimal conditions and make sure asset downtime is minimized.

Traditionally work orders used to be issued and managed as physical documents. However, managing physical work orders is a thing of the past. Today most organizations use software to manage their work orders and their maintenance staff.

ProjectManager has planning tools such as Gantt charts, kanban boards and task lists to create online work orders that help you save time. Easily create tasks, assign work to team members, set due dates and control costs with online timesheets. Get started for free.

 ProjectManager’s planning tools are ideal for work order management ProjectManager’s planning tools are ideal for work order management
ProjectManager’s planning tools let you assign, schedule and track work orders without paperwork. Learn more

The Work Order Process

To create a work order, organizations usually go through this basic 3-step work order process.

1. Create a Work Request

Work orders can’t be created without submitting a work request first. Work requests are created once a maintenance issue is identified. They can be submitted under a different number of cases such as a customer request, a safety inspection, a preventive maintenance audit or an internal request.

2. Evaluate the Work Request

Work requests are submitted to the maintenance manager, who evaluates them and turns them into a work order. To do so, he must first determine if it’s feasible to execute the requested maintenance work and then allocate resources such as materials, equipment and personnel in order to create a work order.

3. Create a Work Order

Once the maintenance manager has identified the necessary resources to execute a work request, he can turn that work request into a work order. As stated above, the work order includes all of the information about the maintenance activities to be performed such as the due dates, job description and requirements, among other details.

Related: Free Work Order Template for Excel

What Are Work Orders Used For?

Work orders standardize workflow and create a simple and fast process for scheduling, assigning and tracking maintenance work while documenting resources and tracking performance.

Work orders are primarily used in the construction industry for service requests, but can also be used for products, inspections and audits. Work orders may not always be referred to as such. For example, in manufacturing, a work order is often called a sales order when a build or engineering is to take place.

Regardless of what industry a work order is used in, it’s used to track and monitor the status of the job to make sure it is finished on time and within budget. This is true when work orders are used in field service or within an industry that’s tasked with regular inspection. In that regard, they act almost like a project status report.

Work Order Types

There are different types of work orders that are part of the maintenance schedule of an organization. Here are the most common types of maintenance work and the types of work orders that are created for maintenance teams.

  • General work order: A general work order describes activities that can’t be classified as preventive, inspection, emergency or corrective maintenance work. An example of a general work order could be setting up new equipment in a production facility.
  • Preventive maintenance work order: Preventive maintenance work orders are used to schedule routine maintenance work that needs to be done to keep equipment working at optimal conditions.
  • Inspection work order: Inspection work orders, as the name suggests, are issued whenever an organization wants to inspect its assets. These are usually recurring maintenance tasks similar to preventive maintenance work orders, however, maintenance technicians are focused on identifying risks and problems.
  • Emergency work order: Emergency work orders are issued whenever an asset breaks down, and this requires immediate action from the maintenance team. These are also known as reactive maintenance work orders and have a high priority level.
  • Corrective maintenance work order: A corrective maintenance work is employed whenever a maintenance technician identifies a maintenance issue, problem or potential risk. Corrective maintenance differs from emergency maintenance because in this case, the problem or issue is diagnosed before it becomes an emergency that causes equipment to fail.

How to Write a Work Order

Now that we’ve learned the basics of work orders and work order management, let’s learn what a work order should include. Here are some steps you can follow to write a work order. Then, use our work order template to create your own work orders.

1. Contact and Internal Information

Our free work order template can be customized to fit the perimeters of your business, but it’s fully loaded with the basics. At the top is where much of the pertinent information is captured, such as company name, address and contact.

There’s also a place to add the work order number, which is key to keeping track of the job and finding the work order quickly. Dates are included for when the work order is issued, when the work is expected to start, finish and when it’s completed.

A priority level can be set. The person who requested the work order is identified and a customer ID for internal use is given. For larger organizations, the department can be specified.

2. Job Description

The meat of the work order is the job and its related labor and materials. Here, the work is described, who is billed is identified, and, if necessary, where the work will be shipped is identified.

Following this is a detailed description of the work to be done and how many hours it will take to do each maintenance activity, as well as the rate of the worker tasked with the job. This is then totaled.

3. Required Materials

The next section in our work order sample lists the materials needed to complete the work order, how much of each, the cost and any applicable tax. This is added to the above total for a subtotal. Any additional charges are added to this subtotal to reach the total price of the work order.

Finally, there’s space to add additional information before the signature and dateline. Again, these are just 3 basic steps to create a work order, but with these steps and a few tweaks to our free work order template, you can create any type of work order.

Work Order Template

You may be wondering what should be on a work order to yield the most effective outcome. To get a better general idea of work orders and what they entail, let’s look at a work order sample. ProjectManager has a number of free project management templates, and pictured below is a full version of our work order template. We will outline the different elements of the work order and how to use them.

Work order template in ProjectManagerWork order template in ProjectManager

ProjectManager Helps With Work Order Management

ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps organize work and drive efficiency. Generating, tracking and paying for work orders is enhanced by our online tool that gives you real-time data to always know if you’re keeping on schedule.

Our kanban boards let you create digital work orders and manage them online. Simply use our kanban cards to enter the information about your work order, assign it to a team member, set due dates and track its progress across the kanban board. ProjectManager’s kanban boards also allow you to schedule recurring tasks, which are ideal to schedule preventive, inspection and corrective work orders.

ProjectManager's kanban boards are ideal to manage tasks while executing work ordersProjectManager's kanban boards are ideal to manage tasks while executing work orders

Track Work Orders With Online Dashboards

Keep track of the progress of your work orders on cloud-based dashboards that automatically reflect status updates and calculate metrics such as time, percent complete, costs and more. For example, if you’re putting together a mechanic work order and your maintenance crew is in the field, they can still collaborate online with the rest of the team.

real-time dashboard monitors progress and performance of work ordersreal-time dashboard monitors progress and performance of work orders

Control Costs With Cloud-Based Timesheets

Time logged on work can also be tracked with timesheets that streamline payroll as well. They’re secure and easy to use. Our unlimited file storage means you can use the tool as a centralized hub to manage all your work orders.

ProjectManager is an online tool that organizes work and workers for greater productivity. Manage your work orders and keep your team working wherever they are or whenever they’re working. Try ProjectManager today by taking this free 30-day trial.

Related Posts

7 Tips for Better Construction Daily Reports & Daily Logs

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Documentation is required in any project, but even more so when it comes to construction project management. Construction projects demand regular and detailed reporting during execution so you can review and analyze your progress. This data is delivered in the form of a construction daily report.

The construction daily report is usually handled by the site manager and will be repeatedly created and delivered over the course of a project. It’s an important aspect of construction project management so you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it correctly!

ProjectManager's Gantt chartProjectManager's Gantt chart
Generate construction project reports in seconds with ProjectManager’s robust reporting tools. Learn more

What Is a Construction Daily Report?

A construction daily report is a log that lists the events that occurred during a work day on a construction site. This includes the weather conditions, material inventories and work performed, among other details. There are several reasons why a general contractor, construction project manager or even a project owner would need a construction daily report.

This construction report must collect pertinent information about the job site—from the weather conditions to a list of visitors that day at the site. It’s a complete record of the day’s work that provides a log of everything that has transpired.

What Is the Purpose of a Construction Daily Report?

As you can imagine, the construction daily report is essential to getting work started quickly and accurately for the next day. It lets subcontractors know where their tasks left off and if they have the equipment and supplies necessary to continue the next day. This is critical for keeping your construction project on schedule.

Additionally, a construction daily log protects workers and managers on the site. If there’s a delay, for example, that is captured in the report and explained. That paper trail prevents blame from falling on an undeserving party. This is important if there are any legal issues, as you have a record to support your defense.

Better Reporting for Practical Results

Keeping a record of the day’s events offers insight into what’s going on in the project and allows you to tweak resources to get things done more effectively. Construction sites are complex with many activities taking place at once. Reporting keeps everyone aware of what’s going on so workers and subcontractors can do their jobs without getting in the way of others.

Finally, the daily report also communicates the status of the project, so it updates those with a vested interest in the construction and keeps them informed.

ProjectManager construction ebook adProjectManager construction ebook ad

How to Create a Construction Daily Report

Creating a construction daily log can seem intimidating. There is so much to cover and you don’t want to overlook anything that might be crucial to proper documentation. But daily reports have been a normal staple of construction sites for almost as long as there have been construction sites so there’s a roadmap you can follow.

1. Log General Information About Your Project

The first step is to create a cover page or include general information about the project at the top of your construction daily report.

2. Log in the Weather Conditions

Weather conditions can greatly affect construction projects. This means that your daily log must have a place where you can log the weather conditions for the day.

3. Create a Crew List

An important step when making a construction daily log is to list the crew members that were at the job site and log their hours worked.

4. Document Work Accomplished

The work accomplished by the crew must be documented in the daily construction report. It’s important to include a status for each task such as to-do, doing and done. This will help you better track the progress of your team.

5. Track Your Equipment on Site

Just as with your crew, you need to keep track of your equipment. Your construction daily report should list the equipment that was used on the job site and the hours for which it was employed. This is important for resource management purposes as well as maintenance and security.

6. Track Your Construction Materials

Keeping track of construction materials such as wood, paint, concrete or glass is very important. As a construction site manager, you’ll need to do two things to track materials with a construction daily report. First, you must check your inventories and list the material type and quantity that are available.

Secondly, you need to document any delivery of materials that occurred during the day. If a scheduled delivery of materials doesn’t occur, you’ll need to document that in your daily log.

7. Document Delaying Events

There are several events that can cause a construction project to be delayed. Some common delaying events are poor weather conditions, equipment malfunctions or a failed delivery of materials.

8. Document Accidents, Incidents & Other Events

Unfortunately, construction projects are prone to incidents, accidents and other unplanned events. It’s important that you document everything that occurs on your job site and take any necessary actions promptly.

9. Track Your Meetings

As a site manager, it’s important to keep track of any meetings that occur on the job site. Any meetings that occur outside shouldn’t be included in your daily construction daily report.

10. Keep Track of Site Visitors

Every daily construction report should document any visitors who were at the construction site. This is important for compliance reasons, as it’s a safety requirement for all construction projects.

11. Signatures

Whoever is in charge of preparing the daily construction report must sign the document. This is the last step that formalizes the document and holds the preparer accountable for any mistakes or omissions.

Construction Daily Report Template

Since the report is daily, it’s good to have a template with all the information you need to capture already built-in. This way all the vital data is already laid out and you just have to fill in the details. ProjectManager has dozens of free project management templates, including a construction daily report that you can download and customize as needed.

Construction Daily Report Excel TemplateConstruction Daily Report Excel Template

Best Practices When Keeping a Construction Daily Log

As useful as a construction daily report is, creating one is not without its challenges. The first thing is to be consistent. Don’t complete a daily report every other day as it loses its purpose. These daily reports are named for a reason and need to be filled out at the end of every workday.

Keep good records, too, because taking the time and effort to fill out a daily report is wasted if you can’t find it when you need it. Make it part of the process to file away the work. Keeping good records is critical for any project, especially in construction, which is another reason to look into project management software that can store your digital files.

7 Tips to Make Better Construction Daily Reports

To make the best construction daily log possible, here are some tips to apply when going through the process.

  1. Be detailed: Find the right balance. It shouldn’t be too broad to make the daily report unusable, but you should also know when to go into detail such as when there’s a stoppage or incident.
  2. Be timely: The reports need to be filed as early as possible. If you wait until the next morning to fill out the daily report for the previous day, much of the detail will be lost.
  3. Be simple: While you need to be detailed in your reporting, it should also be clear and concise. Many people will read this and you don’t want to lose them in jargon.
  4. Be open to input: As the site manager (a position not privy to everything that has occurred on the worksite) usually fills these out, it’s good to be open to participation from the crew. Even a brief chat before they leave can help you fill in the report more accurately.
  5. Be transparent: The daily report is a communication tool and should deliver information to a wide variety of project team members to identify any problems and to keep a record of progress.
  6. Be compliant: The daily report is a good way to make sure you’re meeting the standards outlined in the construction contract. Take the necessary steps each day to make sure you’re in compliance with your contract, code and other regulations.
  7. Be efficient: The best way to save time and money is by incorporating your daily reports into a larger construction project management software. With this tool, you’ll file reports faster and be able to use that data when managing your plan and schedule.

Construction Project Management Templates

Managing construction projects can be very complex. That’s why we’ve created free construction project management templates you can use to help you plan, schedule and track your construction projects. Here are some of them.

Work Order Template

Our free work order template helps project owners and contractors reach an agreement on the construction work to be performed and the amount that will be paid for it.

Construction Schedule Template

Having a well-planned schedule is key to success in the construction industry. Our construction schedule template allows you to set due dates, assign tasks to team members, set task dependencies and much more.

Punch List Template

Our free punch list template is ideal to track tasks that are left uncompleted as teams get close to project completion. It’s a great tool for construction project managers, site managers and anyone who wants to make sure no work is left behind at the final stages of the construction project.

Related Content

How ProjectManager Creates Construction Daily Reports

ProjectManager is an award-winning project management software that reports in real time and organizes your tasks to keep you on track. If you’re looking to get rid of the paper construction daily report and move to a dynamic software tool that can let you better manage and report on your construction project, then you need project management software.

Create Reports in Seconds

Much of what you have to track on the construction daily log can be generated with one click of your keyboard with our reporting feature. The project status report gives you an overview of the health of your whole project and tasks. You can see which tasks are overdue. Other reports include the project plan, tasks, timesheets, availability of your crew, their workload and the project variance to see if your actual progress is aligned with your schedule.

filter a status report to get the information you wantfilter a status report to get the information you want

Maintain a High-Level View

You can get an instant status report by using our real-time dashboard. The dashboard collects data from your team’s status updates and automatically calculates that information and displays it in easy-to-read charts and graphs. Anytime you need to see if you’re on schedule or keeping to your budget, it’s available immediately.

dashboard showing project metrics in real-timedashboard showing project metrics in real-time

ProjectManager is a project management tool that organizes tasks, teams and projects with real-time reporting tools, so you always know where you are and what you’re spending on your project. Join the tens of thousands of teams and organizations that use our tool to run successful projects. Take our free 30-day trial today.

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How to Write a Business Requirements Document (BRD)

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when you’re managing a project. There are day-to-day operations that the project manager obsesses over, but they also need to see the big picture. That’s why a business requirements document is so important.

To prove this point, let’s define what a business requirements document (BRD) is and what its components are. Plus, we’ll give you tips on how to write a better one before showing how project management software can make the process even more efficient.

What Is a Business Requirements Document?

A business requirements document offers an overview of what a business does and why it needs the project deliverable to be undertaken. It outlines the business solutions for project requirements that are necessary for the project to deliver value and becomes the foundation of the project’s life cycle.

The business requirements document highlights what the end result of the project should be. When a change request is introduced to the project, the business requirements document must be revised to reflect this change.

The main purpose of a BRD is to show what the system will look like from a business perspective. It includes both the business solution and the technical solution to the project. The business requirements document helps answer the question of what is needed for the business. It also answers how the project will be delivered and contains a prioritized list of features and business requirements that the delivered software, product or service must provide.

Think of the business requirements document as the defined steps you should follow to reach a result that serves both the customers and stakeholders for the delivered product, system or service. The project team is involved in this process to help determine how to implement the delivery of the project and fulfill what the business needs. Stakeholders are also involved and must agree on the plan before it’s implemented.

To accomplish this, you’ll need project management software that can organize tasks and connect the entire project team. ProjectManager is online project management software that delivers real-time data across multiple project views that lets everyone work how they want. Our interactive Gantt chart can be shared with teams and stakeholders as tasks are organized on a timeline. You can link dependent tasks, add milestones and filter for the critical path. Then, set a baseline and track your business requirements document in real time over the life cycle of the project. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt chartProjectManager's Gantt chart
ProjectManager has interactive Gantt charts to get everyone’s input when planning a project. Learn more

Business Requirements vs. Functional Requirements

It’s common to confuse business requirements with functional requirements. They’re both requirements, but they serve different purposes. To review, business requirements explain the final results of a business goal in the project and why the organization should initiate that project.

A business requirement isn’t about offering or proposing a solution, only defining the task at hand. This includes defining the short and long-term goals, the company vision and the scope of the business problem.

On the other hand, the functional requirement is about how a system needs to operate in order to achieve its business goal. It proposes subjective solutions based on the organization’s strengths and limitations as well as being technically focused. A functional requirement is also presented with a use case.

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a business requirement and a functional requirement. Project activities can be both a business requirement and a functional requirement or even neither.

Related: Free Requirements Gathering Template for Word

What Should Be Included in a BRD?

Why should you create a business requirements document? It reduces the chances that your project will fail due to misalignment with business requirements and connects the organization’s business goals with the project. It brings stakeholders and the team together and saves costs that accrue due to change requests, training, etc.

You’ll want to create a business requirement document, and even though it’s an involved process, it can be broken down into seven key steps. They are as followed.

1. Executive Summary

To begin, you’ll need to create an executive summary that provides an overview of the organization and the challenges facing the business. You’ll explain the issues and what the organization is trying to achieve to ensure everyone is on the same page. This section should be short, like an elevator pitch, summarizing the rest of the business requirements document.

2. Project Objectives

After summarizing the issue you plan to address in the project, you’ll want to clearly define the project’s objective. This helps define the project phases, creates a way to identify solutions for the requirements of the business and the customer, gains consensus from stakeholders and the project team and describes how you arrived at the objectives.

3. Project Scope

The project scope should define in detail what is covered in the project and what would make it run out of scope. This creates a clear boundary for the project and allows stakeholders and teams to agree on the business goals and high-level outcomes. Note what problems are being addressed, the boundaries for implementing the project and the expected return on investment (ROI).

4. Business Requirements

Here you’ll want to list the business requirements or critical activities that must be completed to meet the organization’s objectives. These business requirements should meet both stakeholder and customer needs. This can include a process that must be completed, a piece of data that is needed for the process or a business rule that governs that process and data.

5. Key Stakeholders

Now you’ll want to identify and list the key stakeholders in the project. Once you have that list, assign roles and responsibilities to each. These might be people outside of your department so you should define their role in the success of the project. This information needs to be distributed in order for everyone to know what’s expected of them in the project. You can even use this section to assign tasks.

6. Project Constraints

At this point, you’ll want to explore the project constraints. Define the limitations of the project and share those with the project team so they know of any obstacles earlier than later. In order for them to clear those hurdles, you’ll want to provide any necessary training or allocate resources to help the project stay on track.

7. Cost-Benefit Analysis

You’ll also want to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the costs associated with the project are worth the benefits you’ll get. This requires first determining the associated costs of the project, such as upfront development costs, unexpected costs, future operating costs and tangible and intangible costs. You’ll also need to figure out what benefits derive from the project.

3 Key Tips to Write a Business Requirements Document

As noted, the best way to begin writing a business requirements document is to meet with your stakeholders and team to get a clear picture of their expectations. But that’s only the start. There are many other best practices for writing a BRD. Here are a few.

1. Start With Thorough Requirements Gathering

Requirements gathering is the process of identifying all requirements necessary for the project. That means everything from the start of the project to the end of the project. You’ll want to address the length of the project, who will be involved and what risks are possible.

2. Differentiate Between Business Requirements and Functional Requirements

Remember, business requirements are what needs to be done, such as the project goals, and why that’s important for the organization. Functional requirements are how the processes, be they a system or person, need to work in order to achieve the project goals.

3. Use a Stakeholder Matrix

An important aspect of any business requirements document is identifying stakeholders. In fact, this should be done early in the process and a stakeholder matrix can help you analyze those stakeholders. It helps you understand the needs and expectations of your stakeholder in terms of their power or influence and the level of interest in your project.

ProjectManager Helps You Track Business Requirements

Once you have your business requirements document, the real work begins. There are many project management software tools that can help you plan and measure your project. ProjectManager is unique in that it adds real-time tracking to make sure your business requirements are being met.

Monitor Project With Real-Time Dashboards

When you make your plan on our interactive Gantt charts, the last thing is to set the baseline. Now you can track project variance across many of our features. Keeping projects on time and under budget is critical to meeting the business requirements of your stakeholders. To get a high-level view of the project, simply toggle to the dashboard where you can view six project metrics. Get live data on costs to tasks, and workload to health, all in easy-to-read graphs and charts. Unlike other tools that offer dashboards, you don’t have to waste time setting ours up. It’s plug-and-play.

dashboard showing project metrics in real-timedashboard showing project metrics in real-time
Share Progress Reports With Stakeholders

Being able to view your progress and performance in real time is important for stakeholders and project managers. We have customizable reports that can be generated with a keystroke. As stakeholders don’t need all of the details, filters make it easy to focus on only the data they need to see. Then, easily share the report as a PDF or print it out, whichever delivery method your stakeholders prefer. We have reports on status and portfolio status, time, cost, timesheets and more. It’s a great way for project managers to dig into the data and keep stakeholders updated.

ProjectManager's status report filter

ProjectManager's status report filterOf course, tracking is only one of the many features you’ll find when using our software to deliver your project. We offer task and resource management tools to balance your workload and real-time risk management, too. Keep track of potential risks that might keep your team from achieving the business requirements set by stakeholders.

ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps you plan, schedule and track your project in real time. Use our tool to make sure you’re meeting all the business requirements in your BRD. Our collaborative platform makes it easy to connect with teams to help them work more productively and stakeholders to keep them up-to-date. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

Related Posts

Best of PMTimes: 5 Tactics To Successfully Handle Multiple Projects Simultaneously

PM Articles by Project Times. 

Managing multiple projects at the same time can be an absolute n-i-g-h-t-m-a-r-e.

You need to keep track of your projects’ moving parts, ensure you’re using the right processes and strategies, stay within deadline, keep your employees motivated, and be mindful of your expenses.
Data even shows that on average, 88% of remote workers experience miscommunications and inconsistent leadership with team members, highlighting the importance of proper program and project management.

Sadly, we just scratched the surface. So much more goes into project management than the things we pointed out.

The good news is, there are tips and tricks to help you manage multiple projects simultaneously.

Continue reading to learn five proven tactics that will help you run your projects efficiently.

1. Stay On Top Of Your Work Schedules

Regardless of how carefully you planned your projects, everything can easily go off track if you don’t establish a schedule that includes your team’s work for the month, quarter, or year.

For instance, without a clear schedule, team members might fail to prioritize tasks, overlook critical jobs, and miss deadlines, which can seriously hinder your project’s completion and even impact the result’s quality.

Use reliable work scheduling software to ensure every project team member is on the same page, keep your workflows moving seamlessly, and keep everything on track.

For instance, Deputy lets you build work schedules in minutes by using its easy-to-use interface to schedule the right team members at the right time across various locations and roles.

You can easily create shifts, assign them to staff members, drag and drop to change them, copy schedules, modify them accordingly, and export them to a CSV file, spreadsheet, or print them.

You can also send the schedule directly to your team through mobile or desktop. If you change the schedule, the assigned person gets a notification, and they can accept the confirmation request.

A robust scheduling tool helps ensure your lines don’t get crossed, work gets done, and your project deadlines are met.

This helps keep your multiple projects on track and your team members more productive. Your project schedules will also be maximized for optimum efficiency, avoiding potential delays.

2. Prioritize Tasks

With so much on your plate, it can be tempting to tackle the easiest projects first, but you must resist, or you could kill your team’s productivity and efficiency.

Prioritize based on tasks that will have the most significant impact on your project and program goals. This helps you manage several priorities while working on multiple projects effectively.

Doing so allows your team to work strategically on both micro (i.e., organizing daily to-dos based on importance) and macro (i.e., moving low-impact projects to the following quarter) levels.

Let’s say your team is working on four product launches simultaneously with the overarching goal of increasing customer revenue.

While the four projects require about the same amount of time, effort, and resources to complete and roll out, assess which one has the potential to generate a bigger impact on your new customer revenue than the other three.

Prioritize the project (or projects) that have the most significant contribution to achieving your goals.

This helps you manage your resources and allocate your time better while ensuring your efforts align with your project goals and deliver your desired results.

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3. Establish Goals And Plans

Without establishing a standard project planning process or workflow, you’ll likely manage each of your projects differently.

This can lead to issues down the line, such as inconsistencies in your deliverables and precious time wasted on setting up new processes for each project.

That is why you need to have a solid plan, establish standard processes, and identify responsibilities from the get-go.

Outline everything from your goals, each step, and task necessary for project completion, schedules and deadlines, and the persons and teams responsible for specific jobs at the project level.

At the program level, develop plans, processes, and clarify responsibilities. Establish team-level goals and communicate the projects crucial to achieving those objectives.

You can start outlining your goals using a Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic, and Timely  (SMART) approach and this sample goal-setting template.

You can use other templates as references and build on those to develop your project and program objectives.

Optimize your project management processes by setting team-wide standards. For instance, you can require project team leads to submit a brief before outlining a project plan for big projects.

You can also create templates for projects your team often handles to ensure consistency across projects and save time and effort.

Clear goals, plans, and responsibilities help your teams avoid inconsistencies in processes and deliverables.

4. Conduct Systematic Progress Updates

Tracking status and progress updates in a multi-project environment are critical to keeping stakeholders and key project players in the loop.

After all, you wouldn’t want your clients, for instance, to be breathing down your neck because you didn’t give them any status reports, making it crucial to establish a systematic updating process.

Establish smart, systematic status updates so that you can manage stakeholder expectations efficiently.

Below are a few tips for doing strategic and systematic project status updates.

  •     Define expectations. Layout the specific steps task owners or the team members in-charge of particular tasks are expected to follow. Identify a time frame for updating relevant stakeholders, whether every three days, weekly, monthly, etc.
  •     Include a high-level overview of key areas in the project. Add several bullet points that provide an update on the accomplishments, progress, and upcoming work for each key area of your project’s status. This ensures essential points are covered, and stakeholders get all the necessary updates they need.
  •     Schedule accountability. Have third-parties, such as staff in another department, the project sponsor, or other stakeholders, conduct reviews to ensure the resource person or task owner follows protocol and the specified updating time frame to a tee.

Implement a systematic status updating process to keep your project team motivated, ensure they understand the project plan, why it’s crucial to stay up to date, and clearly see the multiple demands your team must meet.

5. Delegate And Empower Team Members

Exercise effective delegation in your resource management by adopting clarity, authority, and accountability.

For instance, empowering your graphic designer to create a landing page for a new project means making sure he/she is absolutely clear about the task by providing a work breakdown structure.

This work breakdown structure of building a landing page campaign for a new product from Kanbanize is a good example.

A work breakdown structure outlines the phases of the project process clearly.

Additionally, to ensure the project process and phases are when delegating, be sure to:

  •     Clearly communicate the work breakdown structure
  •     Set a project deadline
  •     Relay specific client expectations
  •     List down the available resources the task owner has
  •     Describe the workload
  •     Provide him/her the authority to make and carry out decisions

Clarity ensures your team is clear on the direction. Team members avoid any guesswork and prioritize critical tasks and projects.

A clear work breakdown structure and project scope will also empower teamwork that boosts productivity while giving members a sense of fulfillment for meeting multiple demands.
Leverage a reliable project management tool that can streamline your work breakdown structure’s workflows and processes.

Data can back up the effectiveness of using the right project management tool with 77% of high-performing projects using project management software.

What’s Next?

Handling multiple projects at the same time is inevitable in project management and any efforts you take on.

While the tips in this guide are in no way guaranteed formulas for success, these are good building blocks to help develop your strategies for effective and strategic multiple project management.

Leverage the tactics we shared to stay on top of your projects’ moving pieces, meet your deadlines, and achieve your goals.

How to Measure Project Profitability

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

As projects are all about the bottom line, you can imagine the importance of project profitability in project management. Being able to determine beforehand whether a project will turn a profit is how organizations can decide which projects to initiate and which ones to skip.

But what exactly is profit profitability and how does it relate to professional services teams, consultants, CFOs and accountants? We’ll define the term and explore how to analyze and measure profit profitability to help you better allocate your resources.

What Is Project Profitability?

Project profitability measures how much money a project will make for the organization that initiates it, tracking the financial gain or loss of a project. Project profitability is part of project accounting and uses profit (the revenue left over after accounting for costs) and margin percentages to express the money made.

It works by comparing the revenue collected from the work done for a client (the actual revenue) and compares that to the cost to the organization for delivering those services such as salaries and other direct costs.

Unlike rate realization analysis, which compares actual earnings with earning potential, project profitability is only concerned with comparing actual evenings against the cost of generating that revenue.

Issues that can impact project profitability include scope creep and low employee utilization. Even the type of contract that’s used can affect the profit expectation. That’s why project management software is so important.

ProjectManager is an online tool that plans, schedules and tracks costs in real time with Gantt charts. Not only that, our Gantt charts can link dependencies to avoid scope creep and filter for the critical path so you know which tasks must be completed to successfully deliver your project. You can also set a baseline to track your actual costs against your planned costs to stay on track. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

Gantt chart in projectmanagerGantt chart in projectmanager
ProjectManager has Gantt charts to track project profitability. Learn more

Profit Margins

A profit margin is used for the profitability ratio in project profitability and helps you determine which activities make money in your project. This is an essential part of project profitability as the profit margin tells you how much money you can keep out of every dollar that you earn. The larger your profit margin in a project, the more money that project will generate.

It’s easy to calculate the profit margin. It’s total project cost minus total expenses divided by total project cost multiplied by 100. Or, if you’ve already calculated the profit, you can simply divide the project profit by the total project cost and then multiply that by 100.

Project Profitability Analysis

Project profitability analysis is a project accounting technique that focuses on the health of an organization or project. It’s a way to deliver detailed data to better inform delivery management, employee management and organizational performance.

The importance of project profitability analysis is wide-ranging. The biggest advantage is that the more profitable an organization is, the more it can thrive. On a more operational level, project profitability analysis allows organizations to make better business decisions such as which projects or clients to take on based on data.

Another aspect of project profitability analysis that isn’t as obvious is that it helps align teams. When everyone knows the profit-driving projects or target clients, it puts all departments on the same track. From the project team to sales to marketing and other departments, they’ll all be working together.

How to Measure Project Profitability

You can see the importance of project profitability; if you’re not making a profit, you’re not in business. Therefore, the projects or clients you contract with have to be profitable and this is one of the metrics by which you’ll measure the project. How you calculate project profitability can vary, but all approaches should follow these best practices.

1. Evaluate More Than the Budget

It’s easy to get lost in the budget. After all, the cost is part of the triple constraint, which also includes scope and time. These are certainly critical metrics and will help you deliver the project on time. However, for project profitability, you have to have a bigger picture that focuses on the project’s profit and margin. We’ve discussed those terms above and they’re key to understanding the profit after delivering the project.

Related: Free Cost Benefit Analysis Template for Excel

2. Start Early

It might seem like a task to focus on project profitability after the project has been delivered. While it’s good to do this after you completed the project, it’s a mistake to only perform this function at the end of the project. Project profit analysis should be estimated and tracked throughout the life cycle of the project as it’ll help make the project more profitable. Ideally, you’ll look into this quarterly to help you meet your profit expectations.

3. Always Track

Tracking is essential for managing a project successfully. That means tracking the hours your team works on tasks, tracking time spent on tasks and understanding how those hours translate into costs. It’s also critical to track the planned costs against your actual costs to stay on track and better forecast profitability in the future.

There are more practical tools to measure project profitability, and we’ve outlined some below.

Project Profitability Index

A project profitability index (PI) is also called a cost-benefit ratio or profit investment ratio. It helps you determine the potential profitability of a project. The project profitability index is equal to the present value of future cash flows and initial project investments. That’s the money earned for every dollar invested.

If a project is worth taking on, it will have a project profitability index higher than one. If it’s lower than one, the project likely isn’t viable. This is a project that will cause you to make more of an investment than it will see in profit. You’ll probably pass on this type of project.

If the project profitability index is equal to one, the project will likely break even. Even though that’s not a loss, most companies want to make a profit. It’s unlikely that there would be a scenario where this would be a viable project for an organization to pursue. This is another project that should be passed.

When the project profitability index is greater than one, that project will likely deliver the profits an organization needs to survive and grow. The project profitability index is a great tool to help make these decisions about which projects to take on and which ones should be avoided.

Project Profitability Index Formula

Let’s get specific and outline the formula for a project profitability index. The first thing you need to do is identify the cash inflows and cash outflows for the project.

The next step is determining an appropriate discount rate. A discount rate is an interest used in discounted cash flow (a valuation method to estimate the value of an investment using its expected future cash flows) analysis to determine the current value of future cash flows.

Once you have the discount rate, use it to find the present value of all cash inflows and outflows. The project profitability index equals the present value of future cash flows divided by the initial investment.

ProjectManager & Project Profitability

One key aspect of project profitability is the ability to track the project across several metrics. ProjectManager is online project management software that gives you real-time data to keep better track of your project’s profitability. Once you set the baseline on your project plan in the Gantt chart, our software calculates project variance in real time.

Track Project Profitability With Real-Time Dashboards

Setting a baseline feeds live data throughout our software. For example, our real-time dashboard automatically collects live data and does the calculations for you. The results are then displayed in colorful graphs and charts. You get a high-level view of the project across six metrics, including the cost to help you track profitability. Best of all, unlike other software products that make you configure the dashboard, ours is ready to go and no setup is required.

dashboard showing project metrics in real-timedashboard showing project metrics in real-time
See How Many Hours Your Team Spends on Tasks

Another metric you want to follow outside of overall costs is the hours your team spends on tasks. Our software allows you to capture your team’s hourly rate and then use secure timesheets to track how much time they’re spending on tasks. This translates into money that’s going to impact the profitability of your project. Timesheets, beyond streamlining payroll, give you transparency into the profitability of your workforce.

ProjectManager's timesheetProjectManager's timesheet

These are but a few of the features that help track project profitability. There are also customizable reports that can be filtered to show only what you want to see. They can then be shared with your project stakeholders to keep them updated.

ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps you deliver profitable projects. You can plan, schedule and track all in the same tool, with the task, resource and risk management features to give you unprecedented control over your project. Join teams at NASA, Siemens and Nestle who are using our software to succeed. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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An Intro to the Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM)

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Scheduling a project can be daunting. Fortunately, there are tools and techniques such as the precedence diagramming method to help organize activities and get them all done on time.

Precedence diagrams are used to visualize the tasks in a project from start to finish. If you’re not familiar with the precedence diagramming method, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a close look at this technique and how it assists project managers when scheduling their projects.

What Is the Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM)?

The precedence diagramming method is a project planning technique that allows project managers to map out all the tasks in a project to plan the order in which they will be executed. This is done by using precedence diagrams, which are project network diagrams that show tasks, their duration and dependencies.

The precedence diagramming method (PDM) is similar to the program evaluation and review technique (PERT), activity-on-node diagramming and the critical path method (CPM), because those techniques also use project network diagrams, but each has its key differences.

What Is a Precedence Diagram?

A precedence diagram is a project management chart that represents project tasks, shows their durations and the task dependencies between them. Precedence diagrams consist of nodes, which represent tasks, and arrows that connect them to show the task dependencies.

However, precedence diagrams can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. You’ll need to manually adjust them every time changes are made to your project plan.

With robust project management software such as ProjectManager, you can create Gantt charts, a much more powerful alternative to precedence diagrams. Our online Gantt charts allow you to assign tasks, set task dependencies, identify the critical path and much more with just one click.

A screenshot of a status report generation screen in ProjectManager, with different filter settings that affect the generated reportA screenshot of a status report generation screen in ProjectManager, with different filter settings that affect the generated report
ProjectManager’s Gantt charts are the perfect complement to precedence diagrams. Learn more

Now that we’ve defined what precedence diagrams are, let’s see how task dependencies work in the PDM.

What Are the Four Types of Precedence Diagramming Dependencies?

The precedence diagramming method uses the four types of task dependencies commonly used in task management. However, when implemented with PDM, these task dependencies are also called precedence relationships or PDM relationships.

  • Finish to Start (FS): The activity cannot start until its preceding task has finished.
  • Finish to Finish (FF): The activity cannot finish until its preceding task has finished.
  • Start to Start (SS): The activity cannot start until its preceding task has started.
  • Start to Finish (SF): The activity cannot finish until its preceding task has started.

Why Use the Precedence Diagramming Method?

A precedence diagram is a great tool to more accurately develop the project schedule, keep the work on track and meet the deadline. It does this by visually representing the whole project, making it easier for project managers to plan, schedule and track tasks.

Of course, the greatest asset to using the precedence diagramming method is that it exposes task dependencies in the schedule. This helps prevent bottlenecks later in the project—and if there are changes in the schedule, the precedence diagram helps to show how those changes.

As the precedence diagram illustrates the activities and dependencies in a project, it can help show what the critical processes and activities are in the schedule. This helps to determine the critical path, which is essential for project planning and scheduling.

How to Draw a Precedence Diagram

1. Create a Task List

Now it’s time to draw your own precedence diagram. The first thing to do is gather tasks, list them and identify preceding tasks. At a minimum, your table should list activities and their predecessor.

2. Identify Task Dependencies

Now that you’ve identified your project tasks, it’s important to analyze them all and identify the potential task dependencies that might exist in your project. This is one of the most important steps in PDM, as failing to address any task dependency could affect the precedence diagram as a whole. It could result in task, time and schedule management consequences.

3. Put the Information Into a Diagram

Now it’s time to lay out each task or activity as a node represented by a box. Each box should have an arrow that connects it to the next step. The first task or activity will start on the left followed by the second, which will be connected by an arrow.

If the next couple of tasks or activities has the same predecessor, they will be stacked on top of one another with two arrows originating from the predecessor. When a task has two predecessors, the arrows from those predecessors both connect to the task.

4. Add Task Information to The Nodes

The final step is to indicate the activity and the duration in the node. This is done by breaking the box in half, with one half indicating the activity and the other representing the duration. Of course, it can get more complicated. Nodes can include:

  • Float or slack time
  • Earliest start time
  • Earliest finish time
  • Latest start time
  • Latest finish time

Different Types of Project Network Diagrams

The precedence diagramming method is only one of many project network diagram techniques that assist with scheduling. Not all are the same, but each stems from a similar visual representation of a project schedule. More types are introduced below.

Arrow Diagramming Method (AOA Diagram)

For this diagramming method, arrows represent activities when scheduling the project. The relationships between the activities are shown by circles that connect one or more of the arrows. The arrow’s length is used to define the duration of the activity. This method only shows finish-to-start relationships. It’s also referred to as the activity-on-arrow (AOA) method.

Project Network Diagram (AON Diagram)

A project network diagram is used to show the order in which activities in a project are done. It comes from data collected in a work breakdown structure (WBS). It is usually drawn left to right in chronological order. A network diagram is also referred to as the AON diagram.

Critical Path Method

The critical path scheduling algorithm is often used with the program evaluation and review technique (PERT) to show the longest path of dependent activities and the time it will take to get them done.

Gantt Chart

The Gantt chart is a bar chart used in project scheduling. It creates a project timeline where activities are lines of varying lengths according to the duration of the task laid out in chronological order.

Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)

As mentioned above, the PERT chart is used in conjunction with the critical path method, using statistics to analyze tasks in a project. It shows the time needed to complete the project; specifically, the time required for each of the project’s tasks, which will inform the project schedule.

How ProjectManager Helps You Schedule Projects

ProjectManager is project management software that works hand-in-hand with your precedence diagram by offering advanced scheduling and resource management features. Create dependencies, find the critical path and execute your project schedule with ease.

Plan on Gantt Charts

Once the groundwork for the precedence diagram is completed, begin inputting your tasks into our Gantt chart. You can then add the start and end dates. We automatically populate a project timeline showing a full overview of the project visually laid out for you.

Adding precedence diagramming info to ProjectManager's Gantt chart

Adding precedence diagramming info to ProjectManager's Gantt chart
Our Gantt makes it easy for you to link dependent tasks. Drag and drop one task to the other, but our tool also defines which of the four dependencies it is, allowing you to know when this work is coming up in the project so you can allocate the necessary resources to keep the team from getting blocked.

Onboard Your Team

When you’re ready to onboard the team, invite them to the software and start assigning them tasks. Add attachments, descriptions, tags and set priorities and deadlines. Monitor their progress from a high level with our real-time dashboard and report back to stakeholders with easy-to-share and filterable reports.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a projectProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

ProjectManager is online software that gives you live data to make better decisions as you execute your schedule. It allows you to easily plan, monitor and report on projects while giving teams a collaborative platform that gives them the tools to work better together. Use ProjectManager for your next project by taking this free 30-day trial today.

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What Are Task Dependencies in Project Management?

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Projects are made up of many tasks which are mapped out on a project schedule so they can be executed in a timely and organized manner. One of the most important steps when creating a project schedule is to identify task dependencies, as they’re critical for time and task management.

What Are Task Dependencies in Project Management?

Task dependencies are the interrelations that exist between project activities. These task dependencies determine the order in which project tasks must be executed. For example, some tasks need to be executed in sequence, meaning one task must be completed before the next can begin.

However, that’s just one of the four types of task dependencies that you could come across as a project manager. You might even need to manage all types of task dependencies in just one project, so you must be ready.

To identify and manage task dependencies, you need robust project planning, scheduling and tracking tools. ProjectManager is equipped with online Gantt charts, kanban boards and task lists that let you set task dependencies, manage recurring tasks, identify the critical path and much more. Get started for free today.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart is the perfect tool to manage task dependenciesProjectManager's Gantt chart is the perfect tool to manage task dependencies
ProjectManager’s Gantt chart is the perfect tool to manage task dependencies. Learn more

Let’s review each of the four task dependency types to understand how they affect project scheduling and task management.

4 Types of Task Dependencies

These are the four types of task dependencies you might encounter when scheduling your projects.

  1. Finish-to-start (FS): This is the most common type of task dependency. A finish-to-start task dependency means a task can’t start until its preceding task is finished. This occurs in most projects where work needs to be executed sequentially.
  2. Finish-to-finish (FF): A finish-to-finish task dependency happens when a task can’t finish until its preceding task is completed as well. This is common in projects where tasks can be executed simultaneously, but must be finished in sequence.
  3. Start-to-start (SS): A start-to-start task dependency indicates that there’s a task that can’t start unless its preceding task starts. Once the first task starts, then the second can start and they can both be executed simultaneously.
  4. Start-to-finish (SF): This isn’t a common task dependency, as it only occurs under specific circumstances. The start-to-finish task dependency occurs whenever a task needs its preceding task to start before it can finish.

Task Management Templates

Task management can be overwhelming for some project managers. That’s why we’ve created these free task management templates to facilitate task tracking and scheduling.

Task Tracker Template

A very important part of managing tasks is the ability to track their progress. Our project task tracking template is a great place to list all your project activities as well as their dependent tasks, assignee and due dates.

To-Do List Template

To-do lists are a must-have task management tool due to their simplicity and effectiveness. Our free to-do list template is ideal for managing personal task lists.

Project Timeline Template

Our free project timeline template allows you to quickly organize your project tasks on a timeline that shows tasks, their duration and due dates.

Project management templates can be a great alternative for beginner project managers. However, templates are static documents that can’t be compared to robust project management software such as ProjectManager. ProjectManager offers the best planning, scheduling and tracking tools to manage your projects.

Task Dependencies Explained in 5 Minutes

In this PM training video, Devin Deen, project management expert and trainer, discusses how to calculate task and activity length and duration to create better project schedules.

In Review: How to Estimate Tasks and Dependencies

As Devin said, estimating time on a project is a bit of a guessing game. He noted three different things that were important to remember when you approach this project management art.

  1. People aren’t great at estimating activity task duration
  2. People tend to fill the available time with the effort required to do the task
  3. Always plan for slack on your project schedule

That said, Devin walked through a number of ways to do the best you can to estimate how long a task may take on your project. Even if you can’t be certain as to its duration, it’s your job to calculate all the variables to the best of your ability and have a window in which you’re pretty sure that work will be completed. Use task management software to make it easy to check in on your team and make sure they are coming close to their estimates.

Pro tip: When working on an activity estimation, remember that your team may not be great at estimating the time that their tasks will take. People, as noted, will use the time allotted rather than the time a piece of work takes. That’s why it’s crucial that you factor this in and give your deadlines some breathing room or else be stuck with an unfinished task.

Thanks for watching!

ProjectManager Tracks Task Dependencies

Being able to identify task dependencies in your project plan helps to avoid costly delays. ProjectManager has interactive Gantt charts that link task dependencies so you always know when tasks must be finished or started. You can even note which of the four types of dependencies it is. Gantt charts can be edited easily by dragging and dropping the dates to their new location and then shared with the team to keep everyone in the loop.

Multiple Task Management Views

There are many different types of tasks such as recurring tasks that can be set up in our tool. You can even create risks as tasks and note the impact on the project and what your response will be. But teams aren’t going to use Gantt charts to execute their tasks, which is why we have multiple project views. They can use our robust list view or the visual workflow of the kanban board to manage their backlog and collaboratively plan sprints.

ProjectManager's kanban board to keep track of task dependenciesProjectManager's kanban board to keep track of task dependencies

Track Progress with Project Dashboards

Linking task dependencies will help avoid delays, but if you want to keep your project on schedule you must have tools to monitor your progress and performance. That way, if things become derailed, you can reallocate resources to get back on track. Our project dashboards require no setup like with lightweight tools and automatically collect live data that’s displayed in easy-to-read graphs and charts. Get a high-level view of your project in real time at any time.

dashboard showing project metrics in real-timedashboard showing project metrics in real-time

ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that links task dependencies for a smoother running project. We help you plan, schedule and track your projects so you can deliver success. Join the teams at NASA, Siemens and Nestle who use our software. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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How to Make a Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM)

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

Requirements are the tasks that must be done in order to deliver a final project. That includes the features, functions and so forth. Tracing those features can ensure that none slip through the cracks, a process that’s best completed by using a requirements traceability matrix.

If you’ve never heard of a requirements traceability matrix and you’re managing a project, you’ll need a crash course. We’re going to explain what requirements traceability is, how to make a requirements traceability matrix and explore the different types to help you ensure all of your project requirements are fulfilled by the end of the project.

What Is Requirements Traceability?

As products become more complex, so do requirements. The requirements can move across departments in an organization as they go through the development process, and that doesn’t include involved stakeholders.

Requirements traceability is a way for the product team to keep track of these requirements and make sure they’re fulfilled. Not only that, but each decision made over the course of the project will impact the project’s requirements. Understanding that impact is crucial and requires transparency in the activities taking place.

Requirements traceability ensures that each critical project requirement and the delivery of a viable product has been fulfilled. Tracking these variables over the life cycle of a project can be difficult over the product development life cycle, and having documentation solidifies that you’re not missing any vital points.

Having the visibility of requirements traceability into requirements such as design, development, testing and support, minimizes negative outcomes and maximizes productivity. Other benefits include improving team efficiency, easier compliance with regulations and higher-quality products.

Project management software helps you track every step of your product development and make sure you’re fulfilling your requirements along the way. ProjectManager is online software with features that help you track requirements in real time. Kanban boards can be customized for requirements tracing, providing transparency into each step and automation to move to the next status. Task approvals can be set to ensure that quality expectations are met throughout the process. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's kanban boardProjectManager's kanban board
ProjectManager has kanban boards for requirements traceability. Learn more

What Is a Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM)?

A requirements traceability matrix is the document used to track the requirements as it moves through product development. It’s the documentation that confirms that all product requirements have been fulfilled. It lists the requirements, tests, test results and any issues that may have come up over the course of testing that needs to be addressed to bring the project to a successful close.

The requirements traceability matrix is a document that maps user requirements with test cases. The document captures all client requirements and traces those throughout the product development. This document is then delivered at the end of the software development life cycle. The main purpose is to ensure all requirements are accounted for and have been checked with test cases. No functionality should be left unchecked at the end of this process.

How to Create an RTM

Used in software testing and product development, a requirements traceability matrix is an important tool to make sure you fulfill every user requirement. No project should be without one, which is why we’ll take you through a step-by-step guide to making your own requirements traceability matrix.

1. Define Goals

The goal of a requirements traceability matrix is to track the user requirements for the project, and it’s easiest to list them on a spreadsheet. But an RTM can be used for a variety of things. For example, you can make sure your requirements have been tested or are compliant. You can also determine which requirements are impacted if something changes. Regardless, the first step is to define the goal.

2. Collect Artifacts

Based on your goal, you’ll start to collect relevant artifacts that include at least the requirements, tests, test results and issues. After you’ve collected the artifacts, you’ll want to get the most current requirements documents. Each requirement should have a unique ID number that doesn’t change, even if the requirement is reordered. Test cases also need to be defined and given a status. For example, they might be started, done or blocked. If the test fails, then whatever issues led to that failure should be detailed.

3. Create Requirements Traceability Matrix

Now you’re ready to build the RTM. Use a spreadsheet and make four columns. Each column will be for an artifact. The first column outlines the requirements lists, the next has the tests and following that are the test results. You’ll also have a column for issues. This is the bare minimum and you can add more as needed for your project. For instance, a column that numbers each of the requirements would be useful.

4. Copy and Paste

You’ve done the work and now you have to add it to the requirements traceability matrix. Simply add the requirements, test cases, test results (if you have them at this point) and issues to the spreadsheet.

5. Revive the RTM

The requirements traceability matrix is a living document that’ll you’ll often reference for updates. As requirements change, so does the RTM. Some requirements might drop from the project or another test case may be added; all of these changes need to be reflected in the requirements traceability matrix. The requirements ID number, however, should stay the same even if the requirement is reordered or reused.

Free Requirements Traceability Matrix Template for Excel

Because you’ll be using the requirements traceability matrix throughout the project, it’s helpful to download our free RTM template for Excel. Once you’ve downloaded the free requirements traceability template for Excel, all you have to do is fill in the blanks to create a document of your requirements, tests and issues.

Types of Requirements Traceability Matrices

Now that we know what a requirements traceability matrix is and how to create one, let’s look deeper into the topic. There are three different types of requirements traceability matrix: forward traceability, backward traceability and bidirectional traceability. Let’s take a moment to define each.

Forward Traceability

The forward traceability matrix is used to see the requirements of the test cases. This allows for each of the requirements to have a test and also allows one to know that the project’s trajectory is positive.

Backward Traceability

Backward traceability maps the test cases with the requirements. This is done to avoid scope creep and going beyond the initial requirements without cause to do so.

Bidirectional Traceability

As you might guess, a bidirectional traceability matrix is one that combines the forward and the backward traceability in one document. This ensures that every requirement has a related test case.

It’s clear how important a requirements traceability matrix is for project management. If you miss a requirement, you might not deliver what users want. Having a list of those requirements and being able to map them in whatever direction is best for your project ensures that all have been included. But you can also see that they involve a lot of work and manual labor to create, fill in and update.

ProjectManager Helps Track Requirements

ProjectManager is online project management software that allows you to track requirements in real time. Plan, schedule and track requirements all in the same tool. As teams implement and test requirements, everyone gets transparency into the process to ensure that nothing is neglected.

Get Overview With Real-Time Dashboard

Whenever you need a high-level view of the requirements and testing, you can look at our real-time dashboard. It automatically collects live data and crunches the numbers to show you six metrics in easy-to-read graphs and charts. Monitor your team’s workload, tasks and time while also checking on costs and more. Best of all, there’s no setup required.

dashboard showing project metrics in real-timedashboard showing project metrics in real-time
Dive Deeper Into Data With Customizable Reports

When you need more detail than the dashboard can deliver use our one-click reports. You can generate reports on status or portfolio status if you’re managing more than one project. But there are also reports on time, cost, variance and more. All can be filtered to report on only the data you want to see to help you make more insightful decisions. They can easily be shared to keep stakeholders updated.

ProjectManager's status report filterProjectManager's status report filter

Our software helps you plan, schedule and track work in real time. Stay on top of changes with notifications and even comment and share files across departments. Everyone is always working on the same page which helps productivity. Add to that features for task and resource management and you have an all-around project management software.

ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps you work more productively and track that work to stay on schedule. Connect teams, departments and even outside vendors to facilitate communication and keep everyone working better together. Join teams at NASA, Siemens and Nestle who use our tool to deliver success. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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Manifesting Project Success – Setting Objectives

PM Articles by Project Times. 

In project work the whole idea is to manifest success – satisfying stakeholder expectations by delivering timely and financially and emotionally rewarding results.

“The word ‘manifestation’ means to create something or turn something from an idea into a reality. In psychology, manifestation generally means using our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to bring something to our physical reality.”[1]

From Idea to Reality

In the general sense, manifesting, like a project, is turning an idea into a reality. In the psychological sense it is the practice of thinking positively to get what you want.

The message is to be clear about what you want, visualize it and cultivate the mindset that you will get it.

Underlying this is a principle that your positive attitude and intention will attract what you are after. It is the Law of Attraction, which believes that if you think positive thoughts positive things will come to you – “what you think is what you get.” If your magic is not strong enough to manifest what you want, positive attitude motivates the work required to get what you think.

Does it Work?

Manifesting is a popular wellness idea. In that context it is creating the conditions for a fulfilling life. In some circles, there is the belief that you can get what you want – money, a lover, …, whatever – by thinking it into existence or by chanting or praying to a god, saint, or angel.

Does it work? Well in my experience it does. I often tell the story of how my son manifested a pellet rifle that he craved. It appeared out of thin air at my feet while walking to the subway. Now it could have been a coincidence, but I am convinced that it was the power of his thinking that manifested the gun.

But let’s not get distracted by the magic. Though it is interesting to explore.

A more scientific view is that thinking positively, believing it can be done, and having a clear picture of what is wanted sets the stage for the work required to  achieve it. For example, if I set my mind to getting a promotion and believe that it is possible, I am more likely to persistently do the work required – get a certification, make a good impression on my boss, lobby for it, etc.

Manifesting Project Success – Setting Objectives

In project management we manifest project outcomes and success. We conceptualize and visualize the results we want, commit them to writing as objectives and requirements, fine tune the description to make sure everyone is aligned with it, and that it is meaningful and achievable. That sets in motion the manifesting – the work to achieve the objectives.

However, applying positive thinking and mystical or spiritual powers can only help. While we do not rely on our thoughts alone to manifest the results we want, thoughts and feelings influence team performance.

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Objectives

Arguably, the most important thing we can do to manifest project success is to be clear about achievable objectives and make sure that stakeholders agree about what they want to accomplish. Knowing what we want is a must if we want to get it. Having a team that is aligned on objectives avoids unnecessary conflict, wasted efforts, and enhances the probability of success.

Project management principles recognize that objectives drive the project. What we think sets the stage for what we get. That is why it is so important to set unambiguous objectives.

The standard wisdom expressed as SMAART objectives is a foundation. SMAART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Agreed upon, Relevant, and Time bound. I have added a second A to highlight the need for agreement to ensure stakeholder alignment and the focus it brings.

Specific

Specific means that the objective is unambiguous. Vague and ambiguous objectives, for example, “Improve sales” leaves too much to the imagination. Energy will be wasted as performers try to figure out or make assumptions about what ambiguous objectives really mean. An objective like “Improve sales of product X by 15% with a profit margin of 50% by the end of this fiscal year” takes away uncertainty regarding sales of what, by how much and by when.

Measurable

Measurable means that whether the objective is achieved or not is not left to the imagination. The measure of success may be quantitative or qualitative, but it must be clear enough to enable stakeholders to know what they are shooting for and whether they have hit it.

A quantitative measure is provided in the specific objective – 15%  etc. A qualitative measure can be added by including the objective of satisfying stakeholder expectations. Since being time bound is part of a SMAART objective, the target date provides another measurable objective.

Achievable

An objective that is not achievable takes a project on a ride to failure, waste, and unnecessary conflict. Whether something is achievable or not is subjective – one person might think that increasing 50% profitable sales by 15% is impossible, another that it is a stretch, and yet another that it is a “piece of cake.” Feasibility studies are needed to avoid the loss of enthusiasm that occurs when the team thinks it is saddled with an impossible task. Their belief turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy – an example of what you think is what you get.

Agreed Upon

This characteristic of objectives is critical and often left out of the “one A” definition of SMART. This second A points to the need for focus and alignment. Having team members who do not agree with the definition of objectives divides the team and does not support the focus needed for success.

Relevant

If the objective is not aligned with organizational goals, the attitude of performers and other stakeholders will be effected. That effect will be a loss of resources and motivations. A relevant objective will bring more attention to the project, particularly from senior stakeholders like sponsors and executives. That attention will help to motivate performers and functional managers.

Time Bound

Establishing a clear and achievable time frame or target date for a project is part of the specific objective and provides a measure for judging success.

Manifesting Success

If you want to manifest success in your projects, make sure you have clearly understood objectives that are agreed upon by all the stakeholders. That way the energy and efforts of the team will be focused on achieving them.

That focus doesn’t mean that all the team has to do is think and visualize the outcome. They must plan and apply intelligence, effort, and resources to execute the plan to achieve success.

[1] Davis, T PhD, Manifestation: Definition, Meaning, and How to Do It https://www.berkeleywellbeing.com/manifestation.html

Can’t-Miss Product Update: Risk Management, Recurring Tasks & More Features to Manage Risks at Scale

PM Articles by ProjectManager.com. 

ProjectManager is excited to roll out another product release designed to bring more value to our customers and help them overcome roadblocks across various industries. Among this release’s hundreds of product updates, we wanted to highlight two that our business edition subscribers and above can access: risk management and recurring tasks.

Manage Risks to Avoid Unexpected Project Impacts

Without the ability to identify and monitor project risks, customers can’t prepare for the unexpected. Our risk management feature allows you to track project risks in one central hub and assess the potential impact. Risks are designed to help customers identify and address risks to the project scope, costs and delivery.

risk management in ProjectManagerrisk management in ProjectManager
Use risk management to identify and respond to project risks in one place. Learn more

Users can move risks between projects to stay organized and use files, reactions and mentions to collaborate on risks with team members. If action is needed, managers can choose a suitable response and assign it to a team member to take action.

Risk View Customizations & Other Capabilities

This is a powerful and intuitive new task type, and risks are available in your customizable sub-navigation menu. We’ve designed risks to have their own card rich with functionality, allowing for collaboration and detailed information. Customize your risk view by choosing which fields to prioritize and display.

Show or hide the columns to easily find the information you need to keep your project on track. Example columns include impact, likelihood, level, response, priority, assigned to, tags and more. Customers can take advantage of the column sort feature to sort by ascending or descending order or to clear the sort.

The three-dot risk menu on the top of the card allows customers to share the risk directly via URL, move it to another project or delete it altogether. On the risk list view, you can also directly change the risk priority, impact, likelihood and response. Risks are also fully integrated with our global search functionality, making them easy to find anywhere in the software.

Set Recurring Tasks to Save Valuable Time

Project teams must juggle multiple projects and tasks at once to deliver success. The last thing project managers need is to spend critical time creating the same tasks across similar or repeated projects. Now, instead of creating each task or a series of tasks individually, ProjectManager users can use the recurring task feature to create and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

Recurring tasks in ProjectManagerRecurring tasks in ProjectManager

These tasks can repeat daily, weekly, monthly or annually, and users can control the specific days of the week or how many times per month the event repeats. To better align with your team’s schedule, recurring task dates automatically reflect your established work days and holidays.

It’s easy to create a new recurring task or turn a regular task into a recurring task by updating the task card settings. Simply choose when you want the series of tasks to end.

Other Updates From This Release

Our team has been working hard on hundreds of other minor improvements! Here are only a few of the highlights that you can explore with this release:

  • Workload management: Any unassigned work is now displayed so you can easily allocate it to the right team member. You can also filter workload by tags and the reassignment popup is easier to use.
  • Global search: Improved accuracy for certain terms and numbers in addition to a new keyboard shortcut. Simply press S on any page to access global search. 
  • Guest licenses: Onboarding guests and communicating with them about what they can and cannot do has improved.
  • Task card: The actual effort panel shows the currently assigned users first.
  • Overall performance: We’ve migrated the majority of our customers to our new AWS infrastructure for increased reliability and performance.

Questions? Our Support Team Is Here to Help

As you explore the new features and functionality of ProjectManager, know that our team is here to answer your questions and provide hands-on guidance. Feel free to email us at [email protected] with any questions that you have about this release.

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