December 14, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Benefits of Using Nuvro Project Management Software

By Adrian DeGus

Nuvro project management softwareEvery company struggles to manage projects and teams effectively. From small startups with tight deadlines to large conglomerates making long-term strategic moves, they all need to balance resources with requirements, and future work with current operations. In my experience with this whole range of environments, I’ve had varying degrees of success with project management tools. I’ve used big, cumbersome legacy tools and compared them with small, simple, free apps.

Nuvro, a new option that was recently released, promises to offer a balance. I’ve been trying it out, and it has a great, clean interface, but also intuitive options to get all the way down into the details. Nuvro is sleek like Asana, but has Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) features similar to Wrike. Teams of all sizes can reach peak performance using Nuvro as their tool of choice.

The tools I have experience using all include task assignment, organization, and tracking. Most of them consolidate project management and collaboration, not always with the most effective result. They have a lot of similarities, which helps becoming familiar with them. I have several frustrations with the options on the market today, and they all seem to share those frustrations, as well. Nuvro offers a fresh look, solving several of my frustrations.

As with most modern software, no one person or office uses every single function available. There is some degree of customization just by focusing on those PM features important to your organization. Nuvro, likewise, has numerous features, and here are the most important and game-changing for me and my organizations.

Elegant Design and Aesthetic

Nuvro Project Management softwareProjects, tasks, and task details are the first thing you see when opening Nuvro. Each is neatly organized in its own column, to get a quick overview. Each shows progressively more detail, and the amount of detail is selectable. Specifically, the project folders in the left-most column can be expanded and collapsed to your preference. The middle tasks column is high-level, while the right column with task details gives you the opportunity to address more immediate or short-term concerns.

I was quickly able to start a list of tasks, and see the convenience of the main page layout. Every single feature is not immediately visible, but that is actually preferable to many project management layouts. You have what you need, when you need it, and can quickly navigate throughout the site to find a plethora of options.

Nuvro is one of the few that gets the subtleties of an activity feed. I have used many project management tools that flood their executive displays with distracting, irrelevant activity feeds. Technical support might need a full audit trail of activity, which Nuvro provides, but we don’t all need to see it all of the time. Nuvro makes it available with a simple click of a tab in an expanded view for clarity. This is just one example of the right information at the right time.

Throughout the modules of Nuvro, this thoughtfulness for end users comes to light. There is great flexibility, while making the default view the most useful and intuitive one. I appreciate Nuvro treating me as a professional, with mature processes and practical demands for workflow management.

Workload and Availability Views

Nuvro project management softwareWhen I logon to Nuvro, it shows project folders and tasks. It also shows me a calendar of my assigned tasks organized by due date. This is convenient, because I can concentrate on those that are overdue or shortly due.

Often, the short-term tasks are paused, or have dependencies that do not include me on the critical path. Then, I can focus on tasks due in the next week or later, and begin to complete my portion of those duties. It makes sense to see immediate concerns up front, followed by less pressing issues.

Nuvro is leading by example in this area. Not only for myself, but for each of my teammates, these dashboards allow us to coordinate and plan for competing workloads. We can attend team meetings to discuss who has slack in the schedule and who is overworked. Our management can redistribute the load based on a simple layout that is consistent across the team.

Integrated Messaging

There are numerous time management and relationship management techniques for optimizing email, because many people get overwhelmed with it. Messages get lost, associates feel ignored, or opportunities are missed.

Nuvro improves on the old idea of email. It connects to tasks to make sure things don’t get forgotten, and limits the audience to only those already on my project team. I can concentrate on project details in Nuvro, and switch gears when I have to address the real world.

The methods and techniques you learn for managing your Inbox can be useful in Nuvro, but they should no longer be necessary. With its integrated solution, Nuvro messages are directly connected to calendars, coworker dependencies, and tasks.

Performance Views

Nuvro project management softwareNuvro presents organization and individual performance information in a unique and novel format. Unlike any other tool I have used, Nuvro tracks performance in real-time, visible to the appropriate levels of the organization hierarchy. As with workload, managers can access this information in a consistent format across our teams. Performance dashboards show current productivity as a predictor of future results.

Managers can spot problems with individuals, make corrections, and establish team goals. Executives can use the performance information to evaluate teams and the entire organization. My organization is competitive in a friendly way, so executives sometimes challenge teams to push relative performance above each other.

The standard format of these charts allows management to compare and discuss issues across the organization. Tech support managers can discuss underperforming teams with engineering. As a group, managers can compare best practices for improving performance with a full history. This history can be aligned with major management style changes to identify when effective behavioral measures started and finished.

Maximum Organization

If you’re like most of us, you have brilliant ideas for how to organize your life, but the execution of those ideas leaves you sometimes disappointed. Some of us use sticky notes. Some use cell phones. Some use personal assistants, whether paid or unpaid, such as overworked spouses and family members.

Nuvro offers to consolidate that information, too. Instead of feeling disconnected at your desk, it has helped me realize my job is where I can reach the pinnacle of organization and scheduling. The todo list app is invaluable for projects as well as personal items.

To Do lists stay private from your associates, so you can feel free to include sensitive information. Of course, that is limited to compliance with any applicable laws and regulations. It helps me to see work To Do items for the beginning of my day organized next to extracurricular items for later. That way, I can remember to pickup snacks for sports on the way out of work, and I don’t need someone to bug me about it constantly from home.

Smart File Sharing and Collaboration

Like a network share drive, Nuvro’s online document manager hosts files that are common to the organization and team. Due to its tight integration, however, I find that I prefer keeping files in Nuvro. That way, I don’t have to open a separate window to upload or check on someone else’s uploads.

At the organization level, we stay consistent by maintaining:

  • Letterhead templates with the official emblem and approved formatting. This is the “blessed” version, and always current.
  • Company handbook for employees. We can use the comments to record that everyone does a bi-annual review.
  • Business development and sales decks. Since sales teams are constantly travelling, they need online collaboration more than most.

Feeling anchored with a flexible tool

Nuvro has helped inspire confidence that we have a firm grasp our projects, our progress, and our future. At the management level and the executive level, we feel more secure in citing precise numbers for individual projects, employees, and the organization overall.

Nuvro helps me personally feel settled, since I can focus my efforts on one tool, instead of multi-tasking through various software, apps, and mobile and desktop formats. The front line of the company can also relax, since I approach them less often for reports. When they periodically update the Nuvro site on their specific responsibilities, we can see that information rolled up at the top level.

Nuvro has improved the morale of our teams, and helped change corporate culture. It highlights the shared responsibilities of the team, but also frees diligent members from catching flak if a couple coworkers are causing the team to perform below average. We can use the performance graphs to identify precisely which parts of the team need corrective action.

Conclusion

Nuvro has built the better mousetrap. Although it’s inconceivable that email or spreadsheets will ever be replaced, they are constantly supplemented by tools that excel at their specific responsibilities. Nuvro does several things better than other PM tools, and integrates all of its features very tightly.

About Nuvro:

Nuvro makes online project management surprisingly easy with the mission to help you and your team improve work efficiency by providing easy, intuitive, enterprise-grade project management software.

Project Management Tool: Meet Cardsmith, Digital Solution for Sticky Notes on a Whiteboard

By Monica Borrell

As Project Managers we have all used sticky notes on projects and wished that there was a better way to capture them!

Question:  What do all of these things have in common?

  1. To-do Lists
  2. Project Planning
  3. Work Breakdown Structuring
  4. Agile Software Development
  5. Visual Portfolio Boards
  6. Kanban
  7. Scrum
  8. Brainstorming
  9. Mindmapping
  10. Value Stream Mapping
  11. Strategy Mapping
  12. Ranking and Sorting

Answer:  They are productivity and organizational methodologies that often make use of sticky notes and whiteboards.

Meet Cardsmith, a web-based productivity tool inspired by sticky notes that works like you think!

Example Work Breakdown Brainstorm in Cardsmith

Cardsmith to brainstorm

Example of a Kanban Board in Cardsmith:

Cardsmith as Kanban board

Virtual Teams

What happens when these activities need to be done by a group where not everyone is in the same room?  Then what?

With Cardsmith virtual teams can brainstorm opportunities together, plan projects and run Scrum standup meetings, all while looking at the same Visual Board.

Anyone on the team can contribute to the process by adding, moving or changing cards and everyone in the meeting can instantly see the change.

Cardsmith brings the advantages of physical sticky note boards to the digital world. Customers have commented that “Other software exists to do these things, but Cardsmith is the closest to the experience of using a physical board with cards or sticky notes”.

Agile teams around the world are using Cardsmith to brainstorm, plan and execute on projects from startups, to multi-nationals. Teams using Cardsmith are building everything from businesses to software products to healthcare products.

Benefits of Cardsmith

Being modeled after the physical world of sticky notes and whiteboards brings some key benefits to Cardsmith users:

#1. VISUAL: you can see the “big picture” and the context of what is happening.

The “big picture” with a Project Portfolio Board:

Portfolio board template

#2. FLEXIBILITY: Cardsmith doesn’t prescribe any particular methodology.  Rather, it can conform to the team’s preferred methods. You can manage your team via Scrum, Kanban, Waterfall, or a hybrid method that suites your way of working.

#3. SIMPLICITY: Cardsmith is intuitive to use. There are not hundreds of features that are rarely used.

#4. ADAPTABILITY: The process of managing projects or other work might start out with assumptions that need to be changed as the team or the project evolves. Cardsmith Boards can be easily refined, or changed as new learning happens.

#5. MULTI-LANGUAGE: Just like with sticky notes, if you write on a Cardsmith Card, or title your Grid Columns in Spanish, you now have a Spanish application!

#6. CLOUD BASED: Sticky note boards in the Cloud give additional benefits of having a digital solution. They include:

  • The ability to move seamlessly from ideation to execution. It has been said that moving into structure or execution too swiftly hampers creative problem solving. Cardsmith supports innovation by letting the team start without structure – in what we call a “Freeform” view. Here, a picture is worth a thousand word, so check out this video to see an example of Brainstorming and Project Planning in action.
  • The ability to move from the “big picture” to the fine details. By linking multiple Cardsmith Boards together, one can allow executives to see the “big picture” (perhaps with a Visual Portfolio Board for the entire company or department). Then they can drill into individual to a Project Status Dashboard, and then finally – if needed – into the details that may be in a Project Task Board, or Scrum Board.
  • Multiple views of the same cards. A team might start out by sketching out a Brainstorm of ideas, and then move into turning the best ideas into action items. Next, they may organize these tasks into a project plan in a Grid view. Both the project plan view and the original brainstorm (“freeform” view) can be retained and referenced.
  • Supplemental information. Inside the Cardsmith cards, you can add fields that are meaningful to your team and label these fields whatever you want to, if you want to use field labels. These fields can store notes, checklists of tasks, mention other people who need to do something with the card/task/idea/project, attach images or link to other systems, including other areas of Cardsmith.  Another feature is that you can change the “card view”; the way cards are seen on the screen between several views from showing only the Card title, to showing the first few fields to featuring an Image on the front of each card.

Example of the Image Type Card View:

Team board

  • The ability to total up values such as estimated hours, or story points. The Cardsmith “Grid View” allows you total up fields with a particular label by row, by column or both.
  • Template boards. Not everything needs to be built from scratch. Cardsmith provides template boards with popular configurations. Boards can be shared and copied, so you can easily create your own template boards.
  • Template cards. Who wants to add a bunch of standard fields to dozens of cards? Once you have figured out what fields are most often needed, you can set a card configuration to be the default card so that new cards that are added have the fields that you determine to be needed. Any card can also be copied, or moved between boards.
  • Do a brainstorming with a large group. Maybe you are doing a speaking event and taking ideas from the audience. If you set the board to be Public and Collaborative, anyone with the link to the board can contribute cards, even from their mobile devices.
  • In the physical world, you can’t hide a column to get it out of sight and focus on more important things. Cardsmith allows for the hiding and displaying of columns or rows so you can focus on what is most important.

To learn more about this innovative solution, visit Cardsmith.co

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About the Author: Monica Borrell, CEO and co-founder Cardsmith.co

In between creating companies, Monica has held various positions on contract with large organizations doing change management, product management and project leadership consulting. She is also a Leadership Consultant with Project Elevate where she mentors and coaches project managers to become strategic leaders.

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