December 14, 2017

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

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.

How to Improve Project Information Flow to all Stakeholders

By Joel Roberts

On global projects spanning multiple continents, one of the biggest business challenges is to enable the flow of project information to all project stakeholders. This case study illustrates how the challenge was addressed.

The Jungheinrich Group, one of the world’s largest suppliers of industrial trucks, material flow and warehousing technology since 1953, with its headquarters in Hamburg, has been offering forklift-based products and services designed to get things moving for industrial customers.

Jungheinrich Group

Business challenge

Jungheinrich Group has grown rapidly and extended to more than 30 countries all around the world. The German giant have approximately 750 sales consultants and about 3100 mobile service engineers, which makes it a competent consulting and comprehensive service.

That lead to increased global distribution flows that was changing the face of company’s logistics. For their projects they were using Microsoft Project as their main project management tool.

Each project’s biggest constraint was the flow of project information to all project stakeholders. Jungheinrich Group decided that most of their staff only need to open and read mpp files, so Microsoft Project was not applicable in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Solution

Jungheinrich meetingThe company’s large user group forced them to search for a comprehensive viewer for Project plans. The company decided to cut costs on MS Project licenses, as they only needed a viewer that would simply open Project files for viewing.

First, they decided to make a snapshots of each plan and distribute them as a series of HTML files.

But quickly, they found that these files were just too static and non-transparent. Their consultancy was looking for a tool that will open the entire project plan, including the ability to display custom views for each plan.

Finally, they implemented a project viewer by Seavus that have similar look to Microsoft Project so that employees are used to it and didn’t need additional training.

“Since most of our users need to open very large .mpp files from time to time, it was an important part of our evaluation and one that Seavus Project Viewer was able to accomplish with no problems”, states the Jungheinrich Group.

“Once we purchased it, it was an easy product for us to deploy Enterprise-wide and has been a very stable and well accepted product by our employees.”

Business benefits

Seavus viewerToday, employees at Jungheinrich Group an effective Microsoft Project companion tool for opening and viewing Microsoft Project files at a very cost effective price.

With Seavus Project Viewer, each employee now could view all project data and custom views created by the project manager. In addition, the app is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Windows RT and online with the free app. This has resulted in a more efficient and effective flow of information to all project stakeholders.

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Joel RobertsAbout the Author:

Joel Roberts is a Project Management Consultant and an established author with more than 12 years of experience in working for Seavus Project Viewer and PrimaveraReader – solutions for viewing and analyzing project plans by the project team.

She is passionate about Mind Mapping and innovation management and her articles have been featured in more than a hundred project management and business websites.

3 Benefits of MeisterTask for Project and Task Management

By Michael Hollauf

macbook The dust has finally settled after the launch of MeisterTask, our new collaborative task manager for creative teams, and I get to write a few words about why we made it, and why you should try it as soon as possible. Discover a way to work with your colleagues that’s not just more efficient, but also more enjoyable.

Finding a Need

MeisterTask is our second product after MindMeister, an online mind mapping and brainstorming app that is currently used by over 3.5 million people around the globe. It was mostly their feedback that inspired the development of MeisterTask. Many project teams were using MindMeister to brainstorm ideas and visualize project plans, but there was an inevitable interruption in their workflow once the creative part was done. The most amazing ideas were sometimes lost between dozens of random thoughts, and important to-dos were forgotten in idle mind maps, slowly becoming outdated.

… And Filling It

The best way to ensure that what is being decided in a meeting actually gets done, is to create tasks right then and there. Teams, however, simply didn’t have an efficient way of going from mind map to task management, from idea to action. This is how the idea for MeisterTask was born.

Everything You Need – And More

We’ve put a lot of thought into MeisterTask’s user interface, making it as intuitive and easy to use as possible. Of course, MeisterTask also offers all the standard functionality that you’d expect from a good collaborative task managerdocument management, time tracking, notifications, real-time communication etc. But there are three things that make it not just one of the most elegant, but also one of the most powerful task management tools on the web.

1. Flexible Boards that Adapt to Your Team’s Needs

MeisterTask Projectboard

MeisterTask Projectboard

 

MeisterTask doesn’t force your team to adapt to a new workflow or spend valuable working time on learning to utilize a wide array of features. Thanks to its flexible project boards, it’s completely up to you whether MeisterTask functions as a simple to-do list manager, a light-weight Kanban tool, a sprint planner or a combination of all three.

2. Smart Automations for More Efficiency

MeisterTask - Section Actions

MeisterTask – Section Actions

 

MeisterTask uses recurring tasks and steps in your workflow as an opportunity to save you valuable working time.  One of the features we’re currently working on are Section Actions. Section Actions are automations the user creates through simple IF-THEN functions. They require absolutely no programming skills, but they are a great way to set up customized notifications, change the status of a task or reassign it automatically when it is moved from one specific section to another.

 

3. Seamless Workflow from Idea to Implementation

MeisterTask seamlessly integrates with its brother-app MindMeister, offering a uniquely seamless workflow from brainstorming to execution. In MindMeister, teams can outline project plans in a collaborative setting, collect all project-related information and visualize issues, questions and to-dos. Once they’ve completed the creative stage, they can immediately turn their ideas into actionable tasks, and their mind maps into agile projects.

 

Take a look at this short video to see how it works:

 

MeisterTask has only been out for a few weeks, but the feedback so far has been truly amazing, especially with regards to the workflow from MindMeister to MeisterTask.

How do you go from ideation to execution? If you have a specific workflow in place that ensures none of your creative ideas get lost, share it in the comments!

About the Author:

Michael08Michael Hollauf is the co-founder of MeisterLabs, the company behind the popular online tools MindMeister and MeisterTask. He’s passionate about finding new ways to make life and work in our increasingly connected society easier. He lives in Vienna with his wife and three kids. You can reach out to him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

 

 

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