December 13, 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 Managers Discover Top Time Management Tips and Techniques

An important responsibility of a project manager is to manage time as a constraint which involves keeping an eye on the project schedule, ensuring team members are delivering on milestones, while having to keep track of your own time spent as well.

While your role is varied since you need to cater for every aspect of the project from cost management to human resource management, you are accountable for the overall delivery including all tasks tied to the project. This does not mean that the project manager must micro-manage everyone on the team as individuals are primarily responsible for various aspects of the project.

However, we find that a number of project managers spend time doing too much management and fire-fighting and then they are left with little or no time to work on strategy, leading the team and focusing on tasks that only they can perform.  An efficient project manager, therefore, should be able to effectively develop strategies for his/her team and perform oversight functions effectively all while being on schedule.

To support you to be more professional as a project manager, here is an infographic with very helpful time management tips with complements from Nutcache.

Time Management – A Prerequisite for Great Project Managers [Infographic]

Project Management: How to foster creativity in your team

By Linky van der Merwe

Advances in technologyWhen we look at the new all electric cars that are storming the market today, we see amazing speed (0-100km in 3 seconds), top speed of 250km per hour and a range of 250km – 295km. Clearly innovation is evolutionary, brought about by many incremental advances in technology and revolutionary because it’s often disruptive and new, like the electric cars.

This is according to James Hebbard, a Snaptech Trainer and consultant who presented at the Project Management South Africa Conference in November 2016. He said the death of innovation is BFH, an abbreviation for Big, Fat and Happy! Below are his recommendations to foster innovation think.

6 ways to foster creativity

#1 Inside Game

Although ideas, inspiration and innovation seem to come from outside you, they don’t – it always comes from inside, sometimes within small intimate teams.

#2 Obsession and Focus

Innovative thinkers were all obsessed and extremely focused.  Albert Einstein was obsessed with light, Steve Jobs was obsessed with design and product perfection and Elon Musk is obsessed with space flight and electric cars.

#3 Perseverence and Patience

Keep yourself in your chair and the break-through will come as this picture illustrates.

perseverence

#4 Creating a culture of innovation

Culture is a mindset that is shared by a team. There are ways to create such a culture. People are afraid to make mistakes so you can start by creating an environment where it’s safe to fail. Create learning experiences, do brainstorming and problem solving facilitation, root cause analysis. Create space like 15% paid time to work on own creative projects. Look at the work environment.

#5 High performing teams

Know the strengths of team members, the level of the team maturity and their personalities as explained below.

  • Thinking styles: Ideation, Strategic, Learner, Input, Intellection, Analytical
  • Executing styles: Achiever, Arranger, Focus, Restorative, Responsibility
  • Relational styles: Achiever, Arranger, Focus, Restorative, Responsibility
  • Influencing styles: Activator, Communication, Maximizer, Significance, Self Assurance

This is what you need to know how to get the best out of your team.

#6 Identifying problems

Innovation is born from necessity. Without a pressing problem there is no need for a solution. Identify the problems around you because finding problems will help you solve them. How do you as a team identify problems?

Conclusion

innovation1 A few points to remember.

  • Innovation is often born out of necessity (AKA Problems).  Get to the root cause and see innovative ideas being born.
  • Humans are a product of their environment.
  • Teams are made of Individuals.

As a project manager, you need to know what their strengths are in order to get the best out of your team.

Here is an interesting article about virtual team management by Rob Rawson, co-founder and CEO of Time Doctor.

 

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Time Management: Gantt Chart as a Planning Tool

By Linky van der Merwe

Most existing project managers would know that Gantt Charts are popular tools to use for a visual presentation of a project schedule. Although numerous software tools make provision for Gantt Charts, the most widely used tool remains Microsoft Project.

For new or aspiring project managers, it’s important to understand that Gantt Charts come about as a result of the Time Management activities in the Planning process on a project.

Schedule Creation

When creating a project schedule, the order of the planning activities is important as explained below:

  1. Define activities by identifying all the specific actions to be performed to produce the project deliverables
  2. Sequence activities by identifying the relationships among project activities.
  3. Estimate activity resources by identifying the type and quantities of material, human resources, equipment etc to perform each activity.
  4. Estimate activity durations by analysing the work effort needed to complete each activity with the estimated resources.
  5. Develop the schedule – this is where activities are documented in a schedule (gantt chart) in the right sequence, with durations, resource assignments and constraints

History of the Gantt Chart

Wrike has created an interesting Infographic to display the origins or timeline of the Gantt Chart, the anatomy and how it’s used, as well as the benefits of using Gantt Charts on projects.

What is a Gantt Chart
Wrike Project Management Software

6 Email Productivity Tips

Time management tips for emailAs project managers, we are all inundated with emails daily. Therefore, I want to share the 6 Time Management tips to manage your email from BrightWork to help us become more productive as professional project managers.

Tip #1

Set special time aside for emails and turn off all email notifications.

Tip #2

Clear your Inbox once a day or at least weekly. This one I struggle with, but I do manage to read and action all my emails daily.

Tip #3

Eliminate multiple folders for different type of emails. Create one ARCHIVE folder for emails you want to keep and use the Search function to find them. With my ‘blue’ analytical personality, I still prefer folders, hence, it takes longer to clear my Inbox.

Tip #4

If you get the same questions again and again or you need to share the same information weekly, create an email in drafts answering the common questions.

Tip #5

Don’t reply to an email when you are angry. I believe anyway that it’s better to deal with conflict in person and keep emails for information sharing that is unemotional; that is more professional.

Tip #6

Have a systematic, simple email management process in place.

Click here for the Infographic: 6 Time Management Tips to manage your email

Let us know in the comments sections what other email tips you have!
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