August 21, 2017

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

The Benefit of Resource Driven Updates on Projects

By Biraj Borah

Project planning and monitoring may be quite simple on average projects, but for larger projects it is a complex set of tasks and activities. During Planning, once the scope is defined, firstly the high-level activities are listed as Level 1 (L1). A rough time estimate is given and only the major milestones are defined. With respect to the Level 1 milestones, further levels are then defined. And the number of levels depends on the size and complexity of the project.

In Planning, this process of defining all task levels to be done on a project, helps to create the work breakdown structure, also called WBS. And the final level of the WBS is the activity. Completion of all the defined activities under the WBS, will lead to completion of all the in scope deliverables.

Traditional Method to Update Progress

According to the traditional method, we update by dragging the Gantt chart or edit in % completion field. Using this approach, there is no relation to the resource assigned to the task and is mostly manually driven by the user. This seems simple enough. But on a complex project, there is no validation of how that percentage is arrived? Large projects require project task against certain validation. Without any tools, the project manager has to rely on other details and supporting documents which makes the project much more complex to monitor.

traditional progress update

Modern Approach – Driven by Resources (Human, Capital & Material)

TIEMCHART project management software provides the modern approach to monitoring task progress based on resource update assigned to that task. Each task or WBS may be driven by various resources – human, machinery and material resources.

An individual WBS may involve completion of multiple sets of resources. If you are talking about a consulting business, a task may involve assigning the consultant a set number of hours or it may involve delivering a set number of design documents or other reports. Now such tasks can be monitored based on either the number of hours completed or number of design documents submitted against the plan.

Similarly for a procurement task, it may involve delivering a set quantity of cement bags, steel pipes etc. Likewise such deliverables can be assigned against the task or WBS. Progress of the task can be automated based on actual number of cement bags or steel pipes delivered.

Set Resource Planning & Requirement

Once the resources are identified against the task, you can plan the quantity / hours deliverables against the task. Based on such assignments, project progress can be monitored.

  • Single resource – if a task involves using single resource. Deliverables such as number of hours or quantity can be specified against the task
  • Multiple resource – Tasks that involves multiple resources can have a bearing based on number of items delivered against such multiple resources

Resource planning

Monitor Task Progress Based On Resource Assignment

Depending on task planning and resource assignment, task progress can be monitored based on actual delivery of such resources. Be it human or machinery engagement in number of hours, material resources in quantity, task progress can be measured and monitored in real time based on such deliveries.

Tiemchart resource driven updates

Benefits of Resource Driven Updates

TIEMCHART is the first Project Management Software to bring the solution of automated project progress based on resources. This helps businesses to cut down project delays and finishing more projects on time. Being a cloud-based solution, it also simplifies implementation and reduce expensive installation costs.

Visit Tiemchart and request a free demo.

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.

PMO are you Looking for PPM Software with a Difference?

Today I would like to introduce an interesting concept, the democratization of project management. What this means, is to ensure that professionalized project management is no longer a privilege available to only a few.

It’s based on providing access to all organizations – regardless of size – to professional, organized and simple project management. It must be equally accessible to a certified specialist as it is to someone who has never heard of PMI, for example. This is according to ITM Platform, providers of a Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Software with a difference.

The democratization of project management consists of bringing to everyone what was previously only accessible to the largest players. How has this philosophy made ITM Platform different from other PPM software?

ITM Platform PPM software

How ITM Platform differentiates itself

  1. We facilitate use of the system by everyone involved in the projects.Clarity and ease-of-use are not incompatible with a system that offers comprehensive features. Our efforts are focused on offering a complete and user-friendly system that adapts to your company and product. The market contains some very simple and visual tools, but they fall short in terms of functional characteristics. Others are highly comprehensive but entirely unusable.
  2. We offer deployment periods for our solutions that range from five minutes to four days.Other solutions with comparable feature sets range from six months to one year. We achieve this with a native cloud-based model, a series of predetermined configurations that facilitate start-up and user-friendly and easy-to-understand training materials.
  3. We provide the complete freedom to complete a deployment without the need for consultants.Having to contract another organization to launch a tool at your own imposes limitations. Consultants should only be necessary when they are going to provide methodological value, when they are going to help transform the organization or transfer knowledge.
  4. We offer all the features you could wish for, but delivered in an intelligent fashion without requiring clients to follow steps that are not natural for their organization and without restrictions that add nothing to the project.
  5. And, above all, we are accessible in terms of price.We have made great efforts to create a “fat-free” company with only what is absolutely essential for delivering what our clients need.

This is how to make project management accessible to all. The concept of project management democratization goes beyond the tool itself. PM knowledge is shared also via regular publications and webinars.

PPM Tool Selection

When selecting a tool, go for an option that offers value to both project managers, program managers, and the portfolio team. While many PPM tools offer a great value for the latter, they may be difficult to adopt for the basic project planning needs of ‘accidental’ project managers, and perhaps add even less value to team members.

The less attractive a tool is for project teams, the worse the quality of project data. This means that you should look for a tool that allows for easy project planning and execution: not just portfolio management and Business intelligence.

If you would like to try ITM Platform for yourself, please visit PPM Software here.

PrimaveraReader – Simple to use viewer for XER schedules

By Joel Roberts

If you manage your construction & engineering projects with Oracle® Primavera P6, you may want to know about a software that goes hand in hand with P6, and how you can benefit by utilizing the features this software provides.

I’m writing about PrimaveraReader, which is a .xer viewer in its nature, able to perform a wide variety of project scheduling functions, beneficial your team and organization.

PrimaveraReader enables users to view Oracle® Primavera P6 Schedules in .xer or xls. format.

View schedules

Project stakeholders like project managers, contractors, and subcontractors can take advantage of the software and gain greater visibility over the project progress by utilizing the following views:

  • Activities
  • WBS – Work Breakdown Structure
  • Projects which represents the Enterprise Project Structure (EPS)
  • Resource assignments
  • Detail view of selected item in current view
  • OBS – Organizational Breakdown Structure
  • Roles view

Why reader for .xer files instead of sharing .pdf files?

PrimaveraReader as .xer file reader provides an interactive overview of the project with personalized view. Moreover, users can use custom and auto filters with flexibility when viewing a file as well as navigate through predecessors and successors with complete overview.

With .xer reader, you can also work with custom layouts imported from .plf files, and take advantage of visual baselines comparison on the activity updates from previous .xer file versions.

Cutting costs on software licensing

Nowadays, as a consequence of the global economic crisis and slow recovery from it, companies are trying to tighten up their spending and budgets on costly software technologies and services.

Moreover, if we consider a project where most of the people work on their assignments, while only project managers, executives, and coordinators make changes on the schedule, then a lightweight application to display project views could dramatically reduce costs for software licensing.

Reduce license costsОne of the most eminent attributes of PrimaveraReader is its speed. Anyone having issues with importing large .xer files knows how important is the speed. It takes minutes, and some managers even reported hours to open a large .xer files in P6.

But that’s not the case with PrimaveraReader, as it will open .xer files in a matter of seconds.

Progress Update

The Progress Update functionality at PrimaveraReader allows team members to propose assignment progress and activity status in their respective views. The Project Scheduler then decides whether to accept or reject the updates proposed by the team members.

progress updates

Project Baselines

Baselines functionality allows comparison of up to four updated versions of a project schedule. Users can view precise graphical presentation of what has been changed from the original schedule in the Gantt preview. It’s an easy visual comparison utility, helping you to keep track on the project progress.

project baselines

Filters and Search

With the latest release of PrimaveraReader, users can filter project data that meets certain criteria, such as milestones, completed activities, in progress or critical activities. User can pick between User Defined and Default Filters to be applied to the current view.

Searching within the project data is also a feature to be highlighted and useful when you need to find a specific item from the current view.

Mobile Support is expanding

Not all people from the team might work on a PC. That’s why the vendors developed iOS application to support users with iPhone and iPad devices.

The iOS app supports reading files hosted in iCloud or One Drive for business. There are plans to extend with an Android version in the following period.

Benefits of PrimaveraReader

The benefits of using PrimaveraReader are huge for project teams of any size. I’ll highlight some of the most important:

  • Save time and share plans in XER format without exporting to PDF.
  • Greater control over team members and reduce the risk of having unclear tasks.
  • Reduce manual workload and avoid mistakes when receiving progress updates.
  • Worry-free sharing of the project details without the risk of unwanted changes.

Thanks to this powerful reader for Oracle® Primavera P6 files, you have an affordable, user friendly, and comprehensive addition to Primavera P6. If you want a tool that you can use to view .xer files, you’re very well advised to get PrimaveraReader.

5 Benefits of Using a Future Fit Critical Chain Project Management Software

Software review by Irina Viter, multi-project management researcher

Epicflow is an online Project Management tool designed for business experts who want to manage large numbers of projects simultaneously without project delays and cost escalations. The web-based PM software works in tandem with MS Project and Jira, the most commonly used project management tools, as well as Topdesk, Trimergo, Primavera, and CA Clarity.

This online project management tool was developed by two Dutch scientists, Albert Ponsteen and Jan Willem Tromp, to prevent overload, reduce planning headaches, and set priorities in dynamic workplaces. Having spent nearly 30 years in project management environments of different kinds, Ponsteen and Tromp recognized that project management experts are badly in need of software features that can bring order and simplicity to their multi-project environments.

Benefits and Strengths

  1. Epicflow is the next generation of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) software, offering capacity buffers for resources in addition to time buffers. It approaches project management from the perspective of resource availability, as this is the most effective way to avert the risk of overload and release bottlenecks as soon as they appear. The key benefit of the Epicflow project management tool is that it creates perfect flow by helping business leaders create effort-based workloads and set priorities.
  2. With Epicflow, project management experts can achieve complete visibility over team performance and notice the “bugs” in their business processes as soon as they show up. The system immediately points to overloaded, “stuck” employees who hold back a project’s velocity. You get a real-time overview of all projects in the portfolio, sorted by priority.
  3. Epicflow creates order out of chaotic planning routines. Its smart algorithm eliminates all the waste so people can work according to project priorities and situations of overload are reduced to a minimum. Project managers immediately feel the reduction in planning and management overhead.
  4. This innovative management tool helps you reach high team performance. With adequate resource planning and effort-based workloads, employees are less likely to suffer stress at work, and will be more proactive.
  5. Epicflow increases project awareness by including a mobile application to control resource groups and stay abreast of current projects regardless of location.

Features

Epicflow’s features complement MS Project and Jira, upgrading them for multi-project environments and infusing predictive analytics into an ordinary capacity planning routine. The most striking features of this PM software include:

  • Future load graphs to help you take control of resource planning and predict the impact of additional projects on the existing projects in your pipeline;
  • A pipeline showing multiple projects, milestones, and bottlenecks;

 

Epicflow pipeline software for projects

Pipeline with bottlenecks shown in red above

Pipeline indicating the amount of hours that a project lacks below

epic flow PM software

 

  • Historical load graph presenting group performance, capacity, load, and output over time;
  • Burndown chart;
  • Weeks remaining;
  • Task list;
  • Reporting;
  • User mapping.

Epicflow resource management software

The allocation of resource groups among three PM tools (Jira, Trimergo, MSP) and their associated workloads.

 

Clients Success Stories

Epicflow has already proven effective for many clients in the form of its previous offline version Flow MPM. This is what clients have to say about the software:

  • TKF: “With this project management software we increased our output by 200% and reduced lead-time by 50% in 2 years. We are also able to give our customers a realistic commitment.” Hans de Boer, R&D Director, TKF
  • THALES: “This PM tool resource status is giving you visibility in the near future whether you run into bottlenecks. By doing this it gives you enough time to act accordingly.” Frank Zalm, Program Manager, Thales Nederland
  • DSM: “Analyzing FLOW MPM data shows that agility on projects is increasing and efficiency is going up.” Rigo Bosman, Application Development, DSM Dyneema
  • PILZ: “Epicflow has given us a significant improvement in the amount of projects we can deliver nowadays.” Jan Tournois, Director, PILZ NL

 

Visit Epicflow for more information.

Please subscribe to Virtual Project Consulting not to miss future articles, tips and success stories!

 

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.

Looking for a Project Management Training Service Provider?

Review Article

Training with KnowledgeHut

In the dynamic world we live in today, learning policies within organisations are evolving at rapid speed in response to emerging technologies. Traditional, formal and scheduled training methods have given way to more informal and on-demand forms of learning, with an increasing accent on blended and e-learning delivery modes. Continuous training and collaboration helps organizations stay at the cutting-edge of change.

Global Training Provider

KnowledgeHut is a Global leader in online and classroom training for on-demand certifications like PMP, PMI-ACP, MS Project, PRINCE2 and more. As an industry-leading training company operating across 70 countries and 6 continents, their courses are aimed at delivering measurable improvements in business performance and productivity. Training is delivered across the US, Canada , Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, APAC and SE Asia.

Training with KnowledgeHut

Agile and Scrum training in Sydney on 1st February’17

Professionals who have completed their courses are equipped with state-of-the-art knowledge and technical skills that enable them to stay at the forefront of their careers.

KnowledgeHut works with the Global Blended Model of Approach (GBMA), an effective method that makes training and learning easier for individuals and organizations in the industry. This methodology works through a blend of extensive online training in tandem with traditional classroom based learning. Participants have consistently achieved positive training results, with a shorter learning curve and significantly higher retention of the subject matter.

Specialties

KnowledgeHut is a registered Education Provider (REP) of Scrum Alliance, PMI and IIBA. It’s also an ATP of EC-Council, CompTIA, APMG for PRINCE2 training, as well as a certified partner of AXELOS and the disciplined Agile consortium and Scaled Agile Inc.

KnowledgeHut offers an extensive selection of vendor-authorized training and certifications for PMI, Microsoft, APMG, CompTIA, and Scrum Alliance among many others.

Close the skills gap

They specialize in training, consulting, Scrum Master Training, Certification courses as well as e-Learning. Have a look at their Infographic on the Future of IT.

If you want to train with a company whose mission it is to empower human capital through industry accredited, nationally and internationally recognized courses to close the skill gap, visit KnowledgeHut and find the course that will make you more successful in 2017 and beyond.

Training Service Provider: GreyCampus – Training Project Professionals, Enhancing Careers

Certification training to develop new skills is an important aspect of career advancement. It not only recognizes your skills, but helps you get hired in a dream job. A 2012 Microsoft study highlights certification as an important hiring criteria. For hiring managers, a certification represents high skillsets for a candidate.

In a recent IT professionals survey, more than half of respondents stated that they landed new jobs due to a certification. It is part of important criteria for selection in project management jobs. If you plan to become certified in 2017 and you are looking for training, consider GreyCampus as the one-stop destination for all your training needs.

Introduction to GreyCampus

GreyCampus is a private education management company. Founded in 2014, it has its head office at Dallas, Texas in the United States. It is a leading training provider and has helped train more than 10,000 professionals worldwide. It provides training to professionals in the areas of project management and quality management. It is a registered education provider (REP) for many professional training courses. GreyCampus has also partnered with institutes like PMI, Axelos, PeopleCert, PRINCE2 and more.

Training methods

GreyCampus conducts training through the following methods:

  • Instructor-led online classes
  • Instructor-led traditional classroom courses
  • Self-learning online courses.

Project Management Training

PMP exam preparation courseThe project management courses at GreyCampus are available in the following modes:

  • Instructor-led
  • Online self-learning

The course provides learners with the essential tools needed to pass the exam. It is aligned as per the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) Guide, Fifth edition. It is also competitively priced to make learning affordable.

The instructor-led classes, both online and classroom are priced at $999. The online self-learning course is priced at $400.

GreyCampus also offers courses on CAPM and PMI-ACP certifications in different learning modes.

PRINCE2 Training

PRINCE2 FOUNDATIONGreyCampus offers the following courses around PRINCE2:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation Training and Certification course. It is available in both instructor-led and self-learning modes.
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner Training and Certification course. It is available in both instructor-led and self-learning modes.
  • There is also a 3-day instructor-led only PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Combo course.

Project Professionals

GreyCampus training offers short courses to help project professionals earn Category A Professional Development Units (PDU). These PDUs help them keep their PMI certification, to develop themselves and to be up to date in the job market.

For example, the Microsoft Project Fundamentals priced at $5 will earn the student 5 PDUs. The Project Schedule Management Basics priced at $10 will gain the student 10 PDUs.

The other project applicable courses available are Project Collaboration and Management, MiniTab Online Training, Slack Introduction and many more.

Special offer

Project managers who are looking for training in 2017 can check the details of the project management courses on the GreyCampus website. You can check the course schedule, eligibility and location and make your choice as per your needs.

In partnership with Virtual Project Consulting, GreyCampus offers a special discount of 50% if you sign up from here. Just use coupon code PROJCOL.

***Some links are affiliate links.
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