Project Schedule

How to Create a Project Management Schedule

How to Create a Project Management Schedule

When first approaching a new project at work, it can often seem daunting. Organising your team, meeting deliverables, engaging with the stakeholders and hitting the final deadline can all seem quite overwhelming. It’s easy to fall into the trap of putting your head down and pushing on without much consideration, but this will only lead to unnecessary complications further down the line.

Taking a step by step approach to your project will make it more manageable and clear. A project management schedule gives you just that, allowing you to completely plan out the who’s, how’s, what’s and when’s of the project. Putting together an intuitive schedule will help relieve the stress of reaching deliverables, delegating responsibilities and leading your team.

Spending time to put together a project management schedule is always a worthy investment, providing clarity to you and your time and saving time in the long run. Today we’re going to give you a step by step guide on how to plan, develop and implement a project management schedule.

Project Schedule

1) Clearly define the goal of the project

It may seem obvious, but defining the end goal of the project should be your first port of call. When planning a journey, the first thing you think about is the destination, and the same should apply for project management. Once you’ve identified the goal, then we need to plan out how to get there.

2) Identify your milestones 

Once you understand your goal, now we need to break the project down into the milestones and deliverables you’ll need to reach along the way. Do you have stakeholders you need to pitch to? Have you been given any internal deadlines? Do you have a versioning plan in place? These are all milestones that need to be put in place along the road to project completion. 

3) Work collaboratively with your team

Don’t plan your project alone. Work collaboratively with the team you’ll have on the project to gain their insight into the intricacies of their roles. This will help you to gain a holistic view of a project from each side, ensuring that milestones for every team member are taken into account. Not only does this help your team feel more included, it also helps to reduce the number of unforeseen milestones that may arise, allowing your project to run smoother. Additionally, your team will be able to provide more realistic timeframes on your project, meaning that stakeholders won’t be misled by unrealistic deadlines. 

Team Collaborating

4) Engage with stakeholders on their view

Stakeholder engagement is a key element of project management, and including it in the project schedule will ensure that everyone is on the same page. Start by listing everyone that needs to be involved in the project, and identify those you will have to report to on a regular basis. The earlier you start to build a relationship with them, the easier working with them will be. Talk to them about what timescales they are visualising, and correlate those with your team’s expected timelines to create a project management schedule that works for everyone.

5) Plan for potential risks and conflicts

To realistically align project completion to a deadline, make sure to factor in potential issues that might arise. This may come from conflict between parties, perhaps where a decision requires compromise on both sides. It may also be risks of a financial or qualitative kind, which should be tracked, measured and planned for. It is always wise to come up with multiple contingencies for risks, and factoring these into the total project schedule. This allows you to be more agile with how you respond to these risks, and helps keep your project on track.

Management Presentation

6) Break down your milestones into tasks and subtasks

Next, break down your milestones into their requirements. What tasks need to be completed to ensure a milestone is met? It may be that your tasks need to be broken down even further into subtasks, ones that might even take less than a day to complete. This will make it easier for you to allocate tasks to team members, and will make it simpler for your team to understand. After all, any big task is just a bunch of smaller tasks on top of each other. 

7) Order your tasks by priority

Once you have an idea of the necessary tasks needed to complete the project, you now need to order them. Some tasks will be reliant on the completion of other tasks, so take care to consider where your dependencies are. Once you’ve aligned your tasks in priority order (based on prerequisites of other tasks / milestones) add them to the schedule and give your team a clear visual aid for the project.

Collaborative Presentation

8) Delegate!

You’re almost done with your scheduling, and nearly ready to get down to work. But first you have to assign tasks to team members. This is not always as easy as you think. Many project managers will just throw tasks to the four winds and hope they are picked up, while others will assign tasks based on availability of the team member. However, you should always look to delegate tasks to team members based on their individual strengths. Perhaps even assign a task to a duo where only one is an expert. This will help you reap the benefits of collaboration further down the line, as your team learns from each other, and help to better their skills. Be considerate of each team’s workload, as overloading any one member could cause them to miss deadlines or produce work that could be so much better.

9) Share and monitor the schedule

It’s go time. As we mentioned earlier, the whole point of a project management schedule is to keep your project on track and running smooth. Give your team access to the master schedule, or even create sub-schedules for departments or individuals. Monitor the progress of the project, and support your team members where they need it the most. 

This is where Verto can help. Our easy to use project management system allows you to create, manage and monitor a project management schedule. Alongside this, you can assign tasks to teams, work collaboratively online, calculate risks and much more. Verto is a cloud based solution, meaning that it can be accessed anywhere on a range of devices. 

Workplace Mental Health

Join the hundreds of organisations using Verto to create intuitive project schedules, and keep their projects on track all the way to compilation. Our system is relied upon by a range of sectors to help them streamline how they manage projects, programmes and portfolios. 

 A project management schedule is an essential part of project management, especially in today’s technology-driven world. Utilise an interactive, customisable schedule will help to keep your project running smoothly, and keep your team on top of their work.


One to One at Work

Managing a Team: Project Management Best Practices

Managing a Team: Project Management Best Practices

Managing a team is rarely easy. On top of your own workload, you have to manage the workload of other people, ensure it is done correctly, and then fit it into the project at large. Being a project manager comes with many responsibilities beyond that of other managers, so we’ve put together this list of tips to help you manage a team to the best of your ability.

Management Presentation

Managing Project Teams: Top Tips

When managing a project team, you may find it slightly different to other styles of management. More frequent deadlines, stakeholder engagement and changing business requirements are just some of the hurdles facing project managers today. But there are ways to streamline the way you manage your teams, and here’s the ones we recommend.

Praise your team where it is due

First things first, one of the best ways to keep your teams engaged with their work is to acknowledge when praise is due. There’s few things worse than working your hardest to receive no praise, so be a project manager that does. Recognising the good work your team does also helps to relieve pressure from their shoulders. Lots of people silently doubt their own work, so a pat on the back every so often will go a long way. What’s more, when a team is engaged and motivated in this way, you’ll find they bond as a unit much better, which in turn engages them even more.

Be approachable and encouraging

As a project manager, it can be hard to strike the right balance between being a boss, and being a friend. You don’t want to come across as harsh and robotic, as this will make you seem approachable, which is one of the main causes of issues within the workplace. On the other hand, if you are too much like a friend, you run the risk of your position as manager being ignored. Regular catch ups with your team are a good way to instil both respect and appreciation, which translates to a healthy team to manager relationship.

Workplace Mental Health

Allow your team to work in their style

The whole point of teamwork is to combine different working styles to benefit the greater whole. Therefore, a good team leader will learn how to make the most of each member of the team’s strengths. Everyone has a slightly different style of working, and a project manager, your job is to delegate work based on these strengths, while also working to improve their weaknesses. Your team’s progress is your progress, so taking an active interest in their individual development is not a bad idea.

Be decisive, not flaky

A good leader is nothing if not decisive. One of the most important parts of managing anything – whether it be a coffee shop or an international tech firm – is the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively. You also have to avoid making snap impulsive decisions, so your decision making has to be done based on raw facts and data. If presented with a difficult decision, inaction is often worse than wrong action. At the end of the day, the buck stops with the project leader, and that’s you.

Know how to delegate

Like we mentioned earlier, a good leader will know where the strengths and weaknesses lie within your team. Use this to your advantage by delegating tasks to those team members who are better suited to them. As a project manager, the actions of the team fall under your responsibility, and you are the one who will be looked to if any mistakes are made. Because of this, it can be tempting to try and take on more work than you can handle. If this sounds like you, you may be having issues trusting your team. Instead of hoarding all the work because you’d prefer to do it yourself, educate your team on where you think their weaknesses lie. Involve them in your workload, which leads us to…

Planning Tasks

Lead your team by example

There is a big difference between a leader and a boss. A boss will stand at the back of the team, shouting commands to those at the front. A leader will be right there on the front lines alongside their team. Which one do you think is a better method of managing a team? Being a true leader means sitting down with your team and taking stock of their concerns, while also sharing their pressures and workloads. It is very easy for leaders to forget that they are actually still part of the team, not just managing it. Working alongside your team in this way will do wonders for morale and engagement, and might just yield better results.

What Makes a Good Project Manager?

Being a good project manager comes with a different set of requirements than other managing styles. Managing a specific project or programme often requires managers to be more versatile and adaptable in the aid of delivering one tangible goal. Here’s how we recommend you do that.

Maintain good communication with everyone

As a project manager, you act as the glue between the team members and the stakeholders. This requires you to maintain exceptional communication with everything involved in the project. This includes timely reporting of progress to stakeholders, along with relaying the team’s queries to the stakeholders or third parties. Maintaining watertight communication ensures everyone stays on the same page with the project’s progress, which helps that progress continue.

Communication

Never settle for ‘one size fits all’

One of the main areas that project management differs from day-to-day management is variability. There is no one set way to manage a project, as every project will come with a completely different set of KPI’s, goals, risks and issues to manage. Even the most seasoned project managers will know this, and will never adopt a one-size-fits-all mindset. While this may seem daunting, project managers must replace tried-and-true methodology with an agile mindset, and the ability to be versatile.

Set realistic goals for stakeholders and team members

Setting realistic, achievable goals is vital to ensuring the success of a project. Many project managers fall victim to setting unreasonable goalposts, simply to appease the wishes of stakeholders who may not be aware of certain intricacies. Doing this forces you to rush your teams, which stresses them out, and causes the work completed to be of a lower quality. This stresses you out, and then only serves to irritate your stakeholders when you fail to meet the deadlines you set. Consult your team before agreeing any hard deadlines with your stakeholders, as they know best when realistic deadlines can be set.

Conduct team reviews on a regular basis

Being a good project manager means being there for your team when they have concerns. Take the time to speak to each member of the team and develop a relationship with them. Encourage your team to be transparent with their issues or worries, by offering support and guidance. A great way to do this is with one to one reviews, where you can explore the strengths and weaknesses of each member, and help them set goals for self improvement. Operate an open-door policy with any matter that may be bothering them, as their success is your success.

One to One at Work

Don’t be reactive, be agile instead

Like we’ve mentioned before, a good project manager has to be agile and versatile. But what does this actually mean? There is a big difference between reactive and agile project management. Being reactive in your management of a project means that you will be reacting to events beyond your control, instead of adapting to accommodate them. Instead of scrambling to adapt to changing circumstances, plan contingencies for every eventuality, and you will never be caught off guard. In today’s world of fast paced business environments, a project manager must be ready for anything, which is why managing your risks is a huge part of the job.

Encourage collaboration on every level

Just because you assign roles to your team members does not mean they have nothing else to offer. One great way of managing an agile team is to encourage collaboration across workloads, taking advantage of different viewpoints to produce the very best results. A chief designer may have some great ideas about consumer engagement, or a marketing executive may be excellent at planning out timelines. If you have taken the time to understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses, encouraging collaboration should be a breeze. 

Bear in mind that cherry picking from this list may not be helpful, managing a team effectively is an extensive process that involves many different avenues. Once you action one of these points, you’ll find that the others fall into place. Learn to understand your project team, and you’ll be able to manage them in any way that is required.

Productive Meeting

How Can I Implement These Ideas?

This is where we come in. Here at Verto, we have created a streamlined, easy to use system that makes project management easy. With Verto, you can manage your team easily, from anywhere. Hosting a range of tools to simplify project collaboration, Verto allows project managers to stay on top of their teams, assign tasks, track benefits, calculate risks, collaborate on documents and much more. 

With our cloud based platform, managing a project team has never been easier. You can use it to implement all the practises we’ve gone over today, just as hundreds of organisations have already done. Trusted by government bodies, healthcare providers and private sector partners alike, Verto can be customised to work for you in the way that suits you. 

Take a look round our website today, or send us an email with any questions you might have. Our teams are always happy to help.


Team Learning Together

The Benefits of Collaborative Working

The Benefits of Collaborative Working

In today’s world of modern working, the benefits of collaborative working cannot be understated. As the world of work adapts and pivots to changing environments, a project manager’s strongest tool is promoting collaboration within their team. In this article, we’re going to go over some of the chief benefits that collaborative working gives to projects.

Collaborative Presentation

1) Increased creativity, perspective and innovation

One of the first things that comes to mind when we think of collaborative working is how projects almost always benefit from multiple perspectives. The phrase two heads are better than one really rings true here. Two people may have completely differing views on what is required for a particular task. These differing views and personalities create a dynamic working environment, and help to foster fresh ideas and innovative insights. 

Whether you bring together individuals with complementary or contrasting skill sets, innovative ideas and viewpoints can always be seeded. With the correct managerial guidance, collaborative working can help solve problems and complete tasks in more efficient and effective ways.

Team Learning Together

2) Teams educate and learn from each other

When you bring together a group of people who specialise in different areas, you are likely to see one of two outcomes. The first outcome is that your teams end up working in silos, not being overly communicative. This is not the outcome you want, as you’ll be missing out on one of the fundamental benefits of collaborative working. 

If a team is nicely oiled and working well together, you will find that skill sets begin to blend. If you encourage your team members to collaborate with each other – especially on tasks that may be out of some people’s comfort zone – you will start to see your workers pick up on each other’s abilities. 

This helps foster a culture of skill development, and your team will be better integrated with each other as a result. Your workers may even end up working on each others’ tasks, which continues the cycle of collaboration, and all the good things that come with it.

Productivity through Collaboration

3) Camaraderie breeds engagement and productivity

When a team really begins to work well together, they will undoubtedly develop a sense of camaraderie. No matter how different they are as people, the shared goal will unite a well-curated team and foster an affinity. If your team bonds in this way, you will likely find they become more engaged with their work, thanks to the goals they share. 

This heightened level of engagement helps create an increase in productivity. As team members gain headway with their work, they find themselves encouraged by both their colleagues and the environment they create. The combination of all this will increase the productivity of both individual members and the team as a whole. If you can nail your team engagement strategy, the rest will take care of itself.

Team at Desk

4) Well-oiled teams are agile and flexible

The ability for project teams to adapt to changing environments is essential for modern business success. Regardless of your sector, every industry is being shaken up in some way at the moment, so this skill has never been more important. When teams collaborate efficiently, this ability is maximised. Some may think that a team is harder to steer in changing environments, but when a team is tight-knit and well integrated with their workload, the opposite is true. 

Faced with a major change in circumstance, a well-oiled team can put all hands to the deck to help the project change course where necessary. With each team member focused on their own aspect of the project, team leaders can focus on steering the ship away from the rocks. This style of agile project management comes as a byproduct of healthy collaboration, and should be kept in mind when deciding whether or not to increase the amount of collaboration within your project. 

Workplace Mental Health

5) Improved workplace mental health

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of collaborative working is the effect it has on the mental health of those involved. Developing a good rapport with their colleagues helps members to feel valued as part of a team, which offers plenty of mental health benefits. This feeling of value helps a worker feel more confident in their own work, and more likely to ask for help where they need it. 

A valued team member will also find themselves more engaged with their work, and more productive than they might have been without this feeling. In today’s day and age, the mental health of your employees should be a cornerstone of how you manage them. But this does not require you to babysit them, but quite the opposite. Introduce collaboration into your teams, instil in each of them a sense of value, and watch your productivity skyrocket. 

For more information and ideas on how to do this, check out this article on Innovative Team Building in the workplace. 

Team Collaborating

6) Teamwork is attractive to top talent

Because of all the reasons we have discussed so far, a collaborative business is more attractive to top talent. The best individuals in your field understand that collaboration in the workplace offers many benefits and opportunities. This means that organisations who embrace collaboration are more attractive to work for than businesses who ignore it. 

Research shows that those startup companies who receive the most attention (both media-wise and recruitment-wise) are the ones who embrace collaboration. There is a reason that all these quirky companies in renovated warehouses have open-plan offices: they know how beneficial collaborative environments are. Take a leaf from their book, and show off your collaborative working environments when hiring.

Project Delivery

7) Overall project delivery is accelerated

While we’ve talked about how one of the benefits of collaborative working is individual productivity, it applies to the team too. If your team members are working more productively, the team as a whole will be too, amplified by the collective atmosphere and rapport they develop. With the whole team helping and learning from each other with constant back and forth, you’ll find that the atmosphere they create breeds productivity. 

Have you ever heard the expression the whole is greater than the sum of its parts? Well this applies heavily when it comes to collaborative working. Two individuals working separately are not as fast as two people working together, this we know. But also, two people working together will be working at a higher quality than they would apart. This is because of how they learn from each other and encourage each other to do better. A slight hint of healthy competition doesn’t go misplaced here either.

Productive Meeting

8) Workplace bonds help businesses retain their staff

When an employee develops a bond with their colleagues and the business they work for, they are less inclined to want to leave. If you have helped to develop an employee through collaborative working, you don’t want them to leave either. You’ve helped give them the skills they need to become a major asset to your business, so losing them would be a blow. Surprisingly, this also applies for developing a rapport with management. 

More so than with personal relationships, workers are more likely to stay with a company if they feel valued by management. These feelings can be instilled in your workers with the help of collaborative working. When a team member is valued by both their team and their manager, this sense of personal confidence is multiplied. It would take a damn good offer for a worker to want to leave a business where they feel truly valued.

Stakeholder Communication

9) Better communication with stakeholders

When a team puts their heads together and really gains an understanding of a project, communication with stakeholders is made much simpler. As a project manager, it is your responsibility to report progress and risks to stakeholders. With individual team members in charge of separate aspects of the project, they will be able to provide you with more insight that you could perhaps provide on your own. 

With a crack team of specialists, you will be able to provide more detailed insight to your stakeholders, and refer them onto your team if they require more information. If detailed task-specific terminology is required in stakeholder reporting, a quick chat with the relevant team members will ensure you can explain it all in layman’s terms. This avoids baffling the stakeholders with jargon they don’t understand, and helps to relay information in a more concise way.

Growth and Success

10) The bottom line

All of the things we’ve discussed today are essential to business success. From increased productivity and skill development to mental health and employee retention. But what do all these benefits add up to? More success for your business. If your employees are working harder, are more engaged, learn from each other and feel valued, you have a winning combination for business success. Don’t take collaborative working for granted. Utilise its benefits, and watch your business improve.

But how can you do it? How can you seamlessly implement collaborative working practices into your teams? This is where Verto comes in. 

Verto’s cloud based project management system allows teams to work collaboratively in real time, wherever they are. Thanks to a range of tools like document sharing, instant messaging and streamlined workflow diagrams, project managers can effortlessly implement collaborative working into their teams.