The happy manager

In a recent study carried out at University of Warwick, UK, it was found that happier people are approximately 12% more productive at work as compared to their counterparts who are not happy. This clearly reflects that happiness is directly related to productivity and being happy at work really pays off big time!

Being the connecting link between the upper management and workers, it becomes imperative for a manager to not just be happy himself, but make sure that the team is happy as well.

This brings us to the question ‘What does it take to be a happy manager?’

After doing my bit of research, this is what i was able to figure out -

1. Leader: Although people use the terms manager and leader interchangeably, but there is a world of difference between the two. Management can be explained as the act of doing things right; on the other hand leadership is more about doing the right things. A good manager is the one who amalgamates the characteristics of a leader with his managing abilities to bring out the best results. Here is a look at how you can become a happy manager by improving your leadership skills -

  • Love, learn and share – teamwork is all about sharing. And, as Napoleon Hill has put in words “You can succeed quick and best by helping others to succeed.” As a leader you must not only assign roles and let them do their thing, but at the same time share your experience, knowledge and expertise with them. In fact, you must encourage the people in your team to share their experiences with other members as well. This can help the team to learn new things, and work as an icebreaker, in case the team has been newly formed.
  • Contribute equally – If your presence is not making any contribution, then your absence won’t make any difference. Teams are more effective, innovative and productive when everyone contributes equally. Being the manager of the team you need to contribute not only towards project progress, but also take care of the comfort of your team as well. Don’t forget a manager is as good as the team is, so your contribution becomes even more important. So, in order to be a happy manager you must learn to contribute effectively in team progress. Remember if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself – Henry Ford.

2. Motivator: how many times do you step out of your home to go at work thinking I am going to have fun at work today? I suppose none. If you will start to have fun at work, then it won’t feel like work. And, this is what you should try to achieve as a manager. After all, all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. So, rather than letting your team transform into work slaves, try to incorporate something that makes it fun to work. Here is a look at what you can do -

  • Refresh and Renew – incorporating some fun activities during break hour can help to rejuvenate the team. Social gathering and team outings can serve not only as icebreakers, but at the same time can help to freshen up the team after a hard week’s work. And, as the manager of the team it becomes imperative that you don’t let the work get monotonous and boring. By arranging for regular fun activities at work, you can eventually bring the best out of your team and see a sharp rise in productivity for sure.
  • Eat healthy stay happy – while this might come as a surprise inclusion for all of you reading the post, a manager must never ignore the importance of a good diet. This is the reason that a happy manager should not only keep a check on his diet, but at the same time inspire the team members as well to eat healthy, live better and work better. As they say, a sound mind lives in a sound body.

3. Manager: Management is nothing more than motivating other people. This is the simplest definition of management that I have ever come across. As the title of the job goes, a manager is the person responsible for managing the workers, assigning projects to them and ensure that every step (from inception of the project till it crosses the final line) is completed in the rightful manner. Being a project manager, here are some things that can help you to become a happy project manager.

  • Create Happy Workplace – while others just sit and wait for inspiration, a good project manager gets up and goes to do things the way they were never done before. It is the responsibility of the project manager to create productive workplaces where the team enjoys doing the stuff. Look at some of the big names from all across the world like Google, Facebook, Disney, Virgin and many more, one of the biggest reasons why they are so good at what they do is because they make it a point to create a happy workplace. Google took this theory to a newer level altogether by investing a lot more in employee support and employee satisfaction in recent times. The result came in the form of 37% rise in the productivity of employees afterwards.
  • Productive Team means happy MANAGER – Research, facts, statistics and figures, all of these point out that productivity has a direct relation with happiness of the workers. A productive team means better results, projects being wrapped up on time and rise in the revenues. And, this is something that every manager wants to achieve. So, all in all it won’t be wrong to say that the job of a project manager is a two way barter, where the manager strives to make the employees happy at workplace. In return, the employees bring better results and make the project manager happy. As simple as that!

To sum it up, all I would like to say is that a happy manager is one who manages with “head”, “heart” and “hand”.

If you can incorporate these traits in your attitude, then I’m sure the transformation from being just any other manager to a SUPER-MANAGER will not take long to occur!

 




How to create a culture of innovation

Every organization has its own set of problems. While some focus on simply addressing these problems, there are others that go one step ahead and innovate so that the problem does not come in the future as well.

The big question that you need to ask yourself is whether you want to be part of the former or the latter?

I’m sure the answer would be the latter group.

Now, the question that arises here is how do you fabricate an atmosphere where innovation thrives? How do you magnify this strength of innovation into a source of competitive advantage? Most important of all, how do you create a culture of innovation?

Before we delve deep into the chronicles of creating a culture of innovation, let us first understand what exactly does the term culture of innovation mean? According to Scott Edinger, of the Edinger Consulting Group, “Excellence in leading innovation has far less to do with the leader having innovative ideas; it has everything to do with how that leader creates a culture where innovation and creativity thrives in every corner.” While for majority of us innovation is nothing more than the plain act of generating new ideas (a whole lot of them), but the reality is far from that.

Now that we have a thorough understanding about institutional innovation, let us shift our focus back from where we started i.e. how to create a culture of innovation in your organization? After meticulous research, I have managed to come up with this compilation of strategies that top leaders in the world have employed to foster a culture of innovation in their organization. So, here’s the list

  • Incorporate innovation in your DNA
    “Innovation, “as Steve Jobs has put in words,”comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.” There’s no point in belaboring the obvious that innovation is the one aspect that can make or break a business. Just like Einstein said it, innovation is everyone’s responsibility and not just the R&D Team, think of it as a constant evaluation of creativity rather than any of your pet projects. This philosophy has been the driving force for innovation at companies like Facebook, where everyone is looked upon as an innovator.
  • But before the first step, know thyself
    Every organization has certain set of values, behaviors, attitudes and feelings associated with its workforce. Before you start to work towards the change, you need to understand the climate of your organization. Will the employees be able to acclimatize to the change? How will they respond to this experimentation phase? What are the different structures that you need to keep in place in order to unlock innovation? Wondering how to do it? Well, here’s what you can do to help your employees adapt to this culture of innovation -
  1. Tolerate mistakes – if employees fear of being penalized for failures, their thinking is going to be crippled. As crazy as it may sound, but giving your employees the confidence of not being ridiculed, no matter how crazy their ideas may sound, should be the first point on your list. This feeling of reciprocal trust can prove to be a game changer for your organization.
  2. Solicit ideas – as told in the first point, innovation isn’t the sole province of top-level employees. Anyone who has a skill related to the project can come up with the multi-million dollar idea you have been looking for. This is the reason that rather than relying solely on the so called innovative thinkers of your organization, you should encourage all the employees to share their ideas and see how things turn out to be.
  3. Focus on results – give the staff members freedom to do their job. No matter how they do it, a breathing space where they can experiment, grow and come up with something new always helps in getting the best results. And, that’s what matters in the end. Isn’t is so?
  • Experiment and iterate
    Speed holds the key when we talk about innovation. However, that’s not the only thing that matters. Experimenting with those ideas first and then moving ahead with their iteration is as important as discovering the idea itself. And, Facebook comes across as the best example for this. Not only do these guys come up with innovative ideas every now and then, but it’s their experimentation and iteration that drives them to success. From Beta Testing to methodical implementation, they leave no stone unturned to make sure that only the best product comes out for the users. And, this is the reason that they have emerged as the leaders in technology. If Facebook can do it, then why can’t you? All you need to do is pick up the pace before slow speed becomes the death knell for your business.
  • Be the inspiring leader
    As they say ‘to bring the change, be the change’. If you want your employees to inculcate the culture of innovation within them, you need to analyze your attitude. Are you an inspiration for the employees? Do you motivate them to innovate? If not you, then who else? Here are some aspects of leadership that might be coming in your way, when it comes to inspiring the workers at your organization -
  1. dismissing others’ ideas simply because you don’t have the time to listen to them
  2. asking employees for suggestion, but never implementing them
  3. not being open to explore the possibilities of any novel idea put by any of the team members

If you can relate to any of these things after reading it, then you surely need to work on your leadership abilities first before you actually start to innovate.

  • Embrace failure
    People call failures infectious, stinky and pestilent. Not doubt they are, but the trick to embrace innovation is to accept failures in a similar manner as you accept success. The best leaders don’t criticize people who fail, rather they inspire them to strive harder the next time. Remember, it is all about thinking. And, there can’t be a better way to explain this situation in words then referring to the famous quote from Thomas A. Edison who failed 10000 times before successfully creating the electric bulb ‘I’ve not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.’ Remember the glass is always half empty and half full, it depends entirely on the way you look at it.

That’s about it from my end.

Hope you had a Happy Reading!!!

 




The 7-Point Checklist that Every Project Manager Needs to Look At

Plan, Organize, and Manage Resources.

This would have been my answer if you had asked about the roles of a project manager few years back. Ask me now and I can add gamut of other things to this list.

As times have evolved, so have the job responsibilities of the Project Manager. From being just someone who would manage things and handle the resources in an organization, the designation of a Project Manager has become something more like that of Tony Stark who has to come out wearing his Iron Man suit every now and then to save the day (in this case to save the project).

Here’s a 7-point checklist that every Project Manager needs to look at in order to be in a win-win situation all the time -

  • Being a Fortune Teller (Not literally though)
    The key to becoming successful at Project Management lies in always looking a few paces ahead. The knack of fortune telling (or forecasting as it is commonly called in the industry) is imperative in this field. If you are good at number crunching, then the entire game can become all the more easy for you. Things like resource utilization, comparing project revenues, macro and micro-analysis of projects, and similar others can help you in forecasting the outcome, which is ultimately going to add up to bring an improved performance. Take a look at the best performing organizations in the world, more often than not they are accurate with their forecasts.
  • Getting into the Sherlock Holmes skin
    Another important thing that you as Project Manager must always do is to Identify the processes that have not been working for the organization and finding the most effective solutions to make them work. Or, in case there is no solution, then replace them with something better. In technical language, this is called as Pipeline Flow. And, to maintain the organization in an invigorated state it is important that you repair the bottlenecks while they are in infancy state. So, wear your detective skin to go out there and get rid of any gridlocks that might be hindering your team’s productivity.
  • Beginning with WHAT, not WHY
    For a Project Manager, asking what should always be more important than why. Questions like ‘what are the possible outcomes of the project? What are the challenges being faced by the team? What are the risks involved?’ should always be kept in first place. Last, but not the least, a Project Manager must know what exactly is the goal of project? A goal-oriented approach is not only going to help you achieve the goals, but at the same time will benefit in keeping a track of the things like project milestones and individual performances, as well.
  • Infecting With Accountability
    Successful achievement of project objectives is one of the biggest responsibilities of a Project Manager. and, the best way to do so is by making the goals visible to everyone in the team. By doing so you are making every individual aware of the expectations out of their work. This will make them more responsible towards, and at the same time inculcate a habit of becoming more result oriented. After all, it is the project manager’s responsibility to make team members accountable for their performance.
  • Presence, Visibility and Engagement
    Lack of communication is the biggest reason for the failure of a project in almost all organizations. This is the reason that Effective Communication holds such an important position in a Project Manager’s inventory of skills. By communication I do not mean simply to talk to the troops, it’s more about being available to listen when someone in the team wants to share something about the project and the challenges being faced. Presence, Visibility and Engagement are the pillars on which communication stands, both in the good as well as tough times. And if you want the team to successfully achieve the target, then you must lay a foundation for effective communication based on these three factors.
  • Planning for the Worst
    Ask any of the successful project managers about  their mantra of success, and 9 out of ten times you’ll get the same reply i.e. the key to success lies in planning for things that go wrong. Errors, Assumptions Gone Wrong, Poor Judgement, Fluctuations, and all such things are always going to be part of the project, no matter how well you plan things. To be a successful Project Manager, you need to develop the habit of seeing a problem beforehand and coming up with a solution for it before it could make an impact on the final outcome of the project.
  • Making Friends with Technology
    We live in a world where technology is everywhere and making friends with it can take you places. By making use of web-based applications like ProofHub, you can eventually share data, plan, communicate, collaborate, analyze and do almost all the other things that come to your mind when you think of Project Management. Remember, technology is never going to replace project managers, rather Project Managers who use technology will replace the ones who do not.

To sum it up, all I would like to say is that being a bawcock Project Manager is not just about planning, organizing and controlling things, it’s more about how you motivate the team to bring the best out in them.




Digital Marketing Trends: Future Predictions from the Industry Experts

Unpredictable! Spontaneous! Volatile! and, the list goes on and on….

These are some of the most common adjectives used to describe the nature of Digital Marketing. No matter how hard the webmasters try to tame this wild beast, it always comes up with something which is beyond their catch.

This is the reason that answering the what, where, why, and when of digital marketing continues to remain a big puzzle for even the most accomplished digital marketers. With bits and pieces scattered all over the place, marketers continue to put their best efforts to understand predict the future. And, as Digital Marketing continues to unfold the mysteries hidden behind its various facades, the thirst of knowledge amongst marketers also continues to rise, with webmasters coming up with their predictions, words of wisdom and all sorts of help for people.

So, we at ProofHub decided to get in touch with industry leaders and asked them certain questions on Digital Marketing trends and predictions for 2015

1.
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Neil Patel, Founder
Quick Sprout

It’s becoming more competitive as time goes on. Industries like law, insurance and finance are already too competitive for newcomers to enter without having big financial pockets. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

2.
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Owen Powis, CEO
 Wordtracker

Digital marketing faces a greater challenge as it becomes increasingly prevalent and effective. We must balance the  needs of the marketing person with a consumer’s right to privacy. This has been tackled in some part by legislation and     will likely continue to be. If, as marketers, we abuse the tools that are available to us to retarget and collect data those laws will, rightly so, become more restrictive.

The cost of paid media is also an increasing concern, and although it does drive better targeted campaigns by necessity,it   does also further push the small business out of the space. As media spend increases the leftover budget for running costs must decrease in order to maintain a healthy ROI. Ultimately this leads to more ‘budget’ agencies operating who either do   not deliver or use poor quality tactics. This doesn’t benefit the business or the consumer but is likely to be a growing issue as paid media becomes both more necessary and expensive. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

3.
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Sandeep Kashyap, Founder and CEO
ProofHub

The biggest challenge that lies ahead in digital marketing is to develop content for fragmented marketing channels (social media platforms). With Mixed Media becoming staple for digital marketers, it is the right time to amalgamate social media endeavors with content marketing strategies and satisfy the information hungry consumers. As the users continue to become more diverse, it is high time for digital marketers to acclimatize and come up with innovative approaches to satisfy their hunger for information.

The key to success still lies in making your voice heard. The only difference is that there are plenty of more channels now, and you need to be smart enough to recognize which ones work and which ones don’t. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

4.
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Rand Fishkin, Co-Founder
Moz

Digital often feels less tangible and less observable than traditional marketing, and thus can be more difficult to sell, particularly to those who are used to feeling something physical (a magazine, newspaper, product, etc) or experiencing media in a familiar way (TV, radio, in-person, etc). Digital is also, often, more temporal and less direct — many web marketing investments are only a part of a longer, multi-step journey to a conversion, and although measurable, may track less directly to that conversion. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

5.
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Nischal Shetty, Founder
Crownfireapp

The biggest challenge is digital marketing’s constantly changing and evolving landscape. You cannot afford to ever get complacent. Google’s pushing a new algorithm today, there’s a brand new social network tomorrow and there’s an awesome growth hack revealed the day after. You have to stay on top of all of these at all times and not everyone finds it easy. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

6.
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Aseem, Co-Founder and CEO
Socedo

The huge potential for reach can be a double-edged sword for a lot of businesses. With such a large audience and pool of potential leads, it can be difficult to locate the right audience for you. Digital marketing provides so many channels and methods in which to create and distribute content, but if that content doesn’t make it in front of interested people, it simply falls on deaf ears. Marketers need to equip themselves with ways to cut through that digital noise. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

7.
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Jon Ferrara, Founder and CEO
Nimble

The challenges faced by digital marketing is that we live in an overconnected and over-communicated world where everyone is busy interrupting customers with BS. The traditional forms of Mad Men marketing no longer work. Companies need to stop yelling at customers about how great their product and services are and instead need to start teaching customers how they can be great. People buy a better version of themselves, not great products.
If you teach people to fish, they will figure out how to sell you fishing poles. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

8.
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Greg Kazulak, Co-Founder and CEO
Positionly

The biggest challenge that I see in digital marketing these days is in providing more tools for collecting crucial data and analyzing it in a smart way. Every single marketing decision should be data-driven and yet we still miss solutions that are affordable for smaller companies and easy to use (even for newbies).

In the near future, we will see more tools dedicated to content marketing. We will miss solutions that help in planning, creating, promoting and analyzing performance of content that we create on a daily basis. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

9.
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Samantha Yeh, Product Marketing Manager
Bitly

There are many important components to a great digital marketing strategy and a handful of different platforms that digital marketers can use every day to build a holistic understanding of their initiatives. Building a great team that understands all of these components and the value each piece drives is challenging, but crucial. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

10.
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Dema Zlotin, CEO
Rio Seo

Two common challenges in digital marketing today are choosing the correct approach and being able to measure results. Beyond traditional SEO and SEM, search is increasingly mobile and local and requires highly relevant hyperlocal content. Digital marketing tools and best practices have to evolve to manage this complexity to drive the best ROI from these contextual focused campaigns.

Now that you’ve read what the experts have to say, you can go ahead and plan your digital marketing strategy in accordance with the shared advice. After reading this, one thing is clear for sure and that is ‘we are going to see a frameshift in digital marketing strategies this year, with more orientation towards making the marketing gimmicks more human as compared to the old school mantra to Just Sell’. To read it in detail, download the paper from here.

Just download the paper for free and get started.

So, are you up for it?

Happy digital marketing!!! :)

Do you have your own predictions for digital marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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The role of project manager

The business world has gone dynamic and competitive; amongst all, a key challenge for project managers is to deal with the unexpected bombardment of events such as employee absenteeism, changes in project requirements, conflicts between team members, and many more…The more difficult part is that, not all of these events can be predicted and their impact is at times much stronger than it is anticipated. Coping up with all these challenges alongside driving the project to its defined objectives demands a strong skillset to diagnose things, and above all a critical and strategic mind.

For those aspiring project managers, this post brings an insight to the roles and responsibilities that a manager needs to perform. So let’s take a look at what it is about being a project manager:

Role of a project manager:


Leader
First and foremost, a project manager is a leader. He directs the team towards a common vision throughout the project lifecycle. He is the one who facilitates them with resources and frameworks to collaborate and work effectively. He coordinates with the team to solve issues and work towards integrating the goals and activities of all those involved in the project. He inspires them during difficult situations and keeps them focused towards meeting project objectives.

Communicator
This is an informational role where the project manager performs two types of communications – one is formal in the form of presentations, meetings, etc. and the other one is informal communication in the form of email messaging, calling, etc. Typically, the manager has to provide team members with relevant, accurate and timely information, ensuring that right information reaches out the right people.

Coach and guide
In order to make team members fully understand their job responsibilities and tasks, a project manager must teach them the importance of their role and that how accomplishing their job well can promote their personal and professional growth over time.

Resource identifier
For the successful completion of a project, availability of efficient and effective resources, both financial and human, is an absolute necessity. The project manager’s job is to identify such resources and get them on board, so that they can be utilized during the different phases of a project.

Managing the triple constraints
Objectives of every project should always be accomplished within these 3 constraints – Time, Cost and Scope. The time required to produce the final output, the cost or simply the amount of money to complete it and the scope i.e. the functional elements of the project. A manager must understand that it is highly crucial to recognize the functionality of these constraints and staying on the top of all the key attributes that relate to them.

Responsibilities of a project manager:


Project plan development
A project plan acts as a guide to implement and monitor its workflow and progress, Therefore, it is the duty of the project manager to ensure that the plan should be flexible and dynamic in nature, so that it can smoothly allow desirable changes in the project as it moves further.

Establish a project structure
Once the planning part is done, the next step is to organize different elements of the project to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. The key consideration here is to identify the structure of the company, recognize the roles and positions that’d be needed to complete the project and to figure out the services that might be provided by the third parties. The main focus is to coordinate and to maintain the flow of information. Tasks should be delegated to the team members according to the nature of task and skillset of the individuals.

Direction
Now that the project has been organized, the next responsibility of the manager is to lead individuals as a team in a unified manner. It is important because a team consists of people having different skillsets, experiences, cultural beliefs and understanding levels. Making them work altogether in harmony contributes much towards the project’s success.

Control
Keeping an eye on the progress of the project is critical to reach the final destination and achieve the defined goals. A project manager should know whether team’s efforts are contributing towards its growth or not. As team members are assigned their respective tasks, the manager should use tools and techniques to evaluate their performance and skillset. Along with that, he should track how far the project has reached and how far it needs to go till the final output comes out. For this, one can use online reports wherein project’s roadmap, burn up chart, resource utilization, etc. can give detailed information of its progress.

Proportioning roles and responsibilities together

As the project management process moves on, managers need to utilize their skills, experience and expertise to bring a project to a successful conclusion. Depending upon the size, complexity, phase and cultural diversity, the project manager should perform these roles and responsibilities, in combination or one at a time. In my opinion, a project manager needs not to be highly technical; but he should be an excellent communicator.




With emojis, ProofHub gives its users another reason to smile

They say pictures speak louder than words. We say an emoji speaks louder than that.

The world has gone gaga about the Japanese pictographs, or emojis as we call them, since their creation in 1998 by Shigetaka Kurita.  And, people simply to use them. So, we thought why not give our users something they .

The much anticipated update is here!!!.

Your favorite project management software and collaboration tool now has the feature of emojis incorporated into the .

Adding a pinch of amusement to your routine communications at office, these emojis will work wonders to de-stress you during those strict working hours helping to improve your overall productivity. Most importantly, chats at work will no longer be boring and monotonous !

There’s not 1, there’s not 2, there’s not 10 but more than 800 emojis for you to select from.

Here’s a small tip on how to use this feature –

Simply put :(expression): in the chat window, and bring your emotions to life.

For instance try typing :laughing:, :anger:, :email: and similar others to see the emojis popping up on your chat window.

So the next time you chat with your team members on ProofHub, make it more fun with these emojis.




Top 5 reasons why your business strategy is failing

As a start-up, your vision is clear –  You’ve an idea to develop a product or service that’d solve the problem people are facing. Then you’ll reach out the audience who really need this solution and convert them to your customers. The next step is to drive the customer count to a number such that your revenue is more than what you’re spending. Then keep the profit or reinvest it to take your business to next level.

Easy and straightforward, isn’t it? But then why a big number of start-ups fail to make the right shot, besides having a good vision and quantifiable targets? The answer is simple – because they didn’t support business vision with a strategic plan and thus their goals remained unachieved.

A popular saying of the famous Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso, fits here perfectly – “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.’’

With the term strategic planning, I mean to say formulating the plan, focusing on it and then implementing it. However, this is where most of the start-ups fail to make the right hit. Take a look, how:

1. Your plan is not clearly articulated

Even if you’ve everything about your plan in your head, a clear and well-documented plan is must to have. Other than grammar, spelling, punctuation and style, it is important that the main idea of the project plan is clearly understood. If you’re an entrepreneur with an attitude like “We’ll go with the flow”, then it’s time to change, I repeat –  change! Why? Because, in the beginning a start-up might need to manage few elements, but as the project moves forward, finding beneficial opportunities to act upon gets difficult. Therefore, having a well-defined plan is a must.  

Set project baselines including cost, schedule and scope as starting points and then set procedures about how these metrics will be tracked throughout the project. Remember that your project is a journey in which you’ve to reach a certain destination, but you just can’t pick random routes for that. So set the course!

2. Your plan is wrong

While your stakeholders and investors will be much interested in your business plan, don’t forget that it is you and your team who has to act everyday according to what has been devised. Besides the big picture of your business strategy, ensure to outline the things which are to be done on daily basis. Taking our own example here at ProofHub, team members are provided with their to-do lists in which their tasks are being described. So everyone is clear about what has to be done and by when.

3. Your plan isn’t flexible at all

Too rigid plans can break it, really! When the plan is in the execution mode, things would certainly tend to derail or deviate. More components will add up and you need to see what things are actually required to be done and what is to be abandoned. However, by this I didn’t mean to start working in a different direction altogether, because this would let scope creep happen and can even cause total failure. Instead, a clear vision of the destination is what will help you get through this journey. Moreover, in situations when you get stuck in a dead end, it is better to go with some alternative plan. Therefore, planning for risk management would be a wise step to save your project from failure.

4. Your plan is unrealistic

Setting a plan towards a certain goal and checking if the plan is executable in reality are two different things. Since you and your team will be working on the plan, it is important to see if it matches the culture and structure of your organization. Don’t detach your plan from the real world. For example – when scheduling tasks, a realistic time period should be set to achieve the goals rather than just making assumptions. Consider your team’s culture, individual team members, your product or service, tools and procedures used in the company, etc. to check this.

5. You’re not focusing on your plan

Majority of the start-up entrepreneurs fail to realize that much of their time gets consumed in activities which hardly bring any fruitful results to the projects. From fun activities to situations of crisis, managers and team members swipe away a big chunk of their daily routine.

The need is to understand that in order to reap solid results, it is essential to spend time and efforts. Since you’ve planned your business strategy so well, make sure you implement or execute it more effectively.

The bottom line is that, during the course of planning and implementing your business strategy, it is important to monitor activities from different directions. This will help to keep the project in control and avoid risks of failure.




How to identify problems in your workflow?

Nearly half of all businesses experience a project failure each year. The story is familiar: over budget, missed deadlines, out of scope. It’s never a good feeling.

But do you know what’s worse than having a project fail?

Not learning from it.

You can’t repeat the same process and expect different results. However, many businesses stick with failed methods and technology instead of taking time to acknowledge, analyze, and address the real issue at hand.

Is your workflow failing you?

A project workflow consists of a series of steps that result in a desired outcome. It includes a clear division of responsibilities, methods to communicate project specific information to each team member, and provides a basis to estimate task length. It’s how you get stuff done. A formalized process is important because it can be repeated to obtain consistent results.

Unfortunately, a flawed system works the same way— only it creates repeatable, undesirable results, i.e., failure. Symptoms of a poor workflow include:

  • Communication mistakes
  • Skipping important steps
  • Unfinished deliverables
  • Untested products being approved
  • Inaccurate time estimates

These are just a few examples. If you have a great team but your projects are still unsuccessful, follow the steps below to identify — and improve —  problems in your workflow.

Step 1: Map your current workflow

It’s easy to get stuck in familiar habits. To enact change and create an ideal workflow, you’ll need to take a step back and start from the beginning: what does your current process look like? Identify every phase of the process, how work transitions from one person to another, and who authorizes those transitions.

To make an accurate map, you’ll need to walk through the process a few times to determine:

  • What tasks need to be completed?
  • Who completes them? How long does it take?
  • Are there any inefficiencies or bottlenecks?
  • What forms are required along the way?
  • Who approves the finished product?
  • What happens after completion?

Talk to team members who perform each task since they know the current workflow best. You’ll need to identify any variations of the process, as well as what causes shortcuts or workarounds. Be sure to obtain as much data as possible on your current workflow to help define expectations for the redesign.

Step 2: Analyze and redesign your process

Now that your workflow is mapped out, you’ll need to pinpoint problems and determine their root cause. Analyze each of the following:

  • Sources of delays and duplicated tasks
  • Unnecessary steps or errors that cause extra work
  • Lack of quality standards or controls
  • Misinformation and undefined responsibilities

If you find any immediate fixes that can be resolved today, go ahead and implement them and update your workflow map. Finally, see if you can identify ways to automate or improve any processes with technology.

Step 3: Implement new workflow and enforce process with software

Though your process likely includes some manual procedures, modern project management software can help empower your team and improve efficiency. Using your new process maps, identify the specific functions you need for different use cases. These requirements should be used to select a vendor and build out your new workflow during implementation.

Your new workflow should do three things:

  • Align the team: A clear process will reduce confusion, and communication tools help increase collaboration. Email and to-do notifications, preconfigured workflows, and automatic info distribution help keep everyone on the same page.
  • Provide transparency: Project management software provides reporting across workflows and lets everyone know at a glance if things are moving as planned or if adjustments should be made. This provides a digital record of authorizations and sign offs, which helps ensure steps aren’t skipped and handoffs are smooth.
  • Keep you on schedule: By automating steps in your workflow you maintain progress by ensuring that stages for each person are tracked and uncompleted tasks are followed up on. Tasks can automatically be assigned to the right person, team members can see relevant tasks on their dashboard, and helpful visuals (such as progress bars on large tasks) can identify bottlenecks before they cause delays.

Step 4: Celebrate (and continuously improve) your new process

Once the software is implemented, the workflow management isn’t over. You’ll need to test, test, and retest the new processes, as well as train your team. Using data and analytics, continually assess your process for improvements and document all new changes.

Acknowledging that your process is flawed is often the hardest step. But remember: failure is the best teacher. What can you do to learn from it?

Author Bio:

Jenna Puckett is an associate technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. She covers topics related to gamification, employee performance, and other emerging tech trends. Connect with her on LinkedIn.




14 tips that increased my productivity by 90%

Yes, I want to be insanely productive! Well, who doesn’t want to be? Reinforcing my professional efficiency  over time has been my center objective from last six months. And for this, I was madly reading books, blogs, magazines, getting productivity advice from others and what not. I experimented a lot; failed and then experimented again, until it was success.

It’s a great realization and I would definitely want to share the tips that have helped me in removing the barriers to my personal productivity. Let’s have a look, one by one:

1. Set clear goals: Before you start working on a project, especially a long term project, set a simple and clear objective that is to be accomplished. Why? Because in the ongoing process, the chances of getting deviated from the actual goals are high or simply ‘scope creep’ happens. To avoid such situations, revisit your goals and measure your progress on regular basis. Be an archer with a strong visual picture of your target so as to hit the bull’s eye.

2. Social networking isn’t that bad: Though, majority of the articles and productivity journals on the web emphasize to ‘turn off’ social media websites while working, but personally, I found the opposite to work for me. For every two hours of continuous working, I take a two minute sneak peek to my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. This habit suffices my social networking curiosity and helps me focus on my work.

3. Schedule your downtime: Remember the saying – “What gets measured gets managed”. By downtime, here I mean the time during which you’re really not working. For instance – having a cup of coffee with a colleague, a meeting with teammates, etc. You can simply mark these moments on your calendar before or after they happen. This would help you to track the actual time you’ve devoted working and calculating the corresponding outcome.

4. Record. Record. Record: Every now and then, we get an idea into our mind that could do wonders to the project or solve a current problem. But, what happens is that we’re never able to implement those ideas as they’re easily skipped from our mind. This happens! What I’ve started doing is simply type in and save these ideas into my ProofHub quickies as soon as they hit my mind. So I can refer to them whenever required.

5. A day unplanned is a day wasted: There was a time when I used to start my day with whatever comes first and would keep doing like this till the end of the day. Certainly, this was the reason why some of my crucial tasks were always pending. But then, I read this somewhere – “It is highly crucial to do the right things than to do the things right.” It made a hit and I realized where I was wrong. Now, I ensure to have a plan before I start working on a given day with my ProofHub’s to-do list. Personally, I prefer to do it a night before so that I can jump on the tasks as soon as I’m out of bed.

6. Reduce meeting time by 25%: We all know that meetings rarely start and end on time. It has become a culture. A simple solution to this problem is to reduce the meeting time. For instance – Reduce a one hour meeting to 45 minutes. You’ll see the difference – people who all are participating will arrive early and will be more positive about participating as a result.

7. Switch off pop up notifications: Your email, chat, and other programs that are running on your system and cell phone will throw in distracting notifications that will divert your attention. Save yourself and turn off these notifications while you are working.

8. Set deadlines: Self-imposed deadlines can be really helpful in getting your tasks done on time. Be it 5 minutes or an hour, set time limit for every task you do. Certainly, you’ll notice improvement in the time you finish your job. Try it!

9. Don’t forget your personal space: “Never confuse having a career with having a life.” said Hillary Clinton. Other than work, there are several important things including your health, your personal space, your family, etc. To stay fit, I ensure a 30-minute workout in the morning (Well, I’m no more a cry baby!) followed by a healthy breakfast. This sets me up for the day ahead. For my loved ones, I keep an hour or so in the evening plus a major portion of my weekends are spent having fun with them. This way I feel afresh when back to work which adds on to my efficiency.

10. Say No to the unexpected: While we’re in the execution mode, the biggest distractions tend to be those unexpected things in the form of – “Can you do this for me? Do u know how to send this assignment? Well, in such situations you should know how to guard your focus and energy. The easiest way is to simply say – NO.

11. Be prepared when on the go: Travelling should never hamper your work. We’re living in the digital era where we can access work and can connect to our people without being worried about our physical presence. For this, I am managing all my projects in ProofHub, so with just a few clicks I can access my projects from my tablet, mobile, laptop, etc.

12. Get up and walk: Prolonged sitting can cause serious health damages including inflexible spine and poor leg circulation. Try to reduce your sitting time by breaking it up. A five minute walk along the corridor or taking a stroll to the lobby keeps me more active. I often circle through my own cabin while into some thought process. This helps a lot!

13. Motivate yourself: Staying happy and inspired is one of the most important things when you work. And for this, you should reward yourself whenever you achieve something big. Treat yourself with a dinner at your favorite restaurant, or you can purchase new clothes or gadgets for yourself. It feels wonderful, trust me!

14. Use technology: Right technology can help you get error free output in the minimum possible time. This enhances your efficiency and saves time. For example – to manage your tasks, an online task management system would be a much better choice instead of using a spreadsheet.

You see, there are endless opportunities in a given day for you to be productive. You just need to pick those key areas and make the right hit. Experiment as much as you can because there’s no better way of knowing what works for you and what doesn’t. As soon as you learn to take advantage of these opportunities, you will definitely become more productive.




Trying to manage things at work? There’s a simple solution for that!

Having too much to do and too little time? Feeling as if you’re born to juggle at work? It’s challenging, I know, but you just can’t let your work go, right? So now is the time when you should finally realize to give it a structure; you need to manage your time and thus your work.

What’s this management all about? Let me explain! It’s about striking a work-life balance, when you’re going through those overstuffed days; when you’re working your a** round the clock to get things done on time. Well, at this point, an amalgam of your own wisdom and technology can really help. From my perspective, the latter, if used the right way, can help you achieve your purpose much easily. Why? Because your work basically revolves around tasks and time. And, to automate these processes, a software would be an excellent tool.

In fact, in a study conducted by Software Advice, a project management technology review firm, 64% of buyers want a project management software to increase organization and workflow efficiency. Further, the report tells that 40% buyers want to improve tracking and reporting capabilities using a PM software. Here’s the detailed snapshot:project management

As far as the features of a PM software are concerned, it is found that more than 60% of web-based project management buyers requested for task management and time tracking capabilities in the software. The graph below depicts what has been reported by the study:PM software

This clearly depicts the importance of time and work management along with scheduling and deadlines. So let’s discuss here, how can one achieve more and better at work with a project management system and a few efforts of their own.

Strategic planning : You need to structure it

You start with a task that you think you’d do in just an hour or so, but are unable to finish it till the end of the day. And, you’re like – where on earth did the time go? Well, its gone! Not because the job was way too difficult, but because you didn’t plan the way to do it. While on the other hand, on any given day, when there are multiple things to be done, planning should have be the first thing you should have done.

You might have heard this before, but trust me, it really works! Even a few minutes spent on planning can be much more than a rewarding investment. Make a list of what has to be done and then set the order in which it should be executed. Using a PM tool like ProofHub, one can easily create a to-do list in which tasks can be added. Further, you can break large and daunting tasks into smaller chunks by creating subtasks. Also, task priorities can be set using labels. As simple as that!

Say no to distractions: Be brutal

No, you don’t have to be rude to someone, but you can always tell people that you’ve got your own work to do first. Remember that you cannot do just everything all the time; one thing at a time would help you accomplish things better. Try to avoid those interruptions – emails, calls, etc. You need to distinguish what’s important and what’s urgent.

Keep things centralized: Access easily

Finding that lost conversation you had with your client 10 days back? Searching for a folder amongst hundreds of others? Well, get centralized; you need a hub! Using a PM tool, you can keep your data such as files, discussions, notes, etc. in just one organized place. So you don’t have to spend hours searching for the right file amongst heaps of data.

Schedule it: If you really want to get it done

Unless and until we’re given some deadline, we are mostly procrastinators, right? Human nature; can’t help it! To avoid this, you can add estimated time for tasks and set delivery dates. Put key dates as events and milestones on your calendar, so that you know when you’re going to do it. More than 40% of project management buyers asked for scheduling capabilities in the software, as per the report generated by Software Advice, which clearly shows its importance.

Delegate: The right work to right people

Often, you have a lot going on. In such situations, I would recommend you to distribute the tasks among your team members. Resource management, which is requested by 27% of PM software buyers, is therefore another crucial feature. Not only this would reduce your workload, but would also help in finishing the job on time. See that which task should be best done by whom because the way you delegate the work, has a direct impact on the productivity of your team.

Track: To stay updated and focused

Whether its you alone or a whole team working together on a project, keeping track of what’s done and what’s behind schedule is critical for project success. A software with time tracking feature can help simplify this process. So you and your team can update the time spent on tasks done. Also, Gantt charts are an extremely useful way to see how project tasks are progressing according to the planned schedule. Apart from that, project reports are used by managers to track work progress. However, using an online PM tool with automatic reporting feature could better save time and effort than generating manual reports.

Transform your work life

And finally, with all this done, surely you and your team would be more productive and efficient at work and would be able to accomplish project goals much easily.