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.




New enhancements to make you more productive

We are happy to announce a few more enhancements to help you, our users, our folks, better manage their work and collaborate with teams.

Time estimate for tasks and timesheets

At ProofHub, we understand that while you plan to achieve project goals, whether big or small, some working assumptions are always required. And this is why we’ve introduced “time estimate” in ProofHub. Yes! Now you have the ability to add ‘estimated number of hours’ to tasks and timesheets.

So, before beginning with a given task, assigned team members would have an idea about how much time is estimated for its completion. For those dollar-for-hour companies, time estimation would help in determining the price of projects and is thus pivotal for the company and their clients.

More? Estimating the time to complete will assist you with resource, cost and time planning. Withal, you can compare the time estimated to that of actually spent on tasks, thus helping you gauge whether you quoted realistically or not. Learn more about time estimate for tasks and timesheets.

Private timesheets

In the effort to help you better privatize your project data and enhance confidentiality, we’ve introduced private timesheets in ProofHub. So if you don’t wish everyone to access your ProofHub timesheets, then you can simply mark them as private. This will allow access to only specific clients or selective team members; thus hiding it from the rest of those involved in the project. Know more here.

There’s much more on its way! Thank you for all the support and love. We’re excited to do even more together in 2015. It’s going to be an awesome year.

Happy ProofHub-ing!




People at ProofHub

This blog entry is an opportunity for you to know the people here at PH and make up your own mind about us.

So, what sort of people do you think work at ProofHub? Well today, Roger, one of our core developers, is on a mission – He’s sneaking around to loot things of two of his teammates. One is Rechelle, she’s the marketing head of PH, sitting next to him and one is Adi, the support head, on the front desk. And Roger has three assistants who are now skilled in hiding things where no one could ever reach.

This stealing is a trend. Yes, here at ProofHub, you just need to blink your eyes or move your head for a while and Ta-da! Magic happens! Something from your desk is surely missing, its gone – It could be your cellphone, your access card, sheets, your coffee cup, cupcakes, and these thieves can also take away your chair , your monitor and keyboard too.

But this is no more an apprehension; for we’re now used to this stuff happening one moment or the other; And we really enjoy it!

Well, this was just one snippet of how things are, so let’s move ahead to know more.

Starting with the development team, “The Geekers”, are diligent, quite dexterous and personally I’d say “Robot” like – They’ve that one similar facial expression all the time. :P Our coders – Roger (whom you are now well aware of) and Rav are into the coding and database handling. Another guy, Param, works on the front-end development. Ashish,  Martha and Vipul, the QAs, complete the team and are cool.

Now we’ve the chirpy, happy and thrilled marketing team – These guys are all rounders. They love to experiment and bombard each other with crazy-n-silly names. Maintaining ProofHub’s social media presence, updating new rollouts and dancing are the things these guys usually do.

Then comes the support – Brisk yet contented, always ready to help, awesome people wearing headphones till doomsday. These guys are into the client interaction part, handling calls and they manage the whole PH support section.

Next we have the designers. Out of all, one is Shekhar who loves to work on website, help videos and application layout. These days, he’s completely focusing on enhancing PH’s user interface and mobile app design, which is to be launched soon. Then we’ve Mahesh, he’s got good grip over newsletters, graphics and other designing stuff. For freehand graphics, we’ve Camella and she’s mostly found with her iPad and stylus.

Now, you may ask, who am I, the one who’s writing this post? Well, I am silent at times and would poke others, sometimes. I am the one who’s the victim of majority of Roger’s robbery attempts. I am the writer here at ProofHub.

At PH, people are really open to whatever initiative you want to drive or get involved in. Personally, I feel that the possibilities here at PH allow you to set your own destiny and have the career you’ve always dreamed of. With individuals from different nationalities and flavors, ProofHub is now even a bigger and happy family.

People here are best at what they do, but other than job specialities, people here are foodie as well and have their groups based on eating preferences – One is the “Sandwich” group and the other is “Pasta” group. And there’s a match everyday, a carrom and chess match, where you can expect heights of cheating being done.

But frankly, no matter what – We all are more than simple colleagues, we are buddies, nice buddies! Every individual here knows that we’re on a journey, a journey to achieve a mission.

Remember in the kindergarten, we were taught to ‘share’ and that is what we are doing here! We’re sharing ideas, helping each other finding solutions to problems and knowing what we’ve never known. We have fun and we still make a difference.

And this fun is not only limited to office; we’ve a whatsapp group where we chit-chat, share gags and joke each other. In one line I’d say, “We’re all in this together and have a huge opportunity as a team; we’re ProofHub-ers.”

Well, by the time I am finishing this post, Roger has already laid hands on Rechelles peanuts and popcorns :P




ProofHub’s vision for the year 2015

It’s really amazing for us to see that in just 4 short years, ProofHub has grown into a massive tool, a medium, and above all a full fledged platform, that lets you simplify your work life.

Since the day we started with this product in 2011 with a small team of 5 members, we knew where we want to reach and being fortunate enough, we received tremendous support from you, our users.

Now looking towards the new year, 2015 marks new challenges and opportunities for us to help you do better and more. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we at ProofHub are excited for all the new resolutions yet our vision remains the same. With this, we have one thing on our mind, our primary goal – to help people make their work lives easier, and we’re constantly working towards that.

Our development never stops and we’re committedly focused towards developing features that people really need. We’re enhancing user experience, improving usability, simplifying things, making task management easier, providing best in class customer support and above all helping users to boost their day-to-day productivity.

We are gearing up to target more devices by introducing mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, incorporating third party integrations, and more to make this tool as simple, user-friendly and intuitive as possible.

With all the progress we’ve made so far, we’re continually growing our team to pace up with your expectations. We firmly believe that the reason why ProofHub stood the test of time is because we have always valued our greatest strength – our people. We feel fortunate to have people who call up at 11:30 in the night to share a new idea or something that clicks their mind; creativity isn’t bound to time and place, there’s no end to it.

This old adage best describes us.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Most importantly, your valuable feedback and input over the years has helped shape PH into what it is today. And for that, we thank you.

And yes! There are bunch of features, improvements and updates on the way. So stay tuned!

Happy ProofHub-ing!




Motivate your team – Keep your employees happy and productive

People within an organization are its biggest assets. From top level management to the executive staff, each and every member has his/her own unique contribution towards the organization’s growth. Moving forward and achieving alone cannot be replaced with what you can achieve with the support of your workforce. Business owners needs to recognize that it is their workforce which makes the difference regardless of what the business sells. Though, turning your workplace a second home for your employees can be a tough job, but it’s totally worth the effort. Continue reading “Motivate your team – Keep your employees happy and productive” »




5 ways to impress your boss

impress my boss

In this post, I am going to reveal some tips about impressing your employer or The BOSS. My tips and suggestions can be both easy and difficult, depending upon your capabilities and skills. Being an online marketer from last 8 years, I’ve worked with several companies and clients. So I thought to share my experience to help employees, especially those who are struggling to impress their boss for a better upcoming appraisal :) Continue reading “5 ways to impress your boss” »