What project managers should ideally be doing?



What is it that project managers do? The thing is, there’s no one definition in particular that will fit the job description of every manager out there. It’s because the nature of their job varies depending on the type of organization they work for.

But, even then, there always seems to be a lot of ambiguity in this context. Nobody really knows for sure what a project manager’s job is. Sure, they can give you a textbook definition of what project managers do (such as organizing, planning, allocating resources, managing processes, communicating, etc).

The ugly truth is that most people think of managers as those who don’t make any real contribution. Sadly because nobody knows for sure exactly how they contribute in a project. Everything they do is looked at or perceived to be a barrier to productivity.

Conducting meetings (a class time-waster), asking for status reports, not to mention the constant interfering and micromanaging that majority finds annoying. All of these things are a manager’s responsibilities, and all of it is largely seen as counterproductive stuff.

So, what are they really supposed to do?

Or, should I say what they really should be doing. Let’s just say the role of a manager is highly relative. Meaning, it can take different shapes and forms depending on the nature/scale of project and the type/size of the organization. But, generally speaking a manager’s real job is to make the worklife of others as easy as they possibly can, and not the other way round.

Their job is to remove all the unnecessary distractions from team’s way, so people could remain fully devoted to their work and meet deadlines every single time. Managers are supposed to be always passionate about increasing other people’s productivity. And for that they have to put on multiple hats. They have to be a counselor, communicator, subject matter expert, and what not. Basically they have to act like a jack-of-all-trades.

Let’s break it down to simplify things even further –

#1 Being the boss

That’s true. A project manager is a boss on so many levels. But, he is not the boss of the team; he is the boss of the project. Manager is the one accountable for any and all problems that a project may bump into.

As a manager your job is not to dictate employees on what type of technology to use (unless you happen to have a solid technical background), and stuff like that. Your job is to communicate with clients, ask for their requirements, and work with teams to collectively figure out how the same can be accomplished within the said timeline and resources.

It’s important to leave the how and all the other technical details in the hands of the team/experts. Collaborate with them and let them contribute. Your job is to meet the requirements on time. That doesn’t mean that you have to get involved in the doing part.

#2 Maintaining the balance

Talk about project and you talk about changing priorities. In the middle of so much that goes, it’s the project manager who has to strike the balance. Sometimes two departments can be fighting for different things (even though they share the same goal). There can sometimes be a disagreement between designers and developers. But a good manager is the one who knows how to walk that fine line so that no department feels neglected. Do not let any one party win, but at the same time don’t let any of them feel ignored either.

#3 Co-creating the product

The type of contribution that managers make in the development of a product is not very direct. It’s always indirect. They don’t sit down and start writing down the code, or design the website (unless your job demands so). But, they are the co-creator of the final product. They do so by guiding others in the same direction.

After all, a team’s performance and efficiency depends on how well the manager communicates clients’ requirements with the team. And, brings everyone together to create an environment that ensures timely delivery of the same.

But, in the attempt of trying to do so, a lot of project managers end-up micromanaging things. After all, they have to present the details in front of the clients. But, that’s a mistake. A good manager will always have the details of the project on his fingertips, but will never micromanage (unless he happens to be a hybrid manager, and a really skilled one at that).

#4 Being the representative

As a mediator, a manager is basically representing one party to another. That implies communicating client’s expectations and requirements with team. It means breaking down the requirements into little details and pushing the team members and inspiring them to go above and beyond to meet them. While representing a client, a manager has to convince the team that the goal is achievable even when it may look challenging.

This was one side of the story. The other side is the one where managers are representing the team by presenting their work/contribution in front of the client. This is something that’s very critical, because you must know how to play your cards right. The key is not to turn against your own team even when you are agreeing with the client. Remember, you are representing your team and not yourself. An ideal representative  is the one who does not let his personal differences or prejudice come in the way while acting like one.

That way, a manager serves as a representative for both the parties.

#5 Being a catalyst

A manager’s real job is to make it easier for everyone else to function effortlessly in a collaborative environment where different people’s jobs are interconnected. A manager’s true job is to act like a catalyst (a positive one) that speeds things up. He has to act like a guide, a mentor, a guru, telling others how to make a positive shift in the right direction while looking over the entire project from the eagle’s view.


So, yeah! That pretty much sums up the kind of role that every project manager should ideally be playing in any organization. How well a manager is doing his or her job is not measured in terms of busy or how much work he/she is doing. It does not matter whether you’re watching videos on YouTube half the time. As long as teams are working efficiently, meeting deadlines on time, and things are going smoothly; you’re doing an excellent job!




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ProofHub – The story so far!

It’s been more than five years since the first version of ProofHub was launched. We are proud to have grown in leaps and bounds throughout these years. And, thanks to the love and support of our happy customers, we are definite to continue doing so in the years to come as well. Now that we are on the verge of launching our new version, ProofHub Bolt, we thought of sharing the story behind ProofHub. How did we begin? What we are today? How everything came into being? Hope that you will like it.

How we began?
ProofHub was launched in the year 2011. So, in a way we are pretty young! We are really proud of what we have managed to achieve in such a short span of time. While the market is still crowded with many project management tools, but ProofHub has managed to carve a niche of its own.

Where we are today?
We’ve got some big names in our kitty who have been using ProofHub and loving it to the core. Names like Google, Housing.com, NASA, Disney, Norwegian Airlines, Netflix, Intuit, and AOL, to name a few, are all part of our never ending list of happy customers. We are proud of the fact that so far more than 83000+ small groups to large teams are being powered by ProofHub.

How we came into being?
The idea behind developing ProofHub was to give people that could simplify the way they managed their projects. Something that went beyond the usual project management gimmicks present in the market.

When we entered the market, people were stuck with the drudgery of managing their work via emails. And, the snail speed of internet was adding to the misery. Although the market was flooded with project management tools that claimed to make work life easy for businesses, but there was something missing. Almost all the options present in the market lacked in being the complete project management software; each one of them missing out on one feature or the other.

Having had the experience of working with multiple clients in the past made us aware of the problems that teams face when handling projects. So, we put up all the features of project management and online collaboration, bundled them in one and came up with ProofHub. Task lists, Native chat, Native calendar, Gantt Charts, Proofing, Discussions, Notes, and what not… ProofHub has got all this! And, lots more.

And, within such a small time duration, ProofHub has gone on to become a highly admired tool in the industry. In fact, people and businesses from all races of life use ProofHub to simplify their work life. The survey conducted independently by ProofHub clearly reflects that we score really high when it comes to customer satisfaction.

Our new version – ProofHub Bolt
We are coming up with our latest version ProofHub Bolt in a few days time. ProofHub Bolt is all about change. Our vision is to become better with every passing day. We’ve have been learning things with our experience and doing it by bringing frequent changes and updates in the tool for all these years. And, with the launch of ProofHub Bolt, we promise to give you something that will take your project management to the next level.

ProofHub Bolt brings some of the most exciting features that you can get in a project management tool. The list of new features includes an Automatic timer, File versioning, All new notes section, a completely reworked tasks section, Me-view, a completely fresh look and feel and a user-friendly and neat layout.

What’s in store for the future?
Besides everything mentioned above, there’s a lot of stuff going behind the curtains. We have got a long list of features that you can expect to get in ProofHub in the coming time. It won’t be long when Kanban, and completely new Proofing tool will be available in the software. We are also going to come up with completely redone mobile apps in the not so distant future.

At ProofHub we are focused towards making your project management experience serene and hassle free. With Bolt, we’ve taken just the first step in our voyage. And, we will continue to sail through these strong winds to come up with innovative additions to our tool that will help you make the most of your resources at work.

Originally published at Medium.com

 




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51 Powerful Leadership Quotes for Project Managers

Leadership quotes
Project management does not come easy. You might have the finest project management tool for your team, have all the latest technology available for them, and everything, but unless you have a powerful project manager to lead them, everything else is of no use. However, becoming a successful project manager requires willingness to understand your team members and bring the best out of them.

But seldom do managers understand this fact. Majority of them are here to assign tasks and then leave the employees in doldrums without paying heed to where they are headed in the project.

The best way to do it – learn from the experts. See what they have done, and follow their advice. And, to help you in doing so here is a list of 51 powerful quotes that will help you to become a better project manager –

  1. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. – Warren Buffett
  2. One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency. – Arnold Glasow
  3. Everyone has a plan: until they get punched in the face. – Mike Tyson
  4. A goal without a plan is just a wish. – Larry Elder
  5. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
  6. The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. – Ralph NaderLeadership quotes
  7. Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. – Charles Swindoll
  8. On design – “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
  9. If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. – Booker T. Washington
  10. When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. – Confucius
  11. A meeting moves at the speed of the slowest mind in the room. – Dale Dauten
  12. I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. – Stephen Covey
  13. Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. – Peter Drucker
  14. Data is like garbage.  You’d better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it. – Mark TwainLeadership quotes
  15. The key to successful leadership today is influence not authority. – Kenneth Blanchard
  16. Plans are worthless. Planning is essential. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
  17. The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. – Amelia Earhart
  18. To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. – Anatole France
  19. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. – Max de Pree
  20. It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Charles Darwin
  21. The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails. – John Maxwell
  22. If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today. – Rotarian
  23. Long-range planning works best in the short term. – Euripides
  24. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore RooseveltLeadership quotes
  25. Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing. – Colin Powell
  26. The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work. – Agha Hasan Abedi
  27. The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake. – Meister Eckhart
  28. You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do. – Henry Ford
  29. Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless. – Thomas Edison
  30. Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach. – Roger Von Oech
  31. The relationship between talent and management is uneasy, at best.Jessica Savitch
  32. There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.  – Tom Krause
  33. Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people. – John D. Rockefelle
  34. Failure is nature’s plan to prepare you for great responsibilities. – Napoleon Hill
  35. Managing to have a sense of humour makes it a lot easier to manage people. – Steve Wilson
  36. I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. – Bill CosbyLeadership quotes
  37. If you always blame others for your mistakes, you will never improve. – Joy Gumz
  38. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships. – Michael Jordan
  39. Change before you have to. – Jack Welch
  40. The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. – George Bernard Shaw
  41. In this business, by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself. Unless you’re running scared all the time, you’re gone. – Bill Gates
  42. Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything. – John Galbraith
  43. People are more easily led than driven. – David Harold Fink
  44. If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. – Isaac Newton
  45. High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. – Charles Kettering
  46. Measure twice, cut once.- Carpenter’s Maxim
  47. How does a project get to be a year late? One day at a time. – Frederick Brooks
  48. Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing. – John D. Rockefeller
  49. Goals are dreams with deadlines. – Diana ScharfLeadership quotes
  50. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on. – Sheryl Sandberg
  51. Any person who selects a goal in life which can be fully achieved, has already defined his own limitations. – Cavett Robert

Hope you will benefit from this post. Cheers!




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8 things that productive managers do differently

uniqueness

 

“Winners don’t do different things. They just do things differently.”

This famous quote gives up a lot on the secret recipe for success. The quote holds true for those managers as well who happen to be extraordinarily productive. Let’s see exactly how such managers do things differently and what all we can learn from such individuals –

They don’t follow the ‘Yes Man’ philosophy

Remember the movie starring Jim Carrey? While he followed the approach of saying yes to everything, productive managers do the opposite of that. It can be tough to say no to something that’s not your territory at workplace. But it is important that your learn the art of saying no when situation demands so. In fact, people who face a hard time rejecting every single request are more likely to experience burden and stress. Saying no to other commitments that are really not your business shows your concern towards the ones that are really important at the moment.

They don’t believe in busyness

Busyness doesn’t necessarily translate into success or productivity. Productive managers know that. Gone are the times when super busy people were perceived as super humans who were capable of doing the impossible. Let’s get real. It’s humanly impossible to keep sitting consistently for eight hours and have each and every minute equally productive. It’s simply not going to happen.

In fact, people who seem the busiest would agree how easy it is to be drifting away at work and have those moments when you are doing absolutely nothing but just constantly staring at the screen. Productive people leave some breathing room between two activities to keep their focus through. They don’t believe in giving the impression of busyness, but believe in productivity.

They prepare the to-don’ts list

Everyone creates a to-do list to have a sort of timetable to stick to, which is indeed a very good practice. But, how about we make a to-don’t’s list as well. We all would agree just how much time is wasted by repeating checking up on emails, or watching videos instantly shared on social media, or just feel distracted by the constant buzzing of the phone every now and then.

Productive managers realize that these small distractions eat-up a lot of their productive time and disrupt the flow of work. That’s why they put in efforts to come up with that list of to-don’t things which they follow religiously. It’s the things they are strictly going to say no to, especially during peak hours when they should be doing nothing but work.

They do monotasking

Monotasking is the new multitasking.

Productive managers are very clear on the fact that multitasking is the way to do multiple tasks poorly. Human mind can only focus at one thing at a time. Switching between two tasks pressurizes your mind into putting in more efforts, leading to exhaustion more quickly. So, while multitaskers feel that rush for a few brief moments, they succumb to burnout very quickly.

After a while the focus is completely out of the picture.

Since managers can’t afford to be highly productive for one hour and then lose focus after some time, they make sure to say no to doing multiple things together. One thing at a time is their mantra to keep every single hour of the day equally productive or at least to escape the feeling of burnout.

They prepare for the next day before leaving the office

Remember how we were taught in school to prepare our schoolbag the night before, just so we could avoid that last minute rush in the morning? How easier it used to make the mornings and saved us from accidentally leaving the homework notebook at home? Plus, it used to be one less agenda from our morning rituals.

Productive managers follow the same philosophy at their workplace too. Before leaving the office in the evening, they already have a blueprint of the next day’s schedule in their head. While it’s not possible to predict the future or what might happen the very next minute, productive managers do everything within their reach to be prepared for the next day.

They use technology for smartwork

This is not to say that those who are not tech-savvy cannot be productive. But, productive managers are well-versed with the technology they have to use on a regular basis. For example, they would use project management tools to assign tasks, monitor progress, generate work reports, etc and would be fully familiar with its usage. Productive managers make it a point to know the software they use on a daily basis inside-out, along with every single feature down to the very last shortcut. It enables them to simplify complicated things which also allows them to come-up with ways to finish them more easily.

They recognize the key work area that needs their attention

If you started to take care of every single little detail all by yourself, it could take ages before the project comes to fruition. That’s why instead of getting involved and stuck with minute details, productive project managers recognize the key areas that truly need their attention for other pieces of puzzle to fit in together. They don’t involve themselves in anything that is not really their business. One way of putting is to say that they don’t get involved in micromanaging things. They do their job and leave others to theirs.

They don’t rely on their memory

I’m sure every single one of us has been there, where we relied too much on our memory and didn’t write down an important piece of information, thinking that we would recall it when the time would need it, only to realize that we have completely forgotten that thing. Productive managers don’t do that. They know that we can only remember a handful of information while everything else easily gets slipped away. They always have a pen and paper handy for jotting down all the creative ideas and critical information as soon as they catch them. They are a stickler for documentation.

Do you want to be uniquely productive? Then it’s about time you started doing things differently. With these super-easy yet super-effective tips, you can definitely start following a unique and smarter work approach.

 




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Gantt Charts for project management and how to use them

Gantt Chart

If you happen to know anything about project management tools, then chances are you have heard about Gantt Charts. Although it may sound like something too complex, there’s really nothing so complicated about them. In fact, once you get the hang of how Gantt Charts are used and how they can be useful for you as a project manager you’ll see it’s nothing but really a cakewalk.

But, what is a Gantt Chart to begin with? What is it used for? And, how can it make your life as a project manager easier. I’m sure a lot of people out there have this question in their head.

So, without further ado, let’s get into discussing how Gantt Chart can speed things up in a project, what all purposes it can solve. Other than that, you will also get to see how to use one ideally to better plan a project.

Here’s how –

  1. Let’s you draw the project outline in a more visual way
    The most crucial aspect that makes Gantt Charts such a powerful tool is that it allows you to visualize how things are planned and actually see them. All the details are right in front of your eyes, leaving no scope for accidentally missing out on something crucial that might set the entire project back. Everything becomes much clearer and intuitive. Everybody can better comprehend the entire flow of project in one good look. You get to know when to start and finish off a job until you could move to the next step. It also creates a sense of urgency to finish things on time as you see the deadline approaching right in front of your eyes.

  2. Promotes detailed planning
    Gantt charts are only as useful as your clarity about what activities make the project. Any blurred lines or ambiguity in terms of defining the tasks and subtasks won’t allow you to use this chart to its full potential. That’s why when you decide to use one, you have to be very mindful of figuring out each and every single tiniest task and detail. You also need to figure out which task would have to be assigned to whom. You are forced to think through each and every single detail because of which you become very detail-oriented. This naturally ensures better planning as you are forced to think about those things that you otherwise would have skipped or simply would not have bothered to pay attention to.

  3. Helps in discerning the critical path
    The word critical itself makes the whole thing self-explanatory as to what a critical path is. In every project, there are some sequential processes that must be carried out. Those tasks are like the very backbone of the project, without which the project simply won’t finish on time, and everything will just come to a halt. Gantt Charts help in discerning what that critical path is so you can pay special attention to those tasks.

  4. Tracks project progress in a quantifiable manner
    Simply assigning tasks is not enough. You have to know what the progress is looking like across various verticals. That’s where Gantt charts come handy. They let you know how much progress has been made and how much more efforts need to be put it until the project is successfully complete. 
    As you set tasks against a particular time according to the dates, you can keep checking them off as finished upon completion. The tool will then calculate and tell you how far along you have come in the form of percentage of completed and pending work.

  5. Helps you set task dependencies
    In most projects, tasks are sequential; with some tasks as precursors to others. For example, in a typical online promotion work, you would first have to start off by designing a website, followed by its development and then promotion. You cannot just jump directly to third step unless you have had the first two completed. 
    With Gantt Charts, it gets clearer which tasks are dependent on the completion of which ones. As you set dependencies between tasks and assign them to various departments, you can see whose fault was it, in case the project gets derailed or delayed. It will promote a ‘no more excuses’ approach as transparency and clarity across multiple departments is preserved. Everybody can see what caused the delay in project completion and at what point.

  6. Keeps everybody on the same page
    With access to how the project is heading and how the progress is being made, everybody stays informed and on the same page. The whole thing paints a clearer picture and adds a nice visual framework to entire work distribution. You can create a mind map with utmost clarity as to how the tasks are interconnected and which ones should be on priority. You get to know which set of tasks are sequential and which ones are parallel. So, you know better which unrelated tasks can be carried out simultaneously. The scope for confusion regarding who was supposed to do what, is minimized to several notches. The points above tell you how Gantt Charts boost better planning. But, simply knowing its benefits is not enough. You have to know how to use them in the most ideal manner.

Here’s a guide on how to use Gantt Charts for better planning of projects –

Step 1: Identify and define all the tasks

The very first thing you need to do to make the most out of a Gantt Chart is to set the flow of project straight. You simply cannot use this chart to its full advantage if you yourself aren’t clear on how the things should be moving in a flow. A Gantt Chart will only give complete information if you figure out and think through all the activities in project. This is the phase where you would have to break down big processes into smaller chunks of sub-tasks.

You will have to put in a lot of thinking to clearly identify each and every task and activity that comprise the project.

Step 2: Set dependencies 

The next thing you need to do is identify sequential and parallel relationships between tasks and activities. May be two tasks A and B are sequential. Meaning, you cannot start B until A is finished. For example, if you need to print a brochure for an upcoming event, then you would first need to finalize the content, decide the placement of text, color scheme, etc. Only then you can move to the printing part.

Once you have figured out which tasks are sequential, you need to figure out which ones are parallel to each other. Parallel tasks are those that are not dependent on each other for completion, so you can carry them out simultaneously.

Step 3: Feed the information

You can draw a Gantt Chart on paper or even use Excel Sheets as they come with the feature of Gantt Charts preparation. But, now markets are flooded with several useful project management tool, many of which allow you to create Gantt Charts. It is best advised to get a good tool for creating a Gantt chart as they allow you to make alterations in the project as soon as any changes occur in the project. The changes will instantly get reflected in the tool putting you in a place to better scrutinize how the changes are going to affect the whole project.

Step 4. Track progress

Once you have fed-in all the important pieces of information into the software, you will have a Gantt Chart prepared in front of you. You can then share it with all the relevant people involved in the project. After that you can see the project evolve with the time. Any change that occurs in the project can be better mapped visually. You can monitor the progress and be in a better position to predict the future of project.

At the face of it, Gantt Charts may seem like some highly twisted and complicated thing designed only for brainiacs; something beyond comprehension for a layman. But, once you get to know how to use them, there’s nothing to it. It does not even take very long to prepare them and will go a long way in helping you better manage projects.

If you’re an advocate of smart work approach, then you should surely learn how to use these Gantt Charts. 

What are your thoughts on using Gantt charts? Have any experience of using these charts? Do share it with us in the comments section below.




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Work Remotely or Not – What Experts Have to Say?

Changing times call for a change in work styles as well. Gone are the days when getting a fix 9-5 job in an office was the most desirable thing. Everyone these days is on the lookout for flexibility and freedom, to work remotely from wherever they want, in their job. And, this is the reason why there has been such an immense rise in the popularity of remote work culture. There are huge number of admirers of this new type of work culture. On the other hand there are still many people who think remote work is not good for business.

So, is it good or bad for business? In order to find out an answer to this question, we at ProofHub decided to get in touch with some of the inspiring leaders and get their views on the topic. Not too much to our surprise, majority of them were in favor of remote work culture and believed that it is a huge plus for the business.

Let’s take a look in detail as to what they have to say –

1. 

Sandeep KashyapSandeep Kashyap
Founder and CEO of ProofHub, an online project management and collaboration tool loved by businesses of all sizes

I, personally, am a big advocate of remote work. Being an employer it gives me the freedom to choose the best talent to work for me from across the globe; no longer do I have to restrict myself to hiring people who are either present in my vicinity or are willing to relocate to where my business is located. And, it works for them as well because they can work remotely in a flexible environment without any limitations. Plus, it saves from the stress of commuting daily to the office.

At ProofHub we have a team of people working from our physical office as well as people working remotely. And, it has worked out pretty well so far. In fact, with the help of our online project management tool the entire team is able to collaborate, communicate and discuss things without any hiccups; getting things done is never a problem. Technology has paved way for a smarter and more efficient style of working, and remote work is just one of the many steps in it!

2. 
Jacob Cass

Jacob Cass
A prolific graphic designer who runs the popular design blog, Just Creative, which doubles as his award-winning graphic design & branding firm

Remote working is all I ever do so I can’t say that it is bad for business. The flexibility and freedom of working from a remote location can’t be beat, especially with all the tools available now to make it such a breeze. Slack channels, online tools, video chat and more. What more do you need other than Wi-Fi?

3. 

Stephen Key
Stephen Key
An award-winning inventor, an intellectual property strategist, a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of inventRight

Our increasing ability to work remotely is fantastic for business, I think, because it’s fantastic for people. I became an entrepreneur in part because I wanted to choose where I lived and when I worked. These days my primary business, a coaching program for inventors, employs people across the country. We work remotely with students from all over the globe. And we’re very successful at it, because communication technologies enable us to be very present. I make a point of turning on my camera when I communicate with my staff as well as students over Skype because looking someone in the eye is still very important. It deepens relationships in a special way. But these days you don’t need to be in the same office to do that, thankfully. I want to employ the best people. I don’t care where they’re coming from.

4. 

Miles Jennings

Miles Jennings
Founder and CEO of Recruiter.com, an online recruiting service

Even with oversight, remote work is self-directed to a degree and in every case requires self-motivation. Every team member needs to find this direction and motivation within themselves to succeed and thrive in a virtual environment. It’s not for everyone, as this process requires ongoing commitment and a strong desire to succeed. If your team can meet this challenge, remote work can be transformative for your employees and your overall business.

The easiest benefits to see that come from remote work, such as cost savings and the ability to hire the best from anywhere, are just the tip of the iceberg. The real long term benefits of remote work can be an empowered workforce, a great work-life balance for everyone on your team, and an ability to attract and retain amazing talent. Moving to a remote work environment should not be taken lightly, and never for simple cost savings if possible. Make the decision for the long term, in order to fundamentally change the way your team works and even, lives.

5. 

Rohan Ayyar

Rohan Ayyar
Involved in creative content strategy, web and mobile analytics and conversion optimization for startups at E2M, one of India’s fastest growing digital marketing agencies

Enabling employees to work remotely is no longer a question of good or bad – it’s a question of when and how. Various studies have found that saving workers their daily commute leads – unsurprisingly – to higher satisfaction, lower stress levels, and actually makes them want to work more. Flexibility in choosing where to work from is a necessity and a given, for not only modern knowledge workers but also employers, in order to get work done on as-needed and convenience-based schedules.

The most successful of present day startups, including Basecamp and Buffer, have their entire workforce working remotely and perform all the more better for that! We ourselves have a team of remote content creators and media managers at Preceptist (our executive branding service) so that our clients can have an “always-on” and locally-relevant digital presence.

6. Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly
PMO/Execution Leader, PMO Lead, NA Services Delivery at Lenovo, Co-Founder & Host at #PMChat and Managing Partner, Kelly Project Solutions, LLC

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work in very flexible work environments…work from home, come it at 10 am, or leave at 3 pm. And, I believe several benefits come from allowing a remote/flexible work environment. People feel valued, trusted, and like that they are being treated as adults. In turn, they give more to their work and companies. When people are sick, they don’t simply call out and they don’t bring their illness to the office (infecting the rest of the team). They stay home and still get some work done or at least they’re available for the occasional call or Lync/Skype/Google chat. Progress continues.

Remote work allows your team to get their work done, by the deadlines you set or they commit to, and they can do it as their schedule permits. Work to live…not live to work. This flexibility drives loyalty way up! With the increasing popularity of unified communications platforms in the enterprise (think Microsoft/Skype, Google, and other VOIP phone options) and the use of tools like ProofHub, teams can collaborate in real-time and from anywhere in the world. The next wave will be companies allowing their employees to leverage solutions like Sabbatical.

7. Nischal Shetty

Nischal Shetty
Founder & CEO of Crowdfire, a product that helps millions of small businesses connect with their target audience and grow online

At Crowdfire, we have never been huge propagators of remote working. Sure, remote working can allow you to have your own flexible schedule and lifestyle but being physically present with your team ensures excellent collaboration. Talent can be found in any part of the globe. We realised that we were missing out on good talent by restricting our job application process to only those who were willing to relocate. So we experimented and hired a couple of remote workers. Unfortunately, we had to end our contract with them because of problems in communication and collaboration caused by the time zone difference. Our work suffered, specially since they both were handling critical projects.

Just because remote working didn’t work out well (in the first go) for us, doesn’t mean that it’s bad for every business. We did take away a lesson. Since we are based out of India, we don’t allow remote working for national employees. We do accept applications from people situated in different countries under certain conditions. Like, they have to spend the first 6 months with us in our office in India. This way, they can get a feel of our work culture and our expectations. If, by the end of the 6 months, we both feel that there is a fit, then they can go on to work remotely. Remote working can be feasible for teams with very little inter­dependency. But I still feel that physical presence trumps virtual presence any day.

Looking for tools that can make remote work a possibility for you? Try out ProofHub for Free 30-Day Trial and see how it helps you to plan, collaborate, organize and deliver things right on time from wherever you are working!

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6 lessons aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from Taher Shah

6 Lessons to  learn from Taher Shah

Love him, hate him; but you most definitely can’t ignore him. That’s Taher Shah. The Pakistani music sensation has taken the industry by storm with his weird lyrics, funny choreography, and uncanny style. With just two songs so far, the singer has already gotten the attention of everyone worldover. While most of the attention he is getting is overloaded with sarcasm, trolling, and all sorts of ridicule; you cannot ignore the fact that he has become an overnight success.

The guy is an epitome of confidence, and despite being a global laughing stock, he has not lost his cool and is always appreciating his fans for their support!

Laugh at him all you want, but we cannot ignore the fact that he made everyone notice him and has reached unprecedented heights of success, one can only imagine. We all can learn a lot from him, especially aspiring entrepreneurs who find it hard to muster-up courage and pursue their career dreams. Here are some lessons that aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from Taher Shah –

1. Believe in yourself

The world is filled with amazingly talented people who are creative beyond imagination. The only thing that’s missing is the lack of belief in their talent. Look at Taher Shah. The guy can barely speak english, and yet his unintentionally funny lyrics won the American Prestige Music Award. Ironic, right! All because he wrote them with conviction and believed in himself. Do not let self-doubt be the anchor weighing you down. Free yourself from the hesitation and just get going.

2. Ignore the criticism

Be it FaceBook troll pages or Twitter hashtags; the guy has become everyone’s food for ridicule. But did that seem to bother him? Nope. What would people think. Don’t let this thinking kill your dreams. Taher Shah barely paid any attention to the mockery targeted at him across the internet. He is always focusing on the positive. He is always thanking his fans for their support and appreciating his music. No matter what you do, people are going to make fun of you. But, learn to rise above what everyone will think of you. And start working on what you think.

3. Make the best out of resources

Perhaps you’re thinking that your career goals are going to demand a whole lot of capital to get started. Look at Taher Shah. His songs didn’t feature super-expensive models or some extraordinary backdrop. The guy is wearing a funny wardrobe (probably something he sewn himself) and the entire video for his brand new song “Angel” is shot in a meadow. The cast included himself and his son. Not the kind of thing that will cost you whole lot of money. So while not everyone is born with a silver spoon; learn to make the most of your resources. Take what you have and think of ways on how you can optimally use them.

4. Follow your heart

Taher Shah didn’t make his videos to impress anyone. He just did it because he wanted to send a message about peace and humanity. And, because it makes him happy. He followed his heart and did something that gives him happiness. His videos are far from perfect with a lot of hard edges. Yet, there’s something so quirky about them that attracts you. You can’t help but listen to his songs. So another career lesson we can learn from Taher Shah is to follow your heart. Do what makes you happy; what you have always aspired to do!

5. Break the convention

All we see these days in the name of music is same cliched lyrics, super hot models throwing the same old moves and basically the same pattern repeated with just few changes here and there. What Taher Shah did was absolutely different from what we normally see or hear. If you really want to stand out, you’ve got to do something that no one has ever done before. Don’t be afraid to break the convention if that’s what it takes to get yourself noticed in the industry.

6. Confidence is the key!

In the middle of a never-ending stream of criticism and discouragement that people throw at you whenever you do something new; confidence is the only thing that gets you through. If you don’t have confidence, you may as well drop the idea of ever being successful. When you lack confidence, it shows on your face and it gives people the chance to trample over you. But when you’re confident, it changes other people’s perception towards you.

Look at Taher Shah. He faced such grilling from so many interviewers. But, he answered all the bold questions gracefully and with confidence. Practice confidence. You may be the most talented person on earth but if you aren’t confident, success will always look like a distant thing. However, if you’re confident enough, even your flaws will get camouflaged.

So, there’s a lot that we all can learn from this singing sensation; not just career-oriented people but everyone! If a simpleton like Taher Shah can learn to rise above everyone’s ridicule and be successful; why can’t you?

What are your thoughts about the post? Do let us know!




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10 productivity hacks for chronic procrastinators

10 productivity hacks for chronic procrastinators

Procrastination is what most of us begin our day with. We delay waking up by hitting snooze button several times. Sounds relatable? Guess what? You are not alone! I’m sure majority of us will relate to it. That explains how much we are victimized by this chronic illness called procrastination that almost seems incurable.

Good news is, it’s not incurable. You can definitely get rid of this unproductive habit. But, the prerequisite is to first admit that yes, we do procrastinate. You should be willing to take some strong steps to come out of it, otherwise you will never be able to break free from this vicious cycle.

Let’s take a look at a few hacks that every single procrastinator would benefit from. I’m sure that if you stick to these tips religiously, the only thing you will be procrastinating is the procrastination itself –

1. Prepare yourself mentally

Acknowledge the fact that you put things off and you look for ways to delay stuff until you have no choice but to do it. The moment you acknowledge it, you have taken that first step to making procrastination a history.

Commitment is the key to getting rid of this nasty habit where you always picture yourself working somewhere in the distant future. The future that never actually comes. Make a commitment to yourself that you want to put an end to it. Take firm steps to get into whatever needs to be done, instead of delaying it. Remember nothing can be accomplished unless you are one hundred percent convinced that it’s doable.

2. Create a to-do list

Here’s why you should create one – Dopamine. That’s right. The chemical released by brain every time we accomplish something. It’s what makes you feel like a winner. The upside to having a to-do list (other than organized worklife) is that you get to experience the winner like feeling several times a day.
And, when you strike an item off the list of every day tasks, you feel like you have accomplished something. Sometimes that’s all you need to get going through the day and to keep your motivation levels high.

3. Make it a realistic one

It’s easier to do stuff when you know exactly what needs to be done. That’s why to-dos are recommended in the first place. But simply creating one is not enough. You have to make it a realistic one. Do not create a task list that seems unrealistic and hard to accomplish. Enlist the tasks that are actually doable in a day. It is good to allot time to each task based on a guestimation so you know when to move on to the next one.

It’s okay if you can’t finish things within allotted time, because the idea is to plan in advance so you get a sense of the things that you will be dealing with throughout the day.

4. Create a non-negotiable timeline

Time is a commodity that is not available in the market. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You cannot buy more of it even if you’re a billionaire. Yet, we fail to value it repeatedly until we are too late. Don’t let this be the case. Create a timeline; the one that is simply non-negotiable. Consider it carved in stone and follow it religiously. Stick to it all the time; except for those rare situations when you absolutely cannot.

5. Break work into mini tasks

It’s easy to nibble on smaller bites than to try and swallow a huge piece of meat. The same goes with work. Instead of feeling intimidated by one huge task, break it down into smaller chunks of easily achievable mini tasks. The upside to this practice is that you won’t feel like giving up on a project before even starting it, just because you feel it’s hard to achieve. You will get a clearer picture of how to go about work, and also avoid chances of guesswork.

6. Use motivational reminders

Have a system that motivates you by sending motivational quotes after every couple of hours or so! Use an app, set reminders, do whatever you can to keep feeling positive throughout the day. Sometimes a good quote or a few inspirational words can change your entire perspective and turn a bad day around completely. It can really give that boost you need to get things done without giving yourself a hard time.

7. Block out all distractions

The constant buzzing of the phone, desktop notification informing an email has arrived, or occasional hellos from friends on online messenger; all these may seem trivial distractions, but these are usually the reason behind most delays. I will work right after I am done chatting with friends. I will get started right after I am done checking email. And so on. These are the kind of things that procrastinators tell themselves.

Put an end to it. Step away from the phone. Turn off notifications when you are doing something important. Get rid of all such distractions, so your attention does not get stolen away by unimportant stuff and you stay devoted to the work that really matters.

8. Avoid the mindset of a perfectionist

This is not to say that you shouldn’t strive for perfection, but do not work with the ‘all or nothing’ mindset. Often, fixation with the idea of everything going exactly as planned can keep you away from getting started in the first place. If you wait for the perfect timing to get started, you would end-up waiting forever. Sometimes the idea of achieving perfection alone is usually the reason that people feel it’s better to delay things until the timing is right.

Guess what, timing is barely right. You have to take lemons and make lemonade.

9. Surround yourself with DOERS

The kind of people that you surround yourself with has a lot of impact on your own personality. You may not realize it, but we slowly start becoming the type of people that we spend most of our time with.

If you are mostly surrounded with slackers, you will also start feeling that it’s ok to put things off just because you will always have their approval. The opposite of it is also true, since we tend to unknowingly imitate people around us. If you really want to imitate anyone, make sure it’s productive people. That’s why it’s very important to see to the fact that the people you befriend or talk to on a daily basis are doers, and not procrastinators.

10. Refresh yourself

According to one of the health studies carried out at Orca Health it was revealed that, “taking regular breaks during the work day can improve productivity and mental acuity, reduce fatigue, relieve joint or muscle pain, and increase overall alertness.”

It’s good to be hard working, but don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t confuse business with productivity. Take a stroll after every hour or so. If you keep yourself glued to the screen or whatever you are working on, you won’t ever be productive. Go out, listen to a good song, or do whatever you can to recharge yourself. Taking occasional breaks won’t hamper your productivity, but only increase it. A tired mind is much more likely to procrastinate. It takes longer to generate same amount of output that a rested mind can do in less than half the time.

If you are really seriously about putting an end to procrastination, you don’t even need to follow all of these steps. Just take a few or a combination of them, and stick to them religiously. Pick any or all; depending on whichever you think you can work on. And, procrastination will be a history!




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Project management myths : BUSTED

project management myths busted

Myths are a waste of time. They prevent progression.” said the famous American actress Barbra Streisand. Dwelling in the sphere of fallacies, it boils down to the fact that we remain unknown to the true and real.

But have you ever imagined the blunders these false beliefs can cause? George Bernard Shaw, the renowned Irish playwright, once said – “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance”. Like every other sphere of life, project management arena also witnesses several myths. Well, it’s time to step back and examine them. Here we go:

  • Planning for contingencies is a waste of time

Often, managers and companies encourage the ‘Just Do It’ approach and believe that investing time on contingency planning is vain. Think of a situation when a deadline is missed, regardless of whatever the reason is, then what will you do? Why not be prepared with a plan B when plan A fails to work. The major advantage of developing a contingency plan is that it acts as a backup whenever there’s a failure,  disaster or an emergency. Its main purpose is to let you deal with unusual events and keep risks at bay.

  • Sacrificing quality for the sake of on-time delivery

Your project is well planned and things are going as they were supposed to. But, then suddenly you just realize that the deadline is going to be missed and things will still be left incomplete. So, what would you do during such situations? Deliver it half-done? An incomplete product simply means more errors and inconsistency. Why not invest more on resources or push the deadline further, if possible. That’d certainly be better!

  • Battles have to be fought and won, every time!

All generalizations are false, including this one”, said Mark Twain, the well-known American author and humorist. It’s good to be passionate about your job; but that doesn’t mean you should always be the winner. While the project goes on, you’ll face not one but many situations where things might not go the way you want them. But that’s okay! Sometimes it’s better to compromise and let things happen. You just need to see which battles are worth fighting and which ones are not, so that you can be a winner in the end.

  • Project management tools are just additional expenses

It’s hard to get over this stereotypical notion. Investing in a tool for project management is considered to be an overhead, especially when so many expenses are going around already. This notion gets even stronger when companies buy applications which require purchase of servers, extensive installations, and what not. Good thing is, that’s not true anymore. In the age of cloud computing, you can simply opt for a cloud or web-based project management software that are easily affordable. These subscription based software offers the added advantage of pay-as-you-go service, so there won’t be a hole in your pocket.

  • Project management tools need expertise to be used

There were days when operating tools was thought to be the job of those who were expert in technology. But that’s no more a constraint. However, because of this false belief many companies and entrepreneurs hesitate to even lay their hands on technological tools. Today, PM software are so intuitive and user-friendly that you don’t need any special expertise or technical know-how to use them. If you know how to use a computer, can browse online, upload & download files, etc. then within a few mouse clicks you’d be able to break the project into manageable pieces. These software act as valuable aid in getting your PM capabilities into action – you can learn and practice your skills better.

Let’s go beyond the myths…

Folks! It’s time to pause and give a second thought to your project management approach. Don’t conjure with such false beliefs anymore; stay aware and make the change.

What about you? Would you like to share and add any project management myths to the above list?




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5 steps to ensure project success

5 simple steps that can help you crack the code to make each project successful

According to KPMG survey of Project Management practices (New Zealand), “70% of all the organizations have suffered at least one project failure in the prior 12 months!”

According to a study published in The Guardian Newspaper (UK) on the topic Investigation into Government waste in the UK since year 2000, it was reported that “$4 billion was spent by the government in wasted efforts as a result of failed projects.”

These statistics reflect that project failure is a common thing in corporate companies from all across the globe. And, this is the reason that the role of a project manager becomes even more important. After all, it is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that every project not only starts with a bang, but also meets the required deadlines and ends up in success.

So, what’s the trick to ensure that every project is a success? Well, there ain’t just one thing that you need to do when it comes to achieving success with every project. Here is the complete list of things that you need to do for the same –

1. Inspire and be inspired

Inspiration is the bug that you need every one of your team members to be bitten with. A great team leader is the one who can marshal the troops and inspire them to come out in flying colors every single time. If you want your team to achieve more than they did before, then inspire them to try things harder than they ever did before. I’d be suggesting talk to them personally, discuss the things that are bothering them and suggest what better could be done; be the friend they need when stuck in crisis.

2. Define it, want it, believe it

Starting a project without having clearly defined goals is like going to a war without having the right ammunition. Failure, as a result, is quite evident in such cases. A well-defined plan embarks the beginning of a project where people have clearly defined goals, and therefore can put in their best efforts to achieve the desirable results. Get the entire team together before the beginning of a new project to discuss what’s expected from the project, what could be done to make it successful, create a road map for each step and share their accountability for assigned tasks.

3. Get the right pieces at the right place to solve the puzzle

Completing a project successfully is like completing a big puzzle. You cannot achieve success unless you have all the pieces at their right places. As the project manager, it is your responsibility to bring the right set of wheels together to get the cart moving. Assign tasks to team-members based on their areas of expertise to get maximum output from the resources and desired outcome from each task. After all, you cannot expect a coder to do the designing work and a writer to do the coding part.

4. Communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more

According to the findings of a recent study carried out by the Project Management Institute, “Organizations risk $135 million for every $1 billion spent on a project. And, $75 million of that $135 million (56 percent) is put at risk by ineffective communications.” Clearly, the corporate world is in dire need of solutions to bring effective communication to the game. Project management software and online collaboration tools can play a big role to eliminate the differences in expectations, any last minute surprise or poor knowledge of status of tasks. Think about employing one for your team.

5. How do you gauge success?

Achieving success in a project is one thing, but the big question is how do you measure success? Is it the monetary benefits that you attained as a result of it? Or is there any personal learning curve? This is where as a project manager, it becomes your responsibility to clearly define what success in a project means to the organization, as well as your team. This will help you to not only take consistent action in the direction of your goals, but at the same time help you multiply the results as well. Set parameters to measure success at the beginning and analyze whether they  were achieved at the end or not. If not, what went wrong and why; so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

Think over these pointers and I’m sure you will have a better idea about the problems that lead to failure in your projects, and how can you work for changing the scenario.

Do you have any other trick up your sleeve? Share in the comments section below.




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