» Archive by category 'Software'
Have you ever noticed that even while we are planning holidays at the beach we often base our decision on whether there is Wi-Fi available in the hotel? Someone might say that we are leaving in the tech-obsessed world, but I think there is no shame in admitting that we all love the benefits technology provides. We enjoy new features in our smartphones and laptops, like testing new mobile apps and most of us can’t even imagine what our life would be like without our favorite devices. And for those who like being surrounded by gadgets I’ve put together a small list of highly helpful devices that might come in handy during work, leisure and travel time.
• Emergency battery charger is definitely a must-have for everyone, because no one wants to get stuck in a strange city with cell phone battery dead. Emergency battery charger will help you to charge your cell phone or laptop when there is no regular means for re-charging at hand. By the way, backpack with a solar charging panel is another great way of re-charging devices for hikers and travelers.
• Digital hanging luggage scale is one of my personal favorites. You all know that when we are travelling we want to bring home as many souvenirs for us and our friends as possible. But if you buy too much and exceed luggage weight limit, you are going to have to pay for overweight and you won’t be happy about all those souvenirs anymore, and this small gadget allows avoiding such annoying inconveniences.
• 4G hotspot will come in handy both at work and if you are staying not at some fancy hotel. This little gadget will allow you to be sure that you can get in touch with your family or coworkers at any time.
• Micro earpiece can be used for work and study as well as for leisure. You can use it for such business purposes as: managing event, running presentation or negotiation and even delivering a speech. And if you are one of those people who can’t live a day without favorite music playing into your ear you can use wireless micro earpiece with MWE MP3 set to listen to the music covertly.
• As if it wasn’t awesome enough designers of Swiss army knife have made it even better by adding USB flash drive to standard travel kit: knife, scissors, nail file, screwdriver and so on. The new modification will allow you to keep all the necessary digital info in your pocket.
So, here’s the list of my personal favorite gadgets that might be useful in different situation. Hope some of these devices got you interested.
One does not need to be a genius to understand that money and profit are important to any business. Managing your finances is a far more difficult task that you can probably imagine. Many starting businesses fail due to the fact that their owners think about the long term strategies but fail to think about immediate expenses and startup costs. Both personal and business finances are ruled by the same set of rules, although these spheres are quite different, unless you are running a very small business that will have to depend on your personal finances. Here is a small set of rules that will help you optimize and balance both your personal and business finances.
Separate your finances. Even if you are running a small business it will be a good idea to separate your personal money from business. One must create a separate bank account that will be used for business purposes only, such as business related expenditure and profit accumulation. This idea will also come handy in terms of income taxation.
Keep improving your business credit. This is indeed a complicated task, however it will pay off. Studies show that many businesses have recently improved their credit profiles, meaning that there are now a lot of competitors around. A good credit history will become an important asset toward getting another loan for your company.
Create a budget. Tracking capital expenditure as well as strictly following the budget are two most important aspects of a good financial system. If you are running a small business it is necessary to decide on your personal and business expenses in order to decide the amount of money that has to flow in and out every month to satisfy all your personal and business needs.
Never borrow money against your business. This is the rule that has always been easy to violate. Borrowing money from your business or vice versa may cause a cycle that will never stop. It is very tempting to invest more into business when things are going bad or take the money out of business when things are going great. Do not try to mix up personal and business finances: pay yourself a fixed salary.
Get good accounting and sales staff. Many underestimate the value of a professional accountant or a sales manager. However, if your business is not that big or you require additional help on accounting and sales, you might consider a software solution. Sales processes tracking software as well as other finance and administration software solutions will definitely be a quite inexpensive solution that will either substitute or help your accountant.
It will take quite a while to make your business blossom. However, no one will take care of the above mentioned essentials except you.
Every day we use software for business and leisure and don’t even think twice about it. But if we do take a little time to analyze how software can help us managing our daily tasks and business projects, we might see how one single program can immensely boost our efficiency.
In business world software is primarily used for organization, increasing speed of tasks execution and later on for analysis of efficiency of the projects and activities. We often use spreadsheets and notes to organize our tasks, and thanks to specialized online solutions now we can do it much faster. Such tasks as data creation and manipulation and complex calculation used to take hell lot of time, and now they barely take a few minutes. And the same goes for project management systems that started gaining popularity thanks to the advanced features that not only allow managing tasks more productively, but also give opportunity to organize team efforts more efficiently and cut on the expanses and time spent.
In this article we are going to discuss how effective software can make project management easier for all the participants, including managers, team members and even clients.
As most of the managers can affirm, collaboration and communication is one of the most exhausting parts of the management, especially nowadays when hiring distant teams and freelance workers are pretty common practice in any business. Assigning tasks to them takes time and different approaches, because someone uses e-mails as a mean of communication, someone collaborates via Skype and someone can only be reached on the cell phone number. But with collaborative web- based system like Comindware workflow management software, for instance, managers can assign tasks and communicate with all the employees within one program. Such collaborative features allow responding quickly to the changes in the project. Thanks to e-mail notifications assignees will always know about the updates and deadlines of the tasks.
Some project management systems provide pre-designed solutions that make work in departments much easier. Human resources and software development tools, finance and administration software allow automating routine processes and save a lot of time that is usually spent on absolutely useless requests and paperwork.
The newest project management systems enable managers keeping in touch with the process even if they are on a business trip and don’t have access to their office computer. Thanks to mobile web-based versions of the products it’s possible to make changes in the project from any place that has Internet connection. Such features provide managers more freedom in their actions and movement. Also, these tracking features bring visibility into the projects, which allows not only managers but also clients to control the process.
Another thing that is definitely worth mentioning while discussing role of software in modern project management is that it allows dealing with multiple projects at the same time since from now on you don’t have to look for needed information in different files and folders. All you need is in one system and you have access to any information at any time of day or night.
Using all the benefits of such software in your work you will be able to achieve completely new quality level of project management.
Nowadays a lot of companies hire freelance workers, especially if they have to execute a massive project in a short period of time or have a small working space. And managing freelancer scan be one hell of a challenge, because while most of them are highly interested in the result of their work, there are definitely going to be several people in the team who don’t have enough self-discipline and miss deadlines all the time if they are not under control. To keep an eye on remote teams managers have to use email and Skype and all kinds of task tracking solutions, the benefits of which we will discuss.
To manage remote team effectively manager should have access to the software that would allow them create and assign task, communicate with employees and track the issues within one system. One of the solutions that features all of those option is Comindware workflow software. One of the greatest advantages of using workflow management software is that team members can see the list of the tasks and evaluate their time according to the deadlines. Also, the program can be set up in a way that it would send the alert when the deadline is due, so managers don’t have to worry about calling their freelancers and reminding them to do their job in time.
Another great feature of work management software is that managers can communicate with each and every team member inside the system, which means no more cell phone calls, emails and Skype-conferences. And thanks to integrated collaboration features your employees will also be able to ask you questions on the tasks, leave comments and relevant links. Everything you need you will have in one program, and that is a huge time saver.
One of the obstacles that appear while working with remote staff is that they don’t have immediate access to all the files relevant to their project. And with task tracking software you can attach files and templates that might be needed right to the task in the program, so your assignee could have everything for an effective work.
For those managers who have to run their projects while business travelling it’s important to have management solution with mobile and web access. That way you will be able to track your ongoing projects, make changes in plans if necessary, consult your employees and reassign tasks in case of emergency by using your mobile phone.
I’d like to focus your attention on the choice of software for those who don’t manage projects themselves but are heads of project departments. Generally speaking, this is a person who doesn’t manage projects directly but has to assist others in this. What does such head want to know?
• What are his employees doing at the moment?
• Which projects are they working on?
• When are the deadlines of these projects?
• Who will perform new projects?
• Who can be appointed to solve a sudden problem (detect and fix a critical mistake, visit a client to bring back to life a fallen system; etc.).
Having search the Internet, I have discovered two types of such software:
• Fully functional project management systems;
• Multi project management systems.
Fully functional project management systems
Such programs are intended for assisting in choosing projects for execution and in monitoring project execution. They assume that there are more than enough projects and it’s necessary to choose the optimal way of their execution; or abandon some of them at all.
The main advantage of these systems is their functionality which allows solving all the above mentioned tasks and even much more if needed. Unfortunately, such systems require implementation, which is their main disadvantage. The systems have powerful functionality and for adjusting it according to your company’s needs you may need an additional project on its implementation. Moreover, you may need to change the existing project execution methods or replace the existing tools. By the way, the cost of a license and implementation are likely to be high.
Here are the examples of such systems: Daptiv PPM, PPM Studio, Changepoint , Spider Project, etc.
Multi Project Management Systems
I’m speaking about special project management solutions that let us track the execution of projects and their mutual influence on each other in the course of execution.
Let’s take, for example, Multi Project Planner. This program is designed for planning the simultaneous execution of several projects under conditions of limited resources. The main tool of this program is a general board, which is, in fact, a simple Gantt chart where the tasks of each project are presented in different colors. First of all, in a new window we create a Gantt chart for the new project paying no attention to other projects. Then the created diagram is moved to the general board for planning. All the problems connected with the limited resources become visible at once. The program has an option of leveling resources which will let fix the problems.
The program has an intuitive interface which is suitable for planning several simultaneous projects. However, the program doesn’t solve all the set tasks since this is a planning tool not a task tracking tool.
Comindware Tracker software is another program of the same type that allows managing several projects at a time. With the help of this software, you can track time, provide communication and collaboration between employees, draw project plans, group projects in portfolios and analyze these portfolios, track task execution and employees’ workload, create reports. It is also ideal for distributed teams.
This program doesn’t require any special training and has an intuitive interface. It can be integrated with Microsoft Outlook and perform the functions of a GTD program. Moreover, this program is absolutely free.
Premium Project Viewer allows viewing several files in the Microsoft Project format as one project. It lets you see the problems of cross project interaction in a convenient form. Moreover, the program provides several tools for analyzing projects and project portfolios.
The program is easy to implement and use and doesn’t require changing the existing order of business processes in the company. But some users claim that Premium Project Viewer has a rather complicated and confusing interface.
Of course, the above mentioned programs are not the only programs at the market. The choice is big and you have many ones to choose from. If you are a big company that wants and, which is more important, has powers and resources for optimizing business processes in the sphere of project management, you need fully functional systems for managing project portfolios. You just have to hire consultants, launch an implementation project and go ahead! But don’t forget that in this case you will have to throw away the existing project management programs which you have grown out of and start from the beginning. After implementing the system, your company will be one project environment.
If you don’t want to change anything in the company and just need to bring together the data from the already used project management system, you can pay attention to such software solutions as Project Viewer and Comindware task management program.
Hi, my name’s Steward Copper and I am the owner of Project Management Insights. While working as a project coordinator and BA, I have tried almost all possible PM tools, BA instruments, collaboration programs, including tracker and human resource management software solutions. I use Comindware Tracker for my project management processes. Follow me on Linkedin.
Everyone who’s in competitive business knows that sometimes it’s little things that make you stand out among the line of companies that provide the same services. Great first impression at negotiations, quick responses to the questions or even newest device or software that your company uses can tip the scale in your direction. Tablet PCs and laptops are irreplaceable nowadays and it’s doubtful that someone has to be reminded about their helpful qualities. Instead we will talk about some not so wide-spread gadgets that will help you get this extra edge and improve efficiency of your work.
1. If you tend not to sit behind the desk all day but often organize business meetings, presentations and negotiations wireless and cordless scanner should definitely be in your arsenal of business tools. This portable gadget can take any documents anywhere at any time and turn them into files that can be easily synced. A rechargeable battery is enough for about 600 pages of scans. The scanner has a built-in memory which syncs with Cloud server of your choice. The device will come in handy for scanning conference documents and expense reports, photos and business cards and turn these tons of useless paper into storable digital information that can be found at any time when needed. Overall, portable scanner is a helpful gadget that you can take with you for a business trip or conference where some unexpected business opportunities might occur.
2. Wireless earpiece is yet another gadget that can make businessmen’s day sufficiently easier. If you have to make speeches from time to time, conduct negotiations in foreign languages and don’t feel comfortable doing that, then wireless earpiece is a must-have gadget for you. This multifunctional device is meant for secret communication and is perfect for situations when you don’t have enough time to prepare for a speech or a business meeting. Thanks to the wireless earpiece you basically get a secret assistant who helps you answer questions, provide important numbers and statistics on the spot without having to go through notes. Instead you can concentrate on your performance, which is one of the most important parts of any presentation. Secret communication via earpiece is carried out with the help of Bluetooth transmitter that connects the earpiece to your cell phone. One of the most popular sets for covert communication is MWE Watch set where Bluetooth transmitter and highly sensitive microphone are embedded into ordinary looking watches
3. If you want to save time and impress your clients and partners you should think about purchasing speech recognition tool that can make your life and life of your personal secretary a lot easier. It’s irreplaceable if you are one of those creative people who get brilliant ideas all of a sudden and need to write them down immediately. It also helps to write documents and e-mail and organize spreadsheets rather quickly. The gadget is perfect for those businessmen who aim for major productivity boosting and try to cope with typing-related issues. It also provides great mobility for those who want to use time more efficiently while performing routing tasks at a computer.
All these gadgets can sufficiently help you running your business with more productivity.
Different jobs often demand different solutions to complete tasks effectively and on time. Almost every if not all jobs require employees to respect the deadlines or even do the assignments in advance. As to me, a manager in a rather big international corporation, it is highly important to not only track my own tasks and responsibilities, but to also track the tasks that I assign to my working group. Therefore, it has been an essential part of my work for many years to keep record of all the work that has to be completed by my subordinate colleagues and by myself. And I came up with a great solution, which I will explain further and in more details.
Firstly, it is necessary to mention my attempts to track the tasks of my employees that were not very successful. I attempted various methods all the way from sticky notes to e-mails and calendar reminders, but hardly any of them did its job the way it had to be done. Sticky notes, for instance, covered every corner of my work place, which made it nearly impossible to navigate through them and choose the ones that have higher priority or are urgent at a given day. Calendar reminders and e-mails were slightly better, but due to the amount of tasks that I have to track during a certain period of time, these sorts of things become overcrowded with notifications. Moreover, many calendars and especially e-mail services require constant internet connection, which may not be always available.
The solution appeared one of the days, when I was browsing the internet and found an interesting article on time management and task tracking. The proposals to try task tracking software were very appealing to me and I decided to give it a chance. Since that moment on I am using a computer based program that happened to perfectly meet my needs and is absolutely free to try and use. The best thing about this software is that I do not depend on internet connection and the program’s interface is not bulky and hard to understand. In fact, my severely limited understanding of computer technologies allowed me to start using the software in less than 10 minutes.
Taking into consideration all the pros and cons for using technological advancements in my life, I can confidently assure the reader that as far as my experience goes, the task tracking software has been the best solution to me, as a manager and as a person, who is also responsible for completing a certain amount of work by deadline. I hope that someone will learn from my mistakes and experience and will take my call to try task tracking software!
Contemporary managers in the sphere of software development increasingly prefer Agile when it comes to choosing of software development methodology. Why is Agile becoming more and more popular?
Traditionally, team work is understood by some conservative managers as the following: “team work is when everything is done as I say”. At first sight, this approach seems quite appropriate when deadlines are strict, but upon closer look it has some week sides in comparison with Agile methodology:
1. There is quite strong pressure on the team because of strict deadlines and lack of time; it is hard for the specialists of the project team to work in the conditions of such pressure.
2. Team members do not feel personal responsibility for their work within a project. However, Agile methodology encourages each team member to realize his personal responsibility for his duties and his piece of work within a project. It is convenient to describe the duties of every team member in the special program such as Free task tracking software – Comindware Task Management because other members of the team and managers can see who is responsible for this or that piece of work.
3. If one or even several specialists from a project team will not be able to cope with their duties (for the reason of sudden illness or any other urgent circumstances), it will be difficult to cope with the project in time without them. Usually within traditional methodology the functions of each specialist are rigidly defined. But Agile supposes cross functionality. This means that in the case if a programmer is not able to perform his duties within a project for some time, other members of a project team are able to temporarily replace him. This is also true for other IT-specialists of a project team within a cross functional approach. And it will be easier for other team members to get into gear (when it will be necessary to replace somebody of their colleagues) if his duties and responsibility will be reflected in the special Issue Tracking System which has rather wide functions by the way.
4. So, the deadlines are often thwarted because of psychological pressure (which negatively influences the quality of work and creativity of the specialists) and blurring of responsibility. These negative aspects can also be overcome within Agile methodology due to some advantages of Agile described above.
5. A manager and his project team usually feel the terrible stress and nervous strain because of the reasons described above. But it is quite logical that Agile will relieve the manager and the team from these unpleasant events because likelihood of stressful situations when using Agile methodology is minimal.
So, the general answer to the question “Why do managers prefer Agile?” sounds like this: “Because Agile helps to save nerves and avoid excessive stress during the work within a project”.
Despite the answer to this question seems obvious, let’s look more attentively on this problem, in private, on the main principles of successful implementation of Agile in a company.
The key principle here is PDCA-cycle which consists of four main components, or stages.
1. Planning. This component includes the analysis of the system and working out all possible approaches to improvements. The desired results are also defined on this stage.
2. Do-component implies implementation into life the decisions which have been worked out during the previous phase.
3. Check. This stage includes the analysis of achieved results.
4. Act or Correction. This component includes some corrective actions which are aimed at reducing the deviations from the plan.
The above mentioned stages affect the practical realization of the implementation of Agile methodology. Now let’s look at the detailed plan of implementation of Agile within 14 weeks.
1. Week #1 – Getting ready for the transformation.
It is required to collect and analyze the main information about a company and to provide the basic knowledge about Agile for main participants.
2. Week #2 – Zero sprint. This stage implies developing an understanding of the product and creation of high-level architecture.
3. Week #3 – The start of the first “calibration” sprint. The main goal here is working out the processes of launching the sprint.
4. Week #4 – Finishing of the first “calibration” sprint. The key purpose here is working out finishing of the sprint and holding a retrospective on the basis of quality indicators.
5. Week #5 – The start of the second sprint and starting of implementation of basic practices of extreme programming.
6. Week #6 – Finishing of the second sprint, retrospective on the basis of quantitative indicators using of the tools of lean production.
7. Week #7 – - The start of the third sprint, also using of automation testing.
8. Week #8 – Finishing of the third sprint, includes performing of the first Agile-release of the product and working out of some measures how to improve the processes on the base of the information gained from the previous three sprints.
9. Week #9 – The start of the fourth sprint. The main goal here is to learn how to plan and manage the project.
10. Week #10 – Finishing of the fourth sprint, implementation of statistical quality control.
11. Week #11 – The start of the fifth sprint.
12. Week #12 – Finishing of the fifth sprint, improvement of the internal quality of the system kernel.
13. Week #13 – The start of the sixth “ideal” sprint.
14. Week #14 – Finishing of the sixth “ideal” sprint.
Of course, it will be difficult to coordinate such huge work without supportive software. Click here to learn more about helpful task management software which is quite accessible.
So, as one can see, the task of implementation of Agile methodology in a company during 14 weeks is quite executable. There are only some limitations of this fantastic plan. The size of a company should be from 20 to 50 employees. It can also be used for companies of smaller size, but it will be necessary then to scale methodologies according to the size of this or that organization. Of course, some period for adaptation of a company to a new Agile methodology is required, and it is possible to reduce and simplify this period through the usage of the special software products which are suitable for Agile. Task tracking software by Comindware is a kind of this product. It can solve such tasks as coordination of team work and adaptation of new employees and specialists to a new company and the new Agile methodology. A distinctive feature of this software is that it provides the opportunity to work on various project tasks through Microsoft Outlook. This service is popular among the majority of IT-specialists and it will be easy to join the work even for a newbie. Team members can work on various tasks jointly by means of Outlook and Comindware software.
It is enough to hire one specialist who will coordinate the process of Agile implementation. It can be external trainer or consultant or just internal expert.
One of the brightest distinctive features of flexible methodologies of software development from traditional methodologies is the necessity of every participant of a project and of every team member to communicate with each other rather often within the confines of the work over the project. Such distinctive feature is also actual for Agile methodology. If to speak about the meaning of team cohesion for Agile projects it can be pertinent to mention that such meaning is crucial for the success of Agile projects. It is difficult to imagine qualitative and efficient communication between those team members who hate each other and are divided from each other by negative feelings or just divided into warring factions. The psychological climate will be terrible in such project team and will prevent from performing of project tasks correctly, successfully and opportunely. It is also possible to test the level of team cohesion with the assistance of special psychological methods, and in case if it needs correction and improvement, it is required to turn to some special trainings. And the special helpful issue tracking programs can likewise help to make the work over the project most coherent and consistent. Team members can be a perfect specialists with huge experience, but with low level of communicative skills. The team organized from such professionals will have low level of cohesion. And the team work will be difficult in this case.
Quite steady tendency in Agile projects is increasing of the meaning of personal qualities and communicative skills of team specialists. If a potential member of a project team has quite good communicative skills his chances to be hired increase several times. However, a general idea of communicative skills of this or that specialist can be received by means of special psychological tests and methodologies. The results might not be accurate but will allow to get an approximate idea of the level of development of communication skills of this or that person. Within Agile all the members of a project team need to communicate with each other rather often, almost constantly during the project. Any hesitation and misunderstanding which arises between team members can significantly complicate the work over the project. The special software can help to systematize the work over the project and increase team cohesion a bit, those who are interested can read more about such software tools.
So, one can see that, on the one hand, Agile model makes serious demands on communication skills of employees, and on the other hand, Agile methodology acts as an incentive to improve team cohesion.
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