Here are 3 Easy Solutions that Stop Scope Creep in your Digital Marketing Agency

Office employees managing scope creep

Aside from that time you discovered you lack resources and have feisty unpredictable clients, allowing scope creep to happen is the most dreaded moments in your project’s life cycle.

Scope creep is the wolf at the door of every digital marketing agency. But that doesn’t make the dreaded scope creeper an inevitable (and uninvited) guest at the project execution table. To strike the scope creep monster in the heart with a silver bullet, you need a suite of solutions and processes.

The good news is, with scope creep always lurking around the corner, you can still protect your project scope. We’ll give you easy and manageable solutions in this post.

Ready to beat that scope creep? Let’s hit it right between the eyes with the following agency weapons.

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What are the signs of scope creep in project management?

Project scope creep happens when you encounter changes after implementing the project plan. When the client asks for additional tasks or makes change requests not included in the initial project scope document, it messes up the costs, resources, and the project timeline.

Unfortunately, it also messes you up, and that’s something you definitely don’t want.

Having different stakeholders in the mix entails a handful of minds running in different directions all at once. Too many cooks in the kitchen equals scope creep.

When the shadow of scope creep darkens the land of your digital marketing agency, your team members and clients will:

  • inputs into the planned task list
  • Suggest additional features not included in the original project requirements
  • Implement their own unsolicited opinions on the project team’s scope of work
  • Make other small requests that harsh your agency mellow

True, additional new features on the final output make the client happy and ecstatic. That’s all good. But along the way, if the requests have bypassed the change control process, it’s an indication of scope creep.

Can your agency handle scope creep?

Scope creep may start as a deviation from what was initially agreed upon and outlined in the project plan. As a project manager, you might be afraid to negotiate with new clients, so you accommodate any new change request that hits your inbox.

But then, just two weeks later, your team members have already missed deadlines!

What you need are boundaries.

Prevent scope creep: Your first line of defense

Setting boundaries and going with a planned project schedule helps manage scope creep and prevent it from further ruining your timeline.

In most cases, clients boundary-stomp inadvertently. They might think that making revision requests ASAP is doing you a favor. But if these change requests are made outside the scope of the original (or even modified) project brief, then it falls under the scope creep umbrella.

And these little twists and turns aren’t doing you any favors.

Project scope creep is that freeloader friend in your apartment, who doesn’t pay rent on time or take out the trash.

You’re oh so nice. So you don’t say anything. You simmer and brood instead.

Next thing you know, your crummy roommate is inviting over their party animal friends, eating your leftover lo mein, and doing shots off your heirloom Stickley coffee table

Despite all the boundary-stomping, maybe you don’t want the friendship to end. But you might have saved the relationship early by communicating the house rules and learning when to say no.

3 ways to prevent scope creep in your digital agency

Scope Creep Managment

So, how do you help you help your clients help you, and prevent scope creep? Let’s get into the top strategies for managing scope creep next.

Revisit the project scope and document all changes

The first strategy you’ll want to deploy is monitoring the project schedule after the planning process. Unfortunately, it’s usually in the project execution phase that project scope creep occurs. And when it happens it snowballs, becomes even harder to stop scope creep from taking over your project.

Example:

A client asks for a new website, complete with personal branding and product uploading. All is well in the land of new client projects.

But wait! Not so fast.

Your team members suddenly receive a call from the client seeking to change the color scheme and theme.

Ruh roh. This will affect your specialists’ and developers’ tasks and will undoubtedly divert from the originally agreed project scope.

Handling new requests on the fly

Digital marketing agencies can easily face this problem head on and prevent scope creep while changing with market demands and keeping clients happy, too.

How?

Project managers must formalize any deviation from the original project scope via a change control process.

Why does this work so well? Because it allows project managers to accurately track project requirements and project deliverables.

A modification, or change request, not included in the existing project plan must be meticulously documented to ensure the change is accounted for and that changes to the schedule are anticipated and addressed.

Balancing team member’s expertise and bandwidth

Managing scope creep adequately also means balancing your project team members’ expertise and time.

For example, when emergencies cause human resources to fall behind, or team members prefer working on better projects, these also lead to scope creep in the existing and future project timelines.

In addition, project plan alterations can mess up other projects and delay these projects’ timelines.

Start with clearer communication

A successful project outcome can’t happen if you and the client have poor communication skills. You need good two-way communication.

Remember the exchanging of information between two or more parties? Yep. That.

It helps the project manager avoid scope creep when everyone involved knows how to listen and respond. Plus, it lets you know you’re on the same page with the clients and contractors involved in the project and execution process.

Host a kickoff meeting first.

Throwing a kickoff meeting with project stakeholders and project team members prevents scope creep from hamstringing your team.

A kickoff meeting lets you outline all the project details, no matter how small. It should be the the first meeting you have with all the parties who will participate in execution of the project.

What does a kickoff meeting include?

Ask away and get the answers to these most important questions:

  • What’s the project scope and summary?
  • How will we handle bottlenecks and contingencies?
  • Who’s working together on which deliverables?
  • What’s a reasonable turnaround time for each milestone?

As a project manager, you must communicate with project participants. And it’s also crucial that you and everyone working on the project (and the client) fully understand the project scope document.

Avoid too much verbal-only communication

To manage scope creep adequately, you need to communicate in black and white. You need to document, document, document!

Why?

  • Documentation keeps people accountable
  • It prevents confusion
  • Everyone can stay on the same page

Contracts, spreadsheets, written agreements — the sky’s the limit.

Documentation action steps

As a project manager, be sure to double-check your most important documents, such as clients’ waivers and amendments.

Have collaborators review and sign the documents. Spend time reading everything. Clear up any misunderstandings regarding additional fees and tasks, so you aren’t shortchanged.

What happens if scope creep starts a’creepin’?

Once scope creep begins sneaking in, inform stakeholders of the current project status and what actions you and the team must take to avoid further diversion from the project scope.

Never mislead your clients or team members. And make sure you know when to say no to client requests that will knock the project off course.

Gently remind your clients of the original scope if necessary to avoid further misunderstandings.

Also, keep in mind that information dissemination is a two-way street.

Avoiding scope creep means listening to client feedback during project milestones. Let them know upfront what to expect, so you’re meeting their expectations and keeping your clients happy.

Project managers, it’s never too late to use powerful project management software

Digital agencies face scope creep more than most businesses out there. Fortunately, you’ve got tons of tools and software at your disposal.

Chances are, there’s app out there that can help with your specific project management issues.

At first, it might seem tricky to start, install, set up, and invest in the app’s premium features. But, you’ll see how the setup is worth it once you’re halfway through your project — scrambling through receipts, folders, and papers. Or hitting CTRL+F in your spreadsheets to locate something your team created yesterday. And no one can find it.

But we want to stress — picking a gem from the millions of software tools on the market isn’t enough to fully protect a project’s scope.

Managing project scope creep: Implement efficient project management software.

Managing scope creep

Project managers utilize the right tools to watch resource allocation, change control processes, firm parameters, specific details on project goal updates, and overall, complete project work.

An effective project management tool or app lets you automate and sync, so you can do more with your time, putting everything into place and passing on essential updates to your clients and your team. All in real-time.

Project management software lets you keep an eye on additional requests from the agreed-upon scope to avoid missing deadlines.

Additionally, it lets you see the big picture and observe human resource utilization and capacity and your budget and cost savings. Reports are also automatically generated to help you analyze data and forecast the need for extra contractors or team members.

Bottom line: Scope creep-proof your agency!

In an ideal setting, you create a project plan, meet with your client, brief your team, execute the project and move on to your next assignment.

But this is the real world. And in the real world, it’s not that simple.

There will always people and events that make scope creep happen and cause you to lose control of the project. Scope creep-proofing your digital marketing agency may not mean eliminating scope creep totally.

Instead, implementing the tools and processes necessary to prevent scope creep prepares you for it.

Preparation also helps minimize your worries of scope creep developing into a larger, unmanageable boulder blocking your way to project completion.

Implement these 3 easy solutions to avoid scope creep and save the day:

  • Monitor your project scope and record all the changes
  • Constantly communicate with project members
  • Use reliable project management tools

With these solutions, you’ll stop potential changes in your project scope in their tracks with ease.

No doubt about it.

Manage scope creep with the help of ScaleTime!

Our Agency Project Management Checklist gives you access to vital project requirements, including 80/20 must-haves, key document templates, valuable metrics, and other features that optimize your project and team members’ expertise.

Streamline your process and say goodbye to lack of productivity.

Download the checklist here.

Download our Project Management Checklist

How to Manage Scope Creep in Your Digital Marketing Agency

Managing scope creep is a key part of project management.

Look at you, plucky project manager. You’re on your way to your fourth and much-anticipated milestone — setting up the last few details of your project plan! Yes!

Put your dancing shoes on, ’cause you’re about to party after this successful closing.

But wait, what’s that? The phone. It’s ringing. And it’s your client.

Womp womp womp.

All they want is just a tiny change in the deliverables.

Ugh. You thought you were on the same page with them. But no. You’ve gotta take off the dancing shoes, and put on the shi$ kicker boots instead.

Now you’re worried the project will fail with a big, fat F.

Where will you get the additional funds?

How will you tell the contractors? Or adjust the timeline?

And will there be any other more changes in the future?

So many questions are running through your head. So much for the party after completing the project. Dreams. Crushed.

As a project manager, you’re expected to manage, and protect against, scope creep over the project schedule duration.

Scope creep management: Why you need it.

Scope creep management allows the entire team (and clients) to stay on track with project goals, protect everyone’s bandwidth from hidden agendas, maintain overall job breakdown structure, and balance resource allocation.

So, are you up to mitigating scope creep? Yes? Good. Let’s get your digital marketing agency streamlined and ready to take on anything — even those last minute client requests.

What is Project Scope Creep?

It’s not as pervy as it sounds. But scope creep is super annoying. Scope creep is that thing that happens when clients make those little requests throughout the project schedule, throwing off your carefully laid plans.

Scope creep issues drastically impact the project’s schedule, cost, or final deliverables. You can start out with a particular project and know precisely how long it will take to complete, what all the deliverables will look like, and what it will cost.

But darn that scope creep!

If you don’t get a handle on it early, you’ll end up with a completely different project at the end. And a stressed out team, and possibly irate clients.

It’s like going to a bakery for a custom cake. But when you go to pick up your chocolate cake with buttercream icing and a dusting of coconut shavings on top, you’re presented instead with a bicycle tied together with duct tape and a cardboard kickstand.

That is not what you signed up for.

So, these scope creep changes can, at most, entirely block the project’s progress. Or, they can result in different, low-quality deliverables.

Good news — hope is not lost when the scope starts creeping.

Learning how to avoid scope creep, and manage project scope with finesse is possible. It’s also a must if you want to advance in your career as a project manager. Changes in project scope are pretty much par for the course in this field of work.

Before we get into how to manage scope creep, let’s take a closer look at what often causes these hiccups in the road to successful project completion.

Common scope creep causes:

  • Miscommunication during the project planning phase. Goals end up being completely different
  • Outside forces like economic and environmental conditions impacting the project schedule
  • Project politics or leadership drama resulting in confusion among the project team members
  • Ad spend, milestone, or deliverable changes

This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the picture. Let’s dive into some examples of scope creep next.

Examples of what scope creep is and isn’t

Let’s take the example of a website client. The client asks for a slightly different website redesign that you and your team agreed on at a specific price. Technically, that’s not considered scope creep.

Maybe they want the Green Tea instead of Black Coffee theme. No biggie. It doesn’t cost anymore, or take anymore time to manage this change.

But this is scope creep:

Instead, the client tells you over the phone to add all the optimization, integrated social media accounts, and advertisements to your new site. This is more time. More money. And totally different sets of milestones.
It’s not just a redesign job anymore. This is way more involved and an example of scope creep.

Keep in mind, scope creep doesn’t always show up as a whole phase or section of the project being modified. Often it starts as tiny, minimal alterations to the original scope.

Adjusting the website to match the client’s new branding palette midway through the project, for example, would add unforeseen time to your team’s work schedule. This is way different than what you and the team bargained for, and would be classified as scope creep.

Most cases of scope creep are innocent.

But occasionally, one party might have a hidden agenda. A lack of awareness of scope creep can put your agency at risk from disingenuous clients who make a deal for one deliverable but plan to sneak other projects in under the same umbrella.

This is no bueno and it’s the type of scope creep you want to avoid at all costs.

Project Management and Scope Creep

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project scope is the work required to output the project deliverables.

Project managers must characterize the project scope at the outset. If alteration requests should occur, they must undergo a formal change management process. This protects everyone’s sanity from the insanity of a project going off the rails from scope creep.

What’s in a project’s scope? That which we call a creep by another other name is still a creep.

So, the scope of a project must include a breakdown of work to be done and instructions for any changes.

Any changes throughout the project must enforce a step-by-step procedure that follows the change management process.

Like so:

When it comes to working without a tight project scope, you’ve got to learn how to maximize your project method and use it to your team’s advantage.

Project failure comes in different forms, including:

  • Poor estimation and prioritization
  • Disagreement on how to handle changes
  • A lack of sign offs,
  • Missing review processes to manage change requests

Now that we’ve defined scope creep and project scope, let’s dive into how to avoid scope creep or mitigate scope creep should it occur.

How can you control scope creep?

Project scope creep happens to the best project management teams. Use these tools and tactics to keep your projects on task and in-budget as your team heads for the glorious finish line.

Create a project budget

Often, the biggest risk you can take on if you don’t wrangle that scope creep beast is budgeting issues. Wasted time is wasted money. And taking on seemingly small changes to the project that aren’t in the budget will nickel and dime your agency into the poorhouse.

So, protecting the project budget is mission critical.

The project budget should be adequately defined during the project’s planning phase. Include project stakeholders — your client and each team member — during the process. Agree on a precise project budget based on properly calculated estimates.

Deficient budget estimates in a project plan can cause delays in the later part of the project, which is a sure sign that scope creep is already developing. A comprehensible project budget will also limit requests for additional funding, if not totally eliminate them.

Estimations

Estimations should be based on proper research together with the project team. Collaborate on the estimates and avoid making wild guesses. When using a pricing model, consider both time and resources to develop a more precise estimate and prevent scope creep in project management.

As a digital marketing agency, progress payments are essential to ensuring your revenue or, at the very least, some working capital. Invoicing for work done in advance can also update you on the volume of work you’ve already completed and help you cover any ongoing expenses.

You must invest time considering all costs involved in the most efficient manner. Any budget proposals and cost breakdown issues should be cleared before executing the project.

That way, you can meet clients’ deliverables on time and uphold your agency’s reputation in carrying out the project scope.

Face ALL change requests

The best project managers handle each change request as it arises.

Getting back to change requests that arise during the project’s duration is one of the most critical responsibilities involved in scope management. Even though you know this is a tedious, time-consuming task, you’ve still got to do it.

In any project, scope creep arises from not answering these requests.

It may take up a whole day or just a few minutes before you clock out to answer these requests. But regardless, they need to be addressed promptly, no matter what.

Remember to inform all parties involved, so they know all the measures and steps necessary to fulfill amended project requirements and still ace at preventing scope creep. But more on communication later.

All the approved, rejected, and resolved change requests must be organized and logged in the project’s change plans.

According to PMI, this allows reviewing and adequately documenting all requests and integrating them while considering all possible project risks.

Conduct a special meeting called a risk workshop and include appropriate risk responses to minimize unforeseen considerations.

Create a timeline and stick to it.

A clear work breakdown structure helps reduce scope creep.

The ideal setup is creating a timeline and following it to the letter. However, in every project plan, there will always be unavoidable bumps.

The key here is simple:

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the allotted project timeline.

Define detailed requirements and milestones with project team members. Give space for contingencies and allow some wiggle room and flexibility while creating your timeline.

Doing so will assist you in maintaining your schedule and provide you with the opportunity to regroup and prioritize or de-prioritize tasks and change requests.

You also need to consider how quickly each team member can work so you’ll have an idea of how long they’ll take to complete the various assignments.

But not so fast — creating a timetable doesn’t end there.

You have to keep track of it consistently, religiously. Watch out for red flags outside your control like marketing conditions and global phenomena that may affect prices, contractors, and even clients’ businesses, which can trigger change requests.

Set REASONABLE boundaries

A lack of boundaries can lead to failed projects when scope creep occurs.

  • Don’t take on more than you can handle. Be willing to say no to a particular project phase when necessary.
  • Be transparent and practical when laying down the project limitations with a specific time, cost, and scope.
  • Include these in the scope management plan.
  • Don’t hesitate to inform key stakeholders of the realistic expectations on the project scope before work begins.

Addressing boundaries is also a confident move to preserve leadership and authority as a project manager. It minimizes a project’s complexity and keeps you in control of the situation and your schedule.

You may have said yes to a few requests. But the ability to contain the damage and work within the given resources should remain intact for the project’s duration.

Five-star communication

Communicative change control processes keeps the whole team in the loop

Constantly update all involved parties on the progress, timelines, missed deadlines, and expectations.

Poor communication can result in surprises — unpleasant surprises, that is.

Remember, changes in the agreed-upon scope with the key stakeholders and project sponsor are not considered scope creep.

On the other hand, scope creep is when you have poor communication among stakeholders, disorganized documentation of new features, and out-of-date change control systems. These issues doom projects to failure.

Your project deliverables may be reaching a five-star rating. But, if your project teams’ communication is merely a one-star meh, you need help addressing scope creep.

All new requests based on the original scope should undergo the standard change management process, including:

  • updating new features
  • Documenting project charter amendments
  • Ensuring you’re on the same page with modifications in the scope statement.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Laying out expectations, budgets, and having a process for managing scope creep change requests is critical for your agency’s reputation and revenue.

Bottom Line for Project Managers

Consider looking at scope creep positively. It’s a type of change, and change is the only thing permanent in this world.

If you can’t see what’s missing or putting unnecessary stress on your systems, then you’ll have no opportunity to grow into the best project manager EVAH if you don’t allow for some scope change as the project runs its course.

Sure, handling scope creep is a challenging part of being a project manager. But one of the good things for today’s project managers is that technology is readily available to help you see through the despair and onward to the wins of change.

Pro tip:

Monitor change requests, work progress, invoices, and payments through reliable project management software.

A handy project management tool paired with a powerful agency framework can help you unite your team and spare you from the effort of juggling phone calls and client visits while taking care of your spreadsheets.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Let ScaleTime show you the way to better project management.

Scope management plans for successful projects are made easy with ScaleTime. Handle scope creep in project management by optimizing your digital agency’s systems and processes. Let us help you automate and streamline your business by downloading the Agency Project Management Checklist here!

What Makes A Good Project Manager

project manager leading meeting

Hiring a project manager?

Many people know project managers only by what they do: kickoff calls, project schedules, budgets and charts. Processes and procedures designed to help them help you stay on top of your projects. But that merely scratches the surface of what makes a project manager good at what they do.

In truth, while others flounder over projects like a fish out of water, project managers stay calm, cool, and collected. They keep things running smoothly, get the job done on time, and leap over hurdles as gracefully as a swan in mid-flight.

But just how do they do it? And what should you look for to ensure the next one you hire can do it too? Find out what it takes to be a good project manager in this insightful post.

Stellar Communication

project manager solving a problem

Good project managers and good communication are synonymous.

Not only will they put systems in place in order to keep things on track throughout all phases of a project, but clearly communicate statuses, deadlines, milestones, and achievements to ensure that everything is on track.

Strong Problem Solving Ability

project manager practicing teamwork

Being able to quickly solve problems–on the spot and on the fly–and especially on behalf of stakeholders–is perhaps the greatest skill that a PM can possess. After all, whether they’re discussing campaign performance or communicating with a client, good project managers need to adapt quickly and pivot on their feet.

Moreover, when working with team members, strong problem-solving and communication skills come hand in hand, granting PM’s with the seemingly magical ability to wrap their head around complex problems in minutes, and explain them to team members or stakeholders in seconds–and in ways that make sense to them.

The lesson: when looking for a project manager for your business, find one who’s good at rapidly understanding problems, as well as coming up with (and communicating) realistic solutions to solve them.

Delegation Avoids Disaster

In life and in business, you can’t do it all yourself. To avoid disaster, you have to learn to ask for help.

That’s why outstanding project managers know that delegation is one of the most important parts of their job. By delegating tasks to the right people, PM’s are able to balance the workload between team members to get everything done on time.

Moreover, by identifying the right person for the right job, good project managers learn to let Doug in marketing, Lucy in finance, and Mark in sales, do what they do best.

By delegating tasks based on skill set (not based on who has the lightest workload) PMs are able to ensure that tasks meet their deadlines and execute flawlessly each time–making the entire team more productive and efficient as a result.

Pro tip: For the project manager of your own agency, look for one who jumps at the chance to get to know your team members and who delegates tasks based on their own unique skill sets.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

project manager being honest

Mistakes happen.

All the more so for projects with multiple deadlines, stakeholders, and goals.

That’s why for project managers, it’s best to be honest and forthright with clients. As well as to handle blunders with a no small degree of tact. After all, there may be some information best left not disclosed with clients–and it’s always better to let someone have it your way.

Discovering the balance between honesty, tact, and concealment is an essential quality of the project manager’s role, and something to certainly look for when finding one for your agency.

Enthusiastic & Emphatic

good project manager being enthusiastic

Trick question: what do the words gusto, spirit, ardor, zest, verve, or chutzpah have in common?

They all describe the energy of the very best of project managers.

How so? It’s simple: the best project managers rally others around getting stuff DONE!

And, they easily do that by being the most enthusiastic (and empathetic) person in the room.

Project managers not only care (deeply) about the work their team is doing–but take the lead to make sure it happens on time.

By being enthusiastic about the work, and empathizing with the needs of the people they manage, they can encourage team members to get stuff done on time and to spec–with as little hand-holding (or hand-ringing) as possible.

Looking To Find The Best Project Manager For Your Business? Let Us Help

Hiring a new project manager for your agency?

Need help finding the perfect one?

Schedule your free strategy session to find out how we can help you secure a first-rate project manager for your business or agency–so that you can get stuff done on time (and on budget) and grow your business faster than a caffeinated cheetah.

How to Manage Scope Creep in Your Digital Marketing Agency

You are currently on your way to your fourth milestone: setting up the last few details of your project plan, ready to party after a successful closing.

Your phone rings: the client wants to request a change in the deliverables.

You thought you were on the same page with them, but now you are sure the current project will fail. Where will you get the additional funds? How will you tell the suppliers? How will you adjust the timeline? Will there be any other changes in the future?

So many questions are running through your head. So much for the party after completing the project. Dreams. Crushed.

As a project manager, you are expected to manage, if not avoid, scope creep over the project schedule duration. Scope creep management allows the entire team to stay on track with project goals, avoid hidden agendas, maintain overall job breakdown structure, and balance resource allocation.

Are you up to mitigate scope creep? Then, let’s get your digital marketing agency ready.

What is Project Scope Creep?

When project managers encounter change requests on the project requirements during the implementation of the project schedule, project scope creep happens. These may block the project’s progress or result in different or low-quality deliverables.

Causes of scope creep may include the following:

  • Miscommunication during project planning
  • Outside forces like economic and environmental conditions
  • Project politics or ‘leadership drama’ which leads to confusion between the project team members

Let’s take the example of a website client. If the client asks for a website redesign that you and your team agreed on at a specific price, that would not be considered scope creep. However, if the client then tells you over the phone call to add all the optimization, integrated social media accounts, and advertisements, you would instantly recognize that as scope creep.

But scope creep doesn’t always show up as a whole phase or section of the project being modified. Often it starts as tiny minimal alterations to the original scope. Adjusting the website to match the client’s new branding palette mid-way through the project, for example, would add unforeseen time to your team’s work schedule, and would be classified as scope creep.

Most cases of scope creep are innocent, but occasionally one party might have a hidden agenda. A lack of awareness of scope creep can put your agency at risk from disingenuous clients, who make a deal for one deliverable but plan to sneak other projects under the same umbrella.

Project Management and Scope Creep

We all know what project scope is. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), “project scope is the work required to output the project deliverables.” The scope should be characterized clearly, and any alterations should only be conducted under a formal change management process.

The scope of a project includes a breakdown of work to be done and instructions for any changes. Any changes throughout the project must be controlled through a structured change management procedure.

When it comes to working without a tight project scope, you must learn how to maximize your project method and use it to your team’s advantage. In agile projects, for example, the overall project is broken down into smaller stories which is an excellent way of managing scope creep. In addition, it welcomes changes openly as part of the customer’s competitive advantage. The Agile method manages projects by diving into the details and the calendar.

But because Agile teams lack a fixed scope, project failure comes in the forms of poor estimation and prioritization, disagreement on how to handle changes, and missing processes to manage change requests.

How can a Project Manager Control Scope Creep?

Create a project budget

The project budget should be adequately defined during the project’s planning phase. Include project stakeholders – both your client and each team member – during the process and agree on a precise project budget based on properly calculated estimates.

Poor budget estimates in a project plan can cause delays in the later part of the project, which is a sure sign that scope creep is already developing. A comprehensible project budget will also limit requests for additional funding if not totally eliminate it.

Estimations should be based on proper research together with the project team. Collaborate on the estimates together and avoid making wild guesses. When using a pricing model, consider both time and resources to develop a more precise estimate and prevent scope creep in project management.

As a digital marketing agency, progress payments are essential to ensure your revenue or, at the very least, some working capital. Invoicing for work done in advance can also update you on the volume of work you have already completed and cover any ongoing expenses.

Project managers must invest time considering all costs involved in the most efficient manner. Any budget proposals and cost breakdown issues should be cleared before executing the project to meet clients’ deliverables on time and uphold your agency’s reputation in carrying out the project scope.

Face ALL change requests

Getting back to change requests that arise during the project’s duration is one of the most critical responsibilities involved in scope management. As a human, you know that this is a tedious, time-consuming task you must face.

In any project, scope creep arises in not answering these requests. It may take up a whole day or just minutes before you end your work, but they need to be addressed and given attention. Keep in mind to inform parties involved so they know all the measures and steps to fulfill amended project requirements and still ace preventing scope creep (more on communication later!).

All the approved, rejected and resolved change requests must be logged in the project’s Perform Integrated Change Control process. According to PMI, this allows reviewing and adequately documenting all requests and integrating them while considering all possible project risks. Conduct a special meeting called a ‘risk workshop’ and include appropriate risk responses to minimize unforeseen considerations

Create a timeline (and stick to it!)

The ideal setup is creating a timeline and following it to the dot. But in every project plan, there will always be unavoidable bumps and humps. The key here is simple: be realistic about what you can accomplish in the project timeline allotted.

Define detailed requirements and milestones with project team members. Give space for contingencies and allow some wiggle room and flexibility while creating your timeline. Doing so will assist you in maintaining your schedule and provide you with the opportunity to regroup and prioritize or deprioritize tasks and change requests.

You also need to take into account the expertise of your team members so you have an idea of how long it takes to work on an assignment.

Creating a timetable does not end there. You have to keep track of it consistently, religiously. Watch out for red flags outside your control like marketing conditions and global phenomena that may affect prices, suppliers, and even clients’ businesses which can trigger change requests.

Set REASONABLE boundaries

Don’t take on more than you can handle, and be willing to say no to a particular project phase when necessary.

Be transparent and practical when laying down the project limitations with a specific time, cost, and scope. Include these in the scope management plan. Don’t hesitate to inform key stakeholders of the realistic expectations on the project scope before the project begins.

Addressing boundaries is also a confident move to preserve leadership and authority as a project manager. It minimizes the complexity of a project and keeps you in control of the situation and your schedule. You may have still said yes to a few requests, but the ability to contain the damage and work within the given resources should remain intact for the project’s duration.

Five-star communication

Constantly update all involved parties on the progress, timelines, missed deadlines, and expectations.

Poor communication can result in surprises – unpleasant surprises, that is. Changes in the agreed-upon scope with the key stakeholders and project sponsor are not considered scope creep. On the other hand, scope creep is when you have poor communication between stakeholders, disorganized documentation of new features, and out-of-date change control systems that are doomed to make projects fail.

Your project deliverables may be reaching a five-star rating. but if your project teams’ communication is merely a one-star meh, you still need help addressing scope creep.

All new requests based on the original scope should undergo the Perform Integrated Change Control process, including updating new features, documenting project charter amendments, and ensuring you’re on the same page with modifications in the scope statement.

Bottom Line for Project Managers

Consider looking at scope creep positively. It is a type of change, and change is the only thing permanent in this world.

You will not be able to see what’s missing or lacking or even distressing your systems, and you have no opportunity to grow into the best project manager if you don’t allow for some scope change as the project runs.

Handling scope creeps is a challenging part of being a project manager. One of the good things nowadays is that technology is readily available to help you see through despair. Monitor change requests, work progress, invoices, and payments through reliable project management software. A handy project management tool paired with a powerful agency framework can help you unite your team, spare you from twice the efforts of juggling phone calls and client visits while taking care of your spreadsheets.

Sound too good to be true? Let Scaletime help you!

Scope management plans for successful projects are made easy with ScaleTime. Handle scope creep in project management by optimizing your digital agency’s systems and processes. Get a FREE Discovery Session with our Scale Strategists here!

Digital Agency Process: 10 Workflow Tips to Scale Your Agency

digital agency process

When you browse your Facebook and Twitter accounts, you can’t help but check out the latest viral videos – oh, and guiltily go crazy over TikTok too! Promo flyers have been replaced with double clicks; print ads kicked out by digital billboards, and social media channels are the new TV when it comes to advertising. Influencers and even owners dance to a catchy tune trying to grab their potential customers’ attention as they view their ads over and over again.

With the rise of technological advancement and innovative ways to keep businesses in check, digital marketing agencies are also growing. The number of likes and shares now evaluates popularity as online businesses and virtual markets are born daily. Before you know it, demands for digital marketing are spiraling.

So how does your digital agency keep up with the pace? Are you ready to take your digital marketing team to new heights?

We are here to provide the ultimate guide to improving your digital agency workflow and give you tips on how to scale up amidst the competition. Let’s get crackin’!

The Role of a Digital Marketing Agency

Who says they still need a digital marketing agency? All the CEOs need is the Digital Marketing Agency book for Dummies together with Google and they’re good to go!

Nope. Your agency is more relevant now MORE THAN EVER.

A digital agency dedicated to marketing purposes is important because of the BIG FAT chunk it brings to the table: building customer relationships online translates into future sales and purchases. They are also responsible for purchases made across digital platforms because of their strategic thinking and inventive lead generation strategies.

So, do you think businesses can still get away without the help of a digital marketing agency?

Let them try handling marketing campaigns that are now shifting to the virtual world from the previous face-to-face. Give them the opportunity to manage everything from content production to website design, to a smooth-sailing online customer experience, all at the same time! These factors contribute to the increase of sales and whether you will raise loyal customers or become viral the wrong way.

Increasing online presence, getting sales leads, turning them into sales, and expanding the businesses’ reach are only some of the responsibilities having a digital marketing agency entails.

Best Workflow for Digital Marketing Agencies

digital agency process workflow

Keeping your sanity and improving your business’ performance every time you take on a new project equates to relying on a company workflow. It is having a process you can depend on with email marketing, social media and content creation, web design, sales analytics, and even hosting virtual events.

First things first, you need to create a comprehensive onboarding system for clients, clarifying the breadth of the project, and having a documented template that you can use to implement your processes. When everything’s a-okay, next is to assign clear duties to team members, review the project timeline, and regularly ask for feedback. As simple as that, your digital marketing agency can now implement a well-developed process workflow. YAY!

Just between us, what makes YOU a successful digital agency is your ability to execute a unique workflow that focuses on achieving your marketing goals and broadening your business services.

At ScaleTime, we check that your business has the best effective system that guides you in creating a blossoming digital marketing company. We offer project management for your digital agency as a way to create a systematized approach for meeting deadlines, knowing the team members participating in the project, and measuring and optimizing your business’s success.

We start by taking a look at what is happening and we note what tools and services you use, evaluate each team member’s role, the onboarding of each client, and the current project management method you are using in your company. This is the data we will use to create a baseline.

We then create a plan which involves reviewing the present effective procedures and removing the ineffective ones while working our way up!

Sooo, what’s next? We implement a procedure that works well with your system and give a boost to what you already have! We guide you all the way from measuring KPIs to appreciating the numbers on your company’s books.

Our proven process allows you to take a step back, supervise, and peacefully sip champagne at night. Wouldn’t it be fun to oversee your company’s development while sunbathing from your dream paradise? Now that’s life!

10 Tips to Scaling Your Digital Marketing Agency

1. Have a workflow that is proven effective

We know that you dread the daily grind, but you need to do it to enjoy everyday life. So what’s our solution? An efficient workflow is guaranteed to have you living the best days with your family and friends, and even your pets!

One of the cornerstones of successful agencies is refining an existing workflow or a total overhaul and setting down a new one. You may have the best team members, the most understanding clients, or the high-paying projects, but if you do not have a systematic way to handle all the tasks in your business, then everything, including your time and money, goes bye-bye.

Don’t let precious resources escape your grasp. Learn to control your nine-to-five with this proven-effective framework for your digital agency. We have the road map to optimizing your digital marketing processes right HERE.

2. Successful onboarding of new team members

digital agency sales process

Once you have a clear system in place, it’s now time to enhance your team.

Each team member must know exactly what is expected of them, to improve employee satisfaction, motivation, and retention. If you have trouble with annoyed or confused team members you often catch on long breaks and not on their desks, you might need to integrate your system into the team. Knowing what to do when and who will do it makes the difference.

One of the many ways is to make them carry out all the specified tasks constructively. Designate marketing managers to handle the creative assets and sales, project managers with the scope and ensuring deadlines are met, and relationship managers to deal face to face with clients. This brings us to the next tip –

3. Flawless client onboarding

digital agency client onboarding

Your team may know what to do when implementing a task in the project. But what about the clients? These are your customers, your lifeline, the mechanism that pumps blood in your business. Having a step-by-step guide to delivering projects must also include having an efficient client delivery process.

Grab a coffee with them and let them know the current project status and where your team is at with the timeline. Update them with their portfolio, let them know you’re on the same page, and make them feel they are involved and being taken care of.

This is a chance to help spread the word that your company is not just a fancy website with monthly vouchers. It is an opportunity to turn mouth advertising into potential customers and client recommendations.

4. Streamline the creative process

Too many post-its hanging by your workstation, but you’re still stuck with all the digital marketing dilemmas? Or maybe your team just throws in their ideas, and results are all far off from the final product?

Simplify the way you want a plan to be executed. Straightforward marketing goals and campaigns would allow more team members to understand the creative process, attract motivation and encourage feedback. It also fosters the development of analytical thinking and problem-solving skills within your team. You certainly don’t want to get stuck with uncolored drawings! Always remember that the virtual marketing journey is as important as the output.

5. Know how to set a fair price for services

digital agency price

Unlike products, digital marketing services are challenging to put a price tag on. Charging too high leads to overpricing and fewer clients, while charging too low will cut into your profit or, worse, leaves an impression that the services you offer are not as good as everything else in the market. Yikes!

Managing the budget by knowing how much your services really cost is a good place to start. Although there is no one-way route to finding a fair price, some things to consider are the type of service you offer, whether there are any marketing specialists providing the same service, and if yes, how much they are charging for their work.

This competitor analysis helps you have confidence in your real worth, so you can communicate this to your customers. Or else, they’ll believe you are not credible enough for your asking price!

If everything still seems blurry, we have prepared this article on specific guidelines and other tips for pricing your services HERE.

6. Up-to-date digital marketing data

digital marketing agency sales process

Not everyone can sell, and not everyone can do math. However, these are two essential pillars when it comes to digital marketing!

Before, studying your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses was enough to keep you ahead of the game. Now, the market analysis includes more detailed and comprehensive statistics on their market share, pricing, geographical location, customer reviews, online channel presence, and many other factors. It’s more than just raw data because these are numbers that need to be researched and examined to become the basis of your marketing techniques and strategy.

Once you’ve done your digital marketing campaign, reviewing its success and components is also essential to help gather more insights on your product, your approach, and your target audience.

7. Focus on the target audience

digital marketing agency target audience

Stories, captions, and social media posts should not only make clients happy. As creatives, digital marketing agencies should focus on creating precisely what the target audience needs by defining the real people who are most likely to purchase from your client and earn their trust and loyalty. Without them, your clients will not exist at all! The target audience may be based on several factors like age, location, income, interests, and so on.

After knowing your audience, it’s time to get some leads!

Whether it’s blog post creation or content creation for social media platforms, the final digital product is a huge part of ensuring your audience recognizes your presence. It may be that they don’t need the services now, but if you keep them interested, your services stay at the back of their minds. They may come back to use your products in the future, and some may even make referrals and recommendations when the need arises.

8. Choose the tools that work best

Digital agencies use all the tools at their fingertips to meet the creative brief and follow creative processes. Software is used for updating web pages and content production, but how do you know what works best for your digital agency?

One tip is to check out what other business owners use in your industry. These digital tools come with specific guidelines on installation and sometimes the extra budget needed for its premium users. So, if you find out it does not work with your system, you could end up wasting a week (or even a month, UGH!) trying to figure out how to use something that’s not really effective in making your work more manageable in the first place!

(Not to fret, some tools offer a free trial and 24/7 support, so you’re not left alone in this cold and brutal virtual jungle of paid software and applications!)

But wait, here’s the fun part! Once you’ve installed the app and get the hang of it, you may now integrate it into your effective workflow. Tasks that may seem complicated can now be done with just a click or two to achieve desired results and meet deadlines more effortlessly.

While you’re at it, you can even adjust the mood lights in your office to boost your team’s creativity or even plot the traffic system on your way to meet clients with a single tap while enjoying your morning coffee.

9. Set expectations of clients and team members

You have to accept that life does not always work according to your plan. This is why part of the workflow sets clients’ and team’s expectations.

Have a kickoff meeting with both parties to emphasize project objectives. Explain the project range and give the project summary towards the end. It balances the anticipation and relieves pressure.

Part of the timeline also sets the time for you to provide feedback to ensure no loose ends after the project has been implemented.

10. Step back as you grow

digital marketing

After all the hard work, it’s time to develop turnover and endorsement plans.

First, take time to assess if the current strategy works and update team members on their accomplishments and performance. Next, tweak your current digital marketing process according to the fast-paced and changing times.

Finally, as your agency grows, the last part of the framework (and probably the most rewarding one at that) is stepping back and giving yourself more time out of the office and more time to focus on achieving a work-life balance.

Exciting, isn’t it? Now’s the time to scale up your digital marketing agency! Set up a Discovery Session with us for FREE. Take control of the growth of your business, and let us help you. Talk to our Scale Strategists and optimize your company by clicking HERE.

How to Delegate Effectively: 3 Way to Delegate More & Worry Less

how to delegate - team members discuss together
The hallmark of a great leader is how effortlessly and effectively they practice delegation of duties, and there truly is an art and science to delegation. The ability to delegate is crucial to the success of any team as it leads to enhanced collaboration and greater participation from team members. So, how to delegate effectively should be a skill that organizations should consciously promote.

Before we get to the most practical and proven ways of delegation of duties, it’s important to understand the concept, why it’s important, and what usually stands in the way of its implementation.

What is delegation?

Delegation is the transferring of responsibilities from a manager or leader to their team members. It’s important to understand that individuals who know how to delegate the right tasks with ease do it with specificity.

The employees should know the scope of delegated work, the resources they would need for its completion, and the timeframe in which they have to execute it.

Why is delegation of duties important?

The question should be, “how is it not important?” Delegating and assigning tasks effectively to team members is arguably the most important piece to being a great leader.

Not to mention that it sets you up amazingly in creating stunning processes for your business!

The  effective delegation process produces higher involvement

Greater participation leads to innovation. When a manager knows how to delegate work to employees, they’re ensuring that their team members will participate in the process. Involvement is key to employees taking initiatives in problem-solving.

Employee empowerment

When a leader delegates responsibilities, they’re also showing their trust in their team members. This empowers employees to put their best foot forward. Autonomy is a function of empowerment and autonomous employees think outside the box to come up with solutions.

One of the most effective statements a leader or entrepreneur can ever make is “I trust you.” That will encourage team members to put in their best and deliver on time.

Delegating tasks improves communication

Delegation when done well will improve the level of intra-team communication. That’s because the manager will have to convey the importance of the delegated task and what’s expected of the team members.

Increases productivity

With greater participation and better communication, the outcomes will be favorable. For team members, every project becomes an opportunity to prove their talent. Under specific directions, employees will understand the problem better, which will increase the overall productivity. This also ensures that you work on high-priority tasks while other team members work on other meaningful and challenging assignments.

Revenue can increase by almost 33 percent when leaders delegate responsibility, per a Gallup study. Although this isn’t gonna happen overnight, it’s definitely worth the trouble and the effort. It’ll eventually be good for your employees and your business.

Promotes meritocracy

A company where the delegation of duties happens seamlessly and routinely will also be a company that believes in and promotes merit. This is also the kind of company that will find it easier to attract and retain talent.

The number of projects an employee is involved in will tell them how much the company trusts them and wants them to stay in the system.

Enhances learning

The more projects and specific tasks they’re involved in, the more the employees will learn. That becomes a virtuous cycle as with every project, their capabilities and confidence will grow.

Delegation of duty frees up leaders

As an entrepreneur or team leader, being constantly busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive. Being involved in everything may have served you earlier but your current position doesn’t require you to be in hands-on mode all the time.

So, it’s time to roll up your pants and dust off those delegation skills!

When you involve your employees and delegate duties effectively, you’re not only ensuring their participation and boosting their morale but also freeing up your time. Now you can focus on the big picture: being a good leader.

That’s where your expertise and experience are needed now.

Better work-life balance

We live in a culture where 90-hour weeks are considered to be the essential grind necessary for success. This overlooks the toll it takes on the personal lives of managers and entrepreneurs and overall job satisfaction. When you learn how to delegate efficiently, you will also be able to schedule time for your family and friends.

Instead of staying late and working weekends, now you’re reducing the number of tasks on your own work plate. Redistributing work means you can take that much-needed breather. These small but important steps are important for the holistic growth of leaders.

Why managers don’t delegate

I mean, most of us don’t like telling others what to do, right? It’s totally normal!

Even with the considerable advantages of delegation of duties, not many leaders practice it. There are several reasons why managers who are otherwise excellent at what they do, fail to delegate properly.

They think it shows their weakness

Some managers believe that those who delegate tasks are the ones who can’t do it effectively. So, they desist from delegation because they don’t want to come across as inefficient. They also fear that the system might misinterpret their delegation of duties as a sign that they’re incapable of performing it themselves.

What they fail to see is that delegation is another word for offering someone else a chance to work on a project and learn. Yay for professional development!

That’s one of the key responsibilities of a manager and those who don’t delegate are curtailing the growth potential of others. So, delegation reflects a leader’s strength and effective leadership, not their inability.

They want to stay in control

One of the common reasons many managers don’t delegate is that they fear a loss of control. Entrepreneurs might feel that since they’ve been doing it all along, they’re the ones better equipped to handle the responsibilities rather than assign tasks to others. If someone else were to do it, the quality might suffer, or so they feel.

This is how leaders create unproductive and self-centric cultures because the refusal to delegate is another way of saying that the manager doesn’t trust other members of the team to maintain control of the delegated tasks.

They don’t know who to delegate to

Sometimes, the manager doesn’t share duties because they don’t know who can perform the delegated tasks on their team. This ignorance reflects an acute lack of communication, among other things. Those managers who don’t know who to assign the responsibilities to may not recognize a vicious cycle of poor team management.

Unless you start delegating effectively, you wouldn’t know who is capable of doing it. Once the feedback loop kicks in, you would have a better assessment of your team members’ skill sets, which will help you delegate more productively later on.

They believe it would take more time

Usually, leaders believe that they know how to do a task within the given timeframe because they’ve been doing it for a long time. While all organizations may have such managers, startups are most likely to have leaders who think they can do it faster and better than others.

What they don’t realize is that as the startup begins to scale, they will have to focus on larger objectives and bigger problems. Plus, a delegation of duties reduces workloads for everyone and optimizes for freedom.

They’re too involved in some projects to delegate tasks effectively

Perhaps it’s something that comes naturally to you or the task is for a client that you have partnered with for a long time. You don’t want to let anyone else work on it because you’ve always loved doing it. So, you’re hesitant to involve others.

While it’s understandable, it’s good to remember that as more people get involved and become proficient, the better the product or service quality will be. It’s also an opportunity to guide others in doing something that you’re good at.

3 Ways to Delegate More and Worry Less

employees in a meeting

It should be clear by now that delegation of duties benefits managers, their team members, and the organization. To help you become a better leader and entrepreneur, here are three ways to delegate more effectively (and become the effective leader you were born to be!) 

1. Be specific

The first rule you should keep in mind while delegating is to be specific. You should know whether the task can be delegated, who’s the right person to handle it, and a timeframe for its completion.

The task: The project you delegate should be one that doesn’t require your specific involvement or decisions. All other tasks can be delegated to your employees.

Their experience shouldn’t be a hindrance to delegation if it’s a non-core activity. Even if they have never done anything on that scale, remember that they will have to start somewhere. What’s important is to define the scope task, both verbally and in writing.

The personnel: You should choose the individual(s) based on their aptitude, skill sets, and availability. Ask them whether they have done something similar at their current position or in any of their previous roles.

If they haven’t, it’s a manager’s responsibility to encourage them to take on the project. Always frame it as an opportunity to learn or enhance their new skills. Remember to be meritocratic about who you choose and be transparent about it with others. Showing confidence and support will in turn improve their self-confidence and efficiency on the next delegated task.

The timeframe: Sharing a viable timeline is crucial to the successful delegation of duties. Leaders should give not just a deadline but a timeframe that includes reviews and desired outcome should be made clear. You should ensure that your team members will have time to incorporate your suggestions. The last thing you want is to limit the time an employee might need to incorporate the changes you suggest.

Remember that you may be able to complete it faster because you would have been doing it for a while. Anyone attempting it for the first time would require more time. This is why it’s important not to delay delegating tasks until the last moment. Also, keep in mind that they might also be forced to engage in other routine tasks at the company.

2. Provide training, guidance, and authority

Knowing how to delegate a job effectively is also about knowing the kind of resources your team would need and then giving them the autonomy to do it.

Training: As a leader, you should know about your employees’ skill sets and levels of expertise. It’s important to ensure that projects are aligned with individuals with matching proficiency. If there is a deficit, they should be given adequate training.

Instead of waiting for the delegation of duties to start training, managers should engage in it proactively. Leaders can tailor the training to empower employees with the necessary skills for both existing and future projects.

Guidance: Your ability to delegate will depend on how well you can guide your associates. But some managers can’t resist getting overtly involved even after they delegate the task. This is intrusive and shows a lack of trust.

After you ensure that they have the required skills to execute the task, you should guide them on the best practices regarding the project. But don’t force them to do it the way you would have done. Let each individual figure out their paths.

Authority: Employees would naturally feel stifled working under an overbearing leader who micromanages all aspects of their project. Any team member tasked with a project should have the necessary freedom to finish it.

They should have the authority to utilize any resources they might need for the task. Remember that lack of autonomy equals lack of trust. Sure they will make mistakes now and then, but the trust you give them now will bear the fruits later.

3. Give timely feedback and credit

What ensures the successful completion of a task and the proactive involvement from employees is giving feedback and credit where it’s due.

Feedback: Giving suggestions (and don’t forget to offer constructive criticism) is as important as giving them on time. Taking too long to review status updates will delay tasks and employees would rightly feel that they would be blamed for the manager’s mistakes.

Credit: Entrepreneurs should appreciate the efforts that employees put in. A better way to acknowledge them would be to celebrate them publicly. That would inspire others to volunteer for tasks and boost the morale of the organization.

There you have it! That’s How to Delegate Work to Employees Effectively

Delegation of duties is important because it brings demonstrable advantages to the team and the organization. For a business to be cohesive and robust, there should be shared responsibilities and greater participation.

The success of any team or organization will depend to a great extent on its leaders’ ability to delegate responsibilities. So, go on your way and start to delegate more in see the fruits and benefits of delegation. 

Project Manager Goal Setting [Examples Included]

Where do you see yourself in five years? No one likes this question because you can’t think that far ahead. It’s impossible to know what offbeat event is going to happen tomorrow, let alone five years from now, and how this will impact you.

Goals are essential to plan for the future and give you a rational way of charting a path from an identified situation – the now, to what you aspire to be – the ideal. Goal setting for a project manager involves the process and not just the destination. It is the track from point As-Is to point To-Be.

Discover some project manager goal setting examples to protect yourself from project derailment, and ensure great project outcomes.

Benefits of Project Management Goals

For the project manager

Many circumstances can derail your plans. It could be something completely unexpected and out of your control. But in most cases, derailed plans are due to the lack of a clear path for progress. Successful goal-setting includes:

  • Clearly defined goals and budget.
  • Excellent communication both with the team and the stakeholders.
  • Awareness of the limitations of the project scope, to avoid scope creep.
  • Adequate skill sets and training.
  • A range of identified contingencies, or Plan B’s.
  • Good project management tools.

Self-evaluation parallel to organizational evaluation can help determine your project management goals. How do you do it? Set SMART goals. (See below).

For the team

Goal setting benefits the whole team. Communicating clear goals and the progress of the project builds opportunities to give and receive constructive feedback. Goals develop overall group accountability which allows both individual and team growth. Team members can buy into good goal-setting and own their part in delivering good outcomes.

For the project itself

Good project goals are key to successfully achieve project completion. Goals make it easier to deliver projects on time and within budget. The process can be evaluated both during and at the end of the project, leading to a clearer understanding of how goal-setting impacted the process. Each completed project can set the scene for more empowered project goal-setting in the future.

Setting SMART Goals

Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals help in creating a sound goal statement. SMART goals establish a framework that makes goal-setting a breeze, allowing you to cover all aspects of the project. They will help you implement your team’s objectives and gain an overall picture for both low and high-impact projects.

Drill down to the specifics

Generic goals are a no-go if you want to be SMART about it. Knowing exactly what you want to do allows you to push for target tasks that will take you there. If a goal is unclear, then it’s practically impossible to track where you are and to reach your objective on time and within the projected budget.

Make your goals descriptive and detailed. Instead of just saying you want to increase online traffic, being specific means saying you want to increase website traffic by x number of users by x months. Ensure your specific goals are also clearly understood and agreed with stakeholders and by your team.

Make measurable goals

You may feel great about where a project is standing but you may not be 100% sure if you’re on track, or if you have enough resources to complete it. The key ingredient to project management success is to incorporate the necessary metrics. These standards and benchmarks help you evaluate your project. A measurable goal also identifies any necessary adjustments and how much time and resources are needed going forward.

Some simple examples of how to effectively manage your project status are:

  • A list of tasks completed per week, a spreadsheet of the total number of hours billed, and the average number of hours spent on tasks.
  • A time-tracking progress chart that integrates with your project management tool.

Aside from investing in the perfect project management tools, having a project management checklist on hand can help you set measurable goals.

Make goals attainable

Clients often come to the table with nearly impossible targets or decide to add further goals to a project once underway. A project manager’s challenge is to ensure that the project’s goals are attainable and keep an eye on what is feasible and reasonable. Making goals attainable means that you find a way to build in unexpected developments.

For example, you may have a team of four people but one is on vacation, making it challenging to wrap up a huge deal in a week. Have you built in some reserves in terms of resources, or is there an option for extra time? Good project managers build in the ability to adjust their goals to account for the variations that will inevitably hit a project.

Set goals that are relevant

Efficient project leaders will ask the right questions to ensure project goals are relevant. They will have good knowledge of the project and know that goals will be relevant depending on the skill set of the team, the budget, and the timescale.

Re-assessment of goals once a project is underway is also useful so you can check on how relevant they continue to be. Competitive benchmarking and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) may help keep your goals relevant.

Some questions to ask:

  • Is the team size still relevant now the project is underway?
  • Has the market changed, and if it has, how does that affect this project?
  • Have budget considerations changed in the company overall, and how do they affect this project’s goals?

Good project managers recognize the need to continue to analyze and examine goals, adjusting them so they remain relevant.

Give your goals an alarm clock

Always remember that all goals are time-bound. Project goals still abide by the rules of time and space. A project that should have taken six months could turn into eight, nine, even ten if you don’t have a time limit. Understanding that some goals will take longer to reach than others is reasonable, but there is still a timeline to follow.

If you follow an agile project management method like SCRUM  you may find that your project timelines are negatively affected, so you should weigh the pros and cons of your project management approach.

Establishing SMART Project Management Goals

Now that you have an idea of what SMART goals are, It is time to create your own project management goal. Keep in mind that project management goals are more focused on the long-term, and they are executed through comprehensive team involvement too. What are the different areas you should emphasize?

Project objectives

Project objectives are small steps done in order to meet the goal. These are less complicated tasks assigned to smaller groups. The objectives have more tactical immediate changes. This can feel tedious and stressful but it’s an essential first step to ensuring your objectives are aligned with your goals.

Determine if you need to consider more than one objective. You might only need to identify one objective for a project, as SMART goals should be reliable benchmarks and indicators of how close you are to hitting a bullseye on your target. Be careful not to divvy up your goal into more objectives than necessary as this may lead to overthinking, confusion, and frustration.

Hard data

Sometimes you just run the day with gut feel and instinct. A project manager must also take into account the budget and data. Getting involved in statistics and other metrics widens your options and establishes solid evidence of what needs to be changed or improved.

Is the step you’re going to take viable? Will the product, service, or personnel development affect the organization’s financial performance? Let your data do the goal-setting.

Strategy

Be strategic but know your limits. Remember, be SMART! Thinking macro will move you from a daily to-do list to focus on other underdeveloped areas for your product or service. Nowadays, teams are starting to embrace the digital world through virtual-based ways of working.

How will you stay ahead in the field? What are your plans for your organization to be technology-enabled? Software and cloud solutions have become more reliable and more present in project progress. If properly implemented, strategic goals help in the redistribution of valuable resources.

Career development

An engaged team will deliver their best and help your project achieve its goals. One of the best ways to keep your team motivated is to work with them on their individual career goals. Identify their short-term professional goals and long-term career opportunities. What direction is their role going in?  Your own career goals will also motivate you as project manager to dig deep and find what your real aspirations are. Connect where you are right now with what you want to be in the future.

Examples of SMART Goals in Project Management

Development Goals

Development goals follow the basic project management phases of Initiation, Planning and Design, Construction and Execution, Monitoring and Control, Completion and Review. Developmental goals allow you to step back and focus on the big picture. The challenge is to set the bar high and keep it there.

An example of a SMART developmental goal statement related to the planning and design phase would be:

“By June 10, the team will have planned the implementation protocol, completed one pilot trial to field test the protocol they have designed, and be ready to present feedback on any adjustments needed to the protocol to make it successful within the project budget.”

Performance Goals

Performance is often measured through evaluation at the end of the project. Good communication skills during the project will be a great asset in your post-project review. Update and talk regularly with stakeholders, give milestone feedback to your team members. Review your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Assist them to develop not only their technical skills but also their soft skills. This way, you are also developing great leaders. Remember that you’re not the only one with career goals.

An example of a SMART performance goal includes:

“By the end of the year, Chris will have completed in-house training in financial reporting, been supervised on financial reporting for two projects, and be confident in completing the financial reports for the projects he handles.

Yearly Goals

The rise of the challenge in upskilling and reskilling calls for responsive restructure and reorganization.  It’s part of the project manager role to deliver and complete projects by being adaptable.

Yearly goals for project managers include keeping pace with the developing digital world. This develops reputational strength and reliability. Positive word of mouth improves your clients’ and your team’s trust.

Awareness of the latest industry impacts aids in the future direction of your organization. It can shed light on the higher-level financial, business, and profitability effects these sways may bring.

The SMART way to say your project yearly goals could be:

“I will keep on top of the industry trends throughout the year so that my team can maximize opportunities as they arise. I will do this by setting aside half a day each month to keep up-to-date with developments in the industry, in technology, and in training opportunities. I will distill three points from my research into an email to my team each time.”

Project Managers, Are You Ready?

Setting a SMART goal or objective correctly does not require a genius IQ or a Master’s degree. It does take patience and a general understanding of the team, the stakeholders, and the project. When crafting your SMART goals you’ll need to put in some thought and effort. But following through on these project manager goal examples will make it easier for you to lead your project to successful completion.

How to Build a Risk Management Plan in Project Management [Examples]

Maybe you like surprises. But while surprise parties and gifts make you smile, surprises at work make you cringe. When you’re a project manager or agency owner, you need a risk management plan and a risk management process for avoiding those not-so-pleasant surprises at work.

When you’ve got too much risk

Guess what? There’s no such thing as an accident when it comes to risk management — at least, not a happy one. There are only preventable events you didn’t see coming.

But you should perform a risk analysis for the unforeseen anyway and get cracking on your risk response planning.

“But I have no idea where to start with a risk management process! What does this sh&t even mean?!”

Good news! The gods of the Google algorithm have smiled upon thee. You’ve come to the right place, project manager amigo.

We’re gonna bust open the myths, the how-tos, and the what for’s on all things risk management and help you shore up your project management process , kick as$, and take names.

Where to start with a project risk management plan

The project risks management process starts by identifying as many potential risks as possible, and creating risk analysis plans to avoid, mitigate, or offset those project risks. Use the risk management template below to keep your project stakeholders happy as larks and stress-free.

An overview of where a project risk can happen

Some of these project snafus might be task-based. A project risk might be related to the nature of the work being done, or even where an uncertain event happen in the project management process.

But whatever the project risks you’re facing, you can build a project risks management plan to limit your downtime and lower your potential losses. Here’s how to encourage and empower your team members and project managers with their risk response through an airtight project risk management plan.

How does risk management fit into project management?

Identifying potential problem areas that might affect the outcome of your project is the first step in creating risk management plans, but it’s not the only one.

There are several steps in the risk management process, including:

  • Identifying the a potential project risk
  • Quantifying the effect if that risk should occur (this could be delays, lost revenues or other effects)
  • Determining how likely each risk event is to happen
  • Developing risk mitigation strategies
  • Communicating risk management strategies with project team members
  • Ensuring that risk management plans and procedures are followed
  • Updating the risk assessment whenever new information is available

Often, organizations use a risk assessment matrix to calculate which risks are the most likely to occur and have the highest impact, and then they assign resources and develop strategies accordingly. But let’s look at each of these elements in a little more detail. Of course, low priority risks and those with a low risk score receive less attention than those with a higher risk score. 

Your project management risk plan: Get the deets

The role of risk management in the project planning process is to analyze risks, focus everyone’s attention on what might go wrong, and create accurate risk checklists. This will ensure you have the most effective tools and processes ready if they do happen. 

Our top risk management strategies and plans

1. Identify risks

The first step in creating an effective risk management plan and risk checklist in project management is to understand what the risks are. Every task you undertake will have some potential risks associated with it. And as such, your risk management plan needs to reflect your identified risks.

Action steps for identifying potential risks in your risk management plan

Your first step in creating a risk management plan is to talk to the project team members who will be involved in delivering each task. Ask them what might go wrong.

Sometimes, this might be something as simple as not getting enough information or supplies on time, which would delay delivery. Or there may be technical, budgetary, human resource problems, or any other kinds of issues that can delay your ability to complete each task. 

Team members who are directly involved are best equipped to do this. List all of them as part of your first steps for creating a quantitative risk analysis.

2. Quantify your risk management

The next step in the risk management plan journey is to determine how big a risk is. Some issues are going to be more of a headache than others. Determining the impact of a given risk will help you create an accurate quantitative risk analysis.

It’s imperative that you understand the potential impact and how likely the problem is to occur. During the quantifying process, focus on what the impact of the risk would be, if it were to happen. 

Some questions to ask yourself when creating your super-duper risk management plan:

  • Would it delay progress?
  • If so, would it affect other tasks and teams?
  • Would there be financial losses?
  • Would you need to spend more money to fix the problem?

Make notes of the possible impact of each risk on your risk management plan list — both the qualitative and quantitative impact.

3. Likelihood and risk assessment

Even if a risk could have catastrophic consequences if it were to happen, if it is very unlikely to happen, it might be less important than some risks that might look less significant at first glance.

Many project managers use numbers to rank the likelihood of risks occurring in their risk management plan.

If there is no chance of it happening, assign a zero. Low risk would be 1, moderate risk 2, higher risk 3, high risk 4 and very likely 5. In risk management, this is called a risk score.

You’ll want to spend more time developing risk mitigation strategies for risks that are moderate to very likely to happen and ruin your day.

4. Mitigate and identify risks

Risk mitigation strategies are all about how you will either prevent something from happening, or if it does happen, limit the qualitative and quantitative impact on the project.

This might mean that you assign more resources at the start of the project or use specific tools or processes that are less likely to create the conditions for the risk to occur. Spend time thinking about everything that could go wrong, and how you could lower the risk or effect. 

5. Communication and implementation of risk response

These two steps coexist on most projects. You need to ensure that every team member knows how to react when any assessed risk happens, and you also need to make sure that they follow the procedure.

Knowledge and action are the two key pillars of effective risk management! So empower your project manager and their team to make good decisions in planning their risk response.

6. Update and review your risk management plan

Very few (if any) projects are the same on the day they are completed as the day they were started. Scopes change, things are added, and some milestones removed.

So, it makes sense that your risk assessment should change and evolve too.

Whenever there’s a major change to the work that needs to be done to deliver a successful project, you should update, add and amend your risk assessment plan. 

Here are your action steps for effective project risk management

There are no (happy) accidents. And a good risk management plan will ensure that when and if things go pear-shaped on your project, you know exactly how to react. No nail biting required.

  • Know your risks. You can’t prevent a disaster if you don’t know it’s even a thing.
  • Quantify your risks. What’s the biggest log of you-know-what that can hit the fan? The smallest? Grade and number your risks so you know what’s the most important to avoid.
  • Develop and communicate a risk response plan. Make sure your team members and project stake holders are involved, are on the case, and know what’s up.
  • Be on top of things when it comes to the often inevitable project changes. Make it a priority to reassess your identified risks and make any necessary changes to your risk management planning. 

Quick tip: risk identification isn’t a quick one-and-done type of thing.

You’ve got to tailor risk identification to each project. Plus, it’s a given that your project will change in some fashion at some point.

So, pivoting your risk identification is vital to manage risk and keep your project running smoothly.

Ready to level up this biotch? Schedule a FREE session with us to get the ball rolling on your project risk plan.

9 Best Project Management Methodologies to Help Run Your Business

More and more of today’s businesses are organized to run on systems that are project-based. But what is project management? How do project management methodologies help keep your project on track? As a first-time project manager, what will serve as your guide and help minimize difficulties?

projects

The most common difficulties are caused by disorganization, low productivity, and the lack of a project management methodology. Optimizing the project management process for success starts with the selection of a methodology.

If you are new to the world of project management methodologies, you will be surprised to learn just how many different options there currently are. This article will give you an idea of how to run your business through project management, and give you the low-down on nine of the best project management methodologies for your enterprise.

What is Project Management?

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), “Project management is the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to deliver something of value to people”.

Project management is the process of working towards project objectives and goals. Projects differ in nature but they all have a deliverable — a product or a service, a beginning, and an end. The efficient use of a group of people and resources within a given timeframe constitutes the management of a project from start to finish.

team work: people holding each others hands

What Are the Benefits of Using Project Management?

Hone Existing Skills

One advantage of project management is that staff can do tasks efficiently. This means each project team member is visibly working to their skill set. Both micro and complex projects elicit gains for a project team member because they are using existing skills and building on them. This makes teamwork positive and affirming.

Minimize Risks

Mitigating risks is crucial because the project schedule and budget are on the line. Having a project management methodology will help you reduce risks you encounter in the duration of the project, as well as providing guidance in preparing for contingencies and other events that might occur during the project planning and execution.

Time-Cost Efficiency

Alongside the need to minimize risks is the need for time and cost management. Project management methodology allows project managers to optimize physical, financial, and human resources. Project management helps to maintain schedules and deadlines.

scale

Tools To Get Project Managers Started

There are several types of tools you can use in managing a project. These project management tools will help the entire project team in organizing tasks, budgeting resources, and maintaining timelines. These tools also help projects become transparent to team members and accessible for project managers. Here are some of them:

Project Management Tools

Project management tools keep you on track with what’s happening at the back-end, whether these are updates on where you are in a task, a progress checker, or simple reports (daily, weekly, monthly, or even annually). They help you gather data on your project position and will help you leverage future assignments.

Another type of project management tool is the integration with your e-mail, CRM, or database. Using them effectively means you can streamline important updates regarding the project status so nothing gets missed.

Database Tools

Database tools are the tools you use to compile and centralize files and other documents. A master list, an Excel sheet, or software consolidates data systematically. Relevant data includes invoices, vendor and employee contracts, suppliers lists, project meeting agenda and minutes of staff meetings, and even recorded video conferences and images.

Process Tools

The process tools are templates on how to work on a specific task or a section of a project so you don’t have to repeatedly discuss these with team members. Process tools include the standard operating procedures, 101, project rules, timeline, objectives, and even onboarding documents for new suppliers and team members. These process tools are usually on a need-to-know basis and are covered by non-disclosure agreements for the non-administrative members.

Communication Tools

Communication tools are methods that help team members convey their reports, relay their concerns and relate to other team members and project leaders. These tools may be in the form of chat, e-mail, virtual calls that enable teleconferences and staff meetings. Project leaders, external agents, sub-teams, and senior project managers may also form their own sub-groups to communicate efficiently.

slack

Time Tracking Tools

Time tracking tools allow team heads to maintain project calendars and keep up with the timetable. Schedules can be modified and adjusted, along with reported working hours for team members. Time tracking tools also help define task dependencies or the logical relationship of one task to another that needs to be completed before moving forward. It is helpful if the time tracking tools connect with the project management and database tools mentioned above to make it easier to work across applications and project requirements.

Project Management Process For Business

The process is the steps that will take you from initiation to completion of a project. This entire development process may be well-defined but there is a tendency for overlap. Also, you may be in a later phase of the project but find it necessary to go back to the first step of the process in order to give the project a clearer direction. According to Harvard Business Review, there are four stages: planning, build-up, implementation, and close-out.

Planning

Planning is the key phase in the process because the project manager has to identify exactly what the specifications of the project will be.

There may not be a problem that needs to be solved in the first place; or the project can be done in a very simple way, without needing an elaborate project management approach.

sticky notes on a board

This is also where project leaders create a work breakdown structure (WBS) to determine the extent and range of each milestone or task. The WBS will include:

  • Project objectives – what are the goals of doing this project? what is the desired result?
  • Stakeholders – who are the external and internal pinpoint persons or contributors during the length of the project?
  • Resources – where will the people, physical, and financial resources come from?
  • Scope and limitations – what are the estimated requirements of the project and what are their boundaries?
  • Critical tasks – which tasks are dependent on each other and which are complex in a form that can be delegated into smaller tasks?
  • Timetable – what is the duration of the project and when is the start and end of its lifespan?

To be able to pinpoint the essentials, you need a complete checklist that provides a comprehensive guide to scalable effective project management.

These are only some of the factors that give rise to the path that the project will take in order to move forward. They may be simple, but without knowing these fundamentals the project may not be feasible at all. The planning stage also gives a bigger picture of the project you are contemplating.

calendar

Build-Up

Build-up is the part of the process where you keep your project going. This means you have to identify areas of responsibility, and the methodology involved to keep the project moving. You will need to decide how you will measure the success of the project, how to run the necessary tests and trials, how to conduct the analysis of the data you gather, and so on. These are the key questions necessary to push the project forward and to make sure what you have planned is deliverable. Once you have answers to these questions and all the people and resources are in place, then you can move on to the next phase which is project implementation.

According to Harvard Business Review, the best way to determine your costs is to break down the project into categories: personnel, travel, training, supplies, space, research, capital expenditure, and overheads. Remember to place a maker-checker system to keep the finances in check throughout the project.

Project leaders sometimes use a Gantt Chart, a plotted representation of tasks and activities displayed versus time. A Gantt chart allows the team or team leaders to view the project duration, how long each task or event will last, what overlaps there are, and even include the cost and resources needed for each task. This serves as a visual rendition of the whole project from start to finish.

gantt chart on a laptop

It is also important to hold a kick-off or launch meeting. This is done in order to set the team in place. It’s where clarification on tasks and timeline are explained. The meeting also highlights project members’ roles and responsibilities, as well as the project goals and objectives, so as to ensure everyone’s ideas are aligned.

Implementation

Implementation of the project is also known as project execution. In this phase, the planned deliverables are produced, and the action begins. It is the most frustrating and most rewarding part of the project process because of the immense work the team has to put in to get the project off the ground and underway.

The key during project implementation is monitoring. Not everything will go as smoothly as planned and not everything that happens will have been foreseen. Changes will need to be made: to reallocate resources, identify and find solutions to emerging risks, and implement new directions.

Project leaders must be able to read red flags early so preventive measures can be taken. This is where careful maintenance and control come in. It is not enough just to be on the lookout — efficient project management also means initiating corrective action if necessary.

a group of co-workers sitting around a table with laptops

It is also imperative that monitoring and control are applied throughout the project’s progress and performance. This means that the project movement is ensured and there is advancement along with development in the execution of each task involved in the process.

Quality control is also observed in this part of the project. It is defined by the Association for Project Management as the inspection, measurement, and testing of project output to make sure it meets the accepted criteria. This is the verification that deliverables are produced at their highest quality and fastest time possible and that any problems are prevented from passing to the end consumer.

Solutions for Common Problems in Project Implementation

  • Time slippage

The project manager can confirm project progress by checking on task dependencies and time-constraint activities. These are crucial tasks that need to be considered when creating a realistic timeframe. Look back at the Gantt Chart and make sure all tasks are plotted properly and scheduled deadlines are established. Make sure the time tracker tools used are appropriate with the nature of the project.

  • Scope creep

Scope creep happens when there are diversions made during the project execution that are not part of the planning phase. Issues arising in the middle of project implementation are normal, but there is proper control over the project changes. Appropriate documentation of changes like contract amendments and signed requests is needed. It is also important that all changes made secure approval from the proper authority whether from the immediate team heads, project leaders, other external or internal stakeholders, or from the senior management.

  • Quality issues

These include quality planning during replanning. A good quality standard will give focus to the next project output and make the required improvements on the current deliverable. It’s also vital that the project manager reviews the test plan to assure sample size, criterion, protocols, and procedures are correct and observed. Quality control comes hand in hand with quality assurance to provide confidence in the result produced at the end of the project.

  • People problems

Periodic meetings can also be called in order to stay focused on the project path. Agendas should be structured, prioritizing small targets or goals for the week or for the month complemented with progress reports. You can also meet with stakeholders regularly to keep tabs on updates.

Close-Out

All projects have a lifespan and all projects eventually come to their end. Project close-out happens during the presentation of the final deliverable to the client or stakeholder.

As a project manager, your job is to tie all ends together and conclude project activities. Wrap things up with project evaluation to analyze if the project has really come to a close. Compare the current project progress position with the goals identified at the beginning of the project. Post-evaluation for the team is also important as part of their debriefing and to assess the learning and discoveries made.

sticky notes

It is also vital to note whether the project comes to a close by termination or by transfer to a different team or organization, to allow the time needed for transition and proper turnover. Make sure all contracts have ended and have been documented correctly.

Project Management Methodology

Project management methodology means having a clear way for a team to manage the development and execution of the processes through the project management life-cycle. The right project management methodology will minimize risks and reduce, if not completely avoid, failures.

books stacked on a table

A variety of different project management methodologies are described here. Traditional project management methodologies tend to be linear in the sequencing of the phases of project development. They are also known as heavyweight project management. An Agile project management methodology is more flexible or iterative—something that is developed or adapted along the way.

Popular Project Management Methodologies

Waterfall or traditional approach

The Waterfall project management methodology is used for short and relatively uncomplicated projects. Lists of tasks are performed sequentially. No changes are implemented once the project has started, and thus it is important that the planning stage is very detailed.

measuring table

There is a final stage at the end of the project which is Maintenance. This covers the continuous use of the product by the customer in order to discover features for improvement until such time that the client is satisfied with the final result.

One of the software products for this traditional project management approach is Microsoft Project because it supports linear processes, single timelines, fixed deliverables, and a continuous workflow which are the main points of the Waterfall methodology. However, it is quite an expensive option.

Kanban

Kanban is derived from the Japanese translation of ‘visual signal’ where the fundamental principle is that you must know where you are before you get to where you want to go.

kanban sticky notes

The Kanban project management methodology uses an assembly-line concept to keep tasks moving along. The main goal of this methodology is to improve efficiency and flexibility. A Kanban board is used to map out the tasks involved in completing a project. Kanban cards represent each task. They are placed on a Kanban Board which has columns To-Do, Doing, and Done. Each card may also contain a specific policy, rules, due date, and even notes on resources involved for that task. This helps team leaders to navigate through the project as they see the position of the tasks. This aids the clear progress of the project.

Most business owners enjoy using the Kanban methodology because it provides a continuous flow of work. The automobile industry and product development firms have used Kanban successfully for years. Today’s common project management methodology tools like Trello and Asana incorporate digital versions of the Kanban Board.

Critical Path Method (CPM)

Critical Path Method (CPM) or Critical Path Analysis (CPA) is a type of project management methodology where the critical activities are prioritized. This means that the other tasks can be delayed and resources are reallocated in order to focus on the prioritized tasks.

The critical tasks are differentiated from the non-critical tasks by means of a CPM algorithm, and this gives the project a clearer picture of the earliest possible time of completion with the least amount of float. The float or slack is the calculated time delay a project can sustain for a task and still complete on time.

critical path method

To know more about CPM, team leaders must define the project’s Critical Path — the direction the project will use in order to realistically meet the deadline. This entails taking a detailed look at all the tasks, knowing how long it will take for each task to complete, and recognizing the task dependencies for the entire project.

Calculating the Critical Path

  1. Enumerate ALL tasks and activities involved in the project
  2. Identify the task dependencies
  3. Create a Critical Path Analysis Chart, also known as the network diagram, or the order of tasks in the project
  4. Identify the time needed for each task
  5. Calculate the earliest time to start and the latest time to start for each task
  6. Identify the float, or lee-way, between the earliest and latest possible start times for each task
  7. The activities with zero (0) float make up the critical path

With today’s technological advancement, the Critical Path Method can now be integrated online with the use of LucidChart and other critical path generators. This enables project leaders to have more time to focus on the critical activities rather than calculating each task manually. However, because of the complex nature of projects being implemented today, the network diagram will evolve during the project execution. With these changes, the critical path may not be accurate anymore, resulting in constant revisions through the implementation stage. The more you account for these changes before the execution of the project, the more accurate your critical path will be.

Lean

The Lean project management methodology focusing on providing products that give customer value while minimizing waste. This method also gives emphasis to 3 kinds of waste – Muda (waste of time and effort), Mura (inconsistent processes), and Muri (abuse of equipment and people).

Compared to traditional project management methodologies, the Lean methodology is customer-centric and aims to deliver the project at the earliest possible time using minimal resources. The project cycle revolves around improving the deliverable until the customer is satisfied. It aims to give value to cycle time – the time it would take for a finished product to be delivered to the customer – through a Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle, so that the next deliverables are given to the client more efficiently. Streamlined workflows are used to detect and remove wasteful practices.

The Lean project management method is a great fit for smaller teams who want to deliver significant value without increasing budgets.

co-workers sitting around a table with laptops

Lean project management methods are incorporated in most of today’s software. But traditional approaches are still being used, such as:

  • 5 Whys: It is the process of asking Why from the root problem until the 5th Why which is where the team leaders derive their solutions.
  • Flowchart: Flowcharts help identify the predecessor and successor tasks while identifying the bottlenecks and how to address them
  • Fishbone diagram: This is used to know the cause-and-effect relationship of a project issue through a visual presentation which guides in generating solutions faster.

Lean metrics are used to measure where teams need to be improving. The drawback of this method is that by focusing on small detail, a larger perspective may be lost.

Agile

Agile project management methodologies are centered on a systematized set of repetitive processes in order to achieve successful results.

Business owners who are looking for a project management methodology that improves the speed and quality of deliverables usually choose Agile. This project management methodology uses short project cycles known as sprints. These sprints help teams continually improve services and products throughout the progression of a project. Higher quality deliverables are possible with Agile methodology due to the flexibility of sprints.

productivity

What is SCRUM in Agile methodology?

SCRUM is a framework within the Agile project management methodology that aims to help solve complex problems within the project. First, an assigned ‘Scrum Master’ or Scrum team leader translates the complex problem into a product backlog which is then broken down into several sprints. The Scrum team then looks at how to develop the work in the sprint, reviews and inspects it, closes it in a Sprint Retrospective, and moves on to the next sprint.

Agile vs Lean methodologies

Both agile and lean project management methodologies focus on giving an end-product or service that is of the most significant value. They both aim to do so by constantly observing the process and making changes along the way to perfect what the customer wants, while focusing on the team rather than other tangible resources used in the project duration.

The Lean method was founded in the manufacturing industry where the production of high-quality deliverables is critical. Agile methodology on the other hand originated in the software development industry where the final product is expected to be tested again and again in order to create the final product.

Another difference is that the Lean method focuses more on the production process while the Agile method relies on variation and rework – the development process. Agile’s focus on the development process is considered expensive and wasteful with the Lean project management method.

Alternative Project Management Methodologies

PRINCE 2

Projects in Controlled Environments or PRINCE was developed by an IT-based UK government support company. At first, it was only used as a step-by-step guide in creating IT projects. This evolved into a 2nd edition and was used as a project management methodology in numerous UK organizations and later across the globe.

2 people sitting on a table with laptops

It became the go-to project method by businesses mainly because of its organization-based structure. PRINCE 2 divides a large complex project into several parts that are more manageable and therefore more suitable to the corporate environment. It features the following steps:

  1. Identify the problem by making a project brief
  2. Identify the different questions involving the problem: the whats, whens, and hows by making a project scope
  3. Monitor project initiation, implementation, and close-out by the project board. The project board is composed of representatives from both the customer side and the supplier or specialist side.
  4. Control of stages by the project management body reporting progress to the project board, before moving on to the planning of the next stage by the project board who review and approve the current stage deliverable.
  5. Close the project by project manager transition and project evaluation and recommendations.

Monday.com has several PRINCE 2 themes available depending on the requirements, size, and structure of your project and your team. It is fully customizable to suit your business needs and can definitely help manage complex projects.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a project management method of improving quality and ensuring consistency of output. The process uses empirical and statistical quality management methods together with specialized personnel to eliminate errors.

Introduced in 1986 in Motorola, the process is effective by 99.99966% in defect elimination and variation reduction. It also helps identify the fundamental cause of an error and enables a business to improve products and services. Six Sigma equips a business with techniques to improve structure, quality of process, and expansion of bottom-line profit.

To develop expertise, project teams need to be trained and awarded belts after each training level, which progress from White Belts to Yellow Belts, Green Belts, Black Belts, and Master Black Belts. The White Belts and Yellow Belts are introduced to the Six Sigma vocabulary and process improvement concepts.

team of co-workers sitting around a table with laptops

Green Belts work on projects assigned by Black Belts, such as data collection and analysis. Black Belts manage projects while Master Black Belts implement methods of applying six Sigma throughout the organization.

  • Brainstorming -Six Sigma uses brainstorming as the primary mode of the problem-solving process where participants exchange and discuss ideas in an open session moderated by the Black Belts.
  • The root cause analysis – the process uses various questions to get to the bottom of the matter. Five is the approximate number of questions asked, but they can be fewer or more depending on the clarity required.
  • Customers’ opinion – the process uses internal and external means to acquire customers’ feedback on the products and services. The method notes the diversification of customers needs to help in solving the problem.
  • The 5s structure – the structure is derived from the Japanese basis of workplace habits. The system eliminates waste and improves consistency by setting aside non-efficient equipment or resources. It uses five steps: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

A critical chain is the longest path in a plan which might prevent a project from being completed in the shortest time if all the resources were available. These resources include people, equipment, finances, and location or physical space.

co-workers in the office

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) is a type of project management methodology that focuses on task resources. Unlike Critical Path Management (CPM), CCPM makes sure that all resources are available at the time of need in order to successfully complete a task or series of tasks. It focuses on providing safety buffers throughout the project duration so there is no risk of exceeding the project schedule:

  1. Project buffers – a project buffer is extra time added to the time of the last task before completion. This means that if there are delays to the critical chain, the completion date will stay the same.
  2. Feeding buffers – these are the buffers that are placed after the non-critical tasks in order to maintain the schedule of the critical chain.
  3. Resource buffers – these are the buffers to ensure there are enough resources, so that the critical chain can be maintained. The protocol of adding a 10% contingency to a budget is an example of this kind of buffer.
  4. Capacity buffers – these are optional buffers that are only accessed during times where there are issues like a shortage of resources. They work by identifying which tasks are using the limited resource, and rescheduling less important or non-critical tasks on other projects so that the critical task has priority on the resource at the time it needs it.

presentation with sticky notes

Chain management activates multiple tasks at once and allows teams to look at a project from a big picture perspective. It also aims to avoid delays and increases the team’s productivity as focus and energy are maintained throughout the project. By including worst-case scenarios for the project’s resources, contingencies are taken care of, and risks are minimized by the buffer system.

However, using CCPM imposes limitations. One of these is overestimation when it comes to the duration of tasks. Because project leaders create buffers, this increases the time allotted for each task resulting in wide gaps between project planning deadlines and CCPM schedules. It may not be suitable for projects with time constraints as this project methodology requires an increase in allocations for the project timeframe.

Green Project Management

This project management methodology integrates a green philosophy into a project. According to Green PM, this method encourages project leaders to be more conscientious when running a project. This may include considering efficient energy use, or eco-friendly packaging.

The aim is not to put the environment at the forefront of every decision made during the project, but to demonstrate that the company manages projects integrating sustainable methods.

The Green project method is more than just the ecological impact of a project, but the long-term change in perspective as team leaders incorporate sustainable planning, initiation, implementation, and close-out. It is the holistic approach to producing equitable, viable, and bearable deliverables by balancing the aspect of ethics. It is built around the idea of corporate social responsibility taking into account profit, people, and the planet.

What’s Next For My Business?

Now that you have an idea of the different project management knowledge and methodologies, what will happen next? Project management is a tough challenge, especially for business owners who take the role of project managers.

cup of coffee on a table

Find the perfect tools and upgrade them

Invest in tools that can be used and maximized at their true potential. Some software, databases, cloud-based apps are doing only one thing and it can be tricky to maintain all of them especially if they come with annual or monthly costs. Consider using just one or two tools and subscribe to their premium accounts to unlock more features that will help you organize your project more efficiently.

Centralize documents

Files are meant to be kept in a systematic manner, in such a way that you, as well as the rest of the team, are able to find them. Discrepancies in document handling will not only be a source of delays but also show you have a disorganized team. Change systems to ensure files and locations are up-to-date, and check your systems for secure and confidential data retrieval and storage.

Clean up your workflow

It is a team effort to create a standardized workflow that works. Do not hold on to things that aren’t working for you, as it will only make it harder to unclog your way to project management freedom. Use this as an opportunity for optimizing your workflow and building the necessary templates that will help alleviate your project process in the future.

Train people

Learn how to delegate and coach people into becoming team leaders. This will not be a hindrance to your role as project manager, but a way to localize administrative functions in the team.

team member leading the discussion and presentation

Worried that they may not have enough training in their field? Do a test run by including potential leaders in your external decision tree. This will not only help them to develop critical thinking skills but also help you as a project manager to have more options during the decision-making process.

Measure performance

Ensure that you take the post-project evaluation seriously. This is the basis of your project analysis: whether you have done a good job, what areas there are for improvement, what has the team learned, and what do external parties think of your performance. Always be open to suggestions and comments or reactions. Let the assessment cover both the negative and the positive so you can grow and develop along with the whole team.

two people celebrating by giving each other high fives

Need more help with your business operations? Want to find out more about project management? The best investment you can give yourself is our Clone Yourself Project Management System. Learn how to here: https://discovery.scaletime.co/cy-project-management

5 Best Project Management Methodologies to Help Run Your Business

On average, project management failure costs businesses around the world over $50 billion a year

Yes, you read that right: $50 billion.

These failures are typically caused by issues involving disorganization, low productivity, and the lack of a project management methodology. 

Want to stop throwing money down the drain? I guess you do.

Select a project management methodology. Relax, there are many different options, and you can choose the one that suits you best.

Here we share the 5 best project management methodologies so you can run your business like a champ.

1. Kanban

Do you want to improve your efficiency and flexibility? Kanban is for you.

The Kanban project management methodology uses an assembly-line mentality to keep various tasks moving along. 

A board is used to map out the various tasks involved in completing a project. Most business owners enjoy using the Kanban methodology because it provides a continuous flow of work. 

Teams that are looking for a high degree of output and improved efficiency can benefit from the use of this methodology. 

For years, automakers and product development firms have used Kanban successfully. 

2. Waterfall

¿Have you recently taken on a short and relatively uncomplicated project? Then using the Waterfall methodology is a wise move.

With the Waterfall methodology, you make a list of tasks that need to be performed in sequential order. As each of these tasks are completed, you will check them off.

There is no way to lose track. 

When using the Waterfall project management methodology, you will not be able to move ahead with a new task unless the tasks on the list before it have been completed. 

Tip: If you want this methodology to succeed, put together a comprehensive step-by-step plan. 

3. Lean

Are you trying to accomplish more without using tons of resources? If so, the Lean project management methodology might be a good fit for your business. 

The Lean methodology requires teams to break down their projects into smaller tasks that can be accomplished by one team member. Streamlined workflows are then used to detect and remove wasteful practices. 

It’s a great fit for smaller teams that want to deliver significant value without increasing budgets. 

Pairing this methodology with Clone Yourself Project Management Training is a great way to make your team more efficient. This training helps you identify the right methodology for your projects. With the project management concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications included in this training, you can achieve your goals with ease.  

4. Agile

Business owners who are looking for a project management methodology that improves the speed and quality of deliverables usually choose Agile. 

This project management methodology uses short project cycles known as sprints. These sprints help teams continually improve services and products throughout the progression of a project. 

Higher quality deliverables are possible with Agile due to the flexibility of sprints. Teams looking for speed and flexibility can benefit from the implementation of the Agile product management methodology. 

5. Critical Path

A crucial component of achieving project management freedom is choosing the best methodology. If you have taken on a large-scale project with lots of moving parts, you need to consider using the Critical Path Method as your project management methodology of choice. 

With this methodology, you need to lay out all of the activities need to complete a project. These activities need to be organized based on how long they will take to complete and the resources needed to do the work. This detailed breakdown allows you to see how various parts of your project are connected. 

Get Your Team Involved

Now that you have these project management methodologies examples, it is time to select the right fit for your business.

 Including your team members in the selection of a new methodology is also a good way to improve engagement and morale.