Get a Grip on Resources and Budgets with Time Tracking

Time tracking helps agencies improve their project management, budget, and resource allocation. But no one likes having a beady-eyed manager looking over their shoulder — even if it’s a digital one.  

Most of us have had to deal with a nitpicky micromanager at some point creating some management trauma. I know you don’t want to turn into that person and inflict that on your own team’s morale. But you need a way to keep track of your resources and budgets. 

Enter time tracking. 

UGH, I know. 

But I promise – this is a good thing. 

It’s a great tool, but only when implemented the right way, which we’ll get into here in a second. 

First though, a few important points. 

If you implement time tracking protocols and software with a hammy fist, your employees might feel the same way you did once — spied on, controlled, and micromanaged. 

But what if I told you that specific brand of paranoia isn’t justified?

That is if you can effectively communicate with your team on the importance of time tracking. And why it’s a good thing — for them. 

Let’s dive into how your business and your team benefit from time tracking. We’ll also show you the top time tracking tools to use to get a better grip on your resources and budgets.

Time Tracking, Project Management, and the Pareto Principle

You’ve probably heard of it — the Pareto Principle, one of my favorite principles, AKA the 80/20 rule. 

Applied to agencies, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. Or a specific type of work. 

Do you know who those clients and projects are?

If you do, you can refocus your agency goals to maximize the most profitable clients or projects and improve your budget management. 

“But Juliana, what’s time tracking got to do with all that?”

Every hour you track is another hour that can be billed. When running fixed-priced contracts, you can identify the 20% that brings the most profits to the yard. 

You can weed out the types of projects and clients stretching your resources without doing much for your profit margins. 

Time tracking is a tool that can help scale your agency since you won’t be wasting time frying the small fish. 

Client management got you down? Your client onboarding probably needs some adjustments. It’s not too hard to do with our free client onboarding toolkit

CTA Button: Get the Free Toolkit

How does time tracking help your team members?

Scope creep can bury itself into your budgets, timelines, and also stress your employees. But in a lot of cases, workloads increase in such small increments, you might not notice. 

That is until you’re up at 3 AM stressing out about a project and not knowing how the heck it got so out of control. 

Implementing time tracking can help you identify when a workload is starting to get too big for its britches. 

But when employees hear “time tracking,” they often feel like Big Brother’s about to start spying on them. 

Tips for getting employee buy-in 

PMs, clearly communicate the point of time tracking to your team: 

  • We’re protecting our bandwidth so you don’t burnout 
  • We’re using time tracking to see what’s getting accomplished and when
  • Time tracking will reduce micromanaging because it increases transparency

On that last point, time tracking gives PMs the ability to supervise more efficiently. 

They won’t have the chance to nitpick or directly observe every single detail of the employee’s work process. With time tracking, project managers get a clearer picture of someone’s performance at a cursory glance.

Time tracking can also increase accountability across teams. 

If you’ve noticed a pattern of deliverables repeatedly missing deadlines, or certain team members taking on a huge workload, you might have an accountability issue somewhere. 

With time tracking, you can see where someone or a certain department might be slacking. Let your team know that time tracking can help with this issue and lighten their loads. 

When implementing time tracking, be clear about how you’ll do it, the data you’ll see, and how you’ll use it. 

Being upfront will go a long way toward building trust and getting buy-in from your team. So, manage expectations well in advance of implementation. 

Top Time Tracking Tools for Agencies

Make your life easier. When choosing a time tracking tool, get one with the following features:

  • Budget tracking
  • Freelancer tracking
  • Invoicing 
  • Project management integration

What about the price? If you capture just two hours a month, most time tracking software will pay for itself. We like these two:

Harvest

Harvest is $10 per month for each user and is one of the most popular time tracking tools on the market. It’s got all the important stuff you need:

  • Budget tracking
  • Built-in invoicing features
  • Ability to assign roles so that freelancers and part-timers can time track
  • Offers integrations with Asana, GitHub, and Jira

Toggl

Toggl paid plans are a little more expensive than Harvest — ranging from $10 to $59 a user per month. But it’s got a lower barrier to entry and is easier to set up. 

No need to set up tags, tasks, or projects. Just hit a timer, and you’re off to the races. 

  • Budget tracking
  • Invoicing abilities 
  • Freelancers can track their time
  • Integrations work through Chrome Extension
  • Great for small teams as it offers a free plan for up to five users

Your Next Steps for Time Tracking

Communicating with your team is the most important step in the process. Remember that.  

  • Figure out how you’re going to time track 
  • Be transparent about how you’ll use the data
  • Openly discuss your plans and goals
  • Let your team know how time tracking is going to benefit them 

Anytime you add something new to your team member’s workflow, building trust is key to getting buy-in. 


Have you wanted to use time tracking software to help scale your agency? What’s causing you to hold back? Let us know in the comments.

KPIs for Growth: Measuring Project Management

“I love flying blind! Oh look, we’re about to fly headfirst into a mountain.” And it’s a mountain of misplaced expectations, lost brains, and absolute disorder. 

We all like and need certainty in our lives. And when it comes to scaling an agency, knowing where we’re winning and where we need a little bit of help is vital to agency growth. 

Hardly anything happens in a vacuum and effective project management is another one of those things. You need to make sure you’ve got the right tools and processes in place for scaling and growing. 

Because bottom line? You can’t scale chaos. 

So, how do you define KPIs for project management? It’s ScaleTime to the rescue to right your flight and steer you clear of the Mountain of Chaos. 

Check out our top growth KPIs for measuring project management tools to see just how well (or not) your current project management processes are working. 

Hold up — what makes a good KPI anyway? 

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator

Every internut (typo and it stays) guru and their uncle will throw a million KPIs you must measure or else!!! at you. But I want you to focus on KPIs that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Anything less, and you’re going to get overwhelmed. So let’s focus on the following to keep us on track. 

Growth KPI #1: Project Run Rate 

Gotta keep an eye on that budget. Success isn’t just about right deliverables, although that’s vital too. You also need to keep an eye on expense efficiency. 

Unforeseen issues can and often do occur during the course of a project. Project Run Rate can help you see how, why, and where budget shifts need to happen. 

Projects that keep running over budget are going to raise an eyebrow when it comes to your agency’s integrity. So, track the Cost Performance Index, or CPI KPI (catchy, right?) to measure how well you’re doing. 

Project Run Rate = Earned Value/Actual Costs

Earned Value is how much work’s gotten done at a specified cost. Actual Costs are pretty straightforward — they’re the money that’s already been spent on the project. 

If CPI is high (over 1), then you’ll finish the project under budget. Too low (below 1), and you’re about to go over. This KPI is vital to understanding your project’s health – whether it’s a one time project or retained services.

So, you’re 2 months into a 6 month project budgeted at 5k, month, you look at your data and you’ve spent 14k through two months. Houston, we have a problem. Time to look at managing your team’s time to get back on track.

Growth KPI #2: On Time Deliverables

Delivering on time is just as critical as staying on budget. Schedule Performance Index (SPI) helps you measure how well your team is sticking to the schedule.

SPI = Earned Value/Planned Value

Planned Value is the planned percentage of work you’re aiming to complete within budget. 

Say you’ve got a 10K budget and 40% of the project left to do. Planned Value is 4K. 

Use SPI to compare your actual costs and time and tweak the budget if you must. 

We often underestimate our timelines and how long a particular task is going to take. You usually can’t identify a creeping scope down to the last detail. 

This KPI will help you see where you have some leeway with timelines without jeopardizing the budget. 

You have a client who wants copy for their next email campaign. But oh yeah, could you just add in a few A/B split tests while you’re at it, too? For copy and subject lines? You’ve got the time for that, don’t you?

Dutifully measure this KPI, and you’ll know if it’s, “OMG, hair on fire! Must get done ASAP!” Or if you can breathe a sigh of relief. SPI helps you figure out your project management priorities and if you have some breathing room in the schedule. 

Growth KPI #3: Resource Capacity

Resources are finite. 

Does your team have the time needed to hit milestones by their due date? What about changes in scope? Does your team have the bandwidth to accommodate?

You must have the right amount of resources (people and their time) to complete your projects on schedule and within budget. That way, you’ll have a happy customer, and happy employees, at the end. 

When you’re short of crucial resources, projects are painful. 

You’ve might have been here before. You didn’t adequately onboard your client (no worries we’ve all been there, done that). Now they’re asking for “little” extras that are really adding up, resulting in an out-of-control, ballooning project and stressed employees. 

You have to measure your resource capacity to prevent these kinds of problems. 

So project managers, measure your resource capacity KPIs for maximum performance and resource efficiency. 

When you set this KPI, make the target realistic. No one goes full-throttle, 100% productive throughout the whole day. We all need a coffee break (or five) at times.  

Measuring this KPI has several different benefits:

  • You can allocate resources properly
  • Determine any hiring needs
  • Set an accurate schedule for deliverables
  • Determine an accurate project completion timeline

Resource Capacity = # of Project Team Members X % of Time Team Members are Available to Work

Use Growth KPIs and Go from Good to Gold

With the measurables of project management, you’ll:

  • More quickly and easily scale your agency
  • Increase your business integrity
  • Become more efficient, lean, and mean

Use these top three project management KPIs to keep your project’s on track, within budget, and your clients happy. 
Are you having trouble measuring KPIs and optimizing for growth? Reach out to us today.

How to Achieve Project Management Freedom

What do people say about you when you’re too much into your projects?

Do they think it’s a nightmare working with you on projects?

Well, $hit.

As a founder or a project manager, you may also want to achieve enough freedom for innovation, creativity, and personal judgment by stepping aside from the projects.

But striking the right balance between involvement and flexibility so that your team enjoys working with you (and you get a breather) isn’t easy.

If you can’t wait to get rid of the problems, the setups, the processes, the never-ending communication, I hear you.

Trust me. I understand being tired of the constant need to be involved in the business and the desire to step away from it.

That waiting for the day when you’re no longer putting out fires.

I get it.

But, Juliana, how to achieve that project management freedom?

With the right:

Tools

Equip your business with project management tools that are worth your time and investment.

From project management systems to databases, time tracking software, and communication tools — you need it all to allow users to control their tasks, conversations, and projects better.

Documents

I’ve said this before, and I’m repeating it now: documents and data are the real treasure of your business.

You must centralize all the documents so that everyone can use them without creating further dependencies.

Get a hold of all your decks, videos, client folders/doc management, internal files, sketches, client/vendor contracts, misc servers, etc.

You’ll be one step closer to project management freedom.

Workflows

As for the workflows, gather everything you’ve got to figure out what needs to be created, what can go into standardization, and what into optimization.

To up your game, go by these rules:

  • Too many workflows? Play cleanup. Did you audit your workflow templates and found that you’ve got too many? See if a thing sparks joy. If not, get rid of it so that it doesn’t clog up your system.
  • Not any? Let’s go. And if you don’t have any, or if you’re missing a lot, let’s go and build them.

But know this: Building templates is a team sport — not something you can do all by yourself. Get your team involved.

Trainings

One of the reasons why it is difficult for a lot of people to delegate the project management system and train people is because a lot of it has to do with making decisions.

So, how to train alongside decisions so that you can delegate stuff well?

For external, such as client requests, have a decision tree around them to make decisions quickly.

For internal, create a change board for initiatives. Evaluate the idea, the resources that are necessary for it, the objectives, and the outcomes. Then accept or reject it.

For meetings, optimize them.

Because if you are in meetings all the time and they aren’t even useful, you’re reducing capacity. Don’t do that, my friend. Don’t do that.

 

Performance

Without metrics and people, you just got a lot of pretty stuff.

So, to ensure you achieve project management freedom, reward people based on their performances.

And create some hashtags as you do it.

Something like #beastmode, #awesome, etc.

That way, when you can look for a particular hashtag, and see who has achieved how many, you can be like, “Wow, Jenny has got 15 beast modes in the last month. Let’s incentivize her.”

You can do this to quantify performance, both on the positive and the negative side.

Ninja Your Project Management 

When it comes to project management, make sure that it all works like a lean, mean competitive machine, like a beautiful organism.

Achieve freedom by:

  1. Using the right tools
  2. Centralizing documents
  3. Auditing workflows
  4. Investing in training and making decisions alongside
  5. Measuring performance

Project Management Compass: How to Navigate the Workflow Waters

2.5%

That’s the percentage of companies successfully completing 100% of their projects.

Bummer?

So, what really stops companies from hitting the sweet spot when it comes to project management?

Maybe most of them just suck at the navigation of creating the project management process, a.k.a the project management compass.

So how to manage your workflow better and navigate the workflow waters?

By understanding the workflow cycle.

Brace yourself for some project management success.

Welcome… strategy!

There are few greater joys in the business world than a project well strategized.

Whether you’re a project manager, the founder, the coordinator, or a gladiator who has been brought in to do this — strategizing is the cornerstone of success.

Strategize well to know the who, what, where, when, and how of the projects, the clients, the engagements, the retainers, and everything you can possibly think of.

More power to the plan

Despite its ridiculously ubiquitous influence, planning isn’t given as much thought as it deserves.

Begin your workflow well with checklists, assign people to the tasks, and get the milestones ready.

Pay attention to who’s going to do what

There shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes to accountability.

Deploy the work right. 

And let people know who’s accountable for what.

Empower for high performance

Eh . . . I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news. 

But your failure to empower people to take up tasks means you’re failing at the project management process.

You must aim to empower people to take on their particular tasks and projects and string along with them.

Mark your calendar

Set aside time in the calendar to review the workflow as it’s happening and QA the deliverables.

So yeah, I know you personally may not be queuing the deliverables. But make sure that they are getting queued.

When processes are reviewed well, whether internally by the team or externally by the client, you ensure they don’t clog up production.

Keep up with the workflow

Track your workflow against your timetables, milestones, invoices, and anything that holds significance to your business.

And as you do it, you might as well have to babysit the project. 

That’s particularly true if there are dependencies in a project.

You have to make sure that people are doing what they said they’ll be doing.

Set the priorities straight

Once you feel that your workflow process is deviating the line, don’t forget to reprioritize things.

Whether it’s a client-led delay that’s making it impossible to achieve a deadline and pushing everything else off, or an internal anomaly — always make sure that your priorities are still in order.

Reweighting the projects, including scaling the new ones, is frigging crucial to your PM success.

Hey, what’s the scope again?

It would be great if a fairy workflow mother flew from the sky and set out a superb project scope for you.

But when it comes to rescoping your workflow, you’re on your own.

Remember that projects are kinda perpetually changing entities.

And you know what? 

Whatever it is that you aim to create and what you finally deliver could be drastically different.

Which is why you need to rescope projects as you work to achieve the results. S

o, you’re not left wondering —  what the heck happened?!

What TO DO Next

Frankly, I wouldn’t blame you for getting confused when it comes to navigating the crazy rollercoaster that is the project management process.

Between the umpteen tasks, the goal to create more capacity, and more profitability, things could go a bit haywire. 

So, take the follow action points and ace your project management process like a pro:

  • Strategize
  • Plan
  • Deploy
  • Empower
  • Review (Q/A)
  • Track (Babysit)
  • (Re)prioritize
  • (Re)scope

While you’re at it, check this case study of how one of my clients built a repeatable, scalable process. You can too!

How Do You Project Manage Your Project Management?

Have a project management tool that doesn’t really project manage well?

Ouch!

Almost thought you could make it work?

Well, you’re not wrong this time.

I’m going to help you do it with these simple yet effective tips that were, until now, missing from your project management game.

Here you go . . . 

Get off those spreadsheets

Before we make project management easy as a breeze for you, there’s a confession: I abhor spreadsheets.

And think you should too.In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re better off without them. For the sake of your sanity, just get off the spreadsheets.

What are you saying, Juliana? Spreadsheets are great!” Are you saying this?

Well, I love them too – for data, but you don’t need them to manage your projects.

Why? Because they’re not scalable.

For one, they don’t allow you to generate reporting on workflow.

Secondly, they don’t allow you to generate the capacity of the workflows.

Which is why, it’s much better to have a project management system outside of your spreadsheets. 

Project Management Tools You REALLY Need

Is sending constant Slack pings and texting back and forth to get the right info driving you nuts?

Don’t fret. Let’s get rid of Information Overload with the cheat sheet below.

These are all the tools you want to keep handy that’ll make communication efficient and effective:

  • Project Management Tool — For service workflows, internal projects, repeatable tasks
  • Database — To hold all your documents, clients and deliverables, and a separate server, if needed
  • Wiki — A place where people can go and search for information on how-tos, SOPs, and templates with a table of contents
  • Communication — A place to chat with the team on things that are not task specific so that you don’t bombard your inbox
  • Time Tracking — To ensure you’re on time, and it’s best if it integrates directly with your project management tool

Project Management

Want to know what how to go from eh, this is okay project management to GREAT project management?

  • Clear and easy to see status — Whether it’s list, campaign or visual style
  • Reporting — To be able to sort for backlog
  • Templates for workflows — So that you’re not reinventing the wheel every time you do a repeatable task
  • Integrations — With your email, communication tool, CRM, etc.

Wiki/Intranet: Google Sites

A Wiki or Intranet is your internal resource of all your SOPs, how-tos, etc. that you can optimize over time.

Remember how training can help you increase 25% of employee productivity? This is the tool that lets you actually do that.

It’s also great when you’re delegating or hiring and want a tool to orient.

It’s wonderful by all means.

But ensure that it has a Table of Contents, so you know what’s there and what’s missing.

Treasure Hunt for Docs and Data

What?

A treasure hunt for project management?

Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds.

It’s the hunt for the stuff that makes your business repeatable and scalable.

That’s the real treasure of your business, and you need to centralize it so that everyone can use it.

So, grab all the:

  • Workflows: Delivery workflows, checklists (in spreadsheets, documents, whiteboards, notebooks, stickies or wherever else) and repeatable tasks
  • Docs: Decks, videos, sketches, client folders/doc management, internal files, misc servers, client/vendor contracts, etc.
  • Data: Data in spreadsheets, databases, SaaS cloud servers i.e. video conferencing, form/survey responses, dungeon drives, etc.
  • Client data: Passwords/security, deliverables, file versions, folder taxonomy, etc.

DO IT NOW! 

Be Like Nike. Just Do it. Do it NOW. I know you want to. 

If you’re hungry for simple, straightforward project management, this easy guide is your go-to recipe.

Roll it out ASAP with the following action items:

  1. Go on a treasure hunt for workflows
  2. Go on a treasure hunt for docs, data, and training
  3. Create templates of existing workflows and centralize ’em all

Get Our PM Checklist for Project Management Hacks, Cracks, and How to Avoid

Hire a project manager, they said.

It’s gonna be awesome, they said.

But the projects still miss deadlines, productivity is low, and the project manager? He’s just as overwhelmed and confused as everyone else.

What’s wrong, where, and how can it be fixed?

ScaleTime to the rescue!

What is Project Management?

Project management is the whole system of the business. 

Think of it as a shiny, well-oiled, and well-run machine — everyone from the production to client management and delivery needs it.

You could be that shiny machine. Or the people who are delivering. Or there could be several shiny machines in your business.

What it really means is that you deliver high-quality end products and results.

But, hey, when you’re a shiny machine, why would you need more of them?

Investing your time in delegating work that you can do beautifully is sheer nonsense, right?

No.

Because when you create several shiny machines, invest enough time to run a few units through it, you are building a factory.

And then, my dear, you can stand back and watch things grow and be fluid.

However, there are several cracks you need to identify and work on to make these shiny machines.

What are these?

And are there any hacks to eliminate these cracks?

There sure are!

Let’s get right down to business.

Low Productivity

Business hitting the skids, even with the best of project managers in place?

Well, you need training to save your business and your grace.

Fun fact: Training increases productivity by 25%. 

What’s one of the easiest ways to create a training program?

 Make sure your project management, checklists, workflows, and everything that has to deal with your delivery mechanisms are on point.

Why?

Because when you plug someone into this wonderful mechanism, they’re going to be able to be 25% more productive than if you weren’t able to train them or didn’t have anything there.

And 25% is huge!

The Project Management Gap

When we think about business in its totality, we have different pieces. 

These could be people, processes, product and so on.But these are like renegade windup toys running into each other if left to their own devices. Without order to your project management process, chaos will ensue. And you can’t scale chaos. 

A client may say, “Oh, my God, can you just make this teensy tiny change?”

Well, that’s going to affect your project management, production, and delivery.

A client manager with new projects may say, 

Oh, so now we have three new projects, three new retainers, or three new engagements. 

But where are we going to fit them?”

That, too, is going to affect production and delivery.

A project manager (which could be the founder, gladiator, or anybody else who handles the projects) may say, “Crap, who’s doing what and when?”

If you fail to fit these moving pieces together like a puzzle, you have project management gaps. 

And these gaps are where money starts to leak.

But there is a road to freedom.

Get our Project Management Checklist. Just use the right project management tools, documents, workflows, and training, and you will fill this gap sooner than you think.

Project Management Syndrome

One of the biggest syndromes for project management (whoever is doing it) is having everything in your head.

You know that urge — “I must ask them, because what are they doing? What are they doing again?

You may find yourself connecting with everyone on whatever communication platform — slack, text, inbox.

Oh boy, is that overwhelming!

What you can do here is download your brain so other people can be held accountable without micromanaging.

And then, my friend, you will never have to default to uncertainty.

 Act Now — This Is HOW!

  • Create training protocols to increase productivity
  • Fill the project management gap with tools to get on the road to freedom
  • Download your brain to break free of the project management syndrome

That’s it. Identifying your project management cracks and knocking them out with these project management hacks is that easy.

Need some help with project management? Don’t forget to grab your copy of our Project Management Checklist to get out of the weeds. 

How to Deal with Client Demands that Mess Up Your Workflow

Your clients are the reason that your project management is flowing.

You were doing the happy dance after landing that new client. Wooot woot.

But it’s been a couple of weeks and the emails, the texts, the voicemails and questions at ungodly hours just keep pouring in. You’re starting to wonder if that additional $$$ is worth all the time they’re sucking out of you.

Juliana “I’m going batshit. How do I deal with all these ridiculous, requests that leave me frustrated and annoyed?”

BUT, have you ever thought your time isn’t being sucked dry by your engagement, but actually by your onboarding?

Onboarding Clients

>>> Click here to download the easy Onboarding Checklist if you know you have issues with crazy client requests.

Breaking out of the “request” trap: a quick story…

Armando is a client of mine who does digital marketing. He came to me because he felt like he was at capacity.

He had no weekends, no time for his partner and started to see the signs of an intsy bit of muffin top because the treadmill was collecting dust.

Every day he crossed his fingers that a client didn’t call him because he just didn’t have the time, energy or even the patience to even deal with them. His saying was, “If they are not calling it means everything is great.” They were constantly asking him to make changes and do reporting he was never getting paid for. (Sound familiar?)

So we took a look at his client engagements to assess what was affecting his ability to produce results.

And the discoveries were surprising … well, for him at least.

We realized that many of his client issues had very little to do with capacity and almost everything to do with onboarding — not setting up boundaries and expectations, or even knowing what the clients’ digital marketing starting point was in the first place.

I told Armando…

Your clients are trying to board a plane to an amazing destination, but if you want to take on a great volume of clients, you are going to have to go TSA on their ass and make sure they know the rules before boarding”.

We all hate the TSA strip search, the 100ml bottle restrictions, no shoes, no sweater, taking out your laptop — we hate it, BUT we comply anyway. There’s a process — if you travel you are made aware and get conditioned to it. There is simply no wiggle room.

The same needs to happen with your service. Then plenty of people can happily board for your destination.

So we set up his onboarding process, created an actionable workflow in his project manager, saved 20 hours a month and were then able to increase his revenue by 45% in the next three months.

The best part was that he had now his whole process documented and hired a client success manager to take care of onboarding and client service. Whhhhhaaat!?

Love to get the same results?

>>> Click here to download my Client Onboarding Checklist if you want to see what we used for Armando’s onboarding.

Bonus Tip: Establishing ground rules is going to create the biggest 80/20 impact for your onboarding. Think about:

    • When do you want them to reach you?
    • What’s the rule for scheduling — i.e. 48 hours, 24? (And is there a consequence to this?)
    • How many points of contact will there be for you? Which team members are you engaging with?
  • If you have a tangible deliverable: How many edits or iterations are you allowing in the scope of work before there is a change order?

Disclaimer: Don’t tell your clients about how they are hijacking your session or project!

Your clients are the bloodline of your business. But, more often than you want to, they get into your nerves. They demand stuff that is out of the contract, unreasonable, or simply out of this world!

Thankfully, you don’t have to lose your sanity to keep your clients. You don’t have to do all of their requests either. In the end, the client will thank you for not giving-in into their crazy requests. Just look at this design disaster which happened to a Japanese noodle company when the designer said yes to all of the client’s demands.

This was the designer’s first draft.

But apparently, the client pretends to be an expert in design so more demands are made.

Until the demands went out of control…

Presenting, the final product- this is how your project will turn out if you say yes to the client all the time even if they’re completely cracked.

You can get through these chaotic client requests with win-win solutions through effective project management. Here are some tips to keep you sane while addressing your beloved but not so likable clients.

1. Technically set yourself up

Make sure your ship is in tip-top shape before the storm hits! Do I hear an aye aye captain? You’re setting yourself up for a disaster if your company is already in chaos before more craziness comes in.

If you have all your systems in place, it’ll be easier to regain composure no matter how crazy the demand of your client will be. You have two things to set up; the system and the person.

Your system is like a conveyor belt, every step ensures that a perfect product will come out. The person you assign will serve as the account manager. Choose someone who can be calm (or pretend to be) even during surprise requests from clients. She or he has to be credible because every request will be funneled to him or her.

2. Categorize the request

You have to clarify if the request makes sense. Because, sometimes, we don’t know what kind of sorcery comes into clients’ minds that they make insane wishes. Just look at the advertisement of the cup noodle above!

Next, if you have decided that the request makes sense, ensure that it is part of your scope. This is one of the reasons why project managers lose profit. They end up doing stuff that they aren’t supposed to be doing in the first place!

If the request is not in your contract, you have to decide if you want to do it just because you want to impress your client. If not, talk to your client to modify the scope and adjust the budget accordingly.

3. Watch your timeline

Be realistic about your team’s capacity. Don’t forget that you only have twenty-four hours, and those hours are not made for work alone. You, your teammates, and your employees are not superheroes.
Be outright in telling your client if deadlines are unrealistic. Most deadlines are flexible, don’t be afraid to negotiate.

4. Speak straightforwardly

No need for sugar coating here honey. You’ve already gained your client, so stop the sweet talk. What you need is to be able to communicate honestly and effectively so that you can help your client reach their goals.

Some of the client’s request may not be helping them to reach their goals. Whatever their reason is for making outlandish wishes, it is your job to make them see the bigger picture. Insist on what you know. They hired you for your expertise because you know better. So hold your ground, they’ll thank you for it in the end.

Conclusion:

Clients are not always right. If they are, they wouldn’t need your help! Be kind but firm when a client tries to mess up with your project management workflow. Your client is not trying to make you crazy. He or she may just be misguided or overwhelmed. You both want the same thing, a successful project, so work together to make it happen. 

The next time a client makes an out of this world request, remember the following:

  1. Technically set yourself up
  2. Categorize the request
  3. Watch your timeline
  4. Speak straightforwardly

Now most of you will take action, BUT…

…for those of you who’d love some ideas that are more specific to your business, I’m super happy to hop on a quick call to chat about what you need to have a headache free client relationship. I take the first three inquiries every week, so click here to schedule yours now!

You Can’t Project Manage Chaos

So, your business is ready to scale.

You have all your superheroes with you and you’re ready to win the battle. But you look around and all you see is chaos! Maybe you need one more hero, a process ninja disguised as a project management consultant.

Project management skill is often overlooked in startups. You wonder why things are falling through the cracks when you have squeezed all your creative juices into your company. Stop bathing in secret sauces, please, you already had enough. You just need to hack the system and stop chaos from ruining your business.

In this webinar, ScaleTime founder, Juliana Marulanda talks (and laughs) about project management. She shares the dramas she and her clients experienced with project management and how to deal with them.

Here are the key takeaways from the webinar:

Juliana compares project management to a conveyor belt. Along the line, different persons add up to a product until it comes out of the conveyor belt perfectly. Without someone supervising the process, things may get stocked or the product may come out with defects.

One of the signs of a glitchy project management is missed deadlines. These missed deadlines have detrimental side effects such as: 

  • Loss of profitability
  • Unhappy clients
  • Project delays
  • Account manager overwhelm
  • Poorly behaved clients
  • Complacent employees

If you meet your deadlines, there is a better client and employee retention. Of course, it also means more profit.

How to stop things falling through the cracks:

  1.       Have due dates

I know, they might seem so painfully simple, but due dates work! Your timeline will keep your progress smooth even if other stuff comes in. It’s hard to prioritize if you don’t have due dates.

  1.       Milestones for check-ins

Check in between before the whole project is complete. This way, corrections can be made before it’s too late.

  1.       New tasks quick check-in

If there are new tasks, check-in right away so you can course correct early.

  1.       Backlog management

Make sure all of your data are still relevant. Overflowing backlog results to a messy system. One client of Juliana still had data from the Renaissance area! Not really, but still, it was ages ago.

  1.       Status updates

Status updates ensure that everyone is working on their parts at the correct timeline.

How Super Scaletimers Handle PM:

  1.       Create repeatable workflows

A workflow is a checklist of tasks. You can create templates for this workflow to save time.

Workflows can either be project specific or recurring. Automate recurring workflows to maximize efficiency.

  1.       Assign People and Milestones

Create task ownership to ensure accountability. You should know what people are working on and how they’re performing. Accountability also prevents anyone from burning out.

  1.       Review

Without consistent reviews, things get stocked or products come out imperfect. Juliana gives away hacks to handle reviews even if you hate them. Because love them or hate them, they’re crucial for project management.

  1.       Re-prioritize

Your reviews allow you to re-prioritize. New clients and new business goals also mean that you have to alter your priorities.

Who is a super project manager?

Even if the conveyor belt is going smooth, if the supervisor isn’t doing his or her job, the product will still come out with flaws. You need a super project manager, the hero of heroes.

A super project manager is a taskmaster. In the webinar, Juliana mentions the qualities of a great taskmaster. If you think creativity is the number one quality, I hate to break it to you but it’s not.

As a project manager, one of your most important tools is your knowledge base. Your knowledge base will be the foundation for your instructions. You need to give “dummy-proof instructions” to make sure that a chicken will come out of the conveyor belt if you want chicken and not an egg, or a duck.

Clarity in giving instructions is another winner skill of a project manager. Every word you say must be understood and executed by your team. One unclear instruction can alter every part of the project.

Your ability to track the system is another quality you should practice. There are different online tools you can use to track progress depending on the size of your team. In the webinar, Juliana suggests different apps that are fit with the size and goals of your team.

The tools you use should be parallel to your profitability. You don’t need to spend on tools right away. Yes, some of the project management hacks don’t cost a single centavo!

Project Management Hacks

  1.       Condition responses and answer questions only in your tool.
  2.       Find your workarounds app extensions.
  3.       Client requests
  4.       Make your business a client with different divisions

The Q&A portion of the webinar is also gold. Someone says that he is having a difficulty letting go of a wonderful app but it’s only working for solopreneur, it’s not ideal for a team. Juliana answered, “You should never marry your systems”. It’s okay to be unfaithful when it comes to applications!

Conclusion:

This article is just the tip of the iceberg, dig deeper by watching the webinar here. Juggling hundreds of tasks indicates good news. It means your business is growing, but it doesn’t have to be chaotic. Work with a project management consultant at ScaleTime to decide on the right project management model for your specific business needs

 

Spankin’ New Workflows – Because you can’t track a document

“I don´t wanna!” I would rather eat my vegetables than create a workflow.

 I would like to say workflows allow you to be more efficient, optimized and automated.

What is a workflow? Webster states (so you know it’s true):

But, the actual beauty of creating a workflow from what I have witnessed is that going through thousands  of these is not that it is a structured process … it’s a creative process, it is where the ideas and brainstorming for customer service, upgrading your quality and innovation come to life. It’s what allows you to get out of working in the business and love it again.

It’s actually quite romantic.

You may have instructions and documentation for the business that you may or may not update from time to time so why need a workflow?

Shakespeare aside, you can’t track a document!!!!

So when you are out and about, on sales meetings or god forbid a vacation – you need to know where in the process your actual team is on client work.

A part of not wanting to create a workflow is the where do I start?

What goes in a workflow:

Make sure you can create a template!

    • A home for all your workflow assets (templates, videos, and documentation) – this can be a database, dropbox, google drive   
    • The steps/tasks in the process
    • The medium – how is the step being completed ie phone call, tweet, email, document shared
    • Instructions for what needs to be done to complete each task – Highlight the big priority for those team members that already know how to get things done but might need a little reminder every once in awhile
    • Time line – how much time is in between steps, what does the follow up look like for communication, reviews and approvals and what to do when other stakeholders do not respond
    • Who’s responsible for each step
    • Centralize your communication with team and clients –  get out of your inbox and identify exactly what piece of the project needs attention
  • Success criteria, deliverable or output — how do you know is this workflow working? When is it complete?

Reminder: the workflow is meant to be an ACTIONABLE, ITERATIVE process

This means that it’s a living document and will grow with your business, technology changes and industry fluctuations

The best part of the workflow is that you get to delegate — wooohooo. Not only that, but you can train newbies with the same standards of excellence. Everyone that touches that workflow can iterate and make it better.

The second best part is that you will never have to do this again because you can just copy the template per client — like this (most project managers copy who is responsible for the tasks, so every time you get a new client your team knows what they are expected to do)

Bonus Tip: Workflows allow you to centralize your communication.

    • Stay out of your inbox
    • Contextualize conversations within tasks
    • First, it’s a training tool, then it becomes a tracking tool #FTW
    • Reduces hand-holding as you move towards making things stupid proof
  • Removes “common sense” syndrome