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.

What Are Project Management Tools? Best Tools for Planning Your Next Project

It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. When you don’t have the right tools for a job, it’s like ra-iii-ainnnn on your wedding day. 

And when it comes to project management, you need the right tools to do the job well. 

Project management tools are the tools a project manager uses to manage their tasks and job duties. 

Some projects are small and easily manageable with a simple spreadsheet, while others may be large, complex, and require something more robust to keep things on track.

Simply put, the best project management tools help PMs delegate, assign, and follow up on progress. They need to track that progress, see any upcoming issues or bottlenecks, and react before these problems become zomg, pants on fire, danger Will Robinson. 

Plus, project managers must have quantifiable reporting and benchmarks to provide updates and timelines to interested parties. 

Let’s get into the why, how, and what of project management tools below. 

They see you scrollin’. They hatin’. 

Why your PMs need collaborative project management tools

A collaboration tool is vital for giving and receiving comments, feedback, and progress reporting from team members — sans the lengthy email chains. And we’ve all been there, scrolling through days worth of back-and-forth missives and getting totally lost in the process. 

Collaborative project management tools put a stop to all that time-wasting. 

Documentation is also crucial for keeping all critical files and needed resources in a central location where you can find them easily and with a few clicks of a button. 

The best project management tools are:

  • User-friendly
  • Provide the project manager with the specific solutions they need
  • Don’t require a lot of training or time to get up to speed
  • Give you project management freedom

Up next, the four most crucial and best project management tools and strategies we highly recommend at Scaletime.

#1. Critical Path Method for smooth project management 

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is a technique for assessing large projects.

No more overwhelm. No more panicky feeling when you have a beast of a project to divvy up and parcel out. Critical Path Methods make it much easier and a replicable process, too. 

With Critical Path, the project manager can better plan and schedule assets by identifying which tasks are the most crucial or essential. The manager can then schedule jobs and assets inside of the project to meet deadlines and stay within budget.

To effectively use CPM:

  • The project must have definable tasks
  • The tasks must be independent of one another and not rely on other parts of the project to be completed
  • The task must be orderable

How to use it:

The manager begins by determining all tasks or jobs within the project and assigning them a letter or number. If the project can be broken into subgroups, the numbering can reflect this, A1, A2, B1, etc. At this time, it’s also beneficial to determine the completion time for each task and which other tasks, if any, are immediate predecessors. 

The tasks are then placed in a timeline and identified by circles containing their letter or number and the number of days. Managers will start with the first, or “Start” task. This task will be the beginning task, one which has no predecessors. 

The next task will be the first task with the “Start” task as its predecessor, and there will be an arrow from the Start task to the second. A brief identification is also possible, but keeping the description brief is essential to improve clarity.

Some tasks within the CPM will branch off from the identical predecessor and may form chains or revert to the previous mainline when completed; it will depend on the tasks. The final circle will be the “Finish” circle, with only predecessors and no tasks following it. 

Laying out the project in this method will allow the project manager to see the entirety of the task and the timing for the overall project and each critical task. 

This will enable them to determine if changes need to be made, handle resource management, or keep an eye on time-sensitive areas. It will also give them a reasonable estimate of the completion time for the project.

#2. Work Breakdown Structure

A work breakdown structure is another example of a great project management tool that’s highly strategic. The work breakdown structure allows the project manager to break down and organize the elements of the project into manageable sections. 

Here’s how it works:

The project is broken down into elements, each element being a service or piece of data or task that needs to be dealt with or completed. 

The process of breaking the project down into its components allows the manager to understand each piece of the puzzle, to which they will be assigning costs, person-hours, and timelines. 

The elements are then laid out in a hierarchical or tree-like structure, with groupings according to the needed outcomes of the project.

It’s best to have no more than four levels of hierarchy. If there’s a need for more, it may be worth going back and reassessing the components of that element or elements.

#3. Project Evaluation and Review Technique

The Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) is similar to other project management reporting tools. It maps a path through the project but is different in that it involves making three estimates of the project’s success. 

Action items are numbered and laid out in a flowchart, with arrows coming from predecessor tasks. If an item has no dependency, it should be placed above or below the job before it and to the right. 

With the PERT method, the manager develops three estimates for the same work: 

  • The first is the expected estimate, which is the reasonable estimate for the project completion assuming standard workflow. 
  • Next is the optimistic estimate, which assumes no hold-ups or errors in the project’s timeline.
  • Finally, the pessimistic estimate assumes things will go wrong, and time will be lost correcting and completing the task.

With all three PERT charts in hand, a manager can have a firm idea of best-case and worst-case scenarios and affect the project completion timeline. 

#4. Best Project Management tool: Gantt Chart

The Gantt chart allows a project manager to layout the project schedule visually while showing the relationship between items or tasks on the chart. The objects or tasks are laid out on the vertical axis, while the horizontal axis tracks the time needed. 

This approach gives the manager a solid idea of the length of each item while being able to place them according to dependencies. 

A solid bar inside of each object can show the project progress of a given item. Many different project management software tools include Gantt charts as part of their standard builds.

Let’s take action! Project Management Software to organize your team

Thousands of tasks.

Deadlines coming to an end.

Don’t panic, there is a solution. You need project management software.

Choosing the best project management software is essential; you’ll need to consider whether the software is scalable, useable by all team members, and solves your problem. 

You might need a time tracking software solution or something that deals with expense tracking. Perhaps you’re most in need of collaboration software. 

Consider some of the critical aspects of project management software that you’ll find most useful. 

Does the software handle task lists, schedules, and file sharing? Does it allow for smooth communication and reporting?

You can follow the PMI project management tools recommendations or even have something developed for you. Some project management planning tools have paid plans, allowing you to budget them across the length of a project.

Let’s look at some of the best online project management tools that might help you with project planning, resource planning and solve your issues.

#1 Microsoft Project: Tried and True

Microsoft Project has been the leader in the project management software tool arena for a long time, and that reputation has been earned. MS Project is a product with years of development behind it. It integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products and is at the top of the list of project management tools that integrate with outlook.

What does it offer?

–  Grid views for managing task lists

– A board view for using a kanban board strategy, and timeline views for Gantt charts. 

– It also handles resource management, timesheets and has several pre-built reporting tools. 

Some project managers may find MS Project isn’t as versatile and agile when it comes to cloud and web-based features.

#2 Basecamp: Collaboration Software

Basecamp is firmly centered around the concept of collaborative software. It fits in the project management world and offers ease and flexibility in connecting with your project team. Task management and project scheduling can be handled within the app, and there’s a file management tool as well. 

Basecamp is a bit lighter on things like Gantt charts and reporting, and you might find yourself needing to turn to other tools to supplement different needs.  If the core of the issue is getting the entire team on the same page, then Basecamp will help you do that.

#3 Trello: Visual Organization

Trello is also a great online project management tool for collaboration with your team, but where it really shines is in providing visual organization. Trello is a kanban board-based application that allows you to see at a glance how things are progressing and who is working on which aspects of the project.

Trello is flexible enough for small projects and works well within software development teams.

Trello allows team members to leave notes and comments, and you can update everyone on task status and deadlines in a way that’s easy to see and follow.

#4 JIRA: Agile Teams

If you’re working within an agile environment, things happen quickly, and you’ll need a simple project management software tool that can help you manage tasks. JIRA allows you to track tasks and follow up on resolutions for complete tasks.

Project managers can use JIRA to assign tasks, new issues, or bugs that pop up and tell the status of existing issues or problems. It supports kanban board usage as well to provide an at-a-glance update.

You can create new tasks, assign specific project tasks to either team leaders or an individual team member, and integrate with Outlook or other email solutions to instantly notify them.

#5 Asana, Large Project Overview 

I’m pretty sure Asana has its own fan club.

Loved by many, hated by none

Asana is another excellent collaborative project management tool that excels in overviews and big-picture information. It includes features like video messaging within the app, which project managers can use to describe or explain a specific feature or issue elsewhere in Asana. It’s excellent for building on the fly to-do lists.

It has integrated scheduling and reporting but might be lacking in areas like resource management tools, expense tracking, or budget tools. It is well suited for larger organizations and can integrate with Salesforce. Asana works well for projects with set goals and complex projects with a lot of task dependencies.

#6 Wrike: Gantt Charts

Wrike is a project management software tool that places itself at the center of your project and solves many of the project manager’s most critical needs. It’s a project management tool that also provides team collaboration and task lists. 

Wrike’s Gantt chart tool can import information from other software task management tools like Microsoft Project, and you can also use it to manage multiple projects from one place. You can sort out work management tasks, project scope and also plan projects.

With the communications tools Wrike offers, you can share the Gantt information with the team and receive updates and comments.

#7 Harvest: Time Tracking Software

Harvest is a web-based project management tool that specializes in time tracking. You can manage projects, create tasks, schedule task, create invoices, and track time and expense reporting. Harvest is available to use through a desktop or mobile device, allowing the team to be updated and track progress from anywhere.

It provides tracking and reporting to show you when team members aren’t be utilized or where a possible time crunch may occur. You can track team members’ availability and receive hourly prompts with updates on projects and personnel. This type of solution allows you to keep on top of the status of your team’s work. 

Stay on time and in budget with the best project management tools and strategies 

With so many task management tools available, a project manager’s job can become more manageable and less prone to crisis. 

Odds are, you’re trying to manage multiple projects rather than a single one, so being organized is vital. 

Taking advantage of these project management tools will give you a firm understanding of your projects, where they might need some extra resources, and where you might need to firm up the timelines.

So follow the Project Management checklist, make use of these and other project management tools, and you’ll be comfortably in charge of things. 

If you need more help, it’s right here.

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 with ScaleTime. 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

Project Management Checklist for Success [Free Download]

Hire a project manager, they said.

It’s gonna be awesome, they said.

Well, they were wrong.
Deadlines? Unhappy clients or project failure at worst. There goes another one.
And productivity is lower than a shipwreck.

That leaves two big questions: what’s wrong and how can it be fixed?

What’s wrong is you don’t have systems. Wishing and hoping that projects will magically start to run smoothly all on their own isn’t going to work.

But using the right project management checklist and processes will get your projects off to the races and on to the finish line with minimal hiccups on the way.

Repeat after me:

You 👏 need 👏 systems 👏 to 👏 scale.

All right, so what’s the big system secret to scaling in this particular scenario?

It’s a project management checklist template.

Picture it — deadlines consistently hit.
Increased productivity.
Happy PMs and staff.
Is it too good to be true?

No! You just have to put the systems and tools in place to get it and scale.

Ready? Let’s go.

What is Project Management?

Project management is the way your company gets things done. In the words of Project Management Institute, “project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”

So yeah, systems and project management tool. Like I was saying.

Anyway, when it works well, project management is the shiny, well-oiled machine you need to get sh$t done. It streamlines your deliverables process, makes projects more successful, and keeps everyone sane.

So, how do you improve your project management process? Take a proactive approach, and watch your agency grow. Here’s how to make better project management happen.

The Project Management Plan Gap

Your business is made up of many different moving pieces.

These include people, processes, products, and more. Left to their own devices, though, these moving pieces are like renegade windup toys running into each other.

Unless you bring some order to your project management process, the chaos will never end.

Clients be like, “Hey! Can you make this small change?”

It sure seems innocent. But it’s the start of the dreaded scope creep *gasp*. Before you can say it’ll cost ya, you end up with too many deliverables to fit into your finite project schedule and bandwidth.

Result? A negatively impacted production and delivery line.

Here’s the thing.

If you can’t find a way to make all the moving parts fit together, you will end up with big, expensive, time-consuming project management gaps.

But good news, mate. The fix is in. A checklist will give you streamlined projects. Bust open roadblocks. And standardize processes and workflows across the board. Work smarter, not harder!
Download our free Project Management Checklist now.
Project Management Checklist

The 9-Step Project Management Checklist You Never Knew you Needed

No two projects are the same. So no two project management checklists will be either. As a general rule, though, here are the five essentials for a comprehensive, scalable, ultra-effective project management checklist:

1. Identify the Outcomes

First things first — identify the project’s goals, objectives, and the outcomes you need to attain.

project management

While you probably covered this during the kickoff meetings, ask yourself and your project team the following questions:

  • What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • How are you going to solve it?

These questions are simple. But they’re critically important in defining the project’s core deliverables and determining how you plan to solve the client’s problem.

Plus, these questions help establish a high-level vision of the project. That way, you’ll know which team members to loop in to get everything done.

2. Communicate With Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the people — internal and external — who have a personal interest in the project’s progress and project success. Your job is to help meet stakeholder expectations throughout the whole project.

Depending on the situation, stakeholders may be:

  • Clients
  • Consultants
  • Project sponsors
  • Vendors
  • Internal management
  • Department leaders
  • Individuals contributing to the project

A good project management checklist should include a plan for each of the project phases. The checklist should have a plan for meeting and communicating with stakeholders. And it should also include a way for your team to identify and understand stakeholder priorities.

3. Clarify Requirements

The next step on the checklist is to outline all specifications and requirements for a given project. This will depend on the type of project you’re working with.

In general, though, you’ll want to consider a few key points:

  • Success indicators — How will you know whether the project was successful?
  • Tests and specifications — How will tests be administered?
  • Reporting metrics and formats — for both tests and success factors.

Once you’ve clarified requirements, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of your project’s performance and communication plan. This ensures you’re not missing any critical details that could otherwise derail a successful project.

Remember though, no two projects are the same.  Adjust these checklist details accordingly so they fit your project and team. The end goal is a clear vision and path forward.

4. Create a Project Plan

All right, you’ve done your research, outlined the requirements, and gotten your little duckies in a row. Pour yourself a drink and get comfy. It’s time to make a plan.

While most of us tend to think in terms of the project timeline during the project planning phase, I recommend not starting with the project schedule.

Here’s why.

Before you can schedule project deliverables, you have to identify what those deliverables are. This is the time to get granular with things like specific steps. Understand the small parts that come together to form your completed project, and outline those milestones first.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how the hell do you expect to get there? Pinpoint your destiny, in this case, deliverables, then plan and schedule them.

5. Budget it all out

Once you’ve finished your project plan, it’s time to think about dollars and cents. At this phase, you’re working with a time-based estimate of what you think the project will cost. Ideally, the project stakeholders will give you a rough estimate to work with.

“But we don’t live in an ideal world!”

I know. The news reminds me everyday. If you don’t have a rough estimate, or your estimate is super rough, here’s what you need to do.

Identify the different elements and resources you need to gather to make the project work. Use that info to create a budget that’s as accurate as possible.

Budgets can be tricky things. Remember, they have both direct and indirect costs. Your budget might include things like labor, travel, digital and hard goods. Include it all.

6. Assign Resources

During this step, you’ll allocate resources to start getting work done. This means assigning tasks to team members and setting milestones.

As you assign tasks, take a few things into account:

  • Each team member’s skills, previous experience, and roles within the company
  • Their availability and bandwidth to take on new projects
  • The ultimate turnaround time and the deadline for the job

In addition to assigning tasks to team members, this is the step where you’ll think about equipment, project management software, and schedules.

Take a look at all your resources and ensure you have everything on-hand to get the job done. In rare cases, you may need to hire new talent, order more inventory, invest in new software, or take other steps to up your resources in preparation for the project.

7. Build Your Schedule

Congrats and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve determined what needs to be done and what resources you need to do it.

So what’s next? It’s time to schedule the project accordingly.

Are you using a task management platform like ClickUp or Asana? Cause, you should be. That’ll make it much easier to schedule out projects.

When scheduling, keep these in mind:

  • Start and due dates
  • Estimated time for each project
  • Time tracking functions for each team member
  • Dependencies

Pro Tip:

Use Calendar or Gantt Chart view to keep everything organized, and for more advanced project management, plan for resourcing and capacity. Prevent employee burnout and make sure all the stuffs are distributed amongst team members.

8. Establish a Communication Plan

Prevent project communication from turning into an Abbott and Costello skit. Establish a communication plan next.

During this part of your checklist, you’ll establish expectations surrounding project updates, check-ins, and communication.

Depending on your team and preferences, this could take the form of daily Slack check-ins, weekly meetings, or bi-weekly status updates.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for how frequently you should communicate, you want to make sure it’s enough to keep all the stakeholders and team members involved in the project up-to-date.

This frequency may scale up or down as the project progresses. So don’t be afraid to update accordingly.

9. Watch Your Project Progress

You’ve put all the plans in place, now it’s time to watch it roll.

If you’re using a project management platform, you can set up features like Critical Path (in ClickUp) or task urgency (in Asana). This will help you keep track of what’s done and what needs to be finished.

No matter how you do it, make sure you have an established process for tracking your team’s progress. It’s the best way to keep things on track and avoid running through your deadlines.

Simple Project Management Starts Here

Your project management process doesn’t have to suck. Instead, focus on:

  • Creating training protocols to increase productivity
  • Filling the project management gap with tools to get on the road to freedom
  • Downloading your brain to break free of the project management hamster wheel

Now you can keep your peeps accountable, protect scope and establish a high project performance culture.

That’s it. Promise.

Identifying your project management cracks and knocking them out with these simple 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.

The Ultimate Hack for Improving Client Engagement

Luuuucy… You have some splainin’ to do!!! (Did I just age myself with this reference?)

I’m about to hop on a call with a client that may or may not have done their work for the meeting (ahem).

I ask myself: “Where are they in their business? And what’s on the schedule for today?”

But first, let’s rewind a few months.

I used to track my client engagement on a spreadsheet that I called Actions2Scale (fancy right?) in google drive. It had all the components I needed:

      • Meeting dates
      • What was accomplished during each meeting
      • What the deliverables were
      • Any notes my client or I had

The problem was that as a consultant, there are a lot of tangible worksheets and documents that my clients and I share, and since my average client is with me for about 7 months, this spreadsheet inevitably grew long, confusing and not easily searchable. Not only that, but with the mish-mosh of documents in google drive – we could never find anything quickly!

Since most of my clients are visual thinkers, I thought I would give Trello a shot. And boy am I happy I did! Here’s what it looks like:

ScaleTime Roadmap Trello

1. Creating a Visual Roadmap

The first thing I do with my clients now is create a roadmap with all the modules of our engagement on the first few lists.

Keep in mind that pre-Trello, there was no visual roadmap for the client to know where we were going. No matter how much I listed out the milestones and talked about the direction of the engagement and what we were going to do next, there was NO VISUAL REMINDER.

It was like being on a road trip with my client, who kept innocently asking “are we there yet?” every 5 minutes.

In their defense though, it wasn’t their fault!

The problem was they didn’t know what had already been done, and what was still left to do. For the productivity geeks out there – I implemented some kanban-esque methodology. Fortunately, in Trello when we are done with a topic I can change the color (nifty right?). Take a look:

ScaleTime Trello Program

2. Forget About Client Amnesia

Client amnesia is a common condition in which the client can’t seem to remember the amazing work we’ve done together.

Symptoms include saying things like “I love this system – it literally takes me 2 minutes to do a proposal. Oh, was it you that helped me implement this?”

This used to raise my blood pressure and frustrate me to no end. Now, I just point them to the Trello board as I gleefully put my feet on my desk. After all, it’s a great way to show a historical record of everything that was accomplished. All without saying a single word. Not bad if you ask me!

3. When Clients “Hijack”

This doesn’t happen as much in my practice anymore (thank the lord!), but in the past I had clients take over the session with “emergencies” or what they thought were urgent questions. In other words, “Drop everything and help me now!”

Ever since I started using Trello however, clients can see for themselves when a task moves from this month to next month for example. Suddenly the urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

Tweet this: A client’s urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

It’s a beautiful thing, really. The psychology of wanting to see the white cards turn blue ( labeled complete) and knowing that this particular urgency will be covered in a systematic way puts a cease and desist on wasting time. (Can I get an amen!?)

4. Say Goodbye to Inbox Flooding

With Trello, there is simply no flooding of inboxes with back and forth updates, deliverables, homework, pre-work, or any kind of work really. It’s all in a nice checklist where clients can reference their tasks whenever they want, from anywhere in the world.

I’ve actually had clients text me in their PJ’s just to tell me how much they enjoyed checking a few items from their list.

Do NOT underestimate the need to complete things!

5. Delegating Tasks Has Never Been Easier

My clients can now share their board with their staff to strategize or delegate the work, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Nuff said.

6. Get Organized!

Out of all the benefits, one of my favorites is never hearing this question: “Where is that document again?”

Whether your documents are located in dropbox, a company server, or google docs, you can link to them inside the topics in Trello. Everything has context and searchability.

Yeah baby!

To sum up, here are all the benefits of using a project management tool to manage your client engagement:

      • Clients have a visual roadmap
      • Client Amnesia cured
      • No more session hijacking
      • Inbox flooding eliminated
      • Easy to delegate tasks to team members
      • Great way to organize documents

So let me ask you… How are YOU tracking your client engagement, and giving your clients direction in the process?

I recommend Trello (obviously), but I’m also open to learning about other options that would incorporate some or all of the concepts I discussed in this article.

I would love to hear from you either way!