How To Track Time On Your Project

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 1 comments

Working out hours spent on tasks is easy when you know how.
Set up online timesheets
Online timesheets have a big advantage over paper-based timesheets or a standalone time management system. When you have everything online it is easy for your team members to get access to their records wherever they are working and at any time of the day. It's also easy to link the time management data to other areas of your project like your schedule, as we will see next...

Link timesheets to your schedule
Use your timesheet data to populate your project schedule. You can set it up so that the data feeds in to the relevant line about each task and marks it as a little bit more complete. It saves your project team (and you) a job as you don't have to update your schedule manually quite as often.

Collect time tracking data
OK, so you've created timesheets for each person on the team and you have linked them to your project schedule so that everyone can see the data and what it is used for. Now you have to get your team to fill in their timesheets so you can get the data in the first place!

Some individuals can be reluctant to complete timesheets as it can feel as if their work is being judged, and it can turn into a competition about who can work the most hours. The best way to avoid these challenges is to be honest about what the data is being used for: improving your project tracking. Let them see how it is being used and why it is helpful for you. Try to create a culture in the team where there is no competition and that people complete their timesheets accurately without feeling under pressure to justify themselves.
Make it real-time
Another concern with collecting data about how people are spending their time is that it needs to be as it happens'. There's not much point collecting historical data about what people did two months ago as that won't help you monitor and control the project today. You need your timesheet information to be in real-time, so encourage your project team to enter their data regularly. Online access makes this easy as they can fit it in whenever and don't have to be in the office. They should do this at least once a week, but more often is better. After all, think back to what you were doing last week. Can you remember everything you spent time on? Probably not, so get that information out of your head and on to your timesheet as soon as you can.

Make it easy!
Your project team will fill in their timesheets and tell you how long things are taking if you make it easy for them to do so. Make sure that they have a link to the online timesheet tool from their desktop, or that it is saved in their favorites. Limit the amount of tasks on the timesheet so that they don't feel it takes too long to complete. And check that they all have user names and passwords so there are no excuses!

Tracking time isn't difficult, although many project managers find it hard to get to grips with gathering this data. Use your tools and your team to help you and you'll find that monitoring progress on your project is really straightforward.
Manage your team's time the online tools of The professional results will help you track time accurately every time.

Where Do Project Managers Provide the Most Value?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 0 comments

Not everyone believes in project managers.  Some people say project managers are simply bureaucrats that push paper and don't provide value to the project. Other's think they know about useless processes but not about the real work of the project.
There are many fine and capable project managers. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone is competent, or that even the capable ones are perfect. Poor project management can still negatively impact the success of the project.
I think poor project managers are in the minority. Project management is a tough job, but it does not take too long to see what makes project managers valuable. Here is my perspective.
  • There are many reasons why projects are less than totally successful. Many projects are successful based solely on the skills and talents of the project team, but it seems these are in the minority. It seems intuitive that major work initiatives will be more successful if they are planned ahead of time and managed proactively. (Versus projects that are planned poorly and managed reactively.) The person that plans and manages that project is the project manager. So, it seems like the project manager is valuable at a basic level.
  • Some people believe that a good project manager can be successful on any type of project, regardless of whether they have any subject-matter expertise. Other people believe you cannot manage a project without prior subject-matter experience. My belief is that a skilled project manager with no subject matter experience is better than a subject matter expert without project management experience. The project manager provides a value to the project based simply on applying their project management skills.   
  • The project management processes used on a project must be scaled based on the size and complexity of the work itself. Small projects need less rigor and structure. Large projects need more. A good project manager knows how to apply the right processes based on the size of the project. This provides value.
All projects build things. This is the purpose of the project. If you have the best project manager in place, but you are not delivering products the customer needs, you are not going to be successful. Project managers are important because they ensure project deliverables are completed successfully. This is where the real value lies.
So, here is my bottom line. Project managers that know what they are doing, implement proactive project management practices and apply processes scalably can contribute significantly to the success of the project. Do all project managers meet this criteria? No, of course not. Those that do are the real rock stars of project management. If you are a project manager strive to this level of knowledge and performance, and then you too can rock on!

Four Techniques to Manage Risk on Your Project


All projects have risks and the risks have the potential for negatively impacting the project. (I am not referring to opportunity (positive) risk.) You use risk management to determine the risks that are important enough to manage. The following four techniques will help. 
Try to Include Budget and Schedule for Unknown Risks
A project manager can request additional budget and schedule to account for known risks at the beginning of a project. Of course, the risk contingency does not include the full impact of risk. Instead you multiply impact by the percentage likelihood for all high risks. Then add the numbers to come up with a risk contingency budget and schedule.
However, risk identification is not something that only happens at the beginning of a project. The project manager assesses risks throughout the project.  Therefore, it makes sense to include time and budget for unknown risks as a part of your estimating process. If you do an effective job of periodically reassessing risks, you may find new risks to manage that were not included in the original risk contingency budget. You can include some additional contingency budget and schedule for these as well.
If your organization does not allow a risk contingency budget, you would naturally account for risk uncertainly in your base budget estimates.  
Include Team Members in Risk Identification
If team members are familiar with the circumstances of the project, they can take an active role in identifying and evaluating project risks. Joint participation from the team can help identify project risks, lay out effective actions to manage the risk and provide consensus and buy-in for execution.
Weigh the Cost of the Risk Management Plan Against the Level of Risk
The activities associated with managing risks have a cost. The project manager should make sure that the effort and cost associated with managing the risks do not exceed the impact to the project if the risk occurs. For high risks, this is normally not the case. However, for medium risks make sure that the costs of managing the risk is not more than the risk impact to the project.
Understand the Risk Tolerance Level in Your Organization
During the risk identification process, you may encounter many risks that have some likelihood and impact to the project. Which ones do you think are important enough to manage? The answer says something about your risk tolerance.
Risk tolerance is usually cultural in an organization. Some organizations are bigger risk takers and will accept a higher level of risk on projects. They will also tend to have a higher threshold before they chose to manage a risk. On the other hand, some organizations are more risk-averse. They will tend to accept less risky projects and they will also tend to have a lower threshold to manage risks.  

Add Green Thinking to Your Procurement Process


Procurement refers to the aspects of project management related to obtaining goods and services from outside companies.
Green Procurement
There are a number of areas within procurement that can be enhanced to consider sustainability and help you establish a green procurement approach.
  • Plan Procurements. Green procurement starts with the Procurement Management Plan. The Plan will incorporate green thinking. It is important to understand and note any organizational Environmental or Sustainability policies and standards you are adopting on your project. As you gather and rank the needs against which you will evaluate vendors, you can now include sustainability criteria that the vendors need to meet. You can also establish the weighting factors for these needs and ultimately rate the vendors on their ability to meet your environmental and sustainability requirements.
  • Obtain Seller Responses. In your RFP, you may include information on your organization’s environmental focus (such as describing your GreenPM processes) and have the vendor comment on how they will align to these, or make a general inquiry regarding the vendor’s use of green processes. Each vendor should be able to explain and demonstrate how they help accomplish your environmental goals, possibly describing how they have completed similar goals previously.
  • Select Sellers. Map the vendor capabilities against your requirements and weighting factors, including the environment requirements that you have established. Using GreenPM, it is possible that your vendor selection may result in a different vendor. For example, if your environment requirements are weighted highly, it is possible that there is a vendor with a significant focus in this area who ends up being your top ranked vendor.
  • Administer Procurements. You should validate that the vendor is performing as agreed throughout the project. This includes confirming that the vendor is following green project management processes (GreenPM) and meeting any defined environment criteria for deliverable completion. Procurement audits can be one approach to validating the compliance to your expected standards and processes.
Procurement is not simple and organizations seek to continually streamline and improve their procurement approaches. Green procurement may add another dimension to improving procurement processes.

Seven Key Components of a Cost Management Plan

Monday, April 21, 2014 0 comments

The Cost Management Plan describes the process that will be used to manage the project budget including tracking current expenditures, upcoming expenses, identifying potential budget overruns and evaluating overall project spending against the budget. The components of the Cost Management Plan can include:
  • Roles and responsibilities. You can describe different roles and their ability to access the project budget. For example:
    • Who is the budget owner. This is probably the project manager. (The project sponsor owns the money from a business perspective, but the project manager owns it from a budget perspective.)
    • Who can approve expenses? This is important to identify up-front. It is possible that only the project manager can approve project expenses, but in some instances this can be delegated to someone closer to the expense. For instance, if you have contractors working within project teams, it is possible that the team leader will be authorized to approve the timesheets for these contractors.
    • Who can read? The budget numbers may or may not be sensitive information. You should decide who else can have access to the actual expenditures and budget information.
  • Frequency. You should describe the timing of budget analysis. On many projects this may be monthly since that is the frequency most General Ledger reports are available. On some projects, the expenses may need to be tracked weekly, even if it is a manual process.
  • Feedback. This describes how the budget feedback will be delivered. This is probably going to be automated reports from your financial system or a manual tracking process, or both.
  • Budget change review and approval. This is where you define the process required to evaluate and approve proposed budget changes. It defines the authority for accepting and approving changes to the budget. This process does not include approving individual expenses during the project. It applies to changes in the overall project budget. It is possible that the project manager may have some discretion to exceed the budget by a certain percentage, but after that threshold some formal body may need to approve the change.
  • Tools. Describe about any budgeting tool that will be used on this project, who will have access to the tool and what various people can do with the tool (read the budget, update numbers, etc.)
  • Reports. Comment here on the types and names of reports you are using to manage the budget, who will receive them, the frequency, etc.
  • Budget integration. Normally each project keeps an independent budget, but in some instances your master budget is the result of a roll-up of other underlying budgets. It is also possible that your budget could be integrated and rolled up to a higher-level program or portfolio budget.
The Cost Management Plan is not needed for all projects. However, if you have a large project and large budget, you might want to plan ahead for how the budget will be allocated and managed. Think through and complete a Cost Management Plan if it provides value to your project.