Archive for November, 2018

Changing Your Project Management Methodology? How To Get Your Team On The Same Page

November 26th, 2018


Many companies use various project management systems across different departments. As your business grows, you may need to adjust your methodology and unify the systems your team members are using.

But getting everyone on the same page about your new protocols can be a big challenge, especially if they have to adapt to new tech tools. We asked the experts at Young Entrepreneur Council how they’ve improved company communication in the face of process changes. Follow their advice to create a seamless transition across your teams.

  1. Ask each department what has worked best for them thus far.

This is something we’ve recently dealt with as our team grew to 50+ people while being 100% remote. The best advice is to look at what your different departments are using. Which department is having the most success with their project management tool? Our departments were mainly using Google Docs and Sheets to track various work. Recently, our marketing department started using software that has vastly increased their outputs to the point where our director has promoted it internally to the rest of the company. Now, we’re starting to see our sales department using the same software for their goals. If you have a department that is heavily project-based like our marketing department is, then this is probably where the best company-wide solution will come from. – Justin Cooke, Empire Flippers

  1. Determine what each team needs.

Ideally, you would build a single project management system. We have the unique position of being a web-development team, so we can actually write our own code and create dashboards. We can merge in data from a variety of sources. If you don’t have an internal dev team, you can always outsource this to a company that can help build dashboards and project systems and integrate a variety of existing data points. The key is discussing with each team what they need at a core level. If their team is working well, don’t change their process! Rather, just include their data in the overall system. Create different views for each team based on their unique needs. The data can then be shared how each team uses it best. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

  1. Get buy-in from your management team.

Make sure that middle management feels heard. If you have a competent team, there’s a reason that your systems have developed as they have. Building new workflow systems from the ground up can destroy your efficiency through redundancy, power struggles and endless meetings with limited productivity if you’re not listening to the input of the teams responsible for doing their own work. What’s always worked is assuring leadership that they’d retain a certain amount of autonomy as long as we all stayed on the same page and met somewhere in the middle when it came to restructuring and implementing new project management systems as we continued to expand. If your people know what they’re doing, don’t get in the way of that. – Raad Ahmed, LawTrades

  1. Hold collaboration sessions.

Using multiple tools is always challenging within a team, let alone an entire company, but sometimes it’s inevitable. The best advice  is to create a working collaboration session, where one person from each department joins a “collaboration” team and they work together on projects they all touch. Most of the time you could all be working in silence and not talking but by working as a team and having a set time to come together and collaborate on projects, the less challenges and issues arise. We’ve started to implement this policy as a team after seeing how well it worked during our annual company retreat and our team provided a lot of positive feedback. – Dave Nevogt,

  1. Integrate each system into a larger one.

It’s easy for each department to branch off and create their own processes and systems. However, when integrating departments into a larger and more streamlined process, especially when changing methodology, it’s important to get everyone on the same page. Always indicating how each process connects to the whole is important, and when something becomes too difficult for the rest of the company to actively understand or participate in, it needs to go. We’ve cycled through several different processes to manage content writing, for example. Originally we used a sales funnel in HubSpot, but found that the people who needed access to the information weren’t getting enough. The system that then evolved was a Google Doc where everyone had access and could see what was being worked on. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

  1. Migrate in stages.

As a company grows, you may need to merge two systems together. What once worked well may not be the case now. For example, after a merger it’s very common to find that the companies are using completely different tools. You’ll need to start consolidating tools to get everyone on the same page and improve communication. It’s important to do this in stages. The first week you can migrate 10% over to the new system, then 25%, and so on. Take your time to get the team on the new system and have backups to prevent data loss. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

  1. Make the process adaptable across your software stack.

Evolving methodologies come with a new set of workflows, new roles coordinating processes and unique KPIs across every team. While some tools and project management systems are better than others, achieving the same results is usually possible. Project management systems tend to cover a limited set of mandatory features, such as tracking time, assigning tasks across different team members, and supporting lists, grids and boards. When applying a new methodology across the whole company, make sure that your process is adaptable from every system in your software stack. If needed, search for premium extensions or add-ons that get the job done. Speak with the leading project managers and discuss the workflow separately, making sure that goals are met. – Mario Peshev, DevriX

  1. Set clear expectations for how each tool should be used.

The biggest challenge in any growing company is fostering positive channels of communication. There are many great tools available to aid in communication, four of which we currently use in our office: Slack, Asana, Trello and Zoom. The best advice would be to set up clear expectations for how each channel should be used. For us, Slack is a great way to communicate internal ideas quickly, and Asana and Trello are fantastic tools for team collaboration or task management. Zoom is a wonderful tool to connect different remote teams to do function sync ups. We have improved company communication by involving all teams in discussions about their progress and expectations during meetings and by encouraging team members to share regular updates when working on a project cross-functionally. – Angela Pan, Ashley Chloe Inc.

  1. Stay flexible.

Staying flexible as a company is growing is essential. We have recently outgrown our previous methods of communication and progress tracking. However, as we move forward, we are sure to take the time to research project management systems and get feedback from the team as we change our methodology. Each branch of our company works in unique ways that we want to work synergistically, so receiving feedback from different areas has been very helpful. Outlining a workflow has been helpful in choosing the new system. Knowing how we need a program to work instead of changing how we work around what a program offers is very valuable. – Mark Krassner, Expectful

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Expert Panel, Young Entrepreneur Council.

3 Trends Fuelling the Unstoppable Growth of Partner Managed Cloud

November 13th, 2018

The rise of cloud technology has created massive opportunity for solution providers, and with it, tremendous competition. In an effort to get a leg up, it is all too easy to get stuck competing on price.

But how else can you gain an edge? What does it take to stand out in today’s crowded environment?

Many solution providers are looking to specialization, focusing their efforts on industry verticals or micro-verticals. By dedicating resources to a target market, it is easier to become an industry leader that best serves the needs of end customers in a specific field.

Partner managed cloud is a great model for pursuing these target markets, and partners and their customers around the world are beginning to realize this. The IDC says spending on managed cloud services will grow to $74.9 billion by 2022. According to the IDC, worldwide spending on private cloud services alone will reach $40.5 billion by next year and is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.5 percent.

This presents a big opening for partners (and their customers) with the flexibility to package, price, and set terms and conditions for managed cloud solutions. This leads to shorter implementation cycles, streamlines sales and marketing, and opens potential for higher profits.

To break down these gains, let’s look at the ongoing trends in one rapidly growing market — human resources.

1) Unstoppable HCM Market Growth

HR is the largest business process outsourcing segment worldwide at $12.4 billion, making up more than a third of the global market. This growth, according to The Insight Partners, is expected to continue in coming years to the tune of a 22.5 percent CAGR.

With cloud services and HR outsourcing growing in unison, it has become clear that the focus of companies is shifting, with many frequently outsourcing talent management, payroll, recruitment processes and employee benefits processing. Rising privacy concerns and regulations have aided the rise of HR and HCM services in particular, as solution providers work on whatever it is that makes them unique.

2) An Emphasis on Gaining and Growing Top Talent

A managed or BPO solution carries the benefit of delivering efficiencies and higher quality of services for customers compared to them trying to take it on themselves. By allowing a partner who specializes in HR to manage an HCM solution such as SAP SuccessFactors, companies can exert their energy on strategic, value-add activities rather than basic tactical or administrative processes.

Naturally, this plays as a great advantage in attracting, developing and retaining top talent and serves the mission of standing out through industry specialization. Partner managed HCM solutions can also give customers more consistent ongoing cost structures, improved interoperability with existing infrastructures and scalable solutions.

A company-wide dedication to mission-critical activities can also lead to many transformational improvements.

3) A Push for Organizational Transformation

Businesses that leverage managed cloud solutions are twice as likely to see reductions in capital expenditure spending, according to Aberdeen. They are 60 percent more likely to have faster access to data. Forty-six percent of companies have seen reduced complexity in their IT infrastructure through managed cloud solutions, and 54 percent have gained a more agile infrastructure.

The ripple effect of implementing managed cloud is far and wide. It won’t just give companies greater focus on what they do best — it will help them do what they do best even better!

As solution providers continue to increase the emphasis on their core business and look to accelerate time to value, more and more are turning to partner managed cloud.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Lori McNally.

How Healthcare, Education and Marketing Organizations Are Using Scrum to Thrive

November 5th, 2018

Digital transformation is reshaping the world of work. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to data analytics, to the cloud, mobility and artificial intelligence (AI), disruptive technologies are enabling organizations to fundamentally change how they operate and deliver value to customers.

But as global competition increases, so do demands for faster turnarounds, user-friendly platforms and flexible goals. Enter Scrum. Once the domain of software developers, today Scrum has evolved beyond the IT department. Now organizations across healthcare, education, manufacturing and many other industries are embracing Agile—with impressive results to match.

According to a Forbes Insights survey, organizations that succeed at achieving greater agility reap plentiful rewards. Among these are faster time to market (reported by 60% of respondents), quicker innovation (59%), improved non-financial results such as customer experience and product quality (58%), and heightened employee morale (57%).

To discover how Scrum can support digital transformation across verticals, we spoke with John Miller, Agile For All, Certified Enterprise Coach, and Agile coach to Scrum Alliance. Miller illustrates how three key verticals are using Scrum to adapt in today’s challenging digital landscape.

Healthcare: Keeping Agile Alive And Well

According to Miller, healthcare organizations are increasingly adopting new and innovative technologies like web-based applications. From clinical communication platforms to health monitoring tools, web applications can help improve patient care and drive greater business efficiencies.

But developing applications for the healthcare sector can be challenging, if not impossible, when using waterfall methodologies, Miller says. Projects assigned to only one person can take months to complete. Moreover, siloed operations can prevent experts in data privacy and security from sharing specialized knowledge. The results are poor skills coverage, multiple points of failure and low employee morale.

Fortunately, Scrum can empower teams to divide the work as they see fit, while encouraging greater collaboration and providing increased visibility into a project’s progress. The benefits are far-reaching, including reduced time to deliver new features, improved skills coverage across the Scrum Team, and higher-quality products, since post-sprint reviews allow any defects to be identified earlier on in the process.

Education: Getting The Attention Of Scrum Principles

Even traditional educational institutions now face mounting competition. Charter schools have multiplied, and distance learning has increased dramatically in popularity. That’s one of the reasons that Miller is pioneering Agile in schools to help teachers and students thrive.

So how can Scrum be applied to the classroom? Grandview Preparatory School, a private K-12 school in Florida, enlisted Miller’s expertise to discover new ways of supporting student-centred learning and deeper engagement.

To implement Agile principles and practices in the classroom, Grandview began using whiteboards or large sheets of paper to break down weekly tasks into columns labelled Doing or LearningBlocked and Done. Next, teachers provided learning goals and had students visualize how they would achieve them, using the board and tracking their progress with sticky notes.

To keep students accountable, Learning Canvases, also known as Scrum boards, were displayed on the wall for students to view, interact with and comment on. The teachers immediately saw greater collaboration, communication and transparency among students and staff. In fact, a 2017 Grandview survey of 16 teachers revealed that all but one had started using Learning Canvases in the classroom.

“[Through Agile], students are learning to direct their own learning in a collaborative way,” says Miller. “Students are not only learning content, but they’re actually learning how to adapt and how to truly work together, which is going to make them future-ready.”

Marketing: Campaigning For Better Results

With its treasure troves of consumer data, Miller says, the marketing industry is the perfect match for Scrum principles. “If you think about marketing, it’s a data-rich focus, which means it’s all about learning,” he says. “And Scrum, at its heart, is a learning framework. It’s not just about getting work done faster. It’s really about, ‘How do we learn as fast as possible, whether we’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing? And then how do we adapt based on that?’”

For example, by relying on Scrum’s iterative processes, a marketing department can validate and test hypotheses to determine why customers really want a particular product, and how a series of more targeted messages might increase revenue.

A Solution for Disruption—Across Verticals

Thanks to disruptive technologies such as cloud and mobile apps, the barriers to entry to almost any sector are quickly vanishing. But while it’s easier for organizations to get up and running in the digital age, getting the right products and services out the door is harder than ever. Scrum can increase the likelihood of success by enabling all industries to encourage collaboration, address complex situations quickly and adapt to changing market trends.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Insights Team.