Posts Tagged ‘PMP’

Nine Out-Of-The-Box Project Management Tips for Tech Teams

May 2nd, 2019

Project management is an essential part of getting things done and achieving business goals. Through careful planning and executing, team members can collaborate to complete specific tasks or projects. However, with tech development, there are many unique challenges that “standard” task management strategies may not be able to help with.

If you want to find solutions better-suited for your tech staff, you might have to dig a little deeper. The experts of Forbes Technology Council share their go-to project management tips for tech teams.

  1. Align Expectations Early

Active dialogue inside the team—with developer teams as well as with business stakeholders—helps to establish a common vocabulary as well as shared expectations for the resulting collaboration. For example, a client thinks a task is simple to implement when in reality it is far more involved. Aligning those expectations early sets your project up for maximum client satisfaction. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

  1. Measure All Tasks against the Big Picture

Too often, tech teams are only knowledgeable about their specific tasks instead of the bigger picture. Knowing the business drivers, timelines, other deliverables, dependencies and the like contributes not only to a better understanding of the project holistically, but can also adjust and improve how individuals work towards the ultimate goal. – Brian Contos, Verodin Inc.

  1. Keep an Eye on Scope Creep

Scope creep is without question the most common reason tech development projects fail. Interestingly, even if a change in scope is properly documented, vetted, approved and even announced, the stakeholders will often only remember that the project was not delivered on time and/or on budget. Deviations from scope must be resisted at all costs and saved for later iterations of the product(s). – Todd Rebner, Cyleron

  1. Keep Your Teams Working Closely Together

Almost everyone’s begun the transition to agile or scrum approaches for project management. But if you are incorporating machine learning or data-driven analytics into your product, project management is very different. Some organizations have data-science teams that are completely walled off from software development, but things are much more effective if the teams work closely together. – Alex Bates, The Sandbox San Diego

  1. Align Tasks with A Specific Business Objective

Rather than just “completing” the task, the team should also check if that task fulfills the business objective. Usually, teams focus only on completing the task but never analyze if the task achieves the desired business requirement for which it has been defined. Strict time management is another crucial aspect that each team member needs to adhere to, as that sets the discipline of the project. – Sachin Deshpande, Qualitas IT Private Limited

  1. Consider the Complete Product Experience

Tech teams should take a holistic view of the value they are creating for customers. It is not just about completing the work right in front of you, which a project-oriented mindset typically demands. After all, your product or service is not just a collection of to-dos and bits of technology. It is the complete experience (marketing, sales, support) and relationship that you and customers share. – Brian de Haaff, Aha!

  1. Run Project Postmortem Sessions

Run project post-mortem sessions, as this helps you close the feedback loop and improve. If it’s possible, run such sessions after each major stage of a project. It will help you change the focus or tweak the acceptance criteria if it is needed. Requirements of big projects can change fast, and tech people don’t like it when at the end of a project the thing they’re working on is already outdated. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround

  1. Kill Distractions

It’s becoming increasingly clear that our modern workflows are constantly interrupted by email, Slack, texts and other messaging systems that kill productivity. Often, what author Cal Newport would call “deep work”—long, undistracted stretches where one’s expertise and mental capacity are stretched to their limits—is necessary to break through on a highly complex and difficult task. – Timothy Chaves, ZipBooks Accounting Software

  1. Be Flexible, But Keep The End Goal In Mind

Responding to changing conditions and necessities is as important as adhering to a project roadmap. Being flexible while keeping your eye on the prize is key in order to succeed where standard guidelines break apart. Being empirical as opposed to theoretical in challenging moments takes one far and unleashes creativity, which is key for creative problem-solving during complex projects. – Gabriel Fairman, Bureau Works

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


12 Ways for Tech Developers to Build Security into Their Projects from the Start

April 25th, 2019

Security is a consideration that should be top-of-mind in any new tech product. As technology advances, so too do the ways in which hackers can utilize applications and data storage to get past security systems. The latest best practices in security should never be an afterthought when it comes to launching new tech.

Below, 12 experts from Forbes Technology Council explain their best pieces of security advice for technology leaders working to build security into their products from the beginning.

  1. Consider the Three ‘As’ Of Security

Sticking to the basics will be my advice for fellow security leaders. Three “As” that define the basics of security are awareness, agility and advanced technology, in the same order as written. Often, organizations focus on advanced technology controls, but the best security return on investment is realized when we prioritize security awareness programs and embrace execution agility by eliminating the red tape. – Parthasarathi Chakraborty, Guardian Life

  1. Test Often, Early And Fast

Don’t wait until your product is well into the development process to test for security flaws. Run security scans in the daily build and treat issues as critical bugs. Also, make sure you subscribe to new releases of any part of your technology stack—security patches are released often and should be incorporated as soon as possible to reduce technical debt. – Bruno Guicardi, CI&T

  1. Allow For Security Updates

Bake in mechanisms that allow for updates to security capabilities as threats evolve. IoT (Internet of Things) is the perfect example of what not to do. The vast majority of IoT products aren’t secure and don’t allow for consumer-friendly firmware updates or downloads. In product builds, a little foresight goes a long way. – Adam Stern, Infinitely Virtual

  1. Include Security in the Build Process

You have to incorporate security standards into the design and build process. Think about building a home. If you decide to install smoke detectors once the house is fully built, painted and furnished, it will be expensive, and you may miss areas that need them. Think about where the data is going, who accesses it, and how the permission and authentication work during the build. – John J. Higginson, Enova

  1. Start with Data

The most important thing to note with security is around data management: How is data collected, how is it stored, how is it transferred and who has access to it? Understanding where your private user information lives will enable your team to better manage risk and prevent a breach from happening. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

  1. Use IoT Security Services

With IoT, you need to analyze where each individual component comes from. Even if everything on your end is scrutinized and secure, components come from different manufacturers who may not share your safety ideals. The same goes for your encryption protocol. Hackers can access your data as you’re sending it, so utilizing IoT security services like AWS Device Defender might be a good idea. – Artem Petrov, Reinvently

  1. Hack Yourself Before the Bad Guys Do

The bad guys are out there, but there are “ethical hackers” you can employ to find vulnerabilities. Use a security firm to run annual penetration tests on your infrastructure. Pay bug bounties (usually $500) to “white hat hackers” who find security exploits. And run phishing emails on your employees to see who takes the bait. Humans can be your weakest link, and “live fire” exercises do work! – Vinay Pai,

  1. Build a Fortress

When building security into a product—especially one that connects to the internet—assume everyone is out to “pwn” (hack) that product. Beyond designing defensively, it may also be necessary to lock down and verify all remote access, keep detailed access logs during testing and even proactively block access to bad actors. Achieving this in a friendly, easy-to-use consumer product is the challenge. – Chris Kirby Retired

  1. Be Cognizant Of History

So many technologists have such wonderful skills and creativity that they sometimes become “intechicated,” neglecting the greatest risk—physical security. Phishing, illegal access, copying, data manipulation, malware, and on and on all stem from poor physical security. If you can limit access and make it step one of your everyday cyber DNA, you will have a sound foundation for your technology. – Wayne Lonstein, VFT Solutions, Inc.

  1. Guard against Scale

Consider how security may be impacted by product growth: number of users, amount of data stored, geographic distribution, operations per second, etc. Security risks are always present; design your product to ensure that those risks do not become unacceptable when elements of the product or its use grow by orders of magnitude beyond expectations. – Seth Noble,Data Expedition, Inc.

  1. Minimize Your Attack Surface

Think like the adversary. There will inevitably be security bugs in any piece of moderately complex software, so think about how you can minimize the amount of your software that will be accessible directly or indirectly by an unauthenticated user. And implement a strong identity with multifactor dynamic authentication from day one. – Gaurav Banga, Balbix

  1. Build Trust between Security and Development Teams

IT leaders must start by establishing trust between security and development teams. Evangelize early and often and create win-win situations by finding someone on the team who’s doing it right. Celebrate what’s working, and use them as an example of where the team should be going. Help teams understand that the product will impact a customer’s life, rather than the organization. – Robert Reeves, Datical

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



Eight Methods to Prioritize Your Project Slate and Boost Productivity

February 22nd, 2019

Entrepreneurs wear many hats as they deal with not only the expected projects, but also the unexpected challenges that arise every day at their budding companies. As a company evolves and grows, so too do the demands on an entrepreneur to oversee all of the moving pieces, making sure the entire company is moving toward a cohesive goal. The demands on an entrepreneur’s time all too often result in the feeling of being pulled in a million different directions at once—sometimes paralyzing progress as one wonders what to tackle first.

To remain productive and find success, entrepreneurs must find a method to focus and prioritize tasks. These methods can differ from company to company and person to person depending on what the business demands and each entrepreneur’s unique style. It’s important to explore options to find the one that works best for you.  To help, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their own surefire methods to prioritize projects and boost productivity.

  1. Apply the ‘First Fruits’ Method

You will make 35,000 decisions each day. Some are conscious, and many are unconscious. The idea of “first fruits” is that we give our best, not our leftovers, to what is the most important to us. Navigating 35,000+ decisions each day is overwhelming, and our main priorities are lost. To remain focused, start with fixing the first two hours of your day. Devote the most uninterrupted, focused time to the most important objectives and key results you are working toward. During this time remove all distractions, including phones, emails and media. Be intentional about your environment, including light and even aspects such as sound or music. Remember, this is your best time and no one else’s. The fruit from planting seeds consistently during this time will grow success in all areas of your life. – Caroline Beckman, Nouri Life

  1. Do the Hard Stuff First

We’ve found that if we are not careful, the time is spent putting out small fires and handling mini-tasks that could either be done more efficiently or done by someone else. Then the important, difficult tasks wind up getting pushed off indefinitely—after all, there are always small tasks to take care of. However, if we block off an hour or two in the morning to dive into the bigger project that we’ve been dreading, we are able to get into a rhythm. The project can then be divided into smaller tasks and completed as needed. And because it’s still the morning, there’s plenty of time in the afternoon to take care of the small chores and deal with anything urgent that came up over the course of the day. – Jacob Drucker, Supply Clinic

  1. Embrace the Kanban Method

If you have teams working for you, then the Kanban method could be for you. Kanban is a Japanese term for “visual signal.” It has been used in the manufacturing process at companies like Toyota. Kanban works by visualizing the flow of work, tapping into the fact we process images 60,000 times faster than words. For example, you could use a “card” or “token” for each task and place them with the relevant team. As the task progresses, it moves through the different stages. It holds everyone accountable, increases efficiency and gets things done. There are tools out there that offer this approach, like Trello or Atlassian. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International

  1. Understand Severity and Priority

A concept well known in quality assurance may effectively be applied in entrepreneurship. Software defects are qualified with two labels: “severity” and “priority.” Severity is related to the overall impact and risk of the bug. Priority is the consecutive queue for executing ongoing tasks. Severity and priority appear as intertwined, but they are not necessarily. A low-severity problem may be raised to top priority in case of additional opportunities or hidden risks. This is a managerial decision and often involves multiple layers of command, including legal, accounting and the board of directors. Entrepreneurs should apply a quantifiable decision-making matrix that ranks severity and priority for seamless execution. Adopting this model speeds up iterations and effectively maximizes the outcome. – Mario Peshev, DevriX

  1. Focus On Revenue-Generating Activities

The focus has always been on identifying what’s going to generate the revenue and prioritizing it over anything else. Of course, many would say, “How do you find work-life balance with that method?” You can if you focus on revenue-generating activities for a few days a week, while the rest of the week can be for leisure or family time. For example, Monday through Thursday, the biggest focus is on how to save the company money and increase the bottom line. We try to understand the value each and every person is bringing to us and how we can make them more productive. Instead of focusing a lot on public relations, which is a long-term play, we are more focused on learning about our customers through a survey process. This will help us win loyalty, which is more important than acquisition in the long run. – Sweta Patel, Startup Growth Mode

  1. Be ‘Ruthless’ and Delegate

We subscribe to Sheryl Sandberg’s idea of ruthless prioritization. As a business owner, it’s critical that we make the tough calls. Look at what’s on your plate and decide which projects you will devote your time and attention to. Once you’ve done so, trust your team to carry out the rest. Make sure that top priorities and individual responsibilities are clearly communicated, and then trust your employees to make decisions accordingly. Trusting your employees and giving them the power to call some shots is highly motivating and generally leads to employee growth and increased accountability. If you’re hiring the right people, you should be able to delegate responsibility and decision-making authority to them. – Stephen Beach, Craft Impact Marketing

  1. Use the 80/20 Principle

In the long run, the most important thing is executing and accomplishing the big goals you set for yourself and your company. As such, you should be devoting most of your time to making serious progress on these projects. However, to do that effectively and run the company as a whole, there will be smaller, less critical but still highly important day-to-day tasks that will need your attention. We find the sweet spot to be devoting 80% of the time to accomplishing the long-term, big project goals through the highest leverage activities possible and 20% to the important day-to-day tasks that are needed to keep things running smoothly. Everything else should ideally get automated, systematized or handed off to someone else on your team to follow through on so you can stay in the genius zone. – Justin Faerman, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine

  1. Leverage Task Management Software

It’s easy to become flustered as a manager when there are all kinds of issues that only you can handle. When your employees are coming at you from every direction with ideas, complaints and feedback, it’s also easy to forget what you have to do to keep your business running smoothly. Prioritizing certain tasks over others becomes imperative, but without a clear idea of what’s on your plate, this all becomes much harder to accomplish. Task management software like Asana should be used to organize your tasks however you see fit. Asana offers powerful team collaboration features like accessible calendars, assigning tasks and subtasks to employees with due dates, adding followers, and much more. This makes it easier for you to delegate tasks and for employees to see when you’re swamped. – Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

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





Developing a Major Project: Eight Ways to Improve Planning

January 17th, 2019

As companies grow in complexity and size, so do their projects. Executing these major projects can be either massively beneficial or unfortunately troublesome. On the one hand, bigger projects usually involve a lot more people or teams and higher funding, which allows for more diverse ideas to be explored and carried out. However, having a larger number of people or moving parts can introduce unhelpful elements, such as increased chances for miscommunication or errors.

In order to get the best result out of your project, developing a plan of execution is often the best course of action. So which steps are the most effective for developing that plan? Below, members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their most effective tactical step in developing execution plans that work. Here’s what they advise:

  1. Define All ‘Whys’

The real, business-centric answer to why we are doing something is where most major problems on projects start. Complex projects will have lots of whys and it is important to capture all of them. From there, use prioritization to define measurable goals that achieve your “whys” to keep the scope of work on target and reactive to what’s doable alongside what’s impactful. – Adam Brazg, Bilberrry

  1. Begin at the End

An execution plan must begin at the end. Have a clear picture of what you want to achieve and build a ladder from the ground up, making each step an achievement before you reach the ultimate goal. – Elisabeth Swardstrom, PixelFish

  1. Use Organizational Tools

Internally, we like to use a variety of tools to organize our plan of attack for upcoming projects or client work. We use as a project management tool in order to keep track of individual itemized tasks that go into the project as a whole. I think having some kind of structured organizational tools will help a lot in executing and planning major projects. – Lorne Fade, VR Vision Inc.

  1. Sell the Team on the Idea

The first step to any project is to sell yourself and your team first. Once you sell the team, then you can effectively raise capital, and sell everyone else on it. Without this 110% belief, the project is doomed to fail. – Tarry Summers, KP Real Estate Group

  1. Build the Right Team

One of the most important steps in developing an execution plan for a major project is ensuring you have assembled the right team. Each project is different, but you must make sure you have a mixture of vision, strategy, project management and execution. Without the proper mix of skills, you’ll fail. Vision without execution is a hallucination. – Craig Haynie, AtlanTech Resellers, Inc DBA CablesAndKits

  1. Hash out A Plan With Leaders

Get all the people involved in a room to hash out the plan. Have all the decision makers in a room in a distraction-free environment: Anyone and everyone that need to have a say must be in the room. Then mentally walk through the journey of implementing the plan top down, starting with customer or end-user journey, and then going down to the details of meeting her or his needs. – Bramh Gupta, RoboMQ

  1. Envision the Ideal Outcome

When creating a strategic execution plan for major projects, always start by envisioning the ideal outcome. What are we looking to achieve? What specifically defines that outcome? How long do we project it to take to complete? From there, tactically work backward, identifying the milestones that need to be hit to complete the major project. This will give you a clear roadmap to get started. – Connor Gillivan, FreeeUp

  1. Dedicate Time to Prepare

As a leader, you will see more — and see earlier — than the others around you. Processing what you see into the most successful team execution plan requires quiet and dedicated space. In leadership, private preparation is the source of public power. The most tactical step in developing an execution plan is to dedicate the first hour of your work day, focused and uninterrupted, to preparing your plan. – Caroline Beckman, Nouri Life

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

Bridge the Tech Design Divide: 14 Ways to Deal with Conflicting Project Goal

December 24th, 2018

New product design is a core component of day-to-day business for many tech companies, but it can come with complications. While it’s often exciting, validating and fun to design a tech product as a team, there’s a real chance for conflict to arise. With so many people invested in the project, there may be multiple goals to be reconciled.

If there are too many or conflicting project goals under consideration it can hamper progress, endanger deadlines and damage the design team’s cohesion. So, what’s the best course for leaders faced with competing product goals? Below, 14 members of Forbes Technology Council offer their advice.

  1. Categorize Your Goals

When you have conflicting goals for a product design, you have to first categorize them as “must have” or “nice to have.” You then prioritize which goals are important for a target market and customers. Get customer feedback and then decide on the goals. – Naresh Soni, Tsunami ARVR

  1. Let the Market Settle Conflict

Gain feedback by asking your target customer base strategically designed discovery questions; ask a minimum of 50 customers. We use the feedback as design inputs and then set the product design goals as a team. This method keeps the design team focused on serving customer needs and avoids internal conflicts and egos. – Ryan Ramkhelawan, CleanEndo

  1. Develop Customer Maps

One of the most important topics to evaluate when a new project arises is how the project will provide benefit to the customer and stakeholder. Therefore, all new projects should be evaluated and aligned with a customer map. Conflicting goals can be easily resolved by assessing what most benefits the customer. – Maria Clemens, Management and Network Services, LLC

  1. Designate A Single ‘Chef’

“Too many chefs spoil the stew” means that too many designers will lead to conflicting goals. Inviting discourse helps to refine goals in the interest of the finished product, but too many decision makers will only cause delays. From the start, decide who makes final decisions to ensure you are moving the product design forward while incorporating feedback from testing and other team members. – Arnie Gordon, Arlyn Scales

  1. Align To Your Company’s Vision

Stick to your company’s vision or to the intended value the product is supposed to deliver. Ask yourself which one of the conflicting goals will make you progress effectively toward the vision or value and decide. – Thiru Sivasubramanian, SE2, LLC

  1. Work Backward From The Customer

Whether conflicting goals come from conflicting business objectives, conflicting design philosophies or just personal preferences on the product team, always try to work backward from what best serves the customers. They give us the right to do business, independent of what’s going on inside the walls of our own companies or the results of our past experiences. – Steve Pao, Hill work, LLC

  1. Make A Data-Driven Decision

We use prioritization matrices to determine which feature has the best overall value to the business. We’ll assign a weight to each business goal (for example, UX, revenue, optimization and so on). Then we’ll rate each feature’s contribution toward each business goal. Once we tally the feature up according to the weighted goals, the features that should be implemented first will pop to the top. – Kathy Keating, Apostrophe, Inc.

  1. Remember the Bottom Line

It’s easy to get swept up in market trends or to want to build a “cool” product. Leaders must always consider the financial ramifications of each decision. For example, time spent trying the latest design trend could instead be spent adding revenue-generating features; don’t lose customers and sales in an effort to make the product flashier. Don’t be afraid to intervene if costs outweigh benefits. – Jason Gill, The HOTH

  1. Abandon Analysis Paralysis

You’re always going to have conflicting priorities, whether in product design, market focus, reporting structure or whatever. The most important thing is to not get stuck in analysis paralysis. Take in all the facts, then make a decision — keeping alive a state of ambiguity is much worse than picking a path you later have to course correct. – Chris Moustakas, DevonWay

  1. Find Ways to Reach Common Ground

Listen to each conflicting goal and hear why it’s important to consider. Find ways to reach common ground or unite the goals. Give everyone time to explain, and make it an inclusive experience. When you decide which goals make the most sense, communicate why to everyone involved. Always make it about the end objective. – Jon Bradshaw, Calendar

  1. Apply The 80% Rule

When planning, there are near-term, long-term and bleeding-edge goals. I’ve always applied the 80% rule to near-term goals. If there’s a conflict on which features or products should get the lion’s share of capital and time, it should be useful and/or asked for by 80% of users. Many really great things are developed and never see success because too few users know how to use them. – Tom Roberto, Core Technology Solutions

  1. Have a Clear Goal in Mind

It takes conflicting views to get the best ideas, through either testing assumptions or trial and error. But without a clear goal the outcomes will be muddled and the product experience will suffer. What is helpful is to focus on objectives and an organization’s grand vision, identifying your end users accurately and working backwards on how a product will solve problems instead of creating them. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

  1. Make Fair and Analytical Decisions

For true conflict items where the team needs to choose “A” or “B” for a major feature, the decision must be made fair and analytical. Ask yourself and your team which feature is (1) most important to our target market? (2) most difficult for a competitor to produce at or above our quality? (3) the least limiting to other aspects of the product? – Bret Piatt, Jungle Disk

  1. Test Mock-ups with Real Users

It is not uncommon to have several goals when building products. The conflict often arises from translating goals to design and attempting to use one design to satisfy many goals. I recommend mocking up and testing several product designs with real users and seeing how many goals can be achieved with specific designs. I have witnessed far too many goals fail based on unproven design assumptions. – Chris Kirby, Retired

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


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.

12 Project Management Tips for Busy Tech Leaders

October 29th, 2018

Project management is a crucial skill to master. Tech leaders in particular often juggle multiple tasks at once, and they must understand how to prioritize their responsibilities.
It’s not always easy to find a balance, though. To keep things moving successfully, you need to understand your team’s strengths and be able to clearly communicate priorities and expectations.
Forbes Technology Council members offered advice for leaders in the tech space who want to improve their project management skills.
1. Create A Process And Stick To It
Sit with your team and figure out a process. Your process might be to get the wireframe done first, then assign who will work on each module, work on modules simultaneously when possible and test it once everything is complete. Throughout the process, communication is the key. Keep a culture of open communication even if it is for bad news. Make a culture of sticking to these processes. – Vikram Joshi, pulsd
2. Let Your Team Work In The Ways They Prefer
Co-design the process with your team and re-evaluate its effectiveness regularly. We’ve used Slack, Trello, Pivotal Tracker, Jira, Asana, and more and found the tool is less important than buy-in from the team. If they prefer sticky notes on a wall, let them work through the process design any way that makes sense. When they have it nailed, let them choose the tool to digitize the experience. – Michael Lee Simpson, PAIRIN
3. Align Your Projects with Customer Needs
One of the key components of technology project management is the alignment of the project with the customer blueprint. Each time a project is proposed, it should be lined up with a customer roadmap to ensure the outcomes are supportive of customers or stakeholders. The projects that align with customer and stakeholder output should take priority. – Maria Clemens, Management and Network Services
4. Delegate, Then Provide Support
To manage all the projects effectively, the tech leader needs to delegate authority. The leader needs to have a broader vision and goals in mind and effectively convey them to the team. When the team is marching forward to execute the plan that’s been laid out, the leader needs to act as second in command by constantly aligning the teams and create a support system to remove roadblocks. – Raghu Konka, iPass
5. Don’t Get Distracted By The Little Things
In John Doerr’s recent book, “Measure What Matters,” he focuses on OKRs. I believe these are an effective way of management, but the big takeaway is to understand what your key objectives are as a leader and focus on what is going to create results for them. Too many leaders get distracted by things like feature requests that often lead to delays instead of focusing on goals and the big picture. – Zach Bruhnke, Halleman Bradley
6. Be Clear About When And Why You’re Switching Projects
As tech leaders, we understand the why of switching between multiple tasks and projects, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of being “too busy” to communicate that to the team. The team members then feel whipsawed, and it can appear that management is just flailing around without rhyme or reason. The people who comprise tech teams are smart people — take time and explain things to them. – Scot Wingo, Get Spiffy
7. Practice Frequent, Transparent Communication About Goals And Priorities
Top-down and bottom-up, tech teams work best when the priorities are well-understood and shared. This means frequent and open discussion about priorities and roadblocks, ranking the tasks and goals, and sharing the results of this ranking process. This also means accepting feedback from the tech teams and at times pushing back on the requestors with honesty and options. – Timothy McGuire, J.S. Held
8. Regularly Evaluate Priorities
Differentiating between the critical and the important is the difference between success and failure. We are always battling against the law of resource constraints, which is essentially managing between the timing it takes to fund, acquire and deploy resources. We have a weekly prioritization meeting attended by group heads in which we decide where we should and should not continue to invest. – Craig Bandes, Pixelligent
9. Track Your Team’s Time
Time-tracking tools are vital to the project management process. It’s important to know how much time is being spent on each component of a tech project to find ways to become more efficient and determine who is being productive and who may need some attention. – Chalmers Brown, Due
10. Know And Use Your Team’s Strengths
One piece of advice when juggling multiple projects is to have clear priorities and an understanding of the capabilities of your teams. Assign the best people available on the most important project at that moment. Things can change quickly. Priorities shift and problems appear, and that can require reassigning resources. Knowing which resources to move is critical to achieving project goals. – Chris Kirby, Retired
11. Take It One Project At A Time
Although you can manage multiple projects at a time, you can only work on one project at a time. Even though tech leaders will manage multiple projects, the staff that does the actual work on the projects should only work on one project in order to ensure the fastest track to success. – Carlos Melendez, Wovenware
12. Maintain A Positive Attitude
Venting to co-workers about how much you have to do can put your team in a negative space. Juggling multiple projects is a good thing — it shows your organization is busy and you’re needed. Avoid promoting that you’re overworking and hit the ground running to guarantee you’re making a positive contribution in every project. – Abdullah Snobar, DMZ at Ryerson University

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Technology Council

15 Change Management Mistakes You’re Probably Making

July 30th, 2018

It’s often been said that change is the only constant in life. Trite though it may be, this adage rings true, especially in the business world. Markets, technologies and customer preferences are always shifting and evolving, and these factors can have a significant impact on internal operations.

As a leader, it’s your job to not only clearly communicate big changes, but help your team navigate through them. However, this is easier said than done, which is why we asked the experts at Forbes Coaches Council for their advice. Below, they discuss the biggest mistakes leaders make in change management, and how to avoid those errors in your own organization.


  1. Not Developing A Clear Communication Plan For Before, During And After Change

Insufficient communication is the leading problem when it comes to moving employees through change. Organizations that practice transparency and provide information before, during and after the change process will have a more accepting workforce. A communication plan should be developed including different forms of communication taking place at different times. – Karin Naslund, Naslund Consulting Group Inc.

  1. Ignoring The Root Causes Of Employee Resistance

People don’t buy into seemingly bad ideas. Leaders make the mistake of assuming that resistance to change is due to disengaged or difficult employees. In the majority of cases, employees resist change because the information they have tells them this initiative is unwise, ill-founded or unlikely to stick. Leaders need to get curious about the true sources of resistance and take action on those. – Maureen Cunningham, Up Until Now Inc.

  1. Not Asking For Or Incorporating Team Feedback

When instituting change, leaders need to constantly seek feedback on the real-time effects of the changes and be open to adjusting their plan to achieve the desired results. Leaders should be constantly measuring the effects of change and seeking feedback from the affected team members. You then have the data to make adjustments to the plan in order to get the best possible results. – David Galowich, Terra Firma Leadership LLC

  1. Dictating Change, Rather Than Educating People About It

Instituting change from the top down may be your prerogative as a leader but the tendency is to bring this on as a demand and not an education. Companies that bring change on gently find that people adapt and accept it. Education encourages. Harsh decisions will be accepted but often come in more harshly. Training, teaching and peer-to-peer education are the best ways to create positive change. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

  1.  Inconsistent Leadership Involvement

One of the biggest reasons change initiatives fail to materialize is inconsistent executive sponsorship. Change leaders tend to be very vocal and active in the beginning, but with time become inactive. This lack of visibility fuels more resistance to change and runs counter to a successful initiative. Leaders need to stay active and visible throughout the change cycle, not just the beginning. – Ali Merchant, Ali Merchant

  1. Oversimplifying The Change

In my experience, leaders often address change management from an overly simplistic perspective. That perspective is often rooted in their own level of development. Since much of the workforce comes from what’s known as an Expert or Achiever point of view, it’s easy to miss the complexity of change. Such complexity calls for the ability to see the impact of change across multiple systems. – Sharon Spano, Spano & Company, Inc.

  1. Expecting Immediate Acceptance Of Change

People react to a major change in phases, similar to the stages of grief. Understand that buy-in is gradual, and support your team at each phase. Are they in denial? Give them proof with a project timeline. Are you seeing resistance? Comfort them about what they may be losing. Are they exploring with lots of questions? Support them with answers. – Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

  1. Downplaying The Impact Of The Change

Leaders often minimize the change or, more specifically, the impact of the change on engagement and productivity. Leaders have had much more time with the change and have rationalized the impact of the change for themselves. They may also lack the courage to face the change and therefore downplay it to the team. – Michael Brainard, Brainard Strategy

  1. Assuming Employees Know What to Do

Sometimes leaders of change lay out what needs to happen, yet employees don’t know how to move forward. Likely feeling threatened, many employees won’t say anything and become frustrated and fearful for their jobs. Training programs can provide the skills development necessary for success. Coaching programs can help employees identify their emotions and beliefs that might be holding them back. – Barbara OMalley, Exec Advance LLC

  1. Failing To Actively Participate In The Change

There is only so much your change management team can do to prepare, train and reinforce within the organization. The real impact comes from the C-level and executive teams championing the change and leading by example. Leaders can’t expect teams to adopt if they are not actively and publicly participating. – Leanne Wong, Leanne Wong

  1. Neglecting To Involve Those Impacted By The Change

Leaders should decide the “what” of the change and engage others in the “how.” People resist change when it is done to them. When they are a part it, they can see how they’re impacted and how to influence it. One of the first things leaders need to do is identify key stakeholders — both individuals and groups — and identify ways to engage with them early and often. – Edith Onderick-Harvey, NextBridge Consulting, LLC

  1. Not Communicating The Change In A Way That Speaks To Your Team’s Different Personalities

Stabilizers love predictability in their day and aren’t a big fan of change. Organizers want the stats to back up your reasoning. Fixers will step in and help everyone deal with the changes as painlessly as possible. Independents love change and will be pushing you for more. Use “Culture Types” to develop your strategy around roll-out, and you’ll be delighted at its effective implementation. – Dr. Rachel MK Headley, Rose Group, Intl

  1. Trying To Make A Big Change All At Once

Change happens frequently and can be complex. Break change down into manageable steps. Take the most immediate small step that can bring the greatest value. Mastering change comes from being present and seeing opportunities that exist now. Similar to the concept of time to market, be the first to manage the change, no matter how small. – Alan Trivedi, Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group

  1. Not Helping Others Envision The Possibilities

When changes come, they create uncertainty, doubt and concern among staff. Good leadership requires walking through the upcoming or ongoing change together and casting a vision of the new possibilities that will come about as a result of the change. Help your employees and teammates see the future that you see, and empathize with their potential concerns as you journey together. – Billy Williams, Archegos

  1. Not Outlining And Supporting The Internal Transitional Steps

Change is situational, transition is psychological. Strong change management incorporates both processes. Guide the situational change with clarity of purpose, training and resources, and offer space and time for individuals to digest and process the associated internal transition. Making the steps of transitions known ensures the people will drive the change rather than the change driving them. – Tonyalynne Wildhaber, The Courage Practice


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

11 Project Management Tips To Keep Your Employees On Track

April 23rd, 2018

Good project management is essential for any team tackling large, multi-faceted initiatives. This is especially true in the tech industry, where individual tasks are often highly specialized, complex and time sensitive. Without a solid process in place, it’s easy to lose track of progress and issues that may arise.

To find out how leaders can keep their teams’ tasks organized and transparent, we asked a panel of Forbes Technology Council members for their top project management tips. Their best answers are below.

  1. Create Squad-Based Teams

What helps our teams manage tasks is breaking down team silos with squad-based development to reduce miscommunication among team members. Squads are small, flexible teams that are responsible for the end-to-end delivery of each product. Each member is involved in sprint planning so that every person is allocated specific tasks that cumulatively match the capacity of the squad. – Sanjay Malhotra, Clearbridge Mobile

  1. Directly Align Tasks and Performance with Company Goals

Make sure everyone is aligned with the organization’s critical objectives with specific, individual performance goals paired with measurable outcomes. Tie the individual contributors’ performance directly to the organization’s goals with frequent progress reviews. This will naturally motivate your team to keep its eye on the ball and to avoid tasks that do not contribute to overall success. – Kevin Vliet, Target Corporation

  1. Use AI to Tackle Menial Tasks

The champions of the IT department have been struggling through some less-than-ideal work environments. It’s long been the fate of IT pros to handle mundane tasks that “keep the lights on.” Yet with the dawn of AI ops, noise reduction and alert clustering can be automated, granting IT pros the time and opportunity to focus on initiatives that drive the business forward. – Chad Steelberg, Veritone

  1. Follow Kanban Principles

While this system originated in the dev world, we at HyperGrid extensively use Trello and Kanban principles for organizing across the company. This has proved very useful as a way to quickly inspect and see how backlog is growing, who is overloaded and help with the reprioritization of tasks. – Manoj Nair, HyperGrid

  1. Make Sure Employees are Working on the Right Tasks

Unless employees are busy doing the right tasks, the business will suffer. Let intelligent data drive the framework, determining what each employee should focus on to achieve specific tasks. – Manish Sood, Reltio

  1. Train Everyone on Time Management

One-on-one time management training will help employees get the most out of their personal work times, which will help smoothen workflow among teams. Much emphasis, especially for tech employees, should be placed on blocking extended periods of time to focus on one sole task without distractions and breaking up longer projects into smaller, easily digestible parts. – Scott Stiner, UM Technologies

  1. Set Clear Expectations and Checkpoints

Strategic over-communication is key. Before teams start on a project, I like to make sure that everyone has a clear idea of deliverables, timelines and a measure of what success looks like. We also develop checkpoints along the way with our teams to figure out what is working and what is holding up progress. It’s vital to strike a balance between project management and employee independence. – Gregor Carrigan, Course Hero

  1. Encourage Communication, Feedback and Collaboration

Schedule daily stand-ups, weekly syncs and monthly alignment meetings. Provide ongoing feedback whether positive or negative. Don’t wait for periodic performance reviews. Everyone should know where they stand and where to improve. Foster an engineering team culture of close collaboration to solve siloing and project delays and to keep an overall tight adherence to a roadmap. – Bojan Simic, HYPR Corp.

  1. Choose the Most Important Thing For Employees To Focus On

Daily stand-ups are great to help share info but also for making sure that people rank the most important thing. If they have too many tasks, then they can’t be working on them all equally. The length of the list is just as useful as the top item on the list. Things in the middle of a long list are not likely to move forward and give a false illusion of progress because of constant status updates. – Joshua Greenough, InfoScout

  1. Prioritize Based on Urgency and Importance

Critical to task management is to identify tasks around two vectors: urgency and importance. Obviously, we want to tackle important things before less important things, so it’s critical to balance between important-urgent matters versus important-not-urgent matters. Regardless of how many important-urgent tasks teams have, it is always important to tackle the important-not-urgent tasks as well. – Han Yuan, Up work

  1. Trust Members of Your Team to Decide How They Work Best

Stop imposing process and overhead that prevents teams from being productive. Leaders should hire great talent, challenge them with an inspiring vision and then let teams decide on the tasks to best accomplish. As Laszlo Bock wrote, “Give people slightly more trust, freedom and authority than you are comfortable giving them. If you’re not nervous, you haven’t given them enough.” – Mike Weaver, Monsanto



Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Technology Council