‘Phew! I have no idea where all this time went’, you might say after a busy day at work. Yet you repeat it over and over again, not being able to fully reflect on where you are...
Managing projects comes with its fair share of challenges. From difficult stakeholders to resource shortages, a project manager must know how to navigate tricky situations. What makes it even more challenging is the fact that project managers often struggle with a large number of tasks and strict deadlines.
In fact, many project managers surveyed recently by the Digital Project Manager admitted that not having enough time was their biggest challenge.
If you’re a project manager who wishes that Hermione Granger’s time-turner was available for purchase, we have some good news for you. No, not about magical supplies. About your time. You can likely optimize your work by utilizing robust apps and improving the project management processes at your organization. Plus, it will help you hit your professional goals.
Achieve your goals as a project manager
What are the main goals of effective project managers? For starters, they want to deliver their projects on time and within budget. Additionally, they hope to improve processes like risk management, project estimation, or team communication. How can you get closer to meeting these goals?
Granted, you should continue working on your problem-solving, leadership, and project management skills. Still, sometimes you simply need a tool that will allow you to save some time and work smarter. In this blog post, we’ll show you how Teamdeck, a complete resource management app, helps project managers throughout the project lifecycle.
How does Teamdeck support project managers’ work?
An effective project manager knows that every stage of the project contributes to its overall success and impact. Of course, every project has its unique characteristics and challenges, but the main project phases remain the same. Let’s see how an app like Teamdeck can help project managers optimize their work every step of the way.
Project leaders realize that resource allocation is integral to the success of the project. Put the right people on the right projects, and you’re more likely to have a smooth project ahead of you.
If allocating team members to projects is one of your responsibilities as a project manager, you know it could be a very daunting task. When your company is small, you probably know all of the employees, but as the resource pool grows, you can easily get lost and start wondering: “Who would be the right person for this project?”
Teamdeck provides you with a company-wide resource calendar where you can see a list of employees. Still, you need to know more about them rather than just their names to make an informed decision about putting them on your team. Depending on your organization’s needs, you can add custom categories and enter more info about your team members: their technical skills, seniority level, location, etc. As a project manager, you can also see what previous projects a given person was involved in at your company, which could be beneficial when allocating resources to a similar project.
Planning the timeline
Yet another challenge project managers face when planning the project is to translate the estimates into a timeline. Sure, you know that the design phase will take, say, 120 hours, but you can’t simply assume it’s three weeks. You have to take into account bank holidays, employees’ vacations, plus people’s current capacity. A resource calendar with data about people’s current bookings and planned time off will be invaluable here. You can easily map out a project schedule and check if it’s in line with important project dates.
Effective project managers know that it’s essential to ask your client about any external deadlines your team has to keep in mind, for instance, a marketing campaign coordinated by a different agency. It may turn out that you will have to negotiate some of these dates with your client or alter the project scope, but it’s better to know that at the beginning of the project.
Project execution and monitoring
Once the project kicks off, a good project manager needs to be in the know about different aspects of the process. From managing the changing availability of your team to overseeing the budget, Teamdeck will help you work productively.
Effective project managers know that planning a project timeline is one thing, but you still have to keep your finger on the pulse and make adjustments if necessary. One of the things that will help you stay on top of your project’s schedule and people’s capacity is visibility into your team members’ vacation schedules. Teamdeck gives you that opportunity—you can see authorized vacations and time off requests in the resource calendar.
Since not all absences can be planned way in advance, it’s best if you’re notified about new time off requests (via Slack, for instance). You will be able to avoid double-booking someone, plus you will get a chance to edit the whole schedule when needed.
Balanced resource utilization is crucial to the well-being of your team. Employees can’t do their best work when they’re working too much. However, being underutilized also makes your team unhappy. Plus, neither of these cases is good for the business. As a project manager, you should monitor resource utilization. It’s easier when the overtime is clearly marked like it’s the case in Teamdeck. Underutilization is also easy to spot because you see exactly how much capacity people have left.
Why is it important to track people’s utilization via a central resource calendar? Wouldn’t a project timesheet report do the job? Project reports are definitely helpful. We’ll talk more about them in the very next section of this blog post. However, you need to monitor the total workload of your team, not just the project you’re managing. Imagine a situation where an employee logs in the “right” number of hours in their timesheets for your project and puts in extra time for other projects, such as new employee training. You may easily miss that if you only analyze your project’s timesheets. Looking at the Teamdeck’s resource calendar, however, you’ll see all of the projects any person is involved in.
Controlling the budget is an important part of successful project management. PMs need to know how much costs have been generated thus far at any moment during the project. For these calculations to be precise, team members should track their work, ideally in real-time.
How can Teamdeck help here? For starters, we offer a convenient way for employees to fill out their timesheets using a mobile time tracker or a web app. On top of that, you can create a project costs report which will update automatically every time there’s a new time entry in the timesheet. It’s a huge time-saver: you set up such a report once, at the beginning of the project, and then just check it regularly instead of doing the math again.
Tracking billable and non-billable time
Striking the right balance when it comes to billable and non-billable activities is essential. After all, if your employees spend too much time on non-billable tasks, the project may turn out to be unprofitable. As a project manager, you’re at an advantage when you know the breakdown of billable and non-billable hours. With Teamdeck, it’s possible.
When your team logs in their time, they can label time entries with tags like approved overtime, non-billable, r&d, etc. You can define your own tags to match your company’s needs. A project leader can see the breakdown of different tags in their team’s timesheet report.
Introducing data-driven optimizations
Throughout the project, you will likely develop ideas for improving project delivery workflows or adjusting project management processes. Sometimes your team members themselves will suggest different optimization ideas. For instance, they may report that client communication takes much of their precious time. When your company uses Teamdeck, you can always dig into the data to make sure a given observation is correct. Timesheet tags can show you exactly how much of their time your team spends on client meetings, so you’ll know whether there’s room for improvement.
The closure of the project is when a project manager can look back and analyze the whole project. One of the reports we recommend creating is the comparison of estimated and actual hours.
It allows you to see whether your team’s estimates were accurate and pinpoint stages with the most significant discrepancies between planned hours and tracked hours. For instance, it may turn out that the design phase is notoriously underestimated in different projects. Perhaps people responsible for estimating it should add an extra buffer to their initial estimates?
Such an analysis will be useful not only for you but also for other PMs and your company’s management. It can help everyone avoid past mistakes and ensure successful project management practices are present in your company’s future projects.
Successful project management is easier with Teamdeck
A great app will not replace leadership skills or the ability to connect with your team members. However, it can help you increase productivity, spot alarming patterns on time, or automate some of your project management duties. The result? An effective project management process that positively affects your company’s bottom line as well as the well-being of your team.
Want to become a successful project manager? Give Teamdeck a try! You can sign up for free here.