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January 29, 2013

2013: The Year of the Project Democracy

By TMCnet Special Guest
Charles Seybold, Chief Product Officer

“Share your blocks!” Teachers have been telling you to share and work together since preschool. So why did you stop once you grew up and entered the project management workforce? With the old way, you kept all of your project details, date-driven schedules and control to yourself. You were the only one with access to all of the information—yet all of your team members needed to see the data. To make matters worse, you couldn’t take a sick day or you would hold up the project. Your projects’ deadlines don’t change just because you caught the flu. Or maybe you would wake up in the middle of the night grinding your teeth and remembering something that slipped off your to-do list. The miserable scenarios are endless.

Take heart: There is a better way. Enter 2013 and the new and improved era of productivity. And it all revolves around sharing and working together. Funny how some trends always repeat themselves (neon, platform shoes, and sharing, among others).

Decision-Monopolizing: So 2012

Don’t be a control freak: No one can do it all and you shouldn’t either. Too often you get tied down with date-driven schedules, centralized control, and limited transparency. So don’t try to be the one person running the show, keeping all the tasks to yourself and building fences to keep others out (Um, that doesn’t sound like “teamwork” anyways). Most likely, you were spending too much time and energy on tasks that weren’t all your responsibility and sometimes that even made you the bottleneck during a project. Take your overabundance of tasks and share ‘em!  

Try using the online project management software to allocate tasks to team members and send communications to the entire group with a couple clicks of a button. Don’t waste precious time in Outlook adding 16 names in the “To” field and sending out multiple communications when it can be done automatically. You will be amazed at how much more you can get done when you eliminate repetitive tasks through a cloud-based management tool. You’ll be left with more time to address the bigger picture: Project strategy, goals, client issues, and other problems that need attention (and frequently fall off the radar). Not only will your clients be happier, but your boss will, too.

It’s OK to be Transparent (Really)

Remember the old way where you were the gatekeeper of all the information and you had to send multiple e-mails to keep everyone up-to-date? Now meet the new way: Set up your team so that other group members can view all of the necessary information—any time, from anywhere. Cloud-based services allow transparency into work assignments, priorities, and key project dates. Imagine all of your team members being able to see everything from the implementation to the end date and view his/her tasks anytime. Your entire project will flow more smoothly with less room for communication errors when everyone is looking at the same information and knows his/her responsibilities.

Meetings and E-mail: A Case of Less is More

Let’s take a vote: Who loves meetings? I don’t either. With centralized status updates and communication, the era of unnecessary meetings is over (you no longer have to try to keep your eyes open during your fifteenth status meeting of the week). Complete your work in less time and ensure the correct people can view important dates and tasks. When it’s time to analyze your data and create reports, all the information is already there. You don’t have to hunt down the appropriate people to get each piece of data. Your team will work together smoothly to ensure a better communication flow.

In addition to fewer meetings, you can also expect to send less e-mail. Build your Team, (Teams Feature screen shot) address a comment to the group (or just a subset), and leave a comment, if needed (they’ll receive an e-mail automatically). Time to review timesheets? Pull an entire group (e.g. designers, copywriters, or engineers) and make it easy. And since you know you will need to send this same group of team members another communication in the future, save all of this in Filters so you have it for next time. You just streamlined your process.


Get Going!

Now that you know how you can be more strategic, save time, and work more efficiently with your team members, what are you waiting for? Embrace the change to the new way of managing projects via the cloud (in other words, work together!). I think this is a trend that will stay around a while.

Other ideas about how to work smarter in 2013? Please share with us!

Charles Seybold co-founded LiquidPlanner (News - Alert) in March 2006. For over 25 years, Charles has been building software tools in one form or another. He has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a front-line software engineer for over 10 years before moving into program management, and later executive management. Charles gained his Internet experience as part of the core Expedia (News - Alert) development team as the company grew from startup to e-commerce giant.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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