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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog
"Want to avoid work? Call a meeting!" I've seen that cynical comment on office posters. While I sympathize with it, I don't agree. Far from sapping productivity, a well-run meeting is often the most effective way to get work done. "Much teamwork is accomplished in meetings. We gather
and distribute information, coordinate activities, uncover new problems, assign tasks, and make decisions." (Verzuh, p. 274)
The catch is leading a well-run meeting. Meetings are critical for communication on projects, so I'm mystified by how many of them are poorly run, often by project managers, the very people who should excel at effective meetings. NASA program manager James T. Brown complains, "You would be hard pressed to identify a bigger consumer or waster of organizational resources than meetings. The fact is that a lot of meetings are unnecessary, and often the necessary meetings are poorly run..." read more
- In Timesheet, how can I have common time entries for groups of employees?
- In ProjectXecute, how do I make assignments when creating new projects and tasks?
Get the answers to these and other questions in the Journyx Tip Archive.
A friend of mine who works at a successful design firm once told me about their timekeeping process. Every employee is required to fill out their timesheets and submit them to an administrator, who then has to reformat them and manually enter them into their financial software system. These administrators - being only human, after all - frequently make mistakes and errors which then affect the quality of the data for project and budget tracking. Not to mention the fact that this company is essentially paying people to do double data entry, when the employees have already entered the data themselves. Many of the employees believe, and rightly so, that this is an inefficient way to track time.
Aren't business solutions like time tracking systems supposed to work for you, and not the other way around? It seems like so many companies today are spending countless hours of resource time on re-entering data into multiple systems, emailing it to interested parties, and other menial tasks that, quite frankly, are better left automated. Sadly, they often do not realize that the initial cost of such a system is nothing compared to the ROI it brings in terms of less margin of error and quicker processes (such as billing, for example). Not to mention the fact that it is likely cheaper than the cost of 1, 2 or more employees to do this kind of work.
Which of your processes can be simplified and automated for better efficiency and higher return on investment? Now, when times and tough and budgets are tight, might be a good time to learn.
- April Boland, Journyx Communications Coordinator
While I'm passionate about many topics, risk management is at, or near, the top. This is because I've seen it work and, more importantly, I've seen and lived the results of poor risk management. On one instance, I was leading a project that experienced a $250,000 cost impact as a direct result of a completely avoidable risk. These are lessons you want to learn through someone else, not through experiencing them yourself.
Standard risk lists are filled with items like "not enough resources" or "aggressive timeline." Are these actually risks? NOW HEAR THIS...More than likely, you're never going to have enough resources and timelines will always be aggressive. Get used to it. These are certainties, not risks. This is, in general, the nature of the modern project environment.
But beyond their obviousness, risks like these fail to provide the project manager or the team any useful direction. As an example, consider the statement "not enough resources." What does that mean in the context of the project? Is it the cause of something else? Is it a statement of what your project is experiencing at this moment? There is simply no way to know from the description provided.
Read more at ProjectConnections.
Many projects face problems for multiple reasons: problems of scope, insufficient planning and bad risk assessment are frequent nightmares in any project manager’s life. The root causes of these problems are diverse, but some difficulties are common to many projects, and, for this reason, should get more attention from the project manager and his/her team. However, when fighting against these most frequent project enemies, the project manager will reinforce his/her capacity for risk response planning and increase his/her chances for success.
This paper presents ten situations that can bring project failure, with the objective of alerting project managers to some key risks that are frequently ignored during project planning and execution. In a humorous manner, I’ll approach the common causes of these problems, not with the purpose of proving that only these 10 situations should command all the project manager’s attention, but to highlight that risk prevention IS the project manager’s greatest responsibility and IS the decisive factor of success. I will, as well, offer suggested courses of action that can be taken by the project manager to face each and every one of these 10 risk situations and in this way keep the project “floating”.
Download the PDF at ASAPM.
Here at Journyx, we hold meetings about our customers. Each month, we choose a different customer and invite everyone who has ever interacted with this customer to a meeting. These meetings bring together a range of people, from the salespeople and account managers who speak to the customer regularly and learn of their needs to the implementation and professional services teams who work, sometimes on-site, to meet these needs. Often, employees who rarely have meetings together find themselves here, where their combined presence provides insight into every aspect of the customer experience. Is this customer having a problem? What can we do to solve it? Is that feasible? And solutions are born.
It is extremely useful for departments to meet every so often - Marketing, Sales, IT - but familiar faces lead to familiar insights, from which springs complacency and stagnance. Want to shake things up in your organization? Schedule a meeting that brings together people with different backgrounds, skill sets, values and opinions, and then take advantage of this group to address an important company issue. You just might be surprised by the results.
- April Boland, Journyx Communications Coordinator
Things are as bad at your company as you’ve ever seen them. You’re doing the work of three managers, yet you know your job could be eliminated tomorrow. What does your gut tell you to do? Bear down. Get deeply involved in your team’s work. Make sure every single member of your team is doing exactly the right thing. Let your bosses see how hard you’re working.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Now, more than ever, you need to remind yourself of the old leadership koan: The best managers manage least. Remember your team members are also scared, overworked, and flailing. The last thing they need is you, spread too thin, sending them off in random directions.
Read on at BNET.
Hello Gentle Reader. This month I am going to regale you with some of the top "rights" that people seem to assume they have, as seen from an IT perspective. I'm sure you all know some of these people.
1. I have the right to do 50% less of a job and assume that someone else will clean it up.
Wow. I don't even know where to go with this one. I should have started with something else.
No, really, you don't. You do not have the right to do half of a job just because you think it might be easier for someone in IT to complete it for you. This reminds me of working at UT when frazzled freshmen would come running into the lab at the Zero Hour needing a computer and waving a sheaf of papers, begging me to do everything but actually type their paper which was about to be late. They were 17 or 18 years old; I sort of expect it from someone that age, but after that? Really, people?
2. I have the right to a 2nd (or 3rd) monitor because someone down the hall has one.
No. No, you don't. If you need extended real-estate for some BUSINESS reason, we can probably make that happen, but unless the business makes the standard desktop setup include 2 monitors, you don't have any right to that whatsoever. Citing that "so-and-so has an extra monitor," doesn't work for two reasons. First, in all likelihood, "so-and-so" needs two monitors, and that would be why it's there. Second, I assure you that "so-and-so" didn't whine to IT that he/she needs to keep up with the Jones' - they requested it with a good business reason.
3. I have the right to a new machine because:
a. "She" just got one, and I was hired before "her."
b. I constantly complain about mine being slow.
c. I install every extension I can on the machine.
d. I've had it for over a year.
This is a common misconception. You have the right to a new machine when your manager budgets it a thing for you. If it is up to IT to provision the entire company from our budget, then you have a right to a new machine based on an end-of-life policy determined by IT and agreed to by the principals in the company.
4. I have the right to have my problem prioritized much more highly than someone else's because:
a. It's mine.
b. I've told you about it 5 times in 30 minutes.
c. I emailed, called, and opened a helpdesk ticket.
You have the right to get out of my office. The squeaky wheel might get the grease, but it's a temporary fix. The squeaky wheel gets replaced or stuck in the trunk as a spare. The squeaky wheel rarely remains part of a well-tuned machine. Remember that the next time you think that a problem should be prioritized. Perhaps you should just ask where on the list you are and why. If you don't understand, that's fine. If you'd like to discuss prioritization based on importance, that's fine too. But do not walk into IT with your head held high, assuming that because it's You, we will drop everything.
5. I have the right to complain about things not getting done after I have willfully violated procedure.
Ahhh, yes. When you have not followed procedures and things get dropped through the cracks, do you really think that we did it on purpose, or is it possible that we put these procedures in place so that things would NOT drop through the cracks? Think about that for a second. Is it possible that we like our jobs? Is it possible that we want to keep them? Is it possible that we would prefer to go through the day without pissing people off? Is it just
possible, then, that these procedures are there to help you as much as us? They are.
To be honest, though, sometimes when you violate them, we do ignore your request entirely then pretend to have forgotten it. You can tell this because when we do, we usually make a pointed comment about the fact that something got violated, and that must be why we forgot
6. I have the right to violate policies of other departments because they are inconvenient to me.
See above, and be careful, guys. I know a few people who got fired over doing this consistently. Really, we usually put policies and procedures into place to protect (in order), ourselves, our clients, and you. When you violate them, you usually cause a large number of people (yourself included) unnecessary pain and work.
7. I have the right to go complaining to everyone that can make anything happen if the answer I receive is "no," because:
- a. I don't like the answer.
b. I should get everything I ask for.
You have the right to ask your question. We have the right to answer it correctly. Every now and again, "no" is the proper answer. I know you probably don't like it, but, no, I'm not going to buy everyone Microsoft Office 2007 when there's a free converter pack for the older versions. It's just not going to happen unless you want to pony up the dough. Now that you have your answer, however, feel free to go complain to your boss, my boss, the officers of the company. Create a firestorm if you like. Just remember this: IT has a very long memory, and when you do that, it is personal. Also, it's not just IT that sees and remembers when you act like a baby. It's everyone you involved. Not us. You.
It should not be too hard to answer the question “What is the biggest risk in your project or business?” Most of us know what keeps us awake at night, either worrying about what could go wrong (threats), or getting excited about possible improvements (opportunities). But how do we decide which risk is the “biggest”? Is it just an intuitive feeling, or are there measurable parameters we can use?
It is very common to use just two factors to size risks: probability and impact. These estimate how likely the uncertain risk is to occur, and how significant its effect would be if it actually happened. Probability and impact are related to the size of a risk because they describe two fundamental characteristics of every risk:
1. Each risk is uncertain, which means that it may not happen, and “probability” reflects the degree of uncertainty about whether it will happen or not.
2. A risk that occurs would affect our ability to achieve one or more objectives, and “impact” describes our prediction of the extent to which objectives would be affected.
Read more at PM World Today.
Too often, leaders demonstrate behavior that sabotages their success and undermines both their team and their organization. To succeed as a manager, you need to learn how to recognize your blind spots and overcome them.
Let's not kid ourselves. We all have blind spots—unproductive behaviors that are invisible to us but glaring to everyone else. Our behavioral blind spots create dire and unintended consequences: They corrupt decision-making, reduce our scope of awareness, create enemies, silos, and camps, destroy careers, and sabotage business results.
In good times blind spots are annoying and frustrating; in tough times they can be lethal.
No one is immune to blind spots, of course. But leaders are particularly vulnerable. It's enough that they must often navigate massive change and cope with stressful situations every day. But add to this the overpowering belief that many leaders shoulder: "I should have all the answers, I should know what to do, and I should be able to handle challenges alone." For many, the need to be right becomes much stronger than the need to be effective. And only the most confident leaders are willing to surround themselves with people who will point out what they're doing wrong—and be rewarded for their honesty. More often, everyone is forced to endure the boss' weaknesses in silence.
Read more at BusinessWeek.
We all know that conflict is a difference of opinion and therefore neutral-neither good nor bad. Right? But try telling that to a project manager or business analyst embroiled in conflict. Conflict can threaten to destroy the team and sabotage efforts to elicit requirements. But it doesn't have to. Having a strong, neutral facilitator and a process for conflict resolution can reduce tensions and bring about a positive outcome.
Early in my career I was a liaison representing the interests of a large branch of a national bank. I was on a committee that met monthly to prioritize requirements. Each month I met with my branch management to determine their needs. Each month I and liaisons from the other branches would argue about which new systems and enhancements should be given priority. There was no formal facilitator. Conflict was rampant and remained unresolved. I don't remember much being accomplished in these meetings. Each branch came in with its personal agenda and each of us went away unsatisfied with the results. Time after time I was in the unenviable position of having to tell my management that they weren't going to get what they wanted. Again!
In retrospect one of the things I should have done was to spend time understanding the problem management was trying to solve. That way I could have presented a coherent set of recommendations at the monthly meetings.
Read the rest at ProjectTimes. Free registration required.
According to a popular song, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need." Words of wisdom in popular culture. We often want to bite off more than we can chew, especially when we see exciting new technology. Yet think of it this way: Would you give your grandmother an iPhone 3G for Christmas if she has never touched a PC before? It might be an incredible piece of technology that can hold her photos, her shopping lists, her favorite music ... but if she cannot figure out how to turn it on, it's not much use, is it?
Likewise, many companies get excited about business technology. Software vendors promise to solve all of their problems with the click of a button. And, to be fair, the tools they provide might be able to do just that. But if your organization is not mature enough to handle it, you might as well put the software right up on a shelf immediately after purchase. It will not be rolled out, it will not be used, and it will be a total waste of money. For example, are you looking for a complex, sophisticated PPM solution while your team members aren't even tracking time to tasks yet? Are you hoping for the latest cutting edge resource management technology, but you can't even say who will be available to work on your project next month?
All of us have to crawl before we walk, though we can often forget this.
- April Boland, Journyx Communications Coordinator
What is the first thing that comes to your minds when the word "negotiation" is mentioned? I asked this question on a number of occasions of my students, colleagues and high-ranking executives, who I have met through my consulting practice. Their answers, although different in form, typically boiled down to the following:
"Negotiations are a type of haggling process, akin to something that takes place at the Middle Eastern bazaar", or
"It is a discussion were one's sole purpose is to get as much of the 'pie' as possible by being tough, secretive and cold-blooded"
I suspect that we get these impressions from the Hollywood portrayals of the "negotiations" process. You know, veins bulging, fists striking the tables, people yelling and sometimes brandishing heavy weapons ...
Read the entire article at ProjectTimes. Free registration required.
There are three early estimates that are needed for a project: effort, duration, and cost. Of the three, you must estimate effort hours first. Once you understand the effort that’s required, you can assign resources to determine how long the project will take (duration), and then you can estimate labor and non-labor costs.
Use the following process to estimate the total effort required for your project:
1. Determine how accurate your estimate needs to be. Typically, the more accurate the estimate, the more detail is needed, and the more time that is needed. If you are asked for a rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimate (-25% - +75%), you might be able to complete the work quickly, at a high-level, and with a minimum amount of detail. On the other hand, if you must provide an accurate estimate within 10%, you might need to spend quite a bit more time and understand the work at a low level of detail.
Read more at TechRepublic.
Journyx is proud to announce a new webinar series that is designed to empower project managers who are tasked with executing 100s of projects on time and on budget with the right resources. Topics include 3 Critical Components of Project Success, Extending Microsoft Project, Improving Project Execution with Better Resource Management, and others. For a full schedule or to register, visit webinars.journyx.com.
Pick any sector and you'll find empty offices and barren cubicles: banking, health care, media, technology, retail. All have thrown thousands upon thousands out of the workforce, which is why the nation's unemployment rate has almost doubled in the past year or so to around 9.5 percent.
Yet you know that blanket job cuts create their own set of problems. They wreck morale among those remaining on your team, and they are all but certain to leave you shorthanded when business finally cycles back up. Plus, there's the human factor: laying off good people is just about the worst part of managing. This is why you should turn to layoffs only after you've tried just about everything else. So before you sign the first of those pink slips, think about these alternatives... read more
By now the kids should be back in school no matter where you are. And to celebrate their return to the hallowed halls of learning Journyx is having a sale on training. From now through the end of September you can take any of our classes for 10% off the list price. So whether you need to brush up on your Timesheet Reporting or would like to examine the canon we call Admin Common Tasks, here's your chance to save a little green while learning more than enough to be dangerous. Contact your Journyx Sales Rep to register for one or more classes.
As for you advanced degree candidates, be sure to ask your sales rep about the Timesheet Admin Certification Program. It's the way to graduate from dear ol' Timesheet U. Summa Cum Laude.
To take advantage of this deal please contact the Journyx Sales Team today.
The parallels between managing a successful project (including meeting due dates) and managing a successful sports car racing campaign are striking. In this article, we explore those parallels, and the insights to be gained even by those who have never experienced life 'at speed'... read more
Building on the initial release of the highly anticipated Journyx ProjectXecute, new version 8.5 will deliver exciting new features to PX customers. Track not only existing projects, but also review and approve new project and work requests. Use new dashboard options and graphs to gain greater visibility into project status and trends. Check calendar availability to pinpoint specific dates when work can be completed, and much more. Watch the Journyx Newsletter for local listings and availability.
- How can Managers run their own Sheet Status Report? (Timesheet)
- Can I use the My Assignments screen to track all of my time and submit it for approval at the end of my time period? (ProjectXecute)
Get the answers to these and other questions in the Journyx Tip Archive.