Category Archives: Agile

The real cost of online project management tools

There are many tools online that are supposed to help you manage your projects. Project planning, scrum and other agile tools. For most of them, you have to pay in order to access them. It’s okay, you are a company and you can afford it. But have a closer look of what it cost to your company globally.

Acquisition cost

Let’s say you bought an access to a well know project management tools. At the beginning they offer you a free trial, worth 2 months, but after that it will cost you $20 by month at least. That the acquisition cost.

Learning cost

So know we have our project management tools, brand new ! That’s the problem is new for almost all of your employees. How long it will take to managers to set up the environment, pushing project online, finding support and understanding how to use it. That’s before reaching them team. What if as a manager you put pressure to use something you don’t understand? Make no sense. So after managers learn how to use the product they have to reach other team members and give them room to learn it. That a big learning cost.

Process development cost

Let’s say, you find a perfect tools, best UX and adoption time is really fast (that’s not the case of all project management tools), something that work fine for you. Knowing how to use a tool doesn’t mean knowing how you want stuff to be processed in the tools. So that you have to define a new process to work with this tool, explain it to your team and be sure they follow the process (it’s usually easier to create the process with your team member, as they will better understand why it’s important to follow it) or it will be the mess and it will take you lot of time to groom your project.

Upgrading cost

Ok so you will tell me, that’s only a starting cost, as after that, everybody will know the tools and be confident with the process. But be sure you will hire new peoples, you will have more projects and you will need more special features to solve problems you didn’t have before. So you start with a $20/mo plan and you will finish with a $350/mo problem creating/solving tools, in extra user, extra storage, plus plan etc…

Everyday cost

In the case of agile management tool, you often  write down tasks. You assign task to a team member, they will receive an email. So they connect to the management tool system, get their tasks, ready to implement it. Ooops they have a question, they go back to the management tool system, find back the task, reach out to another system (google doc, wiki etc..) to obtain a complementary information. Unfortunately, there is no answer to his question. Go back to the management tool system, write down a comment. The project manager will receive an email. etc… You see where I’m going. At the end, you will have spend your day grooming your email, connection and jumping from services and time will be spend asking yourself, “Where do I put that?”

So before deciding which tools you need for your company, take time to consider also non electronic solution. It’s not always a solution but it will save you time on many points. No monthly cost, no email, no asking yourself where your stuff are in the web as everything is in real life. Everybody know how to use a pen and a piece of paper, you will be able to enjoy talking with each other and have a clear view, all along your day, to your project. When time will come to share online, take time to choose the tools that is the closest with what you use everyday. But be sure you will have to learn the tool, teach the tool, groom your project and your mailbox.

 

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Meetings = Pollution, Be green.

Meetings is a subject that come often in work management topic. As It was the subject of my previous post, meetings is another kind of distraction.

Meeting = pollution is not talking you that you should never do meetings, but avoid it as much as you can. We are all confronted to this everyday, like pollution be more conscious, be more responsible, and use a green approach.

Be thrifty

Are you this kind of employee, who spend day long in chaining meetings? Do you feel like you don’t have time to do your job because of lack of time? it’s surely impossible for you to stop doing meeting, so don’t spend too much time in meeting. The first thing you can do is being thrifty with your time. You can start fabricate rules for your meetings to save time. First of them, always time-box your meetings for what you really needs. Time box it before entering in the meeting, never more than an hour. Use a timer, and give you box to conclude. Another way to save time, it’s to invite only people you really need to meet, no more guess that make you lose your time. BE THRIFTY !

Don’t print this email

As I said, the best way to communicate information in agile company, it’s to talk face to face. So if you have to use email, it’s now. Send meeting invitation, every time. Take time to let you guess know what will be discuss, the purpose of the meeting, when it will be and how long it will take, what do you/they need to work on prior of this meeting, etc. All the details will be included in this email. If you can’t write this email, maybe you don’t need this meeting. This email can save you long time in meeting just because people will know the subject and will be fair enough ready to jump on the subject right after the beginning. If it’s a weekly meeting, you also have to write this email with the agenda. Let’s people know they can reply to this email with ideas and solutions prior to the meeting happen. Sometimes, it will save you a meeting.

Sort your waste

I have too many time, spent hours in meetings that no more discuss the subject that matter. It arrive every time. So, sort your waste. If someone go in the wrong direction, let him know you understand his/her point but you will discuss this, after the meeting. There is no reason to not doing that. Remember, your meetings are time-boxed, you can’t loose time with subject that no matter.

Recycle

Now that you have save few days of meeting, you don’t want spent your day planning them and preparing them. Recycle ! Use what you have done before. It’s important to prepare a meetings, you are in charge of others time for the moment they enter in your meeting. So yes, it means you have to prepare it well. Reuse what have worked, and trow what don’t.

The green approach adapted in work it’s a good way to save time, money, and increase productivity in your company. I hope you will choose to be green, not only in your work be also in your life.

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Distractions

I want to start this post by asking yourself if, usually, you do overstay at work? Are you this kind of worker who fell better staying late at work, having always something important to finish, and who deliver never enough? Do you reach your goal at the end of the day? Do you set goals for your day at work? We are not talking here about special time when rush it’s there, but more on the habit of doing overstay.

Several books, and I think here I will save you reading time to give you more space to work, mention that working 10 hours a days more or less, is useless.

There are books talking about the fear to leave early because manager are still there, what about if I go home earlier than my manager ? Will I lost my job ? This kind of question which leads to staying at work, doing presence rather than efficient work, wasting time and energy for letting them know you love your job.

There are also, others who talk about concentration, and capability of doing good job after few hours. Do you remember once, staying late, doing stuff important, and by the end of the day when you are finally on the way back to home, you tell yourself you should have do it a better way ? Sometimes, it’s during your way back home you find the solution. Staying late doesn’t never mean doing good. That’s simply because of energy management. Nobody can do good job for long without energy renewal.

And finally, there are books talking about doing a task and another task and another task all the same time. That leads to not doing task at all, but submerging us with lot of stress and having to switch from one things to another without enough space to concentrate on what matter. Have you never be answering email during an important job to do? Have you never be distracted by a text message during your day? These distractions are always there when we try to concentrate to our job, we have to switch from one context to another. Multitasking is not a solution. There are a lot of activity you can do in order to understand multitasking disfunction.

Have you try to find a solution to your overstay problem? Yes, it’s a problem, overstay mean give more time to work than to you and when I say you, I mean you for sure but also your family, friends, children, pets, all people for who you matter.

So I will give you some tips, not always easy to implement, but the result is worth the trouble.

Give you space to concentrate

Simply turn off notifications of your phone, email, messaging application, everything that distract you, Facebook included. I’m not saying for ever, but for an hour or two. Let’s your contacts know that you are NOT AVAILABLE AT THE MOMENT. You will be later, and in case of emergency, let them know they can call you and leave you a message. If you work on an office with door, shut the doors and put a sign that say “I’m busy to concentrate on my work. Back in an hour/free at 11am”. If it’s an open space, the same, put the sign on your desk.

Schedule your available time not your busy time.

Let’s your collegue know that if they need you, you will be available at this time. It will often give you 15 minutes more time to concentrate. Let’s say jack need you for a job. If you are online he will jump on you, distracting you from your job. Let’s say now, Jack know you will be available in 15min. He will have time to do other things or to take a break waiting for you.

Renew your energy

That’s not a solution to not taking break. It’s easy to think, doing a full day at your desk will let you have more job done at the end of the day, but that’s false. Staying sit 8 hours, will just give you pain in your ass, literally. Take breaks during your day, take a walk, go to grab a coffee, have your lunch outside, in a park if you like it. But go outside the building, we said a break. Watching video on Youtube, looking facebook wall, or checking your favorite forum and blog, means staying connected, not doing a break (this is considered as distractions as well).

Plan your day

Give you goals for you day work. Reach your goals and see at the end of the day if you can go home happy. It’s all about that. If you reach your day goal you will easily know it’s time to go back home. Tomorrow will be another day and you need to renew your energy to be productive in a long term.

There is few method that help us to manage hour time and work. I’m sure you hear about some of them. The most famous I think is The Pomodoro technique. This technic will give you scope to concentrate and time to renew your energy.

There is another one I want to introduce, it’s called Kanban for 1. Kanban is a framework use to manage productivity in different type of company. First introduce by Toyota, Kanban is now used in software development and other businesses. Kanban drive the production process over a workflow of task and time. Kanban for 1 is the same principles adapt to personal work.
That will help you to manage your time, and your work. Avoiding you doing multitasking, be focus on the moment, and achieve more on a day. You will have plan for your day. You will have visibility about your progression. That will help you to go back home early because you will reach your day’s goal.

So start now, take care of you! Becoming more productive will give you more time, more energy and more room for your family.

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Agile x

I think everybody ear once about agile. It’s a term used in many ways to define something cool. True ? It’s bit like Lean.

But here we will attach to define agile in company scope. I will base this post on the agile manifesto and there 12 principles.

What is a agile company ?

An agile company deliver frequently, and preferably on short cycle, functionalities with strong business value to customers, investors, users, and/or agent, responding to changes, even late in the development, in order to give a competitive  advantage to the product.

What’s an agile team ?

An agile team is self organized, motivated and evolve in a trust environment. The team exchange in a daily face-to-face conversation in order to convey information between business people and production team to maintain a sustainable development pace. “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”

What’s an agile product ?

An agile product is simple, originated from best practices and best architecture concepts to support late changes and the cycle of development and delivering. “It’s the primary measure of progress”

 

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