RationalPlan 4.14 – Increased Collaboration Using Comments on Tasks and Support for Polish Language

By | August 31st, 2016|News, RationalPlan|0 Comments

RationalPlan Project Management SoftwareRationalPlan 4.14 offers increased collaboration by adding comments on tasks and automatic email notifications to users. Additionally the desktop products were translated into Polish.

RationalPlan started as an easy to use and straightforward project management software but it evolved into an embedded and powerful system that is now available even as a project management cloud service both for individuals and for companies that need a distributed solution with concurrent access from multiple users.

Important changes for this version

  • Increased collaboration using comments on tasks and email notifications
  • Translated into Polish language
  • Send assignments by email in .ics format using task UID in order to avoid duplicate events
  • Added support for Vietnamese characters when exporting to MS Project .xml file and .xls file

Adding comments on tasks while managing work within the Cloud is a feature aiming to increase collaboration among users. Instead of using communication solutions like email, phone calls or other external software tools, users will be able to discuss different task related issues directly within RationalPlan by adding comments. Everyone that is interested on a certain task – like the project manager, a responsible or the assigned resources – will get notifications by email whenever a comment is added on that task. (more…)

Recognizing and Avoiding Project Team Burnout

“Death march projects are the norm, not the exception,” says Edward Yourdon, the author of the Death March, a book about surviving highly stressful, irrational projects in the software industry. Many organizations promote “death march” projects – those with unrealistic goals and schedules – to keep up with the competition in their respective industries. As a result, project teams work overtime to meet unrealistic goals and schedules, sometimes with insufficient resources, only to reach the burnout phase. The productivity declines, the absenteeism rate increases, and the team is unable to meet requirements. A burnout team means that the employees’ job satisfaction diminishes and that they cannot perform their tasks and meet deadlines. The consequence is a failed current project and a high probability of failure of the next project.

Recognizing team burnout and taking steps toward avoiding it are essential for avoiding cost repercussions for the organization.

“Burnout can be defined as feelings of exhaustion, a cynical attitude toward the job and people involved in the job and through a reduced personal accomplishment or work efficiency,” according to a dieBerater report.

Many things can trigger team burnout besides death march projects. These include poor project planning (cost, time, and resources), customer changes, micromanagement, high workload, time pressures, insufficient project manager support, as well as insufficient training and decision-making opportunities.

Exhausted teams tend to focus on achieving the results by working harder rather than smarter. The team members fail to use creativity to develop efficient solutions, so they become frustrated, communicate less, and work inefficiently. (more…)

Costly Mistake: Communicating Ineffectively with Project Stakeholders

By | March 24th, 2014|Project Management, Resource Management, Team Management|Comments Off on Costly Mistake: Communicating Ineffectively with Project Stakeholders

More than half of what an organization spends on a project is at risk due to ineffective communication, warn the authors of PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: The Essential Role of Communications. Over 50% of the project managers surveyed by PMI researchers nominate effective communication as the most important factor that contributes to any project’s success.

Since the project manager is the main person responsible for communication, a project manager that engages in ineffective communications endangers the project. Communicating effectively with all stakeholders starts with understanding what effective communication is and who the project’s stakeholders are.

Defining Effective Communication

“Effective communication takes place only when the listener clearly understands the message that the speaker intended to send.” (University of Pittsburgh)

“Effective communication is about getting your message across.” (Nature)

Effective communication is transmitting a message the receiver clearly understands. Since most messages a project manager transmits are time-sensitive, effective communication in the project management realm also implies timely transmission and reception of the correct message.

Tips for Communicating Effectively with Stakeholders

Identify all stakeholders of your project, starting with the team members, project sponsor, and the customers. Rank their communication needs and define a communication plan. Who and when do you need to update? Whose feedback do you need and how often do you need it? Since stakeholders in each category have different levels of technical expertise, pay attention to the language complexity. For example, you can use technical jargon with your team members, but you might need to convey the same message for the customer in layman’s terms so that you do not bury the message in jargon.

Besides transmitting the right message to the right stakeholder at the right time, effective communication implies effective listening to the stakeholders. Ensure there is no misunderstanding in the messages you get from the stakeholders just like you ensure they understand your messages.

Formal and Informal Communication

A good way to ensure effective communication with your team members is to promote informal communication besides reports, status updates, or planned team meetings that are part of your communication plan. Ensure all your team members can openly express their opinions. Let them know your door is always open for informal discussions about the project. And when they do have questions, give comprehensive answers. (more…)

Building Trust: Why it Matters for the Project Manager

By | December 4th, 2013|Project Management Certification, Resource Management, Team Management|Comments Off on Building Trust: Why it Matters for the Project Manager

People can work together even if they do not trust each other, but only people who trust each other can collaborate efficiently. Project managers who do not trust their teams tend to engage in micromanagement, which translates into ineffective project work. Team members who do not trust each other spend energy on protecting each other’s interests and hiding relevant information, which may lead to the project’s failure. A project manager that lacks his or her team’s trust endangers the project, as team members are likely to feel unmotivated to complete the work and unlikely to communicate their ideas openly. Without trust, no effective collaboration or knowledge sharing is possible.

If you have yet to earn your team’s trust, you are likely struggling to lead your team. They may suspect that every recommendation you make is only in your own interest and not the team’s. You are likely finding that your ideas are difficult to implement, and you spend a lot of energy on trying to convince people that you are right.

How do you earn your project team members’ trust?

Progressively, in time. You do not gain people’s trust as you would gain a prize. You accumulate bits of trust, and you preserve that trust through your actions and words. It may take you a lot of time and effort to build up a decent amount of trust that allows for effective collaboration with your project team. And sometimes it is impossible to gain everyone’s trust.

What is trust?

Trust is intangible, and it means different things to different people. In general, having your team’s trust means that people believe:

  • What you say is true: Communicate effectively and be transparent with your decisions and the way you lead the project. Demonstrate you have no interests that conflict with those of your team members. They should trust that you are all working together towards the same goals.
  • You do what you say: Keep all of your commitments and build a record of respected promises.
  • You are open with your intentions: Communicate effectively and keep everyone “in the loop.”
  • You are qualified for your job: Demonstrate your project management skills rather than boast that you have the right PM qualifications or experience. Be consistent in your decisions and treat everyone fairly.
  • You trust them: Trust comes both ways. Have confidence in your team members’ skills and their capacity to deliver what they promise. (more…)

Cloud Computing, Cloud Storage and Project Management Software

By | April 15th, 2013|Cloud Project Management|Comments Off on Cloud Computing, Cloud Storage and Project Management Software

cloud project management softwareThe demand for distributed data and services is increasing as big companies are more and more spread across the world. Smaller companies are also starting to use distributed systems once the prices have lowered due to the increase of such offerings. As many other domains project management is also embracing this new wave.

Cloud services are raging from simple storage and up to complex computing processes. Depending on the needs there are products that run completely into the cloud while others are just storing the data into the cloud. In the last few years there is a battle that is given between desktop based applications and cloud based ones.

Web-based Project Management Software

The notion of web-based products refers to software that runs within a browser on the client side. Generally the central computing part is kept entirely (computing and storage) within the cloud on the software provider side. However for certain offerings like RationalPlan it is also possible to have the central computing unit as a server module on the customer side. This might be a security measure for some customers.
In both cases there is no need to install any software on the users computers meaning that low-power PCs can use the tool. All it is required is a browser.

Desktop Software

Desktop tools require hardware maintenance, software upgrading and database back up. But part of this hassle can be reduced by using a solution that uses cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box etc. where the data backup is already done. However the hardware maintenance and new versions upgrades still need to be handled by the customer. This is a good choice when companies just needs to have access to project data from multiple places but there is no need for more powerful features like concurrency access and when the software can easily be maintained in house.

Cloud-based Solutions

With cloud-based project management tools everything is backed up into the cloud on remote servers. In case of an emergency all the data is restored quickly so the projects remain on track. Plus when the tools are upgraded to newer versions users just need to log in and the latest version is there. This solution is suitable for the case when the project management products requires complex installation and upgrades steps. (more…)