Tag: project prioritise

Kanban vs Scrum. How do they work and which Agile method suits you the most?

 Kanban and Scrum are the most famous and used Agile Project Management methods. But how do they manage the flow of work and which method meets your project necessities?

Kanban and Scrum are two agile project management methodologies that are not only used by software houses or IT companies, but they are starting to be appreciated and used also by companies in other fields (marketing, pharmaceutical, etc.).

To better understand what Kanban and Scrum are, it is useful to have an overview of what agile project management is and how it works.

What agile project management is and how it handles the flow of work

Agile project management is an approach to project management that, as we already know, is a way, supported by knowledge, skills, methodologies, and tools (such as project management software) to develop new products and services.

Project management, and consequently agile project management and Kanban and Scrum approach, follows 3 phases: initiation, planning, and execution.

In developing a project plan these 3 phases must be followed respecting the budget and time of release.

Agile methodology derives from project management and, indeed, it also shares the aim to achieve a goal in different stages and steps.

With project management, we have a big launch or product update, while, with agile management, the goal is split into small chunks (all of them with a specific prioritization) and it has the goal to continuously deliver product updates and new features respecting the planned deliverables.

Agile methodology answers to the nowadays market needs that want competitors able to constantly develop new product/service features or product iterations putting clients ’ feedback and requests first.

Agile is based on 4 principles:

-Individuals and clients ‘necessities come before tools;

-Answering people’s needs instead of following a planned and strict workflow;

-Customer’s listening putting collaboration first;

-Useful and functioning software development over comprehensive documentation.

Agile project management offers a way to be more competitive, fast, and malleable and this is the reason why software houses tend to adopt it instead of the more traditional and “structured” project management one.

If you evaluated that agile methodology is the approach that might help you the most to better work on your project, then you just need to make up your mind and adopt Kanban or Scrum approach.

Both Kanban and Scrum are efficient ways to manage a project and its continuous improvement but, while the Kanban approach has a more fluid and malleable approach, Scrum is more rigid but very fast since it is structured in a brief but intense flow of work (sprints).

To better evaluate which approach suits you better let’s see what Kanban and Scrum work

Kanban, an agile methodology

Kanban is a fluid and continuous agile approach that focus the attention on a brief, but well-planned and structured flow of work.

It comes from the Japanese word “visual signal” and it helps managers to have a more visual management system since project phases and tasks are represented by cards and find a graphical location on a workflow board.

Kanban was born in the 1940s thanks to the industrial designer at Toyota, Taiichi Ohno, who was looking for an efficient way to keep an eye on every production step and the company’s work in progress.

Kanban mainly focuses on the possibility to visualize work; already completed work, work in progress, and the one that has to come maximizing the efficiency of teams and the project’s process.

Kanban teams have the so-called user stories as their main end goal, and they aim to express the software user’s perspective.

In Kanban methods, the development teams work on software features shaping them based on the user’s perspective and needs.

As we already mentioned in the agile values, we know that high importance is given to stakeholders and their necessities rather than to the tool itself. For this reason, user stories utilize non-technical language to better give team members a “down-to-earth” context that will help them shape human software functionality.

After having understood the user story, the development team knows what its potential client needs to create something valuable.

User stories are at the core of an agile program; without them, the product/service cannot be considered user-focused.

Kanban boards: how a Kanban approach looks like

Kanban was thought to visualize work and, for this reason, it relies on boards, cards, columns, work in progress (WIP), commitment points, and delivery points.

All of them help the team to acknowledge and visualize the right amount of work that needs to be done and the current work in progress.

  • Visual signals are visual cards, and they are normally used by team members to write on them work items and tasks, usually one per card. This helps the development team to keep an eye on what they are working on.
  • Columns represent a specific activity that together composes a “workflow”. So cards compose the workflow and are piled one onto another (with a focus on prioritization) until the project is completed.
  • With Work in progress (WIP), Kanban acknowledges that there has to be a maximum of 3 cards piled in one column.
    Work in progress aims to suggest to the team that it cannot work on more than 3 tasks otherwise employees risk losing focus on the prioritized activities.
  • Commitment point: Kanban teams have a product backlog for their board and it is here that both teammates and users write down the ideas for the projects. It is a shared and collaborative way to develop great products!
  • Delivery point is the final one in the workflow. What the team aims to do is to reduce the so-called lead time: the time between the beginning of the project and its end represented, indeed, by the delivery point.

So it is here that the team makes its evaluation and decides if the project has been handled well or not.

The Kanban method can be easily applied to each project or project-based business but is a great approach for all those companies that are working on many projects for different clients with different deadlines and priorities. Indeed, more cards can be added and put before others to pursue a new order of prioritization in the workflow.

Also keeping an eye on a visual workflow help the user to immediately understand what is finished, what needs more effort, and what needs some changes.

To see if everything is going as supposed to, it is important to monitor lead time and cycle time.

With Timeneye you can track the time spent on each project, and its phases, in real-time, keep an eye on your team members’ work, and set email reminders.

Thanks to detailed reports it is possible to receive insightful knowledge about how you and your team have managed the project life cycle and if you were able to stay on time and within budget.

Combining time-tracking software with a project management one is the perfect way to improve a company’s efficiency and productivity and make future project releases easy and stress-free.

Scrum, the most used agile methodology

Scrum is the most common and used agile project management approach in the whole world, and it was designed for all of those companies that are in a fluid market exposed to changes.

This agile method is stricter than the Kanban approach, but it implies a shorter amount of time, called sprint, that has the main goal to release a feature, product iterations, or a new service.

Scrum methodology is usually adopted by software houses that structure their work on projects, tasks, and activities; all of them at the same time.

Companies that focus a specific amount of time on getting that activity, and tasks done thanks to a great focus of all of the company members, find the scrum method perfect for them.

Scrums usually last 2 weeks and they, indeed, are broken up into sprints that have the goal to focus on single, split tasks.

The team splits complex projects into smaller tasks and activities and each of them is prioritized and put into the calendar with its related deadline.

Scrum steps and how to manage the flow of work

To better organize the amount of work and its work in progress, the sprints are precisely organized in steps:

·  Sprint planning: The goal of this step is to evaluate and decide what has to be done in the sprint and how it should be done (how many employees will be working on it, for how long, etc.). At the beginning of each sprint, in the sprint planning, activities and their deadlines, have to be written down in the sprint backlog.

·  Daily Scrum: At the beginning of each sprint day, the team members meet up and decide what are the daily tasks and what they should do, how they have to do it, and if there are common tasks that need reciprocal work. All of these always keep an eye on the sprint backlog.
What matters here is to all be aligned knowing what has been done the day before, what should be done during the day, and if there is a task that needs a collaborative approach.

·  Sprint review: In this sprint step the team members should show each other what has been done (acknowledging the priorities written down in the backlog) and talk about what needs to be done in the next future

·  Sprint retrospective: The sprint is completed so it is now time to discuss what has been handled well and what, instead, needs some improvement.
This step is extremely important since it has the goal to find process improvements that might be inspirational for the next sprint.

 Scrum and the importance of team roles

Scrum is different from Kanban also for what regards the team, its size, and the team members’ roles.

If in the Kanban approach, the development team members work on different tasks of the same project, in Scrum it is possible to do it only when a single task and the role of each team member is strictly related to the single task of the sprint.

The Scrum team usually includes three important roles:

·  Scrum master: s/he is the one who leads the team and guides team members with the proper methodology and approach. It is her/his responsibility to meet the deadline, stay on budget and release the product update or feature on time. This also inspires, supports, and motivates the team members to not only reach the goal but, while doing so, improve their competencies and find a better way to collaborate. S/he also has the responsibility to stop the sprint in case something does not go in the right direction.

·  Product Owner (PO): S/he brings to the whole team customers and stakeholders feedback. Her/his role is extremely important since it represents the agile project management values for whom the individual comes before the tool. The Product owner translates the user story into a practical need and helps the team to find the proper direction to develop the feature that the clients need.

Daily s/he prioritizes the team activities in the backlog prioritizing what the client needs first.

·  Team: the employees who work on the project, translating the user story into product features and developing the sprint project from beginning to end. 

Kanban vs Scrum; which one suits you the most?

Kanban and Scrum methods are agile project management methodologies that help companies to work in an always-changing and competitive environment where users demand useful, easy-to-use, and always new devices.

While the Kanban method is a fluid and continuous approach that makes time and project tasks visualizable, Scrum is a stricter approach that focuses all the team energies on a single sprint.

Both Kanban and Scrum aim to help companies to make better services or products but, while Kanban aims to limit work in progress in favor of maximizing efficiency, Scrum aims to focus on the incrementation of work splitting it into sprints.

Kanban wants to reduce the amount of time that a project takes using Kanban boards while continually improving the workflow.

Scrum adopts specific roles and rules to follow daily to reach the goal in the amount of time decided at first.

What is different is the time approach: in Kanban, the time has to be followed and controlled during the flow of work while, in Scrum, it is already decided and not put into question.

But both of them consider time as the main way to measure if a project has been handled well.

It is indeed important to keep an eye on time integrating your project management tool into Timeneye!

Timeneye is a time tracking software that helps you and your team to track time in real-time, both online and offline, and, thanks to insightful reports, it helps you get the data you need to evaluate if the agile project management you adopted was the right one!

Sign up now and receive your 30-day free trial!

Working on Vacation; a necessity or do we lack Time Management Skills?

Summer vacation is the best time of the year to recharge the batteries and have some time off. But are we able to shut the laptop off and enjoy the holidays without work as an intrusion or time-wasting activities that interfere with our time with family and friends?

For Americans seems to be normal to work on vacation but is it really necessary or do we need Time Management skills to prioritize our activities?

August has come and with it the time to take some time off and enjoy the sunny days of summer. 

Whatever you are planning to do I bet you are starting the countdown.

Despite the common desire to go on vacation, it is very difficult for the majority of the workers to take some time off and shut the laptop down for real.

An urgent email arrives, your boss calls you to ask you about that client of yours, and so on. Nowadays we speak and try to create a work-life-balance way of working and living, as we already anticipated in last year’s article, What will work look like in 2021?. Despite working-life-balance having become a common topic, the working society where we live seems to keep struggling with a toxic working culture where being productive and always available are the normality.  

Working on vacation has become normal; let us take a look at the data 

A survey from MyPerfectResume asked 1000+ U.S. workers how they handle their time off from work and how they separate work from personal life during vacation. And relaxing seems to be more difficult than working instead! 

MyPerfectResume found out that 82% of the American workforce work while on vacation. But let’s see what this means and how U.S citizens contemplate work while on vacation: 

  • Nearly 90% check work messages and emails while on vacation; 
  • 70% of respondents answer calls from clients or colleagues on vacation; 
  • 42% take vacation days specifically to do work
  • 37% work on vacation because they “just like to be on top of things”; 
  • 66% reported that their boss contacted them to do work while on vacation and 94% did the work

What also comes out is that working on holidays is not just a random action but it seems true to be a habit. As shown in the following infographic, 42% of the respondents have already worked on holidays 2-3 times, and 12% even 10 times

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is immagine-1-articolo-2-1024x635.png

Working on holidays; when do we need some Time Management skills and be able to prioritize tasks

As discussed in our article Time Management: project priorities and how to track them, we always feel busy because, as Eisenhower said, we are not able to prioritize our activities and we often spend too much effort on time-wasting tasks and activities. 

Especially on holidays, we need to understand what activities need our time and energy so, for example, we need to ponder if that email is urgent or if it can wait a few days.

Time Management tools come to our help since they help us prioritize tasks of each project we are working on; they track our projects’ time to avoid any time-wasting activity and they provide us the data to weigh what project/client is the most fruitful

Does Technology make us overwork or does it make our work easier and also develops some Time Management skills?

Technology is often misunderstood because it is usually seen as a non-stop working tool that never gives us a break. 

A study taken by Project Time Off noticed that those workers who work remotely tend to check their devices and stay connected way more than not remote workers do. Also, 78% of respondents said that they feel better knowing that they can use the internet and access work from their holiday resort rather than not having the possibility to access it at all. Blaming technology is not an answer and blaming a toxic working culture might just be a simplistic way to explain this phenomenon.  

What we, in Timeneye, have been noticing is that usually companies do not want their employees to overwork but, in some cases, it seems to be necessary. Indeed, the MyPerfectResume study testifies that 77% of respondents affirmed that they would feel guilty if they had to disturb someone’s vacation regarding a work issue. The conclusion is that working during holidays is something that neither the managers nor their employees want; it is just something that seems necessary

Timeneye is a Time Manager software that aims to make you avoid wasting time and lets you have the time off that you deserve

Timeneye provides you with simple and intelligent time tracking tool able to register hours, monitor project progressions and improve productivity

With Timeneye you can create the project you are working on, and set the activities and phases that it will require.  

After having done that, Timeneye makes you able to assign the proper time to the project or the activity you are focusing on. You can always use a calendar and create daily different tasks. In case the calendar is synced in Timeneye, all you need to do is to look for it in the Timeneye dashboard and just set it up! Using a calendar is also useful for time block charts and assigning different tasks to your team members

Timeneye also provides you a  time audit that will show you how you have allocated your time across your projects, letting you also know what project, task or client has been taking you most of your time.  

Automatically saving data on the software each time you track your time, Timeneye always provides you fresh data from which you can take insights about your project life cycle and how you have been allocating time and resources to it. 

Timeneye is the software you need to be more efficient while working on numerous, complex projects and splitting different activities between the members of your team. 

Time is irreplaceable and it is the most valuable thing we have, for this reason Timeneye aims to help you to better manage it and make you spend the best holidays you can without worrying about work

What are you waiting for? Sign up for a free 30-day Timeneye trial!  

Time Management: projects priorities and how to track them

You know the old saying “Time flies when you’re having fun?”. 

Turns out, time also flies if you’re not in control of your day. This tends to happen if you can’t manage your daily tasks and lack some time management skills that would make you able to save a lot of time. 

Keeping track of time is generally a good way to keep productive all day. If you track time for the tasks you work on each day you will briefly improve your project planning and you will be an expert in avoiding time-wasting activities

Thanks to Timeneye we will show you how to check your work time and see if you allocate the right amount of time to your tasks and if, in the end, you can achieve your goals and objectives

But before we put our hands in the dough and start tracking time, let us see if you have a fruitful approach to time and are interested in developing some time management skills. 

From the Eisenhower Matrix to the time tracking software, Timeneye.  Here is how to prioritise tasks and check the time spent on each of them.

Dwight D. Eisenhower is considered the precursor of time management

He was twice President of the United States and a five-star general during World War II, he created NASA, he ended the Korean War, and made Alaska and Hawaii part of the union. 

These are not even all of the activities that he took care of during his life and, there is no need to highlight that he was a very productive and highly focused person

Eisenhower pointed out the difference between urgent and important saying that what is urgent is not important and what is important is not urgent. 

And it is from this Eisenhower’s thought that was born the so-called “Eisenhower’s matrix.” 

The Eisenhower Matrix

 Urgent Not Urgent 
Important Do it: Under this list go all of those activities that already meet a deadline and consequences if not taken or done. Handing in the last project before summer holidays; Picking up the suit before wedding’s day; Buying a present to your partner’s birthday. Plan it: Tasks and activities that do not meet a deadline yet but they move you closer to your goals and objectives. They are both important but it often occurs that they get postponed since they do not meet a deadline. Long courses able to boost your career; Starting a new sport able to help your posture; Networking events. 
Not Important Delegate it:  Those activities that have to be done but they do not require any of your peculiar capabilities. Washing your car; Answering some emails; Scheduling.  Delete it: Enjoyable but distractive activities that make you feel fine in the moment and guilty afterwards. They are important for a balanced and fun life but only if done with moderation. Watching TV or binge-watching Netflix; Eating junk food; Going shopping. 

The Eisenhower Matrix is important because it differentiates activities in order of priority as long-term and short-term ones

To develop time management skills, it is important to understand what needs our attention or does not need it (DELEGATE IT), what needs immediate prioritization to avoid any trouble (DO IT), what might be considered superfluous (DELETE IT), and, also, what should be kept in mind to meet our goals (PLAN IT). 

To sum up we need to ask ourselves two main questions:

  1. Is this activity important to me? 
  2. Is this activity urgent for me? 

After having replied to these questions we can feel ready to start a task and, while working on it, keep track of the time it requires us. 
A time tracker is useful to prevent time-wasting tasks and improve our project planning to achieve our goals and objectives. 

And it is here that time management meets technology developing time managing tools able to avoid the mess of spreadsheets that become impossible to read, inaccurate guesstimates, and a lot of manual labor made of filling cells and tables. 

So the best way to track time spent a daily task is to rely on a time tracking software such as Timeneye! 

tracking project time - Timeneye dashboard

Timeneye and how to track time on different tasks

Timeneye let users track time effectively, but it integrates with several popular tasks and to-do list software. Timeneye isn’t just a timesheet, but it adds several visual reporting tools to see where the time went and helps you to better project planning and develop your time management skills. 

It is easy to see exactly where your time went and, in the end, evaluate if that were an important/urgent activity that needed your time or that could wait. 

But let us start seeing the advantages that a time tracking tool like Timeneye can offer you to make time tracking a daily working habit of yours

Let us set it up! 

Sign up, open your project, and start tracking time with Timeneye 

First, get started by signing up for the time your tracking software account (in Timeneye you can do it from the website). Then, what you have to do is create your first project

new project to track time - Timeneye

When you track time, be accurate as much as you can so you will not forget the “email-answering time” or the numerous meetings requested by your client. 
Tracking your whole time on a project is a perfect way to bill properly your client because in this way you are aware of the billable vs non-billable hours you have worked on. 

As you set your projects in Timeneye, you will also break them down into phases.

Every content marketing activity will require you some time, as shown in this Timeneye project view. 

And now you can track your time, making sure you assign the right amount of time to the correct project and phase you’re working on. 

project's phases to track time - Timeneye

Connect Timeneye and Todo List Apps 

If at work you are already using to-do lists and a project management software, you can just add Timeneye’s time tracker to them

In this way, you won’t have to switch between multiple tabsand you will focus on the task, just right where you are. 

Track time - Timeneye integrations

Timeneye also tracks the time you spent on each task thanks to native connections and to its handy Timeneye Browser extension. 

  • To track time for Asana’s tasks and Basecamp to-dos use a combination of the browser widgets for starting timers. You can also just leave a comment on the task/todo with the time spent on the project; 
  • To track time for Clickup and Microsoft Planner sync your ClickUp project and Microsoft Planner plan with Timeneye. Then use the Timeneye Browser widget to track time; 
  • To track time in Todoist, Taskade, Microsoft To-Do, and Trello, use the combination of the Timeneye Browser widgets and use the widget button to track time. 

The integrations will link the time you track to the specific task you’re working on

How to know what the most time-wasting tasks are

A time audit will show you how you have allocated your time across your projects and it makes you know what project, task or client has been taking most of your time

Timeneye is a time tracking tool that automatically saves data on the software each time you track your time. 

In this way you can take advantage of the data and get time insights; it’s waaay more efficient than extracting data from endless spreadsheet rows, or worse, relying on your memory and guess on whose activities you have worked on during the last month. 

For example, in Timeneye’s personal report section, you can check how you have been using the time across all the projects.

data about projects'time and phases - extract reports with Timeneye

How to know how much money you should spend on repetitive tasks?

You can use a calendar to get organized and track your repetitive tasks

You can create recurring events for the task you do often, and then sync your calendar with Timeneye directly from your Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar Integration. 

Using a calendar for productivity is not only useful to remember tasks and appointments, but also for time blocking or deep work

If the calendar event is synced in Timeneye, all you need to do is to look for it in the Timeneye dashboard and use the suggestion to track time. 

We might now say that time management is something in between our organization and ability to recognize urgent and important activities and tricks and tools able to make our life easier to avoid distractions and interruptions, manual labor, or silly, repetitive tasks. 

First of all, we would need to focus on our time management skills and see how able we are to prioritize, delegate and delete non-important activities. 

Once we are confident and we know what to do and when to do it, we can rely on time tracking software, such as Timeneye, to enrich our time management skills and check how much time a task requires us

In this way it is up to us to decide if we want to put more energy into improving our work performance or, in case it is not worth it, it would be better to just leave it and not taking similar commitments in the future

Time management plus time tracking tools not only make us save a lot of time but they also make our business flourish

Give it a try and sign up for a free 30-day Timeneye trial! 

How to Manage multiple projects without losing your mind

Businesses who work with many brands and clients have mastered the art of juggling all too well. Project managers and team members have to hop from task to client while trying not to leave something behind.

As exciting as the challenge may get, managing multiple projects can easily turn into a hot mess. How can managers avoid that while keeping productivity (and sanity) up?

Continue reading

Time Management tips. How To Visualise Your project’s progression and productivity

Productivity is a matter of organisation and focus. In order to get more things done in a day, you have to know exactly what you need to accomplish and have a clear plan of the things to do.

Things slip away, though, especially in the busiest days of the week. Heavy workloads can make us feel overwhelmed, besides it’s easy to lose track of the bigger picture if we work around the clock.

To avoid this, you could try a different approach by visualising and organising your work.

Continue reading

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