When we say that a task should be completed by a certain date, we plan for it to be done. What will happen to the project, and the whole team, when the deadline is violated? If you are faced with the fact that the team violates the established deadlines, it breaks the project plans. And then most likely you turn to modern time management technologies. Perhaps even tried to implement some. But most likely, in any of your projects are still in violation of accepted plans, you need to dig deeper into time-management and the time-tracking universe.
Time Management: How to Manage Several Projects at the Same Time if You Are Not a Multi-Armed Shiva
Suppose you have not just one project, but three or fifty. How not to get confused and work equally effectively with each project? If you are:
- an entrepreneur who has opened several business projects;
- a business owner who wants to assemble a portfolio of projects;
- owner of several businesses;
- a project manager who leads several projects at the same time;
- portfolio manager, with dozens of projects in multiple portfolios
Time management will be helpful to you. It is assumed that one who has mastered this science is the master of his time, he plans a working day, week, month, he determines which tasks are a priority and which can wait. And most importantly – he knows how to do more in the same unit of time. Work less and do more is a dream!
Usually, we get tired not because we work hard, but because we work poorly, we do not work in an organized manner. You have probably noticed more than once: when the day is not planned, when there are no clear objectives, we hang out like a substance in zero gravity, jump from one task to another, and get distracted. As a result, in the evening, summing up, we bitterly summarize nothing useful was done during the day.
Let’s look at an example of a hypothetical student who comes home and does homework. One can stretch the process of homework for 5 hours, constantly being distracted by toys, the other will get together and do everything in an hour – and then the long-awaited freedom. Which of them better manages his time? Let’s go further. The boys grew up, became businessmen. Both have several businesses, dozens of employees, constant tasks that need to be solved in working hours. One habitually procrastinates, the work interferes with the personal life, so once in a while, he tries to solve everything at once – as a result, he does not have time and is sewn up from current tasks. And in the long run, he will face professional burnout, because you can’t work to the limit. The second organizes and automates working tasks and can work for several hours a day – and the quality of the business will not be affected.
Why Do You Need to Know the Basics of Time Management?
- To live a full life, to find time not only for work but also for relaxation;
- To effectively allocate time to personal and work, useful and for relaxation, solving important problems and not so;
- To learn how to separate important tasks from non-essential ones;
- To make sense of your goals and actions;
- To motivate himself to work and live more efficiently.
Five Prioritization Techniques for IT Teams
Is it always easy to prioritize the tasks of a large project? And if five urgent tasks are in priority? Ten? Experienced project managers and product owners know that intuition is not enough. In order not to let the team down and meet deadlines, today managers come to the aid of useful methodologies for determining priorities, as well as modern tools that help visualize data and not miss anything in their work processes.
Is there an ideal methodology that will once and for all prioritize work tasks and personal affairs? Each project manager or product manager for this question, for sure, has his answer. However, there are prioritization methods that have established themselves around the world, and their authors have earned well-deserved respect among project managers and top managers. Here are five such methodologies:
1.MoSCoW method for categorizing tasks
MoSCoW methodology is now known all over the world and is widely used in various fields of management. The technique does not connect anything with the famous capital.
The consonants in the acronym MSCW are degrees of priority:
M – tasks and requirements that have the highest priority and should be primarily applied to the product in the first place. Without them, the release will not be completed (this is a must).
S – important requirements, but not with the highest priority. Usually, they are not critical, but they are still binding (this should).
C – requirements and tasks desired for release (this could).
W – the least critical requirements, they can be ignored or transferred to the next releases (this would).
The method offers a quick and easy solution for prioritizing. However, often such categorization may not be enough. Therefore, it is believed that MoSCoW is better suited for internal projects, and not for products with many customers.
2. Kano Model
Kano model is a technology developed by Japanese Noriaki Kano in 1984. It was then that he published an article in which he painted the methodology. Using the Kano model, you can clearly describe the satisfaction of what needs leaves consumers unsatisfied or enthralled. Kano offers a coordinate system where satisfaction is measured along the y-axis, and fulfillment is measured along the x-axis. The Kano model identifies three main components of the quality profile that affect customer satisfaction: expected, basic, and attractive, admirable.
Kano’s expected properties are the basic properties of a product or service. They are by default. The buyer is unlikely to think about these properties because they take them for granted. Often, airline operations are cited as an example of expected properties. A guarantee that everyone has enough space in the cabin is an expected property. The expected feature of the Hygger product management platform may be the ability to plan tasks for an individual project. It is almost always a challenge to turn an expected property into a competitive advantage, but its absence will not lead to anything good.
Basic properties are desired. Their implementation directly affects customer satisfaction. It is on the main properties that the products try to stand out and create a competitive advantage. In the example of airlines, the main property may be the absence of transfers on a long route. Admirable properties are properties that are unexpected for the consumer: additional, unusual, surprise-like. Your favorite dessert on board an airline is an example of such property.
The level of fulfillment of such properties does not directly affect customer satisfaction (as is the case with the main properties). If an unexpected property is absent, the consumer should not be upset because he did not expect it in the series of expected properties. But if the consumer is pleasantly impressed, this will bring pleasant bonuses to the product or service, at least the inner circle of the happy consumer will know about them. Over time, customer requirements can change, and what today delighted, tomorrow it may become a standard, and the day after tomorrow, it will become a prerequisite for quality.
3. Story Mapping Technique
The Story Mapping methodology became known at the beginning of the century from an article by Jeff Patton. The meaning of the method is that the backlog in the product is not enough to determine priorities in work. Patton believes that a more detailed structure is needed and offers the following mechanics:
- The horizontal axis represents the sequence of use. Tasks on it are placed in the sequence performed by the user.
- The vertical axis means criticality. Vertically, tasks are arranged relative to how important they are from top to bottom. Equally important tasks can be defined at the same height.
- Groups of related stories are grouped as activities.
The strengths of the Story Mapping Methodology is that it is a relatively simple visual presentation that allows a team, customers, customer, or other interested parties to share a common understanding of what is happening. The method clearly defines how to gradually produce product iterations.
4. KJ Methodology
The methodology invented by Jiro Kawakita (hence KJ) is often used in various training and group management classes. The essence of technology is in the group process of setting priorities. The KJ method is a eight-step process for groups of any size. To implement this method, you will need at least one hour. Participants should prepare:
- Choose a moderator (moderator).
- Make a lot of stickers in different colors.
- Find a room with a loose wall or large board.
- Place a flip chart or a separate board for the results.
8 Steps of the KJ methodology
- Choose a central question that will drive results. Each session involves its own central question.
- Organize a working group. Group members must be from different departments of the company.
- “Upload data” You will need stickers for this. Each member of the group is invited to initiate a brainstorm in different directions.
- Place the stickers on the wall in random order. Each participant, if necessary, can add new stickers at further stages.
- Group related topics. When all the wall stickers are added, the whole group begins to group similar topics.
- Name them. Participants must name each group using stickers in a different color.
- Vote for the most important, from your point of view, groups that will help answer the central question.
- Rate the most important of the groups. All stickers are placed on the board and arranged by the number of votes. Members can join similar groups, which adds their voices and raises their rating. When 3-4 groups are obviously ahead of the rest, the activity ends.
The author of the methodology, Adam Nash, proposed his analogy for prioritization. In his opinion, the priority of functions varies greatly in different products and areas. Therefore, Nash emphasizes that the method was developed specifically for the online products consumer. According to the method, the functions need to be distributed in four buckets.
- Metrics Movers are engine functions that can greatly influence product and business goals. There should be specific goals and decision strategies to invest in a product or function (an example of an indicator is the Pirate Metrics framework).
- Customer Requests are request functions requested by the customers. Usually, are additional improvements.
- Delight – functions that are created within the company based on an understanding of design or technology. Work on them is important for pleasant surprise customers.
- Strategic – functions that are important for strategic reasons related to future goals.
Each prioritization method has its own characteristics and, probably, not all of them can be adapted to the life conditions of your product or company. Then you should try modern services that help you work with priorities – modern online tools for determining priorities and tracking task statuses. They facilitate planning and help prioritize all product tasks quickly and easily.
- Backlog Priority Chart is one such tool that offers a complete platform for Hygger.io product managers.
- In the service, you can find the Value & Efforts rating system and four quadrants-criteria for determining the degree of priority:
- Quick Wins – Priority Ideas.
- Big Bets are high priority ideas that can be executed after Quick Wins.
- Maybes – ideas with less value and urgency.
- Time sinks – ideas that can be completely postponed or removed.
Time Management Essentials: Time-Tracking
One of the essential tricks of not messing up your time-management efforts is to track progress. That’s why humanity came up with multiple time-tracking tools. However, the old-school “punching card” can help you only with checking if the employee was present in the office. That’s why you should consider, how can you track the real progress and “current state of affairs.”
At the beginning of this article, we’ve talked about time management within the framework of multiple simultaneous projects with multiple teams, with multiple employees, that intersect on some of those projects. Such arrangements can turn into a swirl of time reports on its own. Not mentioning the fact that sometimes time-reporting in these circumstances can become a separate task on its own. Imagine a simple working day: two meetings, a conference call, a couple of tasks on one project, a couple on the other. There are two ways of keeping it all in check and be accurate about it: be a savant, or get a time-tracking tool, that takes different technology and multiple timelines into account.
PPM Express Time is just the tool that can help you with complicated timelines. It connects to every tool in your toolbox and “checks” with them every day, to create one concise work time report for you at the end of the day. You just have to check it and confirm or edit if needed. So, your meetings (from your outlook calendar), calls (from Teams), tasks (from Jira, Trello, Project Online, etc.) come into being within your report with unique accuracy. And it takes you less than five minutes a day, to make it happen.