In order for project management to succeed, you must do research to find a team project management method that works for your team, test it and frequently assess its value and whether or not it’s working for your team members.
In this article, we’ll take you through the process of creating an effective team management solution for your team. We’ll walk you through the various methods and then discuss implementing and maintaining different team management tools.
Before we dive in, it’s important to understand why good project management is crucial for teams of all sizes.
When a project is properly managed, it has a huge impact on your company’s bottom line. When your team members have a solid understanding of expectations, deadlines and who to turn to when they need help, your team will run better and produce better results.
A solid project management strategy is like a well-oiled engine. Without oil, the engine works, but not at its maximum efficiency. Add oil (or team management, in this case) to the equation, and the engine runs better and without issue.
Take Spotify, for example. The company implemented Agile project management, and the company noted that its teams are now always creating new features. They’re also faster to market than industry giants like Apple.
There are multiple team management methods your team can implement and build on. You don’t need to stick to these methods completely, and your organisation can customize them to fit your needs.
Here are some of the most popular team management solutions. Note that these are often called project management methods. This is because more often than not, project management methods can be used as team management methods too.
Agile is a team management solution focused on software development, but can easily be applied to other types of work. The process focuses on developing individual features and creating Minimum Valuable Products, or MVPs.
Each MVP goes through design, development and testing phases. These processes are called sprints and — at the end of each testing phase — are presented to the client. If all works well, the client signs off on the feature and the next sprint starts.
Agile has been introduced to a number of wildly successful tech companies over the years. Take ThoughtWorks for example: The company has over 40 offices in 15 countries, and uses Agile to manage projects across its 5,000 worldwide employees. ThoughtWorks have attributed much of their worldwide success to this method and have gone as far to publish a number of e-books on it.
Scrum is an even more collaborative version of Agile. A Scrum master is introduced — from either inside or outside the company — to each team. Scrum masters hold daily meetings wherein team members discuss their work for the day and the state of the project is discussed.
Scrum is based around the Agile methodology, so projects are broken down by sprint. Within those tasks are separate design, development and testing phases. The Scrum master hosts a sprint review session at the end of each sprint so the team can discuss how to better improve its process.
Unlike Agile, the Waterfall method doesn’t break down projects by task. Instead, projects are designed, developed and implemented in waves and all at once. For example, a team would design a website all at once and then develop all features at once.
Waterfall can work well for small teams working on short projects. However, they become confusing on long projects as Waterfall takes very big-picture approach to project management and can skip over small details.
Kanban was created by Toyota Corporation in the 1940s as a method to speed up manufacturing processes. Essentially, the process tracks each person’s task status is tracked visually on a ‘kanban board’. These boards are usually whiteboards broken up by task stages.
These stages are may be labelled planning, design, development and testing. Tasks are written on a Post-it note and physically moved through the stages. You can create a board online using Trello or a similar service, or create a physical board in your office.
Kanban is good for projects that require lots of individual work. This lets management easily track a single person’s performance, and keeps workers up-to-date on their progress and what needs to be done.
A number of teams have attributed their success to Kanban. Successful content marketing blogs like Buffer and Social Report use it to manage their editorial calendars, and software companies like Stormpath use it to manage their development process. In fact, Stormpath was so successful in their projects that the company was recently acquired by Okta.
Each of the team project management methods above have corresponding software tools that help teams stay on track. Here are the best software tools for each of the project management methods above.
Hygger is a powerful Scrum tool that takes you through all of the rounds of Scrum. You can manage a product backlog, host Scrum meetings and visualise your Scrum project management process in Hygger.
Agile teams can also use Hygger for team management. You can customise the software to meet your team’s needs.
Binfire can be used with a range of project management tools, Waterfall included. You can keep track of the status of your project in the app, and move it through its various stages of development. For example, you can create Gantt charts that show the progress of a specific stage.
Trello is a virtual Kanban board. You can split up your board by task steps and create new tasks that can be clicked and dragged through the boards. Each task can be assigned to one or more team members and tasks can be discussed using the built-in commenting features.
Samewave is an up-and-coming project management tool that holds team members accountable for their work.
You can adapt the flexible software to your method of choice. Each team in your company can assign its own set of tasks, assign goals and create checklists. If you’re using Agile, you may make a checklist for each one of your sprints. Waterfall teams may make one list for their entire project.
Now for the fun part: implementation.
When you decide on a project management method for your team, discuss it with your team members and key stakeholders. Ask your team if they think it’s efficient. Walk them through the processes and have them suggest changes. Keep these considerations in mind when finalising your choice.
Consider running trials with your team. If you have an internal task or project coming up, try your new method with a small subteam. This gives you a low-stakes way to test if the methodology works without putting time or money on the line.
When talking to stakeholders, discuss the benefits of the method. Additionally, ask for their input and discuss how much they want to be involved, if at all. Methods like Scrum and Agile require much client and stakeholder input, while Waterfall and Kanban don’t.
Then, plan a kickoff event. Incentivise with free lunch or coffee, and sit down with your team and stakeholders for an extended meeting. Train them on the method and software tool and discuss why it was chosen. Explain how reporting works and discuss expectations for each team member. This will vary depending on method picked, but is essential so that everyone is on the same page.
When you’ve trained all team members and stakeholders, start the project management method on a fresh project. You may find that the process is slow for the first couple of weeks, but will speed up with time as team members get up to speed with the system.
Over the next few months, continue to check in with your employees. Ask how they feel about the method and ensure that all is running smoothly. Make sure that your team members know that all questions can be directed to you or the person in charge of maintaining the team management method.
Additionally, make sure your team stays on track with the project management solution. Ensure that they’re adhering to rules and expectations. If you find that a team member is falling off track, sit down with them and discuss how you can better their understanding of the method.
After things are running smoothly, perform audits regularly that assess performance and how the methodology is working. If problems arise, look at switching methods or re-training employees that need it.
Each of these methods have their own merits, so make sure to sit down with your team and find which is a best fit. For example, Kanban may be best for design and marketing teams while Agile and Scrum are best for software development houses.
Once you implement a team management solution, you’ll find that your team is working more efficiently with a better understanding of their expectations.
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