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A Project Management Tool for Teams That You Didn’t Know Existed

A Project Management Tool for Teams That You Didn’t Know Existed

Some of the first problems busy freelancers & entrepreneurs run into is a time management crunch. As they take on more work, job tracking the tasks for each client becomes more demanding. Having a centralized hub to communicate and share files with team members quickly becomes a necessity when you get busy: it’s deciding the best project management software to use that stops most people in dead their tracks.

Managing Multiple Jobs and Virtual Team Members

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Project Management Software Viewpath with Gantt Chart

    So how do you manage multiple jobs with many other team members that need access to client information and files? A great tool to start with is Viewpath. Viewpath is an online project management software with a free edition that does not expire. This powerful program does not get enough time in the spotlight and deserves a long overdue introduction. This writer uses it every day.

    Though the free version has some limitations it’s a great place to start and see if you can actually get your process down to repeatable steps. Getting your brain down on paper can be very revealing. You can expect to change your process many times as you grow. The experience will also show you what good project management software is capable of without making you rush through the process so you can learn and try at your own pace.

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    With all team members on board it’s easy to track which tasks are on time and late with simple red dots marking the late tasks. Extending due dates or moving project start dates can be done by dragging the project visually or entering the desired date into the correct task.

    Project Management Software Viewpath with project open

      This all ties in nicely with the resource management aspect in the Gantt chart where you can take a quick peek at who is overbooked and who can accept more work. You can create unlimited projects and invite unlimited guests. “Guests” will be your virtual team members and can view tasks that have been assigned to them within a project to access files, mark them complete or a percentage complete, as well as add notes and links.

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      Project Management for Beginners

      Project Management Software Viewpath with timeline

        The beauty of starting with project management software early in the game is that you can get an idea of how much time it takes just to outline jobs and track progress so that you aren’t surprised by it later. You might even find that you dislike this aspect of the work and, knowing that, will help you hire the right kind of people later on down the road.

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        If you are new to project management software there are a few things you should know. These programs are big. They may look simple but they are capable of running hundreds of jobs and tracking hundreds of employees. There is a template creation process, reporting function, separate views, multiple categories and personal logins.

        Being big means they can grow with you but they also require more attention at the start. Many freelancers dive in and find out quickly that to truly utilize all the functions it takes hours of learning and even more time planning. This time investment may feel like a turn off at first but asking hard questions only streamlines the process for later. Of course there is always the option of using it for the tasks you need immediately and learning as you go but don’t expect a quick “end” to the learning curve.

        15 Hacks for Viewpath That Will Save You Time:

        1. When selecting multiple rows at a time, hold shift and don’t click inside the check boxes—click to the left to make a large selection.
        2. You can change multiple dates or resource names at once by selecting all the lines you want and jut typing the first letter of the name or the date.
        3. Confused about making templates? Just create a job, create all the tasks and the next time you want to create a similar job, just choose to “create from existing” job instead of the template option.
        4. The time-tracking clock does not work in free edition so stop clicking it.
        5. Missing a job? You probably closed the tab. Go home, then to the project tab and double click it.
        6. Archiving jobs is better than deleting.
        7. Resources not showing up on a job? Go to a different job with resources in it, select them all, click edit copy and then edit paste into new job.
        8. The little arrows move around everything you select, not just one task. Make sure only one task is selected and then place it in the hierarchy.
        9. Don’t skip the tutorial. It’s super simple and takes about 3 minutes.
        10. Tasks showing but can’t find them on the timeline? Check your year in the date column. Sometimes jobs get entered in for the wrong year and poof! They disappear.
        11. “Duration” means how many days or hours you will let someone attempt to complete the task. “work” is how long you expect them to take and can be found in the dropdown menu of each header.
        12. The home screen requires you hit the continue button in the middle of the screen before revealing the program when you first log in. Yes you are in the right place.
        13. The free version does not expire but if you don’t login for over 4 months you may not have an account when you come back.
        14. If you indent a task (move it to the right with an arrow key) the task above it will become a bold header. You can’t mark headers complete. They will become complete when all the tasks under them have been completed.
        15. Create a task at the end of each project that says “ready for billing”, if the billing date goes past due it serves as a nice reminder.

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        The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

        The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

        It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

        Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

        “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

        In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

        New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

        There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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        So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

        What is the productivity paradox?

        There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

        In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

        He wrote in his conclusion:

        “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

        Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

        How do we measure productivity anyway?

        And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

        In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

        But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

        In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

        But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

        Possible causes of the productivity paradox

        Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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        • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
        • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
        • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
        • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

        There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

        According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

        Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

        The paradox and the recession

        The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

        “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

        This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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        According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

        Looking forward

        A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

        “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

        Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

        “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

        On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

        Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

        Reference

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