Archive for the ‘project teams’ Category:

The Best Business Apps To Show Your Boss

As businesses become more and more tech-savvy, many are choosing to distribute iPhones as their default company phone. The iPhone’s wide variety of business apps can help streamline your company while increase productivity at the same time. If you want your company to use technology to gain an edge, here are 5 apps to show your boss that will make his (and your) job easier.

Dropbox

Sharing files among your colleagues can be quite the pain. Many businesses don’t have a standard system in place for transferring files, and many rely on email attachments which can get clunky. Dropbox allows you to created shared folders on your work iPhone and computer, and sync them with each other seamlessly. To share a file, simply place it in the share folder, and it will appear on your coworker’s devices instantly.

Evernote

Evernote is the premier note taking app for iOS, thanks to its simple design and numerous features. Rich text notes can be created, edited, and shared all from your iPhone, and can be accessed from any device with a web browser. Evernote’s notes also support photos, which sync just as quick as text notes.

Scanner Pro

Scanners are the butt of many jokes in an office, thanks to their propensity to malfunction exactly when you need them the most. Ditch the bulky scanner and grab Scanner Pro to streamline the entire process. The app uses your phones camera to scan documents, which can they be emailed with the touch of a button.

stack-of-iphones

Basecamp

Basecamp is the the most comprehensive project management tool for businesses of any size. The program allows your to share files, conversations, projects, and more through a simple user interface. Best of all, it can be entirely operated from the mobile application, allowing users to be productive on the move.

DoubleDutch

Planning large-scale corporate events can often be rather frustrating thanks to the hundreds of factors that go into planning a large conference. Between the attendees, presenters, and planners, numerous people need to stay informed of the event’s schedule. Enter DoubleDutch, an application that gathers all the information you need and allows attendees access everything from their smartphones. The application displays a mobile agenda that can be updated in real time, so guests always know exactly where they need to be. They can even create custom agendas in a few simple steps, or connect with other guests based on their interests/career. DoubleDutch also allows you to create custom polls and survey to collect information from your guests, so you can know exactly what they thought of this year’s speaker.

Tripit

Business traveling always seems to be more hassle than it should be. Between planning the flight, renting a car, and reserving a hotel, the process can get quite complicated. Enter Tripit, which simplifies the entire process. Simply forwarding your travel confirmation emails to a Tripit email account automatically creates your itinerary for you. It can then be shared among users, so all your coworkers know when and where you are heading.

As time passes, more and more business rely on strictly digital methods for managing their information, and the above apps build a solid foundation for running a well oiled and tech savvy company. Remember to try out any apps that seem interesting, and find what works best for you and your business.

Adrian King is a business consultant with a passion for technology. When he is not found working or spending time with his children, Adrian spends much of his spare time reading http://www.marketingtechblog.com/.

When relationships fail – project management woes

Interesting topic, as relationships are the basis of life – whether it is partners, children, pets, colleagues, or suppliers to name a few. So how do we keep a relationship healthy and happy? A starting point has to be managing expectations, you commit to a certain level of engagement and this must be clear from the outset. Most of the time, with personal relationships this tends to be easier as you agree to call or do something and as long as you keep on top of your commitments then you have a healthy relationship. In work it can be difficult to juggle relationships especially when you are very busy and are constantly asking for parties to do something for you (usually because it is in the plan). So when things occasionally go sour or you inherit a bad relationship with a client or supplier, what should you do?

Come back

  • What went wrong – talk to all involved to get a greater understanding of when the relationship started to struggle.
  • Discuss feelings – all sounds very touchy feely I know but just listening to others and letting them vent their frustrations can relieve tension greatly.
  • Listen to all points of view – don’t just listen to those who shout loudest, take time to speak with those who seem to be happy (it is often these who are just “getting on with it” grumbling under their breath).
  • How can we put things right? Having taken in all views and opinions it is time to sit down and work out a strategy to improve the working environment moving forward. Take an inclusive approach, call a meeting with all involved and talk through your ideas and reassure everyone that you are acutely aware that things need to change and will.

I remember back when I first started managing my own projects, my programme director told me to refer to the plan with workstream leads who were not prioritising my projects. I did as I was told for a while but found that this corporate threat was damaging my relationships, I decided to take a different approach, bearing in mind I was working within a matrix environment so often had to go to their managers with the threats. I decided to spend some time with each workstream lead, visiting them in their work environments, having a coffee and chat about their workloads. I found that explaining the benefits to them completing their commitments to my projects and sympathising with their woes really started to build relationships to the point that they were very honest about statuses and pressures from others within the business. From this I met with other managers to discuss how we could all get what we needed. It wasn’t completely fool proof but certainly made for a more productive and happier work environment. Just remember that yes there is a plan but just because it is there doesn’t mean it will be followed without some intervention and management of expectations.

Let’s do coffee – How to Tackle Informal Interviews

We’ve practised questions and answers, researched the business and got our suits dry cleaned only to receive a call from HR / recruitment services asking us to attend an informal meeting with the hiring manager. Suddenly, we feel unprepared and unsure about how to handle a meeting in Costa or Starbucks tomorrow at 8:30am – what to do!?

Don’t panic for a start – an informal interview is certainly nothing to worry about but equally it is not something which should be treated as informal either. I have often pushed back on hiring managers asking why choose an informal meeting over the traditional approach. I have heard a few replies from: issues over time (heavy diaries mean meeting outside the office and office hours), interviewers wishing to escape the office for a change to testing candidates in a less formal environment. As the format of such interviews is perceived as “let the conversation flow” – it could be a test to see how you lead a conversation which isn’t so daunting but keep in mind that you also need to ensure you are entering core skills and experience into the dialogue too. Culture fit is generally a key driver to informal interviews – by taking you out of the formal environment the hiring manager may be trying to understand who you are, what your personality and sense of humour is like. Will you get on well with the team or stick out like a sore thumb?

Always treat these types of interviews like a test – if you prepare for the worst you can cover all bases and ensure you gain the greatest success:

  • Do not assume the interview will actually be informal just because the surroundings are; prepare your questions and answers as you would for competency based interviews.
  • Careful what you order!! Coffee houses are great but I have known candidates order strong coffee and be bouncing off the walls in the interview. Be sensible or avoid caffeine altogether and order decaf.
  • Be prepared to be distracted, the downside to coffee houses and hotel lobbies has to be the noise and the hustle of people coming and going. For this, you must keep focussed on the interviewer – remember this may be a test!
  • Make sure you have the mobile number of the interviewer in case you cannot see him/her when you arrive – especially first/last thing in the day as there will be a great deal of smartly dressed people at peak periods.

Don’t let the informal setting get in the way of asking some good strong questions – make sure you leave the meeting knowing if this is the job for you or not. It is not unreasonable for you to ask to see the offices at some point in the process too – it is important that you get to see where you could potentially be spending 8 hours a day, so if an offer is extended post interview – ask.

Does Working in a Team Have to Cause You This Much Grief?

Working in a team is something which can make any job more interesting but it can also cause you a bit of grief if difficult situations aren’t handled in the right way. I decided to have a look back at some of the worst team situations I have been in to see whether they could have been fairly easily avoided or fixed.

Jealousy and Pickles

Isn’t it strange how even the most mild-mannered colleague can get overcome by rage at some point in their career? I used to work with a chap whose only notable personality trait was that he ate cheese and pickle sandwiches at his desk at the same time every single day during 4 years.  One day he discovered that he had been overlooked for promotion and went ballistic. For a second I thought that I was going to end up with cheese and pickle all over my new suit. This is one of the most difficult subjects to handle but with a bit of proper team building and better communication I am sure that he would have appreciated the efforts of his colleagues more and not got so annoyed at the news of someone else’s promotion.

Everyone Doing the Same Thing Differently

I once got involved in a fairly big project which had people working on it in different parts of the country. The only bad part of it was that we all ended up doing similar tasks in different ways because we didn’t speak to one another. When we finally all got together for a meeting and a bit of team building no one knew what was going on any more. In this case the communication had to come earlier on, as it was obviously that a geographically dispersed team was going to have problems in this respect.

Longer Working Hours But No Pizza?

I remember another job in which we needed to deliver a report at very short notice. The boss took the wrong approach and tried to force us into staying till late to get it done. The whole office rebelled and by a minute past 5 the place was deserted. For about a month afterwards the office was filled with a hostile and frosty atmosphere due to this problem. What our boss should have done was explain the situation and try to persuade us to stay by offering us overtime pay or even just offering to order in a pizza or something.  Staying late and pulling together to achieve a difficult target is actually a good way of fostering a team spirit through team building, provided it is done the right way and pizza is involved of course.

If you want to stop your team members having a hard time at work then you should look to get some team building done as soon as you can.