It’s that time again. It’s the time to get together with family and enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, or pumpkin pie. I would like to take this opportunity to send a special thanks to the TeamGantt Family and tell you a bit about our origins, purpose, and future plans.
First, we want to thank all our 2100+ users who have made this vision and passion of ours a reality. Nathan and I were involved in a Project Management disaster just over a year ago. We were both software developers for one the largest roofing companies in the east and we were having trouble figuring out how to schedule future releases of our in-house apps. We realized we needed a solution as we started to merge applications Nathan had created during his time at the company, and those that I had written earlier as temporary band-aids.
It was time to merge our two systems and two completely different databases into one, unified, and easy-to-use piece of software. Our first strategy was to meet weekly and keep track of what was due and when. A type of GTD. This method quickly became inefficient and a replacement was required.
Then we moved on to gantt charts. This was a significant improvement in how we approached each feature. This was however still flawed in one important way. Nathan was the only employee who had direct access to the charts. My co-workers, and I, were forced to contact Nathan to get updates and to inquire about schedule changes and progress. Not to mention the many emails back and forth.
How do we track our progress? We tried to manage this by printing each gantt chart out and using highlighters to track progress and completion. This was not the best way to go. We searched the internet for a multi-user web-based gantt charts, but were unsuccessful in finding the right product. After a quick discussion and weighing the pros and cons, Nathan & I decided that we would start our own company and create this product.
We finally released the beta version after nearly a year of work, with most of our work being done on weekends because of our commitments at full-time jobs. We’ve seen a steady increase in users over the past year. This has been accelerated by our efforts to push our product further.
We are currently working at full speed on new features, including a multiproject view (perhaps the most requested feature). The new release (date not known) will include a new core and improved performance, while maintaining the same look and feeling.
We’d like again to express our sincere gratitude to all our users. It was a pleasure working with you over the past year, and we look forward for future collaborations.
Nathan Gilmore and John Correlli
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Your team should feel like a group.
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Sample Team ManifestoDOCXOpens a new windowBecome a DPM Member to Access this Content.
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This template and sample can be used to help you define and share the values, goals, and working methods of your team. It is important to keep it visible and to refer back to it often.
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You can easily call your team members to get their contact information and work hours.
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Are time zones making collaboration difficult across your internationally-distributed team? This template can be used to record your team’s availability, preferred communication methods, emergency contact information, and emergency contact information. It should be somewhere that the entire team can see.
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Sample Team Member Questionnaire
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Clients and stakeholders are key to your projects. It is important to communicate with them effectively in order for a project to succeed.
Ben Aston, founder of The Digital Project manager, will be sharing simple, yet powerful, tactics that can transform client communications, strengthen business relationships, and deliver better projects.
Simple Strategies to Transform Client Communication (.pdf).
This podcast is part a published article on The Digital Project Manager. You can read the entire article here.
Clarizen, a leader in enterprise project management software and enterprise projects, brings you this podcast.
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The DPM Podcast welcomes you to the show. We go beyond theory to offer practical advice for leading better digital projects. Thank you for listening. I’m Ben Aston. Projects rarely go according to plan. And when plans change, it can often lead to a lot of stress. There are many things to do: schedule meetings, update plans, adjust estimates, make changes and make calls. What if there was a better way to manage the change in your projects? This podcast will show you a new way to approach managing change using agile contracts. Keep listening to learn how to make agile contracts work for you and the challenges and benefits of this approach.
Tucker Sauer-Pivonka is my guest today. He is the Director for Product Management at product managers and really helps them grow and develop. He is also responsible for, sort of, developing their best practices. Hello, Tucker.
Good morning Ben.
Yes, you too. One of the things I wanted to ask you is this: I know that part of your job is the development of the team. I was wondering if you could share some of your insights about what has worked for your team in helping them grow and evolve. Perhaps it’s about the contracting you are using or experimenting with. How do you nurture your team and help them grow? What has worked for you?
Yeah. The one thing you need to realize early on is that everyone learns differently and needs different coaching methods. I begin by evaluating their performance with my team members. What do they learn? How do they like feedback? What do they enjoy receiving praise? I keep track of everything so I can tailor my approach to get them to respond better. It’s true. I spend a lot time in my one-on-one sessions. I enjoy discussing different topics with them and helping them to grow. I mean, coaching them on any issue that they are having at the moment. They’ll just come up as they come up and then we move on. We also have a book study at Crema, centered around Multipliers.
This is a huge aspect of our team’s growth. Conferences are another important aspect of growth. We have a conference in the works.
Remember the story about the tortoise & the hare? Despite moving at a slower pace, the tortoise won.
TeamGantt is all about speed shipping. However, there is one area where we embrace the tortoise approach: hiring.
Our humble beginnings as a small, bootstrapped business prompted us to slow down our hiring process. Patience is an essential part of starting from nothing and cashflowing everything.
When it comes to building a great team, time taught us the importance of waiting. These lessons can be applied to your next hire.
Slow growth is a good thing
John Correlli and Nathan Gilmore, the cofounders of TeamGantt didn’t have enough investor cash to hire a large team when they started it. They had to work with what was available, and what they had at the beginning was each others.
John and Nathan weren’t just coders behind the curtain. They also served customers on the front lines. This gave them the opportunity to learn all aspects of the business. They did it for three years, before they felt the crunch.
John Correlli, cofounder John says “I was split between customer support and development in the beginning.” “When I couldn’t keep up with the development or customers had to wait long for a response, we knew we needed someone to support us so I could spend more time writing codes.”
Nathan and John had already established a solid financial foundation for TeamGantt, so they knew that they wouldn’t be adding another person to their payroll.
How do you know when it’s time for your team to grow? John’s advice? “Keep going until your energy and time are exhausted or you realize that you’re being stretched too thin.” “When you reach that point, it is time to delegate. And when there is no one to delegate, it is time to grow the team.
Keep looking for the right person
If you are looking to grow your team, there is nothing more important than filling that vacant spot quickly so business can return to normal. People are not projects. Putting a deadline on the process could make it easier to hire the wrong person.
We recommend waiting for the right person, no matter how long it takes.
Nathan states, “We don’t settle for the first person who might fit the role.” “We wait until we all feel that this person will be amazing.”
Here are some ways patience can pay off.
Begin with people you already know
Nathan and John wanted to expand their team but the company culture was still being established. They hired two people they knew, who were compatible with the chemistry Nathan & John had.
We always consider the candidate’s chemistry within the team.
Nathan states that it is important to hire people who are fun to be around and want to work with.
Even better, your network of potential employees grows with your team. If your team members are great, chances are that their friends are also. Before you open your doors to strangers, make sure to ask for personal recommendations.
Customize your interview questions
It can save you time and effort by asking plug-and-play questions during interviews. But are you really getting at the core of what is most important to you?
Consider what you value as a group and then tailor your questions accordingly.
TeamGantt is a remote company that works from anywhere. We try to pack as much as possible into each day so that we have more time for our personal lives. We are open-minded about the questions we ask in interviews. Here are some of our favorite interview questions:
What motivates and inspires you?
Why would you want to work remotely?
Do you have any experience working remotely? How was it?
How do you organize your day?
What is your home office like?
What is your greatest accomplishment or project?
If your organization still operates on an on-premise model, it may be time to change things up.
You will need to prepare a business case for any IT project. This will help you secure the support, budget, and resource you need from key stakeholders.
Cloud is the new normal. Most businesses have either moved to the cloud or are currently migrating. Cloud computing is a popular choice for newer businesses due to the benefits it offers in terms of computing power and scalability.
Why create a business case to migrate to AWS? Business cases are usually created when your organization has a specific need it cannot meet with its current resources or tools. This could be anything you desire, such as increased customer engagement, better sales, more detailed insights into your data, or simplifying your processes to make your business leaner.
Avon Puri, Rubrik’s Chief Information Officer, explains that cloud migration is driven by value drivers such as cost management, business agility, and risk management.
Moving the disaster recovery site to the cloud is a compelling first use case for any company considering a cloud journey. This not only reduces complexity and minimizes risk of data loss but also significantly lowers costs by eliminating the need to operate a secondary data centre. Additional cloud drivers include reliability, scaling, automation, and on-demand usage.
“Migration into the cloud allows companies to instantly provide self-service development and test environments for developers, and greatly improve DevOps.”
Whatever the reason for migrating, you will need to convince stakeholders across your company to support your plans before you take any significant steps towards it. Cloud migration is essentially being sold to your entire organization, from the C-suite to your junior-level employees.
There are more AWS talent than anyone else. Take a look at our pre-screened AWS professionals to make the first step towards finding the best administrators, developers, or consultants in the market.
Take a look
Your business case must cover everything, from the provider/s and products to the timelines, costs, who will be needed on board, the problem/s that it solves, and how it fits into your organization’s vision and goals.
Common myths about cloud migration These are some common myths to get out of your head before you start:
“Moving to cloud computing is always cheaper.” This depends on the type of cost you are comparing, but in general, cloud computing is cheaper over the long-term. Operating costs can sometimes be higher in some cases due to poor cost control, inexperienced workers, weak discovery stages, duplicate processes or an increase in staffing.
These issues can be minimized and ROI generated quickly if you do your research and invest in the right AWS migration teams from the beginning.
“All your assets should reside in the cloud.” This depends on your company’s specific needs and the legacy system you work with. Sometimes, the best solution doesn’t lie in one provider. In many cases, a hybrid solution is better.
It’s best to wait until your first round qualitative analysis before you decide on this. Learn as much as you can about traffic patterns and dependencies and then move on.
“Server costs are all that matters.” While the cost of running servers on-premise is an important factor in any organization, it is not the only one.
It is amazing to me how complex the human body is.
Our systems are complex and require constant maintenance. We function poorly if we don’t eat enough or sleep enough.
This is something we all have felt before. I’ve been in seasons where I couldn’t get enough exercise or rest. It can be very difficult with work pressures, young children (I have 4), and other circumstances.
Perhaps you have arrived at work after three hours of sleep and a hot cup of coffee. Maybe you had to skip a meal or two to complete a project on schedule.
Humans also respond to certain stimuli. In other words, depending on the conditions, our performance can be optimal or suboptimal. We can create an optimal environment for ourselves if we can identify and recreate these conditions.
Project managers know how important it is to create optimal conditions. If you don’t take care of your team and your performance, it can lead to a decrease in performance.
Science comes to your rescue.
Science provides us with objective rules about how humans act and interact. It goes beyond biological science. Psychology can help us maximize our potential and work well, while sociology helps us to deal with others.
These scientific concepts can be used to reenergize your team and revive the mood if your project has not been a success.
Biology: Meditation can be used to improve focus and productivity
It’s not surprising that we are terrible at slowing down.
Project managers are often the go-getters, the hustlers, the overachievers, and the get-up-early-and-get-it-done personalities.
This is made even more difficult by the internet. Multitasking is a common occurrence. We check email on the phone, while browsing multiple browser tabs, and we often multitask. (I may have sent text messages and/or Facebook messages while I was writing this article.
Our attention is being diverted to more things than ever before. This has severely affected our ability focus.
Cal Newport discusses deep work in his book Deep Work.
Newport defines deep work “the ability not to be distracted by a cognitively demanding task.”
It doesn’t have to be difficult. Millions of workers around the world feel the same way.
We’ve been rewired so that we can excel at what Newport calls “shallow work”. Sometimes we work all day, but when it comes time to go home, we realize that we haven’t done much.
Meditation is one way to get rid of that problem.
Although meditation in a work environment may seem strange, it has real and immediate benefits.
Leaders such as Evan Williams, Jeff Weiner and Jeff Weiner have all used meditation to increase their performance.
The surprising effects of meditation are astounding. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, meditation may reduce stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and insomnia as well as other medical conditions.
Even a small amount of meditation per week can have amazing benefits. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Stout found that participants felt better after just two 30-minute sessions per week.
According to Harvard Business Review, CEOs use meditation to improve their focus, feel better and build relationships at work.
Try this simple breathing exercise if you are new to meditation. It takes only a few minutes to get you started on your day. It is a small price for better concentration and productivity to wake up 10-15 minutes earlier.
You can also lead your group through a meditative exercise. Meditation in groups can be more effective than meditation on your own.
Meditation is an integral part of many religious systems. Maybe you aren’t religious.
Your team must be productive when there is a big project in progress and a deadline. You want your team to be as organized as a mother preparing her child for school. This is why you need to hold follow-ups and meetings.
But there’s one problem: Your managerial tendencies could drive your team members to the wall in frustration.
It’s natural to want to ensure that everyone in the team is productive and focused so that milestones can be met on time. You might feel the need to inspect every aspect, ask as many questions as you can, follow up as often as possible, and be available for any problems or issues 24 hours a day.
This creates frustration and stress which can lead to a loss of focus and productivity. You feel pressure to deliver, but there is also resistance to your requests for meetings and constant nitpicking about every detail. This can lead to a decrease in enthusiasm and engagement within your team.
You need to find the right balance between being too involved in projects and not caring enough about your team’s needs. This will help you maintain balance and promote productivity at work. Let’s look at some ways you can manage your team and increase productivity without making them crazy.
Clarify the roles and responsibilities of each member.
Day 1 should begin with an understanding of each member’s role and responsibilities in the project. Answer any member’s questions or concerns about their role and establish boundaries to avoid task overlaps. This can be done with the help of a RACI chart.
Clear communication allows the team to work together without interfering with each other. This reduces the need for team meetings to clarify who is responsible for what. Everyone can now concentrate on the work at hand with a clear definition.
Always have a clear agenda for meetings.
A team meeting without an agenda is like asking for everyone to sit in a room and have a long discussion. It defeats the purpose of holding a meeting.
Before you organize a meeting with your team, be sure to have a list of things to discuss. This will prevent everyone from losing their time and negatively impacting productivity. To avoid wasting time, make sure you set clear objectives for the meeting.
Follow-up should be done in a reasonable time frame.
Although the goal is to keep everyone informed, it can be more distracting than helpful to ask your team to meet for regular follow-up meetings.
You want to accomplish your goals, so it is important to keep a balance between follow-up meetings and actual work hours. Set up a reasonable follow up schedule that everyone can agree upon and follow. If you have to address critical issues that could adversely affect the project or group, don’t schedule emergency meetings.
Only communicate with the people you need.
You may feel that everyone should be involved when you send emails or messages. This can lead to a flood of emails, which can drown your team in unnecessary emails every day.
You can limit the number of members to those who are directly involved in the conversation, and can contribute to the issue at hand. It would save everyone the time of reading messages that they aren’t able to relate to or contribute to.
Set realistic time frames.
It is important to set realistic deadlines, but this should be accompanied by workable timeframes that allow enough work to be done. This will ensure that your product meets the highest quality standards.
We spend at least a third our adult lives working with colleagues. Over time, many close-knit friendships are formed. You move from the professional world to the personal. You ask questions about the soccer games of your children and share your personal struggles. It’s as natural and natural as breathing.
As they work together to overcome obstacles and face challenges together, being part of a team brings people closer together. This works, as long as your career paths do not drastically change your responsibilities or roles.
Many of my closest friends, whom I still keep in touch with, were once colleagues. How do you deal with suddenly being in control of your friends? The person who sex with you last week and knows your deepest secrets, and has seen you in embarrassing situations, suddenly reports to you.
After a promotion, how to manage the tension
You must be aware of how you interact with your team members if you are going to lead them. You can’t always rely on friendship when managing people. There is a balance.
Many newly-minted leaders find themselves in this awkward situation and choose to go to one of two extremes. Either they try to distance themselves from their friends and forgo all personal contact, or they keep the friendship going as if nothing ever happened. Both approaches are wrong.
People who give up control and act above others who were once on the same level as them will lose respect and love from their colleagues. You can’t stop being friends with your closest friends because you have a successful career.
On the other hand, those who lack managerial distance will find themselves in a team that doesn’t respect them. You don’t have to hold them responsible when you were just there last week to see the big game. They could do almost anything and you wouldn’t fire them. Friends don’t fire one another, it is true. This type of thinking could compromise your authority.
How can you keep your friendships strong while being a driving force for team improvement and productivity? The sweet spot between these extremes is found through honesty, consistency in evaluation, and openness.
Why you can’t be the best friends
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t be friends and ignore the fact that being promoted to management changes your friendship.
You can create a perception of favoritism among your closest friends if you are leading a team. You can’t allow people to think that you are just helping a friend and that they don’t have any chance of advancement or growth. To grow in your career, you don’t have to be a part of a “club”. Your entire team should know that you will award career benefits to the most qualified employee, not the person who shares your past.
You will have trouble letting go of your feelings if you feel an emotional connection with an employee. Your friendship shouldn’t affect your decisions about raises or layoffs. If they do, you should be ready for potential lawsuits and employee turnover in the future.
You may be more open to letting someone you manage get away with more than you would the rest of your team if you are good friends. This will be obvious to your other employees and could lead to resentment.
Both of you may have unrealistic expectations about what should be done in friendship. This could make it difficult for the relationship to work. Your job as a manager is to evaluate your employees. This is not always something friends enjoy. Your friend might feel that you wouldn’t discipline them professionally if they are being disruptive.