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Five Ways to Make Project Management Simple

meeting

meeting

Strong project management skills are the difference between staying within budget and on the proposed timeline for implementation, and going over time, over budget, and causing a negative ripple effect throughout the organization.

Project management is a balance of science and art. With the right person overseeing a project, the right protocols in place, and the right tools for the job, you can make your next project a success.

Here are five ways to make project management simple.

Don’t Overthink the Tools of the Trade

Once upon a time, project management software almost required its own project plan for education and implementation.

The software could be expensive and made it possible for various team members to have a plan that was out of date. Cloud technology has almost eradicated the latter problem, but lots of software is still arduous and complicated.

When it comes to project and product management software, don’t be distracted by the bells and whistles: keep it simple and to the point. Find something that makes organization simple and has a minimal learning curve for team members.

Assign and Define

To ensure that things get done when they’re supposed to by the responsible parties, you need to clearly define action items and assign a name and completion date to them. This is especially necessary if you have long meetings in which things don’t get resolved, or discussions drag on, as attention may waver.

To wrap up each meeting or email, take a moment to clearly state who is responsible for a task, what’s expected, and when it’s required by. It’s also helpful to indicate what’s at stake if the task doesn’t get done on time.

Highlight Critical Milestones

A project is a series of major milestones subdivided into smaller tasks that will add up to completed milestones. These are usually major markers in a project that directly link to the timeline and completion of the project as a whole.

Highlighting critical milestones not only gives a project direction, but it also gives your team members things to celebrate to keep the momentum going as the project drags on over time. It also raises the stakes and creates urgency regarding timelines.

Communication and Transparency are Essential

In any organization, whether an overall business or in a small project management team, clear, concise communication is key to ensure that nothing is overlooked.

Being transparent can empower various members of the team, so that when everything is said and done, everyone feels that their role was important.

Keep everyone updated with developments and delays, and ask that they extend the same courtesy to the rest of the team. Many times, the main people working on a project are doing so in addition to their daily requirements.

Sometimes, things get moved down the list of priorities as a result. Letting the larger team know when problems arise helps manage expectations up the chain.

Take Notes About Challenges and Wins

Give yourself a chance to learn from your successes and mistakes by taking note of what works and what doesn’t during the project management process. This will serve as a valuable resource as the project progresses, as well as a model for future projects.

When your project is wrapped up, be sure to schedule time for a post-mortem to go over the process with everyone and give all participants a chance to identify what they thought went well and what didn’t.

Additionally, this meeting can serve as a brainstorming session for future projects.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to project management, the more simple and precise the better. Take time to pare down your meetings and emails, so that people know exactly what is expected of them without reading (or ignoring) time-consuming documents and email threads.

Empower your team and do your best to keep things moving forward, and you’ll have a simple, straightforward project management experience.

Technology

Going Wireless: How to Set up Your First Small Business WiFi Network

wifi

wifiSetting up a WiFi network in your business doesn’t have to be rocket science. There are a few things that you need to know.

The first is what took you so long? Customers and employees expect a wireless environment wherever they go. If they’re not connected, 75% of people said their mood is worse than not having coffee for a week.

To get your business ready for a WiFi network, you’re going to understand the different parts and how they all tie together in a secure environment. This will create a better customer experience and increase office productivity.

Ready to build your wireless network? Let’s get started!

Who Needs a Business WiFi Network?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a grocery chain, a retail store, an office, or a coffee shop. You need to have a WiFi network.

People expect to have access to information on demand. Consumers will even conduct product research while shopping in a brick and mortar store.

They’re shopping at the grocery store and they want to find where the taco kits are. Your store is big and they can just look up that information quickly over your WiFi network.

They can find the products they’re looking for much more quickly than trying to find a store associate to help them.

If you’re wondering why they can’t just look things up over data, different phone plans have different coverage zones. Your store could be one big dead spot for customers, creating a frustrating experience.

In an office environment, your WiFi network can increase productivity. It’s a no-brainer to set up WiFi in the workplace.

How to Set Up A Wireless Network

A wireless network in your office can seem like it’s an overwhelming chore. Here’s how you can make the process seamless.

Start with a Map

Take a site survey of your office space. To create a high performing WiFi network, you need to ensure that you have enough coverage.

If you have a home office, your set up is going to be relatively simple. You’ll just need a WiFi router and that should give you plenty of bandwidth to operate. That would apply to smaller offices with a few people in close proximity.

In an office space larger than 2000 square feet, you will need to map out access points. You’ll want to see your office in real time and get a sense of how people are using your network and from where.

You’ll need to place your wireless access points in places that are tough for your WiFi router to reach.

Routers, Modems, and Extenders, Oh My!

Once you map out your hardware, you’ll have to get the right hardware for your business.

Depending on your needs, your equipment will have to be able to withstand dozens, if not hundreds, of simultaneous connections.

All too often, business owners opt for hardware that’s meant for home use, where there are few simultaneous connections. In this case, most users won’t be able to access WiFi because the connection limit will have been reached.

It will be a little more expensive, but you will need to invest in commercial equipment. It’s worth it in the higher productivity and lower frustration levels of your employees.

Put Security First!

By virtue of having a WiFi network, you have to be concerned with security. One security expert discovered that all WiFi networks are vulnerable to attack.

Hackers get through WiFi networks to install malware on computers on your network, or worse, create a ransomware attack.

Read more about these steps you need to take to make your WiFi network safe and secure.

Support Multiple SSIDs

It’s time to geek out a little. An SSID is a service set identifier. In your home network, you have one access point. That’s usually where your cable modem is.

In a business network, you have the potential to create countless wireless networks, as long as your business access point supports it.

What you can do is set up several SSIDs and give different SSIDs different security levels. It’s like going to an office that has a main network and a guest network. They just have two SSIDs created.

Theoretically, you can take it a step further and create an SSID for each department. Customer service would use one SSID, accounting another, and so on.

The reason why you want multiple SSIDs is to have access to different security protocols for each network.

Avoid the Wired Jungle

Yes, you’re building a wireless network. You still have to think about wires. You’ll need to consider where access points will plug in and how you’re going to hide those wires.

Not having a plan for the wires could result in an ugly installation with wires all over the place. It’s also a potential hazard should anyone trip over the wires.

You could have the wires behind your walls for a clean look, or you can invest in cable concealers. If you do hide the wires behind walls, maintenance can be a challenge if you need to access them.

Make Maintenance Easy

Throughout the process to build your WiFi network, you’ll want to keep maintenance in mind. You’ll want to choose equipment that requires a little tweaking.

With some equipment, you’ll have to go in periodically and adjust settings. That can get old pretty quickly. You could also invest in hardware that’s easy to scale up as your business grows.

Build Your WiFi Network

A WiFi network is a must for any business. Your customers expect it as well as office visitors and your employees.

It’s not hard to build a safe, secure network that is built for performance.

You do have to choose the right hardware and plan your access points accordingly. Don’t forget about making your network completely secure from hackers.

Want more tech tips for your business? Take a look at these email security threats and find out how you can protect your business.

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Technology

How VOIP Can Transform Your Business’s Telephone System

VOIP

VOIPVoIP can completely change the way you use telephones. The reality is that VoIP is now the number one choice for businesses.

And for good reason.

It’s completely changed the playing field. The world of business and communication has changed. Plus, VoIP is the only type of communications system that’s meeting the evolving needs of its users.

There are so many reasons why VoIP is better than the traditional phone, and it’s widely expected to result in the death of the traditional phone line.

So here are the reasons why VoIP can transform your business.

You Save Money by Using VoIP

The primary reason why businesses are moving to VoIP is because they know they can save money with VoIP in every area.

Let’s examine this in more detail:

First, the installation fees of VoIP are practically nonexistent. The only things you need to pay for, in terms of hardware, are the handsets themselves. Everything else is software that utilizes your existing high-speed Internet connection.

Secondly, if we look at ongoing fees, you can save 50%, on average, just by choosing VoIP over another type of communications system.

Over the course of your first year, you’re easily saving over a thousand dollars. Yet you’re not compromising on any of the features you’re already used to.

It’s Scalable

The beauty of VoIP is that it’s scalable, unlike other types of telephone systems. Expanding a traditional telephone line easily runs into hundreds of dollars.

But if you’re working with a VoIP provider like Cebod Telecom, it’s just a matter of adding more phone lines or extension using the existence internet connection. You may decide to order another pre-configured desktop phones or cordless phones , but there’s nothing more to it than that.

The best part is that you can downgrade your current system, if you so desire. Scalability with VoIP works both ways.

VoIP Embraces New Technology

Traditional telephone systems are often accused of living in the past. But VoIP has moved in the opposite direction and has embraced new technology.

For example, VoIP allows employees to use their own smartphones as an extension of their office phone. They can have their calls routed from anywhere, so when they return to the office, they aren’t greeted by a flood of voicemails.

VoIP has almost moved into the cloud. These days you can purchase dedicated VoIP cloud services or on site VOIP PBX systems.

Furthermore, it allows business administrators to manage features wherever they happen to be, such as call forwarding and routing.

Many VoIP providers are even integrating VoIP with other new trends, such as voice activation technology.

Integration with CRM Systems

What’s even more exciting is that full integration with CRM systems is now possible. This goes to a level that a traditional telephone line couldn’t even dream of.

It’s now possible to answer a call and have all the information about that customer brought up on a computer screen. Long-term customers now have all their data available to the person answering the call. Customer service can be more personalized than ever.

Furthermore, this means companies can take an additional step.

For example, VoIP can be used to monitor calls and to extract data from both staff members and customers. It enables employees to use the correct words and put forward the correct offers.

Customer preferences are logged and shown automatically.

This has the advantage of personalizing interactions and giving a more tailored service.

Final Thoughts – VoIP Can Help You Take Your Business to the Next Level

VoIP is definitely trending. There’s no doubt that this will continue to increase its market share and, inevitably, push out traditional phone lines for good.

What businesses love about VoIP is it’s never been more affordable than it is now. Everyone from startups to big corporations can take advantage of it.

How do you make it work?

You need nothing more than a strong, stable Internet connection. Business Internet packages are becoming better and no longer cost a lot of money. It’s made VoIP more viable than ever.

Just check your speed and then compare it with the requirements put forward by your chosen VoIP provider.

Are you ready to utilize VoIP as your telecommunications system of choice?

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Technology

Useful Tips On Managing Project Costs

website builder

website builder

Budget management is something that all project managers need to master if they are going to be effective in their role. There is nothing worse than finding out that you have spent more than you should have. And, if it is one thing that stakeholders hate, it is spending more than they had bargained for. Below, we are going to reveal some top tips for managing project costs to give you a helping hand.

Plan for future resources

It is vital to keep track of the resources you use. For example, if you use contractors throughout the project, you need to review the number of contractors working on the project on a regular basis. This will feed into future resource requirements.

Go down the free route whenever possible

Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, there are lots of free solutions available. Take these website creators as a prime example. If you are planning a marketing campaign for a company, and you need to put together a website on their new product collection, there is no need to spend a fortune on outsourcing this. This is just one example of many.

Communicate with your team

The importance of communicating with your team cannot be expressed enough. You will have better ownership of the project and a greater chance of success if you communicate. It can also help you to manage your budget, as you will know exactly what tasks are going on and what is required for them.

Moreover, your team members will feel more comfortable coming to you about matters relating to finance and scope creep. Remember, an informed team is an empowered team.

Get accurate quotes from suppliers

While there are some things you can get for free, there are services you may need to outsource. Let’s say your project is to put together a factual TV program. In which case, you may need closed captioning services. It’s important to gather accurate estimates from suppliers you are likely to use beforehand.

Do not simply search around online and take a random quote from somewhere.

Forecast resource usage and your budget on a regular basis

You can stop your budget from getting out of hand if you check over it on a regular basis. Correcting a 50 per cent overrun would be a nightmare, but correcting a 10 per cent overrun is fair easier. This is why it is important to review your budget every so often. The same also goes for resource usage.

The people working on the project contribute to the cost of it, which is why you need to review this so that you can make sure you are using all resources to full effect.

Keep tabs on scope change

The main reason why projects go over the designated spend is due to scope creep. If unplanned work starts to mount up, the hours required to complete the project increase as well, as do the resources, and soon spending gets out of control. If you can manage scope change better, you will automatically manage project costs better.

Take a project management training course

There are many project management training courses to choose from today, including the PMP course and the APM introductory course.

All of these courses will cover budgeting to a degree and, therefore, this is a great way to broaden your knowledge. You will learn about different techniques you can use and technologies you can implement in order to budget effectively.

Of course, there is the chance that you will have already taken a project management course to get to the stage you are.

However, there is no harm in doing a refresher or opting for a course that zooms in on budgeting specifically.

Hopefully, the tips above will have given you some advice to help you manage your budget more effectively.

Remember, it is important to be realistic about costs, and you need to track everything meticulously too. If any problems do arise, inform stakeholders and anyone else that needs to be informed as soon as possible. And, don’t forget that training courses can help you to get the skills you need!

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