What is a Project? What makes it different from other work efforts?

All projects are work but not all work.

I feel your pain. You have outgrown spreadsheets and are tired of trying to collaborate via email.
Google was your first stop for finding an automated tool that could help you. Instead of finding a solution, there were pages upon pages of product lists labelled project management software. Each product had a different price and functionality.
Are they all the same? How can you tell which tool is best for you? Understanding the difference between work and projects is key.
This knowledge will allow you to better assess your needs and enable you to evaluate products for the real thing, not what vendors sell them as.
This explanation will be covered in two parts. This article will explain the difference between work and projects, and show you when project management software is better than a work management tool.
Next, we will dive deeper into work management and show you how to choose the best work management solution for you.
Jump to:

What is a project? (And what about everything else?)
Projects are time-bound undertakings that have an end, produce a unique output/deliverable and are executed within agreed-upon constraints (e.g., scope, timelines, budget/resources).
Everything else is work, but it’s not a project. These efforts include:
Even though this isn’t routine work, it should still be managed.
Why is it important that you distinguish between projects and other work activities?
It is important to distinguish between work and projects for the following reasons:
Projects require more PM processes than small, low-effort units of work. This level of oversight and control can lead to unnecessary bottlenecks, long timelines, and strain on key resources.
You could end up paying for features that you don’t need or won’t use if you don’t know how to distinguish between project management and tools for work management.
38% of respondents to our 2019 PM software user survey said that they don’t use Gantt charts functionality (used for project management) within their PM software. This is a significant amount of users who are paying too much for PM software when they could have used a work management tool instead.
Here’s where it gets tricky: For lack of a better word, the term “project” is liberally applied to most work efforts, whether it’s a high-risk/high-return strategic business initiative or a low-key collaborative effort concurrent to day-to-day responsibilities.
This is problematic for several reasons:

What is the difference between project management and work management software?
When managing a project, you should use true PM software. This is because it can manage and control scope, budget, timeline, and resource constraints. These constraints must be monitored and reported to stakeholders. If the tool you are using is not capable of doing so, it will be difficult to do so accurately.
If you don’t need to monitor the three constraints, you’re not managing a project. You can use any type work management software that suits your needs, from personal to-do lists to shared task management tools to collaboration software.
These are three ways to distinguish between project management tools and work management tools.
It is important to remember that PM and work management tools often overlap in functionality. But if it doesn’t offer project planning–specifically around budget and resource management–then it’s not a formal PM solution and would fall into the work management category instead.

DOWNLOAD

How can I find the right tools to meet my needs?
First, keep in mind that the project is not a simple one.

Three Reasons to Use Mobile Project Management Apps

You don’t know what your missing if you haven’t yet adopted mobile project management applications. It’s not too late.

In the 1980s, project managers could use their buzzing, whirling desktop computers to check the status of a project or the construction budget for a new aerobics center.
It’s a wonderful time to be alive.
Now is a better time to live. If you are still using desktop project management software, you are missing out and living in retrospect. You are also part of a growing minority.
Capterra surveyed 400 project management professionals in the United States and found that 60% of them use cloud-based PM software. These solutions are usually deployed via web browsers and mobile apps, while 40% use on-premise/desktop solutions.

What are you missing out if you’re among the 40% who still use a desktop tool for project management?
Three advantages of mobile project management applications
The mobile project management apps are a competitive advantage for teams that use them. They allow users to stay in the loop about project updates, communicate with one another wherever they may be, and receive the latest features faster and more easily.
Let’s take a closer view.
1. Mobile project management apps make it easier to keep track of your projects
THE SCENARIO – Your supervisor at the site of a $2 million office building goes to the location to check on her crew and receive a status report. She discovers that a critical shipment of building materials was partially damaged by heavy rains during transport, and that several welders are suffering from the flu.
Desktop project management software: Your supervisor takes photos of the damage and authorizes the hiring of two temporary workers to replace the sick welders. Then, he drives back to the office to update the information in the project management program. Unfortunately, the updates have already been entered into the system. This means that you will not be able to update the budget authorization for the temporary workers until tomorrow. This will delay construction and cost you a day of labor.
The mobile project management app benefit: Your site supervisor can instantly update that information in your resource management tool on her tablet. These changes are immediately reflected on your dashboard, so you can instantly check in with stakeholders.
2. Apps for managing projects mobile enhance team communication
THE SCENARIO: Your job is to manage an eCommerce website that sells organic knitting accessories and supplies. You attempt to show the site to your friend on Saturday at 10 p.m., but it is down for two hours. This has cost you hundreds of dollars in sales.
Your desktop project management program is useless when your computer is at work. You call your manager and they don’t answer the phone. You are determined to find a solution and you text your friend from the tech team. They eventually get back to you and tell you that they will email the rest of their team in the morning. After thousands of lost sales, someone finally gets the site up and running late Sunday night.
Mobile project management app advantages: Once you notice that the site has gone down, you can pull up your mobile app’s collaboration tool to notify all employees. Within an hour, a remote member from the tech team had fixed the problem and brought the site back online. This earned you praise and recognition from the CEO.
3. Mobile project management apps can be updated easily
THE SCENARIO: Project management software reveals a n

5 Best Microsoft Visio Alternatives to Diagramming

What does it mean to be the best? These are the top-rated Microsoft Visio alternatives found in our diagram software directory.
Microsoft Visiois a popular flowchart and diagramming program that’s highly rated. Capterra’s software directory has over 1,400 reviews. It is the most reviewed diagram software and has a 4.5 star rating overall.
It is part of Microsoft Office and has a familiar interface. It can also be integrated with other products, making it a good choice for dedicated Microsoft customers.
However, just because a brand is well-known doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for everyone.
This article examines five highly-rated Microsoft Visio alternatives. What does “top-rated?” mean? This piece includes five tools that have an average overall user rating, compared to other products in its category. Our complete methodology can be found here. The products are listed alphabetically.
Jump to:

5 top-rated Microsoft Visio alternatives

1. Cacoo
Overall rating:4.5/5.0Reviews: 110+Cacoo is cloud-based data visualization software used to create and share flowcharts, diagrams, wireframes, organization charts, and process models. Collaboration, multi-user editing and dynamic charts are some of the key features. Also, pre-built templates and a library of icons are available.
Pricing and plans:
Pros
Cons
Cacoo is praised by reviewers for being simple to use and easy-to-learn. Reviewers also praise Cacoo’s icon library and templates. However, they do note some issues with icons styles and difficulty finding specific elements. Cacoo is highly rated by users.
Cacoo received 61% of its reviews from small businesses in the past year. 8% came from midsize businesses and 31% came from large businesses. It was highly rated in the internet, consumer service, and computer hardware industries. It was also highly rated by reviewers who held the following job titles: software consultant, owner/CEO, and student.
User dashboard in Cacoo (Source)

2. D3M
Overall rating:4.5/5.0Reviews: 30+D3M is a cloud-based network diagramming application designed to help project managers, engineers, technicians, and sales reps design network topology, rack diagrams, and floor plan diagrams. Autogenerating project inventory, quotes and proposals, documentation, live collaboration, and documentation are some of the key features.
Pricing and plans:
Pros
Cons
D3M’s ease-of-use, quality of training and documentation, and their icon library are all highly rated by users. D3M is highly rated by users.
D3M received 81% of its reviews from small businesses, while 19% came from large companies. It was highly rated by reviewers in the following industries: electrical/electronic manufacturing, wireless, and telecommunications. It was also highly rated by reviewers in the following job titles: general manager, sales director/executive, owner.
Prepare a quote using a D3M (Source), diagram

3. Draw.io
Overall rating:4.5/5.0Reviews: 330+Draw.io is free, open source, and cloud-based diagram software for making flowcharts, diagrams, organizational charts, and process models. The key features include drag-and-drop functionality and a template and icon collection. You can also track and restore changes and collaborate.
Pricing and plans:
Pros
Cons
Draw.io is praised by reviewers for being free and still providing many templates and an extensive icon collection. Many reviewers praise Draw.io’s simplicity and intuitiveness. However, some do not like the import/export options. Who rates Draw.io highly
60% of D3M’s sales have been made in the last year

How to match Work Management Software to User Needs

All projects are work but not all work (part 2)

We discussed the differences between “projects” versus nonroutine “work (e.g. daily tasks, collaboration with coworkers and low-risk ad-hoc requests, etc.) and noted that although this type of work does not require formal project management, it must still be managed.
Get work management software today!
You’re not the only one who heard crickets after the entrance. There is a lot of confusion about what work management software is, and how it differs to project management software. We can help.
This article will explain what work management software looks like and provide examples of how to use it. The goal? The goal?
Quick overview of Work Management Software
What is work management software?
Software for managing workflows and processes, organizing tasks and activities, and collaborating in a shared workspace. These tools can be used to capture and execute work, simplify communication, and provide status updates for different stakeholders.
You might have heard the term “work management” software referred to by different names such as:
You’ll see that there are some key themes repeated here: Collaboration and teams.
This is because work management software targets non-technical business professionals as well as knowledge workers. A key purpose of these tools is to facilitate collaboration between users.
These are the key features:
There are some similarities between project management software and work management software features. The key difference is that project managing tools include project planning, tracking, and are designed to manage the project’s triple constraints (scope and timeline, budget, and budget). This level of oversight is not offered by work management tools.

Learn how project management differs from work management
GET STARTED

Use cases in work management software
Gartner says that work management tools are useful in situations where work cannot be planned or ordered precisely (full report available for Gartner clients).
This type of work is more common than others in certain industries and roles. It requires creative problem-solving, not strict instructions, and is often more common in some roles.
These are some of the use cases for work management tools:
There are 4 types of work management software
Here’s how Gartner breaks up the different types of work management software (full Gartner report available to Gartner client):
1. Personal to-do list
An online version of a to do list that is specific to an individual. Examples include: Any.do, Todoist, Wunderlist.
Pros Cons2. Management of shared tasks/work
Acts as a centralized workspace; designed for teams; allows users to assign tasks, track work efforts, and collaborate/communicate around these efforts. Examples include Trello, Basecamp, Asana.
Pros Cons3. Collaboration tools
This shared platform allows multiple users to communicate and coordinate through file sharing, video calling and messaging. Examples include Yammer, Confluence, and Slack.
Pros Cons4. Agile tools
This workspace is designed for software development teams and provides a collaborative space for tracking and executing tasks at every stage of the development process. Examples include Leankit and Pivotal Tracker.
Pros and consHow to choose the right work management software
Now that you know how different tools can be used for different purposes, here’s what you need to do next:
Follow our blog for more information on how to maximize your software investment’s return.
Are you looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra’s List

How to Avoid Common Project Collaboration Problems

These are some of the most common pitfalls in project collaboration. This will help you improve client satisfaction and team effectiveness.

Project collaboration, at its most basic, is when two or more people collaborate to achieve a common goal. It seems so simple, right?
It is theoretically possible, but in practice it is almost impossible. But why is this? After years of working together at school and work, you would think that we would all be great at collaboration. What’s the deal?
We are not as good at collaboration as we think. We assume that someone understands what we are talking about, or we get too excited and forget to check.
We don’t always have the right tools and we spend too much time “making do.”
We only have a few days to deal with collaboration problems. Worst, they can lead to budget or schedule overruns which may result in project cancellations, which may affect client satisfaction and team effectiveness.
Let’s take a look at three common collaboration problems people face when working on projects. We will also discuss solutions to these challenges.
How to overcome three common challenges in project collaboration
We researched common pitfalls in collaboration and reached out to project leaders for their best practices.
1. Poor communication
Miscommunication, misinterpretation, and misunderstanding: When we collaborate with another person, there is the potential for one or more mishaps.
Here’s why: Much like how we underestimate our ability to work together effectively, we also tend to be overconfident with our communication skills.
We assume everyone is on the same page so we don’t take the time and check for understanding. Or, we assume that everyone has the same perspective or knowledge as we do. We leave out context details. Or, perhaps (but not likely), we see communication as one-sided and don’t seek buy-in form stakeholders.
Our research has shown that poor or inadequate communication is the number one challenge facing project teams. Project teams face the number one challenge. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace Report found that only 13% of employees agree that leadership communicates effectively to the rest of the organization.
THE SOLUTION:
Engaging in two-way communication can help you to verify understanding. Communication includes listening, adjusting, and telling.
Communication breakdowns almost always result from the sender believing that the message was received correctly and failing to seek feedback. The receiver is responsible for asking questions if they aren’t clear or have concerns about the message.
Gartner recommends these steps for effective communication at work. Gartner clients can access the full report.

Case Study: Prioritizing communication between clients
Dary Merckens is Gunner Technology’s CTO. He shares his story of poor communication and how Gunner Technology overcame this challenge in project collaboration.
“In the past, we lost a lot of time because clients didn’t communicate clearly or we didn’t understand what they wanted, or both.
This was overcome by prioritizing clear and fast communication. This includes responding quickly to any questions or requests and checking for understanding so everyone is on the exact same page.
We started to track everything. A good project management software is essential. You must capture all relevant information in the tool (we use Redmine for this purpose). All information that is important should be recorded in the software. Human memory is too fragile.”
2. Inadequate planning
Every work effort, no matter how large or small, must be planned.

5 Steps to Make Difficult Conversations Easier – Digital Project Manager

You think you can’t have difficult conversations as project manager? You might be wrong.

While you won’t be able to eliminate difficult situations and difficult conversations from your projects, there are ways to make sure that conversations you don’t expect to be funny end up being easy.

Ben Aston, the founder of the Digital Project Manager, shares his 15+ years of project management experience to show you how to make difficult conversations easier.

Host

5 Steps to Be an Influential Project Manager

As managers, success in any given project is often dependent on our ability to bring people together under a common goal. Of course, you don’t always have the authority to direct these people. A project cannot succeed unless it has the support of executives or clients. It is also more difficult to lead by authority because of flatter organizational structures, remote teams, and resourcing.
Influence is more powerful than authority. If used with tact, influence can help ensure project success and build credibility among colleagues. How can you be influential?
1. Learn more
This should be obvious, but it is important to have a complete understanding of the process in order to see the project through to completion. Learning by doing can sometimes be a good way to learn, but you should still have as much knowledge as you can before diving in. You will be able to better communicate your decisions and influence others to take the plunge.
2. Plan!
At the beginning of any project, you should create a plan that reflects your vision. Take a step back and look at your vision from a high-level perspective. Identify the strategic objectives and ensure that your plan includes operational and actionable objectives that will achieve each strategic objective. Although this plan is not final, it will help you to build consensus and influence your team members.
3. Your personal agenda is not important.
While influence can be a great way to advance your career, it should not be your only goal. If you keep your eyes on the best interests of your client or organization, others will be more likely follow your advice. If you place too much emphasis on building the power base or fulfilling subjective visions, you may lose the support that you need.
4. Play nice
Talk to all those involved in the project. Ask them for their opinions and concerns about your project vision. Not just their reactions, but their ideas are important. Too often, managers create and commit to a complex plan or process without consulting others. They then share it with their team members, mistakingly believing that they are cooperating. This leads to disgruntled team members, and even bickering over minor details. Bring a clear vision to the table and invite others to modify it or add to it.
5. Form a coalition
Rarely is one person able to be an influencer. Influence is stronger when multiple people are advocating for the same ideas. This is a crucial skill for managing laterally. Start early in the project planning process to determine who needs to buy-in. Are there any individuals who are more naturally influential? Which people will be most affected if your initiatives are implemented? Get their opinions and help you improve your plan. In the weeks leading to a formal kickoff, share your ideas and refine your plans. Ensure that they are kept informed and involved throughout the project. Instead of ignoring any problems that may arise, continue to seek their feedback.
What does influence look like when you combine all this? Start with a cooperative mindset. Focus on the client’s needs and be humble. Your plan should be based on the project goals. This will help you to develop a team spirit throughout the project’s lifecycle. Because they have had the chance to share their ideas before, your team will agree with your decisions. While there will be more difficult decisions, they will be easier.

Five Skills of the Most Successful Project Managers in the World

You’ll likely find information about systems approach to project management in a book on project administration.
You know what?
This is awesome. I hope you’ll read every book on your Amazon wishlist. I do.
These books can sometimes miss the bigger picture despite their incredibleness. You don’t want to be just a project manager who can implement processes in coherence.
You want to be a successful project manager. I have done extensive research on the skills that make a project manager a success. The article below will reveal the hidden talents that transform ordinary cubicle-dwelling project mangers into successful, powerful project managers.
1. Successful project managers place the right people in the right places.
George Marshall was the one who did it right

George Marshall was a great project manager. He won a war. Like a real war — WWII. Winston Churchill called Marshall “organizer of victory,” which is quite a nice title. He went on to win many sweet awards and positions after he won war. (Have you ever heard of the Nobel Peace Prize?
He was not called “project manager.” Instead people saluted him and called him “General,” but it is clear that this guy could get things done. Quora discussions revealed that Marshall was “a genius at selecting the right people for the right jobs.”
This is his enviable talent — selecting the right people to do the right job. This is a great talent. Even if he or she is Captain America, no one can win a war by himself. You need help. A project manager is able to recruit, advise, and direct that help.
Your massive project and your grumpy employees are likely to be a very difficult reality to deal with every day. Think about Marshall. There were also harsh realities for Marshall to face: Bombs. Tanks. This is stuff.
He chose the right people and placed them in the right places to save the free world from its inevitable end.
This is successful project management for your company.
2. Successful project managers plan ahead.
Steve Jobs was the one who did it right

Here’s one my favorite Steve Jobs quotes:
Here’s to the misfits and rebels, to the troublemakers, to the people who see things differently. You can quote them, disagree, glorify them, or even vilify them. But you can’t ignore them because they make things better. Jobs was able to envision a future, and then bring it to life, whether he was creating a prehistoric personal computer device or trying to store thousands of songs in his pocket.
Without planning, this is not possible. Anyone who has seen Apple’s incredible launch of game-changing products will tell you that planning is key to Apple’s success.
Steve Jobs was a major planner of much of this. According to a DailyMail article, Steve Jobs spent more than a full year working on products that would protect the company’s future.
He planned, he project, and he made sure that there was a process in place to execute it. His succession plan was a perfect example of project management success. This type of success requires a long-range view, complete calendar mastery, as well as the insights from gantt chart.
We hear undertones from an invete in Jobs’s quote about the crazy people who change the world.

5 Steps to Handle Difficult Conversations More Effectively – The Digital Project manager

The world has changed. Why is this happening? Smartsheet transforms your work.

Our work as digital project managers is largely about communicating well. It is important to be able to handle difficult conversations effectively in order to prevent poor team performance, financial misunderstandings, and unrealistic client expectations. These issues can become serious risks for your project. Even the most experienced project managers may feel nervous about having to have a difficult conversation.
Difficult conversations can be difficult for a variety of reasons. They can be awkward and it can be difficult to know what to do and how to say it.
This is not an option. It is crucial to listen well when having difficult conversations
There is a fine line between being professional and being clear enough to get your point across. It can make your project easier and more enjoyable by being able to manage difficult conversations. We’ll be covering five simple steps to successfully handle difficult conversations in this article.
How to have difficult conversations
1. Start with your End Game
Although it might seem counterintuitive, the best place to start a difficult discussion is at the end. Ask yourself: “Why am I having this discussion?”, “What do I want out of it at end?”, “What are the possible outcomes?”
Don’t have the conversation unless you are clear about why you’re having it and what you want out of it. While it may seem like it’s going well, there’s a good possibility that it won’t solve your actual problem. You’ll be back to it in weeks with another awkward conversation.
2. Choose the Right Environment
A good environment for open and honest conversation is another important aspect of having a difficult conversation.
Imagine if someone was going to have a difficult discussion with you. Maybe they’re going give you negative feedback about your performance or tell you that your agency is about to lose $150k on a project. What place would you prefer to have that conversation with? Is it on the shop floor? Most likely not. This would immediately put you on the defensive and make you feel like a public attacker.
Positivity can prevent a difficult conversation from ending in tears
You’ll want it somewhere private, safe, and comfortable. If you need to put distance between your conversations and the office, I recommend a private meeting space or a nearby coffee shop.
Be mindful of what your private space says. Even if it’s the only one available, the HR director’s office can give the wrong impression.
3. Decide who should have the conversation
It will most often be you who has the difficult conversation. That’s simply the luck of managing a project or leading a team. Before you rush to take control, think about who might be better suited for this conversation to achieve the desired result.
One time, I managed a very visible, large, and high-pressured project for my agency. I managed a large team and had an amazing front-end developer as my lead. He was pro-active, responsible, accountable. He was also fun, knowledgeable, easy-going, and a top performer.
As we got closer to our first set development deliverables, he began to get cranky. Then he became more cranky until his behavior started to affect project morale as well as other members of the team. This was not his style and he needed to stop. So I was confronted with an unpleasant conversation with someone who I really did not like.

5 Resources Leveling Techniques that Work – The Digital Projekt Manager

The world has changed. Why is this happening? Smartsheet transforms your work.

Every project is made up different parts. Every part of a project is vital to its success, regardless of whether it’s people or tools, machines, equipment, or both.
Project management is even more important. It involves the management and control of all resources to achieve customer expectations and ultimately make your business profitable.
There are many constraints to any project.
Quality
Time
Cost
Scope
These elements can have an impact on projects and may cause them to require more or fewer resources depending on the project’s constraints.
Project managers must use resources efficiently to achieve project objectives.
This brings us to resource-leveling.
This article explains.
What is Resource Leveling? Why is it important?
The Critical Path Technique
The Critical Chain Technique
The Pure Resources Leveling Technique
Resource Smoothing Technique
Crashing and Fast Tracking
These are some useful tools for resource leveling
What is Resource Leveling? Why is it important?
Resource leveling refers to a technique that adjusts the start and end dates of a project according to constraints to resources to balance the resource demand with the available supplies.
This applies to any type of project, at any level: sub-project, project, or program.
This means that you can use the resources leveling techniques outlined below, regardless of whether you are building an office complex or hosting webinar training programs. Although the size of your project doesn’t matter, you should be able to create a clear project plan that you can follow and adjust quickly and accurately as needed.
Remember that projects are not foolproof and that there are many instances when projects have failed due to a variety of reasons.
Projects can fail for reasons such as:
Costs escalating
Delays during the project
Quality is not met
Changes in the scope of the project are significant
Any one of these reasons can stop a project from moving forward, regardless of its stage (project planning, execution, etc.). All of these problems can be avoided with resource leveling.
Here are five techniques to help you manage your resources effectively.
1. The Critical Path Technique
This technique, also known as the critical path method or CPM, is used to calculate the project’s minimum duration.
It is a method to estimate the start and end dates of project activities (both early and late start) without taking into account resource limitations.
These dates don’t necessarily reflect the actual project schedule. They are merely a time frame during which activities may have a start and an end date.
The “float” is the time period between the late start and early finish. This is the time that a project activity can begin after its early start date without affecting its late finish date. CPM, in essence, has zero floats.
The “total floating” refers to the flexibility of any project plan that allows for delays or extensions at an early start, without having an impact on the project’s finish date.
Let’s say that you are building a website and have a launch date in mind. This resource-leveling technique allows you to adjust the start dates for early and late starts by changing activity durations, lead time, lagtimes and forward and backward links.
Other constraints may also need to be considered, such as planned closings or public holidays. It is also important to keep in mind