Digital Project Management en Takeaways from Lost in Translation: Managing handoffs from sales to the project team <span>Takeaways from Lost in Translation: Managing handoffs from sales to the project team</span> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2021-02/LOST_IN_TRANSLATION_02.jpg 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2021-02/LOST_IN_TRANSLATION_02.jpg 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/2021-02/LOST_IN_TRANSLATION_02.jpg?itok=W0AMIemZ 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2021-02/LOST_IN_TRANSLATION_02.jpg?itok=IPfnbq2f 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2021-02/LOST_IN_TRANSLATION_02.jpg?itok=IPfnbq2f 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2021-02/LOST_IN_TRANSLATION_02.jpg?itok=IPfnbq2f 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2021-02/LOST_IN_TRANSLATION_02.jpg?itok=HbMUvVWP 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2021-02/LOST_IN_TRANSLATION_02.jpg?itok=HbMUvVWP 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/jpeg"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/2021-02/LOST_IN_TRANSLATION_02.jpg" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/sally-shaughnessy" lang="" about="/user/sally-shaughnessy" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Sally Shaughnessy</a></span> <span>Fri, 02/26/2021 - 08:34</span> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden t--body field__item"><p>Joe Crespo and I recently ran a workshop titled<i> Lost in Translation: Managing handoffs from sales to the project team</i> with members of the <a href=";sa=D&amp;source=editors&amp;ust=1614279472038000&amp;usg=AOvVaw1hMJCZ4DsY5dtHe3tXDCww">Digital Project Manager community</a>. The workshop focused on — you guessed it — communication and handoffs between sales and PM teams, an important subject we’ve spoken about (<a href="">and written about</a>) before.</p> <p>The transition between sales and project management is so critical because there are a variety of opportunities to disappoint, frustrate, or even frighten a client. Some of the telltale signs that you’re running these risks include:</p> <ul> <li><b>Sudden &amp; significant personnel changes.</b> A sudden team change with little or no transition period can leave clients feeling frustrated or abandoned.</li> <li><b>No project documentation created during the sales process.</b> Project teams provided with few or scarce assets after months (or more) of calls, meetings, and relationship development on the sales end can thwart continuity. Unset expectations lead to unmet expectations — you can bet the client will feel the loss of context.</li> <li><b>No risk assessments during the sales process.</b> Risk assessment is a massive part of running a successful project. If your project team is the first to discuss risks with the client, they may be priming them for a loss of confidence or even buyers’ remorse.</li> </ul> <p>During the <i>Lost in Translation </i>workshop Joe and I covered a lot of specific methodologies for building better cross-team communication, but right in the opening Q&amp;A we were reminded of just how <i>fundamental</i> the lack of communication often is. <i>Many teams struggle to even establish cross-team communication</i>, much less hone it into a practice that strengthens client relationships, exceeds expectations, and brings projects in on time &amp; on budget.</p> <h3>Takeaways: Improve your cross-team communication right now</h3> <p>During the Q&amp;A / reflection portion of our talk, we surfaced some great actionable steps that any agency can take <i>right now</i> to improve cross-team communication, whether you’re old hands or just getting started. Here are some great ways you can begin, develop and master the open dialogue and cross-participation between sales &amp; PM that delivers better results.</p> <h4>Getting started</h4> <p>If your project and sales teams don’t interact much, it can be hard to pitch a full-blown strategy for team integration. Sometimes getting a foot in the door is all it takes to demonstrate value and get your teams on board. You might try:</p> <ul> <li><b>A shared Slack channel.</b> Ad-hoc information sharing around the sales pipeline, proposals, team resourcing and milestones in current projects can be useful in itself — and spark further conversations.</li> <li><b>Monthly meetings.</b> A monthly meeting between the sales team and PM team is a low-cost way to get things started. What’s on the agenda? Besides sales pipeline and resourcing, existing points of friction between sales and PM is a good place to start.</li> <li><b>Sit-ins.</b> Whether it’s a PM sitting in on a sales call or an account manager sitting in on a project’s weekly progress check-in, taking just a few minutes out of your day to see the “other side” at work can jump-start communication and spark ideas for collaboration.</li> </ul> <h4>Keep it going</h4> <p>Once there’s some traction between the sales and project teams, it might be time to dial up the effort and push for structured, bilateral collaboration.</p> <ul> <li><b>Risk assessment documents.</b> Which features in a client’s wishlist are the greatest risk to the budget? Is there a specific timeline that’s critical to project success?</li> <li><b>Project documentation.</b> While proposals and even technical requirements documents are standard deliverables from the sales process, it’s easy to lose the “spirit” of the project during team hand-off. Bringing members of the project team in on client conversations that lead to project documentation <i>during the sales process</i> can help build bridges between teams.</li> <li><b>Team availability dialogue.</b> Start a dialogue about team availability, and consider introducing the client to team members they might be working with. Creating a plan for resourcing, context with the project team on upcoming projects, and familiarity with the team on the client’s end will pay dividends in later cycles of the project.</li> </ul> <h4>Finish strong</h4> <p>If you’ve already developed a cross-team communication practice, there’s still room to step it up. A fully integrated sales and project management team maintains stellar client relationships and bakes in some of the keys to a successful project.</p> <ul> <li><b>Sales on regular PM check-ins.</b> Having the account manager who sold the project on regular PM check-ins helps the sales team understand what works with the sales hand-off process and what can be improved. It also reassures the client that the sales team holds itself accountable for the success of the project — not just getting a contract signed.</li> <li><strong>S</strong><b><strong>ales continue high level check-ins after contracting.</strong> </b>Account managers should perform high-level check-ins with clients during the project process to ask about progress, satisfaction, and continuity between the teams. Giving clients a safe space to share their thoughts can provide actionable feedback for both the sales and PM teams.</li> <li><b>Shared launch events and referral soliciting.</b> Sales teams <i>and </i>project teams should be present for launch events to celebrate the success of the project. These shared events, plus a presence in regular or high level check-ins gives members of the sales team an excellent space to ask about referral opportunities.</li> <li><b>Co-presenting at conferences.</b> Nothing speaks louder to potential clients than existing clients. Co-presenting with members of the PM, sales, and client teams can deliver a complete and powerful picture of what working with your agency is like.</li> </ul> <p>The <i>Lost in Translation</i> workshop and our sales and project management practice is something we are proud to have developed — and continue to refine today. It was a pleasure to share these tips with members of the DPM community, where <a href="">I was recently named an official DPM Expert</a> and will be sharing even more experiences and guidance to empower Project Managers everywhere.</p> <!-- google doc id: 1XZclbrB9bEpBdY0wVNwnjBuD1ksEYkdD7eTiScvhtO0 --></div> <a href="/about/sally-shaughnessy" hreflang="en">Sally Shaughnessy</a> Fri, 26 Feb 2021 15:34:49 +0000 Sally Shaughnessy 10225 at One Team, One Dream: Using Culture and Purpose to Make Great Teams <span>One Team, One Dream: Using Culture and Purpose to Make Great Teams</span> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-12/WINNING_TEAM_02.jpg 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-12/WINNING_TEAM_02.jpg 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/2020-12/WINNING_TEAM_02.jpg?itok=mi0c6yP2 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-12/WINNING_TEAM_02.jpg?itok=pNZ_bExf 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-12/WINNING_TEAM_02.jpg?itok=pNZ_bExf 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-12/WINNING_TEAM_02.jpg?itok=pNZ_bExf 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-12/WINNING_TEAM_02.jpg?itok=oloBtm9X 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-12/WINNING_TEAM_02.jpg?itok=oloBtm9X 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/jpeg"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-12/WINNING_TEAM_02.jpg" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/sally-shaughnessy" lang="" about="/user/sally-shaughnessy" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Sally Shaughnessy</a></span> <span>Tue, 12/15/2020 - 12:00</span> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden t--body field__item"><p>Years ago I traveled to the Bay Area to attend the UC Berkeley graduation of a dear friend. Heidi’s father, stepmother, and a crew of aunts made the trip as well.</p> <p>In the days ahead of the ceremonies we explored San Francisco’s famed tourist attractions. Because we were a large group of boisterous Bostonians, it required a bit of leadership to keep our adventures moving smoothly. Once we had completed an excursion we’d rally to decide our next. Upon consensus we’d proclaim, <i>“One Team, One Dream!”</i>, cheerfully unified on our mission to see everything the great city had to offer. It became our mantra for the trip. So much so that Heidi made us all <i>“One Team, One Dream!”</i> pins as part of her thank yous. For as much as we saw on that trip, it wasn’t Pier 39 or Muir Woods that I remember so fondly; it was the team — and our rally cry, which I still use today.</p> <p>It’s no surprise the team aspect of that San Fran getaway made a mark. I love being a professional project manager. Helping teams collaborate, solve problems, and accomplish goals never gets old though I’ve been doing it more than 15 years now. It’s no easy task, though, to understand team dynamics and create the right environment for groups to thrive.</p> <p>A team is not a collection of staff or smattering of complementary talents. A true team is a group of people who trust each other, know they have a responsibility to each other, and are unified in a shared goal.</p> <p>Last year, our team at Aten Design Group launched a fantastic <a href="">new website for the city of Raleigh, North Carolina</a>. Raleigh is experiencing massive growth. People are flocking to the City of Oaks for the great weather, new technology jobs, and that southern charm. The city needed a new way to connect with constituents that reflected their emerging modernity without losing the small town, neighborly feel that Raleigh holds dear. Many agencies competed for the chance to reimagine their website. Our team won because “we had a shared vision” and our pitch meeting felt more like our first collaboration than a sales call, according to the clients. I was in the room that day and can attest. It was magic. The teams bonded quickly. It has never felt like a transactional client / vendor relationship with the Raleigh team. That’s why we enjoy a partnership with them today, more than a year beyond the project launch.</p> <p>We try to recreate that magic with all our project teams. Daniel Coyle’s book, <i>The Culture Code</i>, has been a favorite among project managers. It outlines three keys to get the kind of teamwork that team leads dream of.</p> <ol> <li>Build safety</li> <li>Share vulnerability</li> <li>Establish purpose and plan</li> </ol> <p>These steps resonate with a lot of Aten’s project management practices. They’ve helped me to foster team dynamics that drive success, and to communicate more effectively with my team about <i>why we do things the way we do them. </i></p> <h3>Build Safety</h3> <p>Laying the foundation for a safe space to work includes empowering people to act naturally and collaborate purposefully. If in-person meetings aren’t in the cards, use video technology to make eye contact and interact as you would around a table. Start meetings with ice breakers, highs/lows, or chit chat to get to know each other. Make around-the-table introductions, asking questions if need be to ensure everyone’s role in the project is clear.</p> <p>When the team is collaborating make sure everyone has a voice. If someone isn’t speaking up, they may not agree with the direction the team is going. That should be surfaced and discussed. Or, they may be timid. Introverts are incredibly talented, too; don’t allow loud people to dominate. There are effective ways to do this. Slack a quiet teammate on the side and see what’s going on. Directly call on them to share and contribute. You could diplomatically ask who at the table hasn't spoken up or shared their thoughts.</p> <p>We work with client teams very closely. We try to integrate our team and that of our clients into one cohesive unit that blurs the line of client and vendor. We have shared accountability and give our client partners deadlines, just as we do internal stakeholders. We have shared retrospectives and speak candidly when there is an opportunity to do something differently. Before pandemic safety concerns, we traveled to spend time together with clients in person for training or strategy sessions. These small exercises make a big difference. An inclusive environment builds solidarity and creates safety.</p> <h3>Share vulnerability</h3> <p><i>The Culture Code</i> also underscores the value of something called “the vulnerability loop”. When teammates share their own insecurities or vulnerabilities, it encourages others to do the same and accelerates trust building. Sharing vulnerability is a strength — it creates a team culture that allows everyone to be human and shies away from covering up opportunities to improve. Mistakes are natural, and learning from them makes us a stronger team.</p> <p>Whether in team meetings with other PMs or in regular project meetings I make it a point to acknowledge my own missteps or reflect on past mistakes. In my more than 15 years of project management I have missed scopes, had roadmaps go off the rails, or skipped critical QA when a project is down to crunchtime. Learning from these mistakes has made me a better PM, and discussing them openly sets an example for shared vulnerability. Teams that share their mistakes and work together to improve trust each other more fully and face challenges together more honestly.</p> <p>Revealing vulnerability encourages others to do the same. Shared vulnerability builds the trust and honest reflection that drive process improvements, build healthy team dynamics, and lead&nbsp;to success.</p> <h3>Establish purpose and plan</h3> <p>To be successful, teams need to unify around a broad sense of purpose and to execute from clear, detailed plans. An organization’s mission, vision or values are excellent sources of purpose. When we as a team understand not only what we are trying to accomplish <i>but why</i>, each of us can find our own inspiration as well as a desire to motivate others in accomplishing their tasks.</p> <p>We have clients all over the impact spectrum: they are on the frontlines of truth in journalism, the women’s reproductive rights movement, helping to manage the covid-19 pandemic or educating the next generation of world leaders, among other focus areas. Wherever our clients’ work lies, our team is purposeful and clear in <i>our</i> part of <i>their</i> missions. We help clients build a brighter tomorrow for their communities, and we do that by embodying certain values like creativity, trustworthiness, and productivity among others.</p> <p>Mantras can be a powerful tool for reconnecting people with purpose. One team, one dream. The phrase explains how we approach our work and partnerships so succinctly. Nike has “just do it.” When I was at Digitas Boston I created a mantra for the PM and Creative teams that appeared on sketchbooks: “You make it rock. We make it roll.” Find a phrase that reminds your team of their shared values and goals, then use repetition to keep that shared purpose at the forefront of their minds.</p> <p>Once a team is unified around their purpose, rely on clear project briefs to break down the vision, goals, and pathways into a structured plan. Outline everyone’s responsibilities on the team, set expectations, and make sure each team member knows exactly what their next steps are. The plan could be a simple task list, a product backlog, or a robust schedule. Whatever that looks like for your team, they need a clear path to follow. Someone needs to own that plan and hold the team accountable to it, be it a Scrum master, a project manager or another team lead.</p> <p>Each person on a team has an important role in the project, and clear plans help us to realize those roles. Establishing a purpose and creating a plan creates team cohesion, clarity, and confidence.</p> <p>There’s your plan, friends. Follow it to success.</p> <ol> <li>Build safety</li> <li>Share vulnerability</li> <li>Establish purpose and plan</li> </ol> <p>One legendary NBA coach has this game plan down pat. The San Antonio Spurs leader Gregg “Pop” Popovich’s leadership style has been written about extensively. The culture he has created is something we should all emulate. It starts with getting to know your team and making sure they know you care about them. Popovich knows his players on a personal level. He hosts team dinners after every game where cell phones aren’t allowed.</p> <p>Popovich is radically candid, emotional when need be, and authentic. He is clear on the team’s goals and ways to achieve them. They put in the work. Pop acknowledges rockstars but won’t indulge prima donnas. Everyone on the team works together as one unit because they have a shared responsibility and purpose. It has resulted in five championships and winning seasons in most of his 26 years at the helm.</p> <p>Whether you’re running a digital project, spearheading a storied NBA franchise or planning a weekend in the big city, every team needs to work together. With purpose, safety, and humanity any team can unlock its true potential and achieve great things.</p> <!-- google doc id: 14Eh-Z2KY86BJVfcm2-9LFi5uw7apwrMLKTGto8hU9JU --></div> <a href="/about/sally-shaughnessy" hreflang="en">Sally Shaughnessy</a> Tue, 15 Dec 2020 19:00:00 +0000 Sally Shaughnessy 10213 at Nothing About Us Without Us: Engaging Stakeholders on <span> Nothing About Us Without Us: Engaging Stakeholders on</span> <article data-history-node-id="10181" role="article" about="/about/sally-shaughnessy" class="js--block-link profile profile--compact" data-href="/about/sally-shaughnessy" > <div class="profile__image"> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-04/headshot_0.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-04/headshot_0.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/2020-04/headshot_0.png?itok=l_hEBSEY 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-04/headshot_0.png?itok=cOzVD8LW 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-04/headshot_0.png?itok=cOzVD8LW 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-04/headshot_0.png?itok=cOzVD8LW 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-04/headshot_0.png?itok=CzXTdhqK 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-04/headshot_0.png?itok=CzXTdhqK 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/png"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/headshot_0.png" alt="Sally Shaughnessy headshot" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> </div> <div class="profile__content clearfix"> <h3 class="profile__title"> <a href="/about/sally-shaughnessy" class="profile__title-link">Sally Shaughnessy</a> </h3> <div class="profile__job-title">Director of Project Management</div> </div> </article> <article data-history-node-id="10200" role="article" about="/about/james-alberque" class="js--block-link profile profile--compact" data-href="" > <div class="profile__image"> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-11/jim-alberque-headshot.jpg 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-11/jim-alberque-headshot.jpg 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/2020-11/jim-alberque-headshot.jpg?itok=V5svvElb 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-11/jim-alberque-headshot.jpg?itok=qkZiMXk_ 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-11/jim-alberque-headshot.jpg?itok=qkZiMXk_ 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-11/jim-alberque-headshot.jpg?itok=qkZiMXk_ 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-11/jim-alberque-headshot.jpg?itok=qaVFMPcS 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-11/jim-alberque-headshot.jpg?itok=qaVFMPcS 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/jpeg"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-11/jim-alberque-headshot.jpg" alt="James Alberque" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> </div> <div class="profile__content clearfix"> <h3 class="profile__title"> <a href="" class="profile__title-link">James Alberque</a> </h3> <div class="profile__job-title">GIS and Emerging Technology Manager, City of Raleigh </div> </div> </article> <article data-history-node-id="10201" role="article" about="/about/pete-weber" class="js--block-link profile profile--compact" data-href="" > <div class="profile__image"> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-11/pete-weber.jpeg 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-11/pete-weber.jpeg 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/2020-11/pete-weber.jpeg?itok=UMaD0Lph 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-11/pete-weber.jpeg?itok=-HXNT86D 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-11/pete-weber.jpeg?itok=-HXNT86D 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-11/pete-weber.jpeg?itok=-HXNT86D 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-11/pete-weber.jpeg?itok=CZmqRYSF 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-11/pete-weber.jpeg?itok=CZmqRYSF 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/jpeg"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-11/pete-weber.jpeg" alt="Pete Weber," typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> </div> <div class="profile__content clearfix"> <h3 class="profile__title"> <a href="" class="profile__title-link">Pete Weber</a> </h3> <div class="profile__job-title">Web Administrator, City of Raleigh </div> </div> </article> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/sally-shaughnessy" lang="" about="/user/sally-shaughnessy" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Sally Shaughnessy</a></span> <span>Thu, 10/15/2020 - 15:25</span> <div class="field field--name-field-zoom-webinar-agenda field--type-string-long field--label-hidden field__item">The key to delivering an impactful new website is listening.<br /> <br /> There is a popular slogan right now, “nothing about us without us,” that asserts that no policy or product should be decided on without representation from the end-user group(s). No truer words were spoken.<br /> <br /> A serious risk of not listening to your users’ needs is building the wrong thing. This results in poor adoption, lack of support from the community, and inadequate content maintenance, and worse – the dreaded backlash of bad PR.<br /> <br /> The needs of the City of Raleigh’s constituents and city staffers are far-reaching, as expansive and diverse as their audience set. Aten and the City of Raleigh team planned and engaged stakeholders throughout the course of the year-long website project to first listen, then validate decisions, and ultimately design and develop what users need and want. In this webinar given by our Director of Project Management, Sally Shaughnessy, and the City of Raleigh&#039;s Pete Weber and James Alberque, your teams will walk away with an understanding of why it’s critical to make decisions informed by user needs and ensure your users are heard.<br /> <br /> This session will discuss how we:<br /> <br /> Established and prioritized audience groups<br /> <br /> Developed a project roadmap with isolated milestones to engage stakeholders<br /> <br /> Chose the methods to engage stakeholders<br /> <br /> Synthesized stakeholder feedback to create an elegant and joyful experience<br /> <br /> Prioritized the feedback prior to launch<br /> <br /> Your teams will walk away with an understanding of why it’s critical to make decisions informed by user needs and ensure your users are heard. We will provide tips on Strategic listening exercises you can use in your next project.</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2>The key to delivering an impactful new website is listening.</h2> <p>There is a popular slogan right now, “nothing about us without us,” that asserts that no policy or product should be decided on without representation from the end-user group(s). No truer words were spoken.</p> <p>A serious risk of not listening to your users’ needs is building the wrong thing. This results in poor adoption, lack of support from the community, and inadequate content maintenance, and worse – the dreaded backlash of bad PR.</p> <p><strong>This webinar will discuss how we:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Established and prioritized audience groups</li> <li>Developed a project roadmap with isolated milestones to engage stakeholders</li> <li>Chose the methods to engage stakeholders</li> <li>Synthesized stakeholder feedback to create an elegant and joyful experience</li> <li>Prioritized the feedback prior to launch</li> </ul> <p><br /> Your teams will walk away with an understanding of why it’s critical to make decisions informed by user needs and ensure your users are heard. We will provide tips on Strategic listening exercises you can use in your next project.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-date field--type-daterange field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Date</div> <div class="field__item"><time datetime="2020-12-09T19:00:00Z">Wed, 12/09/2020 - 12:00</time> - <time datetime="2020-12-09T20:00:00Z">Wed, 12/09/2020 - 13:00</time> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-zoom-webinar-join-url field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item"></div> <figure> <div class="field field--name-field-media-video-embed-field field--type-video-embed-field field--label-hidden field__item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src=";start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> </div> </figure> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> Thu, 15 Oct 2020 21:25:20 +0000 Sally Shaughnessy 10153 at Transparent Budget Management <span>Transparent Budget Management</span> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-05/Transparent-Budgets.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/2020-05/Transparent-Budgets.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/2020-05/Transparent-Budgets.png?itok=bk1A5HTY 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-05/Transparent-Budgets.png?itok=LIsEbLsq 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-05/Transparent-Budgets.png?itok=LIsEbLsq 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/2020-05/Transparent-Budgets.png?itok=LIsEbLsq 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-05/Transparent-Budgets.png?itok=0rcOXBNw 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/2020-05/Transparent-Budgets.png?itok=0rcOXBNw 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/png"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/Transparent-Budgets.png" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/janice-camacho" lang="" about="/user/janice-camacho" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">janice</a></span> <span>Tue, 05/12/2020 - 09:00</span> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden t--body field__item"><p>One statistic in the <a href="">Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)</a> that has always stuck with me is that project managers should spend roughly 80% of their time communicating. That’s six and a half hours a day, 32 hours a week, 1,664 hours a year, making sure everyone is on the same page. From scheduling the team, to managing complex requirements, to preparing for launch, there is a lot to stay on the same page about. Perhaps the most important of these is the project’s budget.</p> <p>As a project manager, managing budgets is one of the most important parts of my job. Clear, frequent communication is a big part of how it’s done.</p> <h2>All About the Hours</h2> <p>We’re a time-and-materials company, which simply means we bill for our time. The basic mechanics of managing budgets relies on two numbers: the amount of time we’ve already used, and the amount of time estimated to finish. We use <a href="">Harvest</a> for reporting on time spent, and <a href="">Jira</a> for planning tasks and estimating the amount of time needed.</p> <h2>Data-Driven Decisions</h2> <p>It’s not enough just to have the numbers. We need to be able to make decisions about each project in real time based on said numbers. Things get complicated because the data changes frequently. Some things take longer than expected, others go faster. Some features are critical, others are just nice-to-have. As requirements evolve, things become more complex. Which brings me back to that 80% number: I spend a lot of my time communicating and helping make key decisions based on actual data to keep the project on track.</p> <h2>Budget Tracking</h2> <p>Beyond Harvest and Jira, we use customized budget trackers to forecast where each project is headed. (Learn more and download a sample budget tracker in this related post: <a href="">Advanced Digital Project Management with Harvest Data</a>.) Our budget trackers provide a clear indication of how much time has gone into a project, how much time is remaining, and the allocation of time for specific features. Most importantly, budget trackers aid in providing the necessary data for making informed decisions. Do we simplify some features, or eliminate a nice-to-have to make room for something critical? Can we add additional requirements? Do we need to add funds to do more? Actionable data from budget trackers helps answer these important questions throughout the lifespan of the project.</p> <h2>Staying on the Same Page</h2> <p>Back to that 80% again. To make decisions based on data, the data has to be shared. Here at Aten, we’re huge proponents of being transparent and direct. The way we manage budgets is no different. We share budget trackers with our clients, update the numbers frequently, and are transparent about the details.</p> <h3>Shared Budget Trackers</h3> <p>I’m not gonna lie: when I first started working at Aten, this felt a little uncomfortable. It’s impossible to sugarcoat the situation when clients have full access to the same information. However (and I can’t stress this enough), being extremely transparent has proven to be incredibly effective for managing projects successfully.</p> <p>Being transparent with budget realities keeps teams accountable, fosters collaboration, and builds trust. We share budget trackers with our clients, giving them access to real-time data throughout the lifespan of every project.</p> <h3>Weekly Reports</h3> <p>While clients have constant access to budget information through shared information, we know they’re busy with their day jobs and aren’t necessarily watching the data unfold. That’s why we send customized reports every week, either during our Zoom <a href="">Project Management Check-In</a> or through a weekly status update via Basecamp. Each report details the hours estimated, actual hours spent, and the reason behind any difference, as well as top-line figures for the total remaining budget and level of effort. This guarantees everyone sees and hears the current status of the budget at regular weekly intervals, and provides an avenue for raising questions or concerns throughout the process.</p> <h3>We Share it All: the Good, Bad and Ugly.</h3> <p>Here at Aten, we believe in being proactive with the details. Similar to sharing budget trackers, this felt a little uncomfortable at first—but it's proven invaluable for building trust and collaboration in projects.</p> <p>We know clients love good news (don’t we all?) but even more, they genuinely appreciate an honest, transparent appraisal of where things stand. Only when we’re clear and forthcoming with the details, and stay committed to solution-focused problem solving and collaboration, can we find win-win solutions to the inevitable challenges in complex projects.</p> <h2>Wrapping it Up</h2> <p>Managing budgets isn't easy. But with the right tools, frequent updates, and transparent communication, budget conversations can build trust and set the stage for a successful digital project. If you have a success story to share from a recent project, or want to talk more about tools, drop me a line in the comments section below!</p> <!-- google doc id: 15ZqDyLhpg_SZYsT4vTD5EscZsloLFeyuJH9BSzQ4V34 --></div> <a href="/about/janice-camacho" hreflang="en">Janice Camacho</a> Tue, 12 May 2020 15:00:00 +0000 janice 10108 at The Five Phases of Effective Sales Handoffs for Digital Projects <span>The Five Phases of Effective Sales Handoffs for Digital Projects</span> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/sales-to-pm-transfer.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/sales-to-pm-transfer.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/sales-to-pm-transfer.png?itok=Ey7obRVC 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/sales-to-pm-transfer.png?itok=syieHGlJ 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/sales-to-pm-transfer.png?itok=syieHGlJ 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/sales-to-pm-transfer.png?itok=syieHGlJ 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/sales-to-pm-transfer.png?itok=wNejnerr 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/sales-to-pm-transfer.png?itok=wNejnerr 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/png"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/sales-to-pm-transfer.png" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/joe-crespo" lang="" about="/user/joe-crespo" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jcrespo</a></span> <span>Thu, 11/07/2019 - 09:03</span> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden t--body field__item"><p>I recently co-led a workshop at the <a href="">Digital PM Summit in Orlando</a>, along with my colleague <a href="">Sally</a> who runs our project management team, on the topic of effectively transitioning projects from sales to project management. It was a fantastic experience, with roughly 50 project managers from diverse backgrounds collaborating to tackle what was obviously a common challenge. Here are a few of the takeaways from that session and a high level look at how we approach handoffs here at Aten.</p> <h2>First, Some Background</h2> <p>As Director of Accounts, a big part of my job is selling digital projects to new clients. I&rsquo;m a salesperson. My work is focused on first understanding an organization&rsquo;s needs, then collaborating with my team to make a recommendation, and finally putting together a detailed project plan (aka proposal). All-in-all it&rsquo;s a process that spans at least weeks and often months, leading up to a transition from my team (sales) to Sally&rsquo;s (project management).</p> <p>The handoff is critical. Done right, it ensures everyone is on the same page with a clear vision for how the project is going to unfold. It builds trust between client and agency, and accelerates the momentum developed during the sales process. Done poorly, the handoff does just the opposite. It sends the client and agency off in different directions and makes it difficult to deliver on established expectations. Poorly executed handoffs can be hard to recover from, whereas handoffs done well &ndash; with clear communication and early collaboration &ndash; set things up for success over the long term.</p> <h2>Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork</h2> <p>Here at Aten, handoffs begin long before there is a proposal, or even before we begin working on a specific opportunity. We think effective handoffs are rooted in an ongoing partnership between sales and project management. We see this important transition as less of a <em>handoff</em> and more as an <em>ongoing collaboration</em>. The sales and project management teams meet weekly to review the sales pipeline, discuss high likelihood projects and talk through potential impact on team schedules. For my part, understanding our schedule helps me set clear, accurate expectations with potential clients. For Sally and the project management team, knowing which opportunities are likely to close helps us effectively plan for upcoming projects, ensuring we have the resources to deliver.</p> <h2>Five Key Phases</h2> <p>Ok, collaboration sounds great, but in practice how does it work? We&rsquo;ve found it extremely important to be very specific about exactly how &ndash; and when &ndash; our salespeople will collaborate with project managers. With that in mind, we&rsquo;ve defined five key phases for collaboration between sales and project management for every project we take on.</p> <h3>Phase 1: The Sales Process</h3> <p>As I mentioned above, the sales process entails weeks, often months, of discovery and background research. We involve members from each discipline across the agency in that process &ndash; strategists, designers, developers, <em>and project managers.</em> Project managers review each proposal draft before it is sent, and weigh in with concerns related to estimates and schedules. That way we avoid the problem of project managers picking up a new project and wondering, &ldquo;You promised what??!!&rdquo;</p> <h3>Phase 2: Contracting</h3> <p>A prospective client says yes (yay!). Now what? For my part, we dive into contracting. Are we using our contract, or theirs? Do they have special requirements for insurance? From billings terms and upfront deposits to intellectual property and non-competes, we negotiate the details and work toward a contract that is agreeable to both parties.</p> <p>Meanwhile, as the salesperson works with the incoming client to finalize the deal, the project manager works with the internal team to line everything up for getting started. Project managers use the final, accepted proposal as a framework to build a detailed resource plan and project schedule. The PM adds the project to our forecasting tools, flagging any concerns about resource availability very early in the process (while we can still do something about them!).</p> <p>During this period, my team works with Sally&rsquo;s to clarify any key assumptions. We review the project together in detail, addressing questions like:</p> <ul> <li>Are we getting a head start by building on an existing open source product?</li> <li>Are there stakeholders we need to engage early?</li> <li>Is their internal development team working alongside us, reducing the amount of work we&rsquo;ll need to do ourselves?</li> </ul> <p>By the time contracts are in place, sales and project management will have worked together to articulate the parameters of the project as a clear, detailed execution plan for the team.</p> <h3>Phase 3: Kickoff</h3> <p>While we think in terms of collaboration rather than handoffs, project kickoffs are the one point in the process that will feel the most like a true handoff to our clients. Kickoff meetings are where we introduce (or reintroduce) the entire project team, discuss logistics, review schedules, and set expectations for the process. Kickoff meetings are an important opportunity to confirm and reinforce the promises made during sales.</p> <p>With so much to accomplish, we split kickoffs into three parts:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Pre-Kickoff Call </strong><br /> I schedule a call between myself, the client&rsquo;s lead representative, and our project manager. This is a chance for the client and PM to get to know each other a little better, talk through any high-level considerations, and schedule the kickoff. In many ways, this call is me passing the baton to my project manager colleague. An effective pre-kickoff call establishes open lines of communication for the project, while also making it clear that the salesperson is always available as a point of escalation if there are any concerns during the transition.</li> <li><strong>Internal Kickoff Call </strong><br /> We get everyone together from Aten who is going to be involved in the process and discuss the project plan in detail. Our project manager runs the meeting, but the salesperson is also present to answer questions and share context. We again go over assumptions, key requirements, the project schedule, and other pertinent details. Everyone on the Aten team has an opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns. An effective internal kickoff gets everyone on the Aten team on the same page with exactly how the project is going to run.</li> <li><strong>Client Kickoff Call</strong><br /> The entire project team from Aten, along with the client&rsquo;s core stakeholder group, meet to talk through the process. Here at Aten, we have a huge focus on collaboration, and this important meeting helps set the stage for a &ldquo;One Team, One Dream&rdquo; approach that extends throughout the project. Also, this is often the first time we are meeting at least some of the people who will be involved. Just like the baton is passing from sales to project management at Aten, a similar transition is likely happening for the client as the project moves from procurement to execution. During the call, we work through a slide deck and series of collaborative exercises that help set the stage for the project. An effective client kickoff meeting solidifies a shared vision for the process and is the foundation for ongoing collaboration.</li> </ul> <h3>Phase 4: Production</h3> <p>During the project, the sales team keeps communication channels open &ndash; both with our project management colleagues and with the client. We&rsquo;re an important point of escalation should any concerns arise related to expectations, assumptions, or other background context for the project. Equally important, we help project managers identify new sales opportunities with existing accounts, and collaborate closely to explore new needs with the client.</p> <h3>Phase 5: Launch</h3> <p>Whether launching a new website, deploying the latest release for an existing product, or unveiling an organization&rsquo;s new brand strategy, there&rsquo;s a lot to celebrate at launch. After launch, I schedule retrospective reviews with the client, in part to help drive marketing efforts at Aten, as well as to hear what went well &ndash; and what we can improve on &ndash; directly from the client.</p> <h2>Practice Makes Perfect</h2> <p>We&rsquo;re big process nerds here at Aten, and we have been refining our practice ever since opening for business back in 2000. We regularly conduct <a href="">retrospectives</a> so that we can improve the way things work. In fact, the Digital PM Summit workshop I mentioned earlier (and this blog post, for that matter) both came out of a team retrospective tackling the touchpoints between sales and project management. How does your team tackle the transition from sales to project management? We&rsquo;d love to hear your handoff story &ndash; leave us a comment, or <a href="">drop us a line on our contact page</a>.</p> <h2>Related Reading</h2> <ul> <li>Presentation: <a href="">DPM Summit presentation slide deck</a></li> <li>Documentation: <a href="">Sales to project management handoff</a></li> <li>Blog post: <a href="">How to Build Adaptive Teams with Retrospectives</a></li> </ul></div> <a href="/about/joe-crespo" hreflang="en">Joe Crespo</a> Thu, 07 Nov 2019 16:03:48 +0000 jcrespo 2562 at Weekly Check-Ins <span>Weekly Check-Ins</span> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/weekly-check-ins.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/weekly-check-ins.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/weekly-check-ins.png?itok=ZupV_Ms1 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/weekly-check-ins.png?itok=pBgUwSkC 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/weekly-check-ins.png?itok=pBgUwSkC 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/weekly-check-ins.png?itok=pBgUwSkC 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/weekly-check-ins.png?itok=YKaVKz8d 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/weekly-check-ins.png?itok=YKaVKz8d 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/png"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/weekly-check-ins.png" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/sally-shaughnessy" lang="" about="/user/sally-shaughnessy" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Sally Shaughnessy</a></span> <span>Thu, 03/14/2019 - 10:15</span> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden t--body field__item"><p>Here at Aten, we use a number of tools and processes to help keep projects on track. One of the simplest and most important is the Weekly Check-In. According to <a href="">this post</a>, poor communication and infrequent updates are two of the top 10 reasons projects fail. I completely agree. Maintaining a consistent, weekly meeting to review progress over the life of a project is one way to help solve the problem.</p> <h2>Anatomy of the Weekly Check-In</h2> <p>The meeting itself is quick (usually 15-30 minutes), simple, and all about data. Implied in this statement is that you actually have the data, which in turn implies you’re consistently using tools to track and log progress. While specific tools could be the subject of an entirely different post, or series of posts, I'll list a few <a href="#pmtools">project management tools that we use</a> below. But first, let’s look at the check-in agenda:</p> <p><strong>Weekly Check-In Agenda</strong></p> <p>With data in hand, we cover the following details in each weekly check-in:</p> <ul> <li>Total hours (and correlating budget) for the project.</li> <li>Total hours spent to date (and correlating dollars).</li> <li>Remaining hours (and correlating dollars).</li> <li>Project resource plan and roadmap. Are we on track, overall, with the roadmap?</li> <li>High-level list of completed tasks or tickets, as well as any unforeseen complexities that might have cropped up.</li> <li>Any high-level next steps or blockers.</li> </ul> <p>We cover each topic, every time. Resource plan hasn’t changed? Great. We say so, and move on. At some point over the lifetime of the project, it will change – even if just slightly – and developing the strong habit of looking at it every single time ensures we stay squarely on the same page.</p> <p>Also, we keep the meeting small, usually with just two people attending: the agency project manager (me), and the client project – or product – manager. This meeting is all about logistics, and should be efficient and focused.</p> <p><a id="pmtools"></a></p> <p><strong>Project Management Tools We Use at Aten</strong></p> <p>To run an effective weekly check-in, you have to have good data. Here are a few of the tools we use to log, track, communicate, and report on project data:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="">Harvest</a> for time tracking, reporting, and budget management.</li> <li> <a href="">Forecast</a> for resource allocation and forecasting.</li> <li> <a href="">Jira</a> for managing workflow. All actionable tasks are tracked in Jira.</li> <li> <a href="">Basecamp</a> for capturing high level client feedback – especially during the design phase of projects – and any additional documentation not captured in Jira.</li> <li> <a href="">Slack</a> for day-to-day communication. (We used to use Basecamp for this, but the immediacy and simplicity of messaging in Slack makes it an incredible tool for fostering collaboration.)</li> <li> <a href="">Zoom</a> for video conferencing. Most of our clients are remote, but with Zoom it feels like we’re face-to-face in the same room.</li> <li> <a href="">Google Sheets</a> for several internally developed tracking tools, including a <a href="">Resource Plan</a> for helping map resources over the lifetime of a project. We also keep a record in Google Docs of exactly what was covered in each check-in.</li> </ul> <h2>Try it Out</h2> <p>Whether you’re planning your organization’s next big design and technology project or you’re already well underway, I recommend carving out 15 minutes each week for a project management check-in. Cover each topic, every time. The moment things aren’t tracking with your project plan, back up, reassess, and adapt accordingly.</p> <p>I love helping clients keep projects on track. If you’re considering a project or just want to connect about PM best practices, <a href="/contact">get in touch</a> and I’ll follow up.</p></div> <a href="/about/sally-shaughnessy" hreflang="en">Sally Shaughnessy</a> Thu, 14 Mar 2019 16:15:32 +0000 Sally Shaughnessy 2543 at Reclaim Your Workweek: No Meetings Days <span>Reclaim Your Workweek: No Meetings Days</span> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/18-11-29---No-Meeting-Days.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/18-11-29---No-Meeting-Days.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/18-11-29---No-Meeting-Days.png?itok=TTYDma0a 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/18-11-29---No-Meeting-Days.png?itok=f2wvbhcN 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/18-11-29---No-Meeting-Days.png?itok=f2wvbhcN 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/18-11-29---No-Meeting-Days.png?itok=f2wvbhcN 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/18-11-29---No-Meeting-Days.png?itok=oFMeX-jD 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/18-11-29---No-Meeting-Days.png?itok=oFMeX-jD 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/png"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/18-11-29---No-Meeting-Days.png" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> <span><span lang="" about="/user/hannah-stuart" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Hannah Stuart</span></span> <span>Mon, 12/03/2018 - 11:49</span> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> <a href="/blog/category/process" class="tag" >Process</a> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden t--body field__item"><p>When working in an agency environment, meetings are inevitably a part of the jobs we do. We come together to plan, scope, estimate, ideate, problem solve, pair program, demo, present, run retros, hold standups, present code reviews – you get the idea! With numerous meetings on the agenda, what starts out as an 8 hour day slowly gets chipped away. Meetings begin to disrupt deep thinking, they force you to push aside any solo work time you had, and eventually you aren't left with much time during the day at all. I think we can all agree that the current model for meetings is a little broken.</p> <p>Around a year ago we realized this in a major way at Aten. Meetings had become a leading culprit for killing time, with direct impact on utilization.</p> <h2>The problem with meetings</h2> <p>Upon taking a closer look at the ways in which meetings were impacting our team, we discovered some key factors.</p> <ul> <li>Many felt overwhelmed by the amount of meetings whether formal or informal, face-to-face or electronically mediated.</li> <li>People were finding it harder to create momentum on set tasks because of the project whiplash they were experiencing when jumping between tasks and meetings in a given day.</li> <li>Productivity and utility were impacted. As the frequency of meetings increased, productivity rates decreased.</li> <li>Many were lacking time for solo work which is essential to creativity and efficiency.</li> </ul> <p>These issues drove home the realization that while meetings do have a role to play in the workplace, it is far more important to manage meeting time in an intentional way.</p> <h2>Getting rid of meetings</h2> <p>We took these findings and decided to use them as a conduit for change.</p> <p>Our original goal wasn’t to kill or reduce the number of meetings. They do often help us to get work done and make decisions. Instead, we set out to create interruption free days. We did this by moving meetings off of everyone’s calendars on Tuesdays and Thursdays, creating the time and space for deep thinking and solo work which we believed would resolve many of the issues that had been identified.</p> <p>Since implementing no-meetings days we’ve seen an increase in the company’s overall productivity rates, improvements to the level of reported job satisfaction and a decrease in the number of reports of people feeling overwhelmed by meetings.</p> <p>Like with any change effort, we’re still learning and evolving as we move forward with this practice. We'll continue to take stock of how people are adjusting to this new process overall. Any measurable progress we receive will be assessed and discussed. Any concrete wins will be celebrated, and any losses will be seen as a chance to learn and grow.</p> <h2>What does the research say?</h2> <p>In looking at the effect of meetings on our own organization, I became curious about the impacts of meetings elsewhere. The more I researched this topic, two things became clear:</p> <ol> <li>Multitasking is making people less productive.</li> <li>The hidden costs of task switching are bigger than you think.</li> </ol> <p><a href="">Research</a> shows that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years. Now more than ever, people are trying to pack more into their workdays and in the absence of clear indicators, many turn towards an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of tasks in a manner which is visible to their peers/coworkers.</p> <p><a href="">Experiments</a> published in 2001 by Joshua Rubinstein, PhD, Jeffrey Evans, PhD, and David Meyer, PhD, found that switch costs can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks. <a href="">For example</a>, when you’re coding something, and you’re in the flow state, and you get interrupted, it takes 23 minutes (on average) to get back into the groove of what you were doing before. Meyer goes on to stipulate that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can take as much as 40 percent of someone's productive time. That’s approximately 3.2 hours a day, 16 hours a week, and a loss of 832 productive hours a year. Whether you’re an agency like us, a start-up, non-profit, or a fortune 500 company, this loss of time aggregated across a year is bound to have impacts on your company’s bottom line to some degree.</p> <p>Not only do interruption-free days help to reduce the amount of task switching but they also allow for “deep thinking” or “deep thought”. Deep thinking was a term that Georgetown computer science professor, Cal Newport, used to describe the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. Working deeply is the best way to get more meaningful work done: in a state of high concentration while working distraction-free on a single task.</p> <p>It’s also important to be aware of the type of work you need to complete across the week so that you create the appropriate working conditions. Newport describes the two main types of work as:</p> <p><strong>“Deep work”</strong> - Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill set, and are hard to replicate. These tasks are better suited for a no meetings day.</p> <p><strong>“Shallow work”</strong> - Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These tasks should be scheduled on days where there are meetings.</p> <p>By understanding these concepts and the impacts they have on individuals, work and productivity, you can empower not only yourself, but your company to work in smarter and more meaningful ways.</p> <h2>How to make no meetings days a part of your routine</h2> <ol> <li> <strong>Examine the impacts that meetings are having on your company first.</strong> You may learn that it’s more a matter of quality over quantity.</li> <li> <strong>Adapt the process to suit your team set-up and style.</strong> Factor in how this would apply to remote teams, part time workers etc.</li> <li> <strong>Team buy-in is important.</strong> Establish and communicate the purpose and goals of having meetings free days. What are the challenges you’re hoping to help solve? What are the advantages?</li> <li> <strong>What are the rules?</strong> Which days are the no meetings days? Is this over a day or are there specific blocked off times? Is there some flexibility for team members to use their judgement when scheduling a meeting on the allocated no meetings days?</li> <li> <strong>Make sure you maintain momentum.</strong> It’s easy to fall back into the habit of booking meetings on no-meetings days. Try to nominate someone who’s responsible for observing the no-meetings days on the calendar and who can assist team members when questions arise as to potential allowances.</li> <li> <strong>Block off time.</strong> Encourage your team members to block out time in their calendars, which serves as a gentle reminder that meetings shouldn’t be booked on those days.</li> <li> <strong>Stop scheduling meetings.</strong> </li> </ol> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>We wanted to ensure that as a company we set a different precedent and created a culture where ‘single-tasking’ was more valued than ‘multi-tasking’. In doing so, we’ve been able to better maximize the amount of productivity we can get out of a workweek. Aten team members now have two days a week where they’re able to focus on single tasks, without distractions, in a state of intense focus. They’ve become an integral part of the Aten culture and many look forward to and / or feel energized by these days. We’d encourage you to try it out too!</p></div> Mon, 03 Dec 2018 18:49:01 +0000 Hannah Stuart 2526 at Building Collaborative Client Relationships with the Entire Team <span>Building Collaborative Client Relationships with the Entire Team</span> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/connections.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/connections.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/connections.png?itok=ABVEX6M4 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/connections.png?itok=Ap_N7_bB 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/connections.png?itok=Ap_N7_bB 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/connections.png?itok=Ap_N7_bB 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/connections.png?itok=B65Y_u4e 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/connections.png?itok=B65Y_u4e 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/png"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/connections.png" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> <span><span lang="" about="/user/andy-bell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Andy Bell</span></span> <span>Thu, 10/04/2018 - 10:21</span> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> <a href="/blog/category/process" class="tag" >Process</a> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden t--body field__item"><p>Here at Aten, all of our engagements are high-touch and collaborative. We do not bottleneck communication through a project manager or an account manager. Instead, every client has direct access to their team within Aten via Slack, Basecamp, JIRA and Zoom. Organizing engagements in this way allows our team to develop deep, personal connections with our clients, understand how to best engage their stakeholders and ultimately, build empathy for their users.</p> <p>If you’re a project manager and this sounds frightening, it shouldn’t.</p> <p>Having worked with many different types of teams over the years, I’ve found that having an open, working relationship with the client, including full access to team members, helps to deliver the best projects. When a PM is forced to act as a middleman between the team and a client, there are no real winners – things like trust, collaborative spirit and team empowerment tend to suffer. I would argue that all of those things are what make the difference between good and great project outcomes.</p> <p>When PMs keep themselves as the first line of defense, they will invariably keep certain things from the team, like a tough conversation on budget or scope, or maybe a dissatisfaction with a design comp. While things like this are often difficult to cope with, opening up that dialogue to the whole team fosters a type of transparency that allows us to be agile and able to correct things quickly.</p> <h2>Collaboration is Key</h2> <p>Prior to project kick off, have you ever stressed to a client that they are about to embark on a fully collaborative journey with your agency? If so, how can that truly be possible with a team that is sheltered from the client?</p> <p>At Aten, we start the collaboration process early. The full project team has the opportunity to meet and work with the client during the discovery and strategy phase of the project, continuing all the way through design. If the development team comes into the project months down the line, they won’t have the full context of the project, no matter how many onboarding meetings you arrange. This does not mean the full team has to be in every single working and planning meeting with the client, but I find bringing the full team together when it matters can help save time and money later on in the project.</p> <p>How does this look in the real world? Just the other day, I received a message from a client asking about a particular feature change request. Rather than reply saying that we will need to circle back internally and follow up in a few days, I simply added the client into a Slack DM channel with the developer and we hashed out a solution in a matter of minutes. The JIRA ticket was updated, the budget was quickly checked and we didn’t have to wait until we could all find a time to have a Zoom meeting. This type of close collaboration saved hours off the budget and likely a few days in response time.</p> <h2>Transparency Builds Trust</h2> <p>Being transparent with your clients is always a good idea. It builds trust not only between yourself and the core stakeholders, but it bodes well for your agency in general. Extending that type of transparency to the full project team even furthers that notion of trust. Letting the client know that they are going to go over budget on design iteration is something everyone should hear and discuss as a group. In those types of situations and with everyone present, solutions are often discovered on the spot.</p> <p>But shouldn’t PMs just work with the client and let the developers develop? Nope!</p> <p>Some will argue that it’s not fair or wise to have team members interact directly with the client, in that it could put folks in a potentially uncomfortable situation. I would argue that those situations can be easily avoided, as long as everyone on the team has a clear view of project scope, budget and timeline.</p> <p>Speaking candidly on topics such as budget concerns and tight deadlines are not things that have to happen behind closed doors that only involve a project manager and the client lead. I’ve been in situations in previous companies where I was uncomfortably expected to say to clients, “Why don’t we take this offline and discuss in a one-on-one tomorrow?” There are still times when that may need to happen, but if possible, I try to have those conversations with everyone present. After all, we are one team and we should all be held accountable for the work we are performing as part of any given project.</p> <p>The point is this: be transparent, start clear conversations early on in the project process and make it an inclusive experience for everyone.</p> <h2>Collaborative Spirit + Transparency = An Empowered Team</h2> <p>What is the outcome from all of this openness and collaborative spirit? In one word: empowerment. A fully collaborative and transparent client-project team equals an empowered team. When we refer to the project team we mean everyone, including the core client stakeholders. We are all one group moving through the agile project process, iterating together from inception to launch and beyond!</p> <p>When teams are guarded or ‘protected’ from the client, it doesn’t foster an environment of empowerment. Everyone on the team should feel as though they can be decision makers and influencers.</p> <p>I trust in my team members to push back when it makes sense. If a new feature request comes in, I’m happy for a team member to jump in and call out scope creep or budget concerns. It’s better to have that conversation all together and in that moment rather than keep quiet only to have it blow up at a later date.</p> <h2>Take Aways</h2> <p>In the end, you have to do what works for you, your agency and especially the team. If the team only knows what they are meant to be working on week to week, they will not feel confident having those big picture conversations with the client. They won’t feel empowered to make decisions on the spot if need be and they certainly won’t be able to truly feel like they are engaged in a truly collaborative process with the client team.</p> <p>Here at Aten we do our best to bring in team members who are comfortable with this level of collaboration in mind. Ultimately, we find that an empowered team with a direct line of access to clients works best for coming in on time, on budget and in scope!</p></div> Thu, 04 Oct 2018 16:21:46 +0000 Andy Bell 2520 at Being Agile vs Doing Agile <span>Being Agile vs Doing Agile</span> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/17-08-16%20-%20Being%20Agile%20VS%20Doing%20Agile.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/17-08-16%20-%20Being%20Agile%20VS%20Doing%20Agile.png 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/17-08-16%20-%20Being%20Agile%20VS%20Doing%20Agile.png?itok=GOyaeeBU 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/17-08-16%20-%20Being%20Agile%20VS%20Doing%20Agile.png?itok=D_0iDwiV 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/17-08-16%20-%20Being%20Agile%20VS%20Doing%20Agile.png?itok=D_0iDwiV 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/17-08-16%20-%20Being%20Agile%20VS%20Doing%20Agile.png?itok=D_0iDwiV 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/17-08-16%20-%20Being%20Agile%20VS%20Doing%20Agile.png?itok=gBcohz1I 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/png"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/17-08-16%20-%20Being%20Agile%20VS%20Doing%20Agile.png?itok=gBcohz1I 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/png"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/17-08-16%20-%20Being%20Agile%20VS%20Doing%20Agile.png" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> <span><span lang="" about="/user/monica-quintana" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Monica Quintana</span></span> <span>Tue, 08/22/2017 - 10:09</span> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> <a href="/blog/category/education" class="tag" >Education</a> <a href="/blog/category/process" class="tag" >Process</a> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden t--body field__item"><p>Agile is gaining popularity with many agencies and large corporations as a means to become more efficient in the software development lifecycle and increase client satisfaction. Agile efficiency comes from reducing waste, mitigating risks early on, delivering working software quickly, and adapting to ever-changing requirements at the drop of a dime. It is easy to think that agile is the catch-all answer to many common pain-points that teams experience during the product delivery process, but it is only through proper implementation that organizations truly reap the benefit of the agile methodology. An organization can “do” agile or “be” agile. Understanding the difference between these two concepts will help define what organizations can do to implement agile into their practice.</p> <p>“Doing” agile is actively doing the practices and applying the practices without understanding the principles behind them. The rigidity of the “doing” approach is that the project team never knows when to tailor and adopt the best practices for their needs because they are focused only on the process and tools rather than the people and interactions which are encompassed in the spirit of agile. Strict planning and restrictive contracts are another shortcoming of the ‘doing’ agile mindset. Agile fosters the ability to move in any given direction at any given time in order to provide the utmost value as quickly as possible. In software projects, there can be many unknowns. Strict planning and restrictive contracts are counterintuitive to agile by impeding the collaborative efforts between the project team and client stakeholders. The conversations and interactions between product delivery teams and client help define the unknowns and prioritize the features by impact and value.</p> <p>On the other hand, ‘being’ agile is adopting the right principles and practices and applying them to accommodate changing situations and different clients. The four values of agile, as defined by the Agile Manifesto, focuses on people and interactions over processes and tools, working product over documentation, client collaboration over contract negotiations, and responding and adapting to change over following a plan. It is easy to get caught up in defined processes over empirical processes that are interactive, incremental, change often, and adapt. Despite looking like agile omits structure, it improves effectiveness and reliability by evaluating processes on a case-by-case basis and allowing the teams to take ownership; ownership increases accountability. Additionally, an environment that welcomes change also welcomes creativity and innovation where designers and developers can internalize the needs of the client’s digital product. All in all, adoption of empirical process leads to client satisfaction and superior development - all reasons why organizations switch to agile.</p> <p>Making the transition from ‘doing’ to ‘being’ requires an organization to perform, apply, understand, and internalize the principles and practices of agile over the command and control mindset of the past. If you’re looking for a place to start, become familiar with the Agile Manifesto which is the foundation for the agile methodology. There are 12 principles of agile defined by the Agile Manifesto that are the guiding practices in implementing and executing agile within their organizations. What’s important to remember is that you must be agile in your adoption of agile. Adopt the role of a servant leader to your teams. Embrace adapting and changing. In order to become agile, you must be agile.</p> <hr /> <p>Helpful links to start being agile:</p> <p><a href="">The Agile Manifesto (Agile Alliance)</a></p> <p><a href="">The 12 Principles of Agile</a></p></div> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:09:48 +0000 Monica Quintana 2461 at Project Overview: Limitless Libraries <span>Project Overview: Limitless Libraries</span> <figure> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/NPLLL_blog_post_1.jpg 1x" media="(min-width: 1860px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/NPLLL_blog_post_1.jpg 1x" media="(min-width: 1540px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_large/public/NPLLL_blog_post_1.jpg?itok=bKMGaLau 1x" media="(min-width: 1265px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/NPLLL_blog_post_1.jpg?itok=plNktlAc 1x" media="(min-width: 1024px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/NPLLL_blog_post_1.jpg?itok=plNktlAc 1x" media="(min-width: 768px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_medium/public/NPLLL_blog_post_1.jpg?itok=plNktlAc 1x" media="(min-width: 600px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/NPLLL_blog_post_1.jpg?itok=FDeikkq0 1x" media="(min-width: 500px)" type="image/jpeg"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_small/public/NPLLL_blog_post_1.jpg?itok=FDeikkq0 1x" media="(min-width: 0)" type="image/jpeg"/> <img src="/sites/default/files/NPLLL_blog_post_1.jpg" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </figure> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/sally-shaughnessy" lang="" about="/user/sally-shaughnessy" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Sally Shaughnessy</a></span> <span>Wed, 08/09/2017 - 14:54</span> <a href="/blog/category/digital-project-management" class="tag" >Digital Project Management</a> <a href="/blog/category/drupal-0" class="tag" >Drupal</a> <a href="/blog/category/drupal-8" class="tag" >Drupal 8</a> <a href="/blog/category/education" class="tag" >Education</a> <a href="/blog/category/site-launch" class="tag" >Site Launch</a> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden t--body field__item"><h2>Bridging the Gap Between School and City Libraries</h2> <p>Last week we helped Nashville Public Library (NPL) relaunch <a href=""></a>, the latest project in a multi-year collaboration between Aten and NPL.</p> <p>Limitless Libraries increases student access to materials by bringing together the NPL and Metro Public School system catalogs, enabling students to reserve, borrow or download from a single website. Together, we sought to enhance the user experience by reimagining the primary navigation, segmenting content based on grade level and improving catalog search capabilities. The upgraded navigation was topped off with a refreshed look and feel to more closely align with the NPL and Metro Nashville School system online ecosystems.</p> <p>Also worth noting, Nashville Public Library was recently crowned Library of the Year by the Library Journal, recognizing the “scope of its programs, services, and collections; the incredible reach of its efforts in cooperation with other public agencies, departments, and local businesses.”</p> <p>We're excited to launch Limitless Libraries right on time for returning students to have even greater access to library materials. We can't wait to see what comes next.</p></div> <a href="/about/sally-shaughnessy" hreflang="en">Sally Shaughnessy</a> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 20:54:40 +0000 Sally Shaughnessy 2459 at