Monthly Archives: March 2016

What Can Project Portfolios Do For You?

First off, what is a project portfolio? The video below answers this effectively. A project portfolio is just a collection of projects. It’s a “black box” filled with projects that relate to each other some way. You decide how they relate, or why they are bundled. Then you can work on the entire bundle.

The idea is that you can perform certain operations on an entire portfolio of projects rather than the individual projects themselves. Or course you can work with individual projects also. But portfolios give you a “black box” of projects that you can tinker with.

What can you do with portfolios? The video explains, but consider these possibilities.

  1. See resource allocation for an entire portfolio
  2. See revenue for a portfolio
  3. Run reports for a selected portfolio
  4. See historical time for a portfolio

HR Needs a Vacation Tracker

People always take vacation, get sick, have personal time off, etc. How can you track all that time? Standard Time® has it built in!

Employees earn new hours for each of these reasons. ST does it automatically on a regular basis. You just set the PTO accrual rules and it keeps going week after week, month after month. New hours are automatically added to employee banks periodically.

Of course, employees can request time off any time. You can allow them to overdraft a certain number of hours, which they will earn again in the future.

Blackout periods can be set up to discourage or block time off during critical work days. Just add a new date blackout date range, and users will see a popup message when they try to take time off. Usually this acts as a friendly reminder that all employees are needed during this critical time.

All the necessary tools for PTO accruals and time off are provided in the timesheet. This should save your organization dozens or man hours per month.

What is Your Effective Billing Rate?

Do you know how to calculate your effective billing rate? It’s pretty easy. Just divide your revenue by working hours. If you brought in $10,000 and worked worked 80 hours, your effective billing rate is $125.  Nice!

Scroll down for a video.

But if you brought in that same $10,000 but worked 80 hours on the project and 40 hours on secondary stuff, your effective billing rate is only $83. It’s that “secondary stuff” that kills you. We’re talking admin, email, Facebook, Twitter, hanging out, and goofing off. Of course, everyone has to goof off a little. We’re not machines. But still, it’s nice to know what we’re actually bringing in for every scheduled work hour.

The video below talks about finding your effective billing rate for a given time period, or for a certain project. That’s harder to do because you have to collect up all the revenue from time logs for that period, and divide that by scheduled hours. You probably need a good timesheet and project management app to do that.

Project Proposals Earn More Business

Attractive project proposals can help you get new business. It’s not all just about the bling, but yes, potential clients judge you by their first impressions. The promptness of your initial contact… the content of your first reply… the voice they hear on the phone… the proposal or quotation you send.

This video may prompt you to step up those initial client proposals a notch.

Standard Time® has projects  with a win/loss setting, and a percentage of likeliness you’ll get the deal. You can send multiple proposals for a single project. And, you can look into the future for a glimpse of your possible revenue. That’s some cool stuff.

Freelancer Discovers Time Tracking

Discovering something helpful is very satisfying. Your world opens up a little wider, and new possibilities suddenly appear. The feeling is exhilarating. The logjam is broken, and suddenly there are new answers you never considered before.

That is what’s happening in this cute fictional cartoon.

But why can’t it happen to you too? In fact, it can… and probably has happened on multiple occasions. Let this be one of them. Discover the Standard Time® time tracking app. You might be a freelance consultant with just a few clients now. But you could own a complete consultancy with engineers and technicians working for you. It all starts with a discovery that changes your way of thinking.

Consultants are using this time tracking solution every day. Large organizations of consultants and engineers enter their time daily. Organizations run on ST. Yours could too.

Project Mgrs like Task Linking

You can’t put a roof on new construction without a foundation and walls. The same is true with many projects. One task must be done before another. Some tasks are dependent upon the completion of others, and there is no way around it. Those task dependencies are called links. Watch this video below for some ideas.

Project managers like task links because they represent reality, as illustrated above. Sometimes tasks that are linked together like this surprise you because realize your “hot” project simply cannot be completed when you first thought. There are tasks that stretch out into the hazy future because of these dependencies.

That’s when you start thinking… there has got to be a way around this.

But that thought never even occurs to you until you see the linked tasks blowing up your sweet delivery date. Sure, you can add more resources, reduce the scope, accept additional costs, all in an effort to “draw in” the ship date. But the fact is, those task dependencies, and how they stretch our your project schedule are the problem. But at least you now see the issue.

Fixed Bid Contracts Rule the Universe

A lot of freelancers and consultants use fixed bid contracts. So much that they rule the consulting universe. (video below)

Your customers likes your work, but doesn’t quite trust the duration and cost of the project. They want assurances that the cost won’t exceed a limit they feel comfortable with. That’s natural. Once you establish a working relationship, the need for fixed bid contracts may go away. But until then, you agree to a single price for the project.

And once you have arrived at a the fixed price, you might ask for a starting payment. That discussion naturally leads to milestone payments. The conversation leads to something like this. “How about a quarter upon signing, and a quarter in the middle, and then one big payment of one-half at the end?” To which you reply, “How about one-third, one-third, and one-third.” “Done.”

This little video may inspire you to try milestone billing for yourself.

Manufacturing Runs on Standard Time

On the odd chance your manufacturing shop is not running Standard Time® we’re suggesting this video. It’s a cute little animated job that really only serves to inspire your thoughts along those lines. (scroll down for it) But hey, you’re already running ST anyway, right?

No? Then take a look.

There’s a module in ST that lets you scan manufacturing barcodes to measure time. Find out how much time each product takes, each product line takes, and how long employees are actually spending on manufacturing the actual parts.

Follow these steps to scan a part in your shop:

  1. Begin by scanning the employee name
  2. Scan the project name
  3. Scan the part or serial number
  4. The timer starts
  5. Perform your step in the manufacturing process while the timer runs
  6. Minutes or hours go by…
  7. Scan your employee name again
  8. Scan the word STOP
  9. The timer stops, and you now have one time log with the exact time this employee spent on this single part.

Collect a few hundred of these time logs and you have a valuable asset you can use in meetings, with clients, on invoices, or in post project analysis.

How huge is that?

Project Managers Track Time

All the modern project managers are using Standard Time®. None of this old-timey directors of organization and administration for them. Watch how they get straight to the project tasks and resource management. Tasks are linked and assigned to engineers. Resource allocation blowups are fixed. Employees have access to their tasks immediately, and time logs start rolling in. Windows desktops, web, Android, and iPhones are lighting up with a beehive of activity.

The managers now have actuals to compare with estimates. They are rearranging tasks, closing others, and consolidating. These project managers love the blending of employee timesheets with their PM tools.

This is how project managers got modern.

Tracking Time for IT Support

IT support is a beehive. It’s crazy fire-fighting day, everyday. You don’t have a minute to waste. Which is why you should consider spending some extra time tracking your hours.

What???  Spend more time on admin tasks? I don’t think so! (video below)

Consider this line of reasoning. A small amount of time finding out where your time is spent can be used as intel. Think of it as recon work. You sneak in with black tactical gear, snap a few pictures, and get out. Now you’re the hero at the strategic briefing. You’re the one standing up front with the laser pointer looking down on everybody. You’re not the idiot watching the MI-5 briefing; you’re the one conducting it. Your the one presenting your findings to others to consume.

And what did you find? You found that a slight change in daily schedule turns firefighting into routine maintenance. You found that some training courses for employees reduces help-desk calls. You found that you’re spending most of your time on secondary priorities with no strategic upside. Oops. Time for some change.

Now go back and track time for the new routine to find out if those changes really made a difference. Measure and improve.