I had the privilege of speaking the Mid-America Project Management Institute’s 2009 Professional Development Days conference this week. Both sessions were great with good questions and active participation. My presentation was titled, “Project Management Tools in the Digital Age” and highlighted web-based, simple, and valuable tools that can be used in any type of company size and industry. We use many of these tools in our day-to-day business to manage our projects, teams and our selves.
It is important to remember that a tool should help you facilitate your work…NOT add more work to your day. You need to understand your work flow and identify where you need help prior to tool selection. Tools should help you create, build, and develop projects; lead, direct and advise your teams/sponsors/clients; assess, measure, and analyze your progress, and most important, be simple to use.
Project Management Tools
Basecamp – We use this tool to manage our virtual workforce teams and to easily communicate with our clients. We are able to set milestones, assign to-do tasks according to milestones, upload files, and communicate through the forums.You can build templates and customize the tool to match your brand. This tool eliminates our dependency on email and allows 24X7 access to project status.
Smartsheet – This tool was recommended by a colleague. For you spreadsheet lovers out there this tool may be the one for you. In addition to basic project management capabilities, you can produce summary reports and access the tool from your phone through their mobile application. A very interesting aspect to Smartsheet is their on-demand workforce. If you need resources to help with simple tasks (primarily research oriented tasks) they have a virtual workforce to help you (for an hourly rate of course).
@Task – This is an enterprise level tool and can be integrated with a variety of applications such as Oracle, Peoplesoft and Salesforce.com. This tool has very impressive reporting capabilities that can support the most detailed of managers and the highest level of executives. If you have large and complex programs this tool may be the one for you.
Team Management Tools
Echosign – I have to say this is my favorite tool lately. Echosign allows you to improve your sales contract cycle time from weeks to hours by allowing online signatures that are in compliance with the ESIGN act making the online signature as powerful as a hand-written one. Red-lining is supported as well as multiple signatures/initials throughout the document. The client/contractor you are requesting to sign does not need to have signed-up for the application and can provide their signature in a matter of seconds. We have had 15 contracts signed in the last month and have yet had anyone experience any issues or confusion…in fact a few of our clients are now using this tool for their business.
Freshbooks – Contractors love this tool so we love it too! Freshbooks make invoicing super easy and helps you keep track of what is paid vs. outstanding. Reporting is included and the open API supports integration with Quickbooks and Basecamp. If you are looking to improve your billing cycle time then we suggest you take a look at Freshbooks.
Dropbox – A backup server that finally doesn’t require you to load the document twice. This application synchronizes with your hard drive automatically! You get 2G of storage free and automatic notification when any file is loaded or changed. A tool that helps you with your current workload, doesn’t require extra work and is so easy grandma can use it.
Self Management Tools
Skype – Yes, many of us online types have been using Skype for awhile but for those new to the “geek” scene this tool is a nice surprise. This VoIP application allows unlimited free domestic calling, video calling and instant messaging with other Skype users. You can also quickly upload files and send resource links during conference calls. The tool integrates with a multitude of address books and allows calls internationally and to non-Skype users for a premium charge.
Remember the Milk – Built with the “Getting Things Done” philosophy this is a great tool to manage all aspects of your life …personal, school and work. They have a variety of mobile app’s to support an on-the-go lifestyle and include map integration that can track where you are to notify you when you are in the vicinity of getting a to-do done. I personally like the tag cloud capability to help me see where my time is being spent and to highlight where I can get two birds with one stone.
Google – The mother of all tools. In addition to gmail, calendar, and google docs we also use google groups, google voice and google reader to help simplify our daily responsibilities. Yes, you do sometimes have a glitch here and there but the flexibility, accessibility and simplicity outweigh any of the bumps you may experience from time to time. What makes us the most excited?? Google Wave invitations go out to a lucky 100,000 on September 30th and we can’t wait to see what new opportunities arise post-launch.
Lisa Qualls, LightThread’s Chief Development Officer, to Speak at Leading Professional Development Conference
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / PRURGENT
Kansas City, MO – September 15, 2009. Lisa Qualls, co-founder and chief development officer for Lightthread, LLC, a Kansas City Crossroads-area social media, business strategy and application development company, will be a featured speaker for Professional Development Days 2009, the annual project management conference sponsored by the Mid-America chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI). The conference will be held September 21-22 at the Overland Park Convention Center. For more details please consult http://kcpmichapter.org/pdd.php. Ms. Qualls presentation, “Project Management Tools for the Digital Age,” will provide an overview of software-as-a-service applications that can be leveraged to improve productivity, team management and reduce the cost of managing large scale programs.
“The project manager role is significant and complex at times. A PM is the leader, task master, communicator, risk manager, quality auditor, process coordinator and has budget responsibility. Considering their multitude of duties, it is easy to understand why many are unaware of new solutions that exist to simplify and further improve their management of day-to-day activities,” Ms. Qualls said.
With over 240 thousand members worldwide, the Project Management Institute is the premier, non-profit professional organization for project management, responsible for establishing standards, providing seminars, educational programs and professional certification in the field. The Mid-America chapter of PMI was chartered in 1993 and today has more than 1300 members.
Mitch Holthus, the “voice of the Kansas City Chiefs” will emcee the conference with a keynote speech by Jason Dorsey, recognized as “The Gen Y Guy.”
About LightThread, LLC, established in 2008, is a next generation strategy, interactive services and intellectual venture capital firm specializing in optimizing business performance and brand. Through the use of strategy, social media, technology and integrated marketing development, LightThread assists businesses in reaching the next level. For more information about LightThread, LLC please visit: http://www.lightthread.com
Contact: Lisa Qualls (816) 298-9913. email: email@example.com