The Amazing Benefits Of A Project Management System

The Amazing Benefits Of A Project Management System

I am a great believer that even a small business owner should embrace project management techniques in order to organise themselves. In addition, utilising project management systems enables the business owner to focus more easily on the proactive steps needed to grow.  However, I do understand that for many business owners this is an alien concept. Hence, I thought it would be useful to highlight the top half-dozen benefits of using a good project management system?

 

1. Overall Accountability.

As each project is loaded into the system by the project manager – who may well be you or your Virtual Business Manager – assigns responsibility for completing each stage of the task. By assigning these responsibilities at the beginning of the project means that all those involved clearly understand their role in the success of the project and your wider business.

 

2. Sharing Resources.

With careful planning and strategic allocation, multiple team members can work on multiple projects simultaneously. Additionally, using the project management tool to divide time appropriately and set relevant deadlines ensures the task stays on track. It is also possible to allocate resources using the tool. Resulting in strategic utilisation of your cash, as you are only making purchases when necessary.

 

3. Reliability.

Time is money. Using a project management system you can reliably predict when the project will be complete. Moreover, it helps to calculate its value in terms of time or money.

 

4. Brainstorming.

You can look at a project management system as something of a mastermind group. Remember that your team of outsourcers are already skilled and knowledgeable and bring plenty of direct expertise to the table. When a number of people are invested in making sure that your project is a success this unleashes an element of brainstorming. Capturing different options and ideas can only seek to improve the overall project in the long run.

 

5. Direction.

The typical project is the sum of a number of complicated, moving parts and pieces. Without a centralised project management system, it’s likely that

  • something is missed,
  • somebody slips up or
  • something is misinterpreted or
  • simply there is confusion on how to proceed at a crucial moment in the project history.

Overall, therefore, the system provides direction and certainty for all involved.

 

6. Completion.

How many times has a project been started but never finished? Without adequate planning, oversight and supervision there is an ever-present danger. However, with adequate planning and allocation of responsibility, all team members know what their role is. They can see the deadlines and know that the project will be completed, on-time.

 

Why Are The Benefits Of Using A Project Management System Important?

Why do you need to consider implementing a project management system? Well, it is simple, to replace uncertainty, risk and threat of failure. As we all know from the recent COVID situation there are many potential hazards and stumbling blocks ahead in business. However, it is important to the success of your business that the lack of internal preparation isn’t one of them.

There are some very sophisticated cloud-based systems available today. Given that working from home could be the new norm and that outsourcing to virtual resources in on the increase, the adoption of a centralised project management system is a critical component if business success is your goal.

Lastly, we shouldn’t forget another potential advantage. By looking at the results of past projects, evaluating success and learning from mistakes, the entire team can learn valuable lessons. This can only help to improve future projects and strengthen the team dynamics going forward.

 

More Information

For more information on how small business owners can use project management tools in their business please read my other blogs

Why should small business owners use project management strategies

Which project management tool should I be using

The best project management tools for small businesses

 

 

How To Set Up Email Templates

How To Set Up Email Templates

Responding to every single email can be very time-consuming.  Especially if you have to deal with loads of emails every single day.  Copy-pasting responses from other emails could work,  however, this involves searching back and forth through your emails to get your previous responses.  Luckily, email providers have now added the email templates features to provide a simple efficient solution to this problem. Plus the good news is they are absolutely free!

 

Creating email templates allow you to:-

  • compose & reuse email messages,
  • create automated responses to similar emails, and
  • reduce the amount of time you would otherwise spend constructing every single email afresh.

Besides preparing templates for the body of the email, one can also:-

  • build a bank of other resources such as frequently asked questions (FAQs),
  • incorporate guides and videos into the email as responses to inquiries.

 

Here’s How To Create Email Templates In Gmail And Outlook.

Using The Email Templates Feature In Gmail 

Enable the Templates Feature

  1. Log into Gmail.
  2. Click the Settings Icon and select Settings.
  3. Select the Advanced tab.
  4. In the Templates section, select Enable.
  5. Scroll to the bottom and click Save Changes.

Create and Insert a Template

  1. Click Compose in Gmail.
  2. Enter the email content in the compose window.
  3. Click on the 3 dots at the bottom-right of the compose window to get More Options.
  4. Select Templates and choose whether to Insert Template, Save draft as template or Delete template. You can either save a draft as a new template or overwrite an existing template.
  5. Once you have inserted the template, customize the content and click Send.

Automate Templates

  1. In the search box at the top of your account, click the down arrow to your right.
  2. Enter your search criteria according to the email addresses, content, size, date, location or attachments.
  3. At the bottom, click Create filter.
  4. Gmail gives you a variety of options. You can select Send Template and choose the saved template you would like to automate from the dropdown box.
  5. Click Create filter.

 

 

Using The Email Templates Feature In Outlook

 Create an Email Template in Outlook

  1. Go to the Home tab, click New E-mail to compose a new email. You can also press CTRL+SHIFT+M.
  2. Compose the content for the email content.
  3. In the message window, click on the File tab, and select Save As.
  4. In the Save As dialog box, enter the name of your file, choose Outlook Template as the Save as type and click Save.
  5. Your email template will be saved in a default location, but you are free to change the location before clicking Save.

Insert and Send an Email Template

  1. Go to the Home tab, in the New Items drop-down menu, select More Items then Choose Form.
  2. In the Choose Form dialog box, under the Look In drop-down box, select User Templates in File System.
  3. Select your template in the default templates folder opened or click Browse to select templates saved in a different folder, then click Open.
  4. Customise the email and click send.

 

How To Make It Even Easier

You can get a virtual business manager/virtual assistant to set up your email templates for different responses to inquiries, FAQs, thank you messages, marketing among other frequent and repetitive emails in your business. This will save you lots of time and efficiently minimize the time you spend in your inbox.

7 Top Tips For Effective Email Management

7 Top Tips For Effective Email Management

According to Statista, it has been estimated that a whopping 306.4 billion emails will be sent in 2020. This considered email management has become a necessary skill for effective time management. There is a need to slice down the amount of time spent replying, sorting, deleting and searching through emails. Below are my 7 top tips for effective email management:

1. Handle Your Emails Once a Day

Responding to emails can easily become your full-time job, as you receive higher email traffic daily with the growth of your business. It is, therefore, important to schedule a time slot for responding to your emails, just like all the other activities in your business operations. Emails are simply meant to facilitate communication. They should not interrupt your entire business schedule.

It is important to stick to the time slot allocated. Respond to what you can within that period and continue on the next day if time runs out. Generally, it is necessary to limit the time you spend in your inbox by:-

  • sending short and brief responses,
  • taking the necessary action on the email promptly and
  • setting it aside as fast as you can.

If you have concerns about not immediately responding to emails then simply set up an out of office explaining when you will be reviewing emails and set an expectation on when you will be responding.

 

2. Prioritise Your Mail

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of outputs come from 20% of inputs. Applied to emails, this means that only 20% of the emails you receive will be relevant to the running and growth of your business.  Therefore, you should prioritize which emails are the most crucial and respond to them with more urgency than the remaining 80%.

It’s good to note that you don’t have to read or respond to all your emails.

Read the ones that are relevant to you and defer the remaining emails to archives or folders to be accessed for information whenever you need them. Only respond to emails if you find that it’s necessary, and the benefits outweigh the cost.

 

3. Categorise Your Emails

To manage a high number of emails, it is crucial to categorise them into different folders or labels. You can simply sort and name your folders according to the relevance, priority or content. For instance, you can create separate folders for your feedback emails, account emails, and urgent investor emails. Segregating your emails means you will spend less time taking action on them or searching through your mail.

Filters are integrated tools in your email account that will assist you in automatically sorting out and archiving your incoming emails into different categories. You can set your filter to look for particular words or email addresses and dictate the action taken on them. An organised email is the most efficient way to spend less time in your inbox.

 

4. Apply the 2-Minute Rule:

The next top tip for effective email management is the 2-minuter rule. This rule for email management requires that if responding to the email takes less than 2 minutes, then do so immediately and archive it. Do not postpone it to a later date. This will help you to clear batches of emails in a shorter time.

If an email takes a longer time to respond to, then you might need to archive them to a folder with a ‘Reply By’ date. This is essential in making sure that you do not overlook any important emails, but at the same time manage the time you spend on your email.

 

5. Use Email Templates

Are you tired of typing a new response for every client inquiry?

Email templates come in handy for faster response to similar emails. For instance, all your responses to FAQ inquiries from your clients probably have the same format. Therefore, you can develop templates for responding to such emails. Then, integrate them into your email account, which allows you to spend less time than you normally would typing each response from scratch.

Gmail, for instance, allows you to turn frequent messages into templates in the advanced settings. You can then either insert the templates as you compose the messages or simply use them to create automatic replies with the filters feature.

Learn how to set up Email Templates HERE

 

6. Unsubscribe from Irrelevant Mail

We sign up for different subscriptions that over time become irrelevant to us. If it’s a subscription for content that you can easily lookup on the internet, then unsubscribe from it. Similarly, if you constantly find yourself deleting emails from a given subscription, it might be time to unsubscribe.

 

7. Hire A Virtual Business Manager

Time is money, and as your mailing list grows, it might get harder to keep track of everything without compromising your time. Hiring a virtual business manager to take responsibility for your emails will enable you to focus on your business. A virtual business manager can

  • optimise your account,
  • set automatic responses,
  • create filters for different emails,
  • sort your emails into different categories and
  • prioritise your emails so that you only need to read and respond to what’s relevant.

To find out more book a no-obligation consultation today to find out more

Smash Your Business Goals By Using Project Management Tool

Smash Your Business Goals By Using Project Management Tool

Starting and running a small business is a painstaking process. Finally, after putting in all the hard work, your business catches on and is steadily growing. You’re happy with the progress, but feel worn out by all the additional work. If you’re wondering if there are any solutions out there that can make everything more manageable, well, you’re right! Project management tools may provide you with the perfect solution.

There are several tools available to make the growth easier, without any significant additional costs of hiring an extra management/admin team. Let’s discuss the top solutions that are available for effectively managing your small growing business:

Types of Project Management Tools

Planning, Scheduling And Budgeting Tools:

From to-do lists to scheduling, cost management tools and resource allocation tools, it has never been easier to keep track of your activities, appointments, time and finances.

Most project management and time management tools allow you to

  • create a project,
  • break it down into smaller tasks,
  • schedule each task with timings and deadlines,
  • allocate resources and finances to each task, and
  • assign tasks to different individuals.

Associating each task with its time and costs makes it easy to not only track the general progress and costs of the project. Also to identify and locate which specific tasks are causing time and cost overruns. This makes it easier to react and streamline your processes.

Calendar integration similarly allows you to harmonise your business appointments with your personal calendar.

 

Communication Tools:

These project management tools will ease your communication by effectively integrating all your communication channels within one platform. You can now initiate and track conversations on emails, video calls, conference calls, voice calls, team messaging all within minutes. The social media integration features allow for the sharing of content to all your social media platforms.

Additional features such as screen sharing are also available, allowing your virtual assistant and other members of your team to conveniently view an operate your computer screen with no limitations as to the convenience of physical location. Most project management tools also allow for feedback and comments on the designated projects. With all these in place, you no longer have to scroll back and forth between different communication apps wondering where that last important communication was sent.

 

Collaborative Teamwork Tools:

Project collaboration is an essential feature that allows all the members of your team to work and contribute to a single project concurrently. Creating project activities and allocating to different groups allows you to efficiently manage and track the productivity and input of every member of your team, as well as improving the synchronization of processes.

A bonus feature for such tools if often file sharing and management, which allows for the uploading of all relevant files to a central platform allowing access to all authorized individuals, and allowing each individual to download or edit the files when needed.

 

Reporting and Analytics Tools:

Various project management tools allow for the analysis and automatic generation of reports for the visualisation of the progress of activities on graphs, Gantt Charts, pie charts, tables, and other templates.

Analytic tools further analyze data and generate trends, identify opportunities for improvement, carry out predictive analytics and web analytics among other processes.

 

Summing Up…

With the growth of technology and innovation, there is a tool for almost any challenge you may be experiencing in your business. Selecting a tool that simultaneously integrates most of your business processes in one simple platform will efficiently reduce your workload.

As for the paradox of choice, hiring and consulting a virtual assistant to assess your business, suggest the best management and workflow tools, integrate the needed features and apps, tailor and automate the systems of that tool to fit your business, may save you tons of time, energy and costs.

If you need more information on Project Management Tools check out this blog —>> HERE

The Best Project Management Tools For A Small Business Owner?

The Best Project Management Tools For A Small Business Owner?

The importance of online Project Management Tools for small business owners cannot be overlooked. Neither can the significance of using an appropriate project management tool.

With the invention of new technologies allowing for the real-time tracking and monitoring of operations, online project management tools have grown in popularity for small businesses.

Please see my Blog Why Small Business Owners Should Apply Project Management Strategies. 

A good project management software should enable the business owner to carry out functions such as:-

  • planning,
  • organising,
  • coordinating,
  • monitoring and
  • control

It should offer user-friendly ways to break down the scope into tasks. Plus allow the user to monitor the progress of the business with respect to cost and time. The multi-user, real-time communication that many tools offer is a major plus, allowing collaborative among members of staff and departments.

With all that in mind, here is a list of our favourite online project management tools for small business owners:

Trello – www.trello.com

Trello tops my list because of the many features you can get absolutely free. This is an online planning website that allows you to:-

  • create a board for any project,
  • add in your team,
  • break down the scope into detailed tasks,
  • track the progress of each activity,
  • post comments & feedback on each activity and
  • automate repetitive tasks.

The free version is unlimited in time, the number of personal boards, cards, and lists and offers up to ten team boards.

If more boards are required the upgrading to Business Class for $9.99 or Enterprise for $20.83 per user per month allows for:-

  • unlimited team boards
  • more users,
  • larger file attachments,
  • app integrations and
  • better administrative & security features – among other benefits.

Asana – www.asana.com

Asana comes in second and has features quite similar to Trello. Its user-friendly interface allows for:-

  • planning,
  • structuring,
  • prioritisation,
  • visualisation and
  • tracking the progress of tasks.

It also offers effective communication and collaborative teamwork for businesses.

The Basic plan is free, allowing for up to 15 users. Upgrades to Premium and Enterprise go from $10.99 and $24.99 per user per month respectively. Additional benefits of upgrading include:-

  • advanced reporting,
  • more app integrations and
  • data export options

Wrike – www.wrike.com

Next up is Wrike which is also an amazing project management tool, offering:-

  • online management of workflows through simplified planning,
  • scheduling using Gantt charts,
  • resource and task allocation,
  • centralised communication,
  • app integrations,
  • real-time reporting, and
  • interactive dashboards.

The free version is for small teams of up to 5 users. Upgrading pricing is calculated per user per month. The Professional plan handling up to 15 users is $9.80, the Business plan handling up to 200 users is $24.80, and the Enterprise plan accommodating an unlimited number of users at a tailored price.

Additionally, it also has premium add-on features which include resource management, advanced reports & business analytics, publishing and encryption among others.

Teamwork Projects –  www.teamwork.com

Teamwork Projects made it to the list because of its additional features beyond task and workflow management. Perhaps not as popular as the other three, it allows for:-

  • the creation of tasks and activities,
  • scheduling of timelines and milestones in Gantt charts,
  • risk prioritisation & management,
  • billing,
  • cost management,
  • progress report generation,
  • proper file management using notebooks,
  • collaborative teamwork and
  • app integration among other amazing features.

Moreover, they have a Free Forever option that allows up to 5 users, but with a limited file space of 100MBs, up to 2 active projects and limited app integration. The Pro and the Premium plans cost $9 and $15 per user per month and allow for more storage space, more users and more app integrations. The Enterprise plan is priced according to your needs.

Conclusion

As a small business, any of the above online project management tools will go a long way in making your business more efficient and productive.

If you are just starting out, the collaborative teamwork features will allow you to include your virtual business manager (www.bravapro.com) as part of your team. In fact, your business manager could help you set up the system and automated processes for workflow. Therefore leaving you to focus on the more critical tasks.

So, try them out, select your favourite, and get started!

Why Small Business Owners Should Apply Project Management Strategies

Why Small Business Owners Should Apply Project Management Strategies

So, why should you apply project management strategies to your small business?

Introduction

A project is essentially an undertaking with a defined budget and time frame. Projects range from major operations with many  intertwined activities, to simpler smaller projects with fewer activities and limited resources. By this definition, a small business can be described as a project.  As such, it necessitates the application of project management strategies to achieve its objectives i.e to be commercially viable.  By utilising project management strategies small business owners are able to maximise their resources  and optimise their business processes.

It is important to recognise that project management is not restricted to larger businesses. With a few modifications, project management concepts are applicable to every kind of project.

Below are some of the reasons why you should apply project management strategies in your small business:

Scope Management

This aspect of project management is crucial to the handling, managing and prioritising of activities.. Scope management involves breaking business processes down into smaller, more manageable ‘chunks’. Business owners then ensure that no task is overlooked, by analysing each element of the project and defining each smaller activity or workflow in advance.

Time Management

Time is an important factor in every task and project. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the numerous daily business tasks, resulting in missed deadlines.

Time management tools and skills are, therefore, very handy to help with:-

  • scheduling of tasks according to priority & durations,
  • managing deadlines,
  • co-ordinating meetings & appointments,
  • tracking the progress of operations,
  • and measuring the earned value of every activity.

Moreover, time management tools help with the allocation of resources by regulating the duration of each activity and hence preventing time overruns.

Cost Management

For all businesses (big or small) maximising profits is the number one key consideration. As such, preparing and monitoring the actual expenses against the budgeted costs of the business is key. Doing this ensures that profits are increased and the value for money is upheld.

Stakeholder Management

Small business owners can satisfy stakeholder requirements by applying this aspect of project management. Capturing the expectations of each stakeholder at the point of business inception is critical. As it allows the business owner to measure these expectations against baselines expectations throughout the life of the business.

Process Management

Process management can help in streamlining all the operations within the business. Moreover, it offers an additional value-add to the product and services offered.

It, therefore, makes sound commercial sense for small business owners to hire a virtual assistant to look into your business processes and activities – after all, it is their area of expertise. Experienced Virtual Assistants are able to identify the loopholes and inefficiencies within the business. As well as set up systems and automate processes that increase the efficiency and productivity of your business.

Why You Should Apply Project Management Strategies To Your Small Business?

In conclusion, project management is fundamental to the success of small businesses. It ensures that a business not only achieves its goals but also that the, often limited,  resources of many small businesses are put to the best possible use.

Additionally, project management strategies should be applied right from the point of business inception, and throughout the life of the business, to ensure that both the business objectives and the stakeholders’ expectations are met.

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