Digital Skills Academy
Tools for Project Managers to Improve Productivity and Performance

Tools for Project Managers to Improve Productivity and Performance

There are more and more useful tools to help you improve the productivity and performance of your workers. We will mention a number of these in this article. As well as these tools there is also a growing movement around the value of ‘how’ a good project manager effectively manages. Learning how to be emotionally intelligent and mindful in how you work and manage your co-workers may well be just as productive, if not more so than merely using the latest tech tools. Companies as large and successful as Google, Facebook and Oracle have already realised and embraced the importance of smart managers as well as just smart management tools

Part 1 : The Tools

Slack

Slack is fun, visual, cool, colourful, and pretty quick and easy to set up and start using. Why would you use it? Well for anyone who starts receiving lots of daily emails, think upward of 50 to 200 or more. You will have probably already come to the conclusion that there needs to be something more effective than inefficiently trawling through your past emails to try and find what you’re looking for. Slack aims to more efficiently group relevant conversation threads, with the option to add relevant artefacts (images, screenshots, attachments etc). It’s an evolving product, free for smaller groups of users, and a paid service for larger projects, but it is definitely something worth considering. 

Trello

Trello is a workflow tool. It’s not the only one out there, and do research to see which one suits your needs first. If you’re working in an Agile environment (or not) it will help to map well to the project(s) you are working on. We have seen it used well as the backend to a major website design blog Sitepoint to track the progress of various articles. If your team are not always based in the same office, or even country then it can be a good way to see the progress of various projects without a long number of email threads developing.

A pen and paper to-do list (or use something like Evernote if that’s too extreme!)

!!! Yes, we know. Surely the antithesis of how to work in a modern, remotely distributed society. The thing is, a notepad with a written to do list is often actually surprising effective way of keeping on top of new things that come in. You can also redraft, reprioritise and review the relative priorities of each task on a daily or weekly basis. For those who feel this is too stone age then Evernote is a good product that offers you the digital equivalent of such note taking.

Analytics, know what data is being generated and review regularly

In whatever field you are project managing you will invariably be generating data. As the project manager you need to know what is being created, and to have some familiarity with it. Simply asking team members will not allow you to understand and analyse the data yourself. This is well worth spending some of your time on, and will help to reduce the likelihood of end of quarter or month surprises.

Part 2 : Be a Smart, Intelligent Manager

There are a number of studies and interesting new books coming out which suggest that the best project managers are those that engage most effectively with their employees and coworkers. Arianna Huffington said about the recent book ‘Working with Mindfulness

'Full of easy-to-use ways to bring the power of mindfulness into the workplace. If every business used this book, the world would be a much better place.’

Google, Facebook and many other big tech companies have become aware of the importance of having good work practices. There is a big hunt for good talent, once achieved, often at great expense and time, it makes sense to then aim to retain your star employees for as long as possible and to ensure they are happy. For this reason tech tools are not enough, you also need smart managers to apply intelligent insights to the performance and productivity of their team members.

Another recent book entitled 'Emotional Resilience' by Geetu Bharwaney also illustrates the importance of working ‘smart’ as well as just using smart technologies. We are in a rapidly evolving time, but there will still be premium placed on project managers who are emotionally intelligent. The ability to deal with the ongoing challenges and differences in the way that different people wish to work while also producing high quality work remains important.

Future proof your working strategies

Think about future proofing your organisation and your management tools. It is wise be open to remote working, and look to assess team members based on performance, quality, punctuality of deliverables, rather than solely time in the office, or office politicking. The future of work is an interesting and important subject. Brett King’s recent book 'Augmented' offers some really good predictions into what we might expected in the near to midterm future. By being aware of these topics you can be ahead of the curve. It’s not just about the apps and the tools, it’s also about being a smart and intelligent. Use the tools, but also use your empathy, emotional intelligence and awareness to get the best out of your team.