[reality TV] The Project Managers of New York City

In the first episode of the Project Managers of NYC Bob and me will meet the team of InTech, a web development company, and investigate the reasons that cause them to struggle with their projects.



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Game Changer Tip – Buffers

Sometimes a small piece of advice can be a game changer.
I’ve experienced this in the past when I received a tip from someone which helped me to take my project to the next level by fixing a business issue that I’ve been struggling with.


I would like to share a game changing tip with you that can help you complete projects on time.

Projects are often late. It is a well known issue that in many cases is accepted as something that we just need to live with.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Projects can be completed on time if planned correctly.

So the game changer tip I’d like to share with you today is: Buffers.

A buffer is extra time that you add to the project’s schedule to take into account unexpected changes that might cause project delays.
We recommend using global buffers that are added to the schedule at different points, usually before milestone due dates.

Now how do you calculate the amount of time to add for a buffer, you ask? To come up with that figure, you should take the risk factors for each task into consideration. Think about what could go wrong and how much additional time it would take to deal with those potential problems. Once you have estimated a buffer time for each individual task, add them up to get the amount of time needed to create one large buffer at the end of the project.

Elementool can help you complete projects on time using the combination of Elementool’s project management software and our Project Management Formula education program.

I wish you a Happy New Year and hope that next year will be prosperous for you and your family!

And to make your New Year extra special, I would like to offer you the Project Management Formula for free if you sign up and purchase Elementool. This special offer will expire on December 31st, 2013, so you better hurry!

To sign up, please click on the button below.

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How to Create Accurate Project Schedule

Hi, I’m Allison and I have a great tip to share with you on how you can improve your project scheduling. We all know how easy it is for projects to get delayed because, more often than not, tasks take longer to complete than initially expected.



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Any number of issues could cause this problem, whether it’s bugs, underestimating how long a task will take, someone on the team got sick, or other unexpected delays. The result is that your project is late – and that isn’t good. Fortunately I have a very useful tip for making your project schedules more accurate and preventing your projects from being late: using buffers.

In the world of project scheduling, there are two types of buffers, the individual buffer and the global buffer. The individual buffer is the one you add at the end of each activity in your schedule, whereas the global buffer is the one you add at the very end of your activity chain.

At Elementool, we usually advise against using the individual buffer because people have a habit of just spending more time – even when they don’t need it – working on a task if they know that they have a buffer to give them extra time at the end of it. As Parkinson’s Law states, work tends to expand to fill the space of the time available for its completion. And that would pretty much defeat the purpose of having a buffer in the first place, wouldn’t it?

Global buffers, on the other hand, can be extremely helpful in improving you project schedule. Because it encompasses the entire project, your global buffer will be a much lengthier amount of time added to the end of your project than an individual buffer would be. And by adding this schedule contingency at the global level, you can ensure it won’t be wasted at the activity level. The project manager will need to monitor this global buffer, while making sure that the individual task estimates still remain achievable.

Now how do you calculate the amount of time to add for a buffer, you ask? To come up with that figure, you should take the risk factors for each task into consideration. Think about what could go wrong and how much additional time it would take to deal with those potential problems. Once you have estimated a buffer time for each individual task, add them up to get the amount of time needed to create one large buffer at the end of the project.

You’ll find that by adding a global buffer, you can significantly improve the overall accuracy of your project schedule, allowing you to complete your project by the expected deadline without a lot of unnecessary last-minute rushing to get everything done in time.

This is just one small tip that can help you create more accurate project schedules.

We explain how to do that in more detail in our book “The Project Management Formula – The 5 Steps to Complete Your Project on Time”, written by Elementool’s Founder & CEO Mr. Yaron Sinai.

The book is a result of years of project management experience and in-depth research. It will explain the different steps of project management and show you the five simple steps for running successful project management process from start to finish.
Get the book for free right now by simply clicking on the button below and I will send it to you by mail.

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File Attachment and Form Customization

In this clip I would like to introduce two new updates that we’ve added to the new Issue Form and also talk about an important topic – Backup.




The first update brings some cool new options to the file attachment feature.
When attaching files, you can now see the files you just uploaded before submitting them to the system.
This way you can make sure that you attached the correct files. For example, when attaching a screenshot, you want to make sure you uploaded a screen image and not an embarrassing picture from your last vacation.
If you change your mind about the file, you can easily delete it by clicking on the delete button. All done before updating the issue.

By the way, did you know that you can increase the file attachment size limit from 1MB to 50MB by adding File Sharing to your account?
Adding File Sharing is easy. Simply go to Control Panel (only administrators have access to the control panel).
Click on Edit Accounts.
Go To Manage Account List and add File Sharing Premium to your account.
Click on Update when done.

The second update is in the form’s customization option.
We received feedback from clients asking us to bring back the option to display short fields in three columns in the main section of the form as used to be done on the old issue form.
So we did. Now you can have three columns of short fields right at the center of the form, giving you additional customization flexibility.
You can add fields to this section by simply dragging and dropping them into the field containers.
So easy!

Lastly, I’d like to talk about an important subject – Backup.
As you may know, our privacy policy dictates that when you delete information from your account, it’s being deleted immediately and permanently from the website.
This means that if you trash issues, remove a field from the form, delete users from the account, and so on, these changes are permanent.
Sometimes we receive calls from clients asking us to restore data that they deleted by accident. For example, a few weeks ago a client deleted one of the fields on her issue form and called to ask us to restore the field.
Well, unfortunately we can’t do that because in order for us to protect your privacy, data cannot be restored once deleted.

But there is a solution for this.
Elementool enables you to download a self backup file with all the information from your account. You can download your backup file at any time. And we recommend that you do that at least once a week. This way, if something has been deleted by mistake, it can be restored from the backup file.
To download a backup of your account, please follow these steps:
Click on Control Panel.
Click on Edit Accounts.
Click on Download Database.
Select the account you wish to backup and click on Download.
Elementool will send you a link to the backup file.
There, all done! Now just make sure to do these backups regularly so you don’t lose anything important.

In a few weeks I’ll send you another update about the new search feature that we’ve been working on.

Stay tuned!

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A Day in a Project Manager’s Life

Being a project manager is really a pretty tough job. Every day is stressful because there’s a ton of responsibility on your shoulders when you’re in charge. And no matter how good the work is, people always remember that one little thing in the project that didn’t go right. It’s like they don’t even notice the thousand things that DID work perfectly!

When you manage a team of people like I do, there are hundreds of tasks that have to be completed for each project, and, honestly, it’s impossible to keep track of them all. I’m constantly running around, chasing people down, trying to make sure they’re all working on the right tasks. It’s extremely stressful. I feel like I spend half my day saying “What are you working on?” to everyone in sight.

And you wouldn’t believe how many times when I do ask someone what they’re working on, I find out that they’re putting all their time into a low priority task – which just wastes valuable time and leads to more delays in the project. It’s frustrating. Sometimes I feel like I need to do everything myself. That’s exactly why I have to make sure I’m checking up on the team all the time. I’d really prefer not to do it, because it’s time-consuming for me and aggravating for them, especially since it interrupts their work.
I have to admit that sometimes I feel lost. It’s hard to keep track of so many tasks. I have times where I don’t really know who’s working on what. That can keep me up at night. Especially when we are close to a deadline.

Next to “What are you working on?” the second question I catch myself asking people most is “When will it be done?” I have to run a super tight schedule, and I need to know whether or not the project is actually going according to plan. I’m constantly fielding phone calls and emails from clients wondering when the latest feature that they asked for will be ready. You’ve probably heard this phrase so many times from your clients: “I need an ETA”, so for me to keep them up-to-date, I always have to be on top of the progress of the project. And if it’s not running on schedule, then I need to have enough time to make changes to the project. There’s no question, project managing is a high-stress job.

But fortunately I finally got all that stress to go away when I discovered Elementool’s Priority List feature. It gives me laser focused control over the projects and my team.
I can define a unique priority level to each issue. That way I can make sure that people know exactly what to work on at any moment of the day. So I don’t have to worry anymore that they’re wasting time doing things they’re not supposed to.

Sometimes an urgent issue comes in and that means making changes to the project plan and having people stop what they’re doing to move on to the new task. The Priority List allows me to makes those updates in just a few seconds on the team’s work plan.

I can also see at any given moment the progress of the tasks that each team member is working on, and the date that they’ll be completed. In fact, you can wake me up in the middle of the night and I’ll be able to tell you who’s working on what. It’s really brought back the feeling that I’m in control. Now I feel more confident that I can finish my projects on time. When I go home at the end of the day my mind is free and I can play with my little girl and not worry about work.

I just love it! Thank you Elementool!

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A Day in a Programmer’s Life

As a programmer, I’m constantly juggling a million tasks. Well, not exactly a million, but it really feels like that sometimes. And even while I’m juggling all of the tasks that I have to do, things are often changing during the day when new tasks are created and have to be added.


That means that prioritization is really important for me. But the problem is that I frequently have multiple tasks in the same priority category that need to be dealt with. For instance, there are times when I might have as many as nine or 10 High priority tasks to work on. Often, it seems like everything is the most important thing to do – so I end up with a whole lot of Very Important Things To Do and I don’t know which one to start with! It gets pretty confusing. And when I don’t have anyone to ask for help, sometimes I have to make an educated guess at which one to start with.

That doesn’t always work out so well. The other day, I made the wrong choice and my team leader was angry that I didn’t finish the right tasks. I was upset the whole day. I felt guilty for wasting everyone’s time, but I really was trying to do the right thing. It completely stresses me out and makes me even more nervous each time I have to pick a new task to work on. A lot of the time I just end up multitasking, going back and forth between different items since they all seem important. Unfortunately, the reality is that multitasking is very unproductive and it ends up taking much longer for me to get anything accomplished at all that way.

Fortunately Elementool has become a huge help for me and my team members when we’re dealing with this situation. It has a feature called ‘Priority List’ that makes it simple to sort same-priority level tasks in the ideal order for them to be completed. The Priority List makes it possible to define that order by just assigning a priority level value to each issue. So Priority Value 1 means that the issue should be finished first, Priority Value 2 means that it should be completed second … you get the idea. Each issue has its own unique priority level value, which is set by our team leader, so it’s impossible to have two issues with the same priority level. And that takes the burden off MY shoulders because I don’t have to guess anymore what I should work on.

Now all I have to do is look at the Priority List to see exactly what I need to be working on at any moment of the day.

There’s no more confusion now because I don’t have to do all that guesswork. And my stress has gone WAY down since I know that I’m always doing things according to plan. Overall, it just makes my life much, much easier. Instead of juggling multiple tasks or worrying that I’m not even working on the right task, I can simply focus on the details of the task at hand and concentrate on doing my job well. Even my boyfriend told me that I seem a lot more relaxed when I come back home from work. Now I finally feel like I’m doing the right thing every minute of the day.

Thank you Elementool!

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The New Issue Form

Hi, it’s Allison here, and I have a brand new form to tell you about. As you may know, the Issue Form is the main form that is used with the Issue Tracking and Help Desk tools to submit new issues and to update existing ones.



The current form was designed when Elementool was originally founded, in 2000.
Back then, the web technology was simple and quite limited compared to what we can do today. People were using much smaller computer monitors back then, too, so there was limited screen space to display the form.

Over the years, we have updated the form several times with great new features, but we kept the original design. However, as much as we love it, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s finally time to retire this form because we want to introduce more advanced technology.

The truth is, we are still a little bit limited with the level of technology that we can use since most of our clients come from the corporate world, where there is a slower technology adoption rate than with the average tech-savvy geek. In fact, 27% of our users still use the old Internet Explorer 8. Nonetheless, the advanced technology we’re now using is definitely going to provide you with a better, more efficient user experience.

So without further ado, I want to introduce you to the new Issue Form. The main advantage of this new form is the improved structure and layout, which makes it possible for you to do things faster with less effort.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say that I want to update the status of an issue. With the old form, I had to scroll down to the status field, update the status, and then scroll back to click on the Update button.

But with the new form, I can update the status field and click on the Update button above it without any scrolling. See how fast that is?? That’s just one of several advantages of new and improved form.

If you’re ready to switch to the new form – and you’ll be glad you did – just follow these steps:

Login as an administrator.
Click on Control Panel.
Click on Edit Issue Form.
Click on Edit Fields.
And then click on the Switch to New Form link.

There, now you can start using the new form. Enjoy!

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How to Handle Stressful Situations

One beautiful summer day, I was minding my own business, enjoying a delicious lunch in Central Park,
when suddenly an urgent message came in on my super-phone – there were people in trouble! Using my ultra high speed texting skills, I quickly found out what was wrong.


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At an office across town, a group of developers were under attack. Software bugs had overrun them and were mercilessly attacking their projects! The developers couldn’t handle the pressure and the bugs were getting worse and worse.
So I leapt into action!

I quickly arrived on the scene of the disaster and began kicking bugs! I took on one software bug at a time, smashed it, and moved on to the next. Soon the team was bug free and relieved to finally have everything under control.
The team of developers thanked me for helping them with their software bug infestation and asked how they could repay me. I told them that the best reward was for them to learn how to battle bugs on their own.

Then I explained to them that when you’re under pressure due to a crisis, with many things happening all at once, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and lose control. But the secret is to just focus on one problem at a time. You have to ignore the rest while you deal with the problem at hand. Then, once it’s solved, you can move on to the next problem, and so on – until everything is finally resolved. And that’s my super effective advice for managing stressful situations.

We explain how to do that in more detail in our book “The Project Management Formula – The 5 Steps to Complete Your Project on Time”, written by Elementool’s Founder & CEO Mr. Yaron Sinai.

The book is a result of years of project management experience and in-depth research. It will explain the different steps of project management and show you the five simple steps for running successful project management process from start to finish.

Get the book for free right now by simply clicking on the button below and I will send it to you by mail.

Sign Up

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The 2 Most Common Questions Managers Ask Their Team Members

Hi, it’s Allison here again.

Today I want to talk to you about the 2 most common questions project managers ask their team members and how these questions can be answered by Elementool.


The first question is:
• What are you working on?
Each project includes many tasks. And when you have a team of even a few people, you can have a few dozens issues assigned to them.
Project managers find it hard sometimes to know which tasks are currently under development, and in order for them to track the progress of the project, they need to frequently ask their team members what tasks they are currently work on.
You probably know how time consuming this can be, both for the project leader and the team.

The second question is:
• When will it be completed?
Project managers run a tight schedule. They want to be able to know if the project is progressing according to plan, and if not, they want to have enough time to make the necessary changes to the project.
Sometimes they receive phone calls or emails from clients who want to know when the feature they requested will be ready. So they need to know when tasks will be completed. Now that can be stressful.

I don’t need to tell you how going back and forth between the team leader and the team members can be frustrating. But luckily for you, Elementool offers a quick and easy solution for these two questions.

Our Priority List feature enables team leaders to see at any given moment which tasks each team member is working on, the progress status of these tasks, and the date in which they are estimated to be completed.

Here’s how it works:
• Open your Welcome page.
• On the Priority List chart select the name of a team member and click on display.
• The list of tasks will be displayed showing their status and completion date.

For a full view of the Priority List page, click on the ‘expand’ button.
This page shows you a list of all your team members and their latest active issues.
You can see the progress of each issue and their completion dates.
You can also change the priority of issues by changing their location on the list using Drag n’ Drop.

See, it’s so simple!

If you still don’t have an Issue Tracking account, I suggest that you open a free trial account by clicking on the Free Trial button below.



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Application Facelift

In the next few weeks, we’re going to be making some design enhancements here at elementool.com. But don’t worry, these changes will not have any affect on the way that you utilize our site.



During the redesign process, the application functionality will remain completely the same throughout the website, so you can continue using it without interruption. Here’s a sneak peek at the changes we have in store for elementool.com.

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