How to Create Project Schedule – Part III

Hi, it’s me again, Allison.

In this clip I’m going to show you a simple way how you can use Elementool Schedule to track the progress of the project. This will allow you to make sure that everything is progressing according to plan, and if it’s not, you’ll be able to see that and make the necessary changes in you project plan to get it back on track.


Although estimates provide a projection of how long tasks are expected to take, it is important that team members submit the actual time that they end up spending on each task, and Elementool can help with this process.

Tracking the time that team members spend on tasks allows project managers and the team to see at what pace the project is progressing. Based on the times being submitted, they can see if there are any delays that need to be addressed, or any changes that must be made in order to keep the project on schedule.

The team submits the time that they spend on each task to the Elementool Scheduling system. They can submit it a few times a day when they finish working on different tasks, or once a day for the entire day.

There are two ways team members can submit tasks:
1. If they use the Issue Tracking to work on issues, they can use the Schedule form on the bottom of the Issue form.
a. Scroll down to the Schedule form.
b. As you can see, this issue has already been included in the project.
c. Submit the date and number of hours that you worked on this issue.
d. You can submit the start and end time and the system will calculate the duration automatically.
e. Or just submit the number of hours that you worked on this issue.
f. When done, click on Update.
2. The second way to submit time is to go to the Schedule application by selecting it from the service dropdown menu at the top of the screen.
a. Click on Add Time.
b. Find the task on the project list.
c. Fill out the date and time and click on Submit button.

The hard part is behind us. Now let’s take a look at the Gantt chart. As you can see, the tasks that were reported are starting to fill up on the chart. This allows you to see how much has been done and how much is still left. In case people work on a task longer than expected, their colored time bar will extend itself outside of the Gantt bar borders. This means that they spent more time than was estimated and probably had less time to work on other tasks. So you might expect delays in the project.

This is all for now. If you want to learn advanced strategies for project scheduling and planning, I recommend that you sign up to Elementool’s Project Management Formula program at: www.projectmanagementformula.com
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to submit them in the comment section below.

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How to Create Project Schedule – Part II

Hi, it’s Allison again.
In this clip I’m going to show you an easy way to build the project schedule based on estimating how long the different tasks should take.


Let’s start by talking about estimates. An estimate is a prediction of how long a project will take to complete and how much it will cost. For more information on ways to create estimates, view Elementool’s Project Management Formula program at www.projectmanagementformula.com, which goes into great detail about various estimation techniques.

When you are planning a project, to ensure that you stay on track to finishing on time, it is vital that you create estimates for each task. Be certain that the people making the estimates are experienced in the type of work that’s being estimated, since this will increase the likelihood of a correct estimate. It can also be helpful to use data from similar past projects to help make estimates for current ones.

Once an iteration begins, you will want to start assigning tasks to team members based on the iteration length, the task priority, and the time required to develop these tasks. As a team, you need to determine what must be accomplished during the iteration, in what order the tasks should be done, and who should do them.

Team members should choose tasks based on their availability, also taking their teammates’ availability into account. The estimates of how long each task should take will make it easier to decide who will be assigned which tasks.

A major factor when it comes to assigning tasks is task priority. The team needs to decide what the highest priority items are – in other words, which features are the most crucial to the success of that iteration. High priority tasks should be assigned first, with the team gradually working its way down to the medium priority features and eventually the lower priority features if there is time. In our Project Management Formula program, we discuss in greater detail priority classifications and how they affect the way a team handles a project.

To create estimates and assign tasks to team members, you should follow these steps:
1. Choose a task on the project task list.
2. Set the task start and end dates.
3. Submit the number of hours that the task should take in the Hours field. This is the total number of hours that all team members will spend on the task.
4. In the Resources column, select the team members that this task is assigned to. The system will automatically evenly split the total number of hours between the team members. You can change the number of hours each person works on the task, in case they don’t spend the same time.
5. Elementool will create the Gantt chart bar representing the task schedule and assign the task to the team member on their personal schedule.
6. As you can see, the task bar is clear and looks empty. When team members submit the time that they spend on the task, the task will start to fill up, representing how much time has been spent.This will enable you to see the development progress of each task. We will have an example of that in our next clip.

That’s it. Building the project schedule is very easy. Anyone can do it.

In our next clip I will show you how team members submit the time that has been spent on each task and how you can track the project progress. I suggest that you check it out.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to submit them in the comment section below.

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How to Create Project Schedule – Part I

Hi, it’s Allison.
In this clip I’m going to show you how to build your project structure in just a few minutes using Elementool’s Scheduling software. We will define a project, iterations and tasks.


When beginning a new project, it is important to first understand what the structure of the project will be. We recommend going with an Agile plan, which is a flexible approach to project management that gives you the ability to make adjustments as needed.

Using this planning structure, you will divide your project into smaller mini-projects, which are known as iterations. Iterations allow for a more controlled development process because clients can offer feedback at the conclusion of each iteration and team members can revise their plans accordingly. We go into more detail about the advantages and the process of iteration planning in Elementool’s Project Management Formula program at www.projectmanagementformula.com.

First you should define the project. You might have one or several projects. Each project contains a list of iterations, and each iteration contains a list of tasks and issues.

To setup a project, you need to follow these steps:
1. Click on Time Estimates.
2. Click on the Add button.
3. Select Add Project.
4. Fill out the project name.
5. The rest of the details on this form are optional.
6. When you’re done, click on the Save button.

Now we have a new project. The next step is to create iterations under this project.
To create iterations, please follow these steps:
1. Make sure the new project’s line is selected.
2. Click on the Add button.
3. Select Add Iteration.
4. An iteration is added to the schedule. Fill in the iteration name.

Each iteration of a project has its own particular list of features. Features are the building blocks of the product that you are creating. For example, on a consumer clothing website, a search engine that allows you to search for an item based on characteristics like style and color is an important feature. Another feature might be the ability to select a size before adding the item to your shopping cart. Once you have a list of features for the project, you will need to write a description of each one, explaining how it should work and what components it needs to include. We recommend using Elementool’s Requirements Management system for defining the project features. Using this tool, you can create the feature list and write the description of each feature. See our Project Management Formula program for more information on features.

Features then must be broken down into workable tasks. For instance, a search engine feature may be broken up into a running search task for a coding expert, and a graphical design task for the graphics expert. Yet another task might be for a copywriter to create text to go along with the search engine feature.
Issues that are stored in your Issue Tracking can also be added to the schedule.

To add a task, please follow these steps:
1. Make sure the Iteration line is selected.
2. Click on the Add button.
3. Select the Add Task option.
4. Type the task name.

To create a task from an issue tracking record, please follow these steps:
1. Make sure the Iteration line is selected.
2. Click on the Add button.
3. Select the Add Issue option.
4. Select the name of the account in which the issue is stored.
5. Type the issue number.
6. Click on Save.
7. The system will display the issue’s title automatically.

Elementool makes it easy to organize tasks, helping to keep each team member on track.

That’s it for now. So simple.
In the next clip I’m going to show you how to build the project schedule and how to assign tasks to team members. Stay tuned…

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to submit them in the comment section below.

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How to Eliminate Procrastination Forever

Hi, it’s Allison here again. We all know what it’s like to get caught in the procrastination trap. There’s a job that has to be done, but you’re afraid it’s going to be difficult and time consuming, so you put it off till the last minute. Sometimes you’re tired or not feeling motivated to do anything at all.

Other times you’re overwhelmed by small tasks that keep popping up and getting in your way. Or maybe you come into work in the morning and you have no clue what to do that day. You end up spending half the day at the office without getting anything done because you lack a plan. It’s understandable, we’ve all been there, and we’ve all found ourselves procrastinating as a result. The most frustrating thing is that the longer we procrastinate, the more our tasks and worries pile up. Next thing you know, the day is gone, little has been accomplished – and still the work waits. Procrastinating can slow business, upset the boss, create delays, and wreak havoc on your schedule.

Well you know what? It doesn’t have to be like that. I’m going to show you a smart, simple system that can help you eliminate procrastination permanently. With this easy method, you can sharpen your focus, increase your motivation, and get your work done when you need to get it done.

The secret is to start scheduling meetings with yourself. Your daily schedule should always be fully booked. Every morning, spend about 15 minutes determining the day’s schedule. Think of all the tasks that you want to accomplish that day and schedule them in your calendar as if you have a meeting with yourself.

So, for example, you may write in your planner that from 9am to 10, you are working on a presentation. From 10 to 11, you’ll be returning phone calls. 11 to 12, you’re writing code. 12-1, schedule your lunch. And so on. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well it is! If I can do it, so can you.

Now for your anti-procrastination plan to be successful, you need to follow a few guidelines.

1. Don’t schedule more than 6 activities each day. There’s no sense in over-extending yourself or else you’ll get overwhelmed and then the procrastination problem will be back.

2. Give yourself some free time between activities to catch up on emails, finish activities that require more time, and other small assorted tasks.

3. Always schedule the difficult and high priority activities first. This is really important because you want to get the tough jobs out of the way as soon as you can.

4. When you work on an activity, stay focused on the task. Don’t stop to read emails, check Facebook, or anything else. These are things that can wait until you’re done.

5. Take a 10-minute break every hour. Knowing that you will soon have a bit of time to relax and do whatever you want will make it easier for you to concentrate on the scheduled task.

So, there you have it. Follow this system and you will discover that you can quickly and easily kick procrastination out of your life forever. If you want to learn more, I go into detail on this subject in Elementool’s new Project Management Formula program, so I suggest you check it out!

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Elementool is Going Agile

There are big things happening here at Elementool, and the latest is that we are going agile. Agile planning is a flexible approach to project management that gives you the freedom to make adjustments to your plan when needed.

By dividing projects into smaller iterations, or mini-projects, you are better able to monitor progress and to make important course corrections that will allow you to achieve your objectives while also completing the project close to schedule.

Using the agile approach is going to transform the way you run projects, and we are going to make it even easier for you.We will be releasing several amazing new features in the near future to help you run agile projects using Elementool.

With Elementool, you will be able to setup iterations and define the tasks and issues that should be included in each iteration. This innovative feature will allow you to better plan your team’s work on the project.

Our brand new Scheduling system will enable you to plan your project schedule and carefully track the development progress. As a result,your team will be able to make certain that everything is going according to plan,eliminating costly and time-consuming project delays.

Some of these tracking features include a backlog that you will be able to display right on your Welcome page, allowing you to see the status of each task so that you can easilyfollow the progress of your project.

The Burndown chartis another cool feature that we’re developing. It will enable eachteam member to see how their work is progressing so that they always know whether or not they’re keeping to the schedule plan.

One of the most significant features is the integration between the tools, which is a major benefit since it saves you the need to use API to integrate between different solution providers. This gives your team valuable extra time to spend working on your projects instead of worrying about tool integration. And it costs significantly less to pay for just one system rather than using several different vendors.

If you are new to Agile planning and don’t yet know what terms like Iteration,Burndown, and Backlog mean, don’t worry, because you are going to learn them—and many others—very soon with our exciting new Project Management Formula program, where we’ll teach you the special 5-step formula that will enable you to fully take charge of your projects.

Agile project planningis the wave of the future, and Elementool will be here to help you every step of the way. Stay tuned!

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Website 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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It's All About Relationships

Hi, I’m Allison, and I’d like to introduce you to a feature known as Field Dependencies. This is a very helpful feature that allows you to quickly locate and select relevant information when filling in a form.

What the dependencies feature actually does is it enables the creation of relationships between fields in such a way that a dependant field’s value list is determined based on a value selected from the source list.

For instance, let’s say that you have two fields on a form: State and City. The State field lists all 50 states in the U.S., and the City field lists the 10 largest cities in each of those states. Currently, without using Dependencies, the State field list shows all 50 states and the City field displays a long list of 500 cities in those states. So if a user wants to choose their city from that list, they need to scan through all 500 to find the one they want.

However, by using the Dependencies feature, the process becomes much easier. It allows the person to first select their state in the State field. At that point, the Dependencies rule automatically filters the city list so that the City field only displays the 10 cities from the selected state. This means that the user can simply select the appropriate city from the list of 10 rather than poring through a long list of 500.

As you can see, the Field Dependencies feature makes filling out and submitting forms much easier and far less time-consuming.

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Learn How to Create SRS Documents in 10 Seconds

Hi, it’s Allison again. When most people think of three little letters that might save your life, SOS comes to mind. But for me, S-R-S is the ultimate lifesaver when it comes to project management. SRS stands for Software Requirements Specification, which is a document that fully describes the expected behavior of a software system.

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Functional requirements are documented in an SRS, as are non-functional requirements such as performance goals and descriptions of quality attributes.

The SRS states the functions and capabilities that a software system needs to provide, as well as the constraints that it must respect. The SRS provides the basis for all subsequent project planning, design, coding, and testing. Virtually everyone involved in the project rely on the SRS. The development team, maintenance staff, testers, technical writers, support people, and the marketing department, This is why this document is so important.

There are many significant benefits to having a SRS document. For starters, the SRS improves communication between your team members by saving and displaying the product feature description in one central location that everybody can easily access. It also prevents confusion within your team by maintaining an up-to-date definition list of all the features included in the project. This way you ensure that everyone develops the same set of features, avoiding a situation in which there are several different versions of product documents out there. And because all that information is available in one document, the SRS makes it easy for new employees to quickly learn the details of the project.

Another benefit that comes from the development of the SRS document is that it ultimately saves you the effort and cost of late-stage re-design and re-testing. That is because putting the SRS together requires all stakeholders to agree on the requirements at the beginning of the project.

Given that estimating costs and developing a project schedule can be a challenge for any project manager, the SRS document provides a great deal of help in that area as well by acting as a basis for creating such estimates.

Other benefits of utilizing an SRS document include its ability to provide a basis for enhancement of the product at a later time. The SRS can also provide a baseline when it comes time to develop plans for validation and verification.

Furthermore, the Software Requirements Specification functions as a contract between the client and your company. Once the SRS is complete, you can simply send it to your clients, and it will act as an agreement of what should be developed.

Now I initially planned to give you a template of an SRS document that you can use to create your own. But then I thought, why do that, when you can just use Elementool’s Requirements Management to automatically create SRS documents, in seconds, right from your feature requirements list? Simply:
Go to the ‘View Requirements’ page.
Click on the Print Requirements button.
On the right side, select the features you wish to include in the SRS document.
Move them to the left side.
Click on the Print Document button.
And, voila, I have an SRS document ready in less than 10 seconds.

It couldn’t be easier!


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How Long Will It Take?

Hi, it’s Allison again. In this clip, I’m going to teach you an easy and simple way to estimate tasks that you can use right away. Estimating how long it will take to accomplish a task can be surprisingly difficult.

An endless variety of factors and variables can affect the outcome, making an apparently complicated task much simpler than initially expected, or turning a seemingly easy task into a nightmare. But however difficult it may be, estimation is a necessary part of your work. You need good, accurate estimates of task durations in order to build a project schedule and ensure that you deliver your product on time. Coming up with a good estimate is a common challenge that many people struggle with, so, I’m going to teach a simple estimation formula called PERT. Also known as the Program Evaluation and Review Technique, PERT isn’t just a cute name – it’s a vital tool for estimating task duration.

The formula goes like this: Multiply the most likely amount of time that it will take to finish the task by 4 (this is the time that makes most sense, taking into account that you’ll encounter a few obstacles on the way). Then add your ‘best case scenario’ time (this is the fastest that you can complete the task if you have everything that you need, and everything goes according to plan). Now add your ‘worst case scenario’ time (this is the longest time that it will take you to fix the task in case things go wrong). Sum it all up and then divide by 6. The resulting figure is your ultimate estimate for the duration of the task.

Now let me give you an example of PERT in action. Let’s say I want to walk down to the corner market to buy a quart of milk. From my experience, I think this task will most likely take 15 minutes. 10 minutes of walking time, 1 minute to get the item, and 4 minutes to wait in line. So 15 is my Most Likely number. If there is no line, and I walk fast, then I think it will take a total of 8 minutes, so that’s my Best Case number. Now for my Worst Case number I have to consider what might go wrong. And a lot might go wrong. The sidewalk could be crowded, I might nearly get run over by a taxi crossing the street and have to stop to catch my breath, and, worst of all, the line could be three times as long as usual because everyone is stocking up on snacks for the big game tonight. I figure that puts my Worst Case number at 28 minutes.

Now I take the formula: [best case + (4 X Most likely) + worst case] / 6. I plug those numbers in: [8 + (4 x 15) + 28] / 6
And then I get out my calculator. Or, if I’m feeling up to it, I just do the math in my head. My result is 16, and that’s my estimate for the duration of this particular task.

PERT is effective because, even though it gives much more weight to your most likely estimate, it also takes the best and worst case possibilities into account. You will find that it truly makes the difficult job of estimating much easier.

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Give Them What They Need

Carl is managing a major software project for his company.
The client calls Carl and talks about what needs to be done for the project in general.
As project manager, Carl brings his team together for a meeting and explains the project scope. Unfortunately, he forgets to bring up a few crucial details.

The team works hard on developing the project, based on the instructions they received from Carl. Because the project description that they were given was generalized and lacking in certain details, team members frequently find themselves filling in the gaps by making assumptions about what they think the client would like. Many of their assumptions are incorrect.

When the project is finally completed, Carl proudly shows the end product to the client. But the client can’t believe what he’s seeing – this product is not what he wanted at all!
The client is furious over the many months wasted and the large amount of money spent on developing a failed project. Carl is embarrassed by the unwanted result, and now he and his team must start the long process all over again.

Meanwhile at an office two floors below, Sarah is managing her own team as they begin work on an entirely different software project.

As project manager, Sarah makes a point of meeting with her client and asking the client to carefully explain what he would like to achieve with this project. They discuss each feature in great detail.
Sarah uses the Elementool Requirements Management tool to write the project specifications and capture the details of each feature. This easy-to-use tool helps her to quickly acquire and organize important information about the project.

Sarah then creates an SRS document using Elementool’s Requirements Management and presents it to the client for approval. The client later sends along his comments, and, once the missing details have been corrected, he approves the project plan.

Using the integration between Elementool’s Requirements Management, Time Tracking, and Issue Tracking, Sarah is able to create tasks for her team based on the project plan.

The team develops the project according to their project manager’s plan and the project is released on time with all the right features in place. The client is thrilled with the result, and everybody is very happy.

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