The project is finally done and even the last work package is completed. After weeks of hard work, the team is looking forward to its well-deserved vacation or new tasks. Most of them are happy to leave the project behind after a stressful final project stage. No wonder that motivation for a formal project completion is low at that point. But if the customer demands improvements at a time when the team is already scattered to the four winds, a sloppy project completion will take its toll.
The project completion fulfills four important functions:
- Content: The team makes sure that all project goals have been achieved and that all work packages have been completed as long as the team members are still available.
- Administration: Team members prevent legal or commercial difficulties by finishing the project correctly.
- Social climate: Individual feedback discussions with all team members and a final celebration provide a good corporate climate.
- Perspective: The team documents the experience and knowledge gained through the project for future projects.
Our check list provides a small guide about how to finish a project in a professional and structured way:
- Confirm the achievement of project objectives: Are the project results in line with the customer’s requirements? Make sure that there is one last target/actual comparison.
- List all remaining activities: Are still tasks to be completed before the customer can formally approve the final project results? Who is in charge of these tasks and when do they have to be done?
- Make one last check of the functionality of the product or the service.
- Create a complete project documentation.
- Hand all necessary information over to the customer.
- Make sure that the project results are officially approved by the customer and document the fulfillment of the contract. This usually includes the project report, the project report presentation, the final invoicing and the acceptance protocol.
- Project report presentation: Present the final project report to the customer and to important stakeholders in a face-to-face meeting. This is the easiest way to find out whether there are still unanswered questions or disagreement.
- Project report: It is important that the customer will approve this report. It is supposed to provide the following information:
- Achievement of project goals
- Detailed list of all services rendered
- Project costs and expenses
- Experience gained through the project
- Recommendations for future projects
- Final invoicing: Are there still outstanding payments that have to be charged to the project account, such as bills of materials or personnel costs? The customer should also approve the final invoice.
- Acceptance protocol: This is one of the most important documents for project completion and it has to be signed by the customer.
- Project review:
- Evaluation of the team members’ performance in feedback discussions
- Analysis of customer satisfaction
- Analysis of employee satisfaction
- Target/actual comparison
- Evaluation of partners, suppliers and other contractors
- Archive important project documents: You also want to pay attention to the retention period of different document types.
- Put together the “lessons learned” for future projects: What went well? What could be improved for future projects? Which kind of experience and know-how can be used in other projects? You can make use of knowledge management techniques.
- Determine a person who will be responsible for the project results in the future. Who will take the line management responsibility for the project?
- Take the necessary steps for employees who leave the company after the project is finished: Return their staff identity cards, log off their telephones, block their access to the company network, issue letters of reference etc.
- Specify what should happen to material resources which have been purchased from project funds, such as hardware or software licenses. Who is allowed to use them in the future?
- Are there any perspectives or follow-up orders to the original project?
And don’t forget: The successful completion of a project is one of the highlights of project work which should be celebrated. It is a great opportunity for a temporary halt in the proceedings and to motivate the team members for future projects. You may want to thank the whole team for their great work. The celebration should be suitable for the team and the occasion. It can range from an official gala with important stakeholders to having drinks with your colleagues.
The international training provider Berlitz is our 2,500th customer. More than 35,000 users in over 2,500 companies in more than 40 countries on five continents use InLoox PM software products.
Berlitz is one of the leading providers of language trainings, management and intercultural trainings worldwide and serves also as a service provider for 23 subsidiaries across Europe.
Berlitz decided to look for suitable project management software that would support them in implementing a company-wide enterprise planning resource system. The multitude and complexity of the sub-projects within the overall project, initiated the search for practical software.
Outlook integration as the key factor
When looking for project software that would provide optimal support to the project team, they tested several tools. InLoox PM soon turned out to be the system of choice. Florian Daniel, Director Technology Europe at Berlitz, summarizes: “Microsoft Outlook is used all throughout the company and is the tool that the project team uses most every day. The software’s seamless integration into Microsoft Outlook absolutely convinced us to choose InLoox PM.”
Besides, the project team didn’t want to burden their IT-department with having to do maintenance of another software solution. That said, InLoox PM was also the most viable solution due to its few system requirements and the simple installation.
InLoox PM project management software has been successfully implemented in the project management area ever since its introduction in November 2012. Berlitz used the implementation of the new software to standardize internal processes and task management within the project team and adjusted them to the use of the new software. Berlitz organized internal trainings to ensure that the software would support the project team the best way possible.
A better overview in project management
The first positive effects of the new system are already noticeable: InLoox PM makes project management easier and provides the project manager with real-time information on project time planning, resource allocation and upcoming tasks. InLoox PM users clearly benefit from the fact that it combines all project-related tasks directly in Microsoft Outlook.
Florian Daniel draws a positive interim conclusion: “The software offers great added value for our project team because it goes far beyond project planning only and features functions such as the resource overview. Moreover, the regular updates tell us that the software is being continuously enhanced. We also appreciate the close and regular contact with the InLoox team. They are extremely fast at responding to our inquiries and recommendations. We are very impressed with that.”
In a second step, Berlitz Germany is planning to use InLoox PM across its entire IT-team.
InLoox PM 7.5 for Outlook has been released. The update fully integrates with Microsoft Outlook, just like previous versions. The software for professional and efficient project management is now not only available as server/desktop installation, but also as SaaS solution in the Cloud and features a multitude of innovations and improvements.
Your projects on your server or hosted in the Cloud
|The update offers even more flexibility and options. You can choose whether you'd like to install InLoox PM for Outlook on your company's server or whether you prefer taking advantage of our SaaS solution. For the first time, the Outlook-integrated project software is available as a hosted service in the Cloud. This makes InLoox PM a tailor-made solution for small teams, freelancers and everyone who wants to start their own project platform without effort.|
Stay on top of changes to your projects with the new timeline
One of the new features in InLoox PM 7.5 is the comprehensive timeline. Important changes to your projects are listed chronologically; you're on top of the latest state of your project status in no time, e.g. after a vacation.
There are even more improvements that make managing projects with InLoox PM 7.5 even more comfortable and efficient and that allow for a greater customization. Here's an overview of the most exciting updates:
Customized project notifications
You can now decide which team members should receive notifications about changes to the project.
Reset project numbers
Now, you can reset your projects' sequence numbers as required. This allows you to reset a project's number to 1 at the beginning of a new year.
Send prenotifications via e-mail
Team members using the hosted InLoox PM version, can receive reminder e-mails for upcoming activities for which they are responsible - if they want to.
Complete planning elements from within the work package list
Project managers can now mark planning elements as done with only one click from within the list of work packages.
InLoox PM 7.5 for Outlook is available for free to all customers of InLoox PM 7 for Outlook.
Start your first project with InLoox PM for Outlook today and test the fully functional demo version for 30 days. This trial is free and with no obligation: www.inloox.com/try-it
From March 5 to 9, you can discover the InLoox products at this year's CeBIT - the leading high tech trade fair - in Hanover.
We invite you to stop by! See at booth A02 in hall 4 our full range of project management software solutions in action. We'll present InLoox PM for Outlook, the leading Outlook-integrated project management software, the online project software InLoox PM Web App and InLoox now! - the turnkey project platform in the Cloud.
You are very welcome to make an appointment with us at CeBIT and find out how the InLoox software solutions can simplify managing your everyday projects. If you are interested in an individual consultation please contact us at +49 (0)89 358 99 88 0 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
For more information on InLoox at CeBIT 2013, see our CeBIT page www.inloox.com/cebit.
We look forward to your visit!
InLoox now! - the InLoox project platform in the Cloud - now offers new features that make team communication and time planning in projects even easier and faster.
Now, every team member can receive a convenient e-mail reminder from InLoox now! when an activity for which they are responsible is coming up. The administrator can specify how many days in advance resources want to receive the e-mail. So, all processes are coordinated perfectly and you are able to start your work in the project at exactly the right time. This reduces the communication effort in the team and all team members are always up-to-date.
Keep an eye on the time constraints in the time planning
Now, the project planner can adjust the duration of a planning element directly in the line without having to open it first.
Besides that, every user can see in the planning view at a glance if a planning element contains time constraints or not. The start and end date of planning elements without time constraints are now displayed in grey. As soon as there are certain restrictions such as "Start no later than", "Start no earlier than", "Finish on" or "Finish no later than", the respective date is displayed in black in the planning.
Speed up your project work with InLoox now!
For the update, performance has been significantly improved. This accelerates working with InLoox now! and you can benefit even more from the new features - e.g. on the go or at places with low Internet speed.
The update is available for all InLoox now! subscribers without any additional charges. Take the opportunity and test InLoox now! for 30 days, free of charge and with no obligation. The test will end automatically.
InLoox now! is immediately ready-to-use, because software installation is not necessary. Open your free account today at: www.inloox.com/try-it
A successful, motivating project start is indispensable. That’s why experienced project directors invite their team members at the beginning of the project to a kick-off meeting.
A kick-off meeting is a meeting of all relevant project members which also marks the official start of the project or of a new, important project phase. On this occasion, the team members often meet for the very first time in person. This is particularly important in virtual or distributed teams, because the team members might not meet very often during the implementation phase.
Usually, the kick-off meeting takes place after the project planning and before the implementation phase begins.
A kick-off meeting is not necessarily needed, but successful projects often begin with a get-together that provides an additional boost of motivation for all team members. It is also the best occasion to form a team and to commit the team members to shared goals.
Such a start workshop provides a great opportunity to create the project a positive image, to establish an energetic and motivated atmosphere in the team and to prepare the ground for successful project progress.
The meeting, however, cannot become a success without proper planning. Our checklist will help you not to miss important aspects and to create a felicitous project start.
Prepare the meeting
- Define the project goals and results; clarify important aspects with the project initiators
- Appoint the team members
- Compile the contact details of all the team members
- Look into the responsibilities: Who is supposed to fulfill which function in the project?
- Create a preliminary project plan (time planning, budget planning, resource planning)
- Determine the agenda and the schedule for the meeting
Organize the meeting
- Determine the meeting participants. Besides the team members and the project director, all relevant stakeholders, external suppliers and consultants and the initiators or the client should be invited.
- Arrange the place, time and duration of the meeting.
- Book a conference room of the suitable size with the necessary equipment (check if a LCD projector, notebook, flip chart, whiteboard etc. are available).
- Optional: Order beverages and catering.
- Send out the invitations.
- Prepare the project presentation.
- Send the agenda and a rough-cut project plan to the participants (at least two days before the meeting).
- Prepare the handouts for the participants.
- Appoint a minute taker who will write down the results of the meetig.
- Optional: Ask the initiators to prepare some introductory words about the importance and the relevance of the project.
At the beginning of the meeting
- Use the minutes before the meeting to get to know the participants.
- Welcome and introduction (by the project director)
- Present the meeting agenda
- Round of introduction: Let each participant introduce himself/herself.
- Present the project goals: Which results should be achieved?
- Explain the benefits of the project: What will be better after the project than before?
- Optional: Opening words by the project initiator
The further course of the meeting
- Important note: The kick-off meeting is about preparing the ground for the project and not about details. Comments, criticism, doubts etc. have to be taken seriously and have to be written down. But the meeting is not supposed to aim at a discussion of details of the project plan or of work packages.
- Explain the rough-cut project plan.
- Discuss roles, tasks and responsibilities.
- Discuss the project scope of work: Is the time frame for the project, the project phases and important milestones realistic?
- Discuss the project plan and dependencies, potential bottle necks and success factors in the project plan – where can possibly emerge problems or risks?
- Clarify if team members can be released from tasks in the line for the project.
- Explain that the project plan will from now on be the framework of each status meeting. Try not to go further into the details of the plan.
- The plan will be adjusted according to the findings of the kick-off meeting.
- Explain the project management methods that will be used: How should the team members proceed?
- Stress the importance of each individual in the team: Everyone has to deliver reliable results and give feedback about his or her work packages. The success of the project also depends on the team spirit. It is essential that the team members support each other if problems occur. Participating in the status meetings is as important as giving feedback on a regular basis.
How should the team communicate
- Status meetings: How often will they take place? Who will participate? Can there be telephone conferences? The kick-off meeting is a good opportunity to make the first appointments.
- Update of the project plan: How often will the plan be updated? Who is allowed to make an update? Who has the right to delay important milestones or deadlines?
- What will the reporting structures look like? Who will report to the management?
- Which communication channels are supposed to be used? – Telephone conferences, Skype, regular conferences, project management software… etc.
- Which project documents are to be created? How will the document management be organized?
- Important: You cannot stress enough the importance of providing important project information to the whole team.
Feedback: Questions and answers
- This is the time to find out about the atmosphere in the team. Please leave enough room for questions, doubts and comments in the agenda.
End of the meeting
- Create the meeting minutes and send it to the participants
- Collect the questions, ideas and proposals and use them at the appropriate time and place.
- Adjust the project plan according to the findings of the kick-off meeting and send it again to the participants.
Nobody likes to admit that their project is not running smoothly. But even though project managers hardly ever talk about it, there are plenty of projects that are in a stalemate, that do not deliver any results and that eventually fizzle out.
In case of an acute project crisis, managers are immediately alerted – but the gradual decline of a project often remains unnoticed until it is (almost) too late to save the project.
There are many reasons why a project slowly languishes. Maybe the people in charge got it wrong from the very beginning – but this insight is not very helpful at that point. Project managers, however, should rather find honest answers to the following questions and find out whether and how to put the project back on a successful track.
Does the project still make sense?
This question should be the starting point of all considerations. Only if it is still relevant for the company to achieve the project’s original goals, it makes sense to make an effort to reinvigorate the project. It is also highly important to know whether the project still gets the necessary back-up from managers, team members and stakeholders inside and outside the company. Maybe it was just a prestige project of a single person who wanted to make his or her mark, but who has left the company in the meantime. If the project cannot create any added value it might be better to give it up before any more resources are squandered.
What about the basic requirements of the project?
Maybe, the project cannot be promoted, because important pre-conditions for project success have not been created. It might be that the project budget is insufficient or that there are not enough resources allocated to the project. Perhaps the time planning has been unrealistic from the start. All sides of the magical project triangle (time, budget and quality) have to be scrutinized.
Does the project have to fall short because of urgent tasks in the line?
It might also be possible that all team members find the project relevant and useful indeed, but that they have to keep postponing their project tasks for urgent tasks of day-to-day business. The best resource planning is useless if the team members’ additional calendar appointments and obligations are not taken into consideration. In such cases, either the project plan has to be adapted to the additional obligations or the project team members’ workload in day-to-day business has to be reduced.
Does the project team communicate enough?
“Oh, if I had only known earlier…“ – If you keep hearing this in your project team, your project is probably in no good condition. A lack of communication is considered to be the main reason for project failure. This is on the one hand about substantial organizational questions (Who does what when? Which work packages have already been completed? Which version of the project documents is the latest?). It might be pretty useful to automate this type of communication to a certain degree to avoid the manual distribution of each piece of new information. Software for project management provides good service in this case. On the other hand, communication is also an important executive function. Only if the team members know about the main purpose of the project and its goals and if they consider their own contribution to it as relevant they will work with a high level of motivation for project success.
Is there a permanent quarrel in your team?
If projects don’t go well, managers mostly stick to the hard facts: Has the budget been exceeded, did the team miss important deadlines, have tasks not been completed? Managers often forget to check if the chemistry in the team is good. If there are permanent quarrels and conflicts in the team, the team members won’t be willing to act in concert. You should sit up and take notice if team members keep arguing or if there is an increase in employee turnover. These are often alarm signals for far reaching project problems that produce stress and frustration.
Have you agreed upon binding project goals and stages?
Often, deficits in the project remain unnoticed for quite some time, because no one has ever defined important milestones and, consequently, no one can control if these milestones have been met. Without deadlines and milestones, team members don’t have an incentive to complete their tasks in due time. At the very latest, however, when there hasn’t been any noticeable progress in the project for some time, it is time to create a detailed project schedule with responsibilities and due dates. Only if you manage to establish liability, people in charge can see when intermediate results become due and you don’t have to rely on the team members saying that they’re “almost done”.
To bring your project back on track, you should follow three steps: First, you have to make sure that the company still needs the project. If this is the case, the team has to be filled with enthusiasm for the project again – good communication, good chemistry and sufficient resources establish a good basis for success. All team members also have to commit themselves to deliver results reliably and in due time – then your project can regain momentum.
InLoox now! – the latest member of the InLoox product family – has been enhanced with several much requested features. The turnkey project platform in the Cloud offers now an even better overview of your projects and makes it even easier to communicate with your team members.
The timeline is a new view that shows all changes chronologically that have been made to your projects. This makes it really easy to get a quick overview of the events in your projects – e.g. after a vacation.
You can also contact your team members directly from InLoox now! via e-mail. Open the e-mail mask with just one click directly from the project management view or while editing work packages, time tracking entries or activities. Pre-defined text modules accelerate the writing of e-mails even more. You also have the option to attach project documents directly from InLoox now! or from your file server – for example for external team members.
More new features
Notifications about notes and documents
The update offers the possibility to notify InLoox contacts with only one click if there are new project notes or documents that are relevant for them.
Send project reports as e-mail
InLoox now! facilitates project reporting. Share InLoox PM project reports as e-mail attachments right after you have created them.
And for all of you who would like to learn more about InLoox now! – here are the most important key points of the project platform in the Cloud:
- InLoox now! is immediately ready-to-use. All you have to do is to create a user account. You can test our Cloud-solution for 30 days free-of-charge and with no obligation. Afterwards, you can decide whether you want to convert your test account into a regular user account or not.
- Installation, maintenance and on-going support of the server infrastructure are provided by us.
- InLoox now! helps you to relieve stress on your IT administration and to reduce investment and operating costs.
- Benefit from transparent pay-as-you-go plans that makes it easy to integrate changing or external project partners.
- InLoox now! only has minimal system requirements. All you need is a compatible Internet browser, a connection to the Internet and your access details.
- You can access InLoox now! from tablet PCs or smartphones, because the Cloud solution is device- and platform-independent.
- Security, availability and robustness always have top priority for us.
- Your project infrastructure is always up-to-date, because the leasing price includes all updates – and the support hotline.
Please click here to learn more about InLoox now!
Test InLoox now! for 30 days free-of-charge and with no obligation at: www.inloox.com/try-it
The third part of our series Planning made easy is about the planning of in-house trainings and workshops in the company.
With this template, you can start planning your next corporate training or the next workshop right away. You can always add your own planning elements in the InLoox PM planning and customize the plan if you want to.
To download the template training, please click here.
Our second part of our series Planning made easy is about moving. You want to change your business premises or relocate a single department? Even small projects such as a move can be easier and more efficient by using a structured project time planning.
By setting up a project plan, you can look directly at the current status of your project and you can see which activities still need to be done. All team members also know exactly what to do and when to do it.
It also helps you not to miss any important deadlines such as renting a removal van in due time. Our template provides the basics for your plan and you can easily tailor it to your own needs.
To download the move template, click here.