Outside Team Members – Tips to Remember

Business Tug-of-War

When you think of a project team, chances are good that you imagine one comprised of members who all work for the same company – an internal team. However, while that is the most common scenario, working with outside team members is becoming increasingly common, particularly where remote teams are concerned. Whether you need the expertise of a consultant, or you find that you’re required to include people drawn from a client organization in your project management team, you need to approach the situation in the right way. Here are some vital tips to help deal with outside team members.
Safeguard Proprietary Information
Just because you’re all on the same team doesn’t mean you’re, well, actually on the same team. While you’ll have to collaborate and communicate, and share various pieces of important information, you need to make sure that you’re careful with sensitive company information. There should be an agreement in place about proprietary information pertaining to both your company and the company the outside team members work for; and you need to ensure that agreement holds during all meetings and discussions.
Be a True Team
There are several different qualities and characteristics that define a team. A team is more than just an assemblage of people working toward the same goal. In order for your team to be effective, you need camaraderie, a sense of trust, and a feeling of unity. That can be hard to do when there are external team members in the mix. As the project manager, it’s your responsibility to foster that sense of camaraderie and trust – to build a true team from this group of disparate individuals. You can do that in several ways, including:
Meetings – Include your external team members in your team meetings in so far as it’s possible without compromising proprietary or sensitive information. By including those individuals who aren’t actually part of your company, you begin to build a sense of unity.
Activities – One of the better options for project managers with outside team members who want to create an effective team without putting any data or information in jeopardy, is to engage in activities outside the scope of work. Get the team together for coffee. Go out to lunch, or dinner. Have a team “outing”. The point is to get everyone together in a non-work environment.
Encourage Communication – Communication is vital for all teams, and doubly so for those with external members. Make sure that everyone on both sides of the fence understands the importance of constant, accurate communication and then enforce those guidelines. Include your external team members in any communication possible that doesn’t compromise proprietary information.
Creating a true team when you have external members is a challenge – there’s no denying that. However, it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle, and with the tips above, you can create a sense of unity, of belonging and camaraderie in your team that fosters a better chance of success and future collaboration as well.

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4 Ways to Introduce Agile Concepts to Your Project

HandshakeAgile project management has gained a lot of traction in recent years. It’s a powerful solution that offers flexibility, agility and runs “leaner and meaner”. However, most projects operate on the age-old waterfall management principle. Is there any way that you can bring Agile project management concepts into your existing traditional-style project? Actually, you can do several things.
Applied to Short-Term Aspects
Every project, no matter its ultimate goal, is a combination of both short and long-term aspects. For instance, you might be engaged in a two-year project designed to ultimately culminate in higher product quality. However, to reach that level of quality, you’ll need to go through quite a few short-term steps. You can apply Agile techniques to those short-term aspects, while leaving waterfall as the overriding management technique for the long-term project itself. Agile isn’t designed for long-term use – it’s a short-term only kind of thing anyway.
Institute Transparency
One of the most important fulcrums underpinning Agile methodology is a dedication to transparency throughout the project. Agile teams are tight-knit, and in order to work together effectively, there has to be a significant level of trust. That’s only gained with transparency at all levels of the project (including project management and even stakeholders). Institute transparency throughout your project and you’ll be one step closer to realizing the benefits offered by Agile (and this single step might be the only one needed depending on the scope of your project).
Feedback Matters
In waterfall project management, real feedback is a rarity, at least until the final review after project completion. However, Agile relies on ongoing, honest, direct feedback. Moreover, that feedback isn’t always a one-way thing, flowing from you down to your team members. Rather, it’s an integrated system in which everyone involved is able to provide vital, honest feedback about pretty much anything that affects them. By encouraging feedback (in the appropriate setting), you foster trust and understanding between your team members, but can also uncover hidden risks and threats to your project that might have gone unnoticed.
Be Agile
Perhaps the most important tip for implementing any Agile concepts within your overall project is that you and your team need to be agile. That is, you need to be able to move quickly from requirements to design, back to requirements, then to implementation, back to design and so forth. The name “Agile” is incredibly descriptive of the processes at work here, and in order to be used effectively, you need to be willing and able to break out of the mold of waterfall management when necessary (and when possible).
Agile project management is effective, provides greater interactivity and higher quality results, but is not applicable in all situations. However, almost any waterfall-based project can benefit from the integration of Agile techniques and principles within its various processes and steps to milestone completion. Bear the differences between these two philosophies in mind, and you’ll find myriad ways to combine the two.

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5 Tips for Buying an Office Chair for the First Time

Since office chairs come in a lot of styles, shapes, and materials, making a choice can be quite overwhelming. For instance, some of them are made for accessional use, while others are more suitable for routine use. Aside from this, there are other factors to consider, such as price, finish, color, and style. Given below are some tips to help you make a better choice.

1. Consider your usage

These units are designed for a variety of purposes. For instance, if you get an executive chair, it will allow you to talk to your senior employees comfortably. On the other, if you are suffering from back issues, it is better that you opt for a chair designed to make your back feel comfortable. Basically, these units are designed in order to provide more support for your back and body. The good thing is that you can adjust these chairs based on your sitting posture.

If you are a heavy computer user and spend a lot of time working on your computer, we suggest that you consider an ergonomic chair.

2. Consider your desired parts

The majority of office chairs have some common major components such as armrests, the seat, and the backrest. For backrest, it all boils down to the lumbar support. Ideally, it should match the natural curve of your back so that you can relax your lower back. It is even better if the chair allows you to recline without any problem.

Another important component is the seat. Make sure that the edge of the seat is rounded and downward-sloping. This will help improve blood circulation to your legs. If you are a heavy, tall person, it is better that you go for a chair that features higher backs and wider seats.

While typing, armrests allow you to place your hands comfortably. Apart from this, an adjustable armrest is another great feature to have in your desired unit.

3. Consider the adjustment features

You should adjust the chair to perform your desired task without suffering an injury. It is easy to adjust the mentioned components using levers and knobs while you are sitting in the chair. For example, the chairs of today feature a lot of mechanisms, such as tilt angle control, adjustable lumbar support, and adjustable height control. Make sure that the unit you are looking for allows these adjustments.

4. Consider the material

If you go for an upholstered unit, you can enjoy a cushioned seat and a lot of color and style options. Apart from this, synthetic fabrics with stain resistance offer a higher level of durability. On the other hand, leather is known for comfort and durability. If you are looking for something easy to clean, faux leather is your best bet.

5. Consider the environment

Based on the type of floors you have in your workspace, you should decide on the dimensions, colors, and styles of the chair. For example, you should get a survival type if you have to move around your workspace to get access to different equipment.
If you have a small office, it is better that you opt for a chair that comes with a lower back. Lastly, you can go for a traditional or modern office chair based on your personal interest.

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5 Tips to Choose the Right Conference Table

According to statistics, managers spend a lot of their time in business meetings. If you have a properly designed conference room, you can come up with great ideas and have great meetings and discussions. Apart from this, conference rooms may help create a business environment. Since no conference meeting can be complete without a conference table, make sure you invest in a good table. In this article, we are going to talk about 5 things that will help you make the best choice.

1. Room size

First of all, you may want to consider your room size. There should be plenty of room around the table. The idea is to allow everyone to walk about the room. Besides, make sure that doors and windows are also easily accessible. Similarly, if you have an audio-visual station in your office, make sure the room has enough space for it.

2. Seating

Another thing to consider is the seating capacity of the room. After all, you don’t want to end up with a conference table that won’t leave any space for chairs you need in the office. There should be enough elbow room for all of your clients and employees during a conference.

3. Power outlets

In a conference room, some common items include projectors, laptops, and mobile phones. Therefore, make sure that the power outlets in the room are in the right places. After all, you don’t want to end up with a lot of entangled wires and cords during a conference.

4. Design Aesthetic

You may want to consider the design aesthetic of your conference room before buying a conference table. Don’t forget to consider your current furniture articles as well. You can choose from a variety of table shapes, such as racetrack, boat-shape, rectangle, and circle, just to name a few.

Besides, you can ask yourself if you prefer classic or modern furniture. Color choices also matter. Therefore, you should either go for dark or bright colors.

5. Budget

Last but not least, make sure you stick to your budget limit when it comes to buying a conference table. You can choose from a variety of options based on your price range. Based on the size, material, and design of the table, you should make the right choice. Another way to make a choice is to check out review websites. These sites will allow you to check out a huge collection of furniture articles.

Long story short, if you are going to make a great conference room, we suggest that you follow the 5 things given in this article. This will help you choose something that will serve your needs and look great. Hope this helps.

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