How Agile Changed Project Management for Good

Depending on who you ask and how liberal with your definition of Agile you are willing to be, agile project management has been around for centuries, perhaps even millennia. Simply put, the common sense tenets behind agile project management are just too common sense to be limited to just one industry, country or era.

However, when we talk about agile project management today, we mostly see it in terms of agile software development with a bit of lean manufacturing that directly preceded and influenced agile.

In that sense, we really can talk about a more direct and obvious way that agile changed project management in the last 20-odd years, with far-fetching consequences, both good and bad.

Agile branching out

Agile project management, as discussed today,was born in the software development industry as a way to address certain inherent problems observed when trying to deliver better, more valuable software. A number of methodologies, frameworks and approaches developed over the years, with many of them already having large numbers of proponents when the term Agile was actually chosen to denote this new approach to handling software projects.

Due to the positive effects of agile project management on the quality of software being delivered by the teams and companies that adopted it, agile slowly but steadily started to creep into other industries and it is currently present in industries and fields such as healthcare, manufacturing (where its roots lie), marketing, HR and even sales.

But, what is it exactly that makes agile project management so interesting and beneficial when done the right way?

Improved adaptability

One of the biggest benefits of agile project management over more traditional PM approaches is the improved adaptability, a true cornerstone of agile. Namely, agile accepts uncertainty and change as an inseparable part of any project and actually welcomes it. Planning done in agile is kept to a realistic minimum and the project is allowed to inform itself, so to say. The team estimates, inspects and re-estimates every aspect of the project as it is going on, making them more adaptable and reducing waste.

Emphasis on communication

The value of constant communication is one of the main themes in agile, extending beyond just communication within the team.Communication in agile entails communication with customers, other organizational groups and individuals, partners, suppliers, end-users and anyone else that could be considered a stakeholder. While all agile approaches preach this, some of them, such as Scrum (the most widely adopted agile framework)even prescribes events that are aimed at boosting communication.

Empowered teams

Another way in which agile changed project management is that it re-introduced the world to a very common sense concept – grown-up people do not require round the clock babysitting to do their work. In fact, they will be much more efficient and innovative if they are treated like adults and given autonomy. Agile project management therefore promotes self-organized teams that make decisions on their own, pull in work as they feel comfortable, but also adopt a shared and more pronounced feeling of responsibility for their work.

Better customer outcomes

At the very core of agile is delivering a superior product (originally a piece of software). In other words, we are talking about a product of high quality and high business value to the customer. The points we covered above all lead to this – adaptability which ensures the end product/service makes sense in the marketplace; communication with the customer and other stakeholders which also informs a valuable product and empowered teams that see this product as their own and do not just ‘put in 8 hours at the office’.

A few considerations

Agile project management has become an ecosystem of its own, with its own theory and the inevitable debates, its various approaches, certifications, roles and specifically developed Agile tools.If you are interested in adopting agile for your company, you would do well to learn more.

Also, you should remember that it takes some time and a lot of effort and dedication for agile to work. Just saying you are agile does not mean that you are – it is a huge shift in the way your business does things.

Finally, sometimes agile simply isn’t the best approach due to the nature of the work your company may be doing, your customers or the makeup of your organization. However, even in those cases, agile principles can be a welcome addition, if only in the company culture sense of the word.

AUTHOR: Jug Babic is a marketer at VivifyScrum, a company behind the eponymous agile project management software. You can find him on Twitter – @BabicJug.

Choosing New Business Software

Running a business involves making regular improvements to your efficiency so that you are able to keep up with your competitors and offer your customers a fantastic level of service which they can’t get elsewhere. And one of the main ways that you can do this is by using various different types of business software. But with so many different choices out there, it can present a major challenge to know which ones to go for. So, here is a brief guide designed to make your task just a little bit easier.

Get Your Aims Clear

Before doing anything, you should decide on your aims when it comes to your business. What are the issues that you would like to address and how can the software help to improve these? Ultimately, your best course of action is to divide these up into priority order. New software takes time to get used to and you don’t want to change everything at once. And once you have installed the software and become used to how it works, you then need to address just how successful it has been in solving your problems.

Work Out Your Budget

The next step that you need to take is to determine your budget. Business software ranges from the free to the expensive, and you don’t want to risk overspending – especially if it proves not to work out. Find out whether there is an upfront cost involved in getting the software or if you have to fork out for a monthly subscription. And remember that just because some software is expensive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to be the best.

Look for Specialised Programs

With such a wealth of business software out there, it makes sense that it fits comfortably within your aims. Of course,there is plenty of general software out there, but if you can go for something which fits your business aims specifically, this is even better. So, you could take a look at some legal software if you run a firm involved in this area. The closer the software fits your individual needs and requirements, the more useful it is likely to be.

Get Input from Staff Members

It is not only you who could end up benefitting from business software. In fact, your staff may end up using the programs more than you do! So, it makes sense that you consult with them closely when it comes to working out the best software out there for your organisation.

Businesses both large and small use software to improve the way that they run. And while it makes sense that you do the same thing, you should think carefully about the types of programs which you choose to invest in so that you can get the maximum benefits from them.       

5 Tips for Staying Productive While Relocating a Small Business

Relocating your business, no matter how big or small, can be a somewhat tricky endeavor. If you fail to organize all of your business tasks properly during the relocation period, your business is bound to experience some downtime which may have some serious consequences later on. What’s more, your employees will be affected by the move as well, which can seriously compromise their productivity and motivation. That’s why you, as the business owner, need to make sure you do all that’s in your power to make the move go as seamless and as stress-free as possible.

Here are some ways you can achieve that and make both your business and your employees stay productive during the move.

Time it right

While timing the move precisely is not quite possible, you can at least try to minimize the gap between moving out of your old office and moving into the new one. Also, make sure you completely set up the new office before the start date, to enable your employees to start working again as soon as possible – preferably as soon as they enter the new office space. Timing the move during the holiday season is possibly the best way to go, especially if your business practices collective vacation or annual shutdown.

Shift your offer to the online realm

If you haven’t done it so far, make sure you shift your offer to the online world during the move. By making your products or services available to your customers online during the move, not only will you seriously reduce the downtime your business is bound to experience, but it will also help your business to grow in the long run. However, it’s advisable to start working on your online business endeavors well-before the move, as it can be somewhat overwhelming.

Support working from home

Picture this scenario: your employees are sitting at their desks trying to focus and complete the task at hand while the movers are trying to pack the office furniture and equipment and relocate it to your new office space. To avoid this scenario, encourage your employees to work from their homes until the new office space is set up. This way, they will have the freedom to create ideal working conditions for themselves in the comfort of their own homes instead of having to struggle to stay productive in the office. Besides, every business-related task that can be taken care of remotely – should be, as that’s another great way to reduce downtime.

Make the move fun

Team building is everyone’s favorite office activity. So, why not try to make moving fun and turn it into team building? Since you’re a small business, chances are that you don’t have a ton of resources you can afford to spend on moving. If that’s the case, know that there really is no need to hire professional movers. Instead, you can opt for a company that offers truck rentals to find the best deal and ask your employees to help you out with the move. This can include everything from equipment organizing and packing to loading the trucks and driving everything to the new location. This way, not only will you save up a significant sum, but you’ll also offer your employees a chance to get to know each other better.

Always have backup

Now, while we do live in the digital era, there are still instances where you’ll simply have to meet a client, employee or a business partner in person. In such cases, holding the meeting in either your old or your new office space is not quite the best way to go, especially if neither of those places is fully functional. So, instead of risking potential unpleasant situations – e.g. having to deny your client a meeting due to the lack of office space – you should have a backup plan in place. For instance, there area lot of temporary rental office spaces where you can relocate everyone whose job can’t be performed from home, and where you can hold important meetings until your new office space is ready.

Therefore, when moving your small business, make sure you organize all of your business-related tasks accordingly, to lower the impact a move is bound to have on your company. Additionally, show your employees that you value them by asking them to help you out and try to make the move as seamless and as stress-free as possible. Finally, make sure that your business is still up and running during the move to avoid risking becoming irrelevant and falling out of touch with your audience.

About the author:Mike Johnston is a home improvement and business blogger from Sydney. He is a regular writer at SmoothDecoratorand contributor on several interior design, real estate and eco blogs. Mike’s goal is to create and share meaningful content that helps and inspires people.

Taking Action When You Experience Injury or Illness in the Workplace

Generally speaking, the majority of us will head to work in the morning, complete the tasks expected of us, then return home at the end of each working day right as rain. However, there are occasional unfortunate situations where someone will head to their workplace and experience some sort of injury or develop some sort of illness as a direct result of their employer’s negligence or malpractice. It’s extremely important that you know what to do if you find yourself in this situation!

Seek Medical Help

The first step that you should take is to seek medical help. If you experience any sort of injury or any symptoms of illness, a medical professional will be able to identify and diagnose the problem and ensure that you are provided with the correct form of treatment. This will help to set you on the path to recovery as quickly as possible.

Seek Legal Help

Once you’re on the road to recovery, you may want to consider seeking legal help. Not only is experiencing injury or illness due to work a particularly unpleasant experience physically, mentally, and emotionally, but it can affect your finances too. After all, you’ll have to front medical bills and may lose earnings if you have to take time off work in order to recover. You don’t deserve to slip into debt as a result of this! The infographic below should show you how to find the best personal injury attorney to claim this money back.


Infographic Design By how to find the best personal injury attorney

Why You Need to Use Behavioral Segmentation

How do you current and potential customers find you? That is the conundrum for every company in today’s day and age. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have a location, or to have a location that’s close to others who might add synergy to your business’s stability.

And while technology might seem like it would be an easy way to garner a wider, more solid core of customers, in fact websites and email aren’t enough either. Add to the mix social media (and the realization that one site isn’t enough either) and you’ve got a very confusing mix of how to reach people.

 But luckily, data has given us some insights into what we do need to know about our customers—not just where they live but what their lives look like and how their internal lives work, too. So how do you segment what you know and what you need to know? This graphic explains it.

Why You Need to Use Behavioral Segmentation

5 Actionable Tips for Scaling Your Small Business

Do you know how to scale your business? Starting your business took a lot of hard work. Now that you’re ready for expansion, you will likely face an entirely new set of challenges.

Already, as part of your routine, you must serve customers, supervise your staff, keep the books and fill other administrative roles. With so much to do, scaling your business might seem impossible. Where do you start? How do you find the time?

Use the following actionable tips for scaling your small business to do the job without becoming overwhelmed or busting your budget.

Embrace Success

Already, you’ve overcome the odds by building a successful small business. You know what failure looks like and you probably don’t like it. So, as you scale your business, think big and approach everything you do with a “success” mentality.

You can probably find thousands of fantastic ideas that can help you scale. Prepare yourself right now to say “no” to most of them. You have limited amounts of time and money, so stay focused on the things that matter the most.

Always keep the big picture in mind. Make every decision with an eye for the future. If you don’t, you could incur unnecessary expenses. For example, if you skimp on your data network or software applications, you may have to replace them if they can’t grow with you.

So, when you invest in systems, make sure they can scale with your business. Take a similar approach while assembling your team.

Get Help

Find someone who can serve as your mentor and advisor. Such a person could be anyone with experience either in your industry or your type of business. An investor, business owner, or someone with similar experience can fill this role.

In addition to getting advice from peers, you should learn to depend on your team. Rather than trying to do everything yourself, try delegating responsibilities. By letting other people share the load, you can have more time to plan and execute your growth strategy.

Of course, as your business grows, you will need to expand your team. Avoid the temptation to take shortcuts with your team. You need well-qualified people who can deliver a high level of performance. To do this, you’ll need to offer competitive wages, perks, educational opportunities, and other benefits.

Use Technology

As you scale, look for ways to work smarter rather than harder. Here, technology can play a vital role. For instance, you can use a cloud-based collaboration app to unify remote workers with your traditional employees.

When done right, your entire team can work together on documents, share files, and hold group brainstorming sessions. Tools that support instant messaging, live chat, video conferencing, and virtual whiteboards can also help your staff become more productive.

Automation offers you additional ways to scale your business. Thanks to technology, you can eliminate redundant data entry and automate many routine tasks. In the end, you can substantially improve productivity while eliminating opportunities for making errors.

Other opportunities for improving your business’ performance include analytics tools. These can collect and analyze multiple data points from your organization and provide insights into its performance.

Get Online

Your website and social networks are assets that you shouldn’t ignore. Spend time assessing their current state and then develop a plan for moving forward. Remember that a fresh and active online presence can grow your sales.

Now is a fantastic time to refresh your market research. First, identify the type of customers that need what you offer. Next, learn about the problems and challenges they face. You should also learn about their desires and aspirations.

Based on your research, create a persona that represents your ideal customer. As you create content, keep this person in mind. Create value by addressing the real-world issues that your persona faces.

Most of all, be consistent. On social media, share your brand’s personality. Socialize with your followers and share content. Do more than pitch sales. Become part of the community.

Encourage Feedback

In your quest for growth, never forget about your current customers. For starters, you can dramatically reduce your selling costs by closing repeat sales. In other words, by expanding your base, you can boost your profitability.

Your customers can also provide you with feedback that can support your ongoing success. They can provide you with answers to important questions:

● What new products and features should you sell?
● How can you create a better customer experience?
● What factors limit their frequency and volume of sales?
● How can you deliver more value to the marketplace?

Consider sending customers a survey after every sale. This gives them a chance to express their level of satisfaction and share their opinions. To encourage participation, keep your surveys short and simple. Additionally, offer an incentive such as a discount on a future purchase.

In conclusion, rest assured that you can successfully scale your business. However, to avoid the mistakes that have doomed other business, you should apply the above tips. Start by thinking big. your winning attitude will help you overcome failures and mistakes.

As you make progress, avoid distractions, get the help you need, leverage technology, and build your online presence. In the end, scaling your business requires a lot of work and some risk. What do you think about this topic? Share your comments or experiences that may help small business owners rise to the next level.

Joe Peters

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about the latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters

Unique Marketing: 5 Ways to Increase Sale for Your Business

Gone are the days when you could drum up business just by putting an ad in the paper. Today’s consumers expect a lot more flash and bang than the kind offered by old-school advertising. Here are just five ways to give it to them. 

Host a Challenge

Let your customers choose your new mascot by submitting pictures, videos and drawings. Ask them to snap selfies of themselves using your products or employing your services. See who can create the best hashtag for an annual event. Challenges are a fun way to engage your customers with your brand, and in addition to boosting your sales, they can also bring positive media attention to your company if they go viral. 

Participate in Social Media Trends 

Speaking of viral, you never know when that #ThrowbackThursday photo will get thousands of retweets. Don’t be afraid to hop on the bandwagon of whatever is currently trending. Businesses have gotten a lot of press from things like Gangnam Style parody videos, and the more that you put yourself out there, the more likely it is that you’ll strike a chord with the public someday. 

Hire Promotional Models 

You don’t have to run a clothing line to employ models for your brand. Promotional modeling can be a benefit in many different industries, and it’s something found at expos, conferences, trade shows and launch parties around the world. These men and women can do everything from promoting a specific product to bringing general attention to your brand. 

Offer Freebies 

Everyone loves a freebie, especially when it’s something valuable and not just a pen or key chain with your company’s logo on it. Think about offering doorbusters at your next big sale, or hand out high-quality gifts with the purchase of certain products. You might also choose to distribute prizes and rewards to completely random customers. Intermittent reinforcement is a powerful psychological tool. 

Consider Local Collaborations 

Sponsor a youth soccer league. Pair up with a non-competitor to offer mutual discounts on your services. You’ll find more customers by expanding your reach, and you’ll also establish yourself as a local, trusted brand by becoming a regular part of the community. People will think favorably of your business because they see your name every time that Junior hits a home run. 

Say goodbye to traditional marketing campaigns. Today’s businesses need to have innovative, forward-thinking ads that can capture hearts and minds despite the increasingly short attention span of society. Think outside of the box with your marketing efforts to ensure that people still notice you within the noise.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley