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In the old world of 2019 and before, status meetings provided managers with the easiest way to keep track of a team’s work.  They were intended to share what everyone else was up to.  Unfortunately, these meetings, while helpful for the managers, usually were quite boring and inefficient for team members.  Despite best efforts to “share knowledge” to avoid “reinventing the wheel,” the reality was that most participants only listened with half an ear, even if in the same room.

With these meetings happening virtually in 2020, participants soon realized they could turn off their cameras and no longer be bothered with the challenge of appearing interested.  They could listen to status updates as they answered emails, worked on their projects, or even folded laundry.  Even with this multi-tasking, the meetings consumed a lot of time and did not really add value.

At Comprehensive Learning Solutions, we believe in using people’s time in meetings as efficiently as possible.  We limit meetings to issues that need to be discussed in person.  Status updates can be done offline by team members, leaving the meeting time for discussing questions and issues.  Here are two of our favorite management tools:

  • Smartsheets: This web-based application is like a more user-friendly version of Microsoft Project.  It allows you to create workplans with automatic dates based on predecessors and task durations.  This means you do not need to manually enter every date.  You can also share the worksheet with team members so they can enter their own updates.  Additionally, you can download the schedule to create calendar appointments for task deadlines.  That way, you do not forget when a deadline is coming.  Best of all, you can send automatic reminders to team members of approaching deadlines.
  • Spiceworks Issue Tracker: This web-based application tracks open issues.  Originally designed as an IT “trouble-ticket” system, you can change the categories to meet whatever types of issues you need to track.  Therefore, it works quite well as a project management issue tracker.  Users can enter their own tickets to raise questions, offer suggestions, request changes, or report issues.  They can do this either through the system’s web-portal or just by sending an email to a central helpdesk address, which then automatically updates the tracker.  Whenever someone writes an update to the issue, the submitter receives a notification, thereby increasing accountability and transparency.  It is simple to use and, best of all, it is free!

Want more tips on how to manage projects or teams more effectively?  Contact Comprehensive Learning Solutions for training or advisory services on project management.

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