Managing a nonprofit is like a juggling act. Many are faced with the challenge of having to manage a day-to-day operations while still trying to expand their outreach. Without an organized, collaborative effort, managing employees and initiatives becomes a more time consuming and draining ordeal than it needs to be. Below are 5 project management tools that save time, money and energy.
Original article from Microsoft Office Blog
When nonprofits are able to combine both hard (accounting, finance, computer, etc.) & soft skills (emotional intelligence, communication, vision, etc.) that is when the biggest impacts can be accomplished.
Our technology solutions, provide assistance in the hard skills section so that your nonprofit can focus on your strengths and better serving the world.
We suggest reading: Why Nonprofits Should Embrace Big Data & The Cloud
With constant deadlines, meetings, emails and tasks—it's difficult for employees to dedicate their full talents to you and your project. Here are 5 ways to help make things a little easier.
Gantt charts and scrum boards
In an era of seemingly infinite content where we are constantly bombarded with text, visuals can be refreshing and highly effective. According to the 3M Corporation, visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.
A Gantt chart uses basic horizontal bars to display project phases and progress. With a quick glance, your teammates will be able to see what work is currently getting done (or at least what work should be getting done) and when their contributions will be needed. They’ll also be able to see how much time each phase is expected to take.
Example of a Gantt chart. Image from AbleBits.com
Scrum boards function in a similar manner and work great for projects that are on a less rigid timeline and that involve multiple teams. The board displays different project phases—planning, execution, etc.—and markers for each team. As they complete phases and make progress, teams can move their markers across the board. This allows all involved to see the bigger picture and their place within it.
It’s easy to agree to do something, much harder to remember to do it. Especially when every stray message seems to come with a new request. That’s why an online tool for task assignments is so valuable. Those responsible for completing a portion of the project—whether that means designing a logo or crunching the final numbers—can log in and easily see exactly what they need to do. Depending on their account settings, they’ll also receive email notifications about looming deadlines.
On the flipside, project managers can keep tabs on their team and make sure all tasks are being completed on time without having to scroll through long email chains. This helps avoid costly delays and unnecessary frustrations.
Ask your team upfront to estimate—to whatever extent is possible—their availability through the course of the project. Have them mark down any days they’ll be out on vacation, days they won’t be able to put their heads down and work due to meetings, and days they have other deadlines. If you have a sense of hourly availability, you’ll be able to build realistic timelines. An online resource allocation tool will make it easy for you and your teammates to track actual hours against estimates and adjust accordingly, allowing for smoother future workflows.
Feedback tools allow stakeholders to vote on and rank different versions of deliverables, making it easier for a group to provide cohesive direction in a fair manner. If a certain individual’s opinion should carry more weight—perhaps they boast significant relevant expertise—you can adjust their vote to count as two.
Progress reports and post-mortems are crucial parts of any project—and they don’t need to be a time suck. Rather than spend valuable hours creating a custom report, choose an out-of-the-box option. You’ll be able to input relevant numbers and figures and let the program generate appropriate formatting and data visualizations.