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Your Developer Just Quit! (…here’s how you prevent that…)

So you met a developer through a freelance board, referral, google search, whatever… you found them. They sounded better than sliced bread. The firm was affordable, sounded knowledgeable, and started off with a bang! And then the relationship went flat… Emails weren’t getting responded to as quickly. Your voice mails took a bit long to be returned. The work slowed to a snail’s pace. You think that you provided them with all of the instructions and changes. Why can’t they just get it right?!

It’s 5am. You’re mentally wiping the cobwebs from your still half sleeping brain. The mouse gets a little jiggle. Your screen fires up. Email is waiting. And on top… there’s your developer. It’s a “Dear John” letter.

That’s bad. Real bad. Forget delayed launch schedules. Now you have NO launch schedule. Forget marketing efforts. You can’t sell air (yet). All that hard work.. flushed… down the IT train. Oh you have your code. A download link is attached to the email. Before you go hunting for another developer, review this list. Maybe you can prevent this from happening again.

Top 5 Ways to Make Sure You Have a Good Developer/Client Relationship

1) Confirm They Are Qualified.  After 15 years in this web development business, I can PROMISE you that applicants embellish EVERYTHING.  I recently had a supposed iOS developer try to tell me that he, with his own two hands, developed the Fed Ex mobile app.  We dug a little harder into that, requiring references, phone numbers, points of contact, and he folded.  Often an ‘expert’ is a self taught, not formally educated programmer whose ego is 10x the size of his actual skill level.  You have to make sure that this individual has the ABILITY to easily deliver YOU REQUIRE of this individual.  Require 3rd party test results in the code discipline you are hiring.  Make them take a test.  Pay for it.  And before you balk, ask yourself… “Would you pay $10.00 to NOT have to hire another developer in the middle of your project again?”

2) Create a Project Document.  I cannot begin to tell you how many clients have pointed at one site and said “I want that” and in the end they actually wanted “something like that but with a LARGE number of modifications”.  Put your thoughts on paper.  Don’t try to be a programmer or database engineer.  Be a user.  Describe the end result that you want your users to experience.  Do this from a process perspective.  “I’m on the home page.  If I click sign up, then I want the sign up view (new page, popover, slidedown, etc) to appear….”

3) Require a Development Plan From Your Developer BEFORE You Start the Project!!!  You need a site outline that displays ever page in their proper flow format.  You need (at a minimum) page descriptions for each view.  This should describe what appears on each page and complete event outcome scenarios.  HyperPMA supports this style of planning by the way.  If you are using a HyperPMA Certified Developer, then this is standard fare.  You need to ensure that your developer has a very clear and complete understanding of your project.  Otherwise, the pricing and time estimates are going to be off.  And that’s one of the top reasons a developer will run.

4) Define Clear Deliverables, Incremental Milestones, and Expected Delivery Dates.  Once you have 3 out of the way, your new developer will have no problem giving you their preferred milestones, value, and delivery date.  Once you have these, discuss them with your developer.  You will find that 1 day means 3 with testing.  30 days is actually 45 – 60.   Be reasonable in your expectations.  Offer breathing room.  They want to make you happy.  You want your new technology.  They want to get paid.

5) Stay Within Your Phase 1 Scope.  So you have a 2am epiphany.  Write it down.  The goal of a Phase 1 project is MVP – Minimum Viable Product.  DO NOT “Kitchen Sink” your Phase 1 project.  DON’T DO IT.  You can be as agile as you want in planning.  You can be as agile as you want when you finally get to market.  You cannot afford to be agile in your initial product offering.  Talk to your developer.  Let them know what you thought about for Phase Two.  This will let them know there is more to do.  That means future business.  It also means feedback that isn’t defensive.  Though you are willing to pay for more work in this phase, I can promise you that your developer is focused on the finish line.  They want to get to the end.  They want to open a new project with you as soon as this first one is done.  DO NOT create the never ending project.

5 Reasons To NOT Make the Elance to Upwork Switch

As a freelancer, you spend a significant amount of time bidding on jobs and interacting with potential clients.  Where you decide to put your efforts sometimes depends upon which platform is bringing the highest profit jobs to you at the lowest cost to you or your company.  Conversion rate is also a factor.  Over-saturation is yet another to consider.

In addition to the bad taste left in the mouths of freelances and clients who loved Elance but can’t stand Upwork, here are their Top 5 common complaints with this entire transition process:

1)  Expense:   Your skills are finely honed.  You are dedicated and willing to go the extra mile.  But EXACTLY how much is this mile costing you?  10% of your gross.  This is probably somewhere in 30% – 40% of your net earnings after overhead and tax expenses… if not more.  Don’t forget the processing fees.  In some cases, you could be paying upwards of 15% of your gross income, or up to 50% of your net depending on your business structure.  Add your monthly account access and total number of bid credits you need to purchase, and that number continues to rise.  Exactly WHO are you really working for here, You or Upwork?

2)  Long Funds Hold Times:  You have invested weeks in a project and it’s finally time to get that milestone released.  The money has been sitting there, and it will continue to sit there for 6 more days until Upwork releases it to you.  Elance used to make the funds available after their PAYMENT hold time.  So if a milestone was funded weeks ago before you started work, when the client released, you could immediately withdraw.

3)  No Feedback Protection in Cancelled Jobs:  Sometimes clients and providers don’t see eye to eye and mutually agree to cancel their project.  If your client requests an early cancellation with refund, then you are NOT protected from feedback.  If nothing was paid to the provider or the provider refunded and cancelled a project, then no feedback could be left.  It is a given something negative happened.  But with Upwork?  The feedback guillotine’s blade is even more finely honed in the client’s favor.  Not only do they get their money back, but they can leave a big fat black eye right on your feedback out of spite, regardless if you’ve done the right thing.

4)  Customer Service Hold Times & Useless Service:  I personally waited for more than 14 minutes for a customer service rep to respond to my Live Chat request.  This is the service they say that prefer you to use.  Not only was the person I spoke with ill equipped to handle account transfer questions, but she was unable to actually DO anything other than give the same advice that is available on the site or “escalate” the issue to a supervisor.  I suppose “supervisor” in this case means “a person who has the ability to actually make a decision”.

5)  Hidden Applicants:  So let’s say you bid on a job.  And that job’s “value” according to Upwork is 2 bid credits.  You have submitted and PAID for that bid to be seen by the potential client, correct?  Well surprise, surprise!  We recently posted a job for some minor WordPress modifications.  Our staff was consumed and we didn’t want to shift anyone’s focus, so we went to Upwork to try out that new account.  If you are a new provider guess what happens?  Upwork buries your bid in this category called “Hidden”.   They push their ‘proven’ providers.  In order to see all of them, you have to “unhide” them or know to go to that “Hidden” applicant file.  The connotation is naturally that the providers in this category must be someone that you don’t want to see.  It is a negative reason that would set them aside from the rest of the ‘golden’ applications who are “Upwork recommended”, right? Well that’s the way it appeared to me. “Why are they HERE?”. As a client, you should keep that in mind.  Go find the hidden guys.  As someone who is actually paying money to be seen by the client, it’s pretty much mind blowing to me for Upwork to both take money and bury your bid.

For these reasons and MANY others, we will instead focus our attention and efforts in the direction of both established, less expensive freelance boards, as well as some new movers and shakers emerging on the the freelance scene.

5 Signs You’re an Awesome Project Manager

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In such an evolving and new profession like project management, it can be difficult to know if you are really that successful or working as well as you could be. Fortunately, you are not alone in this world of unknown success, and we have come up with some of the best ways to know if you truly are an awesome project manager.

1. You’re a Natural Leader

No matter what profession you work in throughout your life, you will always be faced with adversity or important tasks. How you analyze these situations and take initiative in leading those around you in these times are what make a great leader. As a project manager, you are that go-to person in charge who is calling all the shots in the long run. If you can stay calm under pressure and direct your team in the right manner, you have the makings of a great project manager.

2. You Have Great Communication Skills

Whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or simply a sales representative, possessing quality communication skills is one of the most important features of any good worker. The project manager has to possess the best communication skills of their entire team and co-workers as they will have to pass down any direction and coherently explain each task to make sure it gets done correctly and in a very timely fashion.

3. You’re Organized

For a project manager, keeping everything and 2JULYhpma107everyone on the same page is one of the most important elements to the success or failure of a project. If you lose any important information due to not being organized, you could be in some serious hot water with a client.

Quality project managers always keep their files and all important information in one place that is easy to keep track of and easy to access. The more organized you are, the better you can keep the rest of your team on track and the client happy.

4. Enthusiastic

Every project is bound to hit a rough patch where morale takes a big hit and the rest of the team begins to feel a little distraught. As an awesome project manager, it is your job to keep everyone excited and upbeat. If you are able to turn things around when they take a turn for the worst, you will more than likely see high quality results out of both yourself and your entire team. The happier and more excited people are, the more productive they are and better work they will produce.

5. You Make Personal Connections With Your Team

We have all had that boss that didn’t like getting involved in our personal lives. If you got your job done and didn’t goof off, you could keep him happy. Many workers today though enjoy having a relationship with their boss outside of work. Whether it means playing golf, going to sporting events, or having consistent company outings, these thins can all lead to a happier work environment. As the project manager, try to go out of your way to make a connection with your team and those working underneath you. If you are genuinely interested in their lives, they will appreciate that investment in them and will be more motivated to work harder and produce better work for you.

5 Signs You’re Ready to Quit Your Job and Become a Freelancer

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The working world can be a stressful and difficult place. Working long hours for pay that doesn’t seem like enough at a job that you really don’t enjoy. Unfortunately, many workers in the job field fall into the rut of getting stuck at their office job and don’t leave, no matter how poorly they are being treated or how much they dislike their job. Fortunately, one of the best possible alternatives has been growing immensely over the past couple years: Freelancing. No matter what profession you are in, there are likely plenty of freelancing jobs. If you are dreading your job, here are some signs you are ready to quit.

1. You Are Being Treated Poorly or are Unappreciated

We have all had that one boss who really played favorites and you were simply an afterthought. Having a supervisor who treats their other employees better than you even though you are producing the same or even better quality of work can quickly make you want to change careers. In the freelance world however, you are your own boss. While you will have the person who hired you for the job checking up on you throughout the process, you can and ultimately call the shots.

2. Your Personal Life is Suffering

If you are in the office putting in 80 hours a week, it is a guarantee that your personal life is going to begin to suffer. When the boss is making you put in major overtime which causes your family and friends to take a backseat, this is a clear sign that it may be time to look for a new position.

In the freelance world, you can make your own schedule and work when you want to. Having a good balance with your family is key to producing higher quality work. The happier you are, the better your production will be.

Furious woman with chained hands and contract

3. You Are Not Being Challenged

By working in the professional workforce, it is typically expected that you have the highest standards and qualities being asked of you. Sometimes though, a place of employment is behind the times and simply isn’t pushing you to your full potential.

By working as a freelancer, you can search for your own projects and tasks that can help you to challenge yourself as hard as you want.

4. Your Health is Suffering

Another likely problem due to being overworked, your health can begin to take a dive due to poor hours or simply a toxic emotional environment.

if you are under high stress, this can quickly lead to long term chronic diseases such as heart disease and depression. By working in the freelance world though, you can balance out your hours better and monitor your health with ease.

5. You Are Not Being Rewarded

Have you been given an increasing amount of responsibility, but haven’t seen many of the tangible rewards such as higher pay or more perks and benefits? If your company is undervaluing their employees, getting out and setting higher standards may be what you need.

By charging your own fees as a freelancer, you can earn what you know you are worth and be more pleased with the high quality work you produce.

Do I Really Need Software for Project Management?

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As a project manager or freelancer, utilizing the right software for your business and all of your tasks will help you immensely no matter how big the project you are working on.

Keeping open communication and continued contact is one of the most important features of any profession, and project management is one of the most important with this skill.

When working with a client directly, project management software gives you the unique ability to constantly be updating the client and letting them know the general scope and progress of everything. If you are on the fence about this software, here are just some of the biggest advantages of utilizing it.

Client Approving

Just like any job in the world, having open dialogue is absolutely essential to your overall success. In the world of project management, this open communication is crucial so the client knows what is going on and you as the project manager makes sure you are going about everything the right way.

Many times throughout the course of a project, there will be times where you need to make a change on the fly to keep things rolling smoothly and on track. Whether it is big or small, you need to be able to act fast and get everything handled. This is where this software can be a big help.

By alerting the client of the change that needs to happen, they can review the project on the software quickly and assess the entire situation. they will then be able to approve the change effectively and in a timely manner as to not put you behind schedule.

Ordnung ist das halbe LebenScope of the Project

The client never wants to know the minor details and tidbits about what is going on with their project. No, they will want to have their hands on the entire process from beginning to end and make sure everything is moving smoothly and efficiently.

If you are utilizing project management software, you can easily keep them plugged in and happy as the project moves along from task to task.

If the client can see the overall timeline and outlook of a project and see what your process is on moving from task to task, they  will be far less likely to hound you and continually ask you questions throughout the process that can set you back and add unneeded stress in your life.

Managing Tasks

Keeping your team on track is arguably the biggest key to success as a project manager. By staying on top of those working around you and under you, you can assure that each task is getting accomplished in a timely fashion and in the way it needs to be done.

By utilizing project management software, you can better stay on your team about progress and easily keep the client updated and happy by sending consistent progress reports.

History’s Greatest Projects

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Through history, there have been a plethora of incredible projects that have taken our breath away and helped shape what the world looks like today.

From the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, and many other incredible accomplishments, the project management aspect of these construction sites had to be incredibly extensive and detailed.

If you are looking for some inspiration for your next project you are working on, here are some great examples of some of the greatest projects ever completed.

First Transcontinental Railroad

Originally known as the Pacific Railroad, this is incredible stretch of track measured 1907 miles and connected San Francisco all the way out to Iowa.

The project management on this construction had to be consistent and clear as the control passed through three different companies: the Western Pacific Railroad Company, the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California, before finishing with the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

Opened in 1869, this is still one of the most incredible accomplishments of construction in the history of the United States.

Science Molecule, Molecular DNA Model Structure, business teamwork conceptHuman Genome Project

Scientific research has always been a puzzling and fascinating one for mankind to try to understand. With the development of the human genome project though, scientists made a huge discovery in the overall makeup and DNA of the human body.

The largest collaborative biological project began in 1984 and was finally complete in 2003. Lasting nearly two decades, you can be sure that the communication and project management had to be of the utmost priority.

Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array

Space has always been an intriguing concept for humankind to study and grasp, but researching it in more depth finally became clear in 1980 when a radio astronomy observatory was developed in New Mexico.

This large array of highly intelligent satellites can detect what is going on in space millions of miles away. From picking up black holes to discovering high activity in the center of the Milky Way, scientists have been able to learn more than they ever imagined about space.

Large Hadron Collider

The world’s largest particle collider is now the world’s single largest single machine. Completed in 2008 over 10 years of collaborative work from over 10,000 scientists, this incredible piece of machinery lies over 500 feet below the earth’s surface and measures an incredible 17 miles in circumference.

This fascinating machine has been incredibly instrumental in scientists learning more and more about the laws of physics and what exactly our limitations are as humans.

2016 Summer Olympics

After hosting the FIFA Men’s World Cup of soccer in 2014, Rio has turned right around to prepare for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The XXXI Olympiad is sure to be one of the most memorable and spectacular to date as the brand new venues and infrastructure are sure to shock and awe audiences and participants alike.

Impress Your Boss (or Clients) While Working from Home

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The workplace in the 21st century is slowly moving out of the traditional office space and becoming more remote with each passing day.

In an effort to cut down on rental costs and giving their employees more flexibility, many companies today are going for freelance hires or simply giving their full time workers the ability to do much of their work from home.

If you are one of these employees who has the opportunity to do a lot of work remotely, here are some helpful tips and tricks to accomplishing more and staying on task.

Communication

Whether you are working in the office or working from home, communication is arguably the most important element to a successful business. As an employee who is working remotely, having open communication with your boss or supervisor is key to having them trust you and allowing you to continue to work from home.

Whether it is consistent emails throughout the workday or you install Skype messaging app on your computer, having a way to keep in touch and inform them of your progress along the way is one of the most important parts to your success in working from home.

Set Goals for YourselfA Day at Home Series

Even though your are likely working on a different schedule than the traditional 9 to 5 or even working the same amount of hours in a day, having a checklist of things you can accomplish that day is one of the best ways to keep yourself focused and on track.

Before you begin your work day, set out a schedule of what your house will look like and give yourself a list of tasks, beginning with the most important ones first. By either working your way down the list and placing tasks in specific time slots, you can keep yourself busy and accomplish more throughout the day.

Give Yourself a Set Schedule

While you may not have to work a 9 to 5 in the office, giving yourself hard hours that you can commit to is another great way to make sure you stay focused and on task throughout the day. Are you going to work from 8 to 12 and again from 6 to 10? Make sure you stick to this schedule and inform your boss or coworkers of what times you will be working. If you make yourself available to them during those times and stick to them, you will be far less likely to become distracted during your hours.

Avoid Multi-Tasking

This is another important area where having a set checklist of goals to accomplish throughout the day can help you in being far more successful. By limiting yourself to only one task at a time, you can do your best possible work with it before moving on to something else. If you are trying to work on three different projects all at once, you will likely get distracted and not do as high quality work as you expect from yourself.

Why are Millenials Flocking to the Freelance Lifestyle?

Happy young entrepreneurs at startup

For years, the American dream of having a job has been defined as a 9 to 5 for five or six days a week.

The 21st century though, may soon be putting an end to this stigma of the office workplace and are creating their own new trends. Freelancing and self-employment is on the rise amongst Millenials and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The Freelance Trend

For as long as we can remember, money and the hope of making more of it was the only driving force needed for keeping an employee happy and producing high quality work. The Millennial workforce however has a much different list of wants and demands of flexible schedule, financial security, and a position that has tasks that are constantly evolving.

Studies show that 60 percent of Millenials are leaving their current place of employment in less than three years: a number that isn’t anywhere near the more traditional workforce that would stay at the same company for 30 to 40.

The trend for success used to be that you needed to put in the time and pay your dues before you could begin to the climb the ladder in corporate America. In the freelance generation however, workers are making their own ways to the top by developing a wide range of skills rather than focusing on refining just one.

Walking direction

The Internet’s Role

More than any other generation in history, the Internet has opened up doors for the Millenial workforce that were once never even imaginable. With the ability to learn an incredibly diverse set of skills and work from remote locations rather than having to commute to an office, the possibilities are endless for what this generation can now accomplish in the workforce and it is only expanding more and more each day.

The Millenial generation is also by far the most plugged in and informed generation there has ever been. By growing up on the creation of the most successful social media networks to date, they have become masters of how to use these tools to the best of their abilities. These freelancers know exactly what the consumer and their audience wants because they are the consumer and the audience. By being in touch and involved with these kinds of tools, they can successfully market to them in the exact way they need to be marketed to.

What Does the Future Hold?

While we can never predict what the job market will look like in the future, one thing we can likely count on is that the freelance world will continue to boom and expand to create more and more jobs. While the 9 to 5’s will continue to provide jobs, the larger successes will more likely by found for those who are more diverse in their skill sets and can be more flexible.

Project Management Throwback: The Hoover Dam

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One of the fastest growing professions in the world today, project management is a field that provides workers with an incredible amount of personal responsibility and a unique position of leadership.

With such a new field that is constantly growing and developing, we don’t have a lot of specific project management to glean practical lessons from. We do however have many other fields to take examples from and see how they can have a major impact on this profession today. One of the biggest projects to take great tips and tricks from is the building of the Hoover Dam.

The Building Process

One of the most massive and easily most impressive feats of human accomplishment, this structure was built from 1931-1936 and cost $833 million to build. Located in Clark County, Arizona, this dam is mainly to control floods and provide irrigation water, as well as producing hydroelectric power for Nevada, Arizona, and California.

One of the most amazing facts about this structure is that it was built two years ahead of schedule and was even under budget, both of which were unheard of during the Great Depression area. It is even more impressive when you take into account the danger of this construction as it cost 112 people their lives while working on it.

The building of the Hoover Dam was awarded to a company called Six Companies Inc., which was a compilation of six different companies that were all at the very top of their professions. Having this kind of expertise was invaluable to the success of the project and is one of the biggest reasons it finished ahead of schedule and under budget.

2JULhpma33Time and Budget Management

The efficiency of the Hoover Dam project gives us one of the key things we can learn from this incredible project: time management and budget management. To finish an incredible feat like this with the time period it took place in shows that any project can be properly managed to meet all restraints whether they are financial or time related.

As a project manager, you have a personal responsibility to properly budget out both time and resources and be as efficient and cost effective as you possibly can. By keeping those on your team honest and consistently checking up on where progress is and how budgets are being adhered to, the more successful you will be in both the short term and long term.

Other Helpful Tips

Another great thing to takeaway from this incredible venture is how the method they used is a great one to follow in the world of project management. From conception, execution, down to closeout, this is one of the most successful strategies you can still implement today. By detailing everything out in the beginning and following each step through, your success rate will be much higher in the long run on whatever project you may be working on.

5 TED Talks Every Project Manager Should Watch

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One of the growing resources for leadership and virtually any topic imaginable over the last few years have been the popular TED Talks. From discussions on technology, innovation, leadership, and much more, these talks have been inspiring and informing audiences for years now.

If you are in a leadership position, some of these TED Talks should be must see videos for you. If you are looking to become a better leader and inspire and motivate those working with you, here are five TED Talks that you need to check out.

Yves Morieux: As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify

An innovative management consultant, Morieux discusses in this incredibly popular talk how there are two different pillars of management and how you as a manager, can begin to work more fluidly and efficiently. These two pillars discussed by Morieux are described as hard and soft. The hard pillar of management is defined by structure, processes, systems, etc. while the soft pillar is more focused on feelings, interpersonal relationships, traits, and more. You can check out more on these pillars and see all of his rules to simplify your work in the full talk here.

Kare Anderson: Be an opportunity maker

As a person in a position of leadership, people will be looking to you for direction no matter what project you are working on. In this talk by Kare Anderson, she discusses how those in these kinds of position have a responsibility to create opportunities for both themselves and others around them. Check out the full talk here on how you can become a successful opportunity maker.

Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe

A wonderful talk from author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, he discusses where good leaders come from and why they make us feel better about our lives and careers. Sinek speaks about how important it is for us as leaders to build trust within our companies and agencies as it will begin to inspire better work from one another. The more fearless and selfless of a leader you are, the better results you will obtain. Take a look at this fantastic talk in its entirety here.

Fields Wicker-Miurin: Learning from leadership’s missing manual

Leadership has always been a popular topic of discussion for many people around the world as we have all been searching for that trick or advantage to be a better leader. In this wonderful talk from Fields Wicker-Miurin, she discusses how being a leader doesn’t come from reading a self help book, but by simply taking initiative and doing something. The term “actions speak louder than words” could not be more true Wicker-Muirin’s definition of quality leadership.

Stanley McChrystal: Listen, learn… then lead

A fantastic speech from a former paratrooper of over 30 years, this talk discusses how leadership is about learning first, and then teaching those underneath you. If you try and teach without not understanding fully what you are talking about, the results will not be ideal. By listening to others and learning as much as you can, you can lead others much more efficiently. You can see this entire talk right here.