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Effective and actionable feedback is vital for successful projects. However, a recent research by Leadership IQ reveals that fewer than half of employees know if they’re performing well. Trying to improve with no direction is a challenge regardless of the percentage of employees who know if they’re performing well.

Even if you’re aware of the importance of regular feedback sessions, you still need to be open to working on your feedback delivery skills to be a better leader. At present, 57% of employees claim that their leaders are not doing a very good job at providing constructive feedback that can help them improve. We’ve investigated this issue and found a tried and tested framework that will help you make communication actionable and effective.

Have you ever heard about Nonviolent Communication, a technique that makes difficult conversations easier? An American psychologist, Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, developed the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) approach in the 1960s. Since that time, the approach has gained massive popularity and has been scientifically proven to be effective. In 2012 psychologists Dr. Jane Marantz Connor and Dr. Robert Wentworth examined the impact of six months of NVC training and coaching on 23 executives at the Fortune 100 companies and concluded that “conversations and meetings were notably more efficient, with issues being resolved in 50–80 percent less time.”

Dr. Rosenberg also wrote a book called Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, where he explains that for centuries our culture has taught us to think and speak in ways that can spark conflict:

“Most of us have been educated from birth to compete, judge, demand, and diagnose – to think and communicate in terms of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ with people. At best, communicating and thinking this way can create misunderstanding and frustration.”

By following his observations, Dr. Rosenberg developed the NVC framework to empower people to cooperate, resolve existing conflicts, and prevent future ones. He highlighted four main parts of the approach – observations, feelings, needs, and requests – which you can find in the graphic below:

Following this four-step approach can help you make your conversations more organized, bold, and actionable. Here’s a step-by-step guide to follow when structuring your feedback:

1. Mention specific actions of the person you’re giving feedback to. For example, mention specific cases when the team member underperformed or performed well. It’s better to start this part of your feedback with such phrases as What I observe/When I see/hear…

2. Describe feelings and effects provoked by the person’s actions or the impact those actions have had on the project, team, company. In this part, mention the results and achievements that were or weren’t delivered over a certain period of time and the impact this had on the project in general. You could say: I feel …

3. Define needs by saying what you want or need to be changed. Here, you need to explain how you would like the situation to change: Because I need/value…

4. Make a request at the end of your feedback. When you’re done providing facts, describing the impact, and defining needs, name the exact actions or describe the type of performance you expect from the team member in the future: Would you be willing to…?

Read more: The Secret Behind Constructive Feedback Revealed

This simple yet transformative approach has many followers around the world, with people incorporating it into their daily lives. Yoram Mosenzon, a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication, takes a funny, personal, and honest look at the way we approach communication in his TED Talk called “Vulnerable honesty.” Mosenzon talks about the roots of the Nonviolent Communication approach as well as lessons people can learn from it. He explains how personal judgment can alter the way we see certain situations and cause us to respond in a way that might provoke negative feedback in listeners. This TED Talk will be helpful for project managers, team members, and even your family members.

Vulnerable honesty | Yoram Mosenzon | TEDxAmsterdamED - YouTube

Here’s a practical example of feedback provided in two ways: first, based on personal judgment; second, driven by the rules of Nonviolent Communication:

Uneffective: “I am very frustrated with your performance because you seem to slack most of the time and you’re doing the tasks wrong. I am not even sure if you’re good enough for this job.” – In this example, the listener receives only negative feedback that will make them feel bad about their performance and won’t even give them a clear idea of how to improve or what to do differently.

A better way to communicate based on NVC: “You failed to deliver three project milestones on time [fact], and as a result, our project got delayed for two months and your colleagues weren’t able to complete their part of the job on time [impact]. For this project to succeed, we need you to change your attitude to your work and become better at time management [need]. As an option, you can get a planner and schedule all your activities in it to make sure that you deliver your part of the project on time in the future [requests].” – In this case, the listener receives well-reasoned feedback about their performance and gets advice on how to improve it without being verbally humiliated or over-criticized.

Read more to know how Epicflow PM software helps you deliver projects on time.

What do you think about this approach? In the comments, share your experience with the Nonviolent Communication framework and how it has helped you strengthen your personal and professional relationships.

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Stress is the health epidemic of the twenty-first century, according to the World Health Organization. It leads to psychological burnout and chronic workplace problems. Gallup conducted a study of 7,500 full-time employees and found that as many as two-thirds suffered from burnout at work. Stress-releasing activities are crucial for your mental well-being, productivity, and job satisfaction. Here are some tips on things you can do to reduce stress:

Embrace The Power of Laughter

Having a good laugh with your team not only brings you closer together – it also reduces stress, functions as an antidepressant, and even protects your heart. Laughter is known to reduce stress-provoking hormones such as cortisol, dopamine, and adrenaline. What’s more, it also increases the level of hormones that promote good health, such as endorphins. You can share some humorous stories to help your people get to know each other better.

Ditch Multitasking

Multitasking increases the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. When our brain constantly shifts gears, it pumps up the stress and tires us out, leaving us feeling mentally exhausted (even when the work day has barely begun). Another study from the University of London proved that multitasking causes a drop in IQ, which is quite terrifying.

NB: On average, business professionals have 30 to 100 ongoing projects. People get interrupted around seven times per hour, which amounts to 2.1 hours of distraction daily. As a consequence, more than 40% of adults claim they struggle to fall asleep because of the stress they’ve gone through during the day. Wondering how you can reduce stress and overcome multitasking? Set priorities!

To avoid multitasking and see what you should focus on, you can use project management tools such as Epicflow, which synchronizes all projects and gives every team member a priority-based task list. Continue reading about how Epicflow leads to less stress and more on-time projects.

Sing Your Heart Out

Japanese and Korean people are known to be hard workers; to reduce work-related stress, they invented karaoke. Harvard Medical School conducted a study which proves that singing two songs a day can improve your health by lowering your blood pressure. It’s also a powerful antidepressant. You can sing at karaoke, in the car, even in the shower – whatever works best for you.

Unplug and Go Away for The Weekend

Leave all the emails, Skype and Slack messages, and Facebook feeds behind. Disconnect from the digital world and find a place of retreat. You might go to the beach, to a resort, to a city you’ve never visited, or even go hiking. You can go anywhere as long as it takes your mind off work-related troubles and stress. Find an escape place that gives you the feeling of mental and physical bliss.

Read more: Top Energy Boosters for a Summer Weekend

Get Creative

Doing something creative like painting, crafting, and cooking can give your brain a break from stress and worry. By getting your hands busy, you give your mind some time to recharge. Physical activities not only reduce stress but also help you develop your imagination and creativity, which might be handy in your work later on.

Tip: In her TED talk “How to make stress your friend,” Kelly McGonigal tells you how to take a positive look at stress and reduce it by looking out for others:

Do you experience stress at work? How do you deal with it? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.

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Crozdesk, one of the top software review platforms, has named Epicflow a top resource management tool in its latest software buyer guide. Epicflow is also named as a “product leader,” meaning that it focuses on a niche and might disrupt the market. Epicflow is built for managing multiple projects and is based on years of research. We’re happy to be recognized as a leader in our niche.

The Crozdesk algorithm analyzes hundreds of business management applications across 200 categories and assesses them based on their features and quality. This algorithm is based on an automated predictive scoring system that implements machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques. It analyzes data and performance, software solution maturity, user satisfaction, and competitive features.

Crozdesk previously recognized Epicflow as a Challenger because of our fast response to market needs. Yet within several months, we’ve strengthened our position on the market. Epicflow is now among the top 5 product leaders, with an 84% rating for “how good this software is.”

Epicflow is multi-project management software that helps companies from the manufacturing, construction, shipbuilding, automotive, health care, and IT industries efficiently allocate shared pools of resources to finish projects on time and within budget. It can easily integrate with MS Project and Jira (even working with both at the same time), tuning these programs for multi-project management.

Epicflow has been built to overcome the top pains of complex environments connected with project and task dependencies, shared pools of resources, wrong task priorities, lack of visibility, poor resource allocation, and poor team performance.

Would you like to learn more about Epiclow’s features?

  • A Pipeline with a Gantt Chart view shows all your projects and milestones in one place.
  • What-If Analysis lets you run multiple simulations in parallel and compare various plan and schedule alternatives based on changing conditions.
  • Graphs – Historical Load, Future Load, Burnup – help you reach optimal workload/output.
  • The Dashboard, a modern dynamic Fever Chart, shows project statuses and progress.
  • The Task List automatically prioritizes tasks based on demand.
  • Resource Management tool helps you organize resource groups in various ways.
  • The Timesheet allows you to track, manage, and report on employee hours.
  • Read more: 5 Ways Epicflow Enables High-Performing Teams

    Epicflow clients create the most advanced products you can imagine, and we’re proud to help outstanding companies make great ideas happen faster! Recently, Lightyear launched their first solar electric car. This gorgeous car can go for 725 km (450 miles) on a single charge, launching a new era of electric vehicles. Using Epicflow for their project management, Lightyear managed to release their dream eco-car right on the planned date!

    Read more: 5 Inspirational Lessons We’ve Learned from Lightyear

    Another client of ours – TKF, a Dutch company with 85 years of experience producing building, industrial, and telecommunications solutions for the construction industry – has announced astonishing results from working with Epicflow: their output doubled. Hans de Boer, Director of R&D at TKF, told us: “We increased our output by 200% and reduced lead time by 50% in 2 years.”

    Such cases prove that Epicflow is worthy of being listed among the top resource management software tools in 2019 and deserves the title of “product leader.” Check out a short interview with the founders of Epicflow explaining why companies choose our software to reach their goals faster.

    Reach Your Business Goals Faster with Epicflow - YouTube

    Are you thinking about checking out the top resource management software of 2019? Leave your contact details below to book a demo and see how Epicflow can empower your business to thrive and reach the maximum results.

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    Many applications promise to boost productivity. However, adopting multiple tools doesn’t always mean team performance will improve. On the contrary, sometimes it can lead to a cluttering of your work environment and reduced productivity. Continue reading to learn the real effect of using too many apps at work.

    Clutter Alarm: What Kills Your Productivity and Wastes Money

    The problem of “technological clutter” is quite common. If your company is cluttered, you might find these scenarios familiar:

    • In an attempt to boost productivity, you use tens of apps and tools. You spend hours updating them, delaying more important tasks. People in SaaS-powered workplaces use an average of 34 apps in their work, and the number is rising every year.
    • You’ve adopted “enhanced methodologies” to make your work innovative, yet it’s resulted in a complex environment. PMs waste much time completing reports and forms and updating information in multiple apps. CEB, a subsidiary of Gartner, estimates that this “control process” can take up to 30% of your time.
    • Your workplace has turned into a “tech battlefield” with tools that promise to make things better but actually don’t. Scrolling, tapping, and filling forms in all these tools takes too much time. You’ve invested in productivity software, but it isn’t making your team more productive. The 2019 Pulse of the Profession Report by PMI shows that project performance hasn’t improved in the past five years. Companies still waste almost 12% of their investments due to poor performance.

    Read more: What Project Leaders Should Get Rid of in 2019

    According to the latest statistics, enterprises waste an average of $7.4 million per company per year, or $247 per user, on underused and unused software. While 8% of purchased applications are used less than once a month, 30% are not used at all. This is where the clutter and massive waste come from.

    Why You Need to Switch to Tech Minimalism at Work

    As Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” However, many managers seem to have forgotten this: instead of investing in simplification, they invest in complexity. Data from PMI shows that while nearly 80% of organizations have gone through a considerable transformation using disruptive technology, only about 25% of those have managed to gain noticeable benefits.

    The “less is more” approach may help make your workplace more productive. Ekaterina Martyn, a Project Manager at Epicflow, shares a common need of all PMs: “We all need just one easy-to-use tool that requires minimum efforts for updating.” Among the most successful companies that have adopted a minimalist approach in their management strategies are Amazon, WhatsApp, and Netflix, each of which has its own way of being “minimalistic at work.”

    How to Make Your Work Minimalistic Yet Effective

    Wondering how to start this process of decluttering? We recommend you take the following steps to embark on your journey to minimalism:

    Find PM software that actually brings value. 55% of PMs don’t have access to real-time project KPIs, and nearly 50% spend a day or more manually making project reports every month. If you still don’t have software that provides real value, read more about the top features of PM software in 2019 and consider Epicflow – multi-project management software that gives you a holistic view of resource allocation and team performance, helps you make better decisions faster, and eliminates project risks.

    Read more: 5 Ways Epicflow Enables High-Performing Teams

    Choose simplicity. Make sure your software promotes simplicity rather than complexity. It should simplify your life, not add more trouble to it.

    Adopt software efficiently. Only 44% of organizations report their use of PM software as being mature and contributing to operational efficiency. When implementing a new application, make sure all of your team members know how to use it properly and understand the value of the new system.

    Read more: How to Onboard Your Team to a New PM System

    Manage people, not technology.
    Technology is about getting things done automatically. You need to make sure the tech you choose helps you manage people and projects rather than consumes all your time on updates and working with data.

    Create a culture of agility and minimalism. Effective leaders empower employees to drive an organization toward fulfilling its purpose and vision. With a culture of agility and minimalism, you’ll be able to put people at the center of attention, improving the work environment, performance, and productivity.

    How many tools do you use at your company? Do you feel it’s time to declutter your work environment and find a single source of truth? We suggest you consider Epicflow, a multi-project management tool that makes complex environments easy to manage. Leave your contact info below to request an Epicflow demonstration. One of our PM consultants will contact you to arrange an online meeting and show you how to achieve the best results with this innovative software.

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    You probably already have a new project management system in mind or are at least considering choosing one to improve team productivity and take your project planning achievements to the next level. However, there’s one key factor you can’t afford to forget: the people who will use the software and determine how effective it is in your work environment. Having made a decision to change, analyzed the market, and chosen the best project management software for your company, you might still notice that something isn’t right: people are unwilling to accept the system. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to learn more about the best practices for adopting project management software.

    What Makes for Successful PM Software Onboarding?

    Being a good manager requires you to introduce change with as little stress for employees as possible. Naturally, you can’t fully predict your employees’ reaction to new software. But there are some steps you can take to prepare people :
    Plan the process well
    Communicate effectively
    Be available for requests
    Give follow-ups
    Listen to demands and expectations

    Most people prefer predictability and stability in both their personal and professional lives. They’re concerned about change because it has a direct impact on their work. These are some of the questions you should be able to answer before introducing a change:

    What value will this technology bring to the company?
    What work challenges will the new system solve?
    What benefits will this PM tool provide for my team?
    How can I properly communicate the change?
    What will it take to make this adoption successful?
    Who will resist the most?

    When looking for a new PM system, look for a software vendor that has experience successfully onboarding teams and can provide support as you implement the new software. Let’s take a look at the software adoption steps our team has highlighted as the most important.

    Project Management Software Adoption Checklist 1. Explain the Value of the New Software

    Setting up software may be a challenge if employees don’t see its value and the difference it can make in their work. What’s the best way to show the improvements that new tech will bring? When our PM consultants do online or onsite onboarding for teams, the very first step they take is explaining the concept of Epicflow and its value to the company. What’s important about Epicflow is that it’s built specifically for multi-project environments to help teams stop struggling from overload and unclear priorities.

    Based on our observations, many companies face such issues, since managers don’t have a clear vision of the progress of their multiple projects and do firefighting instead of resolving potential bottlenecks in advance. As a result, teams suffer from stress and face burnout. In contrast, a PM tool like Epicflow gives project managers a clear overview of all projects and the feasibility of milestones in a single platform. It also helps them secure optimal workloads and clear priorities for their teams.

    Read more information about how Epicflow works. as how Epicflow works

    Takeaways: The best practice is to focus on the value of the new product – i.e. to communicate how much your team’s work lives will be improved with the new software – before you get into the nitty-gritty of how it works. Cooperate with your software vendor and explain the value of your new project management system at onsite presentations or during online workshops.

    2. Walk the Team Through the Software

    Even if you choose an easy-to-use PM system with a user-friendly interface, you still need to walk your team through possible use cases. In her article for the Wall Street Journal titled “Do You Resist New Tech at the Office?” Sue Shellenbarger points out that people resist change because they’re scared of making a mistake. With the old system, they know how to do their job well even if the software is inefficient. You should show your employees how they’ll be doing their job with the new technology and how it fits their current workflow.

    To make things easier for your employees, allow them to practice with the software and devote several hours to workshops. This will save you a lot of time in the future. The main purpose of your workshops should be to ensure that everyone knows how to get the most out of the new system. Epicflow software comes with a training plan that combines “serious gaming” and simulation. All materials needed for learning are provided, along with training for trainers. We provide live support, calls, and a wiki, which is a learning center where your employees can get more information about Epicflow.

    Takeaways: Take time to train your employees so they’re confident about their skills with the new technology and adopt it faster.

    3. Find Your Inner Software Adopters

    Teams usually prefer sticking to the old way of project management even when they know that new software might make things easier. According to PwC, 49% of employees still are not open to innovative digital technologies. Everyone is different in the way they adjust to changes, which is why all employees react differently to new software. You should first focus on the people that are good at adapting to change and only later on the ones who aren’t.
    Let’s take a look at the technology adoption cycle. People adjust to innovation at different rates: innovators and early adopters do it quite fast, while others take time. Your expectations about the adoption rate need to be realistic based on your employees. Considering the technology adoption cycle might be helpful when you set project milestones and expectations.

    When creating a software implementation plan, it’s quite reasonable to determine who your potential champions are since they will later act as cheerleaders, motivating the whole team. Here’s a solution Rob Bernshteyn offers in Forbes:
    “Deploy your solution in phases, and start with the people or departments you know are most likely to adopt and succeed with the software. Select people who are visible and carry influence inside the organization and, before you go broad, pour all your resources into making these early adopters wildly successful. They will be your references and internal case studies when you move forward to subsequent phases of deployment.”

    Takeaways: Be ready to face resistance to change from many employees and to manage such attitudes with the help of early adopters who hold influence and popularity among your teams.

    4. Encourage Employees to Use the Software

    Once your new software is implemented and you feel good about the level of training provided, your biggest challenge will simply be making sure people routinely use the technology the way it’s meant to be used. You should also answer the question, What’s in it for me? and help employees see how much they’ll benefit from using the new system. That’s why it’s best to emphasize what’s in it for each employee based on their role. Here are the benefits of Epicflow for each role:

    How Epicflow Can Empower:

    Read more:
    How to Achieve Top Results with Epicflow
    5 Ways Epicflow Enables High-Performing Teams

    In an article for the Washington Post, John Kotter mentions the power of socialization in adopting change. According to his article, you can implement change effectively if you find a group of volunteers with a good reputation and relationships across departments. These volunteers can set an example by showing how well the new system works and thus encourage those who are skeptical to be more flexible and supportive of the new software. You can also publicly recognize people who have improved their performance with the help of the system. Global studies prove that recognition is still the number one thing employees say their manager could give them to inspire them to do their best at work.

    Tips: Sometimes these steps might not be enough to get your people to use the new system. If that’s the case, gather your influencers and volunteers to brainstorm more ideas on how to make employees excited about the technology.

    Takeaways: Make sure you know what benefits the new system brings not only to the company in general but to individual employees. Find a group of thought leaders and influencers that will help you make the new system more popular among those who are skeptical about the change.

    5. Share Your Experience with Your Software Vendor

    Effective two-way communication helps you with technology adoption. When employees see that their voices are heard, they become more committed and engaged with the work they do. You should be attentive to the feedback they provide on the new system and give it to your software vendor so they can make further improvements.
    At Epicflow, our PM researchers provide extended support to ensure you can use Epicflow in the best possible way. We also give regular consultations and build strong relationships with our clients. Once every three months, we meet with our clients (usually PMs and the PMO) to discuss their experience, needed improvements, desired features, etc. Then we take that feedback to the Epicflow team and use it to plan our future development. For this thorough approach, G2 Crowd has named us a High Performer.

    The Epicflow software onboarding process consists of several phases:
    Preparation phase – Analyzing your data and specific project cases after signing an NDA
    Kick-off phase – Explaining the value of Epicflow and defining desired goals.
    Standardization phase – Training employees, designing project scenarios, and learning how to work with Epicflow
    Modeling phase – Applying the software to real client projects
    Stabilization and support phase – Continuous monitoring of resource groups, further feedback sessions between your team and our support team, additional consultations upon request, online support through live chats

    Are you interested in finding good project management software and fostering a culture of change adoption at your company? Consider Epicflow, a better way to manage your shared resource pool across multiple projects using priority-based scheduling and leveling. Epicflow comes with a well-thought-out onboarding process and highly responsive client support.

    We’re keen on becoming your best supporter during this change management journey and empowering you with Epicflow software combined with the expertise of our PM researchers. Leave your contact info below to request a demonstration and one of our consultants will contact you to arrange an online meeting and show you how to achieve the best results with Epicflow.

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    Gartner suggests that focusing on digital transformation is the best way to retain a competitive advantage and increase opportunities for growth. When digitizing production and investing in digital factories, companies expect a considerable increase in efficiency. In the defence and aerospace sector, companies digitize to challenge the reach of conventional manufacturing and create new engine designs and types of aircraft. At present, nine out of ten companies are investing in digital disruption, including nearly all that are successfully implementing Industry 4.0 strategies. An overwhelming number of business leaders say that implementing digital business practices is their priority and that they expect it to bring new revenue streams. A recent study by MIT found that digitally savvy companies have 38% higher revenue growth than those that have not yet recognized the power of digital transformation in business. Although the idea of digital transformation is catching on, digitalization has been slow and insufficient. What are the pain points that come along with digital transformation and how do market leaders manage them?

    Digital Transformation Pain Points

    According to a survey by PwC, 91% of industrial companies in the EU are investing in digital factories, yet so far only 6% of factories are “fully digitized.” While any kind of company transformation is a challenge, according to McKinsey, more than one-third of companies are unsuccessful in their digitalization endeavors.

    On average, industrial companies plan on investing 6% of their annual revenue on digitalization over the next five years. However, anticipated levels of investment vary depending on the industry. Companies that specialize in consumer goods seem to be at the high point of the scale, while those working with metals, mining, and electronics seem to be lagging:

    Investment in digitalization across industries as a percentage of annual company revenue 

    A digital transformation strategy takes two to five years to bring considerable results; digital factories are strategic investments, and one shouldn’t expect a quick payback. All the same, at least 3% of companies expect to see ROI within a year.

    Expected ROI of Digitalization in Manufacturing 

    One of the major challenges is that despite claiming to love innovation, people still resist change. For instance, while striving for change and a more progressive future in the world of digital project management , many companies still stick to old-fashioned MS Project. Going digital is not only about bringing innovation but also about changing the culture, being flexible and ready to introduce new programs. The only way to succeed in the present fast-growing environment is by being open to experimentation and embracing the opportunity to create a new culture.

    Read more: How to Achieve Top Digital Transformation Results with Epicflow Software

    Digitalization takes time. At the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, Dr. Jeanne W. Ross, the principal research scientist at the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, said: “Even though digital is supposed to be all about speed, it takes a really long time… Success is about being able to execute [a] constantly changing strategy.”

    Another challenge companies face is the need to reconsider their attitude toward collaboration around various technical solutions. With the digital age, such collaboration is the new norm. Hoping that everything can be built in-house and that complex large-scale production can be managed with the help of tools already in use will only hinder company growth and successful digital transformation. It’s possible to leave the days of conservative management behind by creating a powerful ecosystem of technical solutions. Nowadays, success doesn’t come to enterprises that aren’t willing to build and follow a strategy that undergoes constant adjustments.

    Trying to bring about digitalization might also be problematic if a company isn’t ready for it. For instance, if there are scarce resources or poor resource management. Poor resource management results in companies not knowing how to allocate work properly and manage a shared pool of resources across multiple projects.

    Digital Transformation Experience: Been There, Done That

    The experience of top companies says it all: digitalization helps them become more agile, teaches them how to adapt to constant changes in customer demand, and teaches them to be more flexible. Many of these companies have managed to considerably increase their production efficiency, react to fluctuations faster, and become more sustainable. To get to such a point, it’s crucial to be open to digitalization. According to PwC, 49% of employees surveyed in Europe are still not open to change, while 52% believe their company doesn’t have the necessary digital culture.

    You can foster this digital culture at your own company by following the example of those who have already succeeded:

    1. Fujitsu: Digitalization brings factories from around the world to a single campus

    With the help of innovative technology, Fujitsu, a Japanese multinational information technology equipment and services company, brought together their whole value chain on a single campus. Information goes from development all the way down to interactions with the end customer. At the very heart of the factory, they installed cutting-edge technology that drives logistics and production. Furthermore, there’s a self-driving vehicle at the factory to ensure that all production units receive all the materials they need on time and in the proper sequence. The trends and practices of Fujitsu were discussed at the Fujitsu Forum 2018.

    Smart factory, smart opportunity, smart success - Fujitsu Forum 2018 - YouTube

    If you also need to make your production more efficient, you can use a resource planning tool like Epicflow. This software can create a simulated scenario, letting you predict what your production will be like in several months or years given the current state of affairs. Continue reading how to increase team productivity and maximize your production output with this software.   

        2. Kuka: Digitalization empowers connectivity and efficient resource management

    Kuka is a manufacturer of industrial robotics that has achieved great connectivity with the help of digital transformation. The Kuka plant is highly automated, connecting 60,000 devices into a single management system. This approach has empowered Kuka to organize an automated manufacturing process that can produce one of eight different Jeep Wrangler bodies every 77 seconds using a single production line and without interrupting the overall production flow. What’s more, the central interface panel can be used to control all tasks and diagnostic processes. The company expects this approach to automation to secure continuous uptime and 24 hours of production a day for more than eight years.

    Read more: 5 Books to Succeed as a Digital Project Manager

        3. Adidas: Digitalization makes production faster at the expense of automation

    Using 3D printing and robotics, Adidas, a leading manufacturer of sportswear, managed to create two fully automated plants, one of which is referred to as “The Speedfactory.” The company has a well-structured digital business platform that secures its success in digitalization. See more details about this in the video below.

    Digital Transformation: How Does Adidas Automate and Integrate Digital Operations - YouTube

    At The Speedfactory, the biggest share of work is automated, yet there are 150 in-house employees monitoring it. Some production phases are conducted by robots, while others are conducted by humans or a combination of robots and humans. Adidas representatives mention that this solution helps them respond to customer demand faster. It’s also the hope that in the future, this digital transformation will help the company produce custom sneakers to meet the demands of each individual customer.

    4. Hirotec: Digitalization raises revenue by reducing waste

    Global auto parts manufacturer Hirotec was looking for ways to reduce its unplanned downtime, which cost $361 per second. Hirotec introduced industrial IoT gadgets that collect and transmit data to the cloud, while machine learning tools predict system failures. With this change, Hirotec managed to reduce manual inspection time by 100%.

    5. Enel: Digitalization helps to manage multiple tasks with a limited number of resources

    Enel, a global energy company, installed sound sensors on their machine production lines at hydroelectric plants in Spain and Italy. These sensors record and analyze even the slightest changes in machine sounds, revealing issues with equipment early on. The sensors can also evaluate the state of equipment and detect deviations. This means that technicians can save time, since they don’t need to schedule visits to the trouble site but can review data collected by sensors and decide what further steps should be taken. The company’s digital transformation strategy is already planned for the next several years, further securing Enel’s success. Watch the video below to learn more details.

    Enel, the digital transformation - YouTube

    Make sure you have the tools to optimize production. Our researchers have designed Epicflow, multi-project management software that includes the latest innovations in the world of project management, to help you do just that. If you’re interested in software that can empower you in your digital transformation journey, make sure to request a demonstration in the form below, or email us at epicflow@epicflow.com.

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    Project management style can define how successful a company is in the long run. Trent Wood, our guest author, describes the 10 most powerful PM behaviors.

    Trent has vast experience in project management. He led the development and international release of Siebel 7.0 (the first web-based CRM), built and managed a project portfolio management system at Symantec in R&D, and launched the Kodak international web application for photo sharing and printing. He received his PMP certification in 2011 and his ScrumMaster certification in 2014.

    Here’s what Trent writes about the most effective PM behaviors:

    1. Make sure team members commit to a delivery date.

    When you need to have something done, ask your people to provide a delivery date in front of their colleagues so they’re committed to the task. Make this a part of every meeting.

    2. Make certain everyone knows what they have to do.

    People forget and misinterpret things, no matter how many times you give them reminders or written explanations of their tasks. To make sure work goes smoothly, confirm that everyone understands what is expected of them each step of the way.

    3. See if everyone is engaged with the project.

    If someone in your team doesn’t provide a status, misses deliverables, or stops attending meetings, you have to talk to them about it. Have a face-to-face meeting and see if you can resolve the situation. However, be careful not to criticize or blame the person; just speak honestly about the things that bother you and make sure the team member is not overloaded, blocked, in need of help, etc.

    4. Value other people’s time.

    Don’t overestimate the significance of the information you want to provide. Every meeting should follow an agenda and be efficient. If some people don’t necessarily need to be present at the meeting, let them know in advance. Each meeting attendee needs to see value in everything you say. In written communication, add names next to important information and action items to help people focus.

    5. Make sure you are supportive of your people.

    As an example, you could help someone deal with an obstacle or a dependency on a task you gave them. Ask them if your assistance would be helpful, even if it’s something you consider to be trivial or busy work. The main thing is for them to understand that you are always there to support and help. People appreciate such gestures and tend to respond with greater commitment to the project.

    6. Recognize people’s achievements publicly.

    Show your gratitude for someone’s good work in public on a regular basis. Make it real and be sincere about it. Make certain project sponsors and managers also hear the names of the hard workers. Thank people for performing well and delivering on time and help them see the positive contribution they make to projects.

    7. If the work is blocked, make some changes.

    This especially applies to projects where engineers spend countless hours looking for solutions, yet fail to advance, even when the deadline is approaching. Such cases happen when many people need to collaborate on a project but are not communicating sufficiently to resolve the issues. As a PM, you need to facilitate productive discussions and get additional resources, should the situation require it. Arrange meetings, get more people to work on the projects, and make sure communication is effective.

    8. Stay motivated and be vigilant.

    You need to always be aware of the status of your projects. Get real-time updates to know if there are challenges or if anything is not going according to plan. Sometimes, feeling too relaxed might lead to unexpected issues. Talk to people, see if tasks are going to be delivered on time. Always think about potential issues in advance and have strategies for dealing with them.

    9.Tackle the challenges.

    It’s hardly likely that a project goes with no complications. In fact, it’s anomalous. When it comes to technology development projects, uninvited surprises may come at any minute, undermining the whole project. When you think some task will take a month to complete, it will turn out to require 6 months. Even when you work on risk mitigation, unexpected situations will still happen. You need to be mentally prepared to face such struggles. When complications arise, show your leadership skills and work with your team to resolve them. Proactively communicate and engage with stakeholders. Lead the decision-making and corrective actions.

    10. Under-promise and over-deliver.

    This might be the most significant, yet also the most difficult part of the job. It requires proper stakeholder, planning and scope management. When planning, make sure you have allocated sufficient time in case some tasks take longer than anticipated. Stakeholders’ expectations can turn any project into a success or failure. However, it’s also possible that people regard you as not aggressive enough because of such conservative planning. A compressed schedule can help motivate your team and give them a sense of urgency. As a PM, you need to find a happy medium between aggressive and conservative planning.

    If you have something to add based on your experience, share your tips in the comments. If you would like to become our next guest author, feel free to contact us.

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    Did you know that having enjoyable weekends is essential for your productivity? When leaving the office every Friday afternoon, it’s important to actually leave and not just change location. Use these summer weekends as a chance to boost your productivity. Here’s a list of activities that will help you be at 110% on Monday morning.

    Unplug Yourself

    Disconnecting from your work email and phone is job number one if you want to get some proper rest over the weekend. If you keep checking your email, it will feel like you never left work in the first place, since your head will still be filled with work-related issues. Unplugging from social media is also worth considering, since it consumes a lot of time and drains mental energy.

    Look for exciting offline experiences, take pictures, and create memories that will make you smile every time you remember them. In fact, taking pictures and videos is actually a good idea, since it helps you be more engaged in the things you do and promotes mindfulness. A recent study by researchers from the University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University found that taking pictures of pleasant experiences boosts happiness. Here’s what Jamal Shiwram, a Project Manager at Kubik, told us about his way of switching off on weekends:

    I work on multiple projects at a time, and have a separate work phone. As long as I do not have the work phone around, there is no constant reminder of work while I’m on vacation. When you are truly away from work, the key is to not make yourself available. Do not give an emergency number (depending on the type of work you do). Music and the outdoors are what keep my mind at ease when I’m on a vacation.

    Get Outside and Enjoy Nature

    A study in Great Britain that involved interviews with over 20,000 people confirmed that people feel happier when they spend the weekend outdoors. More so if they get to spend time by the sea. Being exposed to sunlight helps you get vitamin D, which boosts happiness, while seeing green landscapes reduces depression and improves psychological health. Albert Ponsteen, a PM researcher and co-founder of Epicflow, says that weekends are a good chance for him to spend quality time with family and go biking or windsurfing.

    Albert on a forest bike ride with his wife

    Being outdoors is also a great opportunity to practice mind-relaxing hobbies and bond with nature. Swaroop Bharadwaj, a Deputy Manager at Buhler, says: “I am more busy and occupied in weekends that recharge me for [the] rest of the week – I practice my hobbies, i.e. either bird watching and photography or farming and farm development! This requires short travels with an off-roader I enjoy riding [my] 4×4 off-roader too. Some time to family. That’s it weekend is gone and weekdays are always on fast track!”

    Get Active

    Getting active is another way to boost your mood and give your brain a break after a hard work week. Getting active outdoors is even better. Paul Oldfield, a team member at Youmanage HR, says the “best [thing] for me is a hike up a hill. It changes my ‘focal length’ in many different respects, and that’s a core need.” Victorine Ghobeira, a Project Lead at Dataquest, also likes this type of weekend activity: “one of my favorite is hiking! Not only [do] outdoor activities increase heart rate and keep you fit, but being exposed to nature helps increase the serotonin level and improve your mood. The sights, sounds and smells of nature can ease your busy mind and transform you into an emotionally balanced and positive person, which helps you become more creative and efficient at work.” Researchers at the University of Vermont found that even 20 minutes of aerobic exercise can improve your mood for the following 12 hours.

    As an alternative, you could plan a short trip abroad or spend the weekend by the sea, swimming and taking walks along the shore. The key is to be physically active, no matter what you do. Muratgali Karimsakov, a Project Engineer at Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, has similar preferences: “Cycling or jogging, if I need release and recharge of physical energy. Any other activities, but the important point here is to listen to your body and soul, what they need.”

    Do Something New

    Doing something exciting and different makes time go slower. When your mind processes new information, its perception of time changes. Exploring new environments, gaining new experiences, or doing anything you’ve never done before will slow down time and make it seem like your weekend is much more than two days.

    Why not consider mastering acting, which will help you improve trust, strengthen your relationships with your relatives, and give you an unforgettable experience? Alexey Mikhalevich, a Solution Architect at Epicflow, enriches his weekend by taking acting classes with his wife.

    Alexey taking acting classes with his wife

    You could also make something with your hands. Svitlana Trofymenko, the Head of Marketing at Epicflow, attends oil painting workshops where no art experience is needed. She describes the experience as a mindful art retreat that helps her deepen her self-awareness and creativity. 

    Svitlana finding retreat in painting

    Julia Utrobina, a Front-End Developer at Epicflow, likes to spend her weekends making soap since it brings her joy, tranquility, and an influx of artistic inspiration.

    Julia getting inspiration by making soap

    These activities are not just relaxing but also stress-reducing. Remember that you’re not doing it as a professional who has to be perfect at the craft but as an amateur seeking to have fun. If painting isn’t your cup of tea, you could try coloring, which is known to relax the fear center in the brain.

    David Johnson, an Agile Coach at USAA, says: “I will typically ‘build something’ to take my mind away from work and exercise my creative side. That can be furniture, wood carvings or pencil/charcoal drawing. [I] also will toss in grilling something & having a few beverages out by our pool while listening to music. Doesn’t always result in ‘being full of energy’ but it certainly helps clear my mind of work related issues.  That mental reset is key for me.” Muratgali Karimsakov also likes activities that involve creating something with your hands: “Handcrafting, if I want some creative and enjoyable activities.”

    Declutter Your Mind

    Getting your mind sorted out and free of work-related issues is an important part of the weekend. Among activities that might help you declutter your mind are, surprisingly, washing dishes, organizing your drawers, folding the laundry, or even washing your car. Such activities require little mental effort, yet they keep you physically occupied. You’ll feel both productive and relaxed, not having due dates to follow or standards to meet. When you sort out the physical environment around you, it also impacts your mind, making it clearer and better structured. Many people recognize decluttering as an effective way to spend the weekend. Here’s what John Barker, the head of Barker Management Consulting, says about it: “This time of year it’s definitely taking the time to grill out. By the end of the week, my home office desk is relatively cluttered. I’ll spend either Saturday or Sunday just straightening it up. It feels like that declutters my mind as well before Monday rolls around.” However, be careful not to let such household chores completely take over your weekend.

    We would like to thank everyone who shared their weekend ideas for this article and wish them inspiration, energy, and productivity! To make your weekend great and your summer unforgettable, put some exciting activities on your agenda and be proactive about your free time. Alexander Keenan, a Senior Software Engineer, says that “if you do not plan for good events in your life you’re much less likely to have them happen. Just as in business you can react or your can make things happen.”

    Are you looking for project management software that will let you rest on vacation and save your projects? If so, then you’re on the right track. Just leave your contact information in the form below and our PM researchers will demonstrate how Epicflow can work for you. In the meantime, check out our latest read on how Epicflow can help you manage multiple projects successfully.

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    Boosting team productivity should be among the top priorities for industrial manufacturers if they want to meet current technological and organizational challenges. Knowing good ways to increase productivity also gives you a competitive advantage. Have you ever considered resource planning software as a way to increase the productivity of your employees? One of the tried and tested 21st-century methods of gaining productivity is adopting an effective project management tool like Epicflow. Here’s a detailed analysis of how Epicflow will help you get more output from your plants with the same number of employees.

    Maximizes Resource Scheduling Effectiveness

    You probably know how hard it is to get a bird’s-eye view of hundreds of employees working at your production facilities worldwide. With Epicflow, you can get a real-time overview from the global portfolio level all the way down to individual tasks. Epicflow is very flexible with organizing resource groups: you can create geographical groups based on people’s location and functional groups based on people’s role in the company. Resource load versus availability can be viewed per group and per individual resource. Real-time resource allocation helps you stay in control and be aware of what’s going on 24/7.

    Resource Management Feature

    Epicflow can help you boost productivity and get higher output with the same number of employees. This is because the Epicflow software is based on an algorithm that optimizes project scheduling and prioritization. You can generate several scenarios for resource allocation and see the potential impact to find the best solution.

    Bubble Graph (gives an overview of project progress)

    Bubble graph is a modern dynamic Fever Chart, which shows you project status and progress. Epicflow will alert you before your project is in trouble: for example, in the event of a resource allocation conflict. Furthermore, it has Pipeline graphs, which also gives you an overview of multiple projects and their progress, making multi-project scheduling as effective as possible. With Epicflow, your organization is more flexible, your workflow is more durable, and your time to market is faster.

    Eliminates Excess Work

    Pushing people to be more productive whatever it takes is not a good idea, since it leads to the opposite outcome: a performance drop. Epicflow helps you make sure everyone in your electric engineering, assembly, construction, support, welding, and production enterprise has an optimal workload which, in our experience, often helps increase team productivity and leads to maximum output. Such features as a Historical Load graph (see below) show you the causality between the workload in resource groups and the output, giving information to help you better manage future team performance. Finding the golden middle is crucial for making employees happy with their work and avoiding complaints about missing deadlines because of excessive workloads.

    Historical Load Graph (shows causality between workload and output)

    Our experience proves that overload leads to decreased output. This happens not only in the overloaded group but also in many other groups because of dependencies. Jan Willem Tromp, a PM researcher and a co-founder of Epicflow, says that “an overloaded employee is the most dangerous threat PMs can experience, as one person can delay all projects due to cascading dependencies between tasks and resources.” So if you want to get maximum performance from your teams, be sure to have an adequate workload and clear focus. Epicflow brings high-priority tasks to the top and makes sure each of your employees knows what to do next. When a team member marks a task as done, the system immediately notices that change and keeps everyone up to date in real time.

    Read on: How Epicflow Helps Drive Project Success

    Effectively Delegates Responsibility

    Creating an effective resource schedule for complex environments is next to impossible if you don’t have resource planning software. If you’re thinking about how to increase productivity, consider testing Epicflow, which visualizes all of your employees, their availability and workload, as well as their skills and experience so you can choose the best person for the project.

    Epicflow is the best project management system, as it aims to efficiently allocate resources and improve productivity. It includes a skills matrix that can be shared among all departments and managed from a central database. This makes it easy to find the most appropriate employee for a task based on skills and availability. The system offers a best-fit resource for open project tasks as well as next-best options.

    Epicflow is the perfect solution for a multi-project environment where project leaders manage parallel projects with task dependencies, a shared pool of resources, and strict due dates. Furthermore, it lets you easily find out who is over- or under-allocated.

    Read on: How to Overcome 3 Major Challenges in Managing Multiple Projects

    Prevents Employee Burnout

    Nowadays, as many as 46% of people suffer from stress because of excessive workloads. Having too many tasks and not knowing which to do first reduces productivity. To be more efficient at work and not face physical and psychological burnout, everyone needs a pace to follow and a work structure to stick to. However, when your project is massive and hectic, the situation can get out of your control.

    You’ve probably already stopped yourself and wondered how to prioritize when everything is important. Epicflow software prioritizes tasks for you and your teams, letting each team member know which task they should do first and why. Epicflow can show you the benefits of project management software by setting a clear pace for your employees with the help of its Task List.

    Task List 

    The Future Load graph, another great feature of Epicflow, shows the causality between the workload in resource groups and the output, providing information to help you manage teams better in the future. The system replans projects automatically in real time after each data update. The visualization below shows resource group load and the availability of other groups. 

    Future Load Graph

    You might think that this sounds good, but what can I do when demand is higher than capacity? What are the options? To deal with such cases, Epicflow provides different ways to manage risks with deadlines and lack of capacity. For example, you can put a parallel project on hold, shift resources, or do cross-training. The system will suggest the right candidate for cross-training or part-time assistance based on their capacity, skills, and profile.

    Read on: Why Your Team Will Fall in Love with Epicflow Project Management Software

    Sets Realistic Goals

    When trying to maximize employee productivity, leaders often go too far, expecting too much and setting unrealistic goals. As a result, simultaneous projects fail like dominos, one after another. Unrealistic goals ruin projects even if employees are qualified enough to make them successful. In combination with tight deadlines, a large scope of work is by no means a good way to increase productivity. On the contrary, it lets everyone understand that the project will fail as soon as it starts. In such cases, an online resource planning tool is a life saver. It can set clear, achievable goals and give people a path to successful project completion. With Epicflow, the Pipeline gives you real-time control of all projects in your portfolio, sorted by priority. You can also conduct an impact analysis on the demand plan with Epicflow’s What-if analysis, and can include both opportunities and projects in simulations, offering great flexibility to meet customer demands and see realistic delivery dates for new projects.

    What-If Analysis Feature 

    Epicflow integrates data from MS Project, Primavera, and Jira, and can read CSV files to improve resource scheduling efficiency and add analytical value. The system allows project managers to import and consolidate resource pools from multiple departments using different Jira and MS Project instances. Epicflow resource planning software enables your company to improve your current workflow and develop new planning processes. Our clients see over 10% efficiency gains with the help of real-time insights on resource loads and the ability to use resources flexibly to resolve bottlenecks. They also see ROI gains of 2%. 

    Are you interested in increasing team productivity and maximizing your product output? Provide your contact information in the form below to request an Epicflow demonstration. Our PM consultants will contact you to arrange a meeting and show you how to achieve the best results with Epicflow.

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    The #NoEstimates movement is a project management trend that started seven years ago within the Agile community. The movement aims at increasing productivity in the domain of software development by promoting management agility. To find out what #NoEstimates is about and whether it’s still relevant in 2019, we conducted extensive research and talked to Woody Zuill, the creator of the idea. Here’s a short overview of this trend and its prospects.

    #NoEstimates Starts on the Grounds That Estimation Is of Little Value

    The #NoEstimates movement originated in 2012, when Woody Zuill, an Agile guide and coach, started a Twitter discussion with members of the software development world using the #NoEstimates hashtag. The concern behind the movement was that estimation, in certain contexts, might be futile and only waste time. Having coined the hashtag #NoEstimates, Zuill urged his Twitter audience to consider the value of estimation and the solutions it brings to projects.

    The #NoEstimates movement doesn’t presuppose that all estimation is bad and should be avoided. Rather, it states that in cases where making a project decision without prior estimation is possible, coming up with alternative methods can enhance team performance and save time. Furthermore, you can’t be “late” with a project if there’s no time estimate. When commenting on why he started the discussion, Zuill says on Twitter that “I originally started noticing issues and dysfunctions in the use of estimates in managing software development many years ago. How often they seemed to misinform the decisions they are intended to inform.”

    Although not planned, the #NoEstimates hashtag provoked an extremely active discussion on Twitter, transforming it into a movement, with some people speaking in its support and others against. On Twitter, Zuill says: “I found that people are often very defensive about using estimates, and yet there seems to be little to justify this confidence.” The controversy surrounding the #NoEstimates movement made it difficult for participants in the discussion to agree on the value of this PM approach. Some claim that focusing on estimation too much might cause a decrease in productivity. Others say if estimation isn’t fruitful, it means that project managers aren’t as agile as they claim to be and don’t know how to adjust initial estimates to specific cases. Some also suggest that estimation gives a sense of urgency, delivery obligation, and ownership of the project.

    Read more: Emerging Trends in Project Management in 2019

    An Honest Look at the Core of #NoEstimates

    #NoEstimates calls for agility. It encourages PMs to recognize that they’re sometimes not as agile as they claim to be, applying template estimates in rather unsuitable cases. Even worse, estimation is often misused, as project managers see it as a way to make programmers work faster, which leads to poor software and unhappy employees. In the following video, you’ll see how the #NoEstimates concept works in practice. The speaker explains how despite having peeled some quantity of potatoes in a certain time, you can’t necessarily expect to peel the same quantity of potatoes in the exact same time in the future since there might be contingencies: rotten potatoes, smaller potatoes, etc.

    NoEstimates in a Nutshell - YouTube

    Making any estimate is challenging, let alone making an accurate estimate. Suppose your project is vague, as the requirements aren’t clear or the deadline is subject to change. If the project is somewhat vague in its nature, how can you expect an estimate to be precise? Supporters of #NoEstimates claim that accurate estimates are rarely possible. In many cases, team members regard estimation as a negative thing, something that invokes fear. As a result, they try to avoid estimation or purposefully do everything possible to delay estimates. #NoEstimates recognizes the problem and encourages a search for alternatives. While an estimate should function as a guess about the future of a project, it’s often transformed into a promise on when and how the project should be delivered. Consequently, when that “promise” is not delivered, it’s not only the client who gets upset but the whole team.

    Read more: How to Run Multiple Jira Instances Intelligently

    #NoEstimates in Action in 2019

    #NoEstimates empowers the team to prioritize features and tasks, make reasonable decisions, and create a viable work strategy. In general terms, it helps you understand the big picture of your project. Proponents of #NoEstimates explain that developers often have to work in accordance with estimates created by project managers – people who don’t specialize in software development and thus have scarce understanding of its peculiarities. An example of #NoEstimates in action would be developing software without giving a final delivery estimate to the client and regularly presenting project progress instead. #NoEstimates aims at eliminating some of the aspects that complicate the delivery of good software. It allows for faster feedback, less wasted time, and improved decision quality while also improving many other factors. Long story short, it makes the work of software developers easier and more efficient.

    We wanted to see if the #NoEstimates concept was still relevant in 2019, so we asked the creator of the movement, Woody Zuill, what he thinks. Here’s what he told us: “It is always relevant to question the practices we use. To quote Grace Hopper: ‘The most damaging phrase in the language is: “It’s always been done that way.”’ Much of what is done in managing software development is simply what we’ve always done. We must be willing to question the status quo with an open mind, and to stop defending these practices. Our path forward depends on this.”

    Which software development estimation technique works for your project? Share your thoughts and experience with the #NoEstimates movement in the comments below.

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