Let’s face it, life has a funny way of not slowing down long enough for us to catch our breath. In the world of digital marketing, this is definitely true. As a Digital Producer (Project Manager), a day generally consists of a variety of meetings, a never-ending supply of emails, and keeping projects on track. That’s just during the day! The rest of the day/week consistsof going out for a drink with friends, training for half ironman triathlons and babysitting my 4 month old nephew. I love what I do, but on any given day life can go 0 to 100 in a few short minutes. You get it, I’m busy, so here’s how I keep myself organized.

The industry is ever changing, and because of this we try to use our processes the best we can to lessen the complexity of the day. Whether you use Asana, smartQ, or just a bunch of Post-It’s, visualization is great way to mitigate complexity in workflow. One of the best tools on the market for this is Kanbanize.

What is Kanbanize you ask? It’s an incredibly powerful tool for workflow visualization, measurement, and efficiency. “Kanban (かんばん(看板) from Japanese literally means signal card or signboard.” The Kanbanize Blog outlines the basic principles of the software tool. Now, I’ve been using it for 2 years and I continue to learn more about what it can do to make managing projects smoother. It’s powerful, but it’s also simple enough for anyone to use.  The best way to learn what it can do is to simply try it, and explore.

Just Do it

The first thing that Kanbanize makes you do is create different boards. These can be for different delivery teams, accounts, or people. The beauty of this tool is that it’s highly customizable. There are 3 main columns on a board when you start out: Ready Work, In Progress, and Review, which follow the basic principles of the Kanban method. If you want to add another column with something like “Stakeholder Signoff”, it’s as simple as a couple clicks. Once the board is completed, you create cards. Cards are the way that you move a project from beginning to end within Kanbanize. You can create one for each deliverable, project, or statuses.

As a project manager, the way we begin our projects is by creating a card at a project kick-off. This becomes a parent card, and as we know parents have children. A child card will be created for each delivery team and for each deliverable. These cards will house all the information about that deliverable, check out the Kanbanize Blog. Kanbanize is just one part of the equation when it comes to simplifying workflow process.

15 Minutes to Change Your Project

Scrum is another way to make the process more simplistic and keep your to-do list on track. Scrums are a crucial part of the agile process, however, it does not require buy-in to the agile framework. It is a 15 minute meeting held every day to help a team/project to stay in sync. Key words there are “15 minute”. This is not an internal status or a technical discussion, and should never be treated as such.

Depending on the length of the project or size, scrums are better suited for medium to large projects that have more participants. Scrum participants should follow the same process, and the Scrum-Master should be the one to make sure that this process is adhered to.  The process should be:

  • What was done yesterday?
  • What will be done today?
  • Are there any obstacles/roadblocks?

There are some individuals that may start to take over the scrum, don’t be that girl (and guys do this too). Remember, this time is not for micromanagement. It’s a time for everyone to come together and make sure the team has the same information. It eliminates, to an extent, the need for superfluous email communication about what everyone is doing each day/week. Yes it may be another meeting, however it will be a meeting that will (hopefully) eliminate the dreaded email chain. For more information about scrum and agile best practices, I recommend taking a look at The Scrum Alliance.

We’re all busy with different things, whether you’re a project manager or not; list maker like me or just a doer of this thing called life. I am a firm believer that organization just makes sense of the chaos in life. I’ve even thought about making a Kanban board for my triathlon training schedule! Even if you’re not you’re a Kanban fanatic (like me), kudos to you for taking that next step to visualize and optimize efficiencies.

Kanbanize and Scrum work hand-in-hand, making my life (and other project managers too) easier. My recommendation for using these tools and keeping everything in order is introducing your team to these strategies. Once they’re familiar with Kanbanize they’ll be able to utilize as the agenda and framework for the scrum. Our lives may be busy, but I hope that this starts the wheels turning on how you can improve your project workflow efficiencies.