Projects and work packages
The term project is broadly defined in Octaved Flow. Every kind of project or topic is considered as a project. In many cases, a customer order is also referred to as a project. No matter if it is a project, a topic, an undertaking or an order, for the sake of simplicity everything is called a project in Octaved Flow.
Projects are then divided into manageable work packages.
In fact, the work package is at the center of the concept and many features are tied to the work package. Work packages are planned on the timeline, assigned to people responsible for implementation, moved left and right in Kanban boards, and much more.
To give an idea for scale: Project managers often subdivide a project so that the effort for a work package is in the range of 1 to 5 days.
Unlike traditional approaches where it is recommended that only one person be assigned to a work package, with Octaved Flow it is an inherent part of the concept that multiple people or a team can be assigned as well.
- The easy to follow structural principle of dividing projects into work packages already provides clarity in the processes and transparency. If all topics are subdivided according to this simple scheme, comprehensible processes and responsibilities result.
- In principle, everyone in the team works according to the same scheme.
- This makes it much easier to optimize workflows and processes. In addition, it is easier to get started with a new topic.
- The wheel is not reinvented every time. Proven procedures can be copied without any problems.
Roles and responsibilities
In Octaved Flow, project participants are divided into two categories: project managers and team members. Project managers manage projects, e.g. create work packages for a project and plan the project flow. Team members implement the work packages assigned to them by the project manager.
The terms are not fixed here, a team leader can just as easily have the role called project manager in Octaved Flow. A project manager can easily switch roles at any time and work on the implementation.
- The project role shows accountability to everyone on the team.
- The division of labor creates clear responsibilities and processes.
Project planning with Gantt charts is a classic and an indispensable part of project management. In Octaved Flow, planning is done with an extended version of Gantt.
Work packages are planned, everything else results from that. There are also milestones, different types of dependencies and colors for the status.
The team planning shows the project planning from a different perspective. Here the focus is on the team member and which work packages are planned. Viewing the workload in the team allows resource planning and balancing the workload.
- Project planning in Octaved Flow is based on the proven Gantt charts to make it even easier to get started. At the same time, project planning is suitable for any type of project, plan or assignment.
- Anticipatory team planning for less chaos and stress just before deadlines.
- Realistic resource planning that utilizes team members evenly and doesn't overload them. No one has too much or too little work on their plate.
- Built-in Kanban boards to prioritize work as part of the planning process.
The Workspace is the individual workspace for all team members. Each team member sees at a glance what is pending for the day.
For better understanding, team members see the work packages assigned to them in their workspace, and as the work packages were scheduled. Project managers do not see the corresponding work package in their workspace, after all they are not supposed to implement it themselves.
- Team members find everything they need for daily work in Octaved Flow on just one page, the workspace.
- Project managers control via scheduling when the team members should implement which work package.
Division of work between project managers and team members
In the complexity of today's project world, it is impossible for project managers to know all the details of every work package in a project. Instead, managers define the big plan and establish the common goals. "Micro-management," or overseeing even the smallest details, is outdated and impractical with today's workload.
Project managers provide the framework, but are dependent on leaving the exact design to the team members. They are usually in a better position to judge the details.
In Octaved Flow, this working method is mapped as follows: Project managers divide the project into work packages, schedule them on the timeline, and assign them to team members.
The team members move on their own responsibility within the set framework. Ideally, they divide a work package into tasks, which they create at the beginning of the implementation and which serve as a checklist at the end.
Team tasks and task planning
An important basic principle that differentiates Octaved Flow from other tools at a structurally crucial point is that a distinction is made between work packages and tasks. This is often one and the same in other concepts. But the separation makes the difference for the work organization. Through the work packages, the project managers provide the framework for the team members. The team members then use tasks to further subdivide a work package. Tasks are used to accurately determine the progress of the project because this is the smaller unit and therefore more accurate.
Task management is used to create tasks and schedule them on the timeline.
In addition, the effort of a task can be estimated in advance. A typical order of magnitude for the effort of a task is 15 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours or half a day.
With larger tasks, statements about progress become too imprecise, planning in more detail would be too much work. The orders of magnitude are chosen deliberately and from experience.
- The special feature in Octaved Flow is that task planning is integrated with project planning.
- The project management plans work packages, team members can move with their tasks within this framework and the project management has the complete overview of all processes from the helicopter perspective.
- Tasks are also checklists that can be used multiple times.
- Kanban boards are also available for tasks, for example to set priorities or to create workflows
- Actual project progress can be determined more accurately via tasks than with other methods (smaller unit, greater accuracy).
The goal of Octaved Flow is to ensure that fewer emails are sent in general, because emails are widely used as a means of communication, but are not really efficient. Especially internal emails with long email histories and many CC often paralyze productivity instead of boosting it.
The key in Octaved Flow to avoid redundant emails are Wikis. Wikis are a centralized source of information with a predefined structure and clear organizational concept.
By using different types of board posts, communication becomes more transparent and there are fewer misunderstandings. Use the Release type when you need approval, Question when you need support, and FYI to let specific people know. You can also mention people in a meeting report. You can immediately see if a question has already been answered with traffic light colors.
- Octaved Flow's Wiki makes only a few specifications for communication in teams and companies. However, these provide sensible structures and optimize processes of communication and information storage/retrieval.
- No ping-pong of internal emails
- With Wikis, there is a central repository instead of a multitude of information piling up on you. That means fewer emails, but everything in a central location, and when you need it.
- Including everyone in the flow of information. Because if you haven't been disconnected, you don't have to spend time reconnecting them.
Analysis, project controlling, KPI
Octaved Flow contains extensive analysis features to see if really more productivity has been created, processes have been streamlined and workflows have become more efficient.
Commercial aspects, project time recording, time sheets
This section is interesting if you have to prove and invoice working time to third parties. Otherwise you can skip it.
An order is usually represented as a project. The order items then correspond to work packages.
There are different billing types for the work packages, such as fixed price or by effort. This means that a project can also have mixed billing types, such as fixed price and effort items.
Also in this point the work package is in the center. It is the "commercial unit" for orders. Here again it becomes clear how the concepts of Octaved Flow intertwine. It is important that several persons or a team can be assigned to a work package for execution, because it often happens in practice that an order item is not to be implemented by only one person.
In addition, a work package can also take on the role of the bid item. The work packages can be handed over by the project manager to the subsequent team members for estimating the effort as part of the price calculation. If the team members subdivide the work package into tasks, not only is the effort estimate more accurate, but these tasks are then, when the order is placed, at the same time the checklist for implementation.
Time bookings are consequently also made per work package. This means that the time bookings always correspond to the commercial basis. In addition, it is especially easy for the team members, because they find the work packages in their workspace at the right time anyway and do not have to search them out first.
Octaved Flow then generates timesheets from the time bookings and billing data that can be transferred to the ERP system.