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News for June 2013

Friday Findings: Managing Distributed Project Teams

Managing Distributed Project TeamsPosted by: Seth Weedin

Managing distributed project teams, whether in software or another industry, requires a different approach than managing teams in-house. Communication becomes even more important and team members have to be more accountable for their work. Making sure everyone is involved, up-to-date, and motivated are challenges that distributed project managers face.

We are holding a webinar next week is titled “How to Manage a Distributed Team Using Spotlight”. We will be offering strategies on keeping your distributed project team in sync and collaborating frequently. Constant communication and collaboration are probably the most important aspects of guiding a distributed team through a successful project delivery.

Going with the theme of our webinar next week, Friday Findings will cover tips and techniques to managing a distributed project team. As more businesses turn to sites like Freelancer for hiring talent and working remotely, properly managing this trend will be vital to success.

The Findings

  • CIO offers several practical tips for managing a distributed project team in the software development space. They stress “over-communication”.
  • Shane Pearlman runs a 100% distributed company (just like Spotlight) and offers his tips on “leading without seeing”.
  • Mind Tools offers up advice on managing a distributed project team through choosing the right people, defining a purpose, developing team dynamics, and promoting team bonding.
  • Here is a series of bulleted tips from Bright Hub PM on managing a globally distributed project team effectively.
  • GitHub CEO Tom Preston-Werner describes why he runs his company as a distributed work environment. He offers some great tips on making everyone feel like they are in the same office.
  • This oDesk blog article looks at different ways to ensure that knowledge is being shared across your distributed project team.

All of these articles provide valuable information on managing distributed project teams but one size does not fit all. Take some time to learn about your project team members at the beginning to figure out the best approach to managing them. Certain tactics may be appropriate for some distributed teams but not others.

One consistent theme in all these articles is frequent communication within the distributed team. It doesn’t matter what kind of project it is, communication and collaboration is vital. For software development projects, things change quickly and often, making team communication especially important. Everyone has to be on the same page throughout the project. Check out our webinar next Wednesday discussing how you can keep everyone in sync and collaborating all the time during your project with Spotlight PPM.

Have you had success with other tactics in managing your distributed project team? Leave us a comment so we can learn from you!

For more information on Spotlight Software and Spotlight People & Project Manager, please contact us or visit our FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


Spotlight Helps Sponsor Event for Young Entrepreneurs

An event filled with exciting business ideas, awesome teamwork, and mentoring was capped off by a pitch competition from the Phoenix area’s young entrepreneurs. Ready Set Launch! 2013 hosted by the Center of Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI) was a week-long entrepreneurship learning experience for high school students. High school sophomores, juniors, and seniors gained a new understanding of entrepreneurship as a possible career opportunity and how to start their own business.

Spotlight was able to take part in the event as a sponsor and was very excited to help support the young entrepreneurs of the future. COO Dan Schulz served as a judge for Friday’s pitch competition and even took part in some fun with one company’s Star Wars light saber replicas.

Watch this CEI video highlighting Spotlight as a Sponsor

The first day of the event was built around the students sharing ideas and learning to cooperate within their given teams. As the week went on, the teams developed their business pitch presentations covering everything from intellectual property to marketing to funding. Each team even developed their own commercial and radio spot recording!

Ready Set Launch! also included presentations from several prominent players in the Phoenix entrepreneurship community. The young entrepreneurs learned first-hand from those who have been there, done that in the startup world. Presenters involved with organizations such as Seed Spot, Co+Hoots, AZ Commerce Authority, NACET, and several others led informational and inspiring talks for the students.

Dan Schulz at Ready Set Launch! 2013 for Young Entrepreneurs

Spotlight COO Dan Schulz with a new light saber

Friday wrapped up the incredible event with the teams presenting their business pitches to the panel of judges. Each team was given 10 minutes to present their business and any of them could have easily won the competition. But only one could be chosen and Skyguard, a business that provides large-scale security through drone surveillance, came away as the winning team. Greg Bullock of CEI wrote an excellent series of posts recapping each day of the event in more detail and photos.

Not only was the entire event extremely valuable for the young entrepreneurs learning new business skills and lifelong lessons, it was valuable for us as well. We saw first-hand the future entrepreneurs of the Phoenix area. And boy, is that future bright.

For more information on Spotlight Software and Spotlight People & Project Manager, please contact us or visit our FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


Friday Findings: Software Requirements Analysis

Posted by: Seth Weedin

Requirements analysis is an important part of any software project. They get your project team started off on the right foot with the client’s requirements of the new software application. They describe the goals of the application and what the project is actually about.

Think of requirements analysis like the blue prints to building a house. You need the blue prints in order to build it the correct size, dimensions, etc for the house and requirements analysis achieve the same thing in a software project. They answer the ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘who’ of the project.

So how do you build solid requirements analysis to get everyone on the same page and heading in the right direction? Here are 10 resources to help you out:

  • Think software requirements analysis can be done quickly or even skipped? Here are 13 common objections against requirements analysis and why you shouldn’t believe them. This article comes from a while back but still relevant.
  • The entire software project management process ties together from start to finish. Here’s an article describing how strong user stories will drive effective software requirements analysis.
  • Why doing requirements analysis is a critical first step in web design…and all software design and development.
  • When doing website redesign or thinking about developing a new application, software requirements analysis can be delivered in these 3 common steps.
  •  Want to learn more about software requirements analysis or thinking about a career in business analysis? Here are 8 books that you should read.
  • Great quality software requirements analysis can often be the difference between a successful project and one that sees lots of waste. Here are 10 best practices to create great requirements.
  • There are several key questions to ask during software requirements analysis. This article highlights some of the more important ones that you can ask to avoid common issues that arise when starting a software project.
  • Getting software requirements analysis right is very important in allocating time and money towards the project. Here are 5 tips to get your requirements done right to send your project team marching towards the project goals.

Proper preparation using software requirements analysis can get your project off to the right start towards success. One of our favorite authors on business analysis and the importance of requirements is Barbara Davis, who is an expert at properly gathering requirements analysis.  She’ll have a new book coming out later this year on specifically software requirements analysis.

We employ this technique when helping businesses with their software project management process which gives them a product roadmap of how their project will play out. Seeing this gives them a peace of mind knowing there is are goals and objectives clearly outlined for a successful project.

Have any other good tips for gathering requirements from customers and stakeholders for software projects? Leave a comment and let us know!

For more information on Spotlight Software and Spotlight People & Project Manager, please contact us or visit our FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


Spotlight Sponsoring Startup Weekend Tempe

Posted by: Seth Weedin

Startup Weekend Tempe

Startup Weekend is coming to Tempe!

Ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Startup Weekend Tempe will show you in a 54-hour fury of creating business models, designing and coding a minimum viable product, and market validation. The event will take place at the brand new AREA48 Formation Space on Mill Avenue right in the heart of downtown Tempe on September 6th – 8th.

Startup Weekend is 3-day event teaching the basics of what it takes to launch a business from the ground up. Anyone who has an idea for a startup can participate and receive loads of feedback from other experienced entrepreneurs. All ideas are voted on and teams are formed to turn the idea into a business model in 54 straight hours of fun. The weekend concludes with presentations in front of a panel of judges giving valuable feedback the entrepreneurs can take with them.

The event in Tempe starts Friday evening with introductions, dinner, and networking before moving right into the pitches and team formation. Saturday and Sunday continue with teams working on their business ideas and opportunities for coaching and mentoring throughout. The event caps off with final presentations, judging, and awards on Sunday evening. The entire schedule for the weekend is available on the Startup Weekend Tempe website.

As a contributing sponsor, Spotlight has been provided a promotional code for a 15% discount off the ticket price. Register for the event today, enter the promotional code Spotlight for your 15% discount, and prepare yourself to soak up all the knowledge at Startup Weekend Tempe!

For more information on Spotlight Software and Spotlight People & Project Manager, please contact us or visit our FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


Visual Guide to Software Project Management

Posted by: Seth Weedin

Software project management requires a versatile style of management that has to be adapted constantly. No longer is a pre-defined plan set and followed to a T. There are now twists and turns with requirements changes, new features, and unexpected issues throughout. The agile or lean process of development can help offset these challenges and is a very efficient method to turn your software idea into a polished product.

At Spotlight, we place an enormous amount of emphasis on our software project management process and making sure it’s as efficient as possible. This allows us to maintain weekly releases of Spotlight People & Project Manager (PPM) based off customer feedback and suggestions. We’ve maintained this practice all the way throughout the development of PPM and hence, wanted to share it with everyone else!

Coming soon to our website, we introduce The Visual Guide to Successfully Managing a Software Development Project. This guide will take you through the entire process of developing your business application successfully, from idea to delivery. One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs and startups in getting their business off the ground is creating that first website, software, or mobile app. We’ve produced this guide to save you time and money in developing that software vision that is so exciting for your new endeavor.

Our guide takes you through the software project management process using a three-phase approach: hiring, planning, and executing. Let’s take a closer look at all three to give you a first peek into what the guide offers.

User Experience for Spotlight's Visual Guide to Software Project Management

Hiring

This first step in the three-phase approach is probably the most important. Hiring the wrong people to work on your project can set you back a long ways, both in time and financially. Our visual guide will show you how to clearly communicate your goals to potential developers, evaluate candidates through programming tests, and finally, the benefits to using a virtual team. An important thing to remember here is to hire a team that aligns with your software vision and goals, not just the one that is the cheapest.

Planning

Going straight into execution without planning your project is like going into a football game with no plays for the offense. Some people feel that the agile or lean methodology doesn’t require a plan. This is definitely not the case. In this second phase, we outline how to form the initial plan to provide your team with a direction towards the end goal. By all means, use the agile methodology during development, but formulating a plan helps get you to that development phase.

Our guide will show you how to implement requirements analysis, wire frames, and use cases to get that software vision on to paper. Setting up goals, sprints, and tasks is also done in this phase and we’ll walk you through a strategy that keeps your project on track.

Executing

Now for the fun (and last) part in our three-phase software project management guide: executing. This is where your software app starts to take shape. Managing a software team through this final critical phase can often determine whether the project is actually delivered on time.

In this section, our guide offers advice on how to turn your team into a well-oiled machine through effective communication and accountability. Using daily scrums, frequent status updates, and regular progress reports, it will feel like your entire development team is working in the same office (if they aren’t already). This keeps everyone on the same page, including all project stakeholders, to move the project along without any major bumps.

Finally…

Software project management is not easy. Things change constantly when creating software and the ability of a team to be agile (see what I did there?) will determine its success. That’s why we’ve created this visual guide to successfully managing a software project, to help you hire, plan, and execute your project in the most cost and time efficient manner possible.

Interested in when our new visual guide will be live on our website? Contact us or sign up for our mailing list at the bottom of our homepage and be the first to know, along with other news and special offers!

For more information on Spotlight Software and Spotlight People & Project Manager, please contact us or visit our FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.