Distributed teams

5 Tools to Head Start Your Project


Quest for the best mix of project management tools is known to new and veteran managers both. While the supply of such solutions has grown immensely over the years, instead of making the decision easier it actually made it much more difficult. Choosing the right tool for the job, not getting influenced and derailed from your actual needs is what we seek to do, but often fail simply because of the overwhelming information available. To make this decision a little easier, we decided to narrow things down to five categories of tools you will need for your next project.

Project management

1447257647_bullishFew projects can happen with no project management, we need to have order and known when the things are supposed to be done. To make this goal as easy as possible, you will need some sort of project management tool or software. Choose what fits your style and the team you are working with – some will do just fine with a whiteboard and markers, while others will feel more comfortable with a specified software like Eylean Board designed to handle large projects. In any case, this will be crucial to your progress as you will plan, monitor and execute the work ahead according to this tool.

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Why desktop tools beat web-based

cloudWith the growing availability and improving performance of the cloud services, some were quick to judge that desktop tools are as good as dead. Surely, the web-based apps are more easily accessible, do not require installation and work on every platform. They seem like a dream come true. However, most of us tend to forget the drawbacks that the web-based tools still have until it is too late.

The benefits of web-based tools are apparent and not intended to be argued in this article. What will be argued however, is that the drawbacks of these tools should not be overlooked as in some situations they prove to be crucial. Identifying them in advance and making the right choice between web-based and desktop tools can prove to lead your company to success as you will have made the right decision.

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Top 5 collaboration problems and 5 solutions to them

collaborationBusiness world is all about collaboration these days, teams are constructed from different organizations and locations in order to gain maximum profit and benefit for all sides. However, with more and more collaboration, more problems tend to arise as well and solutions have to be found for them.

In order to help your team solve the problems that have risen or to help you avoid them altogether, we decided to take a look at the top 5 collaboration problems and provide you with possible solutions. You should keep in mind that the solutions provided here are the most universal ones and could be adopted to various teams in trouble. Therefore you should look at these solutions more as guidelines instead of the absolute truths.

One of the biggest problems team face is the management of tasks. Deciding who is doing what and when they are doing it is vital for the project to move forward. However this process often causes a lot of confusion and frustration simply because there are no clear rules how it is done. Some team members send updates by e-mail, others by phone and there are no records of what has been done and what is coming next. To keep this from happening, you should start thinking how you will manage your tasks early in the process. One possibility is appointing a person to be in charge (usually the project manager), however it takes a lot of their time. Therefore a better solution would be adopting a task management software that would allow all the team members to access and update the information in one place.

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Too many tools required

Project management is a process of organizing resources so that a project meets its goals, time line and budget. It is separate from other business activities and at the same time it incorporates all of them. Project management deals with three main factors: time, cost and performance. These factors also have many different components that are essential in a project like: planning and scheduling, developing, communicating, managing resources, monitoring progress, and all of these things require different tools of management.

Project management tools

Each project has its starting point which usually is the planning and scheduling phase, where you define your project goals. How well you plan them will have a huge impact on the end result of a project and, in order for a project to be successful, project goals need to be well defined. When goals are not clear, it is impossible for the team to meet them, so they need to be presented visually. Many projects focus on creating just a database of tasks, thus the end goal or plan may be difficult to grasp. Therefore, visualizing a project with an easy to understand tool is needed.

In order for a project to be completed successfully and on time, each task and phase of the project life cycle must constantly be tracked. Keeping track of every task, as well as the overall project, can be difficult without some kind of tool, especially if it’s a bigger project with many work items. What is more, tracked time of the project and tasks need to be presented in a form of charts or reports to have some benefit to the stakeholders and the team and so, yet another tool is needed. In addition to this, different project teams may need different reports and charts, which may require even more options to summarize tracked information.

Moreover, effective communication between team members is the foundation of a successful project, therefore, effective means and tools of conveying information are needed. As teams get bigger, or multiple projects are being worked on at the same time, certain barriers in communication can arise. Conveying information verbally or by documentation sometimes may not be enough, because tasks need be presented in such way that every team member should understand their purpose and in what project lifecycle stages these tasks are. Some teams may require to integrate information from other sources. Information may be passed back and forth between project leaders and team members regarding deliverables, changes in scope, and any other important issues regarding the project. It is also common for members to send important, and possibly sensitive, electronic documents to one another, including contracts, budgetary information, and detailed timelines. This means that a team may need to work with different programs or tools that may or may not be connected to one another.

Finally, project teams have to choose different project management softwares and techniques altogether, as every company is unique in some way. There is no software which would suit every company, as most of them try to provide customized solutions for a specific industry. This is why there are so many of them, not to mention that each software has its own tools, and because of this different variety, it may be difficult to choose the right software.

Eylean seeks to solve this problem by incorporating all tools that are needed in project management. This software targets distributed teams and suits any agile process. It contains all Kanban and Scrum features which can be applied to software development, manufacturing, construction, sales and marketing teams. Reports and time tracking are there as well, so you can focus on managing just those activities which create value without wasting time. Also, it can be integrated with Project, TFS, Outlook and Excel. Overall, Eylean seeks to increase productivity, transparency and efficiency in project management.

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Frequent dilemma: what sprint duration is best for your team

sprint durationEveryone might agree with the fact that Scrum is the most popular methodology in Agile development. Many organizations use Scrum due to its simplicity and flexibility. In Scrum, work is confined to a regular, iterative work cycle, known as a sprint. Most of the time one sprint lasts from one week to 4 weeks, but in some exceptional cases sprint might take up to two months. Each scrum team can face such challenge – decide upon sprint length.

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Estimating in story points compared to hours

story pointsNowadays you will find less and less people who still haven’t heard anything about Agile framework called Scrum. Those, who already learned about it one of the first things they met was the concept of a “Story point”. Story point is a measure of size of a user story, feature or other piece of work but not equal unit of time.  Story points are used by Scrum teams and provides with forecasts on total effort needed to deliver task.

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Cloud is bad?

Trends make people blind – so is the cloud computing hype overwhelming common sense… Nowadays as a professional or a leader you have an opportunity to employ tons of great (or not so great) apps which should make your life easier, yet somehow you end up in need of even more services and something called cloud computing. Get a cloud they said… it will be fun they said… But some of you might already have learned a costly lesson – data in cloud is not so secure and reachable as it could seem at first. So let us talk about common reasons why one should turn away from cloud to “on premises deployment”.

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Why should one apply Agile or Lean practices?

Have you ever wondered if Agile or Lean practices are any good? Have you searched through web and read dozens of whitepapers, videos and slide shows? Still not convinced? We challenge you to watch this 3 minute video and get a quick grasp how you can benefit not only by applying agile and lean but also empowering tools for project management.


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Scrum vs. Kanban vs. Scrumban: Boards, Rules, and Who Should Use It

In the previous blog posts we discussed the team members, roles, work routines, planning, estimation, scope, and other aspects of Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban.

There are a few other differences between the methodologies, which do not necessarily fall into one of the categories above. In this blog post we review the boards used in each case, prioritization, rules – and, most importantly – who should use which methodology.


The Scrum task board is defined and reset each sprint. As the backlog items move from backlog to completion during a sprint, and are planned separately for each sprint, the board is reset after the sprint is over.

Kanban and Scrumban boards remain persistent and are not reset, as there are no pre-set periods for backlog item completion.


Prioritization in Scrum is done through backlog. Therefore, the Scrum backlog is ordered and the most important items therefore end up being done first.

In Kanban, prioritization is optional. In Scrumban, prioritization is recommended during each planning.


Scrum is generally a constrained process, where the tasks are assigned to team members and bounded by deadlines. Therefore, Scrum is the most restrictive process of the three.

Kanban, on the other hand, has only a few constraints is a fairly flexible process.

Scrumban has a slightly constrained process and falls in between the two.

Who should use it?

While all three methodologies can be used in a variety of settings, there are a few aspects to take into account when considering whether to adopt different methodologies.

Scrum works well for large projects, and especially for projects with long-term maturity of more than a year. Therefore, Scrum is often chosen by enterprise teams seeking to make their process more effective.

Kanban has the unique ability to handle constant flow of incoming tasks, therefore it is often chosen by support and maintenance teams, or continuous product manufacturing – among other applications.

Finally, Scrumban is often used by fast-paced projects, as it combines the flexibility of Kanban with the basic features of Scrum. Therefore, it is often used in startups or, similarly to Kanban, where continuous product manufacturing is required.

It is however important to choose the process that works for you and customize it to fit your own requirements. Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban are just tools to make you and your team more productive – and therefore use them the way it works for you and your team, not necessarily following every rule to the T. Good luck!


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Setting Up An Electronic Task Board

We recently talked about the advantages of using electronic whiteboard. If you are thinking about installing one, there are a few hardware options to choose from depending on your preferences. Here is a review of the most common ones – including our experience with the one that has worked best for us.

1. A projector and a computer

The simplest arrangement is to just use an existing computer and a projector. In such case, the computer is the input device for the board – any changes on the board can be made through the computer.

There are several advantages of this approach. First of all, it is cheap – there is no need for a board or another deployment. It is possible to reuse the company’s hardware instead of investing into a new one.

On the other hand, such arrangement requires space – as the team has to be away from the projector beam. In addition to that, the team cannot interact with the board during meetings – instead, the board needs to be controlled via the computer. If more people are involved, it can get crowded as the team members gather around the computer. Thus, this arrangement does not really work for large teams.

2. Infrared touch monitor or a large screen

The second option is to use a touch monitor or a large screen that reacts to touch.

The advantages of this option include good visual quality and medium price. However, the size of the board is limited, as the price grows significantly if you are looking into larger boards. Also, based on our experience, infrared multitouch systems might be buggy. They typically do not allow for multiple touch points, and if they do – it does not always work as expected.

3. Capacitive touch board with a projector

Capacitive touch board is based on the technology that detects any input that is conductive or differs from air. Therefore, the team can touch the board directly in order to control the software – and this option is by far our favorite.

The advantages of capacitive touch board include enjoying the high quality of touch – it is pleasant to use it and the board responds rapidly. The board can be accessed by the whole team at the same time, standing in front of the board. The look and feel is also the best of the three options as the board is convenient and easy to use.

On the other hand, capacitive touch board is the most expensive of the three options. It also has lower resolution on projectors. However, despite these disadvantages, capacitive board is our favorite – and below is our experience with setting up and using one.

Using capacitive task board for Scrum and Kanban

Capacitive touch board can cost from around 2,000 USD for the cheapest one, up to 10,000 USD for a medium solution and much more for the high-end product. The board typically consists of three components, which can be chosen based on price or other personal needs:

1. Capacitive board. Capacitive board is the whiteboard that reacts to touch and works as the input device. This means that instead of changing tasks via the computer, you can easily do that on the whiteboard.

Typically, the pricier the board, the better resolution for capacitive input points it can offer. The standard resolution of 1024×768 is typically enough for touch-friendly software to operate well, because human finger is large enough and hits several of the touch points at a time.

Multi-touch support that has at least 3-4 separate touch inputs is typically sufficient even for the large boards – but you can choose more advanced multi-touch functionality depending on the budget and needs.

2. Short-range projector. Short range projector is the device that projects computer screen onto the whiteboard. You should probably invest the most into this.

The projector needs to be bright and have a good resolution, as even medium-budget ones usually offer only 1024×768 resolution, which is very low. Such resolution is only sufficient for medium-sized boards, such as 48 inches. So if you are looking for quality, keep that in mind and do not cut the budget for the projector too much.

3. Whiteboard stand. Whiteboard stand is the frame that holds the board. In most cases, it is worth investing a bit into the stand, as later on it comes handy to be able to change its position, angle, height, and many more. This is particularly convenient when bringing the board to conferences and exhibitions.

In addition to that, you will need two other items for the board to work properly:

4. Computer. The computer can be a cheap, low-budget one, depending on the software you will run. There are a lot of resources on how to choose a computer, so we will not dwell deeper into that.

5. Software. If you are setting up an electronic task board, you will also need the software that is touch-friendly. For task management, it is possible to use Eylean or other touch-friendly software. For any other applications, you need to make sure that it works well with touch, is visual, and can be used with an interactive whiteboard.

At Eylean, we are using capacitive Panasonic board – here are a few images on how it looks in action:

Are you using an electronic whiteboard? Share your experience in the comments!

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