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Project Management Methodologies: A Primer

In our last blog, we covered a small handful of project management programs you can use to help increase visibility and accountability among your team as you move to a remote way of working for the foreseeable future. These programs are meant to help you organize and track your work—but they won't necessarily do that well on their own. You also need a project management methodology.

What is a project management methodology? It is a set of rules that govern how projects will be carried out. We've touched on these concepts before many times in our blogs about systemizing your workflows. There is a reason we spend so much time on these concepts: they work. By creating a defined method of doing something, you now have the ability to track and measure it, find the weak points, and continuously improve it—and your bottom line. "What gets measured gets managed." We didn't coin the phrase—but everything we do pays homage to this philosophy.

So, what project management methodology should you choose for your property management business? We're only going to mention a few that we would recommend specifically to property managers. There are so many more we won't list because they are better for web development or other industries. Let's get started!

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The Critical Path Method

The Critical Path Method is very similar to what we've taught in our blogs about defining workflows.

  • In the critical path method, you break down your workflow process into tasks and dependencies and then assign a time allotment to each task.
  • You can then estimate the time it takes to launch a project from start to finish, and most importantly, how long your critical path will take.
  • Beyond that, you begin your project highly organized with clear responsibilities and dependencies.
  • Everyone knows exactly what their role is and approximately how long it should take—and they also know precisely who is depending on them and will be disrupted if they don't follow through.

The Critical Path Method can be applied to most property management systems. Take, for example, the Make-Ready Process. There are multiple critical elements that need to occur to perform a successful make-ready. There is an initial walkthrough, contractor scheduling, contractor work, and a final punch walkthrough before leasing can start bringing tenants in. This is a critical path.

There are also tasks that aren't critically time-dependent, such as sending a final statement and itemization of the work completed to your client. If this doesn't occur, nothing is held up—whereas if the final walkthrough is neglected, the leasing process is as well. You do not want to garner negative reviews from conducting showings of a property that has clearly not been taken care of!

Why is the critical path important? By refining this process, you can anticipate—with high accuracy—whether your current staffing is sufficient, too much, or not enough using these time measurements. When overlaying your projects, you'll also be able to spot bottlenecks and estimate where you can add in additional steps without disrupting critical activities.

Yes, this is probably a 'little much' for a smaller property management business. We included it because there are principles that you can apply as you build your method. Let's move to a more straightforward structure!

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Kanban is a style you're probably already familiar with! There are many programs that offer Kanban-style tools that you have probably heard of or used. Popular names include Zoho, Trello, and Asana. So what is the Kanban method? 

Kanban involves using cards and boards to move tasks along and track what stage of completion they are in. There is even a Kanban view in HubSpot (there is a board view in pipelines)! How does it work? Kanban allows you to choose the stages (these generally present as columns) that define a project, such as:

  • New
  • Working
  • Pending Approval
  • Complete
  • Closed.

Whoever is managing the project can choose the stages. Take the Make-Ready Process again. Your stages could be:

  • Pending move-out
  • Walkthrough needed
  • Schedule contractors
  • Punch walk
  • Move deal to leasing.

These would be your stages. The card in this instance would be the property project, say, an address. As you move the property through the process, the card moves with it—so you can always tell at a glance how many properties are in what stages. Again, we see the value of a systemized process for reporting.

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If one stage has 20 cards—but others only have one or two—it is easy to see where you need more staffing. Better yet, with our teams working remotely, it is easy to see what processes have cards that are moving (productive employees) and which don't (more oversight needed). This allows you to focus your efforts where they belong.

We'll cover more project management methods tomorrow in our next blog. Be sure to subscribe, so you don't miss an update! If you haven't downloaded our free handbook designed to develop remote success, you'll be able to maximize the content in these blogs if you start there! We're here not only to help you see success—but progress—no matter where your current office happens to be.

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