Blog Parade Remote Work

It's the year 2002. The ProjectWizards are a network of professional project managers in the start-up phase. During the first job interviews with interesting candidates I learn a hard lesson. I simply can't offer any interesting after-work experience with the Melle location. Another candidate is no less brutal: he has worked in Hamburg, Berlin and Düsseldorf so far. Melle simply does not fit into his CV. My objection that SAP employees don't mind living in Walldorf was simply answered; when we're as big as SAP, I'll be able to invite him for another interview. He stood up and left.

In the following weeks, the idea was born to simply let the employees work from their favourite place. The home office idea for ProjectWizards was born.

Of course, as a young entrepreneur (the term entrepeneur only became modern later) I got advice from all sides on what to do next. But the main focus was this tenor: Close the shop right away. That won't work. So you can't control your people, etc.


Posted by Frank Blome on May 2nd, 2020 under Project Management
Tags: home office

Practical Tips for Remote Working

The reactions to the first two blog entries on the subject of home office have amazed me. Actually, up to now I was of the opinion that the majority of brain or computer workers are able to switch to remote work without any problems. Far from it, because the opposite is the case.

We want to continue to support remote workers. This series will be continued and additionally we offer workshops for employees as well as bosses.

Let us talk today about a first collection of practical tips.


Posted by Frank Blome on March 24th, 2020 under Project Management
Tags: home office remote-work

Dos and Don'ts for Online Meetings

Etiquette for Web Conferences

Especially now, when many have moved to the home office due to the COVID-19 corona virus, virtual meetings via the web are part of everyday business life. After all, even in these times the exchange with colleagues and the contact to customers is important.

But even before that, this form of conference was already considered flexible and efficient, as well as being environmentally friendly by eliminating business trips. However, a few basic rules must be observed to ensure that such online meetings really do increase productivity.

For experienced web conference participants, some of the following tips may seem banal, but experience shows that even the seemingly obvious is often forgotten.


The Home Office: Project Management Organized Decentrally

In the Coronavirus environment, it was only a matter of time before I was asked about our organization and working methods. "You lucky guys do home office, don't you?" Yes, right from the start. Even before Merlin 1.0 saw the virtual light of day, ProjectWizards was decentralized for a variety of reasons. However, at the beginning in 2004 we were not called "happy" but more like "hobby" or "crazy". Today we have over 15 years of experience and during that time we have built one of the world's best project management apps for Apple operating systems. And I am very proud of that!

But the question came to me from a very special motivation. Now that unfortunately the first deaths of the corona virus have been reported in Germany, one becomes more thoughtful in one's professional life. How important is the joint office for certain professional groups. What can be done from home or any other place. For us, for example, the Internet is the key factor. As long as you have a reasonably wide network, the world is fine for us. Of course, there are many industries where it is different. Often you just have to be "on site".


Posted by Frank Blome on March 11th, 2020 under Project Management
Tags: Project Management home office

Friday Again Already?


Lately, I’ve regularly found myself asking the same question by midday every Friday: “It’s midday Friday – how could this week have rushed past me yet again?” Yes, I really do ask myself this question just like that – and never like the often-said TGIF (thank god it’s Friday), because I like to work. My motto is “FAA” – “Friday again already” ;-)

So I’m taking some time again to review some of the topics that have caught my attention these past few weeks. Maybe I’ll even manage to throttle back a bit... Or as consultants say: “Decelerate”.

Microsoft Teams, Slack, and all the rest

The trend continues. Since this week, MS has also entered the chat-tools fray. Now dutifully integrated into Office 365 comes the next all-singing, all-dancing tool. While Microsoft Teams isn’t a big issue for us at ProjectWizards in particular, there does seem to be a trend towards companies integrating their own chat tools into their software. A prime example of this is Evernote with WorkChat. The problem I’m increasingly confronted with is that I find myself needing to rummage through loads of programs when searching for a specific discussion. Why don’t vendors simply support existing, compatible systems? In Merlin Project, I simply add a link to an info attachment, for instance, and hey presto I’m in the thick of the topic – and the discussion continues in the specialized system (here’s an example):

Addind a link inside your project plan

What do you think? I’m interested in hearing what you think, so tweet me or drop me an email with a short comment.

Tools we use

Talking about Evernote, I’ve been asked numerous times whether I’d be willing to tell you which tools we use – apart from Merlin Project of course. So I thought yes, why not.

First off, you need to know that we don’t have a centralized structure. This means, our staff can work wherever they want to get their job done. “Headquarters” in Melle is just my assistant (and combined wife) and me. That’s why there’s only one small common denominator concerning our must-have programs.

  • We develop using Xcode and manage the source code using Git.
  • User documentation is written in Asciidoc and managed in Git.
  • Internal documents are organized in a variety of ways using Evernote.
  • Support queries are answered via Kayako, but we’re working on changing the system.
  • Oh yes, and we organize projects – in case you’re wondering – using Merlin Project.

In addition to these, each member of staff has their own favorite tools. In my case, these are:

  • Keynote for presentations
  • Things for organizing all those little tasks that don’t need full-blown project management. For viewing in Merlin, we developed an Action Script many years ago now.
  • MS Excel for anything involving figures – I am the CEO after all – Chief Excel Officer ;-)
  • And of course, the usual suspects that come with macOS, like: Mail, Calender, etc.

Almost forgot: As Merlin Project supports Mind-Maps, I’ve never needed to open any other Mind-Map app ever since it has. Obvious, right? ;-) If not, the usual applies: If you’ve got any questions or comments, simply get in touch via Twitter or send me an email.

Now I must get back to work. Bye for now...

Posted by Frank Blome on November 4th, 2016 under Internal
Tags: friday home office

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