New Version 5.2 Launched!

So we have finally started rolling out version 5.2 so if you’re ready to take a trial on the new version please get in touch. All new trials will receive this version.

This version includes:

  1. Further refinements to the UI to improve usability
  2. New drag and drop library for better subtasks and task ordering/hierarchy
  3. Added User avatars to various views to improve pin&pass workflows
  4. Added new home images from Prendergast collection
  5. Added timer icons and checkbox to complete task
  6. Added ’email-to-copper’ functions in readiness for beta
  7. Added ‘filter view’ functions in readiness for beta
  8. Updated Settings area including Roles management overhaul
  9. Fixed Calendar Tab language breakiness
  10. Backend changes to improve efficiencies

And now we move onto adding filters, email-to-copper, and INFOGRPAHICS!


Using Copper Project To Make Decisions

Continuing on the theme of making fantastic decisions, today we’ll show you exactly how Copper can help you get things right the first time.

Drag and Drop Calendar Tool in Copper Project Management Software
Track your time easily using the Copper calendar.  Pinpoint important dates, like when your decision needs to be made, and also when other events will impact your decisions.  You don’t want movie night to ruin an important high-level business meeting.

In addition to the handy drag-and-drop calendar, there is a To Do page that tracks your tasks and timers so you can schedule what needs to be done within a certain day.

Billing and Accounting Tools in Copper Project Management Software
Make sure your decisions are financially sound.  Don’t accidentally overinvest in a new asset – better to hold off on that new coffeemaker if you need to spend more on marketing.

People & Organizations:
People and Organizations tool in Copper Project Management Software
Determine your manpower for the new project you’re considering, or look over the number of contacts you have to assess your potential resources.  Think about whose opinions carry the heaviest weight and who will influence the outcome of your decision the most.  If Mr. Smith from senior management doesn’t like your decision to start on Client B’s project while Client A’s is still unfinished, will your paycheck be in danger?  Or, if you’re lucky enough to be your own boss, do you have enough contacts available to help market your new product line?

Project Management Tool in Copper Project Management Software
Check all of your projects’ statuses and deadlines on one page.  Looking at the bigger picture all at once can help put things into perspective, especially if you’re deciding where your time would be well spent.

Even better, the Project Report page will offer detailed information on your specific projects, giving you what you need to make an informed decision.


Now that you know how exactly Copper Project Management Software can help you make the best decisions of your career, pick up your free trial today and let us know how you like it!

Sara Border is a blogger for Copper.  When decisions need to be made, she makes them with an iron fist and a gavel.

Making Decisions Count

Decision-making is a necessary skill for every project manager to have, but how exactly should you make decisions?  Of course, Copper can’t be the angel on your left shoulder whispering in your ear all day, but maybe you can take some of this advice to heart.

Be confident.  You have the project management experience, the knowledge you studied so much to aquire, the skills you took so many tests for, and the resources to make the decision.  Even if you feel like you don’t, you do.  Even if this is the first time you’ve encountered this type of problem in your work, decisions you’ve made in the past on seemingly unrelated issues can act as signposts toward the right path to take now.  Besides, when has fear or anxiety ever produced a positive result?  Don’t let negative thoughts take over.  This is the time to act positive.

Look back on tough calls you’ve had to make before, whether professionally or in your personal life.  What did you do?  How did you decide?  What did you get wrong and how could you have been better?  Don’t beat yourself up over poor past decisions, but it is a good idea to analyze them so you don’t repeat your mistakes.

Consider all options.  Try not to assume anything about your situation.  Take a look at other methodologies.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an Agile project manager.  If the critical chain methodology more suits the project, you’ll need to wear another hat.  Don’t limit yourself;  that may only make things more difficult for you later on.

Ask for help.  There’s no shame in visiting a fellow project manager whose opinion and judgement you trust for another perspective on your situation.

If there is time to make the decision, use it, but use it wisely.  This does not mean procrastinate.  Here’s an example:  Say you have five days to make a very important decision.  You could potentially use four of those days looking back on past decisions, considering all your options, and asking your mentor for advice, then making a knowledgeable decision on the fifth day with all that information in mind.  Don’t get me wrong, that sounds like a great idea, but let’s look at another way of doing things….

You make a decision the very first day.  You confidently decide that Option A is better than Option B.  You don’t tell anyone.  Not a soul.  You keep your confident Option A to yourself.  Then the next four days you spend trying to find Option C and D and E, trying to prove how Option A could possibly go wrong, and if the cons of Option A trump those of Options B through E.  Maybe you end up going with Option A on the fifth day, or maybe through effort and reverse engineering you found a better option.  Either way, you made your decision quickly and you weren’t scrambling for an answer on the day it was due.  Win-win, right?

Lastly, no one can foresee every problem.  Sometimes, no matter what we choose, no matter how much we research and prepare to make decisions, we choose wrong.  That’s okay.  Bounce back!

Thursday we’ll let you know exactly how you can use Copper Project Management Software to help you make better decisions.  Pick up your free trial today!

Sara Border is a blogger for Copper and that was probably the best decision she’s made in her writing career thus far. 

Empathy 101 and Why You Need It For Your Job

As a professional project manager, you deal with many people in your day to day life, and you wear many hats.  You cater to your clients, you supervise your team, and you help people when they get stuck.  You juggle time in the form of schedules, money in the form of budgets, and emotions in the form of that unreliable anxiety-riddled new hire.

It’s a lot to work with.  There is a way to make the people part of your job easier, though, simply by changing your attitude.  What is this magical method that will boost your work relationships?

Practice empathy.

“Wait, what’s that?  I’ve heard of it before, but what exactly is it and why do I need it?” some of you might be asking.

Empathy is when you step into someone else’s shoes and imagine a situation from their point of view.  Sort of like when you watch a movie, say Wolf on Wall Street, and identify with the protagonist, in this case Jordan Belfort.  You’re imagining that you are him, faced with these problems of living a wealthy and unhealthy lifestyle, and in turn you empathize with him, even if you aren’t at all like Jordan Belfort.  You know how he is feeling and you respond the way he does.

So that’s how empathy works.  Now take a look at your worst client.  They may be indecisive, overly emotional, too demanding, or outright crazy.  You know the type:  emails at 3am asking to see progress reports, calls at 5am since you didn’t respond right away, eighteen angry voicemails devolving into one last voicemail where they sob viciously into their phone.  Sometimes followed by a surprise personal visit to your home, in the case of your client being mentally unstable or just incredibly socially awkward.

Yeah.  Now imagine being them.  Imagine that this project you are working on (that may not be at the top of your priority list) is the absolutely most important and crucial project of your entire life.  Regardless if it truly is or isn’t for them, they will often feel like it is.  And they will often place blame on you if anything at all goes wrong.  You are holding their metaphorical babies in your hands.  If you drop those babies, even if you catch them mid-air like a champ, you will have hell to pay.

“Alright, so I’m a delusional client and that outstanding project manager over there is juggling my infant triplets.  How’s this roleplay going to help anything?”

Great question.  If you see the project the way your client does, you will work on it with the same passion they have.  This means you will produce infinitely better results than you would if you treated it as a side project to what you really want to do.

Remember, your clients would probably manage the project themselves if they could, because they think they know what is best for it.  The only thing stopping them from doing so is time, money, and a complete lack of project management skills.  That’s why you were hired.  So put those skills to use and help realize your client’s dreams!  That passion combined with your knowledge will produce fantastic results that will have your clients coming back, eager to give you their money again and again.

What’s the overarching lesson to take away here?  Step in your client’s shoes, become them, see the project the way they do and tackle it with the same passion they have, but use your knowledge and skills as a PM to ensure a project’s success.  As a result, those 3am emails, 5am calls, and constant reevaluations may dwindle down a bit.  Win-win for everyone!

Sara Border is a blogger for Copper, and she empathizes with movie characters all the time.  Poor Bambi.

What does E.T. have to do with server downtime?

Hi. Copper was down today. Sad. Face.

Yesterday we had 30 minutes of downtime after a DOS attack, and today we had a whopping 7 hours of downtime trying to migrate to faster servers.

Previously, we’d had an impressive 18 months of uninterrupted service, and 2 years of uninterrupted service before that!

Now, when your car is in the shop for 7 hours, it doesn’t seem so bad, but when thousands of organizations can’t get access to their data, it sucks.

What happened? Well. the migration hit a snag, and it took us a long time to detect and fix the problem.

The service is now better than ever, but in the process I’ve learned some valuable lessons, some that may surprise you.

1. Real humans (you) use Copper! Wow! When things are working you never hear from people and it seems like nobody really cares. But when something goes wrong, real humans and their projects are affected. I didn’t like hearing you weren’t able to use your Copper, but I liked being reminded that our tool is uber-important to people. It furthers my resolve to make things better.

2. My heart rate was at an elevated 120-130 bpm. My anxiety levels soared, I felt like Elliot in E.T. feeling the alien’s pain by proxy. I was sharing your collective frustration. The lesson here, server outages are good for weight loss, but keep your beloved customers informed so that they don’t stress. We gave personal replies to everyone who wrote/called/tweeted asking what was going on during and after the downtime.

3. Stay on the phone with your techs. Don’t give anyone room to dawdle, simply sit with the person who can fix the problem until that little green light lets you know all is right with the world.

Thank you to our wonderful customers for their patience, our diligent and attentive tech team for their character under pressure, and to the wonderful internet for teaching us these lessons.

Now, for a coffee and a biscuit.

Ben Prendergast
Element Software

7 Easiest Ways To Advance Your Career

Has your career in project management started to seem a little….redundant?   Like there isn’t any way to reach that next step to improve your skill set and increase business?   Avoid the plateau of complacency by following these steps.

1. Get certified.

To be taken seriously in the project management field, credentials are a necessity, and the more the merrier.   Don’t have one lonely PMP title.   Add some PgMP and PRINCE2 in there as well.   If you’re a technical PM, getting ITIL certified is also a good idea.   Portfolio managers have yet another option:   PMI’s PfMP credential.   These specialized credentials can help you get a step up in your field by demonstrating and promoting your specific abilities.

That said, your certifications should complement your experience.   For example, if you are a mid-level PM, getting a CAPM certification won’t help.   If you’re a senior project manager, go for PMP and PgMP.   Certifications only enhance your standing if applied appropriately, so do your research and determine what will help most.   Also keep in mind that you shouldn’t overestimate your talents.   If you’re a novice project manager with fancy initials after your name, you may find yourself in a bad spot later on when expected to handle something outside of your abilities.

2. Experience matters.

More important than any fancy initials however, is your level of experience.   You’ll only grab high level jobs after a significant amount of time working in the area you’d like to specialize in.   Not much else to say here.  Work on padding that resume!

3. Work on your communication.  

Two-way communication is the most useful skill in any project manager’s toolbox, considering that’s what you’re doing 90% of the day.  Listen attentively and then deliver your ideas and suggestions in clear, concise ways.

Also, use the language your clients use.  Nothing is worse for communication than speaking in a tongue your business partners can’t understand.  Stay away from project management jargon.

4. Utilize PM tools efficiently and effectively.

Don’t feel like you have to use every piece of advice you hear, every tool that’s available to you, or every best practice your particular methodology believes in.  Use only what is appropriate for the project.

Project managers have the habit of stubbornly clinging to the methodology they certified in, even when it isn’t the right approach to a project.  The idea that project management isn’t useful or doesn’t work comes from this hesitation to try a new approach.  Problems are avoided if a project manager learns best practices in a few different methodologies and applies them when suited to each individual project.  The diversity protects against errors.

5. Be responsible and resilient, and see tough assignments as valuable challenges.

Don’t be afraid to take on the hardest projects.  Be the one who steps up when other project managers run away.  This will set you apart from the rest and garner respect.

When your projects experience delays or setbacks, don’t back down or assign blame.  See these problems as challenges that can help prove yourself and your abilities.  Problem solvers get promotions.  Work with your team to get the project back on track.

6. Make sure your career goals are clearly stated and demonstrated.

Your coworkers, your supervisor, your mentor, and your peers should all know where you want to be in your career in five years.  Your goals should be apparent from the way you act and pursue achievements everyday.

Performance reviews and frequent meetings with your supervisor can be beneficial, ensuring selection for the opportunities to advance your career.

7. Do what your father always told you, and build some character.

Who you are as a person (as opposed to who you are as a project manager) will not go unnoticed.  Strive to act with integrity and respect at all times.  Be consistent in your actions, ethics, and principles on each project.  Demonstrate your character by making good decisions, being honest, and upkeeping ethical standards.

Build trust by building positive relationships with your team, stakeholders, and sponsors. You’ll gain credibility and respect from your coworkers by having researched your business, treating others well, and managing projects with integrity.

Sara Border is probably a pen name, probably a person who doesn’t exist, and definitely an American living in a country no one knows about.  She likes to have tea with her coffee and practice saying something while rambling about nothing all at once, sometimes in conlangs.

Learning From Mistakes: Project Management And Recovering From Failure

Michael Jordan didn’t hit every shot he took at the buzzer.  Warren Buffett has admitted to making poor investments in the past.  Muhammad Ali lost five of his fights.  On rare occasions, Bobby Fischer had to admit he was in checkmate.  Albert Einstein’s doctoral thesis contained a critical mathematical error.  And yes, even the best project managers can have a bad day.

The thing is, in a world where the failure rate for IT projects alone runs at an estimated total monetary loss of between $50 billion and $150 billion per year in just the United States (and a failed project’s effects aren’t necessarily limited to just the financial sector), bad days aren’t really something most project managers are able to have.  Project management can be a high stress job, where sometimes the only real acknowledgment of excellence is silence from the higher-ups while those rare mistakes are trumpeted from the mountaintops.

So, project managers of the world, what do you if the worst does happen?  What if a missed opportunity leads to a dramatic rise in the cost of completion?  What if a careless error causes a catastrophic drop in efficiency?  What if someone you assigned to complete a task is, to put it nicely, a bit underwhelming?

Well, that’s when it’s time to turn to the wisdom of others, and remember these fine quotes.

1) “A hero is one who knows how to hang on one minute longer.” – Novalis

First and foremost, don’t just throw your hands up in despair.  Unsolvable problems are far more rare that most of us think, and it’s entirely possible to salvage a situation that most would see as impossible.  Hang on a little longer, keep pushing, and solve that problem.

2) “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” – Voltaire

Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed.  You and your team are more than capable of fixing whatever problems life throws your way, so long as you keep your heads on straight and avoid falling into a panic.  Gather your team and focus on finding a solution.  Once you find that solution, execute it and move forward.

3) “When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

Treating the cause is far more important than treating the symptoms.  Thoroughly investigate anything that might crop up in order to find its source, then make sure your solution revolves around taking care of that source before worrying about any after-effects.

4) “Inside of every problem lies an opportunity.” – Robert Kiyosaki

You started out well by not letting yourself get discouraged.  Then, you and your team put your heads together and came up with a solution that focused on the source of the problem.  The lessons learned from the experience about how well you and your team can perform under pressure are just as important as the ability to enact similar solutions in the future.  Remember, if you’re committed to learning from mistakes and determined to keep moving forward, what seems like a setback can become a triumph.

Joseph H is a blogger for Copper.  Why yes, he does have a shelf full of books of quotes, why do you ask?

The Many Uses For Copper Project Management Software

You know what?  We at the Copper Blog think you deserve an apology.

See, we spend a lot of time here creating articles specifically aimed at assisting those who work in the tech industry with time management, effectively building and leading project teams, and all of those other issues that might crop up during day to day operations.  Here and there, you’ll find hints to assist with keeping calm in a crisis, methods for improving productivity, or assorted recommendations for preventative measures to help keep things flowing as smoothly as possible.  Basically, we’d like to think we’ve done a pretty good job so far of having you covered, and we’re going to keep right on doing just that.  No apologies necessary there.

On the other hand, while all those articles might come in handy when it comes to the primary use most of our readers might have, we haven’t really touched on how to get the absolute most out of Copper Project Management Software.  Oh sure, it’s great having a bit of organizational stress taken away while on the job, but those effects are by no means limited to your work life, nor are they bound to only the tech industry.  There are a wide range of uses for Copper that have nothing whatsoever to do with keeping your clients happy, and we would like to apologize for not discussing this earlier.

That having been said, here’s but a small sampling of interesting and creative uses for Copper that we hope will greatly improve your life.

1) Producing a Movie

Create a project under the name if your movie’s working title.  Then you can assign users to whatever tasks you need them to take care of (script writing, procuring sets, casting, lighting, what have you), share scripts, and offer scheduling and location information so everyone knows where to be and when to be there.

2) Creating a Graphic Novel

Start a project for your comic, just like usual.  Assign your users according to their function, then just let them do their thing.  Your writers can write and edit, your artists can create cells and provide ink and color, and the whole thing will be organized in whatever way you choose.  This is particularly nice when collaborating online, when you can’t necessarily just wander over to someone’s desk and see how things are progressing.

3) Running A Fantasy Sports League

For those who dislike using a major sports site to run a fantasy sports league, Copper can help you organize and schedule drafts, share information about statistics and key injuries, and keep up-to-the-minute records.

4) Recording An Album

Let’s say you know a few people online who have some serious musical chops.  Start a project, add the users, and assign everything from instrumental and vocal recording to editing and cover art design.  Then, when you’re done with all that, you can use it to notify your fellow recording artists of upcoming tour dates and interviews.

5)  Organizing School Activities

Copper can be used to schedule field trips and assign chaperones.  It can assist in collaborative lesson plans.  It can help with preparing for pep rallies, proms, and sporting events.  It can even be used for both short-term and long-term assignments.

Keep in mind that this is only a small sampling.  If you have anything you’d like to add to the list, feel free to comment below and let us know what you’ve got going on!

Joseph H is a blogger for Copper.  He’s convinced that if he’d had access to Copper Project Management Software back when he was in college, he would have had a shot at ruling the world by now.  He might not be completely wrong.

Drawing Water When The Well Runs Dry: Maintaining Excellence In Your Projects

There are times when you’re working on a particularly difficult project when you might find you’ve worked yourself into a corner.  During those stressful times, maintaining excellence at your usual standards can be trying indeed.  It can feel as if the well of brilliant ideas you’ve been drawing from and pouring into your work has suddenly dried up, and you’re left with nothing but mud and grit in the bottom of the bucket.

There’s a moment of panic that goes with that feeling, particularly if you’re working under a tight deadline.  That’s fine.  It’s a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, and nothing to really worry about.  After a few slow breaths, the feeling will fade and your pulse will return to normal, so just let it run its course and all will be well.

When you’ve gotten back to something resembling a bit of calm, it’s time to tackle the real problem, which is how to go about refilling the well.  The ideas are there, buried somewhere in your subconscious, but during times when you’re tired or stressed they just aren’t as easily accessible as they normally would be.  The longer you go without being able to produce, the more stressed you get, and the less likely you are to be able to unleash the full power of your creativity when you need it.

So how do you go about breaking through that wall?

During a multi-course meal, it’s not unusual to be offered a palate cleanser to neutralize your taste buds between dishes, thus enhancing the flavor of the next delicacy.  These foods are generally along the lines of various fruit sorbets, pickled ginger, or really anything with a bit of tartness to it.  When having trouble completing a certain phase of a project, a mental palate cleanser can refresh your mind in much the same way.

Spend a few minutes taking a shot at finishing a puzzle.  Sudoku, crosswords, and other assorted brain teasers are excellent ways to relax while stimulating your imaginative capabilities.

You could always reorganize your workspace, which serves as a distraction that results in a removal of distractions.  That’s pretty deep if you don’t think about it too much, and if that’s what you’re doing, you’re probably a bit too distracted and should get back to work immediately.

You might want to try taking some time out to brainstorm ideas for use in other aspects of your project.  This in particular has the added benefit of cutting down on the chances of the same sort of struggles in the future.

Even something as simple as going out for lunch can work wonders when it comes to replenishing your creativity, and not just because of the calories involved.  As we’ve mentioned before, a change of location is sometimes all it takes to get things going in a positive direction.

It’s far better to take ten minutes out of your day to sweep out the cobwebs than it is to spend hours staring at the screen in the hopes that something brilliant will magically appear in the midst of whatever internal crisis you’re accidentally building up to.  Give it a try.  You might be surprised at how much water the well still has left to give.

A Quick Checklist For Selecting Business Software Upgrades

When selecting a business software upgrade, what you need is something that’s a comprehensive, easy to use, and will make your life easier on multiple fronts.  Picking up something like Copper Project Management Software is a no-brainer of course, but what about when it comes to upgrading the more specialized areas of your business?

It’s easy to get caught up in the next big thing when it comes to shopping for software upgrades.  With the exponential growth in the rate of new advances in project management tools, technical capabilities, and communications, the choices available when picking personal methods of running a company are becoming more and more comparable to being a kid in a candy shop.  Sure, you can grab everything in sight and immediately cram it into your mouth, but then you’ll be out of cash in a hurry with nothing to show for it but an upset stomach and the jitters while the specter of a huge dental bill looms off in the distance.

When starting to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available, you should ask yourself the following questions:

1) Do I already have systems in place that efficiently cover all of the options the Shiny New Thing offers?

The old term, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” comes into play here.  Purchasing something simply for the sake of purchasing something is counter-productive financially, and at best will provide a few steps to the side in the progress of your business rather than the leap forward you should be aiming for.  Sometimes it’s best to save your money until something truly better comes along.

2) Does the Shiny New Thing do everything I need it to do?

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you’re running a graphic design business.    You’re looking for an upgrade to your current software.  Buying a program that covers only 90% of what you need isn’t a good option, since you’re just going to have to go shopping for a specialized utility to cover the other 10% that the first program lacks.  Unless the new software is such a spectacular upgrade that it makes up for the difference in time and money involved in finding something that covers what the newer software lacks, it’s not going to be a good use of your finances.

3) Do I need everything the Shiny New Thing does?

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a pen with an attached adjustable flashlight for writing in the dark.  That’s all well and good, as I’m a frequent note taker, and I don’t always have the advantage of proper lighting.  It also had a laser pointer, which would come in handy when doing presentations or creating adorable cat videos.  That was really nice as well.  It also had a built-in black light, which could be used for…  I don’t actually know what I would use that for, since I don’t often use invisible ink.  As a gift, it was still a really neat thing, but if I were actively looking to purchase a pen that could suit my potential needs, I’d take a good long look at exactly how much I was paying for that black light option.  Your utility software should be treated in exactly the same way.  Basically, a program that can blow through 3D models with ease while wirelessly communicating with your coffee maker in order to brew that perfect cup might seem like as much of a really neat thing as the aforementioned pen, but is it really something you should be willing to pay a premium for if you’re not a coffee drinker?

4) When taking the answers to the three previous questions into account, is the Shiny New Thing cost effective?

If so, then by all means, pick the software upgrade that best suits your needs.  If not?  You’re probably better off saving your money and sticking to what you have.  If nothing else, it’s good to maintain a bit of financial padding in case of emergencies.

Joseph H is a blogger for Copper.  A long time ago, he spent around $70.00 at a candy store and had some serious regrets.  Oh, and by “a long time”, he means “about two weeks”.