Leaving Behind The Technological Barriers of Project Management

One of the biggest responsibilities Matthew White, Director of Programs at the Zygo Corporation, faces on a daily basis is the overseeing of extreme precision optical components from the early stages of development to the moment they are purchased by a customer.

As anyone with a background in project development knows, projects—especially in their early stages—undergo numerous iterations before reaching the final product. All the while, it’s the responsibility of people like Mr. White, to ensure important steps of the development process do not fall behind.

But the responsibility does not fall on Mr. White’s hands alone; in fact, his team consists of a number of Project Managers, Product Operators and Engineers that are in constant communication as they prepare their product for market.

Ensuring that every member of the team is on task and in the know with the latest project developments has been a priority for Mr. White since he took on the position in early 2016. Prior to assuming the role of Director of Programs, project management was handled primarily through the use of online spreadsheets; an element of the development process that was less efficient than you may assume: Continue reading Leaving Behind The Technological Barriers of Project Management

Schedule With Simplicity: The Magnatag Difference

Here at Magnatag, we frequently receive hundreds of emails looking for a better way to optimize scheduling systems. Take this whiteboard below for example:Makeshift BoardWhile it may be messy at first glance, to members of the Nursing unit at a Washington, DC hospital, this whiteboard provided an innate degree of order to the hospital staff. Created using a plain whiteboard paired with some black industrial tape, the dry erase board was used as a room/patient assignment board that detailed which patients were assigned to specific rooms, as well as the nurses and doctors assigned to their case. We often receive requests from users of industrial tape when it comes to issues maintaining a dry erase surface. Unfortunately, using thick industrial-strength tapes on any whiteboard can often leave behind residue that can be difficult to remove, causing permanent damage to the surface. Adopters of industrial strength tape often come to us looking for a quick fix for this issue, however in most cases, the damage has already been done. Unfortunately, whiteboard cleaning and conditioning solutions are not developed to combat tape residue, which leaves us with our hands tied . It’s a problem that’s not only inconvenient, but downright avoidable—which makes it all the more frustrating.

Continue reading Schedule With Simplicity: The Magnatag Difference

Fixing Project Management For Leaders of VFW Post 1

To many veterans across the US, the VFW deserves to stand as something more than a place to hangout; it should be a place of warmth and community engagement.

The truth is: Hundreds of VFW’s across the globe are experiencing a dwindling membership shortage. Younger veterans are not as incentivized by the simple offerings of liquor and camaraderie as they once were.

It’s a mindset that’s become of key importance to the operators of VFW Post 1. The post—which was created in 1899 and is located in Denver, Colorado—predates the official recognition of the VFW program that began in 1913, making it the oldest VFW post in existence. Home to over 1,000 veterans across the globe, the post has recently re-energized its focus on providing services to veterans in need, in hopes to revitalize the popularity of the VFW program.

Michael Mitchel, a retired Aviation Mechanic for the US Navy, serves as both the Commander and Board of Trustees member of VFW Post 1. Having been with the post as an elected officer since 2002 and stepping in as Executive Director in 2013, Michael—in addition to the nine other VFW leaders associated with Post 1— has overseen the event-centric culture transformation that has made the Colorado-based post one of the largest in the US. Continue reading Fixing Project Management For Leaders of VFW Post 1

How To Prevent Important Tasks From Being Forgotten

The Easton, Redding, and Region 9 school district is a tri-district located in Easton, Connecticut made up of five schools: Redding Elementary, Samuel Staples Elementary, Hellen Keller Middle, John Read Middle, and Joel Barlow High School—all of which fall directly under the supervision of Walter Czudak.

Working as the Director of Buildings and Grounds, Mr. Czudak is responsible for at least 250,000 square feet of educational facilities. With jobs ranging in difficulty from changing a few light bulbs, to overseeing the installation of a centralized air unit, the typical day for your average Director of Buildings and Grounds is anything but relaxed.

Earlier this year, the district came under hot water when two separate boilers located in the elementary and high school were installed and inspected, but local permits for the units were never acquired.

While the boiler issue was solved quickly, Mr. Czudak believes the issue could have been avoided if his team was better prepared to handle the multiple step process.

“The boilers came in, but our local inspection never came through. There are so many steps to the entire installation process and we let the permits slip through the cracks. When you’re dealing with two entirely different facilities, it’s easy to have actionable items fall off the radar in favor of one thing or another. ”

As a precautionary measure, Mr. Czudak recently contacted our team at Magnatag Visible Systems to help create a reliable means of tracking actionable data for his facility. Using the working concept of a Work-In-Progress board, the goal was to design a visual display board that would prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future.

With the help of one of Magnatag’s many Visual Systems Specialists (life-long Magnatag employees that specialize in creating visual systems that work), the school district was directed towards the company’s Do-Done StepTracker Whiteboard.WalterDDXT

The StepTracker whiteboard provides users with the ability to actively track projects in real time as they progress along a series of steps in a project. Using red/green double-sided magnets to mark when a step has been completed, the system enables users to accurately standardize project communication status.

“I wanted to create something that could keep everyone on the same page. With so many things going on across all five schools at any given time, the real challenge is keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest progressions. Ideally, a Principal or Superintendent should be able to walk into one of our facilities and know exactly what is going on.”

Prior to contacting Magnatag, Mr. Czudak did not have a visual system for tracking steps of internal projects. Project status was kept within multiple files spread across all five buildings making status updates a nightmare.

With an updated form of tracking—and customized headlines built to cover every step of the state and local government’s guidelines—Mr. Czudak’s newest addition to the district’s permitting process will provide his staff with an added measure of assurance.

Visit our website for more information on how you can design a StepTracker whiteboard for your own use.


Why A Kansas City-Based Facility Manager Turned To a Preventative Maintenance Schedule For Their Job Management Needs

When was the last time you checked and updated your maintenance schedules? It’s a task that’s often latent on your weekly checklist of items, and with your responsibilities only growing in quantity, they can easily be pushed to the side. Sometimes you may even push responsibilities into the hands of other team members, hoping they can make room in their workday. When working in facility management, it’s easy to get stretched too thin when overseeing an entire site—even with the help of an added facility staff.

We recently spoke to a Facility Manager located in Kansas City that recited a similar story of having too much to get done, and not enough hands for the job.

“When I have an entire site to manage, it’s easy to delegate tasks out to members of my team. Then twenty minutes later, I find myself in need of an additional person to work on our landscaping efforts. In my opinion, running a successful project is all about exceptional time and resource management.”

Continue reading Why A Kansas City-Based Facility Manager Turned To a Preventative Maintenance Schedule For Their Job Management Needs

How Org-Charts Can Be a Powerful Leadership Tool in the Workplace.

On its surface, an org-chart is simply a mapping of a company’s corporate structure. However, with the proper knowledge, an org chart can influence a team’s behavior. It can communicate an organization’s priorities, while simultaneously highlighting core competencies and where to best utilize them. An org-chart can promote collaboration and accountability. Basically, in the right hands, an org chart can help a leader steer their organization down the right path.

Forbes recently published an article that detailed the industry demand for a flexible alternative to the stationary org chart. In the article, David Burkus looks to the likes of Broadway production teams to help uncover the value of operating with an org chart that is formed around products and problems as opposed to a fixed structure. The big takeaway here is this: the more willing you are to part with a predefined structure for your organization or business—in favor of something that allows for resources to be allocated where they are needed the most—the better you can perform in your competitive marketplace.

But Burkus’ article also hints at a dynamic shift in the way we visualize information to better suit the flexible nature of the 21st century. There has to be a degree of parity between structure and flexibility in everything we, as modern professionals, do; that’s why Burkus’ article is so poignant. It highlights that as times are changing, technology and familiarity need to meet somewhere in the middle—hence the familiarity of an easily manageable org chart that provides features to expedite a hectic production schedule.

So what benefits can an org chart provide your company? We’ve put together a list of three key takeaways that organizational charts can provide to the everyday business professional:

Continue reading How Org-Charts Can Be a Powerful Leadership Tool in the Workplace.

Spring-Cleaning: The Best Ways To Clean Your Office

Picture this: You’re in a room surrounded by a few coffee mugs and scattered post-it notes, flooded with folders of printed memos and important documents that cover the desktop in front of you, while sitting in a chair that is covered with outerwear fit for any scenario mother nature throws your way.

If this place sounds a familiar to you, the good news is you’re not alone.

In an article conducted by Sheila McClear of the New York Post, McClear clarified something that many office workers have questioned for quite a while: That messy desk is likely to affect your perception in the workplace.

With the snow melting and spring just around the corner, there is no better time to get your office organized! So before you get started, here is a list of 5 tips to help you keep your workspace fresh:


  1. Start Scheduling

While this tip doesn’t require you to actually clean anything, it does play into the entire purpose of spring-cleaning: To get organized. I’ve already covered the immense amount of value planning can provide to your quality of life once before, so we can skip ahead to all the fun stuff.

You can start by allocating a centralized location for all your scheduling needs. Whether it is a giant whiteboard or something more personal like a pocket planner, you want to get into the habit of writing things down. Studies indicate that the act of writing increases brain activity, making it easier to remember important dates and times. In fact, this is something you can get started on right away; plan a day for your spring-cleaning and make an event out of it!

Continue reading Spring-Cleaning: The Best Ways To Clean Your Office

How To Discreetly Track Student Performance

How do you know when your students are falling behind on grades and struggling with a specific subject?

The answer to this question is always met with a variety of responses ranging from the sarcastic, “Of course, I’m the best educator in the world! How could I not know which students of mine are falling behind?” to the less enthusiastic, “I try to.”

The truth of the matter is that no educator can always know how every one of his or her students is performing. Sure, you may have an idea of perhaps a handful of students that may be falling behind, but in order to prove that theory you are forced to dig through a plethora of binders just to validate your belief.

Every teacher would love to be able to keep constant tabs on the effectiveness of their lesson plans and the status of their entire roster of students, but when there are papers to grade and lessons to be planned, you cannot possibly be on top of everything.

Or can you?

Continue reading How To Discreetly Track Student Performance

Value of Planning Ahead With Yearly Calendars

November 4th is recognized as National Stress Awareness Day here in the US. In an effort to celebrate the occasion, we’ve created a blog post that provides some insight regarding how to obtain a healthier, stress-free lifestyle. We hope you enjoy it!

Did you know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that people claiming to work 60 to 69 hours per week clocked an actual average of 52.6 hours, while those who believed they worked 70+ hour weeks actually averaged only 58.8 hours? It is difficult to accurately attribute this discrepancy to one particular source, however some theorists believe a lack of organization could be a leading factor in this misjudgment.

Continue reading Value of Planning Ahead With Yearly Calendars

LAFD Reveals Unique Tools used for Emergency Preparedness

LA Marathon

As the two year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings passes and the 119th Boston Marathon begins, emergency squads must take extra precautions, planning for months before marathons to make sure they run smoothly and everyone is safe. The Los Angeles Fire Department was eager to share their idea with other emergency preparedness teams in hopes of making their jobs easier. Continue reading LAFD Reveals Unique Tools used for Emergency Preparedness