Project management advice, tips, tools and recommend resources for existing and aspiring project managers.
Recently when members of the online project management community were asked:
“What problems and challenges do you look forward to most, while working in project management?”
Here is what they said:
By Linky van der Merwe
It was a multi-year development project, IT focussed and in the energy management and information domain of the retail sector. The client wanted a system to help them monitor and understand their energy usage.
There were two main areas of difficulty that Simon confronted when he took on the project. Firstly, his company was unfamiliar with energy management and that made them very reliant on the client for guidance. Over time, the project team realised that the solution specification and development required an in-depth knowledge of the topic and that generic systems development skills simply weren’t enough.
A second complication was that interaction with the client stakeholders was difficult and often highly confrontational. Simon found that the client did not have a comprehensive picture of what they wanted and that the resultant scope definition was broad and subject to interpretation. This had resulted in a number of conflict situations and a relationship which was fundamentally lacking in trust.
It was, in retrospect, a bad decision to fix the price of the project. When the project ran into problems, the contract put them under pressure from a delivery and timeline perspective. The client was unwilling to renegotiate on cost so it was ultimately the quality and timing of delivery that suffered. This put even more pressure on the project team resulting in decisions to augment and rotate resources on the project.
Simon had initially been brought in to help out with the business analysis but, after the protracted difficulties in overall delivery, took over the management of the project. This had a negative impact on the project budget, but it was believed that Simon could restore credibility and trust with the client. If the project had failed it would have had a very negative impact on a number of other client projects and future work.
The project team ultimately managed to address the issues with the work that had been done to date and, as a result of the earlier decisions and improved delivery success, Simon and his senior management were able to revitalise and refresh the client relationship.
They communicated that the project was running at a significant loss for the service provider, and that this was unsustainable. Once that understanding was reached, the client was more open to change and they were able to renegotiate the contact terms – a Time and Materials based pricing was adopted and the project operated more profitably going forward. The effect of this was a better relationship, improved trust with the client, a more profitable project and a project team that was under considerably less pressure.
The decisions made to turn around a trouble-some project proved effective. Through an open dialogue with client representatives, they could negotiate a way forward that worked for all parties.
The initial decision to contract on a fixed price basis was as a result of ineffective risk management prior to signing. A proper risk analysis was needed before deciding on a pricing approach and they have now put a Risk Analysis framework in place for all stages of the project lifecycle. This process is now institutionalised and, if risks are identified up-front, the team now adjusts proposals and contracts to include the time, resources and/or costs needed to address them.
Profit margins can be negotiated down with the client; but risk margin cannot. You should never reduce the risk margin unless the risks themselves are transferred, mitigated or eliminated completely.
It’s important to document the assumptions made during contracting as they are often an articulation of the risks that may end up detrimentally impacting the project. If possible, a project manager should be brought in prior or during contracting process.
As far as software development is concerned, don’t fix the price unless you know the topic. If it’s a new area for you – if none of your PM’s or BA’s have had some experience in the field – consider contracting on phase by phase basis or use an Agile approach, not SDLC with fixed price.
Lastly, client relationships can be the turn-around. Focus on improvement of dialogue. Clients need to work with you as a partner to ensure successful delivery.
Simon Murison is a Project and Programme Manager with over 14 years’ experience in the Consulting industry. He has worked extensively with clients in the Retail and Financial Services sectors.
Simon can be contacted on +27 (0)83 6299 or via e-mail at email@example.com
Business conferences are one of the best ways to expand your business and bring new life to your company. At Convergence, you will find everything you need to rock your industry, including exciting new Microsoft products, hundreds of sponsors, and potential connections with thousands of other companies.
#1 Meeting Profitable Connections
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#2 Finding New Uses for Microsoft Tools
Participants will learn how to unlock the true potential of all Microsoft products. The tracks in the conference are designed to make your company better. You will find information covering new products like new apps for specific industries, new mobile capabilities, and the best cash management functions.
#3 Learning Out-of-the-box Ideas
All of the speakers at the Convergence conference are top leaders of Microsoft products. The speakers will communicate the new vision of Microsoft and talk about their own experiences with the product. You will find sessions that offer value to the following industries:
If you want to take your business to the next level with the help of Microsoft, then you will want to make sure you are able to attend the Convergence conference. Make sure you book your spot early to ensure you can attend and really get the value you need. Click the infographic to learn more about the conference and how you can prepare.
That statement became true, once project management found me and I chose to become a project manager.
When looking at project management as a profession, little used to be known about what a project manager does and what the typical work day of a project manager looks like. Children never use to say: “I want to be a project manager when I grow up.” Refer to an earlier article about “Take Project Management out of the Box”.
Years ago I started as a project administrator. Then I moved into IT support and I was always chosen to manage all the projects in our division. This is something I enjoyed because it was a natural fit.
As a project manager I’m in the fortunate position to be doing something that suits my abilities and temperament and which complements my core talents and skills. I enjoy the variation provided by being involved in various different projects and teams. It brings excitement when starting something new, as well as satisfaction when bringing a project to successful completion and having formed lasting relationships with the team members.
Being a strong communicator and a person who cares about people, project management has become my destined career where I feel comfortable and I believe that I am making a difference.
I was blessed with the addition of 3 beautiful children that enriched my life to the point that I actually gave up my full-time, permanent position and started to work in contract project management which provided more flexibility to work part-time and still continue with a professional career.
Today project managers are making a difference in every aspect of society whether it’s in IT, financial sector, retail, engineering, mining, welfare organisations or public sector and plenty of other industries. A thriving industry in itself has developed around the project management profession with companies providing products, software, training, recruitment and consulting; all with the main objective of making projects more successful in terms of how well they are managed and to provide the outcome and benefits as intended. Project management as a profession has matured.
In recent years young people are actually considering project management as a career with plenty of University and online training being available and offering a relatively well mapped out career path that offers growth opportunities and good compensation.
As part of my mission to give something back to my community, I have been blogging on Virtual Project Consulting about project management best practices, processes and tools for the past 4,5 years. I reach out to existing and aspiring project managers while offering a hub of recommended resources.
Let’s continue to develop, grow and contribute as this is how we find meaning and where we can continue to make a difference where we are.
P.S. This post is published as part of a first ever project management-related global blogging initiative to publish a post on a common theme at exactly the same time. Over 70 bloggers from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UK and the USA have committed to make a blogging contribution and the fruit of their labour is now available all over the web. The complete list of all participating blogs is here so please go and check them out!
About Linky van der Merwe: Linky is the Founder of Virtual Project Consulting. Her mission is to provide project management best practices and to recommend resources to aspiring and existing project managers. A certified project management professional (PMP) with more than 14 years project management experience and a track record of more than 40 successful projects. She is currently working for Microsoft Consulting Services, South Africa.
Where aspiring and existing project managers find Project Management Resources relating to training, software, products and services.
For practical advice on project management processes, templates and tools based on best practices to deliver your business and IT projects on time, to budget and with quality as well as satisfying your stakeholders!
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