April 28, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Archives for March 2017

Are you a Professional Project Manager?

By Linky van der Merwe

professional project manager

What does a professional project manager really mean? Defined simply it means the level of excellence or competence that is expected of a professional.

Next you want to know what are the characteristics of a professional project manager.

Characteristics of a Professional

In a profession, people would be expected to have characteristics like:

  • Advanced education and expertise
  • Membership to professional bodies
  • Implicit adoption of that organisation’s ethics
  • Commitment to continual professional development and learning
  • Sense of responsibility to the wider public
  • Consistent exercise of discretion and judgement

Qualified or not

Professionals would have a qualification, an accreditation and/or certification. Let’s look at the definitions to be clear:

Qualification – A learning outcome as a result of formal tuition. Diplomas, Degrees and post-graduate degrees in Project Management are available from Training Institutions or at Universities and Business Schools nationally in your country or even internationally.

Accreditation – Recognition provided to a candidate in accordance with the criteria of a specific organisation or institution typically based on a combination of knowledge and demonstrated ability.

Certification – Certification is often needed to work in some trades. It usually means an individual has passed a trade test administered by a recognised authority. Possessing a certificate of completion of a course is typically not the same as being certified.  Examples of popular certifications are PMP, Prince2 and Agile Practitioner.

Registration – A Professional Registration gives a license to operate and to practice within a scope of operation and to take responsibility for the work. It provides authority to perform a certain scope of work without supervision. The registration is typically a statutory requirement.

Designation – In some countries a designation is a job title. It’s the title conferred by a recognised professional body that could be statutory or non-statutory, based on certain criteria defined by the professional body.

What are the benefits of achieving a qualification or certification?

Both an individual and the organisation they work for should benefit from an individual achieving a project management qualification or certification. Dependent upon the nature of the organisation and its business, some of the key potential benefits are as follows:

Benefits to the organisation:

  • Best-practice knowledge, skills, tools and techniques acquired through the training necessary to achieve a qualification are deployed back in the work place.
  • Improved capability and competence to deliver an organisation’s programmes or projects, resulting in increasing customer satisfaction and reputation, saving costs, utilising resources more effectively and positively impacting morale.
  • Supports individuals with their personal and career development planning. This in turn can result in increased appreciation of, and commitment to the organisation, by the individual.
  • Catalyses improvements to an organisation’s own project or programme management methods and processes through gaining an understanding of best-practice.
  • Enhances the credibility of the organisation to own clients and customers through having project or programme staff that have achieved externally recognised certification or qualification.
  • External recognition of an individual’s project management knowledge and capabilities indicating a core level of embedded understanding, which is then likely to be applied back in the work place.

Benefits to the individual:

  • Provides the individual with additional and portable knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in order to be more successful in managing and delivering projects or programmes.
  • Enhances career development prospects through having achieved an externally recognized qualification or certification.
  • Demonstrates to the employer, the individual’s desire, commitment and capabilities to learn and improve themselves, and thus improving an individual’s reputation within the organisation.
  • Provides an external industry-wide benchmark of an individual’s project management knowledge and competence.

 

One of the biggest compliments a professional project manager can receive, is when stakeholders (customers) call you back by name to do additional projects for them.

It is my belief that you are only as good as your last project; therefore project managers should always strive to be professional and competent on every project, since you never know if it is your last…

Please comment and share if you have had good experiences with ‘last’ projects.

How to Improve Project Information Flow to all Stakeholders

By Joel Roberts

On global projects spanning multiple continents, one of the biggest business challenges is to enable the flow of project information to all project stakeholders. This case study illustrates how the challenge was addressed.

The Jungheinrich Group, one of the world’s largest suppliers of industrial trucks, material flow and warehousing technology since 1953, with its headquarters in Hamburg, has been offering forklift-based products and services designed to get things moving for industrial customers.

Jungheinrich Group

Business challenge

Jungheinrich Group has grown rapidly and extended to more than 30 countries all around the world. The German giant have approximately 750 sales consultants and about 3100 mobile service engineers, which makes it a competent consulting and comprehensive service.

That lead to increased global distribution flows that was changing the face of company’s logistics. For their projects they were using Microsoft Project as their main project management tool.

Each project’s biggest constraint was the flow of project information to all project stakeholders. Jungheinrich Group decided that most of their staff only need to open and read mpp files, so Microsoft Project was not applicable in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Solution

Jungheinrich meetingThe company’s large user group forced them to search for a comprehensive viewer for Project plans. The company decided to cut costs on MS Project licenses, as they only needed a viewer that would simply open Project files for viewing.

First, they decided to make a snapshots of each plan and distribute them as a series of HTML files.

But quickly, they found that these files were just too static and non-transparent. Their consultancy was looking for a tool that will open the entire project plan, including the ability to display custom views for each plan.

Finally, they implemented a project viewer by Seavus that have similar look to Microsoft Project so that employees are used to it and didn’t need additional training.

“Since most of our users need to open very large .mpp files from time to time, it was an important part of our evaluation and one that Seavus Project Viewer was able to accomplish with no problems”, states the Jungheinrich Group.

“Once we purchased it, it was an easy product for us to deploy Enterprise-wide and has been a very stable and well accepted product by our employees.”

Business benefits

Seavus viewerToday, employees at Jungheinrich Group an effective Microsoft Project companion tool for opening and viewing Microsoft Project files at a very cost effective price.

With Seavus Project Viewer, each employee now could view all project data and custom views created by the project manager. In addition, the app is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Windows RT and online with the free app. This has resulted in a more efficient and effective flow of information to all project stakeholders.

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Joel RobertsAbout the Author:

Joel Roberts is a Project Management Consultant and an established author with more than 12 years of experience in working for Seavus Project Viewer and PrimaveraReader – solutions for viewing and analyzing project plans by the project team.

She is passionate about Mind Mapping and innovation management and her articles have been featured in more than a hundred project management and business websites.

Project Managers Discover Top Time Management Tips and Techniques

An important responsibility of a project manager is to manage time as a constraint which involves keeping an eye on the project schedule, ensuring team members are delivering on milestones, while having to keep track of your own time spent as well.

While your role is varied since you need to cater for every aspect of the project from cost management to human resource management, you are accountable for the overall delivery including all tasks tied to the project. This does not mean that the project manager must micro-manage everyone on the team as individuals are primarily responsible for various aspects of the project.

However, we find that a number of project managers spend time doing too much management and fire-fighting and then they are left with little or no time to work on strategy, leading the team and focusing on tasks that only they can perform.  An efficient project manager, therefore, should be able to effectively develop strategies for his/her team and perform oversight functions effectively all while being on schedule.

To support you to be more professional as a project manager, here is an infographic with very helpful time management tips with complements from Nutcache.

Time Management – A Prerequisite for Great Project Managers [Infographic]

Soft Skills for Project Managers

By Linky van der Merwe

Often in Project Management courses there is a big emphasis on the technical skills, also called ‘hard skills’ which are the occupational requirements that project managers need to do their jobs effectively. This would include the creation of tangible deliverables like a project schedule, project budget, status reports etc.

Soft skills for PM'sSoft skills complement hard skills.  Soft skills are the important interpersonal skills you need as a project manager to accomplish work through other people.  Soft skills are essentially people skills – the non-technical, intangible, personality-specific skills that determine your strengths as a leader, listener, negotiator and conflict mediator.

Developing your soft skills is equally important, but is often left to project managers to find suitable courses that would equip them with adequate soft skills like Leadership, Conflict Management and Emotional Intelligence.

Soft skills development

Why would you ask, are soft skills that important? Soft skills refer to behavioural skills – a sociological term relating to the cluster of personality traits and behavioural competencies that characterize relationships with other people.

Since projects are delivered or executed through people, your soft skills are like the glue that will hold the project team together when the going gets tough, for example when projects fall behind, or immovable deadlines are looming, or the normal stress coming from project delivery and dealing with issues.

At the end of the day a project manager wants a balance of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are more technical in nature where as soft skills are intangible and less visible. Soft skills are typically employed without the use of tools and templates. Soft skills can be taught, but they are typically honed by years of experience.

How to improve soft skills

When you set out to improve your soft skills as a project manager, there are 3 key things you need to remember.

  1. Make the commitment to learn and improve
  2. Put yourself in situations where you can practice various soft skills
  3. Evaluate your progress and adjust as needed

At this point you may be wondering if there is a finite list of soft skills to focus on as a project manager. According to my research there are at least 11 soft skills that should be part of your make-up as a professional project manager. They are:

  1. Leadership
  2. Team building
  3. Motivation
  4. Communication including active listening
  5. Influencing
  6. Decision making
  7. Political and cultural awareness
  8. Negotiation
  9. Conflict management
  10. Emotional intelligence
  11. Problem solving

Over the years I’ve published many articles on various soft skills. For more interesting articles with practical advice on developing your soft skills, continue reading about Leadership, Team build, Communication, Decision making and Emotional Intelligence.

If you are new to project management and you are serious about developing yourself as a professional project manager, please look at the Fast-track Growth Program which was especially developed for people like you in mind. It’s an online, self-paced training program for busy professionals which will give you the essential elements for project delivery. It’s the fastest way to grow critical Project Management competencies like technical and interpersonal skills, and becoming a confident project manager!

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