November 17, 2017

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

Archives for October 2017

The Top Management Models for Fast-pacing Change in Business

Business executives believe that organizations need to adapt to change in order to have a competitive advantage. Change management programs involve organizational buy-in, design of change initiatives and seamless implementation of those initiatives. In a survey of North American executives, 54 percent stated they have successfully rolled out change management initiatives at their organizations. However, employees can be weary of change if they do not fully understand the initiatives and have experienced past change program failures. In fact, 48 percent of employees think their organizations lack the capabilities to sustain change initiatives.

For businesses to be successful, executives have to create management strategies that promote staff retention, revenue generation and a positive workplace culture. All employees have to support the change programs for business to have success in the future. Some of the common change models include Holocracy, the McKinsey 7-S and Kotter’s 8-step change initiative.

#1 Holocracy

Holocracy philosophy is the distribution of power to specific teams and employees at all levels are subject to the same rules. Organizations using Holocracy are more adaptive to change and have a clearer company mission with built-in reassessment to address future issues.

#2 McKinsey 7-S model

The McKinsey 7-S model uses strategy, structure, management activities, core values, style, capability of employees and competencies to see how the organization works. The model eases change transition and equalizes staff roles.

#3 Kotter 8-step Change Model

Kotter’s 8-step Change Model creates a sense of urgency, builds change teams, forms a strategic vision, enlists volunteers, empowers action, produces short-term wins, supports acceleration and incorporates change. This model is easy for businesses to adopt even in traditionally hierarchical systems.

Traditional management practices are bogging businesses down and make them unable to compete in today’s global market. Executives have to prepare their teams to adapt to these change models so they can control the implementation process and enhance business benefits. To learn more about the top business management models for effective management, check out the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Master of Business Administration program.

Resources to Make Project Management a Little Easier

By Jane Sandwood

According to Project Management South Africa, the relatively new profession is becoming an increasingly popular discipline that is in high demand at organisations using projects for strategic delivery.

Aspiring project managers should be aware of the duties of the role, by belonging to professional associations in South Africa that can help form a solid foundation from the start. By being exposed to the professional community will help you to recognise all that constitutes legitimate practices based on standards and guidelines and will show the world that you are committed to ongoing professional development.

PM ResourcesBut while project management comes with many responsibilities, there are certain resources that can make the job easier and will also lead to success. Utilising certain tools can help project managers plan, manage, and keep track of projects as well as facilitate the project team ranging from small to large. Resources can also be beneficial to develop resource plans and to control budgets and schedules.

Organisational Internet Sticks

One resource that can be particularly useful to mobile project managers is an Internet stick. Internet sticks have many benefits for individuals who are constantly moving from place to place and need access to Wi-Fi wherever they go. For project managers, there may be a need to travel to different locations for a single project, making it difficult to always find a trusted Internet connection.

But with an Internet stick, it can be possible to access free Wi-Fi no matter where you are. This can be extremely useful when visiting a range of sites that may not have open access to the Internet. Using an Internet stick is like carrying around a Wi-Fi connection in your pocket, which can save project managers much time and help them to be connected and accessible when traveling.

Digital Project Software

Another tool to make project management run more smoothly is digital project management (PPM) software. Since many projects now have virtual teams, PPM software makes it simple to integrate all parts of a project into one simple management resource. Using online PPM software allows project managers to update assignments, track progress, and be informed in real-time, which can help managers make better strategic decisions.

By utilising digital tools and resources like an Internet stick and PPM software, project managers can fulfill their duties in a professional and competent manner that will contribute to successful project delivery.

Virtual Project Teams – How to Establish Trust

By Howard B. Esbin

Successful virtual project management depends on superior teamwork. Positive interpersonal relations are a must. This is an essential precondition for trust to develop. Trust joins people together virtually by bridging time, geography, and culture. However, according to a large, growing body of research, establishing trust on a virtual project team is highly challenging. There’s little time or incentive for acclimatizing. There’s also almost immediate pressure to produce results. During the storming phase, unresolved interpersonal challenges cause significant disruption. Deadlines are missed and budgets run over. Without trust, too often team members disband remaining “virtual strangers”.

Virtual teams need special leadership … trust is essential … teambuilding exercises pay off, and …  unless a combination of high-tech and high-touch is maintained, performance peaks are often followed by declines in the productivity.”  (Creativity in Virtual Work: Effects of Demographic Differences: L.L. Martins, C.E. Shalley, 2009)

Problematically, 80% of distributed or virtual teams receive little or no training. Research shows a direct link between the “soft” qualities of a team, it’s “team-ness”, and the quality of software produced. Only 39% of software projects are completed successfully. 43% result in late delivery, cost overruns, and/or reduced features and functions. 18% fail. In one global survey, 75% of developers believed their own projects would fail.

Case Study of a Virtual Software Development Team

Here’s the story of how one distributed Agile software development team proactively addressed the classic challenge of establishing trust at the start of their project during the forming stage.

The Prelude SuiteTeam Profile

The software development team, consisting of 9 team members, is cross-functional and cross-cultural in composition. The team lead, Dr. Faisal Nasser Shehab, is an Enterprise Architect and Associate Professor as well author of Emergent Leader Detection and Identification in A Virtual Team Environment: A Grounded Theory Study  The team is building a “Virtual Team Business Management System” based on Dr. Shehab’s research. Their mission is to provide organizations with “the knowledge, the framework, and services required to implement a robust and a mature virtual team management capability”.

Context

Last Spring, Dr. Shehab learned about a resource called the Prelude Suite that supposedly helps accelerate virtual team trust during formation. Aware of how disruptive and costly interpersonal challenges can be on distributed teams, he wanted his new team to start on the best possible note. After seeing the online demo and meeting the prospective resource facilitator, Dr. Shehab scheduled the Prelude Suite™ for the team.

Process

The team met together online for three sessions of about 90 minutes each. This process was guided by a trained facilitator. With each step, the team moved from a “me” to a “we” orientation. Throughout they used Self-Assessment, Self-Expression, Co-Creation, and Dialogue.

Each step features a set of exercises, team-based and synchronous as well as individual and asynchronous. Everyone meets together virtually in a private online platform called a Sandbox using rich media (Video, VOIP, Chat, Interactive Whiteboard). The following outline the team’s step by step experience.

Session 1: Tune Up

Exercise: iStar Self-Assessment™

Prior to their first session, teammates completed an online self-assessment called iStar™. Their resulting iStar Badges are automatically uploaded to the Team Constellation page. During this session, everyone produced their individual iStar Story™. This is brief, holistic positive thumbnail quickly written and easily shared round robin. This is a rapid yet meaningful way to build new awareness and understanding of team diversity and shared strengths.

They also reviewed their unique Elemental Table. This reflects the team’s overall make-up in terms of a range of soft skills. Teams are able to quickly, easily understand where change may be needed. Teamnates also receive an individual digital StarSmart Journal™, which allows for ongoing personal and professional reflection, goal setting, and measuring progress.

Exercise: Team Elemental Table™

Session 2: Practice

In their second online session, teammates practiced key soft skills together synchronously through a co-creation challenge using an online interactive whiteboard. First, they each create a personal iTag™ to symbolize their unique quintessential qualities and strengths. Everyone then shares their tags with each other. In the second exercise the team as a whole is then given a challenge to co-create a powerful digital symbol of their team spirit and excellence called a weTag.

Exercise 1: iTag™

Exercise 2: weTag™

Session 3: Bridge

In their third and final session, teammates went through two exercises. The Team Alignment Plan™ enabled them to quickly, easily bridge their shared soft skill inventory with project work goals, tasks, and deliverables. This is final check for the team to assess if they have what they need to move back into operating mode. Their final team exercise produced a robust Team Charter reflecting the insights gained and lessons learned about themselves as a team.

Team Alignment

Exercise 1: Team Alignment Plan (T.A.P.)

Team Member Feedback

“As a team leader, the Prelude Suite™ provided me with valuable insights into our team’s diverse strengths. This helped us to properly align team members with the tasks at hand. It also helped us to clarify our focus while affirming we’re on the right track. It was wonderful seeing how everyone came together online as a team. The weTag we co-created was a dynamic, truly creative way to spark team spirit and identity.  I really enjoyed the simplicity of the interface and the process.” Dr. Faisal Shehab 

“The Prelude Suite™ is the most unique team facilitation approach that I have encountered as a student and co-worker through my life time experience. This resource provides the most important thing for successful team formation – transparency. Moreover, it shows your own weaknesses as well as areas of strength. I highly suggest the Prelude Suite to any team that wants go through a proper facilitation and build transparent relationships in fast and smooth manner.” Georgy, Khetsuriani

“The Prelude Suite™ user experience model is fun and simple yet innovative and challenging.  I rediscovered a great deal about myself and others in the team. The most important feature is not the technology we don’t see or the user interface but the ability of the program to create a shared sense of community.” Ferrel Son

“The ITag™ exercise was illuminating. It helped boost my confidence and belief in myself. Team exercise: helped with team bonding and awareness of traits of team members. Overall: first time with kind of experience. The collaborative approach makes it authentic and I will recommend the Prelude Suite™ to others.”  Ifeoma Okafo-Eke

Outcomes and Benefits

These outcomes and benefits may be achieved by any virtual project team committed to a truly successful delivery. This simply requires three 2-hour online sessions, high-speed Internet connection, video, headphones and mike. Pricing, available upon request, is competitive and flexible.

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Prelude SuiteAbout the Author: Howard B. Esbin PhD is the creator of the Prelude Suite™, training and certification that is offered via an online interactive course involving theory and practice. The unique learning design is informed by Howard’s academic graduate research and extensive management experience in international development, philanthropy, and the private sector.

The International Labour Organization, Education Canada, and UNESCO have published his writing. Click here for his chapter on virtual team creativity in Strategic Management & Leadership for Systems Development in Virtual Spaces.

Growth Program for New Project Managers to Help Close the Talent Gap

By Linky van der Merwe

Growth Program for new Project ManagersImagine living in a world where there are 66 million jobs with a growing demand of 2.2 million per year that have to be filled? These jobs require people to implement strategic initiatives, drive change and deliver innovation. Unfortunately, there’s a huge shortage, or talent gap as it’s called, to fill these roles which could result in in a potential loss of some US $207.9 billion in GDP through 2027 for 11 countries that were analyzed.

This is according to the “Job growth and talent gap 2017 – 2027” Report from the Project Management Institute (PMI) published in 2017, based on an assessment of project management employment and industry activity by the Anderson Economic Group (AEG).

Basically it states that there’s a widening gap between employers’ need for skilled project management workers and the availability of professionals to fill those roles.

Talent Gap

These are huge numbers caused by different factors like:

  • A dramatic increase in the number of jobs requiring project-oriented skills.
  • Attrition rates, including professionals retiring from the workforce.
  • A significant uptick in demand for project talent, especially in rapidly developing economies such as China and India.

This has resulted in an imperative to encourage more talent to enter the profession and narrow the talent gap.

With this motivation in mind, I want to introduce you to the Fast-track Growth Program for new Project Managers. It’s an online training program that will help transform an inexperienced project manager who really wants to do well on projects or your typical “Accidental Project Manager”, into a competent, confident and credible Project Manager.

We all know that project managers will face many challenges. That includes handling difficult team members, satisfying demanding customers and working towards impossible deadlines. We want more project managers to succeed and fewer projects to fail. To address the huge demand for skilled talent, we need motivated, independent and professional project managers who are willing to make mistakes, learn from them and still continue to deliver successful projects to the best of their abilities.

To assist new project managers on their journey, the Growth Program will fast-track and ease that transition into project management.

Here’s feedback from a few students who have completed the Growth Program.

Case Study 1

Mark works in the Retail Sector and was assigned to me for mentoring. After years of working as a Systems Manager, he was asked to manage a big project due to his experience and background knowledge of the product. The only problem was that he lacked project management experience and he had no prior training.

He was very motivated to learn fast and I invited him to join the Growth Program for new project managers. This was his feedback:

The Growth Program taught me about soft skills and what my individual strengths are. The biggest benefit for me was that the Program really embodies the framework of project management and gave me valuable insight and a plan for future growth as a professional PM”

Since completing the Growth Program, he has become clear about the responsibilities of his new role, he knows where to start, what his next steps are, what additional training he requires and most importantly, how to plan his PM career. He gained much confidence and like other new PM’s I mentored, he has become very independent and mature in managing projects.

Case Study 2

Harshiela comes from a Change Management background and having worked on many projects before, she wanted to transition into the project management role.

She completed the Growth Program and had the following results.

“The Growth Program gave me confidence that I have the core knowledge and skills and ways of working that is required in a PM role. The training program highlighted my technical gaps which are development areas that I can fast track while making the transition from a Change Manager to a Project Manager.

I recommend the Growth Program based on the holistic approach looking at the technical skills, soft skills and competencies required. It also provided me with further learning and career options – it really gives the whole picture for someone starting out in the PM profession.”

Case Study 3

Roelof, a senior professional with a MBA degree, was new to project management and needed coaching. He worked through the Growth Program Training Modules and asked me questions during coaching calls.

It taught him the essential technical project management skills needed, the soft skills required, the importance of Governance to be an effective project manager, as well as the main pitfalls to avoid as a new PM. He walked away with a customised Personal Growth and Development Plan that he could execute in his own time with the confidence of having a clear direction and enough reference material to use daily in his role as a PM or Programme Manager.

Virtual Project Consulting

As the founder of Virtual Project Consulting, it has always been part of my mission to help aspiring and existing project managers. One of the responsibilities I was given in a new Programme Manager role in 2014, was to mentor and coach the organisation’s new project managers.

Fast-track growth programFrom working with many new and accidental project managers, I understand their needs, the challenges they face and their desire to become effective in their new roles quickly. Hence the birth of the “Fast-track Growth Program for New Project Managers.

It’s a self-paced online training program, or with the option of Small Group Coaching Support that will help students grow critical project management competencies, teach them how to overcome their biggest challenges on projects and increase their confidence and impact in the workplace.

If you fall into the category of an ‘Accidental Project Manager’ or you know some-one who does, please refer them and enroll today as the next Growth Program with Group Support will start in October 2017!

7 Must-Have Tools For Agile Management

7 tools for Agile managementBy KnowledgeHut

While it may sound simple, in reality, the tasks of an Agile Scrum Master cover a very broad spectrum. When managing and implementing the project is the need of the hour, the Agile Scrum Master must be equipped with good training and certain tools in their toolbox, so that they can accomplish and interact with their stakeholders, as and when required.

Proper Training

With the ongoing demand of Agile training, there are so many institutes on the rise that are offering courses like Certified Scrum Master Training and giving you a professional approach. The courses are designed in various stages and based on your skills, expertise, and levels; one can choose the desired course.

The biggest advantage is that the courses are available online, making it convenient for you to do from any part of the world. You only need to register for the course and you can study even in the comfort of your house or while traveling.

Benefits

On completion of the course, you will be awarded a certificate. With this certificate in hand, you are eligible to apply for a position in any organizations. In the initial level of the course program, agile management training will help you to grow the following skills.

  • It will give you a thorough knowledge and the key concepts of developing various forms of strategy
  • You will be capable of solving the issues as well as various risks that are part of agile management
  • Will be able to understand what type of software is required to manage properly
  • Test, analyze and validate various scenarios and implement working methodologies
  • Research the budget and make plans to finish the project within time
  • Motivate and influence the working team

Top 7 Agile Tools

7 must have toolsWithout the use of certain tools, the work of an Agile manager can be really tough. Keeping this in mind, there are so many tools available, that have been designed to provide all the essential features.

Some of the recommended tools have been mentioned below, which can be considered.

  1. Active Collab: If you are managing a small business, this can be the tool of your choice. With the ease of use, it can be used very effectively as and when required. The key features of this tool include management of documents, communicating via email, prioritize and control tasks accordingly, and even working on the budget part. This tool comes in a package and makes it very easy to manage every single thing.
  2. Agilo for Scrum: If communication is what you are looking for, this can be the perfect tool for you. Based on the progress of the project, it is designed to get automatically updated. This powerful tool can also be used to connect all the members at the same time. In case of any changes made, a notification is sent, thereby alerting every member. Even you can download charts and track your progress.
  3. Atlassian Jira + Agile: This tool even allows you to customize the projects as and when required, while the communication part is also not compromised at the same time. Even for self-hosted projects or in the clouds, this tool can be used everywhere. Even, this has a special feature called ‘Release Hub,’ that checks your project before delivering to the customer.
  4. ITM Platform: Comprehensive online project management software that is great for Agile projects with Task Management, Kanban Board and full Resource and Demand capabilities. Also mobile friendly, runs on all devices and can be integrated through API with other tools.
  5. Pivotal Tracker: This is a great source for mobile users as well. With the capacity of tracking multiple projects at the same time, it also has other features like: communicating between members, updating the work completed so far and tracking the progress of the project. The easy-to-use features makes it a great choice.
  6. Targetprocess: So, when you are loaded with data and charts, this can come to your relief. This is just not an available solution for scrum masters, but can even help an IT manager as well. With various customizable features, and loaded with suggestions and solutions, this is definitely a worthy consideration.
  7. VersionOne: You need to report frequently? This is the tool for you then. Answering is very easy with the drag-drop feature. The dashboard has been designed in a way to give you easy access. With all these features, the ease factor is also taken care of, and you can communicate very easily with your team members or assign any work, and can even track the progress of the project.

 

The task of an Agile Manager is going to be much simpler if you have done training to equip you with the right skills and if you have supporting tools in the workplace.

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KnowledgeHut offers over 120+ professional certification courses across industries to helps professionals get an competitive edge and boost productivity. KnowledgeHut is an industry-leading knowledge training company for individuals and corporate offices, operating across 70 countries and 6 continents.

Click here for what is on offer for project management training.

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