January 21, 2018


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

How to be a SMART Project Manager in 2018

SMART project managerAt the beginning of every new year people think about their goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. However, by the end of January, most people have forgotten their good intentions and fall back into old habits or routines and tend to do the same things they have always done.

I’m sure many of you have fallen into this trap, but there are always people who seem to have it together. What are they doing differently?



Good practices

Just like project management has been standardized by way of international standards and good practices ensuring consistent delivery and more successful outcomes, there are SMART ways to help you be more productive by keeping to your goals for the year.

Some experts recommend to have a vision by way of setting a personal theme as well as a professional theme for the year. This will take you beyond goals and resolutions and will help you to reach your objectives and become like a “heartbeat” for the year.

Based on your themes, you will still come up with objectives that will help you to achieve your goals and give you the best chance for success. If you don’t plan and prepare to win, how can you expect to win? This is taken from a Zig Ziglar “Born to win philosophy”.

There are numerous productivity experts and books available today that can help you reach higher levels of performance and it’s up to you to choose who to follow and what to implement. As long as you make it personal and you keep referring to your written goals on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis, there’s no obstacles that you cannot overcome.

How to make 2018 a successful year

Lastly, I want to share a wonderful resource on “How to make 2018 a successful year for your projects”, an eBook that was compiled by Elizabeth Harrin, containing ideas and tips from experts and inspiring project delivery professionals on how to make 2018 your most successful year ever? I was also privileged to be featured.

Some common themes that came up repeatedly are:

  1. Agile – if you don’t know enough about it, you need to start learning
  2. How crucial soft skills are for project professionals
  3. Authentic and ethical leadership that will help to get the work done and set you apart from your peers

Enjoy the eBook, take responsibility for your personal and career development and implement those success strategies that will help you to make this year one of the best years ever!

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New PMBOK Guide 6th Edition and SCRUM Guide Perspectives


Attention all existing project managers who are already PMP certified or who are preparing to become certified.

Most of you will know that the new PMBOK Guide, 6th Edition was released in September 2017. Here you will find a reference to a good summary of all the changes that were made in the new PMBOK Guide, 6th Edition. As PMP’s it’s good to keep up to date with what the Project Management Institute (PMI) considers as important when these Guides, that are used world-wide, are refreshed.

Enjoy the read here.

In addition, I would like to share a really interesting interview with Cyndi Snyder Dionisio, the chair of the team that worked on updating the guide. It’s published by Cornelius Fichtner as part of his PM Podcast interviews.

Then I want to refer to an article by Kevin Lonergan, with a controversial view of the Scrum Guide. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting.


Please subscribe to Virtual Project Consulting not to miss future articles, tips and success stories!

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.


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.


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.

Project Managers – Find a Beginners Guide to Scrum

Agile management frameworks are growing in popularity across many industries. Scrum is an agile framework that helps teams manage product development. The core principle behind Scrum is the understanding that customers can often change their mind about what they want at any stage of a project. For some teams, this can generate a lot of rework particularly in the later stages of development, which wastes time and money. Scrum manages this by delivering quickly in increments, gaining feedback early and adapting the product as necessary.

As with all agile frameworks, Scrum encourages team collaboration, frequent communication and continuous improvement. You can download an A0 size poster version of the graphic to print and display in your office!

If you’re interested to learn how Scrum typically works, take a look at the graphic below designed by Knowledge Train.


The Scrum methodology: a visual guideINFOGRAPHIC

Project Managers – Find a Beginners Guide to Kanban

By Alison Wood

It is no surprise that many organizations are adopting agile methods to manage their workflow. Kanban is one of the methods under the agile umbrella. Once understood, embraced and adopted successfully, you can expect significant improvements to your workflow and team collaboration.

The principle behind the Kanban method is to decrease and manage blockages in workflow, which can disrupt the entire team. It is a beneficial choice for teams that deliver frequently and for software development teams, even allowing teams to deliver daily if required. It is a very visual management method which usually revolves around the use of a whiteboard, coloured sticky notes and markers. Working like this allows the entire team to view the work progress and easily spot problems if they arise.

If you’re interested to learn about how Kanban works, take a look at the graphic below designed by Knowledge Train.

The 4 principles of Kanban: A visual guide

Considering Agile? 12 Agile Principles

Over the years a number of articles on Agile Project Management have been published. You will find:

A Closer Look at What Agile Project Management is

Are you considering Agile Project Management?


Today I would like to share a good graphical representation of the 12 Agile Principles.

12 Agile principles

A credit to Knowledge Train, the designer of this 12 Agile principles infographic.

Find an Infographic of the Agile Manifesto here.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile vs Waterfall

By Kevin Lonergan

Agile and Waterfall are two very different project management methods.  They both have clear pros and cons.  Some people argue that you can mix the two but others say: “you can’t be half Agile” and I have a lot of sympathy for this view.

Waterfall projects cascade through a series of phases with a requirements phase very near the start.  Developers then take this ‘statement of requirements’ and go through design and development.  Waterfall projects are usually delivered in a ‘big-bang’ way.

Agile is different. For more on Agile, read the Guide to Agile Project Management.

Agile does not attempt to define requirements in one go.  Instead, Agile produces the deliverable on an incremental basis and confirms the detail of the requirements around each increment.

Agile-Project-ManagementAgile encourages many practices that are really useful on projects, like:

  • face-to-face communication
  • constant involvement of users in the project
  • close co-operation between developers and users

Some of these things could potentially be used on virtually any project but not every project can produce the end-product incrementally.

To read the full article that expands on these statements and provides a detailed explanation of the most important pros and cons, read the Comparison of Agile versus Waterfall methods.

Chaos to Chaos: The age of agile incrementalism

By Sakhile Malinga

Agile - changeAs globalisation snowballs, organisations continue to enter the exciting age of complexity, a chaotic business landscape which is different from the two prior eras in strategy development.

The Eras in Strategy Development

#1 Era of grand design and systematic planning

The desire to over-elaborate the planning was made redundant by constant strategic drift. IBM and the mainframe was the king of the castle. Management approaches included detailed strategic plans with limited support from a changing internal and external environment. The analysis of SWOT (Strength Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) created historical context with a strong sense of hubris if the previous period was successful. Remediation if challenged.

#2 Era of Strategic Positioning

The era gave us value chain analysis, which created the technology giants such as Microsoft, IBM and Cisco. This era capitalised on large enterprise solutions that were meant to facilitate delivery in a Porter Value chain, looking at the 5 forces as a key driver of value (threat of substitute, new entrance, bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of customers, intensity of rivalry), with clear distinct variations of stratagem, which was focus, differentiate and cost leadership.

#3 Era of Complexity (Chaos)

The new era of a connected business world, with organic rather than hierarchic tendencies has led to the rise of social architectures that gave rise to the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype and cloud computing. This era is where agile incrementalism raises to the fore. A complex construct with too many unknowns, where change is welcomed and not feared and ownership is shared not assigned.

Leadership in Agile Incrementalism

Agile quoteThe main change is primarily from transactional to transformational leadership. 1

Transaction emphasises contingent rewards, and managing by exception. Transformation exhibits charisma, developing a vision, engendering pride, respect and trust, inspires and pays attention to the followers needs.

Agile incrementalism is transformational and it is incremental and not iterative, the fundamental difference is it does not predict what you want, just builds it better and quicker.

The key principle is the fact that individuals and interactions are preferred over process and tools. Chaos if not thought through. Customer collaboration is preferred over contract negotiations. Responding to change is preferred over following a plan. Working product is preferred over comprehensive documentation. Chaos if underestimated.

Agile affects strategy

  1. Capital Planning – The financial returns on investment of software projects becomes more about “fixing of the problem” rather than finding a solution package.
  2. Productivity – A general prediction of 25% boost in productivity 2 in software delivery.
  3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) vs Scope, you deliver what matters first and might not deliver the entire scope. The focus is working software.
  4. Resources – Agile has people and not resources. The approach is more about predictable change and less stress in introducing change.
  5. It’s about the Customer5– The time to respond to competition is swift and exciting as this becomes the focus of the team.


Software is a massive contributor to competitive advantage and any organisation that links it to an emerging strategy3 will dominate its market.

The challenges of Agile

  1. You will lose a sense of control, trusting the judgement of the teams to deliver. Allocated capital to solve a problem rather than to deliver a predefined thing will require maturity.
  2. Executive support and buy-in, for the existence of teams not business or IT. The concept of IT and business becomes archaic. The lines cannot be drawn, this becomes objective driven teams.
  3. Requirement will not be required. This translates to business needs; the business will need to have specific needs to be solved.
  4. Scope is variable; hence the power lies not with “completion”, but completing enough to enable the business.
  5. Change will not be welcomed; agile environmental changes will lead to resistance. Chaos does that to people. Training will be necessary for the teams.
  6. Different language, different delivery. The key to delivery will be a common language, whatever you call a thing, let it be a thing.
  7. Embracing Failure – accepting this faster than later in the process is what makes it acceptable.

The age of chaos is exciting, it’s every day that you wake up and expect Apple, or Facebook, Snapchat, Google and Twitter to release a new feature. They use agile, one day we will all use it.


Using any method to achieve an outcome is a good reaction to environmental changes, however locating the reason why a particular method is the right method; helps clarify why the procedures and techniques are vital. Software Agile approaches are methods designed bring a logical approach to a chaotic world.


About the Author:

Sakhile Malinga is a leader with a strong affinity to all things involving strategy, projects and digital. His purpose is to build stuff and people.


  1. Bass, B. (1990). ‘From transactional to transformational leadership: learning to share the vision.’ Organizational Dynamics, (Winter), 19–31.
  2. http://www.deltamatrix.com/why-are-agile-teams-25-more-productive
  3. Johnson G. Managing strategic change—strategy culture and action. Long Range Plan 1992; 25(1):28-36.
  4. Ghobadian, A and O’Regan, N. “ John Lewis Partnership lessons in logical incrementalism and organic growth: A case study and interview with the Chairman, Mr Charlie Mayfield’ Journal of Strategy and management (2008).
  5. Anderson JC, Kumar N, Narus JA. Value Merchants: Demonstrating and Documenting Superior Value in Business Markets. Harvard Business School Press.
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