June 26, 2017

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

How Project Managers Manage Virtual Teams

With more companies expanding globally, the trend to work on projects with virtual team members who are remote workers, is growing. I have now worked on a project spanning three countries across three different time-zones. Despite having cloud-based tools for project plan sharing and logging test defects, the latest communication technology like Skype for Business in addition to everyday emails, it has been severely challenging.

Challenges in handling virtual teams

Project managers face a variety of challenges when handling virtual team members who work from different locations, who are permanent or freelance workers, who come from different backgrounds and cultures. It can be difficult to schedule a meeting with all members at a fixed time, especially with a 8 hour time-zone difference as was the case with my project. It impacts the decision-making process negatively.

It can be difficult to communicate a message correctly to remote workers. They may fail to understand the context or cannot grasp specific issues related to a project. They don’t always appreciate the consequences if they fail to have a same-day turnaround, that it can cause 2-3 days delays.

A risk I had to manage through-out was to keep team members aligned in terms of the project schedule, the latest decisions, new project baselines etc. Due to the fact that one team worked during another team’s night time and visa versa, it meant that any requests sent via email had to be very clear in terms of context and what was expected. If the receiver of the email had a question, they usually had to wait another day to receive an answer. This caused repeated delays in getting multiple requests fulfilled. As the project progressed, and especially during testing when team members in different time zones had to work together, we had to resort to different work hours to create more of an overlap between team members and to enhance the communication process and response times to issues and defects.

How to manage remote teams effectively

It’s important for project managers to effectively manage both remote and on-site team members to achieve project success. Have a look at the infographic below created by Brandeis University’s Online Project Management Masters Degree program. It addresses the typical challenges and obstacles faced when managing virtual teams, strategies to effectively manage them and technologies to overcome issues.

Managing Virtual Teams

Please share in the comments the challenges you faced when working with virtual teams and how you overcame them.

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

 

How Big Data Can Solve Leadership Challenges

Big data can be defined as ‘the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day to day basis’, according to research done by the University of Norwich. Data that modern businesses generate including web traffic logs, social media posts, blog posts, transactional data etc.

By understanding big data and analyzing it correctly, leaders can benefit greatly from the insights provided which will lead to better decisions and more strategic businesses. It can be used to extract insights on consumer behavior, market trends, revenue growth, as well as brand perception and reach; therefore solving diverse automation and leadership challenges.

Find more fascinating research on big data’s role and impact on organizational leadership and management in this Infograpic brought to you with compliments from the Norwich University’s Online Master of Science in Leadership program.

It explains the challenges posed by big data, how big data is utilized across organisations, how big data is fueling business growth, requirements for handling big data and some case studies.

Let us know in the comments section what you think of the research and how you are dealing with big data?
Big Data and Leadership DevelopmentNorwich University Master of Science in Leadership Online

Why Goal Setting is Important to Project Success

Through the power of goal setting, project managers can set objectives for their teams and watch them accomplish their mission. Goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

There are several benefits to SMART goals, like when project managers outline their expectations by keeping them out in the open. In so doing, they increase the probability of employees and team members being successful by up to 70%, thanks to regular check-ins, updates and group accountability. This statistic is supported by the recent research of Dr. Gail Matthews.

SMART goals help project managers effectively create the focus and drive that employees and organizations need to constantly operate as high performers. High-performing organizations successfully complete an average of over 80% of their projects.

Through SMART goal setting, priorities become clear. There is a clear and specific focus that employees of all levels are committed to. Along with clarity and focus, the motivation of being able to measure progress in light of milestones achieved, further bolsters the positive effects and total results of SMART goal setting.

Discover more on the power of goal setting and the benefits of SMART goals in project management in the following Infographic, as supplied by Brandeis University who offers a Masters Degree in Project Management.

 

SMART Goal Setting

Brandeis University M.S. in Project and Program Management Online

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]

Is your project team familiar with the Agile Manifesto?

Today you can download and print an A0 size poster on the Manifesto for Agile software development.

Put it on the wall in your workplace to help your team learn the four key values in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.
Agile Manifesto

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

Find an Infographic on the 12 Agile Principles here.

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.

Current Trends in Project Management

By Linky van der Merwe

In a profession that is ever evolving, companies are continuously looking to understand the latest trends in project management. The business environment is shifting towards project based work as a result of globalization, the information Age and the speed of change.

PMI talent-triangleThe skills required to fill project management positions are changing, therefore the role of the project manager is evolving. This can be seen in the Project Management Institute’s new Talent Triangle that reinforces the need for a balance of skills in leadership, strategic management as well as the traditional technical expertise.

To have a look at the Top Ten trends for Project Management for 2016, I recommend Insider Insights White Paper from Twenty Eighty Strategy Execution, formerly known as ESI-International.

Another trend I’m particularly excited about, is the move to Digital Project Management. The Infographic below, supplied by Visualistan, explains why Digital Project Management is the new project management.

Project Management Global Trends in 2016 #infographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

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Time Management: Gantt Chart as a Planning Tool

By Linky van der Merwe

Most existing project managers would know that Gantt Charts are popular tools to use for a visual presentation of a project schedule. Although numerous software tools make provision for Gantt Charts, the most widely used tool remains Microsoft Project.

For new or aspiring project managers, it’s important to understand that Gantt Charts come about as a result of the Time Management activities in the Planning process on a project.

Schedule Creation

When creating a project schedule, the order of the planning activities is important as explained below:

  1. Define activities by identifying all the specific actions to be performed to produce the project deliverables
  2. Sequence activities by identifying the relationships among project activities.
  3. Estimate activity resources by identifying the type and quantities of material, human resources, equipment etc to perform each activity.
  4. Estimate activity durations by analysing the work effort needed to complete each activity with the estimated resources.
  5. Develop the schedule – this is where activities are documented in a schedule (gantt chart) in the right sequence, with durations, resource assignments and constraints

History of the Gantt Chart

Wrike has created an interesting Infographic to display the origins or timeline of the Gantt Chart, the anatomy and how it’s used, as well as the benefits of using Gantt Charts on projects.

What is a Gantt Chart
Wrike Project Management Software

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