September 21, 2014

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

The Professional Project Manager

Project Manager (PM Level 1)

As a follow up from the previous article about project management as a profession, this article will discuss the levels of project managers in more detail.

Project Management South Africa (PMSA) have registered three designations for project managers.

A project manager has earned this designation when fulfilling the full spectrum of responsibilities associated with project management being the core focus in their working environment. A PM will have obtained an appropriate first degree / qualification or accreditation and built up the required years of experience performing the role of project managers taking multiple projects through the life-cycle over the required period of time. Project managers maintain a high ethical standard and a minimum endeavour to comply with the principles of the Code of Conduct.

Awarding Criteria

Knowledge: An industry relevant tertiary qualification or a certification/accreditation plus five years of relevant experience. Practical experience should show skills, experience and commitment. Three years of managing projects of low complexity through full life-cycle. Signs and adheres to the prevailing PMSA Code of Conduct Competence: In the process of developing ability in each competency area.
Commitment Member of a professional body for a minimum period of one year.Engage in activities required to maintain registration and further their professional development and current knowledge

 

Senior Project Manager (PM Level 2)

A senior project manager earns this designation when they have actively chosen to pursue a career in project management within the field they originally qualified. They will have the technical knowledge associated with their first degree / qualification and related experience. They will have made the professional commitment to obtain one or more, further qualifications, certifications or accreditations related to project management.

A senior project managers will have applied their knowledge to deliver projects through the complete life-cycle on multiple projects of varying complexity for a period of at least 6 years.

Senior project managers will have membership with a relevant professional body to gain knowledge into current trends and best practices and to share their knowledge with peers. They maintain a high ethical standard and comply with the principles of the Code of Conduct.

The awarding criteria

Knowledge: An industry relevant tertiary qualification and any formal short learning in Programme / project management of 120 hours or certification, accreditation in a recognised methodology at the advanced level (PMP, IPMSA and completion of one renewal cycle of such. Practical experience demonstrated ability to practice in a chosen PM methodology. Experience will include 3 years low complexity, and three years moderate complexity taking projects through the complete life cycle. Members of at least one relevant project management association and participation in activities, like presenting.
Signs and adheres to the prevailing PMSA Code of Conduct.
Competence: Developed ability in each competency area.
Commitment Adopted and conform to Code of Ethics of professional body.
Member of a professional body for a minimum period of one year. Engage in activities required to maintain registration and further their professional development and gather required number of points.Engage in activities required to maintain registration and further their professional development and current knowledge.

 

Professional Project Manager (PM Level 3)

A professional project manager earns this designation when they reached a level of proficiency associated with an expert in the practice of project management.

This designation is awarded based on an individual’s portfolio of evidence as well as peer interviews in which proficiency, namely knowledge, skill, attributes and emotional intelligence, are analysed. It reviews a candidate’s past work in terms of consistent excellence across multiple projects of a required size and complexity, ongoing professional development and contribution to the growth of the discipline.

Awarding criteria

Knowledge: An industry relevant tertiary qualification and a qualification in project management. Practical experience would show a skill level of advanced or expert ability to practice in a chosen PM methodology. Experience would equal ten years in managing moderate to highly complex projects. Membership and active participation in a professional project management association.
Signs and adheres to the prevailing PMSA Code of Conduct.
Competence: Attributes would demonstrate traits required of an expert including emotional intelligence, leadership, decision making and problem solving. Developed expert or advanced ability in each competency area.
Commitment Adopted and conform to Code of Ethics of professional body.
Member of a professional body and made a tangible contribution for a minimum period of one year.
Made a contribution to the Body of Knowledge or future project managers through active engagement, research, sharing of best practices and mentorship.
Engage in activities required to maintain registration and further their professional development and gather required number of points.

 

What should you do next

If you are based in South Africa, you are encouraged to visit the Designations FAQ.

Once the system is available, you can activate membership and populate your member profile.

Once you understand the designation criteria, you need to upload all relevant documentation. When invited to do so, make an application for the relevant designation.

Welcome to the world of Professional Project Managers!

Project Management as a Professional Designation

The purpose of this article is to look at project management as a profession, the characteristics of a professional, the career path and levels of project managers and how to register it as a designation.

A Profession would have the following elements:

project management as a profession

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Project Management South Africa

When we talk about a professional project manager, what does that really mean?

Characteristics of a Professional

In a profession, people would be expected to have certain characteristics. Here are some of those:

  • 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

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

Qualification – A learning outcome as a result of formal tuition. In South Africa it is what is recognised on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) at the different levels.

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.

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 the South African context designation is a job title. It’s the title conferred by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) recognised professional body that could be statutory or non-statutory, based on certain criteria defined by the professional body.

SAQA aims to work with professional bodies towards:

  • Progressing professions by working with those professional bodies that meet the criteria for recognition and with these bodies, regulate professional designations.
  • This promotes public awareness of these professional designations, inspiring pride in the profession, and sets the scene for public protection by requiring adherence to a code of professional conduct.

By recognising and formalising designations, professional bodies contribute to the development of career paths as well as promoting continuous professional development within the profession.

Project Management Landscape

The South African Department of Higher Education and Training named Project/Programme Management the 5th most scarce skill in South Africa. Project Management South Africa (PMSA) aims to provide a career path framework through qualifications, training, accreditation etc. The following designations have been registered:

  • Project Manager
  • Senior Project Manager
  • Principal Project Manager

Ongoing professional development is also enabled. The following image depicts a typical career path:

PM career path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Social Media and Project Management in South Africa

This week it was my privilege to be interviewed by Jerry Ihejirika, a project management blogger from Nigeria in his new series called “Project Management for Africa”.

According to Jerry I’m one of the most active African Project Managers on Twitter (@virtualpm) and for that reason as well as my passion for project management, he chose me to interview, using Twitter. I thought it was an innovative medium to use to conduct the interview and a good example of the power of social media to promote our profession.

Below is an extract of the interview that I wanted to share with my community too.

When exactly did you venture into project management and what informed your decision?

I’ve been in the project management profession since 1999. I’m an accidental Project Manager, and I love working with teams and the satisfaction of achieving goals.

As someone who is passionate about project management, what’s the best project management advice you’ve ever received?

From both advice and my experiences: “Always be planning, always be communicating, and always build relationships.”

What’s the level of awareness of project management in South Africa?

In South Africa, there is a growing level of awareness and appreciation of project management as a professional designation. We have a Body called SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) which has officially recognised project management as a professional designation with career path. It’s also required by corporate employers for a Project Manager to have a PMP (certified) status, especially when applying for senior roles.

Is there any recognized national PM body in South Africa to help promote and advance Project Management in the country?

Yes, Project Management South Africa, or PMSA, representing project management practitioners across all sectors. They have monthly meetings in major cities, a biennial national conference, national printed magazine; we also have PMI chapters whose members meet monthly.

You’re one of the advocates of social media in project management. Do you think social media has a role to play in project management?

Yes, and for different reasons. Some of the benefits of social media in project management include improved collaboration, cost savings, best practice sharing, and networking.

How do you think social media can be utilized to promote and advance project management in Africa?

Through our project management blogs; sharing of project success stories; creating LinkedIn interest groups; leveraging Twitter, podcasts, videos, Google+, and PM Flashblog initiatives.

How would you rate the level of awareness of project management in Africa?

Project management as a designation will contribute to the development of career paths; and also through promoting continuous professional development. In South Africa, we have a national conference by end September with theme: Growing project management in Africa. (See events page for more details.)

Wow, that’s good, and there’s also a national conference in Nigeria by September tagged “Project Management Development in Nigeria” being organized by ProMaCon.

That’s good for raising the awareness of value of project management in Africa.

What advice would you give to a Project Manager who’s planning on incorporating social media in his/her project management profession?

For use of social media on projects, you need a social strategy that’s specific to your organisation’s business objectives, challenges, and culture. You also need to have an adaptable, step-by-step, ongoing formula to bring social media into projects. You can also use social media to build your professional project management career by having a strategy with tactics to communicate on each social media channel.

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How to Prevent Project Failure with Pre-Mortems

By Bruce Harpham

Project failure is a constant threat. When a project fails on scope, quality or timeliness, the credibility of the project manager is threatened. Delivering the project is the acid test of project manager success. That means we need to understand how to prevent project failure.

project pre-mortemThis article is about one strategy you can use to prevent project failure, pre-mortems. Using the pre-mortem approach is a positive way to harness skepticism and negativity in the work place. Rather than silently enduring complaints from project members, the pre-mortem brings concerns into the open. The pre-mortem also creates a safe space to share project opinions.

Trust is a critical component to a successful pre-mortem session. If your project team has had negative experiences in the past, that fact needs to be taken into account.

The project manager sets the tone for the session. At the beginning of the session, say that challenging ideas are welcome. Otherwise, critical threats to the project’s success may never be discussed. With that context, let’s discuss how to run an effective pre-mortem session.

Run a Pre-Mortem Meeting in Five Steps

Follow these five steps to run your pre-mortem session. If you are new to the process, be patient with yourself. Implementing a new idea can feel uncomfortable at first.

Note that the pre-mortem is designed to be used in the early stages of a project. Applying this practice late in the game is akin to providing a vaccine to a terminal patient: timing matters!

#1 Provide the Project Plan

In order to provide meaningful feedback, your project team and stakeholders need background. Whether you have a fully developed project charter or a short PowerPoint deck, share what you have with the team. For the best results, provide the project document to the team a few days before the pre-mortem meeting.

Tip: For purposes of the pre-mortem, it’s better to keep the project plan brief.

#2 Introduce the Pre-Mortem

In an effective pre-mortem session, each person contributes ONE idea. By asking each person to focus on a single idea, they will be forced to prioritize the most significant challenge to the project. I recommend giving five to ten minutes to consider the question and make a few notes.

Tip: If your team has good experience with brainstorming, then you can build on that point. Pre-mortems and brainstorming both rely on openness to new and challenging ideas.

#3 Record Project Failure Factors

Go around the table and ask each person to share their project failure factors. During the listening stage, focus on listening to the comments. There will be plenty of time to evaluate the comments later. The only reason to make comments during this step is clarify how the failure factor works.

Focus the discussion on major problems that could destroy the project’s chances for success. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Vendor Failure – A vendor fails to keep their commitment to deliver software by an agreed date.
  • Project Sponsor Behavior -The project sponsor departs the firm to retire or take a role at a competitor.
  • Lack of Feedback Failure -Employees refuse to provide useful feedback during testing because they fear process improvement will cut employment.

Tip: Appoint one person to serve as the scribe. Their role is to capture all of the ideas and send out minutes after the meeting. Appointing one person to this task signals the importance of the pre-mortem.

#4 Evaluate Failure Factors

Following the pre-mortem meeting, start the evaluation process. Use two evaluation criteria to measure the failure factors.

Let’s use the example of a delayed delivery from a vendor as an example.

Likelihood: XYZ Vendor has delivered 18 of the past 20 software projects on time. The likelihood of late delivery on the current project is low.

Impact: Failure to receive the software package from XYZ Vendor would cause the project to miss the delivery deadline. The impact rating is high.

Assessment: One of the two criteria is rated as high so this problem requires further attention.

#5 Escalate Most Critical Problems to Project Sponsors

From time to time, it makes sense to seek assistance from the project sponsor. For large contracts with vendors, your sponsor may be the accountable executive for the vendor.

In any case, schedule a short meeting with the project sponsor to discuss the greatest threats to the project. Bring at least two possible solutions to the meeting so the executive has ideas to consider.

About the Author: Bruce Harpham writes on project management training at Project Management Hacks. His professional experience includes leading cost reduction projects at financial institutions. He earned a Master of Information Studies degree at the University of Toronto.

Project Management: 5 Metrics to Measure Project Success

By Maricel Rivera

project success metricsSuccess isn’t absolute. At the fundamental level, project success is difficult to define. According to Computer World, the usual group of project stakeholders – project manager, team members, sponsor, end users and top management – may give the project very different success ratings at any given point in time.

The triangle of time, scope and budget is just the starting point for project managers, as hurdling through the triple constraint is expected for the project’s output to be a success.

Then, there’s the fact that project success goes beyond just the output. As a PMI article puts it, “Based on today’s project environments, project managers need to broaden their perspective to include other criteria to satisfy stakeholders and deliver business results.”

How to measure project success

Here are five project success metrics to consider.

#1 Client satisfaction

The project’s end result may squarely fit within the designated time, budget and scope requirements, but is the client happy? Clients, sometimes, cannot eloquently explain what they want, and it is up to the project manager to figure things out. Does the project pave the way to more future partnerships? If not, is the client willing to put his reputation on the line and recommend your company to his peers and colleagues?

#2 Quality of delivery

A project may elicit results the client absolutely loves, but if the people involved in its execution had to go through endless clarification stages and endure unnecessary headaches while working their way to completion, the project may not necessarily be a success. Knowing how team members feel about the overall project can prompt project managers to devise ways to better communicate and define future delivery objectives.

#3 User adoption

A software application as an end product can only be successful if the intended end users actually use it, and use it often. Aside from usage frequency, other questions to ask can include:

  • Is the software user-friendly and easy to navigate?
  • How is the learning curve?
  • Does it address prior user challenges?
  • Overall, is the product an enabler or a nuisance?

#4 Value realization

Apart from satisfying the needs of its clients, a company must also realize its business goals, such as ROI (rate of return), NPV (net present value), among others, for every project it takes on. Shorter time-to-market and faster project delivery benefits not just the client but the business as well, in that this ultimately leads to cost efficiency and more time to take on more projects.

#5 Lessons learned

For every project, successful or otherwise, there are lessons to be learned. While failure is oftentimes seen as a better teacher than success, two important factors to look into when evaluating the success of a project are:

  • Is the project instrumental to increasing the knowledge of its stakeholders?
  • Does it better prepare the company for future endeavors?

Conclusion

Keep in mind, to ensure success above and beyond the output, project and business objectives must be aligned. The above are just five measures to look into when evaluating the success of your projects. What other measures would you like to add? Please add your thoughts in the comments section.

 

About the Author: Maricel Rivera writes content for Comindware, the company behind Comindware Project, a state-of-the-art project management solution providing unique automated scheduling and unmatched collaboration capabilities for professional project execution.

Leadership in Project Management

An excellent Leadership ebook has been released by AtTask containing lessons from well-known Project, Program and Portfolio Management experts about making the transition from project management to project leadership.

Gartner predicted a massive change in the world of project management—a change that is forcing project managers into a greater leadership role and requiring them to work closely with senior executives.  Making the shift from project management to project leadership isn’t easy, but the rewards can be significant. Read the stories for inspiration to become a better leader.

Project Management Maturity and Project Performance

project management maturityIn the difficult economic times we live in today, organisations are faced with the challenge to continuously adapt to the changing environments in order to survive and prosper. For most companies project management has become part of their competitive advantage strategy. The question is if there’s a relation between project management maturity and project performance?
This question was answered by the results from the survey done by Price Waterhouse Coopers:
Global Insights and Trends – Current Portfolio, Programme and Project Management practices

PM Maturity and Performance

Project management maturity is measured by evaluating projects on 5 performance indicators:

  1. Delivering projects on time;
  2. Within budget;
  3. To scope;
  4. To quality standards;
  5. With the intended business benefits

Project performance is evaluated around 4 core elements:

  1. Processes
  2. Organisational structure
  3. People
  4. Systems and tools

The survey results were analysed to determine the current state of project management maturity and the characteristics of higher performing projects. This article will highlight some of the key findings.

Processes

When a systematic and organised set of processes exist for project management, or in other words when a well-defined repeatable PM process is in place (can be grouped into a PM methodology) the chances are better to deliver consistently high project results.

Organisational Structure

When looking at organisation structure as an influence on PM performance the following aspects are considered:

  • Resource ownership
  • Definition of clear roles and responsibilities
  • Support from senior management
  • Use of a Project/Programme Management Office (PMO)

Results indicated that project management is critical to business performance and organisational success. Where suitable project organisational structures exist on project(s) it clearly outlines the project team and reporting relationships.
Senior management support of projects is a contributing factor to project success especially for projects that are expanding from departmental to national and international levels.
Established project management offices result in projects with higher quality and business benefits. Employing a PMO is one of many methods to institute standardized project management processes and project controls in an organisation.

People

Well-developed people management skills are fundamental to a high PM maturity level. Aspects considered in this area include: project staff skills and experience; development and training programme; and an emphasis on PM certifications.
They found that engaged, experienced staff leads to project success. Training and staff development in the field of project management has grown drastically. More PM certifications have become in demand.

Systems and Tools

Organisations purchase and create systems and tools to automate and support their PM processes. This includes the use of software for PM, Portfolio Management and Agile, as well as Earned Value Management, which is more relied on in the US as a useful tool.
The use of Portfolio Management software drives higher levels of portfolio performance and greater satisfaction with an organisation’s project management practices.

Portfolio Management

When implementing PfM, the survey results indicated that the three largest ways to be more successful include aligning the portfolio with the organisation’s strategy; using an enterprise PMO to manage the portfolio; and conducting monthly reviews. There are also several benefits to implementing Portfolio Management like:

  • Adoption of PfM has positive effects on both project performance and performance of the overall portfolio.
  • Two thirds of respondents that employ PfM reported that more than 90% of their organisation’s projects perform to expectations on the five key performance indicators. In contrast, seven out of ten organisations that do not employ PfM reported that less than 10% of their projects met the key performance indicators.

In summary, it was found that higher maturity lead to higher performance within the five key performance indicators. However, most organisations still desire a higher maturity level.
To read the full PWC Global Project Management Report, click here.

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Recognition for Excellence in Project Management

An announcement from the Project Management Institute (PMI):

Submit a qualified nomination for the PMI Award for Project Excellence, PMI Project of the Year Award, or PMO of the Year Award before 1 April 2014!

A PMI Professional Award will help you gain new business, recognition from your colleagues, peers, current and future employers and the personal gratification of being recognized for excellence in project management. Plus, you’ll gain visibility among more than 700,000 PMI members and certification holders – the largest professional network of project managers in the world.

Award recipients will be honored among their peers at the 2014 PMI Professional Awards Ceremony preceding PMI® Global Congress 2014 — North America in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Please visit PMI Professional Awards for a complete list of all the awards awaiting nominations.