April 20, 2014

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

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.

PMSA Becomes a Registered Professional Body

Since September 2013 PMSA has been recognised as the professional body for project management in South Africa.

This means that PMSA has the sole right and the responsibility to confer the designations of Project Manager (PM), Senior Project Manager (Sr.PM) and Professional Project Manager (Pr.PM) according to criteria specified by PMSA, and in line with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) framework.

If you as project management practitioners have any questions in this regard, please visit the dedicated FAQ section on the PMSA website.

 

Use Enterprise Web Based Solutions to Improve your Project Management

Enterprise web based solutionBy Sharon Thomson

Managing projects can be hard for project managers who try to keep track of each and every process and operation in a project. Even if they have the required skills and capability to deal with projects, problems and issues may arise which could lead to projects getting delayed or even failing.

Fortunately many concerns can be addressed through the use of enterprise web based solutions. These web-based solutions are specifically devised to augment the human capability over managing projects and help them improve management of multiple projects. These tools enable easy description and documentation of various processes and operations that constitute a project.

A further benefit is that they enable fast and accurate communication and collaboration among team members which proves to be an asset for those organizations whose team members are situated at geographically different locations. They can easily communicate and collaborate over important matters and resolve them through purposeful interaction. They can remain in touch with their projects from any device whether it is a desktop, tablet, laptop or mobile.

The time spent over performing various tasks can be accurately documented which helps in true assessment of individuals’ performance while performing them. Moreover, organizations can bill their clients accurately by considering the number of hours spent over processing their orders. Even new projects can be easily planned and executed by referencing time related entries from old projects if the new projects are on the same lines of the already executed projects.

The important milestones and events can be properly highlighted and tracked through the calendar feature which helps to know exactly when a particular event needs to be staged, so appropriate resources can be arranged. Thus important milestone dates will never be missed.

Any problems or issues cropping up in a project can be tracked early and resolved effectively and quickly through mutual collaboration and active intervention. The progress of a project can be better tracked through the Gantt chart which helps to know if the project is on the right track or not. The level of completion of various tasks can be accurately gauged through this enterprising feature.

By using these tools, the processes and operations of a project can be better organized and scheduled and can be executed as per project plan. A project manager gets freed up from the burden of performing routine tasks like documentation, arranging meetings and tracking as most of the activities get automated. Thus he can better focus on the project affairs and ensure their timely resolution and execution. This saves time, costs and efforts over a project. This hugely facilitates its smooth execution and it gets successfully completed within the stipulated time frame with optimized usage of resources.

The use of an appropriate enterprise project management tool can indeed be a blessing for project managers who can get quality results with less work, and by focussing on the right things.

Author Bio:  Sharon is a Business manager of ProofHub, a web based project management software that facilitates management and completion of projects as per schedule. It enables the team members who are spread out in different locations in the world to collaborate over project matters. With its use, organizational objectives can be achieved effectively along with the generation of intended gains and assets.

Project Management – Challenges we look forward to

Recently when members of the online project management community were asked:

“What problems and challenges do you look forward to most, while working in project management?”

Here is what they said:

 

Knowledge Train’s blog – challenges you look forward to most

A Project Turn Around – it’s all about Relationships

By Linky van der Merwe

Success Stories SharedRecently we spoke to a project manager, Simon Murison, who is a Management Consultant at IQ Business. Simon managed a 180 degree turn around on a troubled project and this is his story:

The project

It was a multi-year development project, IT focussed and in the energy management and information domain of the retail sector. The client wanted a system to help them monitor and understand their energy usage.

How a project in trouble was turned into a success story

There were two main areas of difficulty that Simon confronted when he took on the project. Firstly, his company was unfamiliar with energy management and that made them very reliant on the client for guidance. Over time, the project team realised that the solution specification and development required an in-depth knowledge of the topic and that generic systems development skills simply weren’t enough.

A second complication was that interaction with the client stakeholders was difficult and often highly confrontational. Simon found that the client did not have a comprehensive picture of what they wanted and that the resultant scope definition was broad and subject to interpretation. This had resulted in a number of conflict situations and a relationship which was fundamentally lacking in trust.

Turnaround and Impact

It was, in retrospect, a bad decision to fix the price of the project. When the project ran into problems, the contract put them under pressure from a delivery and timeline perspective. The client was unwilling to renegotiate on cost so it was ultimately the quality and timing of delivery that suffered. This put even more pressure on the project team resulting in decisions to augment and rotate resources on the project.

Simon had initially been brought in to help out with the business analysis but, after the protracted difficulties in overall delivery, took over the management of the project. This had a negative impact on the project budget, but it was believed that Simon could restore credibility and trust with the client. If the project had failed it would have had a very negative impact on a number of other client projects and future work.

The project team ultimately managed to address the issues with the work that had been done to date and, as a result of the earlier decisions and improved delivery success, Simon and his senior management were able to revitalise and refresh the client relationship.

All about relationships

They communicated that the project was running at a significant loss for the service provider, and that this was unsustainable. Once that understanding was reached, the client was more open to change and they were able to renegotiate the contact terms – a Time and Materials based pricing was adopted and the project operated more profitably going forward. The effect of this was a better relationship, improved trust with the client, a more profitable project and a project team that was under considerably less pressure.

The decisions made to turn around a trouble-some project proved effective. Through an open dialogue with client representatives, they could negotiate a way forward that worked for all parties.

Lessons Learnt

The initial decision to contract on a fixed price basis was as a result of ineffective risk management prior to signing. A proper risk analysis was needed before deciding on a pricing approach and they have now put a Risk Analysis framework in place for all stages of the project lifecycle. This process is now institutionalised and, if risks are identified up-front, the team now adjusts proposals and contracts to include the time, resources and/or costs needed to address them.

Profit margins can be negotiated down with the client; but risk margin cannot. You should never reduce the risk margin unless the risks themselves are transferred, mitigated or eliminated completely.

It’s important to document the assumptions made during contracting as they are often an articulation of the risks that may end up detrimentally impacting the project. If possible, a project manager should be brought in prior or during contracting process.

As far as software development is concerned, don’t fix the price unless you know the topic. If it’s a new area for you – if none of your PM’s or BA’s have had some experience in the field – consider contracting on phase by phase basis or use an Agile approach, not SDLC with fixed price.

Lastly, client relationships can be the turn-around. Focus on improvement of dialogue. Clients need to work with you as a partner to ensure successful delivery.

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Simon Murison is a Project and Programme Manager with over 14 years’ experience in the Consulting industry. He has worked extensively with clients in the Retail and Financial Services sectors.

Simon can be contacted on +27 (0)83 6299 or via e-mail at simon.murison@gmail.com

What does Project Management mean to me – a Project Manager’s sermon

project management fits me like a gloveWhen I was young, a good friend made a prediction to encourage me about finding a job: “you’ll find something that will fit you like a glove”.

That statement became true, once project management found me and I chose to become a project manager.

I want to be a project manager when I grow up

When looking at project management as a profession, little used to be known about what a project manager does and what the typical work day of a project manager looks like. Children never use to say: “I want to be a project manager when I grow up.” Refer to an earlier article about “Take Project Management out of the Box”.

Where it all started

Years ago I started as a project administrator. Then I moved into IT support and I was always chosen to manage all the projects in our division. This is something I enjoyed because it was a natural fit.

As a project manager I’m in the fortunate position to be doing something that suits my abilities and temperament and which complements my core talents and skills. I enjoy the variation provided by being involved in various different projects and teams. It brings excitement when starting something new, as well as satisfaction when bringing a project to successful completion and having formed lasting relationships with the team members.

Being a strong communicator and a person who cares about people, project management has become my destined career where I feel comfortable and I believe that I am making a difference.

I was blessed with the addition of 3 beautiful children that enriched my life to the point that I actually gave up my full-time, permanent position and started to work in contract project management which provided more flexibility to work part-time and still continue with a professional career.

A Mature Profession

Today project managers are making a difference in every aspect of society whether it’s in IT, financial sector, retail, engineering, mining, welfare organisations or public sector and plenty of other industries. A thriving industry in itself has developed around the project management profession with companies providing products, software, training, recruitment and consulting; all with the main objective of making projects more successful in terms of how well they are managed and to provide the outcome and benefits as intended. Project management as a profession has matured.

In recent years young people are actually considering project management as a career with plenty of University and online training being available and offering a relatively well mapped out career path that offers growth opportunities and good compensation.

Blogging as my contribution

As part of my mission to give something back to my community, I have been blogging on Virtual Project Consulting about project management best practices, processes and tools for the past 4,5 years. I reach out to existing and aspiring project managers while offering a hub of recommended resources.

Virtual Project Consulting

Let’s continue to develop, grow and contribute as this is how we find meaning and where we can continue to make a difference where we are.

P.S. This post is publishedpmflashblog3 as part of a first ever project management-related global blogging initiative to publish a post on a common theme at exactly the same time. Over 70 bloggers from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UK and the USA have committed to make a blogging contribution and the fruit of their labour is now available all over the web. The complete list of all participating blogs is here so please go and check them out!

About Linky van der Merwe: Linky is the Founder of Virtual Project Consulting. Her mission is to provide project management best practices and to recommend resources to aspiring and existing project managers.  A certified project management professional (PMP) with more than 14 years project management experience and a track record of more than 40 successful projects. She is currently working for Microsoft Consulting Services, South Africa.

How Social Media is bringing Project Managers together

Today I want to share an excellent example of how project management professionals are brough together by the power of social media. This is called a project management ‘flashblog‘ where more than 70 project management bloggers will be writing their thoughts on the title ‘What does project management mean to me – a Project Manager’s sermon’. All blogs will be published simultaneously on 25th September at 1am GMT.

Kudos to Shim Marom coordinating a first ever project management related global blogging initiative to publish a post on a common theme at exactly the same time. Globally bloggers from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UK and the USA have committed to make a blogging contribution and the fruit of their labor is now available all over the web. All participating PMs are really excited by this and I’m also looking forward to sharing and viewing all the unique perspectives on project management from around the globe.

Much chatter is happening around the effort under the hashtag #pmFlashblog on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn.

The complete list of all participating blogs is found below so please go and check them out!

Also find the list of Twitter names from participating PMs! Now is your chance to follow and connect with your fellow PM practitioners all over the world.

 

 

Practical use for Social Media in Project Management – Part II: Webinars, Slideshare, Podcasts

For most Project Management professionals social media is already part of their lives. This article will look at Webinars, Slideshare and others and how it is adopted in project management.

Part I of this article, can be found here:

Practical use for Social Media in Project Management.

Part II: Facebook and Yammer

Part II: Blogs and Twitter

Part II: LinkedIn and Google+

WebinarWebinars

A webinar is essentially a seminar hosted on the web. It is also used to describe other types of meetings where the participants go to a website to see the presentation material.  Participants use their web browser to access a website for that meeting.This is very useful to present a topic to virtual teams attending from different parts of the country or even the world.

Many webinars are hosted weekly covering useful project management topics and contributions from people in the profession. An example is Roeder Consulting for free monthly webinars:

Podcasts

Podcasts are audio files that can be delivered on-demand and regularly through a mechanism that allows people to subscribe to the latest episodes, like RSS. Numerous project management topics are discussed on podcasts that you can download and for existing PMP’s this can count towards PDU’s.

slideshareSlideShare.net

SlideShare is a social network site that contains PowerPoint presentations and other documents that users create and upload. Searching on “project management” will find thousands of presentations about project management.

 

WIKI

The Wiki is likely the oldest platform and it’s a space in which users can add, modify and delete pages and content using a simple mark-up language. One of the more compelling features of a wiki is that its structure and content is created and maintained by the users themselves as it is grows and is being used. Wikis are flexible and can serve as the backbone for a small team’s shared notebook.

YouTubeYouTube

For the project manager, YouTube offers hundreds of videos on project management methodology. More people prefer video to text with certain types of information. Let your audience know your videos are intended to give them better and more compelling information. If you have distributed teams, set each group up with the means to create video updates. Not only will your status reports be more engaging, but putting faces to names creates a closer, more respectful team.

Refer to the article about 10 social media tools available to project managers for more details about the above mentioned platforms.

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