November 18, 2017

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

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.

A Guide to Conducting Project Closure Surveys

By Jane Sandwood

After wrapping up a project, it’s important to gain feedback from workers and stakeholders in order to improve business practices and help future projects to run smoothly.

survey as a PM toolSurveys are a valuable tool that project managers can use to collect feedback from team members who might otherwise not give their input. In addition to comments and ideas, surveys allow you to easily capture project closure metrics such as stakeholder satisfaction and employee engagement.

At the end of a big project, a closure survey can help companies to learn how all parties involved feel about the success of the plan and offer suggestions on how to improve. When conducting a project closure survey, it’s important to keep in mind both your audience and your end goal.

Who to Target

A project closure survey should gather information from all parties involved to gain the most valuable insight into the minds of employees and stakeholders alike. Managers should ensure that the survey reaches not only their team members but also anyone involved with the project and those who were impacted by the project, such as investors and key end-users.

With a large sample pool, it can sometimes be difficult to analyze and interpret the vast amounts of survey data collected. By breaking information into demographic categories, such as management versus team members, companies can address interdepartmental differences in opinion.

What to Include

Surveys make it easy for employees to express themselves by giving structure and organization to their feedback. Questions can pinpoint common themes and ideas regarding a recent project, and data can be easily be organized by using a five-star rating system. A good survey should include space for comments after each question as well so that people can expound upon their answers if they want to, or provide additional feedback.

In order to find out if the results of a project have met everyone’s expectations, there are several important topics a survey should cover. A project closure survey should generate information by asking questions about issues such as:

  • Has the project met the expected results?
  • Did team members feel that the parameters of the project were well defined?
  • Did the project team communicate effectively?
  • Were the right tools and processes used to complete the project?
  • Why or why didn’t everything go according to plan?
  • How successful was the project overall?

 

Every employee’s time is valuable, so a good survey shouldn’t be too long or complicated. There should be a limited number of questions, and the wording should be kept relatively simple. The language of a question can influence results, so to get accurate data, companies should be careful about how each question in a survey is asked. Businesses can customize existing online surveys, or hire an expert to help them create the ideal project closure survey for their team.

10 Leadership Lessons from Extreme Environments

10 Leadership LessonsBy Linky van der Merwe

Do you know some-one who climbed the Seven Summits (highest peak on each continent) and skied to both the North and South Poles?  Meet Alison Levine, a small person with a big heart for adventure. And not just any adventure, but extreme adventure that earned her the title of achieving the “Adventure Grand Slam”.

After listening to Alison Levine as keynote speaker at the PMXPO2017 I bought her book: “On the edge: Leadership lessons from Mount Everest and other extreme environments.  

Here are 10 leadership lessons from her book that can be applied to projects.

#1 Approach to leadership

Alison starts off by saying that the development of yourself as a leader should be a deliberate, conscious process. People are not born leaders. It’s a ‘muscle that needs to be built.

Leadership is an attitude. Alison believes that we all need to be better leaders. If we put effort into that, we can have much positive influence on the people around us. I think this is especially true on projects. Empower the team to think and act like a leader. This means that we need to help them hone their skills, their knowledge and encourage them to think for themselves and to make critical decisions without always requiring input. Team members need to be able to carry on with the work, even if the leader becomes ill or is on leave.

One way to help develop leadership skills in others is to give them greater responsibility to grow themselves as leaders. This will make the whole team more effective. Developing your own skills and the skill of others should be a never-ending process.

#2 Mentors

Engage with others who are more skilled than you are and learn from the best. Find mentors in your organization, people with experience and people you look up to.

#3 Go backward to go forward

Everest climbThe way Mount Everest is climbed is that climbers start at base camp and go up to Camp 1, then come back. Next they go up to Camp 1 and the following day to Camp 2. Then they go back to basecamp. Then they go up to Camp 3 only to come back down again. Then they go all the way up to Camp 4, sleep over and when the weather allows, they ascend to the top.

Her lesson from this is that there’s real value in going back to your starting point to regroup, to reposition yourself to be stronger before you can ascend to the next level. Even great athletes and sport stars focus on the fundamentals over and over again, by doing the same drills, not because they haven’t mastered it, but because repetition builds strength and enhances agility.

Therefore, reward and encourage progress in all forms, not just the obvious ones.

#4 Conflict management

On every project there will be conflict at some point making it a predictable component of group dynamics. It can be healthy to as it brings different perspectives. Conflict only becomes dangerous when it is unresolved.

It’s important to bring conflict out into the open. This is where communication is key. It’s essential to make team members feel valued and that his or her opinion matters.

#5 High Performance Teams

All women team to Everest

Source: Road & Travel Magazine

Alison shares an important insight on putting together a high-performing team. You want people who are good at what they do and who know that they’re good as that gives them confidence. This is called performance ego.

Another type of ego you want is team ego. A group is only a team when every member of the group cares as much about helping the other members as they care about helping themselves.

I have seen this on multiple projects before where a high-performing team contributes to hugely successful projects. When you put a team together, you need to look for:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Ego

#6 Relationships and Networking

Developing strong relationships is critical to success. As a project leader you need to take the time and effort to connect with people at every stage of your career. Find people who will rally around you, encourage you and support. Attend those conferences and networking events; you never know which connections will lead to more success in future.

#7 Weak links

South Pole skiThe way you deal with the weak link on your team often means the difference between success and failure. When you have to work with people who are as good as you are, those who can’t perform as well, or who don’t match your skills.

To compensate for a weakness is about leveraging hidden attributes in innovative ways that can move you and your team forward. As a leader you need to help every team member to become productive so that everyone on the team benefits.

#8 Build Trust and Loyalty

Never underestimate the importance of treating other with respect and kindness. Also take the time to get to know the people on your team as individuals. Get to know them on a deeper level. That will form strong bonds and people will know they matter.

Each person needs a different approach when it comes to helping them perform at their best. The more information you uncover, the more influence you can have as a leader. You need to adjust your coaching style based on the needs of your team.

The more dedicated you are to your team, the harder they will work for you and for one another.

#9 Complacency

Following the status quo, could be a mistake that businesses, teams fall prey to. Different situations call for different actions. As a leader you need to evaluate all the circumstances in order to know what you best move is.

Complacency can be characterized by not preparing, not making a move, not moving fast enough or not being agile enough.

If you’re busy with your 10th or 50th project, you still need to be alert, prepared and agile.

#10 Embrace your Failures

As leaders we need to own our failures. It’s important to learn from them as that is what really makes us grow as leaders. When we achieve something that we have worked hard for, we need to take a moment to reflect on it.

For many people it’s easier to avoid the risks of failure, unless we have failed before. Something about surviving past setbacks that increases our willingness to risk again.

If you’d like to read a book filled with adventure stories and lessons, don’t miss out on this exciting book:
On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Mount Everest and Other Extreme Environments

The Benefit of Resource Driven Updates on Projects

By Biraj Borah

Project planning and monitoring may be quite simple on average projects, but for larger projects it is a complex set of tasks and activities. During Planning, once the scope is defined, firstly the high-level activities are listed as Level 1 (L1). A rough time estimate is given and only the major milestones are defined. With respect to the Level 1 milestones, further levels are then defined. And the number of levels depends on the size and complexity of the project.

In Planning, this process of defining all task levels to be done on a project, helps to create the work breakdown structure, also called WBS. And the final level of the WBS is the activity. Completion of all the defined activities under the WBS, will lead to completion of all the in scope deliverables.

Traditional Method to Update Progress

According to the traditional method, we update by dragging the Gantt chart or edit in % completion field. Using this approach, there is no relation to the resource assigned to the task and is mostly manually driven by the user. This seems simple enough. But on a complex project, there is no validation of how that percentage is arrived? Large projects require project task against certain validation. Without any tools, the project manager has to rely on other details and supporting documents which makes the project much more complex to monitor.

traditional progress update

Modern Approach – Driven by Resources (Human, Capital & Material)

TIEMCHART project management software provides the modern approach to monitoring task progress based on resource update assigned to that task. Each task or WBS may be driven by various resources – human, machinery and material resources.

An individual WBS may involve completion of multiple sets of resources. If you are talking about a consulting business, a task may involve assigning the consultant a set number of hours or it may involve delivering a set number of design documents or other reports. Now such tasks can be monitored based on either the number of hours completed or number of design documents submitted against the plan.

Similarly for a procurement task, it may involve delivering a set quantity of cement bags, steel pipes etc. Likewise such deliverables can be assigned against the task or WBS. Progress of the task can be automated based on actual number of cement bags or steel pipes delivered.

Set Resource Planning & Requirement

Once the resources are identified against the task, you can plan the quantity / hours deliverables against the task. Based on such assignments, project progress can be monitored.

  • Single resource – if a task involves using single resource. Deliverables such as number of hours or quantity can be specified against the task
  • Multiple resource – Tasks that involves multiple resources can have a bearing based on number of items delivered against such multiple resources

Resource planning

Monitor Task Progress Based On Resource Assignment

Depending on task planning and resource assignment, task progress can be monitored based on actual delivery of such resources. Be it human or machinery engagement in number of hours, material resources in quantity, task progress can be measured and monitored in real time based on such deliveries.

Tiemchart resource driven updates

Benefits of Resource Driven Updates

TIEMCHART is the first Project Management Software to bring the solution of automated project progress based on resources. This helps businesses to cut down project delays and finishing more projects on time. Being a cloud-based solution, it also simplifies implementation and reduce expensive installation costs.

Visit Tiemchart and request a free demo.

Hack Yourself Smarter: Good Study Tips for Project Managers

By Jane Sandwood

Study tips for PM'sIt is half-way through 2017 and here are unbeatable tips for studying towards project management certification, whether it’s PMP, CAMP, ACP or PgMP. Let’s face it, studying for your certification exam is no mean feat. No matter how hard-working or motivated you are, it’s easy to get bogged down and confused by the sheer volume of new information that you have to recall and deploy effectively.

Study Tips

These accessible hacks will really kick your studies into a higher gear.

  • The Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique is a simple yet devastatingly effective technique to retain focus and mental freshness. It’s easy – just set a timer for 25 minutes and start work. At the end of each 25-minute study session, you take a five-minute break to walk around, rest your eyes, stretch etc. Then it’s back to work for another 25 minutes. You can find plenty of Pomodoro-style timer apps for desktops and mobile devices. Alternatively, you can use a simple kitchen timer.
  • Handwrite your notes. Writing your notes out by hand is a tried-and-tested method for retaining more information. For best results, paraphrase the text instead of copying it verbatim. This will keep your mind engaged.
  • Get physical. Taking regular exercise isn’t just good for your body, it keeps your mind sharp as well. Even a 20-minute walk around your building will help you retain more from your PM studies.
  • Eat smart. While it’s tempting to reach for instant gratification in the form of snack foods, a healthy diet will help keep your mind clear. Supplements such as B vitamins and magnesium can also improve mental acuity.
  • Sleep on it. Cramming into the small hours might be counterproductive. Getting a good night’s sleep is indispensable for cementing what you’ve learned during the day.
  • Mix it up. Try a variety of study techniques and find out what works for you.
  • Team up. Get together with fellow PM students to talk over problems and quiz each other on course material. Explaining key concepts to each other can really help you get to grips with new ideas. If you’re studying alone, look for ways to collaborate online.
  • ‘Supplement’ your study. While you can’t replace effective study habits with a pill, safe so-called ‘smart drugs’ and some supplements can improve your academic performance. 
  • There’s an app for that. Study apps are a great way to revise. They range from customisable flash card utilities like Anki and premade spaced-repetition courses like the ones available on Memrise, to dedicated ACP and PMP study apps like PMStudy.

No single technique is right for everyone, and there are really no substitutes for hard work and application. But with these study hacks, you can make earning your project management certification much easier.

Let us know in the Comments section which exams you are studying for!

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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

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