October 22, 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.

Project Success Story – Retail Payment Switch upgrade 

This story from the Project Manager, Shiraan Fredericks, is about a Payment Switch upgrade at a big national retailer in South Africa. It was complicated by the fact that it needed to be PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant which means that all card data must be masked involving all the components it touches i.e. the POS ( Point of Sale), the Postilion EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) switch etc. This had to work considering huge volumes of transactions, up to 2 million per day.

Testing of all possible cards

testing all credit cardsA switch upgrade impacts all components in the chain of transactions – about 7.  The project was very deadline driven with resources who were not people oriented but rather hostile. There was also much politics to deal with on and around the project.

Another challenge was the fact that the Pinpad terminal had to be EMV (set of standards) compliant. This means that it was submitted to rigorous testing as part of the QA process.  Even the project manager was involved with doing EMV certifications. All types of cards had to be tested including AMEX, VISA and Mastercard. Also other Value Added Services (VAS) i.e. Airtime, Prepaid electricity.

Fortunately the resources understood the environment and the retailer and they had the right experience.  The Project Manager also had a good mentor.

Project Management – Industry Experience

The environment and setup was ready in terms of infrastructure, people and systems, including commercial relationships with 3rd party vendors.

The project team was very experienced even though the software was new.  The project manager could build the relationships and they understood the process to be followed.

Stakeholder engagement was good, which meant that the project was well supported including support from the management team. All the banks were on-board and attended the Steercom meetings through-out.

The PM was very hands on – he did configuration, testing, looked at transactions flows. This helped to monitor and control the progress better. The technical expertise about switching projects were picked up from past project experience. It needed to be like that because it was cut-throat, and a project that couldn’t be managed on a high level only.

The PM spent more time with project team members, to understand what they’re doing, and to assist where necessary. Issues could be identified and addressed immediately.

The customer was so satisfied with the PM’s results that he was requested back for other projects. This is the type of project requiring a PM with domain expertise. like EFT and the payment switching environment which helped to contribute to a successful outcome.

Test, test, more testing

switch upgradeThe impact on many different components added to the complexity of the project scope. Due to the amount of testing that had to be done some defects would slip through. For example while testing airtime – every 1st transaction would fail, every 2nd transaction would pass.  The test team never told the PM about it.

This was caused by the fact that the Easypay switch would cut-out connection after 90 min. This was only discovered in UAT (user acceptance testing) and a resolution had to be found quite late in the project life cycle.

Doing testing in parallel with different teams and not having all test teams on-site posed a risk.

Lessons Learned

All results from testing should be communicated to the project team and the PM.  Furthermore, it’s critical for Test and Production environments to always look the same.

A Test Plan needs to be compiled and all test teams need to work off the same plan. Be clear about all versions in all environments and how it’s configured.

Negative testing is key – the testers should try to break it. This will cater for different scenarios in production and exceptions.

Communication needs to be consistent to all stakeholders. It’s important to highlight all risks as early as you can. Be transparent about any problems so that resolutions can be found.

The post-production support is very important to ensure quality as well as system stability and customer satisfaction.

A very involved and hands-on project management style is sometimes required for very technical and complex projects.

 

About the Project Manager:

Shiraan Frederick had been in project management for the past 10 years. He started as a project administrator on an Asset Management project. When he relocated to Cape Town, he studied IT, MCSE, Cisco CCNA and Prince II Practitioner. This helped with his transitioning into project management. While in the switching industry he had exposure to banks and retail customers.

Shiraan may be contacted on:  shiraan79@gmail.com or  0732906789

Discover the Basic Principles of Project Management Training

PM training principlesBy Knowledge Hut

In the complex world we live in today, project management training needs to teach the discipline of planning, organising, managing, securing and controlling of resources in order to lead them to achieve strategic organisational goals.

There are certain definitive processes taught in project management training covering how to:

  • Define the project
  • Plan the project
  • Monitor and control the execution of the project
  • Complete and close the project

What are the objectives of project management training?

Project management training focuses on the implementation of management methods and tools that have realistically been in action in several industries for ages. The objective of any project management course should be to teach how to achieve project goals within the constraints of time, budget, quality, benefit realization, customer satisfaction and more. Other objectives are:

  • To work with the team members, customers, management and project sponsors to deliver according to the agreed project plan
  • How to apply the normal project standards
  • How to use project management to increase productivity, cut development costs and improve communications.
  • To differentiate and understand the art and science of project management skills including technical skills (e.g. scope, quality and communications management) as well as soft skills like leadership.

Basic principles of project management training

For the proper completion of any project, there is a set of basic principles to follow which should be covered in any good project management training. This will include:

  • A clear definition of the undertaken project

The definition phase is the stage where proper engagement needs to take place with identified stakeholders. This will set the stage for the entire scope of the project.

  • Maintain the structure of the project

Project management foundation training disciplines students on three basic parameters: quality, time and resources. The structure of any project should abide by these three parameters to derive optimum results in minimum time.

The structure should consist of the necessary project goals, milestones and work packages with assigned resources. Project milestones are crucial as they help to monitor progress and costs. Milestones are defined as a certain point in time, for example the end of a phase of the project. Often payments are attached to milestones achieved.

  • Maintaining project status transparency

Project status will include feedback on milestones, progress against the timeline and deliverables, risks and the health of a project. it is recommended for project manages to make the project status transparent to management, by updating them on all the overall health, risks, issues and task progress as well as decisions required.

  • Identify and evaluate potential risks

When you plan a project, it’s important to identify and evaluate potential risks and threats that could impact the project if not mitigated and responded to appropriately. In project management training, students learn to recognise the risks developing from the constraints of costs, project resources, and timeline, and how to prioritise them.

All the principles and objectives above are taught in a project management training environment to setup students for project success. The project success criteria are generally defined prior to the initiation of the work. In addition to the listed principles, the training requires candidates to recognise and adopt the leadership roles and responsibilities which are mandatory for a successful project manager.

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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. 

Preparation Guide for PMP Certification Exam

Preparation guide for PMP examBy Knowledge Hut

Project Management Professional (PMP) is a valuable, sought after certification. It has become very useful for project managers across the world who want to develop and grow in their careers.

A PMP certification will help you stand out in the marketplace. Various institutes provide PMP certification courses to project managers from all backgrounds. The market is expanding and demand is rising and as a result, the number of project managers who are capable of dealing with their work strategically and execute them successfully are finding themselves overburdened with work.

There is huge scope for competent, certified individuals who can deal with the stress and workload of a project professional. But in order to achieve this, there are several hurdles which one needs to cross.

The PMP certification has made the PMP exam preparation courses one of the most popular courses available in the market today. PMP courses are designed for project practitioners to provide world-renowned education and how to relate that to their professional experience. The exam-based certification is highly rated in the business world and takes the individuals to the next level of proven competence.

This guide provides you with the following tips and tricks to help you prepare for the PMP Certification exam.

Have a plan

You should have a proper plan in place to prepare for the PMP certification exams. The applicants must be well aware of the syllabus and know the pattern of the exam before starting the preparation. They also plan out their preparation chart in order to have a clear and well-defined vision.

Be aware of change

Keep pace with the changes that are happening in the current world. Exam candidates should be aware of what is going on around the world by reading articles, newspapers and other sources to remain updated.

Prepare one topic at a time

It would be wise to prepare one topic at a time. It’s better to be thorough with one subject rather than being confused by too many topics at the same time.

Online examination

Guide for PMP prep examSince the PMP Examination consists of multiple choice questions that are taken online, it is recommended to have good computer skills. It will reduce stress and be less time consuming when prepared well.

Time management

Speed is a major contributor for success in these exams. One methods to improve your speed is by practicing more and more. This would increase both speed and efficiency.

Do Mock exams

There are various mock tests available on the internet, some paid, some are free. This will give candidates a good indication of how well prepared they are for the exam since you also receive scores and explanations with the mock tests. It will give a clear indication of topics needing more preparation and candidates can then focus on areas needing to be improved before taking the real exam.

Revision

Before the start of the exam it’s essential to do enough revision. This ensures that the candidates are able to recollect all that they have learned and apply those during the examinations.

Date and time

Your exam preparations should start immediately after deciding the date and venue of the examination for which the application is made.

Practice, practice

A primary method to achieve success is to practice, practice and practice more. There are various coaching centers in major cities to help aspirants to achieve success and good marks in the exams.

Keep calm

It’s very important for every candidate to remain calm and composed during the exam. This is the point where most exams are passed or failed.

Opportunities in the market

Keep an eye on the market and be on the lookout for organisations which are advertising vacancies.

 

When these guidelines are followed, candidates should perform like heroes and they can be certain of success when taking the PMP certification exams.

To find out more about the classroom,  virtual classroom or online PMP Certification Training Courses with additional resources to help you pass the exam, visit Knowledgehut today.

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

Product Development for Telecommunications Company

Project Success StoryThis story from project manager, Candice Adams, is about a project in the telecommunications industry with the goal of establishing a new Business Model to create a system whereby mobile services could be sold in bulk as part of B2B services.

The project was innovative and it was difficult to find resources with experience. This made the company’s stakeholders who were new to the concept, very dependent on a service provider for domain specific knowledge. It took about two years to complete.

The Customers knew more than the company which put a lot of pressure on the company to establish a model and service package. It took time to work out what is of mutual benefit.

Strained Business Relationships

What worked in the project’s favour was the fact that they had dedicated project team members and good support from IT management.

Initially they didn’t have Business support and they had to build trust over time. Due to the corporate nature of the company, there were the usual challenges with having a Silo effect and different teams working independently.

This challenge was overcome by communicating with the Business stakeholders regularly. The project was executed as part of business strategy and the business stakeholders had to become part of the journey. IT didn’t pretend to know everything.  The relationship became more transparent, business stakeholders were part of decision making and they felt empowered.

Multiple Challenges

In order to address the high dependency on the software provider, the project manager had to source subject matter experts (SME’s) in-house to assist with communications with the software provider from an overseas company who didn’t know the company culture, in order to challenge their ideas.

The business was not trusting IT with how the solution needed to be packaged and delivered. This improved as the relationships between IT and the business stakeholders became stronger.

The external dependency on the network in order to make the new business model work, was particularly challenging, because it wasn’t always stable or optimal. The project was formulating a bulk service solution, but standard services were not stable yet, for example, when calls dropped.

The Business Case determined a launch date a year into the future. This date couldn’t move out, as it was advertised already.  Much money was spent on marketing the future bulk service solution. For certain customers, there was a small window of opportunity to offer this service to their existing clients – this caused an immovable end date for go live of the solution.

Lessons Learned

Project success storyOn a strategic business project of this nature the buy-in from business stakeholders is mandatary and it requires transparent communications in terms of how the solution is developed.

A big factor in the success of the project was the on-boarding of SME’s to become part of the project team. This allowed better negotiation with the software providers in terms of what is required for the new business model. The SME’s also played a major role in transitioning to operations.

Sponsor Support and Communications

Through-out the project sponsor support was critical. The sponsor had to provide updates to the Board of Directors and he had to assist with addressing major project issues that were escalated.

Project communications were done through daily stand-ups with the entire project team (IT and Business) to keep team members aligned, first thing in the morning. Informal conversations also helped to overcome the silo’s. It addressed the questioning of motives and it helped to build trust. Evidence of the trust relationship was seen in how business stakeholders would defend IT if there were delays.

Key take-aways

The project manager had some big take-aways from the project experience, like the importance of being open and transparent. A project manager needs to keep an eye on the pulse of activities and progress. Also stay close to how people are feeling and how the team is experiencing the project. In conclusion the project manager learnt the value of being supportive and managing expectations.

About the project manager:

Candice Adams has started in Systems Management policies and procedures in a Petro-chemical company. She did business process analysis before she moved into project management, where she worked on projects in ERP, like SAP or Oracle and in Retail IT for the past 12 years. She plans to become PMP certified next.

Candice may be contacted on candicead@gmail.com

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