April 27, 2017

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

Finish the race strong in 2016

inspiring storyJohn Akhwari from Tanzania represented his country in the Summer Olympic Games of 1968 as a marathon runner. During the race he suffered a fall that badly cut and dislocated his knee. Medical personnel bandaged his wounds and told him his knee required more treatment. However, Akhwari stood up and continued his race. An hour after the winner he crossed the finish line and when remaining reporters asked him why he continued running in his condition, he responded:

“My country didn’t send me 5000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish it!”

My hope for you is that you will finish your year strong. It’s always a good idea to reflect on your past year, your accomplishments, what you’ve learned and what you’re grateful for.

As founder of Virtual Project Consulting, I want to share some of the books I’ve read in 2016 and to make you aware of the reviews I’ve done for a few really good project management books.

Book Reviews

  1. The Conscious Project Leader by Colin Ellis from the perspective of how to create a culture of success for your projects, your team and yourself. Colin is also a speaker, writer and mentor on Conscious Project Leadership. One of his outstanding qualities, seems to be his sense of humour which makes for an engaging read.
  2. The Power of Project Leadership: 7 Keys to Help You Transform from Project Manager to Project Leader” by Susanne Madsen, is an easy read and it’s applied specifically to project managers who are seriously aspiring to become better leaders. The book will help make the transition from project manager to project leader.
  3. Leadership Toolbox for Project Managers, achieve better results in a dynamic world” by Michel Dion, is to help equip project managers to manage projects in a dynamic, complex and unpredictable environment. The book is focused on Leadership including self-awareness, vision, strategic thinking, decision making and interaction with others.
  4. Project Management for SME’s by Gren Gale is written with small businesses in mind, is very practical advice and insight with regards to the application of project management as a discipline in the Small Business sector.

 

Other Books that I can recommend

  1. Mindset – changing the way you think to fulfil your potential” by Carol Dweck, a must read for people who want to have a growth mindset to help achieve success.
  2. Lead with a Story by Paul Smith is about the use of storytelling as a leadership tool.
  3. TED Talks Storytelling by Akash Karia gives 23 storytelling techniques from the best TED talks.
  4. Act like a leader, think like a leader by Herminia Ibarra on how managers and executives can step up to leadership by making small, crucial changes in their jobs, their networks and themselves.
  5. “Lean in women, work and the will to lead” by Sheryl Sandberg, impactful for woman who want to be empowered to achieve their full potential.
  6. The 12 week year by Brian P Moran for a boost in productivity.
  7. “Procrastinate on purpose – 5 permissions to multiply your time” by Rory Vaden, giving insights on overcoming procrastination, improving self-discipline and increasing productivity.
  8. “Surge – time the marketplace, ride the wave of consumer demand” by Mike Michalowicz for the entrepreneurs among us.

 

Virtual Project Consulting

On my project management blog I’m reaching almost 300 blog articles covering various topics like Leadership, Project Management, Change Management and Social Media for PM’s .

In 2016 topics included:

  • Innovation in project management,
  • Agile
  • Current trends in project management
  • Project basics – how to start a project, how to do cost estimation and budget development, project planning, decision making skills etc

Enjoy the read and remember to tell your colleagues who are looking for materials on specific topics.

Of course there are always listings of Events taking place all over the world, as well as recommended Project Management resources like Training, Software and Products. Don’t forget about the Podcasts! Our Project Success Stories are still growing and if you have a good story to share, please send it to me for publishing!

Growth Program for new Project Managers

Lastly, my flagship for the year, The Growth Program for New Project Managers. I would like to introduce this to as many people as possible in order to help new project managers to get up and running quickly. If you know of any “Accidental Project Managers” at your organisation, please refer them to this program. It will only take them a month to complete and extended coaching is also available.

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

Social Media and Project Management in South Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Project Manager – How to Integrate Social Media with your Projects

When considering social media for use as a communication tool on projects, there are many things to think about:

  • the purpose of using social media to manage projects
  • the benefits of adopting social media on projects
  • best practices when integrating social media with projects
  • privacy and security concerns
  • which social media channels to select
  • challenges in the workplace

Project Management SocialThis can be quite over-whelming. The purpose of this article, is to answer some questions about social media for project managers and to direct you to good resources for more information, education and implementation.

A fellow project management blogger, Tony Adams, summarised it very well when he said:

“social media is about investing the time and energy into developing long-lasting, personal relationships with your network.”

This applies whether we want to position ourselves as Thought Leaders or to connect with our project teams and stakeholders.

Let’s look at the questions that people need answers to before they will consider social media for projects.

How do you manage the information overload?

Too many communication tools can result in more interruptions and therefore more distractions, so you need to think about how to manage the various streams of information that social media tools open up to you in order to avoid information overload. It is a matter of trusting your team members and not having to monitor all conversations that are going on.

When it comes to instant messaging, you can store the output from chats. Your IM tool may have settings that sends the chat to you as an email after the session ends, so check if this is turned on and use it if it is available. These can then become project documents and can be stored and archived in the same way as meeting minutes.

Then there’s the matter of email (present on all projects) and then adding more social media channels on top of that. Consider using social media channels as pull communication where teams need to visit the project site in order to find and share project information that would benefit all. And publish the messages that are discussed on the social site, because people often need to hear/see the same thing several times before they believe it; so using several channels to repeat the same (consistent) message is appropriate. Don’t create confusion by saying different things on different channels.

What about the security implication concerns that many companies have?

Most people have smartphones with internet access and they can access social media whether the company allows it or not. It is better for a company to monitor and control access through policies and education by training them about the purpose of using selected social media channels.

Manage security by using tools that you can host in-house behind your firewall so they are not available to external audiences e.g. Yammer, Wikis. Also use tools that enable you to export your data when you need to or when the project is over.

However, if you cannot address security concerns adequately, don’t use social media tools if it doesn’t make sense or puts you in breach of agreements or policies.

How will you activate project managers to integrate social media onto their projects?

First project managers need to educate themselves. Find Project Management Social, a SlideDoc, that will help you with this.

PM Social

Social Media for Project Managers

Next, based on a better understanding of what platforms are available and how to use them for projects, you can determine and select the most appropriate tools to bring social software onto your projects. Visit Social Media for Project Managers for more information.

Then make social media part of your communications plan and use it consistently with your team members to achieve the expected results.

For training, guides, a checklist, strategy and action plan templates, visit PM Social.

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