July 21, 2017

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

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

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!

2016 – A New Year like a Chapter in a Book

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” Melody Beattie

A New Year like a Chapter in a BookAt the beginning of the year, most people are motivated for new beginnings. That’s why people have New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, most resolutions don’t last and people forget what they were motivated about at the beginning of the year.

I have done away with New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. Instead, I do what has always worked for me that is to identify my top 5 Goals for the year, then break it down to smaller goals that are SMART (Specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, time-bound). This keeps me focused on the things I would like to do and helps me to finish one thing at a time.

After a refreshing holiday away from home, spent in beautiful surroundings, I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to what 2016 holds. At work I’m working on an exciting Programme with multiple projects and there are many initiatives planned for Virtual Project Consulting this year.

My eldest son is in Matric, his final school year, and I’m astonished at how quickly his school career is going by. The other two children have their own interests, sports and activities that will keep my husband and me on our toes this year.

At Virtual Project Consulting we are working full swing on making new things a reality. We want to continue adding value to our existing and aspiring project management community. You can expect to see the following themes covered this year on our Blog from our own articles as well as from contributing guest authors.

  • Leadership
  • Social media in project management
  • Project management software, tools, recommended Podcasts
  • Project management as a career
  • Project management soft skills and more on personality profiling
  • Project management methodologies and processes
  • Change Management
  • Project Governance

There will be a special focus on project managers who are new to the profession and who are often called “accidental project managers”.

We will continue to bring you the most recommended resources on project management software, training, products, books and events. Also look out for more Success Stories being published from experienced project managers. Don’t forget about the Podcasts as well as free resources being shared.

I’m also excited to send you more details about the book: “Strategic Integration of Social Media into Project Management Practice” for which I’m a contributing author. The projected release date is March 2016.

I would like to wish each one of our readers a very successful, fruitful and fulfilling 2016! Please share in the comments what your goals are for the New Year.

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

2015 – Project Managers are you up to a great start?

At the beginning of the year, we are motivated for new beginnings. We want to do new things, or we want to do things that worked in the past, even better.

sundowner-Sedgefield

Sunset beach picnic, Sedgefield, South Africa

After a period of holiday fun with the family doing camping, swimming at the beach, hanging out with friends and enjoying our wonderful summer weather, it’s time to get back into gear. Sometimes you have a slow start, other times you hit the road running.

I look forward to many challenges at work and initiatives from Virtual Project Consulting this year. We will launch our very own Podcast series in 2015! I am a contributing author to a book on “Social Media and Project Management” to be compiled by Prof Silvius of the University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Also look out for guest post contributions from well-known project professionals.

When you’re responsible for projects you work with people and to have great results you need to be a good leader. In a recent article I discovered these leadership lessons learned from nuns, which touched my heart. I want to make it part of my path to success in 2015:

  • Love the journey.
  • Live and work your passions.
  • Always be grateful.
  • Make mistakes.
  • Integrity is your most powerful asset.
  • Vision, no matter how right, can only be delivered through relationships.
  • Success is only success if everyone feels the win.

At Virtual Project Consulting we are working full swing on making new things a reality. To help with two of the most pressing questions project managers have, this is what we cater for:

  1. Where can I find the best project management training, software, products, books etc?
  2. How do I become a Project Manager, a PMP or maintain my certification?
Knysna, South Africa

Knysna, South Africa

Take a look around and discover:

Please let me know in the comments what specific topics you’re interested in? What would benefit you in your search for information about project management?

Virtual Project Consulting – a 5 Year Celebration

It all started with the belief that a contribution can be made to the project management profession! From the context of “learning, earning and returning”, it was time to return. It was fuelled by my strong desire to help people.

5-year celebrationThat was the birth of Virtual Project Consulting 5 years ago. The company would only consist online with its presence on a website or blog with the same name: www.virtualprojectconsulting.com

It was targeted initially at small business owners who didn’t have project management competencies or capacity within their own businesses and who would benefit from advice and guidance about project management, leadership, best practice tools and processes, as well as other related topics. This community was served through a product called, ‘The Project Management Toolkit’, guiding users about the application of project management on small projects. Coaching was also provided to aspiring project managers.

It was quite a journey. While figuring out ways to market Virtual Project Consulting online, I had to learn about Internet Marketing practices, as well as social media marketing and apply that to my online business. This contributed to the creation of another website at linkymerwe.com, which was complementary and all about integrated online communications.

Over the course of 5 years the target audience has changed to aspiring and existing project managers who are now also served by comprehensive lists of recommended resources for project management practitioners who are looking for products, software, training, websites and books. My social media community has grown on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Every year brought about some ‘recalculation’ in terms of what to focus on both professionally and personally. To me it meant reassessing my goals, direction and my view of what success means. Towards the end of 2013, this process of recalculating lead me to refresh the website, as well as to make a conscious decision to focus on one community only, instead of different audiences through additional websites. It’s about growth, perspective and new possibilities.

With a constantly moving landscape in which we operate today, being flexible, adaptable and responsible are key to success in a changing world.  Success requires that one be nimble and ready when opportunity knocks.  But opportunity favours those who are prepared rather than surprised.

Some highlights that caused me to celebrate over the years were:

  • Publication of articles in the Project Manager Magazine and associated website; contribution to articles in PMI’s PM Network magazine.
  • Being interviewed various times by international contacts for contribution to Webinars, training, surveys, research and for blog articles
  • Awards of being in Top Ten list of favourite project management bloggers more than once
  • Success Stories Shared initiative whereby experienced project managers share their stories about challenges and lessons learnt on projects. One of these stories was used as a case study in a printed text book for Operational Management. It also lead to talks at national conferences as well a local chapter meetings.
  • Participation on global initiatives like the PMFlashBlog when more than 80 project management bloggers contributed stories about “what does project management mean to me” by publishing them on the same day at the same time. Many stories are collected in an ebook that’s available for down-load here.
  • Excellent guest authors who have contributed blog articles over the years

I’m celebrating the opportunities of meeting wonderful new people every year and being able to participate in so many creative initiatives that contribute to the growth of our profession. It is still an honour to be around and to be able to serve people and to make a difference in many small ways. I am truly blessed and enriched by this experience and wish to continue sharing, enabling and growing.

Thanks for reading and sharing my 5 year celebration!!!

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you would like to see more of as resources and information for PM’s.

Please subscribe to my blog to become part of our community and let me know how you want to collaborate.

If you would like to contribute to Virtual Project Consulting as a guest author, please send me a mail: linky@virtualprojectconsulting.com

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