January 17, 2018

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

10 Tips for Validating your Project Schedule

By Linky van der Merwe

Whether you’re a new or an existing Project Manager, it’s always a good idea to validate your project schedule. This is especially useful if you use a scheduling tool like MS Project, or similar to plan your projects and then to execute against the plan.

Watch the short video below to help you to validate that the project schedule contains all the necessary Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) elements to complete a project successfully.

Click here to download your own validation template that supports the schedule validation steps.

How to be a SMART Project Manager in 2018

SMART project managerAt the beginning of every new year people think about their goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. However, by the end of January, most people have forgotten their good intentions and fall back into old habits or routines and tend to do the same things they have always done.

I’m sure many of you have fallen into this trap, but there are always people who seem to have it together. What are they doing differently?

 

 

Good practices

Just like project management has been standardized by way of international standards and good practices ensuring consistent delivery and more successful outcomes, there are SMART ways to help you be more productive by keeping to your goals for the year.

Some experts recommend to have a vision by way of setting a personal theme as well as a professional theme for the year. This will take you beyond goals and resolutions and will help you to reach your objectives and become like a “heartbeat” for the year.

Based on your themes, you will still come up with objectives that will help you to achieve your goals and give you the best chance for success. If you don’t plan and prepare to win, how can you expect to win? This is taken from a Zig Ziglar “Born to win philosophy”.

There are numerous productivity experts and books available today that can help you reach higher levels of performance and it’s up to you to choose who to follow and what to implement. As long as you make it personal and you keep referring to your written goals on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis, there’s no obstacles that you cannot overcome.

How to make 2018 a successful year

Lastly, I want to share a wonderful resource on “How to make 2018 a successful year for your projects”, an eBook that was compiled by Elizabeth Harrin, containing ideas and tips from experts and inspiring project delivery professionals on how to make 2018 your most successful year ever? I was also privileged to be featured.

Some common themes that came up repeatedly are:

  1. Agile – if you don’t know enough about it, you need to start learning
  2. How crucial soft skills are for project professionals
  3. Authentic and ethical leadership that will help to get the work done and set you apart from your peers

Enjoy the eBook, take responsibility for your personal and career development and implement those success strategies that will help you to make this year one of the best years ever!

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

 

The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) requires a company to take responsibility for the impact of its operations on society and the environment therefore it can be described as  the efforts a company makes beyond the legal requirements to improve society as well as the environment.

According to a 2016 study involving CEOs, over 65% of the CEOs who took part in the study, said that companies are increasingly treating CSR as a core aspect of business rather than a stand-alone side channel.

The Harvard Business Review recommends a number of approaches to engage in CSR:

#1 Transform the business model

This entails creating new forms of business to address the environmental or social issues with the aim of boosting business performance. A good example of this is hiring locals to help in the distribution of products instead of outsourcing that service to another company. By doing so, a company would be able to lower its operating costs, create employment opportunities for the locals and ultimately help grow the local economy.

#2 Improving operational effectiveness

These are the efforts geared towards boosting the functional performance of a business. For this reason, they optimize a company’s operations and in the process deliver social and environmental benefits as well. Examples of such efforts include green initiatives that not only help a company conserve natural resources, reduce pollution and waste, but also reduce its operating costs.

#3 Engaging in philanthropy

Philanthropy initiatives should not aim to boost a company’s profits or improve its performance. Instead, they should aim to benefit local community programs and charities. In most cases, such initiatives involve donating money or other assets to charities and other community programs.

Below is an Infographic from Norwich University Online explaining how consumers are more passionate about global social issues and would consider a company’s CSR efforts before buying its stocks or mutual funds. It also provides recommendations for how to improve engagement in CSR.

Infographic of corporate social responsibilityNorwich University Master of Business Administration Online 

Christmas Wishes for 2017

Christmas wishes 2017

Top 10 Qualities of a Great Project Manager

When taking stock of 2017 and setting your goals for 2018, it’s a good opportunity to remind yourself of the top 10 qualities that will help to make you a great project manager, according to Brandeis University.

In the Infographic below, you will also find tips from experienced project managers. For more articles on project management skills and best practices, click here.

What makes a great project manager?

Brandeis University M.S. in Project and Program Management Online

A Guide to Understanding RACI for Project Management

By Jane Sandwood

RACI ModelEnsuring the success of a project is vital for all project managers and their teams. The project manager is held accountable for the overall project but requires a team to complete the work.

No matter how detailed the project plan may be, even the slightest confusion about the roles and responsibilities of team members will cause major problems. Whether it is a 4-person, 10-person or an international team with virtual team members, they need to understand their roles and responsibilities on the project.

The best way to define each member’s role is to use a RACI matrix model also known as a Responsibility Assignment Matrix. This model is an essential project management tool that provides the project manager and team members with key information that clarifies the roles of the group.

What is the RACI Model?

RACI stands for:

  • Responsible,
  • Accountable,
  • Consulted,
  • Informed

The RACI Model helps you to identify who is responsible, accountable, consulted, or informed, for every task which needs to be done on a project.

RACI will structure and organize the roles of each team member or group within the project. Therefore, understanding how to use a RACI matrix model will be helpful in a project manager’s toolbox.

How to use RACI

You can apply the RACI model to your project by listing every task, strategy, key decision, and milestone. Here’s a break-down of what each component of the RACI model means:

  • Responsibility – Assigned to members who will be doing the work.
  • Accountability – Given to the person who needs to ensure that the task is done in a satisfactory manner. Typically, this person will sign-off on the task once completed. There should only be one accountable person per task.
  • Consult – For members who provide input before the task is complete. These people are highly active in the project.
  • Informed – This is for people who need to be informed about the status of a task, progress, and decisions. However, they do not need to be consulted directly or contribute to the task.

RACI Matrix

Good Practices with RACI

To follow the RACI model, project managers must identify the functions within the department and describe the key milestones needed to be completed to deliver the full scope of the project.

To be most productive keep activities and decisions short and specific.  This will apply to a need or role, rather than the person carrying out the task.

When you create the model, follow the matrix by creating structure roles down the left side in separate tables and enter the RACI codes accordingly.

When the RACI model is complete, review it with team members to give them the chance to resolve any conflicts or confusion. The model will settle any questions and document the responsibilities of an entire team. The best way to do this is to balance the roles and keep each task simple, yet meaningful.

Social Media for a Future Fit Project Management Practice

In November I presented at the Project Management South Africa Regional Conference in Cape Town on the topic of strategic integration of social media into the project management practice.

It covers the social media landscape in order to give you a better understanding as a project professional.
You will learn about different social media functionality as well as use cases for the use of social media on projects.
You’ll get insights into the benefits of using social media on projects as well as the barriers you can expect and how to overcome them.
In addition a study is shared about the Smartphone apps for projects and what should be considered when selecting an app for your organisation.

Most information is sourced from the book published by Prof Gilbert Silvius:

Strategic Integration of Social Media into the Project Management Practice Click to find out more.

 

 

Your Digital Reputation: What do Stakeholders see about you?

By Lorian Lipton

Manage your digital reputationYour professional reputation is everything when it comes to your career. In today’s business world, your clients and your next employer are all looking at the ‘digital you’ on the internet. Everyday over 1 million names are searched on Google. Your digital resume is available online in one form or another every day of the year and every minute of the day. If you are not leveraging your digital reputation then you are leaving yourself vulnerable in ways that can hurt your career and your future projects. Every professional needs to own how they look in cyberspace, so stop writing that status report for a few minutes and let’s focus on your future.

Why You Want To Manage Your Digital Reputation

Managing your online reputation is not about self-promoting or trying to get your next position, it’s about providing an accurate representation of your achievements and knowledge. It’s about how you are perceived professionally. It’s about the brand of you.

Whether you use social media or not, mentions of you, your company, even your project, may be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. People are talking about You; don’t you want to know what they are saying?

For years now, third party robots have been collecting and analyzing digital information about everything we do. Some of this information is in our control (i.e. social profiles), but most is not (i.e. other’s postings, credit card information, our app usage). All this information about you is your digital footprint whether good or bad, and it shapes your digital reputation.

Do you really want machines controlling what people know about you?

Take Control Of Your Digital Persona

1. Look at your digital footprint

When’s the last time your ‘Googled’ your name to find out what people see about you on the internet? The goal is to match your online professional self to your offline professional self. If you are a Six Sigma guru your social media persona should reflect that. Does it?

To take inventory of what information is out there about you type your name into Advanced Google Search. This is the most common way to check yourself and it’s free. Don’t forget to check your online aliases also, if you have them. They may haunt you at some point if you don’t. Check all the social sites you can think of to see what people are saying about you. This may take a few hours, but it is well worth the digital inventory to know where you stand.

2. Establish your business credibility on the internet

Establish your business credibilityTo build your digital reputation, you don’t need to be everywhere, but you need to be somewhere. For me, LinkedIn and Twitter are my virtual offices. Everything I post is business appropriate and helps establish my thought leadership in my chosen fields.

Facebook, on the other hand, is my living room. I like to keep this part of my digital life private for friends and family. On the internet, personal and professional details can get very mixed. You can use the private settings on social media sites to limit what people see about your personal life but, I do want to warn you that even behind a private firewall, you need to assume that information can, and will, leak. Do you really want your work associates to see those football party pictures? Think about how you want to be perceived.

3. Participate

You build a strong reputation by participating on social media sites. Posting your own information and commenting on other’s posts adds to your digital reputation and show up when you are searched. It’s helpful to join Groups on sites like Twitter and industry specific websites. When you comment in forums or digital communities, that information gets added to the internet’s vast collection of details on you. I use LinkedIn to write microblogs and post articles which highlight my expertise. Believe me, social media participation doesn’t take over your life – you don’t need to participate more than two or three times a week to build your reputation. Comments here and there add up over time.

Building and managing your digital reputation holds many positive benefits to you personally and professionally. As Dilbert® said back in 2013

“If you don’t have friends, followers, or social media influence, you are pretty much dead.”

If you leave me a comment I will do my best to answer and the bonus is that this will help us both improve our digital footprint. Keep up the good attitude.

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About the Author: Lorian Lipton, PMP, is passionate about project management and everything digital. She provides project management consulting, training and coaching through her company The Digital Attitude, LLC.

Content is copyright of Lorian Lipton, The Digital Attitude, LLC 2017.

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