January 16, 2018


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

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!

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Christmas Wishes for 2017

Christmas wishes 2017

Poem to start 2017

To start off the New Year, here is a beautiful poem by Nicholas Gordon.

Poem for 2017











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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!

Rio 2016 Olympic Games – Biggest Sporting Event in the World

By Linky van der Merwe

Rio 2016 Olympic Games We have reached the end of the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games 2016, which took place in South America for the first time. It has been watched by millions of people all over the world who were awed and inspired by the persistence, excellence and sportsmanship shown by the participants.

The city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil had the honour of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games over a four week-period where athletes competed for Olympic and Paralympic medals in more than 300 events.

But how much did hosting this sporting event mean to Brazil?

According to an article in the New York Times, dated August 22, 2016, the 2016 Summer Olympics have altered the City of Rio.  Experts are of the opinion that the Games served as a powerful catalyst for urban revitalization, spurring many infrastructure projects, that will enhance the lives of Rio’s residents.

Some of the projects include 100 miles of rapid bus lanes, a new subway line, four new tunnels and a 17-mile light railway system. Then of course there are the 3,600 apartments that make up the Olympic Village and a golf course. These projects are what lead people to believe that the $7 billion in transportation-related spending was money well spent.

Unfortunately, it is also a known fact that nearly every city that has hosted the Games has lost money, and few expect Rio to recoup the billions of dollars spent preparing for an event that lasts just weeks.

Infrastructure projects leaving a legacy

Let’s have a closer look at some of the projects that will leave a lasting legacy and why.

Source: Cidade Olímpica (Olympic City)

#1 Athletes’ Park

Concluded in August 2011, Parque dos Atletas (Athletes’ Park) was the first Olympic facility delivered in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games. The park has an area of 150 thousand square metres. It used to be the stage of another well-known event: Rock in Rio. Since 2011, several international music stars have played at the festival, entertaining millions of fans.

From Monday to Friday, the park is used by Rio de Janeiro City Hall teachers, who offer free tennis, volleyball, basketball, football (on court), handball and weight training lessons.

The park is equipped with tennis courts, climbing wall, area for children and a gym for people from all ages. There are also changing rooms, showers and a 1,420 metre track for cyclists, runners or those who just want to go for a walk.

#2 Olympic VillasOlympic Villas, Rio

Each villa caters for around 10 thousand children and adolescents, not just for sports, but also providing them with the possibility of taking part in cultural, educational, social and health related activities.

Each complex has a swimming pool, multi-purpose court with roof, athletics track, football pitch and rooms for activities such as ballet, martial arts, gymnastics, activities for people over 60, park for children and barbecue area. Some units also have tennis and beach volleyball courts, as well as skateboarding tracks.

Every day, the Olympic Villas provide services for public school students and are strategically positioned in places that had no leisure or sport facilities previously. The villas have the aim of integrating underprivileged young people. The work is done by the Municipal Secretariat of Sport and Leisure.

#3 Olympic Experimental Gymnasium (GEO)

Olympic Experimental Gymnasium (GEO) is a project that brings together education and sport development. Designed for lower secondary education students, the GEO integrates educational training with the possibility of developing new athletes.

In order to enrol in the GEO, applicants take a physical fitness test. Then they have to meet a number of requirements to continue training – with a training load of at least two hours a day -, such as academic performance. Students’ grades are monitored and they have to keep their grades up in order to be able to continue training.

In addition to sport related activities, the GEO provides extra Portuguese, Mathematics, Science and English lessons to students. At the moment, the following sports are offered at the GEOs: athletics, table tennis, volleyball, swimming and soccer.

#4 Porto Maravilha

The Rio de Janeiro Port is where anyone coming into city by sea arrives at. 5 million square metres were renovated through the project, with express roadways, tunnels and underground passages as well as two new museums that were opened.

#5 Rio Operations Centre

The Rio Operations Centre is considered the most modern in Latin America and is in charge of monitoring the day-to-day activities of the city. This role is performed by using over 560 cameras spread out through the municipality and a big screen made up of 80 monitors (46 inch each). Through this high level technology, the centre monitors (24/7) services provided by other organisations and utilities companies, as well as maps, graphs and aerial photos.  In addition, the Operations Centre works as a tool to monitor traffic in real time.

#6 Madureira ParkMadureira Park, Rio

The Madureira Park covers an area of over 90 thousand square metres and has become a leisure attraction for residents of Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone since its opening in 2012.  Equipped with sport courts, cycle lanes, walking and running tracks, as well as a skateboarding track, the park has become the city’s third biggest.

The park is also the stage of cultural performances. In addition, it has a green corridor with over 1,500 trees and the so-called Madureira beach, with its waterfall where local residents cool down on hot days. The next stage of the project will add an exclusive bicycle lane and a new skateboarding track.

#7 Reforesting of hillsides

Amongst so many infrastructure projects, environmental projects aimed at reducing deforestation are being developed as a way of avoiding landslide and preserving the fauna and flora.  Some good results are two million buds that were planted in the municipality, particularly in the West Zone between 2010 and 2012.  Residents from several communities have been contributing to the reforestation efforts.

Sustainability Management Plan

Sustainability Management PlanA Sustainability Management Plan for Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games describes the vision, mission, values and principles of the Games, as well as the scope of the Sustainability Management Plan and the main players in organizing the Games. The life cycle of the Organising process is composed of 3 main phases, namely the preparation phase, the operational phase, then the legacy phase that needs to ensure that the work continues to ensure lasting positive transformations that maximise the social, economic, environmental and sporting benefits of hosting the Games.

For some more inspiration read 5 of the most inspiring leadership anecdotes from the Rio Olympics 2016, published by Sanket Pai, head of Celoxis, a project management tool.

Please subscribe not to miss any future articles, tips and project management advice and reviews.

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!

Reflections on 2015

2015Another year is coming to an end which calls for a personal reflection on the year of 2015. What a wonderful journey it has been with numerous highs and very few low points.


Memorable moments

There were plenty of highlights in 2015. At work we concluded a 14-month long Programme successfully. I facilitated a number of closing workshops and project reviews on lessons learnt. Many new relationships were developed with a few growing into friendships that will outlast the projects. What will make this Programme very memorable, is the honour of receiving a CIO award for Delivery Excellence at the end.

As one Programme came to an end, I moved on to the next Programme with its own challenges, complexities and relationships to be formed with new team members. And in that lies the pleasure and fulfilment of being a professional project manager. There is never a dull moment and what an interesting journey to get to know new processes, systems and new people. To work with and appreciate all the talented individuals who are chosen to work on big corporate Programmes.

Virtual Project Consulting

As far as Online activities are concerned, our presence through Virtual Project Consulting, continued to grow as a website with the most comprehensive recommended resources about project management software, training, products, books and events.

In the blog section appeared several articles covering leadership, change management, project methodology, project success stories from experienced project managers, guest posts, reviews of different project software, how to compare online project management software, Agile project management and emotional intelligence among others. Podcasts of our Best Practice articles, as well as the Success Stories have been published.

Contributing Author

This year a Book opportunity presented itself to me through an invitation to contribute a Chapter to a book about the Strategic Integration of Social Media into Project Management Practice, due for publishing in 2016. This came about as a result of the extensive research I have conducted in prior years around the use of social media for small business marketing, and more specifically in the project management context. See more in Social Media for Project Managers.



On the personal front, I am privileged to share that 18 December 2015 is my 22 year wedding anniversary, and I consider it a blessing to be happily married with three children as a reminder of our faithful commitment to each other.

Game Changers

There were a few events that shifted my priorities this year. I worked with a coach who really helped to broaden my perspective, but at the same time, who guided me to focus on getting specific things done that will contribute greatly to growing my online business in future. Some strategic partnerships were also formed which could lead to interesting new opportunities in the new year.

Growth Program for New Project ManagersI had my first experience of running my own webinars, of doing a Pilot training program and eventually developing a fully online, self-paced Growth Program for New Project Managers aimed especially at the many Accidental Project Managers in every organisation.

This makes me look forward to making more contributions to the project management field in future. Like a quote from Audrey Hepburn saying: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible”.

I will continue to live and work my passions and to always be grateful. I wish you a happy and fulfilling time with your loved ones over Christmas and a Prosperous New Year in 2016!

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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.


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?

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