February 25, 2017

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

Looking for a Project Management Training Service Provider?

Review Article

Training with KnowledgeHut

In the dynamic world we live in today, learning policies within organisations are evolving at rapid speed in response to emerging technologies. Traditional, formal and scheduled training methods have given way to more informal and on-demand forms of learning, with an increasing accent on blended and e-learning delivery modes. Continuous training and collaboration helps organizations stay at the cutting-edge of change.

Global Training Provider

KnowledgeHut is a Global leader in online and classroom training for on-demand certifications like PMP, PMI-ACP, MS Project, PRINCE2 and more. As an industry-leading training company operating across 70 countries and 6 continents, their courses are aimed at delivering measurable improvements in business performance and productivity. Training is delivered across the US, Canada , Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, APAC and SE Asia.

Training with KnowledgeHut

Agile and Scrum training in Sydney on 1st February’17

Professionals who have completed their courses are equipped with state-of-the-art knowledge and technical skills that enable them to stay at the forefront of their careers.

KnowledgeHut works with the Global Blended Model of Approach (GBMA), an effective method that makes training and learning easier for individuals and organizations in the industry. This methodology works through a blend of extensive online training in tandem with traditional classroom based learning. Participants have consistently achieved positive training results, with a shorter learning curve and significantly higher retention of the subject matter.

Specialties

KnowledgeHut is a registered Education Provider (REP) of Scrum Alliance, PMI and IIBA. It’s also an ATP of EC-Council, CompTIA, APMG for PRINCE2 training, as well as a certified partner of AXELOS and the disciplined Agile consortium and Scaled Agile Inc.

KnowledgeHut offers an extensive selection of vendor-authorized training and certifications for PMI, Microsoft, APMG, CompTIA, and Scrum Alliance among many others.

Close the skills gap

They specialize in training, consulting, Scrum Master Training, Certification courses as well as e-Learning. Have a look at their Infographic on the Future of IT.

If you want to train with a company whose mission it is to empower human capital through industry accredited, nationally and internationally recognized courses to close the skill gap, visit KnowledgeHut and find the course that will make you more successful in 2017 and beyond.

Training Service Provider: GreyCampus – Training Project Professionals, Enhancing Careers

Certification training to develop new skills is an important aspect of career advancement. It not only recognizes your skills, but helps you get hired in a dream job. A 2012 Microsoft study highlights certification as an important hiring criteria. For hiring managers, a certification represents high skillsets for a candidate.

In a recent IT professionals survey, more than half of respondents stated that they landed new jobs due to a certification. It is part of important criteria for selection in project management jobs. If you plan to become certified in 2017 and you are looking for training, consider GreyCampus as the one-stop destination for all your training needs.

Introduction to GreyCampus

GreyCampus is a private education management company. Founded in 2014, it has its head office at Dallas, Texas in the United States. It is a leading training provider and has helped train more than 10,000 professionals worldwide. It provides training to professionals in the areas of project management and quality management. It is a registered education provider (REP) for many professional training courses. GreyCampus has also partnered with institutes like PMI, Axelos, PeopleCert, PRINCE2 and more.

Training methods

GreyCampus conducts training through the following methods:

  • Instructor-led online classes
  • Instructor-led traditional classroom courses
  • Self-learning online courses.

Project Management Training

PMP exam preparation courseThe project management courses at GreyCampus are available in the following modes:

  • Instructor-led
  • Online self-learning

The course provides learners with the essential tools needed to pass the exam. It is aligned as per the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) Guide, Fifth edition. It is also competitively priced to make learning affordable.

The instructor-led classes, both online and classroom are priced at $999. The online self-learning course is priced at $400.

GreyCampus also offers courses on CAPM and PMI-ACP certifications in different learning modes.

PRINCE2 Training

PRINCE2 FOUNDATIONGreyCampus offers the following courses around PRINCE2:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation Training and Certification course. It is available in both instructor-led and self-learning modes.
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner Training and Certification course. It is available in both instructor-led and self-learning modes.
  • There is also a 3-day instructor-led only PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Combo course.

Project Professionals

GreyCampus training offers short courses to help project professionals earn Category A Professional Development Units (PDU). These PDUs help them keep their PMI certification, to develop themselves and to be up to date in the job market.

For example, the Microsoft Project Fundamentals priced at $5 will earn the student 5 PDUs. The Project Schedule Management Basics priced at $10 will gain the student 10 PDUs.

The other project applicable courses available are Project Collaboration and Management, MiniTab Online Training, Slack Introduction and many more.

Special offer

Project managers who are looking for training in 2017 can check the details of the project management courses on the GreyCampus website. You can check the course schedule, eligibility and location and make your choice as per your needs.

In partnership with Virtual Project Consulting, GreyCampus offers a special discount of 50% if you sign up from here. Just use coupon code PROJCOL.

***Some links are affiliate links.

Book Review: Project Management for SME’s

By Linky van der Merwe

A Book for SME’s

PM for SME'sWhat you’d expect from a book that 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. The author, Gren Gale, is stating that a badly run project can significantly impact a business’s bottom line, in the case of a small business, this can be fatal. He also believes that a professional approach to project management will give a small business a competitive advantage over its rivals.

The aim of the book is described as a guideline for how to control and manage projects effectively. It is meant to support staff of small to medium-sized companies who are charged with coordinating one or multiple projects. It concentrates on projects where the spend isn’t massive, but the stakes are high.

The book is divided in 5 chapters and in chapter 2 it covers all aspects of project delivery from the Business Case, to analysis, design, build, test, implement and closure. Chapter 3 goes a bit deeper into project governance in terms of covering governance, risk and issue management, change control, quality and portfolio management.

Chapter 4 covers important soft skills that Gren believes are required for managing projects in small businesses, namely communication skills, people management and crisis management skills. In addition, Gren explains the Agile approach thoroughly and also how it is different from the well-known Agile methodologies.

Project Management experience

The in-depth knowledge and experience of Gren Gale comes through in the clear language and well defined concepts. I believe it is a good source of information for your typical small business managers who are also responsible for project execution. It provides a glossary and a set of required documents at the end, with the option of procuring templates at a discount.

After reading the book, the reader will know how to do projects the right way and which pitfalls to avoid. It can also convince the reader that proper training is required to do project management effectively and that it should not be done using ad hoc ways without the discipline of a consistent methodology.

Conclusion

My initial impression was that the process around project management should be simplified, and that the details in the book can leave a person feeling overwhelmed and perhaps not up to the task of managing projects without proper training.

Regardless, I can recommend the book to managers in small to medium-sized companies who are responsible for running projects. If they follow the principles, process and advice laid out, they will have a much better chance of being successful with project delivery and giving their businesses the competitive edge that well implemented strategies can bring.

To get your copy of the book, please visit Project Management for SME’s.

Book Review: The Conscious Project Leader

By Linky van der Merwe

The Conscious Project LeaderWhen I was contacted by Colin Ellis to do a review of his new book: “The Conscious Project Leader”, I was curious to find out what new can be said about this well covered topic?  I was pleasantly surprised!

Colin has a fresh perspective on project management, resulting in a book that you cannot put down once you start reading it. His wisdom comes from two decades of experience (in the coal face, as he calls it) and from doing projects on three different continents, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. Colin is also a speaker, writer and mentor on Conscious Project Leadership. One of his outstanding qualities, seems to be his sense of humour.

Leadership and Culture

The book is written from the perspective of how to create a culture of success for your projects, your team and yourself. Although leadership is covered in detail, much focus is also given to culture; like hiring, having a vision, collaboration, stakeholder satisfaction and celebrating success.

He covers just enough technical project management to make the book complete and without any unnecessary jargon that may confuse a reader. It is written in an informal style that is very engaging.

The chapters are short and to the point. There are numerous references to other books to read, videos to watch and actions to take, putting the reader on a journey of self-discovery and development towards becoming a conscious leader.

Lift Project Performance

What I compassionately agree with Colin, is that projects can change the world and that it’s frustrating that a big percentage of projects continue to fail. This book is his contribution to improve project success by helping professionals to be great project leaders and to give them the knowledge to be consistently successful. Another point we agree on is that we believe project success stories make the best lessons to learn.

Colin argues that projects are about people and that perhaps too much emphasis is placed on methods and processes and not enough on developing leaders who are responsible and accountable for project delivery.

Although I don’t disagree with that, I believe that developing leadership skills is equally important to having the right foundation of using methods and processes consistently. Training approaches should put equal weighting on both hard, as well as soft skills.

Conscious Leadership

Once you finish reading, Colin reminds you that this is just the beginning of your journey towards Conscious Project Leadership and that you have a big responsibility to apply your knowledge and to create the culture that will contribute to success. He challenges his fellow project practitioners to help make our profession proud.

Recommendation

Compared to other Project Leadership books that I have reviewed before, like “Leadership Toolbox for Project Managers by Michel Dion and The Power of Project Leadership by Susanne Madsen, I think this book complements what is already written.

It is modern in the sense that you can read it on a mobile device and visit the links at the end of chapters immediately. Colin has also prepared relevant quotes that he encourages the reader to share with their social networks using #CPL. It may start a movement under professionals who are committed to change.

I can recommend this book to all project practitioners, PMO managers/directors and people who have the opportunity to coach and mentor new and inexperienced project leaders.

You will find this book on Amazon and on Colin’s website, The Conscious Project Leader.

 

Agile? 3 Benefits of Managing your Projects with Eylean Board

By Dovile Miseviciute

Within the fast paced world we live in today, staying on top of things is one of the most important and most difficult goals we give ourselves. Whether it is in our personal or our professional lives, we often find it challenging to keep up with the latest information, understand the whole picture and to make the right decisions fast. The good news is – we have tools like Eylean Board, to help us stay on track and see our projects to completion with ease.

Like many other great products, the story of Eylean Board starts with a small group of people struggling to find a tool that would fit their needs and like many others before them, deciding to create one of their own. Five years later, the small group of people is known as the team of Eylean, the tool is called Eylean Board and it is used by teams all over the globe.

You may wonder what is it that makes Eylean Board so great? Amongst multiple layers of projects, tasks and subtasks, time tracking, reports and integrations, there are three key benefits that put this software on top.

#1 Visual boards to represent every important detail

Eylean Visual boardOne of the most important things in project management is being able to see both the big picture and the important small details. However, analyzing the details takes time and thus we are left to rely on our team to give us the information. Needless to say, many things get lost in translation this way and we end up struggling to make the right decisions.

With Eylean Board however, the important small details are right there in the big picture. You can see who is working on which tasks, how much time they have taken, what problems they are facing and monitor the due dates represented in color-coded notifications on the board. And if you want to know more – simply expand the task details to see descriptions, commentary, attachments and more.

#2 A tool that is easy to use

Eylean Task detailsBeing able to understand and use the software immediately is another big problem companies are facing today. Introducing a new tool to your team usually means hours of training, followed by weeks of confusion and the wait for actual results that may never come.

The beauty of Eylean Board is that the whole user interface is based on intuition. Tasks can be moved, assigned and tracked all with a simple drag and drop. The software is self-explanatory and the ability to modify the board gives you an opportunity to duplicate your previous solution in order to have a smooth transition period for all. Contrary to some other tools, Eylean Board can be used by developers, sales, marketing, finance and any other department in a company at the same time.

#3 Latest project management methods at your fingertips

Eylean Agile templatesLastly, you need an innovative tool to keep up with project management practices that are moving forward. Eylean Boards is just that – you will find templates for Scrum, Kanban and Scrumban boards or will be able to create your own templates modifying and improving the Agile methods to be just right for you. Furthermore, the Eylean team is fully emerged in following the latest Agile trends and can help guide your Agile journey.

Eylean Board is an intuitive and easy to use project management software that allows your team to realize their potential. Intrigued? Start the two-week free trial with no strings attached.

About the author: Dovile is the marketing manager at Eylean. She has been actively immersed in the Agile project management field for two years by working within the methodology and writing a blog about the newest trends and shifts in the industry.

Book Review: Leadership Toolbox for Project Managers

By Linky van der Merwe

Leadership Toolbox for PMThe aim of the book, Leadership Toolbox for Project Managers, written 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.

Career Advancement

Many project managers were experts in other fields before they learned the skills of Project Management. As project managers are assigned to more complex, strategic projects they need to add leadership skills to their Toolbox of Technical Project Management skills.

Michel emphasizes Continuous Learning as part of the Foundation you need before focusing on Leadership skills. What I liked about his book, is that he starts with looking at the leader as a Person, and looking after your own well-being first, instead of putting it as an after-thought at the end of the book. He gives guidance on modifying your behaviour with the key qualities of a leader and to develop a high level of self-awareness. He puts much focus on values and ethics that influence leadership actions and decisions.

I like his opinion that people is the critical asset to the project’s success, including the team, the project sponsor, users and any other stakeholders. And I agree that the value contribution of a project will be measured by all these people.

Leadership skills

Another important Leadership skill is Delegation for which Michel provides the questions to ask when delegating tasks. He explains how to create a learning environment and how to keep adding value while delegating.

Towards the end of the book Michel publishes interesting Leadership survey results about project challenges, strengths and weaknesses in being effective leaders.

Michel laid out strategic thinking and decision making in the project context very well, convincing the reader that learning leadership is a journey and not a specific formula that can be applied the same way on every project.

Recommendation

In my opinion, the only improvement that can be made to the book, is to provide some exercises or perhaps actions steps that the reader can take to help them along on their leadership growth journey.

I will recommend this book to all aspiring project managers as well as existing project managers who seek to develop their leadership capabilities to help them cope in the increasingly dynamic and complex project environments that we are having to manage projects today!

The book is available on Amazon: Leadership Toolbox for Project Managers: Achieve better results in a dynamic world by Michel A. Dion (22-Apr-2015) Paperback, as well as on Michel Dion’s website, Project-Aria.

3 Benefits of Training with Activia and What Business Problems It Will Address

Gone are the days where employees stayed at their jobs their entire life; now staying for three to five years is considered normal. But replacing staff should be as easy as placing an ad in the papers, right?

Wrong.

According to Oxford Economics, it can cost up to £30,614 (and seven months) for a company to replace a departing employee. This cost is from:

  • the lost output the company experiences while the new worker is trained up to speed, usually around 28 weeks.
  • the cost of replacing that employee, including advertising costs, agency fees, time spent on interviews, etc.

With these figures, it’s no wonder why many small and medium-sized businesses are reluctant to invest in employee training. Training them, only to lose them later, simply doesn’t seem to be worth it.

But is this attitude helpful or self-serving? Should the possibility of staff leaving determine whether you train them or not? What happens if they don’t leave and you’ve missed the chance to improve your business? Taking this view is narrow-minded and can potentially be dangerous to business longevity.

 

staff-trainingBenefits of Staff Training

Training employees should be an essential activity for all organisations. Apart from avoiding recruitment expenses, here are some more benefits of staff training:

  • It empowers employees with the knowledge and skills they need to increase their contribution to the business.
  • It improves business performance and productivity.
  • It improves staff morale, loyalty and staff retention – by investing in them, you’re showing them how much you value them.
  • It leads to a reduction in wasted time and materials.
  • It leads to a reduction in staff turnover and absenteeism.

It’s also important to mention here that, on average, companies that invest at least £ 1,000 per annum on staff training earn higher profit margins than those who don’t.

 

Selecting a Training Provider

However, for those companies that do want to upgrade their staff’s skills, choosing a training provider can be difficult. There are around 12,300 private training providers in the UK alone, all with different areas of expertise and delivery methods. So what should you pay attention to when looking for a vendor?

The following are key questions to ask any prospective training provider. The answers to these questions can help you narrow down your options so you can find the right fit for your staff.

  • Where can you deliver training?
  • How will your training improve my staff’s performance?
  • How many clients do you work with?
  • How many trainers do you work with?
  • Can you develop a training programme for both large and small businesses?
  • How do you measure participants’ progress?

 

TrainingThe Benefits of Training with Activia

For interactive and learner-focused training, look no further than Activia. Our trainers use a wide range of models, case studies, and skills practice to engage delegates. We ensure all delegates leave their sessions with knowledge, information, and the tools required to excel in their field. Some of our other unique features include:

  • Our Online Tools
  • Skills Appraisal: For a tailored learning experience, we ask delegates to take our Skills Appraisal test. This is to assess their proficiency and advise them on the best courses to take.
  • Course Creator: Looking to brush up on specific topics? Our Course Creator tool allows you pick and choose individual modules and create a bespoke training course. This allows you focus on getting the exact training you need with no fluff.
  • The Dashboard: The dashboard provides a one-click access to your entire Activia account. From here, you can change your account settings, view your booking history, your invoices, certificates, and so on.
  • Free eLearning: Using our eLearning revision platform, delegates can revisit and review the topics they covered in the course.
  • The Quality of our Courses: We’ve been in the training business for over twenty years, keeping abreast of every change in the business and the training industry. At Activia, we’re constantly refining our training methods so we can deliver actionable world-class training, every single time. At our training centres, we always keep class sizes between two and a maximum of 12. In our experience, this class size ensures that all delegates get adequate attention from the instructor.
  • Our Competitive Pricing –With 12 training centres in major cities across the UK, we can easily deliver group or one-on-one training, but if you’d prefer we train your staff at your office, that can also be arranged. All our prices are highly competitive due to our trading volumes, which means that we can offer delegates increased training quality at lower costs. We also offer discounts for early booking, low occupancy, and various special promotions.

 

To find out more about the best options for your training, then Activia’s staff are ready to help you with friendly, knowledgeable advice. If you’d like to talk to someone about your training needs and our offering, just fill in our contact form with your message and we’ll be back in touch very soon.

Wrike – Project Management Software that Makes a Difference

Software Review by Linky van der Merwe

Wrike project management software was founded in 2006 and has over 6,000 customers in 55 countries, including Google, Stanford University and eBay. Wrike was included in the “Cool Vendors in Collaboration” 2014 Gartner Report. In addition to this success, the company has won multiple industry awards. Wrike is available in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Portuguese, making it a top global provider of online project management software. Although Wrike is used by giant companies like Google and McDonalds, it’s also a favourite of charitable organizations, non-profits, and numerous small business ventures.

The company is led by its passionate founder and CEO, Andrew Filev, a former software entrepreneur and experienced project manager. He launched his first software development venture at the tender age of 17 and grew it into an international business with more than 100 engineers.

As his company grew, Filev realized he needed a collaboration tool for distributed teams running several projects simultaneously. Thus, Wrike’s project management tool was born. It connects data across multiple projects, gives an overview of project status and progress to managers, and provides a central hub for smooth, real-time collaboration for the whole team.

Easy Access to Your Work

Workload-management-in-WrikeWrike is a cloud-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) app and does not require downloads or updates. Users can access Wrike from any internet-connected browser, on any operating system or device. The number of users allowed on a specific account is defined by your chosen subscription plan, but account administrators are able to invite an unlimited number of collaborators completely free of charge. Users have full access to Wrike, and can create or edit tasks, view reports and charts, and add comments. Collaborators, on the other hand, can only view the actual tasks assigned to them, upload any associated files, and leave comments.

Subscriptions & Pricing

Wrike offers both free and premium (paid) subscriptions. The free package provides basic project management features for small business or teams who don’t need advanced features. The free version includes 5 users and 2 levels of project folders, along with 2 GBs of storage. All users benefit from Wrike’s 24/7 customer service and support.

Professional and Enterprise plans offer advanced project management features for larger teams, including subtasks, customizable Dashboards, Custom Fields, visual analytics reports, an interactive Gantt chart, and more. Wrike offers a free, one-month trial of their software, and does not require you to provide a credit card number.

For details of all subscription plans or a feature-by-feature comparison between the free and premium options, click here.

Ease of Use

Team collaborationWrike is very customer-oriented, and learning to use the software is made easier by video tutorials, help pages, and optional implementation assistance. In addition, Wrike offers free, live webinars of about 40 minutes that walk you through the software.

Team Collaboration

Wrike’s project management app uses email collaboration to the greatest advantage. Its email integrations allow users to discuss and comment on tasks within their inbox. Each task has a comments section so teams can easily discuss progress and collaborate on work, and they can @mention colleagues to direct a message to a specific user or group. All project updates for tasks you follow are shown in the real-time Activity Stream, making it easy to stay up-to-date on project status.

Wrike’s Project Management Tools

Wrike_dashboardDashboard

Customizable Dashboards show your most important tasks and keep them at hand. View complete tasks lists and drag-and-drop to prioritize, then click on the tasks to view the details, add comments, attach files, update the status, note the task’s importance, and more.

Activity Stream

Activity-Stream-in-WrikeWrike’s Activity Stream presents a linear view of the latest project updates It’s simple newsfeed is easy to scan and quickly check up on updates, task status, and the latest discussions.

Users can add comments to tasks directly from the Activity Stream, making collaboration easy since everyone knows the latest updates.

Timeline

Wrike_timelineWrike’s Timeline is fairly basic, but adequate. It offers the ability to add tasks easily while in the Timeline view and you can refine its date and specifications or drag and drop the task to the desired location within the timeline.

 

Customer Service and Support

Wrike is highly rated for its excellent service and support. The customer service team at Wrike answers questions 24/7, and you can livechat with a representative if you need help immediately via Wrike’s website. A phone assistance line is also available.

Powerful Integrations

Wrike_Mobile appIn the complex IT landscape that most organisations are operating in today, you need project management software that integrates with the other web tools your project team already uses. That will empower them to use the software seamlessly.

This is one of Wrike’s strong points. It integrates with dozens of other online tools, including Google Apps, Salesforce, MS Project, Zapier, and Evernote.

Click here to see the complete list of current Wrike integrations.

Case Study

Recording artist, clothing designer, and entrepreneur Redfoo uses Wrike to keep processes consistent and communication efficient, making it easier to meet deadlines. The team consists of very creative people in the music industry who need to plan events, work on projects and collaborate on new ideas, documents and tasks. They’ve even started saying, “Wrike it down!” meaning put it in Wrike. According to Redfoo, if it’s not in Wrike, it doesn’t exist.

Conclusion

Wrike is an all-in-one software with a perfect blend of project management and social collaboration features that helps you become more productive and achieve your goals faster.

See how Wrike received the Supreme Software as well as the Best Project Management Software awards from FinancesOnline in recognition of Wrike’s  excellent features and customer support.

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