Doing More With Less

We are all under pressure to do more with less.

If you have a senior role in any organisation, 3% saving here or 8% saving there can be worthy of significant effort on your part.
Bottom Line
Consider for a moment your projects:
  • How many real projects do you have running?
  • Are your projects product developments, strategic initiatives, marketing projects, HR projects, new IT systems, important client projects/contracts/deals?
  • What are these projects costing you, and what are they worth to your organisation?
  • Are you tired of mediocrity from your project managers?
Last year around 70% of business project objectives were not met in the UK (or anywhere else for that matter) – they were seriously delayed, significantly over budget and/or did not meet their specified scope or quality.
By consistently using some simply implemented appropriate project management techniques and discipline, ProjExc clients have easily reduced those 70% failure rates to single figures.  In turn with the huge savings they have made, they have been able to invest in more projects and the benefits that they bring.
Project Management is increasingly recognised as the pre-eminent business competence for the 21st century, and yet all too often an organisation uses different (or no) processes, tools & templates to manage their projects and has project managers at hugely varying levels of competence.

Project Management Matters

Clearly project management matters to your organisation, but when did you last reflect on how much of your attention is focused just on the projects rather than the project management?
John Williams is lead consultant at ProjExc PM Consulting who help businesses realise their desired outcomes, on time, and within budget.

PMI Challenge to APM Application for Royal Charter: dismissed

APM LogoWe reported in a News Digest post back in April 2014, that PMI had challenged APM’s application to the UK Privy Council by way of a Judicial Review, as per this statement from APM.

At the time we were not clear on what good PMI hoped to achieve for the PM profession, other than protecting their own commercial interests.

UPDATE: Judge dismisses the PMI claim on all grounds:

APM Chief Executive Andrew Bragg has issued a statement concluding:

“Having reserved judgment at the substantive hearing of the Judicial Review claim which ended on 9 July 2014 at the High Court in London, the Judge, Mr Justice Mitting, handed down his judgment on 17 July 2014.

The Judge dismissed the claim on all grounds”.

We hope that the much needed development and recognition of the PM profession can now move forward very soon.

Project Management News Digest from PM Advisor

In this latest roundup of news from the world of project, program and portfolio management we look at amongst other things:

  • How to get the right project management tool for your business,
  • Mind mapping,
  • The changing landscape for PM lifecycle phases,
  • Tips for becoming a better and more productive PM,
  • Project management recruitment,
  • and more.

As always, as well as summarising and pointing you to the relevant articles, we add the views of our super experienced project management consultants. We also welcome your comments and suggestions for what we should include in the next News Digest – feel free to use the comments box at the bottom of this post.

PM Tools

PM Tools

5 Ways to Get the Right Project Management Tool for your Business

BizCommunity
Daniel Marcus takes the readers of his post through the basic steps in implementing a PM Tool for an SMB. He sees these as:

  1. Consider why you need a PM tool,
  2. Wade through the clutter,
  3. Take advantage of the cloud,
  4. Get started, and
  5. Reap the rewards.

Remember, there’s lots of information, mini-reviews and links to many of the more popular tools here on PM Advisor to help with step 2.

Mindmap

Mindmapping for Project Management

MindGenius Blog
Jamie MacDonald from MindGenius offers a useful introduction to the possibilities of using mind mapping tools for:

  • Project planning,
  • Project scheduling,
  • Project monitoring & control, and
  • Project reporting.

In our experience mind mapping is a fantastically powerful tool for individual PMs to manage their projects, teams and stakeholders. However, we haven’t (yet) encountered a successful cross-enterprise implementation of mind mapping for project management. Our suspicion is that this is because of the better RoIs available from more structured & integrated all-in-one 3P management tools available.

ProjExc PM Office Services

PMO

Changing Landscape: PM Lifecycle Phases

Business2Community
Dr. Harold Kerzner provides a fascinating argument with supporting evidence that the world of project management is rapidly shifting from operational to strategic.

He concludes that the role of the project manager will be changing significantly, and sees that:

  • the investment life-cycle will replace the traditional project management life-cycle,
  • project managers will be expected to have much greater understanding of business and strategy,
  • project managers may end up reporting directly to the corporate board room on some critical projects,
  • project managers will be involved at the beginning of the project, perhaps even during the idea generation stage, in order to understand the rationalization, assumptions, constraints and risks associated with the potential project.

Dr. Kerzner shares his view that most companies should understand why project management has evolved into a strategic competency rather than just another career path position.
Of course some forward leaning organisations have already made some significant progress in some or all of these areas, but we have to agree that the trend for greater maturity will continue.

PM Competence

PM Competence

10 Steps to Becoming a Better PM

WizIQ Blog
WizIQ Blog offer 10 tips for greater success in projects:

  1. be inquisitive,
  2. be a ‘can do’ person,
  3. think in detail,
  4. keep events in perspective,
  5. assume prudently,
  6. make allies at work,
  7. communicate constructively,
  8. focus on people’s strengths,
  9. acknowledge & appreciate, and
  10. be a leader.

Project Management Tips that Rock

Business Management Daily
Evie Nagy from Fast Company shares some advice for project managers taken from the world of rock bands:

  • do a trial run,
  • take care of yourself,
  • designate a handler, and
  • accept the right tasks.

PM Recruitment

Recruitment is Project Management

RivieraAdvisors
Chris Stringfellow provides a refreshing recognition that along with many other business needs, recruitment (or talent acquisition) is project management.  Clearly, by consistently applying some simple but reliable project management techniques recruitment (project) success rates can be hugely improved.

Cultural Personality & Rapport – The Key to Recruiting Project Managers

How to Manage a Camel
The ever-present Lindsay Scott rightly observes that there is a conundrum when it comes to recruiting project managers and it is this – how can anyone be sure that the project manager they are about to hire can perform the role in a new organisation?
Having helped recruit hundreds of project managers for numerous organisations, we agree with Lindsay that the process of matching competences to the vacancy helps identify a possible fit (and helps follow HR rules for good reason) it doesn’t necessarily find the right individual. To do that you need also to consider:

  • Cultural fit,
  • Personality fit, and
  • Rapport with the manager (we call this the chemistry).

Lindsay concludes, “If the organisation can start to really define these ‘softer’ areas of their ideal project managers, there will be a greatly increased chance that the new hire will fit right in and continue to deliver their best”.

6 Simple Tweaks for PMs to Become More Productive

Business2Community
Marciel Rivera suggests the following tweaks to help PMs under pressure to be increasingly productive:

  1. be clear when defining your goals,
  2. run more productive meetings,
  3. take advantage of technology,
  4. stop multitasking,
  5. take frequent breaks,
  6. don’t be tempted to do it all.

 

Other PM News

Construction

Capita Buys Projen

Building
Iain Withers reports that Capita has acquired 100-strong project management and engineering solutions business Projen for an undisclosed sum.
Cheshire-based Projen provides design, engineering and management services in the pharmaceutical, oil and gas, manufacturing and bio energy markets.
It will join Capita’s 4,000-strong property and infrastructure business and sit within its design and management division.

The dangers of Agile evangelism

We always look forward to the views expressed in the “Critical Path” spot in the APM’s project magazine, and John Rowley of TPM sounding off about the Agile evangelists is no exception.
Agile AllianceHe raises a concern that we share, and that is that some individuals like to grab hold of the latest ’toy’ believing that it will single-handedly fix all problems.  The ‘toy’ in question is Agile.  John rightly makes the point that Agile is a super tool for the project manager’s toolbox, but it is not the right tool for all projects.  We observe that a big danger for Agile (Let’s hope the Agile Alliance and their colleagues are thinking about this) is that it is the latest bandwagon which is being jumped on by the training companies who largely ruined the credibility of PRINCE2.  Clearly attempting to discredit one approach to project management in favour of another without considering the context is at best immature and at worst dangerous for both the project and the profession.
Here are the key points which John makes.
I just walked out of an Agile presentation. Not for the first time. This is getting tedious. Don’t get me wrong, I am enthusiastic about Aagile as a potential technique for project managers to use. Sometimes only an Agile approach will do, so I am certainly not against it. But why do people always feel they have to justify Agile by misrepresenting traditional (waterfall) approaches? The logic seems to be: “Some projects go badly therefore all projects using established approaches must go badly – therefore traditional project management must be ‘broken’.
The way these events go the presenters seem to be evangelising for a completely new approach across the profession (reinventing all aspects of project management to fit with their new belief system). 
It would be refreshing if they accepted the strengths of traditional methods, and the limitations of their own approach, and presented themselves as members of the project management profession, rather than as people who appear to want to overthrow it.  In fact many projects using traditional project management methods go remarkably well and in many areas performance is improving.  Indeed many projects might not fare so well if Agile were used.
So surely the message must be: “Project management is good but we need to continue to get better at it.  One way to get better is to understand when Agile (or other) approach may be appropriate, and know how to use it.”  We might then start to look like one profession, and not a collection of competing methods with each new ‘brand’ seeking to undermine the rest.
Project
If you like this Critical path and you are an APM member, make your way over to the APM website and take a look at some of the online archives, or indeed make sure you dip into your monthly Project magazine.  If not, why not join?

How ProjExc can help with your PMO

There are a number of ways that ProjExc can help with your PMO:

PMO Assessment. This is an honest review of your existing project management practices and a full assessment of your PMOffice requirements.  The independent report from the assessment will provide a high-level but comprehensive plan which can be used to implement your PM Office yourself, with our help, or even with the help of others.  Your only commitment is to getting the report and making your own decisions.

PMO Set-up.  Building on the output from the PMO Assessment, you can engage a full management service to fully set-up a PMO function in your organisation. From structure and resourcing, through to implementation of processes and procedures, templates and selection and implementation of the best tools for your business integrated where necessary to your existing MIS platform.

PMO Management Services. Choose pay-as-you-go or from a package of services including project support & helpdesk, guiding, monitoring and managing.

At all times when dealing with ProjExc you remain in control.  We don’t lose sight of the fact that it is your business and you need to run it your way, albeit with support and advice from the right experts, at the right time.

ProjExc PM Office Services

Supporting your projects

There are often many stakeholders in projects with differing needs and demands.  For the PMO, there are two direct stakeholders, your project managersand your executive (including their representative, theproject sponsor).  In supporting your projects we provide support for both parties as descibed below.

ProjExc Supporting your Project Managers

PM Support & Helpdesk

  • Helpdesk by telephone and e-mail, with troubleshooting and support
  • Document review and quality monitoring
  • Document management system maintenance, e.g. status reports, project plans, budgets, registers, …
  • Communications written and circulated
  • Project plan maintenance
  • Collation of reports and performance data
  • General project office administration support e.g. meeting bookings etc

PM Guidance

  • Review/improvement of processes and procedures
  • Provide/implement project management toolkit
  • Implementation of performance monitoring
  • Reviewing/troubleshooting projects failing or at risk of not achieving full potential
  • Training and coaching and facilitating project management forums/skills development
  • Set up of continual improvement processes/ procedures

ProjExc Supporting your Project Sponsors

Monitoring

  • Change Control
  • Exception management
  • Project performance review
  • Project reports review and authorisations
  • Support
  • Risks or RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Risks and Dependencies) review
  • Project plan monitoring
  • Approvals and sign off  handling e.g. work packages

Managing

  • Management of the business case
  • Reviewing and defining structures and roles
  • Define project approach
  • Senior Management representative e.g. board meetings
  • Project team meetings chair
  • Authorisation of stages, parameters and exceptions
  • Escalated approvals and sign off handling

Take Control of Your Projects

Take the necessary steps now to take control over your projects.

It’s bad enough that some projects over-run or over-spend, but it’s even worse if you don’t know why, or didn’t see it coming before it was too late.

ProjExc PM Office Services

ProjExc have the necessary

  • knowledge,
  • skills, and
  • experience

to bring consistency, reporting and control to the projects in your organisation.

Whether you need help and advice in creating your own in-house project management office (PMO), you want to bridge the gap until your own PMO is up and running, or you want to outsource your PMO with a blend of our on-site and remote expertise ProjExc have what it takes.

The ProjExc Team understand your frustrations, but more importantly they know how to quickly implement the right processes and tools for your organisation to professionally & consistently handle your project initiation, planning, execution, control & reporting and closure/reviews.

They will ensure full visibility, common understanding within your organisation with one truth for project:

  • budgets,
  • timescales,
  • change control,
  • risk management,
  • issue handling,
  • task management, and
  • resource management.

This consistent view will enable you to make the right decisions before it’s too late.

You know that there are several methodologies and processes for project, portfolio and program management out there, literally hundreds of tools and thousands of templates.  The ProjExc Team have the independence, and expertise necessary to guide you through this minefield, and select what is right for your organisation now and in the future.

Feel free to browse around PM Advisor for free tips and news from the world of PMO.  You’ve probably got your projects under control, but if you can’t afford to leave it to chance any longer and want to know more contact ProjExc either by completing the form below or by calling them on 0121 222 5744.

Product Management vs Project Management

In this new section on PM Advisor, John Williams takes a look at the differences between project and product management, centred around the distinct processes which each discipline needs to follow.

Product and Project Process

Three questions

  1. What do you think?
  2. Is this a useful differentiation?
  3. Do you agree that the discipline distinction is essential?

As always we welcome your input – please comment below.

Project Management News Digest from PM Advisor

PM COMPETENCE

 

Project Management Academy® Announces New Scholarships for Aspiring Project Managers

Digital Journal

PMA® have announced 22 new scholarships intended to promote project management education across the United States. The scholarships, distributed through the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation™ (PMIEF), were created to provide students, teachers, professionals, and non-profit organizations the opportunity to develop their project management prowess through continuing education.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see something similar for the UK – perhaps the APM could help organise something with some of our great training organisations?
Apple Inc.

4 Things Software Engineers Can Teach You About Project Management

Business Insider

This article considers some of the less well known reasons why the legendary Steve Jobs’ projects succeeded:

  • Create structure
  • Don’t just listen – understand
  • Don’t underestimate inspiration
  • Communicate

 

Managing the Dreaded Project Conflicts

OnTrack

Brad Egeland describes his 5 preferred methods for resolving conflict:

  • Compromise
  • Confrontation
  • Forcing
  • Smoothing
  • Withdrawal

Interview Questions

Bring Some Common Sense into Your Project Management

Tech Cocktail

Serhat Pala encourages the use of common sense to start SMBs on the journey to project management maturity with the following key elements:

  • Put an astute project manager in charge,
  • Integrate parts into the whole, and
  • Leverage project management tools.

 

Change in the Legal Climate: Budgeting and project management

Inside Counsel

This article takes a look at why budgeting and project management are more important than ever for the legal industry. The top 3 demands from Chief Legal Officers accruing to a 2013 surrey by Altman Weil are:

  • more efficient project management,
  • improved budget forecasting, and
  • greater cost reduction.

 

MBTI

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Project Management

The Fast Track

Tim Walker takes a fascinating look at how to use MBTI to help get past those frustrating communication roadblocks in projects. He looks at:

  • What is the Myers-Briggs?
  • How Is the Myers-Briggs Used in Business?, and
  • How the MBTI Can Help Your Team

 

10 Classic Project Management Mistakes

CIO Insight

Dennis McCafferty considers 10 classic mistakes in IT projects:

  1. The proposal doesn’t contain value points
  2. Key influencer support is lacking,
  3. Scope creep veers out of control,
  4. Users are not proactively involved,
  5. Too many team members,
  6. With the team line-up is wrong,
  7. Team members are not adequately trained,
  8. Team members get overwhelmed by the project’s size,
  9. The project is defined as a side responsibility of members, and
  10. Processes, tools, templates are inconsistent.

 

Beyond Your Wildest Risks: What Every Board Member Needs To Know

PCubed

Jeremy Harrison observes that the risks you need to concern yourself with no longer follow a linear path; they no longer allow for days and weeks of response time. They come fast and furious, seemingly out of nowhere, and they can wallop your company faster than you can tweet a first response.

 

Keeping Your Project Sponsor Satisfied

Wellingtone

Tony Adams recognises that one of the best tools in the Project Manager’s kit is a positive, flag-waving Sponsor. In fact, nothing shapes your success in quite the same way as having an engaged, switched-on Project Champion sitting in the Big Chair – leading the charge, clearing roadblocks, keeping momentum and giving your project that all-important credibility. In this article he looks at how to keep your principal stakeholder on board.
BCI

The Business Continuity Institute Becomes Part of a Global Resilience Network

Continuity Central

The Business Continuity Institute has signed up to become a part of the Future Cities and Community Resilience (FCCR) Network, an interdisciplinary collaboration of like-minded academics and professionals that provides a forum for the advancement of knowledge in the core areas of future city resilience, urban supply chain management, smart city technologies and community engagement through experimental and creative methods.

 

PM TOOLS

Whiteboard

Another New Product in the Project Collaboration Space – Whiteboard

Whiteboard

Whiteboard is a start-up who have just unveiled their innovative web and mobile-based app aimed at boosting productivity by bridging the gap between tasks at home and work. With its ultra-clean user interface and intuitive paradigms for organizing workflow, Whiteboard empowers users to focus on accomplishing the tasks that matter most in their day. The tool’s user interface provides convenient ways to access relevant information such as quick views for to-dos, files, discussions, or people.

 

ProjectManager.com Raises $3.5 Million in Funding

Digital Journal

ProjectManager.com, the leader in online project management software for professionals, today announced it has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding to support the company’s momentum in the project management software market and expansion into the United States.
Deltek

Deltek Axium Introduces Project Trek™ to Deliver a Collaboration and Document Management Solution

Digital Journal

Axium, the developer recently acquired by Deltek, have announced the re-introduction of Project Trek™, a collaboration and document sharing solution formerly known as ArchiTrek™.
Nugg

Nugg is a Team Performance Tool Positioned Above Project and Task Management

Gigaom Research

Nugg is a start-up which looks to be finding itself a niche position integrating with data from Business Process, Communication and Task tools in order to share questions, decision and results. Ashar Baig does a good job of describing their approach in the Gigaom Research article. You can get more information from the horses mouth at Nugg.

They say that Nugg allows you to:

  • Focus attention on the conversations and teams that matter the most,
  • Decide on the actions you need to take to achieve your goals,
  • Track your decisions and conversations, and
  • Align on the goals that define your team’s success.

PM METHODS

PRINCE2

AXELOS to recognize PMI and IPMA qualifications in applications for PRINCE2® Practitioner Qualification

PM World Journal

Axelos, the joint venture company responsible for PRINCE2 and other Project and Programme Management (PPM) products, has announced that it is now recognizing other qualifications as a route to Practitioner level rather than the previous, mandatory requirement for the PRINCE2 Foundation qualification. Project managers worldwide – for the first time – will be given greater access to the PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification based on their prior learning and achievements with specific project management professional bodies.

Frances Scarff explains the reasoning for this significant change in direction on the Axelos website.

Business Continuity Management

There is a natural bond between project management and business continuity management.  Increasingly we’re finding more interest in the subject both by individuals at PM Advisor and by organisations at ProjExc.  In recognition of this we’ve created a new section here to help you, our readers, find “all things BCP” in one place.

ToolboxOn the dedicated page we bring together a series of mini-posts from ProjExc on the following:

In future posts we’ll expand on these topics as well as looking into some of the specialisms needed in making a holistic continuity strategy effective looking at topics including:

  • Disaster Recovery & System Resilience
  • Document Management
  • Alternative Premises
  • Inventory Recovery

Also, watch out for relevant events and other related resources.

If you have any suggestions or requests on what we should include feel free to add a comment below or get in touch.  Similarly if you have any interesting experiences or horror stories on the subject we’d love to hear them.

Project Management News Digest from PM Advisor

Here is a curated list of some of the latest news from the world of Project, Portfolio and Programme Management, brought to you by PM Advisor.

PM TOOLS

Deltek

Deltek Acquires Axium

FortMillTimes
Axium, a leading provider of integrated accounting and project management solutions to more than 2,200 architecture & engineering (A&E) firms, has been acquired by Deltek, the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for project-based businesses. The acquisition of Axium strengthens Deltek’s market leadership and extends Deltek’s reach into the largest segment of the A&E industry within North America, namely firms with fewer than 250 employees.
Tom's Planner

Tom’s Planner Adds Filtering & Search

tom’splanner

The popular Tom’s Planner has added the ability to use filters in their online Gantt charts, but beware from August it will only be available for paid accounts.

40 Useful Project Management Tools

Smashing Apps

Smashing  Apps bring an eclectic mix of free and premium PM Tools.

 

PM METHODS

Do We Really Learn from ‘Lessons Learnt’?

How to Manage a Camel

Lindsay Scott recently co-hosted a joint  knowledge cafe session between the APMs PMOSIG and Knowledge SIG, and shares her observations.

Project Failure

Why are so many projects set up to fail?

Project Manager

Patrick Weaver takes in interesting look at how a lack of ‘project management common sense’ can lead to failure.  He concludes “the root cause of most project and program failures is the failure of governing bodies to both hold themselves accountable and to make their management responsible for commissioning avoidable failures.”

 

PM COMPETENCE

The Impact Of Project Communication Management On Project Success

SAP Blog

Ivana Zuber shares her thoughts on an important aspect of every successful project – Project Communication Management, looking at the communication plan, stakeholder analysis, confidentiality, and the role of the project manager.

11 Ideas for Starting a Legal PM Initiative in Your Firm

Slaw

Natasha Chetty shares her learning from attending LPM Showcase and Workshop.  Interesting observations for legal firms, many of which are transferrable to most sectors.

Interview Questions

10 Killer Interview Questions for Hiring Project Managers

A Girl’s Guide to Project Management

Elizabeth Harrin shares her 10 favourite PM interview questions, explains why she likes them and shares some un-model answers:

  1. What don’t you want to work on?
  2. If you had to rate project management as a career, from 1-10 how would you rate it?
  3. What’s the most important thing for a project manager to do?
  4. What do you spend most time doing each day?
  5. How do you work with sponsors? How do you manage up?
  6. When was the last time you didn’t delegate and what happened?
  7. What was the most difficult ethical decision you’ve had to make on a project?
  8. What criteria are you using to find your next job?
  9. How have you improved project management processes at your current firm?
  10. What creative problem-solving techniques to use?

10 Things That All Great Project Managers Do

CIO Insight

Dennis McCafferty observes that the 10 things that all great PMs do are:

  1. They seek clarity from start to finish,
  2. They don’t ask for permission to assert authority,
  3. They edit information as it’s presented,
  4. They re-evaluate on-the-fly,
  5. They craft conversations for their audience,
  6. They stick to regular communications schedules,
  7. They put the right people in the right positions,
  8. They maintain composure, and
  9. They respect work-life balance.

Money

Three surefire ways to screw up your project

FastCompany

Eric Morgan, CEO at AtTask, recognises that while every project will have bumps along the road, but sees 3 surefire ways to make things worse:

  • Pretending that work isn’t chaos,
  • Adding yet another point solution or tool, or
  • Forgetting that ad-hoc projects will come in.

10 Project Management Dos

PM Hut

Susanne Madsen suggests 10 practices to focus on in order to hone your skills, deliver triumphant projects, and have a great experience doing your job:

  1. Focus on customer needs,
  2. Challenge the status quo,
  3. Meet people face-to-face,
  4. Complete an accurate project plan,
  5. Assess project progress on a weekly basis,
  6. Review project risks in collaboration with your team,
  7. Be proactive and resist fighting fires,
  8. Learn to delegate,
  9. Keep your promises, and
  10. Support and challenge in equal measure.