Project Management – Not Just for Builders and Engineers

A beginners introduction to project management, whatever your industry or sector.

There was a time when project management was a technique, used almost uniquely for the engineering world.  However in recent years more and more organisations have recognised the value of project management in their operation regardless of their industry/sector/specialism, and increasingly they are adopting a Project Management Way of Working, or as we call it PMWoW.
PM Sectors PMAdvisor
There are realistically 3 main types of project, described below.  To many organisations all three have their place, and to others maybe just one or two.

Type One – New Product Development Projects

Traditionally project management techniques were applied to the first type of project – new products.  Those “products” might have been as diverse as bridges, buildings, new computer systems or cars.

Type Two – Customer / Service Delivery Projects

This was followed by the general realisation that the techniques and discipline could be expanded to the second type of project which we describe as “customer projects”.  Again, initially rooted in the engineering world, this sees the scope expanded beyond development to manufacturing, test, site deployment, acceptance, and broader service provision.

Type Three – Organisational Change

As the project management techniques and systems matured, they became increasingly used in the controlled delivery of organisational and strategic change.

Industry Shifts

The general project types are largely unchanged in the 21st century, but we have seen 3 major industry shifts in the last few decades:

1) Methodologies & Frameworks

As project management usage grew, so did the available methods.  From the original “waterfall” methods we have seen the steady addition of options including:
as well as a whole host of niche and bespoke methods.  Some of these methods are generally applicable, whereas others are only suitable in certain applications.
Some care should be taken when considering the latest “new” way of managing projects.  As with the world of diets, various fads come and go as people look for that easy fix.  However it is worth remembering that the core project management techniques are flexible, and if applied consistently can produce excellent success rates.

2) Technology

There has been a huge proliferation of project management tools with varying degrees of complexity and suitability for certain project environments.  I am aware of well over 250 software tools which can be broadly categorised as:
  • Productivity Tools which typically focus on individual or group task management,
  • Project Collaboration Tools which typically add messaging, file sharing, project calendars and maybe some bells and whistles,
  • All-in-one Tools (often referred to as P3), which add layers of complexity typically including planning, resourcing, RAID management and even portfolio/program dimensions, and finally
  • Specialist Tools which deal with specific needs such as risk management, mind-mapping, and so on.

3) Broader Industry Adoption

In the last few years, project management has become increasingly adopted across most industries and sectors.  Typically, this has initially filtered from new product development and strategic / change projects into service delivery with noticeable recent adoption in the worlds of service, marketing, human resources, digital marketing and legal to name but a few.

Where Do Budding Project Managers Go For Advice?

There are lots of resources around, but as in many walks of life you need to know where to look.  Some great starting points include:
At ProjExc we recognised that finding good, honest, independent advice, especially those entering project management, can be quite challenging.  We noticed though that everyone seems to be selling their training courses, their qualifications, their books, their tools.  We have structured our advice and services into 2 distinct but closely linked independent offerings, both of which are applicable regardless of your industry or sector:
PM Advisor – advice and resources for individual project managers, and
ProjExc – guidance, advice and support for organisations wanting to set-up or improve their project management capability.
About the Author:
John Williams is a project management professional with 25 years experience across most industries and most types of project, portfolio and programs.  He is founder of ProjExc and PM Advisor, an active author, presenter, and consultant on the subject of project management, as well as an occasional interim project manager.  John is a proud member of the APM and also serves in their volunteer community.  If you would like John to present his talk “Why Projects Fail and What YOU Can Do About It” to your team or group either in person or as an online seminar get in touch.

Three Imperatives for Good Project Managers

This is a great summary (we use the terms Big Picture, Issues and Risks) but just the same. I would add though communication as the over-arching imperative.
– thanks Eric.

Project Manager Recruitment – It Need Not Be A Lottery

PM Recruitment

Recruiting the right project manager (PM) into your organisation is a big decision and often a huge investment, yet all too often the success is largely left to chance.  Prepare and choose wisely, rather than take a gamble, and you will have a much better chance of ensuring that your projects succeed.

In this guest post, John Williams founder of ProjExc PM Consulting takes a look at what you should consider to take the risk out of PM recruitment. Having recruited or helped others recruit, induct and coach hundreds of project managers in many industries he provides a rare insight.

Top 8 Considerations When Recruiting a PM

1. Investment
Do you have a mature project management organisation with structured project management processes and tools? If yes, then you can probably afford to recruit a less experienced (less expensive) PM as you will have have confidence that sufficient structure is in place to ensure success. If you don’t have structured and proven systems in place, then you will need to employ a more capable PM, who also has the experience to choose when and when not to use the relevant tools from their toolkit.

2. Don’t Compromise
Never be tempted to put in place a permanent hire who doesn’t meet your essential needs in the hope that they’ll adapt or get there. Not only would this be a high risk decision for your organisation, but also for the individual as well. Until you find the right person, buy yourself some time and bring in an interim. There are plenty out there!

3. Specification
Involve stakeholders in specifying the role and the ideal person to maximise the chances of putting the right person in post. Those stakeholders will not just be the line manager, but also other senior leaders and resource managers. It is often a wise move to consider what your customers need or expect as well. Consider (or ask) do they use particular PM frameworks/methodologies/toolsets which your PM will be expected to interface with? If your PM is expected to behave internally as a customer champion, this should also have a bearing on what you are looking for.

4. The Role
In recruitment it goes without saying that you need a solid role (or job) description. Honest clarity is essential if you are going to bring on board the right person. The right person will be, and will continue to be, motivated. Remember though the more detailed/rigid the responsibilities the less flexibility you’ll have in the future.

5. The Person
As well as the role, it is really important to specify the type of project manager you are looking for. The hard skills which you need and want is the starting point. Then think about the experiences your ideal candidate will have had. Crucially important as well are the attitudes and softer skills.

6. Pure Project Management
Is your project manager also going to be one of the project resources, or solely focused on project management? In the former case you will probably be looking for industry knowledge. Remember though that the more the project manager will be sucked into the detail of the project, the greater the risk that they will lose focus on their project management responsibilities.

7. Induction
You’ve appointed a great PM with the skills, experiences and personality that you need. Don’t fall into the trap of a half-hearted induction. Make sure that you equip your new PM with the information and tools they need to do a great job from day one, helping them to climb up that learning curve as quickly and effectively as possible. If you can, give them a mentor and/or coach to give them the best possible start. This can be someone internal if they have the skills and time to fulfil the role, otherwise use someone from outside. This relatively small investment will provide a truly significant return.

8. Assessment
Most organisations apply a 3 or 6 month probationary period to new recruits but often don’t apply a structured approach to making the most of it, either for the organisation or for the individual. Independently led regular assessments and reviews during the probationary period will ensure that both parties are held accountable for giving new recruits the best possible opportunity to settle in and prove that they meet expectations.

Next time you are recruiting for this pivotal role don’t forget to consider the above and you won’t go far wrong. If you need any support during the recruitment or settling in of project management professionals, why not get in touch with the team at ProjExc. Good luck!

PM Answers just got more interesting

We are delighted to announce that the much anticipated PM Answers Club has launched.

In response to numerous requests for a low cost, great value project manager coaching and mentoring solution PM Advisor has this week launched PM Answers Club.

PM Answers

A unique resource providing project managers with honest advice from renowned experts on their project management issues

All professionals need support to develop and grow from time to time.  Project Managers in particular have a great deal of expectation placed upon them in terms of ability, specific skills and experience.  Increasingly PMs are assigned, despite them not necessarily carrying all of the pre-requisite competence.  Traditionally, in-house mentors have been a major part of the solution, but big business is under increasing pressure to do more with less.  More and more project professionals are working in smaller organisations where there is little or no expert support available.  These factors mean that external expertise is needed.  However competence development budgets are constantly being squeezed, and so there is understandably a need for great value, both in terms of quality, time and budget.

That is where the PM Answers ‘Club’ from PM Advisor can help.  This new and unique service provides a personally blended mix of learning, mentoring and coaching, built from modules of group and individual sessions led by expert PM Advisors.  Sessions are held securely online, and your first Group Learning session is free!  To secure your taster session download and email this application form.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Project Management News Digest w45 2013

News DigestNew Project Collaboration Tool, Updatey in Beta

Updatey

The British RawJam team are going after 37Signals’ Basecamp space, with it’s new tool, Updatey, and judging by the Beta it looks good.

Updatey presentation is really simple, but it still packs a punch.  It’s focus is allowing the project team to visualise & track the progress of your projects, keeping new and existing team members updated both on the project timeline with milestones and the activity line.

Once you have put in your start date and some milestones your project is up and running.  You can then invite team members to join in, by posting and watching status updates and documents to the activity line.

Updatey

New PM Tool called Updatey

We’re using the Beta at present, with good first impressions, and will post a fuller review as the product develops.

Telerik Extend their Agile Project Management Reach

Telerik

Version 3.0 of TeamPulse now supports access to multiple data sources via a RESTful API

And Another Project Collaboration Tool – WorkZone

TechRepublic

Will Kelly looks at another collaboration tool, which appears to be another “me too”.

Project Managers – Use the Language of Your Audience

Business2Community

Norman Marks provides a salultory tale of the importance of communicating with your audience in their language.

The Integration of Agile and the Project Management Office

InfoQ

Peter Schmidt from ESI provides an insightful insight into the worlds of Agile and Waterfall working together in harmony for organisational benefit.

From To Do Lists to Managing Projects – The Path From Personal to Professional Management

ProjectAccelerator

An interesting observational from Lucian Ioan sees the journey of organisation:

Calendar

Get Organised

  • Know what to do and when
  • Prepare for battle
  • To mix or not to mix
  • GoPro
  • Less tools, more thinking

This is all good stuff, and if you also break the procrastination habit you’ll be suitably organised.

5 Quick Tips for Making Critical Thinking a Habit

PM Champion

  1. Have an open perspective
  2. Keep focused and avoid getting distracted
  3. Ask questions and provoke debate
  4. Learn to multi-task
  5. Control your stress

How to Make the Most of a Project Manager

Tech City News

Wise words concluding that “if you don’t employ a PM, it’s likely your project will still get delivered but at the cost of a lower profit margin, a less satisfied client and a more frazzled team. And who wants that?”.

How to Make Project Management a Learned Skill and Behaviour

TechRepublic

Will Kelly interviewed Dean Carlson, CEO of Viewpath, and Avinoam Nowogrodski, CEO of Clarizen, exploring he importance of project management becoming a learned skill and behavior for the entire project team.

PM Answers to your burning Project Management Question?

PM Answers from PM Advisor.

PM Answers

A unique resource providing project managers with honest advice from renowned experts on their project management issues

Have you got a burning project management question or issue that you are looking for an answer to?

Ask us.  Our project management experts will do their best to answer your question, or point you in the right direction.  The best questions, along with our answers, will be posted back onto the PM Advisor site.  This allows others in the PM Advisor community to benefit from the advice,  and to add their comments, ideas or other pearls of wisdom, creating a unique community directed Q&A forum.

Project Management News Digest w41 2013

NewsDigestProject Management Frameworks for SMEs

Project Accelerator

More and more organisations are looking for a Framework for successful project management, and for SMEs PRINCE2 can be overkill.

Handbook of People in Project Management

A new PM book by Dennis Lock and Lindsay Scott looking at one of (and probably the most important) the 3 elements for project success – people.

UK Economy Strengthening – Signs in the Projects World

Two of the biggest indicators that the UK economy seems finally to be turning the corner to us here are:
  1. There is a steadily increasing number of PM jobs being advertised, and
  2. There are more people talking to us about now being the time to take the plunge in that big project, where would they find a good PM, and how would be the best way to apply appropriate governance to the project.
Both suggest that projects are being started, and we all know that projects are huge investments.

Flow Upgrades to Full PM Suite

The web and iOS tool has been updated with additional team functionalities.

The Power of Project Governance

An interesting insight and useful checklist from Anita Potgieter.  We’re not sure that the only project management system is Project Server 2013 though!

APM Launches The PM Channel

A great online resource with on demand PM training & development

Glossary of IT PM Terms You Should Know

TechRepublic

Wrike Raises $10m from Bain Capital for PM Tools

AllThingsDigital

New Infographic Shows the Need for a PMO

The Intersect Group

5 Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make As A PM

  1. Omission of milestones
  2. Disregarding your risk log
  3. Failing to communicate
  4. Losing sight of the big picture
  5. Not updating your calendar
5 Best Personal PM Tools
Lifehacker recently asked their readers to describe their best personal project management tool.  The top 5 were.  Some interesting surprises there..
  1. Asana
  2. Troll
  3. Microsoft OneNote
  4. Evernote
  5. Azendoo
5 Best PM Techniques to Steal
  1. Kanban
  2. Scrum
  3. GTD
  4. CCPM
  5. Kaizen
Popular iOS Mindmapping Tool iThoughts Now On OSX
iThoughtsX

Did we miss something?  Let us know.