1. Play with whatever and whomever you have around you
If projects aren’t opportunities to produce “unique products or services”, introduce change to an organization, increase productivity or enhance the capabilities of your customer then they shouldn’t be in your project portfolio. That being said, projects present the chance to make a real difference, and that is FUN. Manage your projects like a “prison camp” and you or your project team won’t be creative, won’t grow, and will not make the most of the collective skills present on the project. Lighten up, take lunches together, organize a project ping-pong tournament or try a new project management tool – there are many free options on the internet. Create a project environment where you can work hard and constructively “play” a bit and watch your success rate soar!
Getting the Most from Your Project Staff: Part 1 of 3 Tips to Gain Commitment from Your Project TeamWritten by Brenda Hallman
What is reality is that project resources are often assigned work beyond your project and may even be involved in other projects. It is typical in the popular matrix project organization that team members do not report directly to the project manager, but rather a functional manager. This makes it even more important that the project manager have the skills to get work accomplished through others. Even the most experienced project managers continually report this as one of their top challenges.
Teams and organizations are constantly plagued by project execution errors and failures. These failures create an execution gap -- a gap between what an individual and/or team plans to do and what they actually do instead. Just as retention rapidly degrades after learning, so does project execution after strategic planning. So what can be done?
In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist, famously demonstrated a theory concluding that people start forgetting what they learn as soon as they learn it. In his "forgetting curve" study, he demonstrated that humans forget half of what they learn within an hour of learning it, and by the following day, they have forgotten a full two-thirds of the new information. Since Ebbinghaus' study, psychologists have discovered that there are many ways to improve retention and memory; however, if memory is so fragile, what is its impact on project execution and strategic planning – getting the things done that you and your team should do?
The key to successful communications is asking stakeholders what they need communicated to them, and then follow through and provide it to them. I have heard many new project managers complain of "backseat drivers" on their projects, always going around them, asking team members for status (i.e., asking "are we there yet?").
I suspect the reason for this is that many project managers act as if project status is top-secret, classified information that only the privileged few with top-secret clearance can receive. Consider that the project is operating on a "need to know" basis and your stakeholders really need to know. Mark it as confidential if you are so inclined (or if it is appropriate because you are actually dealing with confidential or sensitive data), but send out accurate and timely communications on a regular basis.
By managing the work and reporting the progress regularly to stakeholders, you will avoid the "backseat driver" syndrome.
Another benefit of this is that you will create the environment for the team to do their job uninterrupted without numerous disruptions from various stakeholders asking for status updates because you fail to provide updates sufficiently. If this is happening on your project, know this: it is the project manager's fault.
I'll share a story from my career.
In my colleague's haste to leave the office for vacation, she failed to update a stakeholder on a critical deliverable that was due at the end of the day. I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and became the unintended recipient of his frustration. He was extremely agitated and looking for anyone who could give him an update. I was able to get an update for him in less than five minutes and he had the information he needed and the assurance that his deliverable was on target. For something that took so little time and effort, it created a lot of unnecessary stress, frustration, and ill will. So ask yourself, is it worth it?
It is remarkable how many failing projects I have seen rescued throughout my career by improving communications and reporting. In many cases, beginning project managers did not understand their role and were not collecting or disseminating the information accurately or in a timely fashion. The work was in fact being completed; however, it was not being managed, thus timely handoffs (i.e., for dependent tasks) were not occurring between project team members. Nor was there any evidence of progress being presented to stakeholders. Therefore, stakeholders had the perception that the project was way behind schedule and they reported as such to their management. Of course, this causes a rippling effect of escalations. As soon as an experienced project manager reigned in and managed the team and got a handle on the work actually being accomplished, status was adjusted to reflect accomplishment accurately, handoffs between project team members occurred, and the project quickly was back on track. Performance reports present evidence of the work. Without them, how will anyone really know what is being accomplished along the way? The team works hard. It's your job as project manager to ensure this is reflected in your performance reports.
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Kanban can change your life. More specifically, it can change your professional life and how well you manage your projects.
Kanban provides an enormous range of invaluable capabilities to projects, such as efficiency, focus, communication, limiting work in process, prioritization, and visibility on status. There is great value for your teams using Kanban and for all team members regardless of their role. This article will take a look at some of the benefits reaped from implementing Kanban into your process.
Co-written by Richard Larson
Small projects have unique challenges over larger ones. Because they're small, it's tempting to skip the planning process and start executing the work. This phenomenon is especially true if projects perform tasks similar to previous work, which in turn leads to a natural tendency to skip planning and to start doing the work. Then, essential steps are sometimes omitted, done out of order, or done later than desired. Likewise, costly mistakes can occur when risks are missed by executing too soon. A small project that isn't planned enough can also ignore critical stakeholders, causing both resentment and rework.
"That's a slam dunk!"
"Just pass the puck (or "give me the ball"), I'll put it in the net!"
"All I needed was a decent set up, and I could have slammed it home!"
"Who dropped the ball?"
Volleyball Setter: Fixing the Problems"You touch every other ball and, if you screw up, you only have one more person to back you up. You can't go hide in the corner." - Kerri Walsh, Olympic Gold Medalist
Whether your project is about improving an existing product or service, managing change or implementing a new system, the same basic considerations are required when managing projects. Get these right and you will manage a successful project. Get them wrong and your project will be thwarted by challenges, issues and problems.
I hear this sentiment often from students who are new to project management or working in organizations that are new to project management.
Many of the business analysts, project managers and organisational leaders we work with lament their inability to appropriately communicate and influence the stakeholders with which they work. Needing to get a point across or to inspire the required action, they spend significant energy trying to share their passion or urgency for attention to the business matters at hand. Often it falls upon deaf ears or becomes lost in the tsunami of information we all have to handle.
Typically their messages are not wrong or misplaced and their sense of need is quite real. Why then do so many of these communications fail to achieve the desired result? Are they failing to utilize the right vocabulary for their target audience?