PMTimes_Dec28_2022

Best of: How to Write a Proper Project Management Plan?

You have a big project and you know that the basis of successfully executing lies in the project management plan.

 

The pressure is rising. But there is no need for you to get overwhelmed because all you need is some guidance on how to write the project management plan.

Writing a project management plan will help you present important elements such as goals, objectives, timelines, and so on. If you know how to put those ideas and plans in writing effectively, you’ll be able to have everyone on your side in no time. To speed things up, these tips on how to write a proper project management plan will save you from stressing about how your plan will turn out. Let’s get started!

 

Identify Clients’ Needs and Expectations

Clients are the ones who need to accept your plan and see potential in it. Instead of writing and rewriting the plan numerous times, talk to the clients at the very beginning.

Discuss with them their goals, ideas, the value of the project, expectations, budget, timeline, etc. Ask anything that will help you determine what they want.

Having this information clearly defined from the very start will instantly give you pointers on what you need to focus on and in which direction your planning should go.

Write everything they say and prepare a basis for your plan. Use a Scope Statement Document to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

 

Set Out Goals

Based on research, the executive leaders claim that a lack of clear goals accounts for 37% of project failure.

Clear goals help you plan out deadlines, requirements, and tasks that need to be fulfilled.

There is an organizational goal-setting tool used by Google and Intel. It is called Objective & Key Results (OKRs). This goal setting technique can help you identify and set your goals.

You can create a project plan board for your goals to have an overview of your ideas and how the process should go to meet the planned goals.

What is important during the goal-setting phase is that you also prioritize them. If you don’t prioritize the goals it will affect the project process.

Discuss Your Plan with Your Team

Every project consists of a team of people who will be designated to execute that plan. Those people are just as important as the project manager.

Get in touch with your team and express your ideas and goals. Ask them about the timeline, whether they find it manageable. Consider their ideas and suggestion.

In this way, you’ll look at your plan more objectively. If your team agrees with your ideas, you’ll know that you can look forward to successful cooperation.

 

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Create a Schedule

A project schedule can sometimes be the toughest for project managers to determine. The reason why is that you need to calculate how much time each task demands in order to determine the final deadline.

You need to think about deadlines within the project as well as the final deadline. Setting just the final deadline will give you too much space to improvise during the project execution and that is not advisable.

Creating a clear schedule will also make the project more manageable and give the team a better structure and organization.

If you want to visualize your schedule, try out the Gantt chart tool. Those who are visual learners can have a better understanding of the project’s organization if they can see and follow up on the timeline.

 

Set Milestones

Firm milestones are a must for a successful project. They need to be in line with the timeline.

Every team member should know their timeline and milestone because the work they do affects whether the project will be developed according to plan.

Stating milestones in advance will help you show the clients that you have a specific plan in mind. It will also help your team members understand their duties and obligations.

These project planning steps will help you meet the goals as well as meet the set deadlines.

Not to mention that milestones make it easier for the project manager to keep track of the project process.

 

Identify Potential Risks

As much as we would all like that everything goes according to plan, you should still understand that no plan is risk-free.

Write down all potential risks and issues that can affect the project execution. For example, an employee getting sick and not being able to work.

Why is identifying risk so important? Because it gives you the time to think about solutions in advance and prepare yourself for some other options.

You need to think about steps that help you to prevent those risks as well as to manage them if they do happen.

 

Outline the Project

Before you start writing the final plan, it is better that you write the outline first. Having all this information about the planning process can be confusing, so it is normal that you go back and forth and make some changes.

However, it is better that you correct the outline than the final plan.

It is very helpful to have some guidelines before you start with the plan.

 

Write and Present the Plan

Once you’ve finished all the previous steps it is time to get to writing. You’ll realize how setting out all the important elements of the project and outlining the plan will help you to write the plan easily.

When you’re all done with the writing and you feel confident about your planning and writing skills, it is time to present the plan and get that approval that you deserve! Good luck!

 

Published on: February 26, 2020

PMTimes_Dec27_2022

Best of: Top 10 Ideal Management Strategies for Project Manager

Organizations around the world carry out projects that are purposeful to their causes and ultimately provide them a means to accomplish their objectives.

 

However, one of the biggest challenges considered to carry out successful projects is to make sure that they are completed on schedule, remain within the predefined budgets, and show little to no disparity between the actual and calculated quality of work. Therefore, projects are an extensive undertaking, and the one managing all the responsibility is none other than an assigned project manager. Things can get pretty stressful at times, to say the least.

According to a study posted on Workamajig.com, only 58% of organizations fully grasp the value of project management, whereas 93% of them utilize standard project management practices. Hence, there is no doubt that there is a need to help project managers formulate strategies that they can implement to accomplish their goals and targets successfully. In this post, we offer you some of the best ways through which a project manager can ensure triumph over all odds while responding to their duties. So let’s take a quick look at each one of them:

 

Best Strategies to Manage your Projects

·       Always Choose the Right Resource

There is a great deal of emphasis made by several project managers that failure to choose the right resource can affect not only your overall productivity but can also dampen the quality of work that you produce. Choosing the right resource over here means the best option for each particular task or sub-task that allows you to deliver sub-goals and main objectives in less time, cost, and better quality. Evaluate your options and pick the ones that reduce your time taken to complete the task, is less expensive, and delivers the standard of work that is above your desired expectations.

 

·       Celebrate Incremental Achievements

Motivating your team members and keeping them high spirited through the project is highly important. At times you will find many milestones lying ahead of you in a project before it reaches its completion. Identification of these milestones is important, and this is where the project manager needs to do their part. However, once a milestone is achieved, you need to make sure that there is some sort of celebration. This will allow your team members and the workers involved to blow off some steam as well as rejuvenate themselves as well. Projects can be long and tedious, positive reinforcements in between keep your team enthusiastic and passionate to reach the end goal.

 

·       Finalize Everything on Paper

Without a proper plan or study of what kind of journey you’re going to embark on, there is no need to make efforts. First and foremost, you need to point out all the necessary details and get them in writing. This will allow you to keep a record for safekeeping as well as your line of reference before the initiation of the project. Having things jotted down also offers you a solid position to look back on so that if you find yourself currently deviating from the actual pathway, you can redirect yourselves and your team to the correct track of things.

 

·       Determine Methodologies

Popular methodologies for project management include Agile, Lean, Kanban, Scrum, Six Sigma, and Waterfall. Each methodology focuses on different aspects of a project, undertakings, and apply various approaches to get things done in an orderly manner. Each methodology also offers quite an extensive list of mechanism which needs more time and space to discuss in detail. They all require a separate discussion in their own right, to say the least. Plus, you can also find a lot of material online to increase your pool of knowledge about them.

 

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Define Roles

There is a reason why we are asking you to perform this seemingly mundane task. First of all, defining roles is adamant to keeping your staff in-line with their duties. They need to be held accountable and responsible for the different tasks they have been assigned under your leadership. Plus, defining roles also helps you set the hierarchy and the line of command for your teams. This means irrelevant communications and wastage of time in being idol can be avoided. Roles should be clearly defined so that they relay important information for every member and worker who is taking part in the project.

 

·       Keep Track of Milestones

Tracking milestones are essential as you need to validate how far you and your team have come since the beginning of the project. It can also offer you reassurance if you are following the right track and keeping up with the predefined schedule for the project’s sub-tasks and main tasks. Lastly, it can also help you to increase the intensity of your efforts if you find yourself lagging behind. Thus you will know when to work hard and when to give your team a bit of refreshment so that they can recharge their energies—knowing the difference between the two matters a lot since it can help you keep things functioning in proper order.

 

·       Monitoring & Controlling Operations

If you need to measure your team’s performance, then you need to create a yardstick to which you can compare their efforts. Monitoring and controlling your team’s input and output allows you to understand your day-to-day operations’ various strengths and weaknesses. There are several ways you can do this. Like for example, you can have a benchmark analysis or set strict standards that your team needs to abide by under all circumstances.

 

·       Project Budget vs Project Scope

The project budget allows you to cater to your financial needs and requirements for completing the project. In contrast, the project scope defines the parameters and boundaries for you and your team who have undertaken the project. This can include various tasks that need to be completed. Combine the two, and you get a comparative analysis or a liner graph on which you can study how your team is performing. Not only do you have to keep in line with the predefined budget, but also make sure that your initially planned project’s scope remains unharmed.

 

·       Stakeholder Expectations

The ones who provide you with the duty to complete the project often have something huge at stake. These stakeholders have certain expectations. You must know these anticipated values. However, if you take the directions from your stakeholders to manage your project, make sure they are extensive and detailed. The more information you have, the less disparity will be there at the end when the project is completed. If you follow this approach, you need to make sure that you gratify every stakeholder’s expectations; otherwise, you might not receive that pat on the back you were expecting from them.

 

·       Utilize Analysis and Evaluations

Lastly, there are several ways to analyze and evaluate your performance for a project. Analysis can include risk, financial, and PERT, to name a few. For your evaluations, you can apply the Internal Rate of Return, Net Present Value, Payback Method, and Profitability Index apart from various other techniques.

 

Conclusion

Managing projects are not an easy task, and that is why not every gifted manager can be requested to become a project manager. There is, at times, a lot of financial investment and risk involved in projects, which is why you need a very mature person who has shown a brilliant track record in the past, to be asked to undertake this huge responsibility. Stakeholders are impossible to deal with if the project does not deliver according to their anticipations and fails to gratify their requirements. We hope this post was able to offer you enough strategies to go all out and make your projects successful.

 

Published on: June 17, 2020
PMTimes_Dec21_2022

Best of: The Paradox of Patience, Planning and Expectations

If your goal is optimal performance, cultivate the mindful awareness that enables clarity and responsiveness. Accept and work with paradoxes to embrace both-and thinking.

A well-respected mindfulness meditation master, advised that “A mind which thinks, expects, and plans, blocks off wisdom.” Following this advice would leave most of our projects at sea without a rudder. That is the problem with a great deal of the mindfulness teachings that have become common in the project management and general business communities – over simplification. The wise embrace both-and thinking.

The full quote is:
“Notice every time the mind is eager for
results and remind yourself of the right attitude.
You need to practice patience.
Only when the mind is simple, can wisdom develop.
A mind which thinks, expects, and plans, blocks off wisdom.” Tejaniya

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ability to objectively observe everything occurring within and externally. It is beneficial, based on many studies and personal experience. Mindfulness techniques – formal and informal meditation methods – increase mindfulness and concentration. Mindfulness enables responsiveness as opposed to reactivity. Concentration brings calm, relieves stress and enables focus in the face of distractions. Together with effort mindfulness and concentration promote wisdom.

But how many project managers will sign up for simple mindedness? How many organizations will hire simple minded project managers who are not eager for results? Not many.

 

The Wisdom of Paradox – Eager and Patient

Yet, there is wisdom in the master’s advice. Like all quotes it is taken out of context. No meaningful statement about the nature of mind and mindfulness is absolutely true. There is paradox – events or ideas that are unlikely to coexist. Paradox is “seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true:” Oxford Dictionaries.

Investigating more deeply, we can know that to be aware of the eagerness for results and to have patience is good advice. Over eagerness in projects leads to rushing to complete, by-passing risk management, testing, and other parts of planning and controlling the project. The over eager stakeholder is more likely to make mistakes and set unreasonable expectations. The eager stakeholder is motivated to achieve.

 

Right Attitude – Patience

The “right attitude,” is to be both eager and patient. Patience is a tough one, particularly when faced with high ranking stakeholders who are eager for results. Patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset:” Oxford Dictionaries

Patience requires a stepping back to mindfully observe the uncomfortable feelings that get in the way of consciously taking stock of the situation, planning, communicating, and establishing the most effective foundation for performance. Alan Lokos, in his book “Patience:The Art of Peaceful Living” makes the point that patience is not passivity. Patience is taking control of thinking, speech, and action so that what you say and do makes good sense and gets the results that you want. Patience is an ingredient for effective project management and performance.

Practicing patience requires effort. It requires the ability to notice and be able to accept the urge to dismiss the annoying functional manager or team member who is ‘obstructing’ progress. Noticing and accepting are part of the practice of mindfulness. When I teach meditation practices, I often recommend “sitting with an itch,” patiently waiting for the itch to change or disappear on its own rather than scratching it. Try it the next time you have an annoying itch. It builds the patience “muscle.”

 

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Who Wants a Simple Mind?

Now lets turn our attention to “Only when the mind is simple, can wisdom develop.”

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein

To have a simple mind does not mean to be simple minded. A simple mind, in the context of mindful awareness, is a calm mind that sees things objectively, as they are. There is elegance in simplicity. The simple mind can integrate the sophisticated, complex skills and thoughts needed to manage and perform complex tasks in a complex, changing environment. The simple mind is free of the unnecessary noise of biases, confusion, and obsessive thinking.

Bertrand Russell said, “Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.” The simple mind, the mind that is mindfully aware, sits behind it all, open-minded, free of the comforting convictions. It observes objectively. The simple mind is like the eye of the storm – calm and clear while the storm rages. The flies are still there but they no longer get in the way of clear, focused thinking. In fact, mindful awareness promotes greater clarity and focus.

We can have a simple mind and simultaneously achieve objectives by applying our intelligence, skills and knowledge.

 

Planning, Expectations and Wisdom

To say that “A mind which thinks, expects, and plans, blocks off wisdom.” is overly simplistic. It is misleading. It is the kind of thing that can drive people, particularly project managers, away from the practice of mindfulness and the benefits it brings. The meaning is clarified by saying that a mind that is distracted by thinking, that unrealistically expects, and over-plans blocks off wisdom.

Wisdom is seeing things as they are and having wise intention. Wisdom can be blocked by Russell’s “flies.”

In Buddhist thought, things are impermanent, imperfect and the result of a continuous process of causes and effects. Wise intention is to give up the causes of suffering, cultivate good will, do no harm, and to ethically achieve objectives to benefit stakeholders.

Expectations are normal. Planning is necessary if you want to successfully achieve project goals and satisfy stakeholder expectations. However, having irrational, unrealistic expectations leads to disappointment and suffering. Constantly changing the plan moment to moment, gets in the way of being in the moment and performing optimally.

 

The Bottom-line

In the spirit of both-and thinking, we can say that we can both be patient and take skillful action. We can keep the mind simple and apply complex skills and knowledge to complex problems. And we can expect and plan and be in the moment, performing optimally, while allowing wisdom to develop.

Mindful awareness is the foundation for optimal performance. Cultivate it by practicing to focus the mind and open it to the full range of internal and external experience. Practice both-and thinking.

 

Published on: November 18, 2020
PMTimes_Dec20_2022

Best of: 5 Unique Experiences a Project Manager Should Include on a CV

Recruitment for project management jobs can be ruthless and fast-paced. Experts say you have 6 seconds to make a great first impression before your CV lands squarely in the rejection pile. In this case, well-established experience, a diverse skill set and unique character will set you apart. But how can all this be communicated quickly on a piece of paper?

 

The best way to stand out from the masses is to look beyond standard experiences that decorate the resumes of every other management candidate. Hundreds of professionals have earned a degree in business, but employable attributes can come from many experiences. A skill-based hobby, extra study or work abroad are a great addition. The best CV examples will incorporate experiences that are unique to the applicant in order to land that dream job.

Extra Study

Adult education is an important part of professional growth for every employee. Additional study, whether undertaken in the form of an online course or workshop, compliments your skill set and can give your resume great curb appeal.

Related Article: Attributes of an Exceptional Project Manager

As a project manager, it is necessary for you to actively demonstrate an ability to learn new ideas quickly and process information efficiently. These attributes can be cultivated in the classroom. A Diploma of Project Management that sits alongside additional training in an Agile Management will greatly increase your appeal to employers.

A great CV will need to go beyond simply listing the course title and date, and provide a clear outline of the tangible abilities learnt and how these are applicable to the role of project manager.

 

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Travel Abroad

Working abroad can be an incredible experience to include on your application. It is a unique opportunity that will not only add interest to your CV but indicates your good character to recruiters. Travelling requires maturity, adaptation, and responsibility – all attributes of a leading project manager.

Your travel adventures are a great way to display your personality during an interview. Sharing some of the exciting moments and achievements with a potential employer will set you up as a professional who is relatable and most importantly, open-minded.

It is no secret that most international work opportunities involve rigorous selection, making it an inspiring milestone to be included on the CV of every professional.

 

Volunteer Work

Your leisure time is valuable and using this to support a not-for-profit activity signposts excellent moral fibre. It suggests to a recruiter right off the bat that you can recognise and respond to your values and are loyal to more than just the highest dollar. An employee that has genuine care for their work is an invaluable asset to a business.

Exemplary managers will lead their team with complete dedication and careful attention to detail. This kind of attentiveness is cultivated by more than the promise of a fortnightly salary and makes an important component for a successful career in project management.

Whether you are a regular volunteer at charitable fundraisers or spend the weekend participating in community workshops, these are all different experiences that can help you to succeed in your next application.

 

Coaching

Taking on the position of head coach for the senior basketball team should not be undervalued. Project management involves functioning as part of a wider team and ensuring that everyone works productively – coaching a sport is no different. In fact, this experience can instill many of the great leadership qualities valued by employers.

Coaching is a prominent example of your ability to transform a leisure activity into a highly sought after skill. As a coach, you would be expected to understand each player, develop tactics, coordinate roles and monitor individual achievement. Each of these tasks forms an intrinsic part of project management.

Of course, it’s important not to write an essay on your in-depth understanding of the position of point guard, or how you won the premiership 5 years ago. Keep it concise and focus on your role and the skills you gained.

 

Side projects

A venture that you have invested time and passion into is worth a mention to any potential employer. Whether it’s a personal blog or public speaking stunt on the weekend, acknowledging your interests will enhance your experience, show individual character and in doing so, catch the attention of recruiters.

Side pursuits are great to incorporate into a small summary or in the opening letter of your application. Balancing the professional and the personal will help your CV to stand out in the job search as exactly the leading project manager they’re looking for.

PMTimes_Dec14_2022

Authentic and Vulnerable Leadership: Ways to Put it into Practice Today

“Authentic”, “vulnerable”, “empathic”, “emotionally intelligent”… these are positive attributes often sought in leaders and cited as essential elements of effective leadership in the contemporary work environment. But how deeply are these concepts really understood, and how can they genuinely be expressed day-to-day?

But first… What does authentic and vulnerable leadership really mean?

To answer that question, we must first define What is a leader? A leader can be defined as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and who has the courage to develop that potential. Leadership is not necessarily based on a position you hold or authority you are given. It’s not something you are, it’s something you do and should be seen as a shared relationship between yourself and those you lead.

To become vulnerable and authentic as a leader, you must understand what armor you wear, and disarm yourself. ‘Armor’ can look like many different things such as being withdrawn/withholding information, seeking to please and appease or trying to gain power over others using tactics such as shame. None of these approaches will have positive outcomes on the wellbeing of your team or activities, so it’s essential that you understand any such biases, assumptions and behaviors that may be limiting your effectiveness as a leader.

You may also need to shift your understanding of vulnerability. Which is not, as it may commonly be thought of as, a weakness. It is showing up with an open heart and mind so that you can act in the best interests of your team and the work at hand.

Putting it into practice: Ways to communicate with vulnerability and integrity

Leadership is never put to the test more than when challenges arise among projects or teams and difficult conversations must be had. Rather than negative challenges, however, you can see these as ideal opportunities to practice your authenticity and vulnerability as a leader and explore the positive effects these qualities can have on desired outcomes.

Here are four practical steps you can use to prepare and approach a difficult conversation with vulnerability and authenticity:

  1. Prepare yourself
  • Understand the history and current circumstances
    • Who is involved/impacted?
    • Have you been part of the problem?
    • What would an ideal outcome be?
  • Think broadly about a resolution: how might this look for this particular person/situation?
  • What are options are available to achieve this?
  • What positive benefits can you foresee?
  • What support will be required now and in the future to achieve lasting change?

 

  1. Prepare your message
  • What do you really want to communicate?
  • What’s your opening statement?
  • How might they respond?
  • If they won’t acknowledge your feedback, what will you do next? Might you tell them what you intend to do and why it’s important for the greater goals of the team/work?
  • General conversation tips:
    • Clearly deliver the facts
    • Keep calm
    • Don’t get emotional
    • Avoid aggression or blame
    • Stay objective
    • Be helpful (you have good intentions)
    • Pause and really listen to their responses.

 

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  1. Prepare the environment
  • What information do you need to give the other party to help them prepare properly?
  • What is the best time for the conversation?
  • Where will you have the conversation? Neutral ground? Over coffee?
  • Do you/they need a third party present?
  • Most importantly, how are you going to build psychological safety?

 

  1. Prepare the person
  • Will you let them know in advance what the conversation is about?
  • If so, what do you need to tell them?
  • How much notice should you give them?
  • What else do you need to do or do they need to know?

 

With all of this preparation done, you are ready to have your dialogue. A simple framework for authentic dialogue can look like:

  • Name the issue.
  • Select a specific example that illustrates the behavior or situation you want to change.
  • Describe your emotions about this issue.
  • Clarify what is at stake.
  • Identify your contribution to this problem (as relevant).
  • Indicate your wish to resolve the issue.
  • Invite your partner to respond.

What does authentic and vulnerable leadership look like to you? How do you put it into practice as a leader?