Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with - or even disagree with - leave a comment.

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Five Ways Gen Y Will Alter Project Management

Categories: Generational PM, IT

The future of organizations is in the hands of Gen Y. Most Gen X-ers are probably now in senior management positions or a few may even be retired. So the real execution champions of the future are in Gen Y — the age group that, in the context of business, I consider to be 20- to 35-year-olds.

The fundamental difference between Gen Y and Gen X is that members of the former have had easy, ready-access to technology for much of their lives. This significantly influenced and changed the generation's behavior, needs and expectations. It follows that project management in the era of Gen Y will also undergo significant changes. 

Here are five ways I think the Gen Y workforce will change project management:

1. Make it lean. Gen Y does not read large volumes of manuals. After careful observation, I have found that any information taking more than 15 minutes to find, read, understand and analyze makes Gen Y project managers impatient. The change I foresee is a tremendous re-engineering of project management processes to make them simple and lean. And of course, technology will play a key role. 

2. Make it digital. By "digitization," I mean embedding technologies like mobile, social and analytics into processes. Project management with digital capabilities will increasingly allow Gen Y — or any generation — to perform work from anywhere, anytime and connect with mentors, experts and colleagues in real-time through collaboration networks. 

Digitization will also continue fulfill the generation's expectations for high predictability (through analytics) and inclination to push information to a project team proactively. 

3. Make it emotional. From my experience, Gen Y likes to hear real-life project experiences and stories from seniors, mentors and coaches. They do not like to hear lectures and speeches. Therefore, storytelling in projects will become necessary to keep Gen Y engaged and motivated. This significantly impacts the leadership style of managers, who will need to move beyond how-to lessons and speak of past experiences "in the trenches."

4. Make it enjoyable. Gen Y expects transparency and immediate recognition for work via technology. Any existing project management process that includes performance assessments that are partly objective, highly subjective and human-dependent will fail to meet the speed and needs of the new project teams. I predict gamification mechanics, such as points, badges, leader boards and levels, will become a part of many a project management system.

5. Make it flat. Gen Y doesn't like to work in strict hierarchical structures or environment. Organizations will have to revisit their project structures and change their leadership styles to be more engaging, collaborative and approachable. If not, Gen Y won't hesitate to leave an organization if the environment does not suit their expectations or mindset.

What other changes do you think a digital-savvy Gen Y will bring to the profession? 

Learn about the benefits of mentoring younger project practitioners at PMI's Career Central.

Posted by V. Srinivasa Rao on: March 15, 2013 12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

7 Project Management Trends to Watch

Each year, there are new trends in project management. I wanted to weigh in with a few of my thoughts on what they might be this decade.

1. Beyond the triple constraint
Organizations have been looking to have a good mix of project, program and portfolio managers. Organizations should re-design and build project management systems thinking beyond the triple constraint.

The combined power of project portfolio, program and project management enables delivering business results not limited to the triple constraint.
For example, if a project was delivered on time, within budget and with required quality, but the project outcome doesn't provide expected value, then in my opinion, the project should not be considered successful.

As such, it behooves project managers to expand his or her career growth to acquire new skills and experience in the areas of program management and portfolio management.

2. SMAC project management
Due to the emergence of new projects in the social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC), organizations must make sure their project management approach includes new or refined project lifecycles, templates, checklists, best practices, lessons learned, estimation techniques, risk registers, etc.

Organizations must train project managers to prepare them for managing these SMAC projects by educating them on these trends and how (or if) they will affect them.

3. More projects, different business functions
Projects will start to be identified in different business functions where they might not exist very often, such as sales, marketing, alliances, human resources, etc. Marketing managers, sales managers, HR managers, finance managers and the like have to acquire project management skills to deliver better results in their respective functions.
 
Organizations should refine their project management strategy to include project lifecycles for all projects and training for all managers. Project Management Centers of Excellence (COE) have to focus on creating special learning assets to train managers on project management in other functions.
 
4. 'Project-ized' education
In academics, course curriculums will be increasingly 'project-ized.' An engineering course, for example, could have more than 40 projects in the span of four years. Implementing those projects will enable students to learn through multiple and cross-discipline subjects. Students could look back on all of the projects in those years as a "project portfolio."
 
5. Every employee is a project manager
Project management means having a mindset of systematic planning, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure. Every task should be considered as a tiny project.

For example, writing a software code as part of a larger IT project should be considered a tiny project. Project management principles will be applied to successfully deliver the code on time and with high quality.

Creating this mindset across an organization requires cultural change. In many organizations currently, only a few people focus on project management. With the practice of considering every task as a tiny project, the need to have 'self project management' becomes prominent.

The best way to train employees to think like project managers is through on-the-job training. Teach employees to create mini-work breakdown structures, mini-schedule, self-reviews and corrective actions.

6. Project entrepreneurship
Project entrepreneurship means project managers must develop an "entrepreneurial" mindset. This enables project managers to take on risks, foster innovation and focus on business value rather just looking at the traditional triple constraints.

7. Program management offices (PMOs) as profit centers
PMOs will be transformed from cost centers to profit centers. PMOs will build very high-end consulting skills and offer services to business units on a profit basis. PMOs will focus on an 'outside-in' perspective and move away from an 'inside-out' perspective. PMO drivers will be around customers, markets and the economy, and not just limited to internal efficiencies.

This means that project managers have to understand the outside-in perspective. They have to focus on outcome and the value to be delivered to customers.
 
Posted by V. Srinivasa Rao on: August 06, 2012 01:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Maintain Control in Lessons Learned

Categories: IT, Lessons Learned, Teams

In a traditional lessons learned session that is conducted face-to-face, project managers know each person who is present and his or her role on the project.

But technology today affords us the luxury of being able to do many things online -- such as holding a lessons learned session. We can engage with people across the country or someone who may be sitting right next door. Regardless of where someone is located, we must maintain a cordial and professional manner when we interact online.
 
When you have dispersed project teams -- and even sometimes otherwise -- getting people to stay focused and not be disrespectful to others in a lessons learned session is a challenge.
 
To overcome this, set the rules for participating in the session. Make sure participants understand them and agree to them. These rules should include:

  • Respect. Allow someone to make his post without experiencing sarcasm, blame or degradation. Emphasize open, honest and polite communications. Project team members will develop an appreciation for each other, the project manager and their organization.
  • Treat people as if they are right next to you. Use a tone of courtesy that can be recognized in any language. Respect the person's time and keep posts brief. Do not veer off on other conversations -- stick to the discussion.
  • Put a face to a name. Many applications allow photo uploads. When someone responds, everyone can see who is participating in the discussion.  
Setting the right tone in these sessions can lead to so many other opportunities. For example, when good feelings are engendered, it helps to build your team and other business relationships. You can learn more about each person, such as associations they may belong to or networking contacts that you can use for future collaborations and project guidance.
 
When you maintain control of the meeting and employ general courtesy, it keeps the discussion flowing and ensures everyone gets the information needed about lessons to be learned.
 
How do you maintain control in lessons learned sessions?


Posted by Bernadine Douglas on: June 20, 2012 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Project Management Adds Value to Operational IT Departments

Categories: IT

The structured approach of project management can add value to operational IT departments. What makes this work is the approach that the project management office (PMO) or the project management team defines in its project management methodology for release of the systems into production environments.

Operational departments should execute with a process often referred to as "steady state transfer." This process gives the project team the opportunity to validate all the key production processes such as the support, maintenance cycle, systems restore and sanity testing, which is the basic testing of the system functionality.

Project teams launch the steady state transfer after successful tests show the systems are ready to be released into the production environment.

This validation step -- to ensure that the system processes are well mapped between various support departments -- adds value to the operations teams. The validation step is done during project execution using the steady state transfer process -- and without generating special projects.

This validation step in the project management practice guarantees process interface manuals are updated with any changes to the processes and the test results.

The operational departments work with the project team to complete this task and thus make a smooth transition into the "steady state" of operation.

What processes does your organization use to achieve the same results?

See more posts on IT.
Read more from Dmitri.



Posted by Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL on: March 21, 2012 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Project Management Career Paths in IT Services Organizations

Categories: Career Help, IT

Project management plays a vital role to successfully deliver IT services to customers. Each IT service -- from strategy and consulting to platform migration -- has its own life cycle and project managers must be aware of the different phases, tasks and deliverables. This means IT services organizations must be dedicated to build qualified and competent project managers.

Career paths in project management help build the competencies in project management in an evolutionary manner. Career paths also provide a clear road map for the growth of the employees in the profession.

Those IT organizations that invest on designing the project management career path and relevant skills of the employees deliver excellent business value to customers.

In my opinion, there are nine "levels" of careers in IT services organizations. Titles depend on the organization, but in my experience, these are the levels:

Level 1: Entry-level employees with either a technical education background or a functional background may have titles such as software engineer or functional analyst.

Level 2: Employees at this level participate in requirements or business process analysis, high-level design, and technical specifications.

Level 3: This could be the team leader level. He or she might manage a team of three to four members and deliver part of project deliverables.

Level 4: This could be the project leader. He or she might manage a team of about 10 members and deliver small projects.

Level 5: This would be the project manager. He or she manages a team of 20 to 30 members and delivers multiple, medium-size projects or a large project.

Level 6: This is the senior project manager level. He or she manages a team of about 100 members and delivers multiple large projects.

Level 7: This is usually the program manager level, managing a team of about 200 people. He or she delivers complex program(s) for a single customer.

A delivery manager could also be at this level, managing a delivery unit with a team of 200 members. He or she delivers logically grouped projects based on technologies, customers, verticals or regions. For example, a delivery unit could consist of projects from different customers in the Middle East region.

Level 8: Usually the head of delivery, he or she delivers multiple complex IT programs or manages multiple delivery units.

Level 9: This is the chief delivery officer. He or she takes the responsibility of overall delivery of IT organization.

To move from one level to the next in the project management career path, it requires improving current competencies and learning new competencies.

To move up the career ladder, project managers should focus on the nine knowledge areas from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

They should also study The Standard for Program Management.

In addition, core competencies should include, but aren't limited to:

•    Project life-cycle management
•    Effort management
•    Software change management
•    Configuration management
•    Organization change management
•    Leadership skills
•    Multi-cultural team management
•    Global delivery model

Do you agree with these career levels? What skills should project managers focus on to move up the IT career ladder?

Editor's notePMI's Pathpro® is an online tool that organizations and practitioners can use to identify the skills and competencies needed to create a successful project management career path. 
 
Posted by V. Srinivasa Rao on: January 19, 2012 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
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