If we want better projects, we need to be better at our project management. But is consistency and formality the answer? Is demanding adherence to a common process what is required to get to “better”? The evidence here is mixed.
Organizational charts can become a tangled mess of lines and overlapping boxes. The project manager must untangle this mess so the project can progress. Sounds like a little R&R is what we all need...
“Governance” is one of those words that consultants and managers like to throw around to make it sound like they know what they're talking about. It is also one of the most widely misused words--if not concepts--currently employed in organizations. Why this is, what it means (and doesn’t) and what it should represent are what this article explores.
It doesn’t seem to matter what methodologies are used--success is not a guarantee. While eyes always turn to the PM for blame, isn’t it time we examined why another significant party should also be sharing that burden?
Agile methods suggest replacing top-down, command-and-control management with empowered teams and shared leadership. That all sounds nice, but what exactly is shared leadership and how do you get it to happen?
While “blame” is not a constructive term to use in establishing where things went wrong, every element of a project should have clearly defined owners. If it isn’t clear where that ownership lies, there's a fundamental problem in the way your project is structured. Here we look at how we can establish that ownership--and ensure that the model is applied effectively.
Question: I work for a non-profit organization and am leading a five-year project supported by a grant. Four years in, I’m still unable to get cooperation from the participants (paid). How do I get them committed so that we have something to show for the five years of work?
|A.||There is no way to achieve performance goals in only five years unless you have full authority over these people. Ask the funder for another three years of funding.|
|B.||Find a few participants who you can pay extra to cooperate, and then use them as examples to shame the rest of the group into compliance.|
|C.||Create a clear performance structure with an irresistible payoff at the end, but be prepared to abide by your own rules if you want to change the participant’s behavior.|
|D.||Non-profit organizations are not planning to receive the expected outcomes promised, as they know from experience that only profit-driven projects can be successful.|
Governance is concerned with the best use of an organizations’ resources. Thus, effective IT planning processes are essential. Organizations must gain insight into (and ultimately retain control over) the demands being made on IT.
The stress of dealing with the governance committee can quickly cause the word “governance” to become a four-letter word. Learn how to work the system to make governance effective and actually helpful to the project.
As our two-part series concludes, we look at the three most common approaches to selecting PMs that one expert has seen in the business world: assigning the in-house subject matter expert, hiring a project management specialist and hiring a project management generalist. Warning: These aren't always best practices...
There are many ways that a project manager can find or create a community of support--and it extends beyond the project management office. Here we offer a few suggestions and starting points for finding communities for project managers.
When creating a project schedule, most project managers use templates or old project plans that can be repurposed for the new project. There are times, however, when it is necessary to build a schedule from scratch--a task that is far more difficult
Question: We are totally committed to agile in our production teams, but is there any way to use the agile philosophy for a sales team?
|A.||Agile was written by software developers, and any attempt to move it outside of that sweet spot has proven unsuccessful.|
|B.||The agile philosophy is appropriate for any group that needs a flexible approach to providing increased value to the organization through a collaborative approach.|
|C.||Since the Scrum methodology includes software prototyping, testing and rework, salespeople must learn enough code to experience those parts of the agile process to use it.|
|D.||The agile philosophy is appropriate for any group that needs a step-by-step solution that can be replicated by each team in the organization to provide product consistency.|
For a company and its associates to act responsibly and minimize exposure of data on mobile devices, the following actions need to be considered as a component of a collaborative agreement.
Meetings are the lifeblood of projects, but they can quickly dissolve into chaos if not facilitated correctly. A few tricks will keep things on track and the meeting finished on time.
Question: My project “teams” are random, siloed people housed all over the building. We never meet, and multiple project managers all use the same departmentalized individuals to complete activities. How do I get them to prioritize my work requests?
|A.||Ask your organization to restructure from a traditional hierarchy to a projectized organization.|
|B.||Offer free coffee mugs, t-shirts and award certificates each time someone completes an activity for your project.|
|C.||Show your manager that having these people moved to a common workspace for the duration of your project will add value to the project deliverables.|
|D.||Transition yourself from a project manager to a project leader and create a sense of connection and personal relationships between these random, siloed workers.|
It would be simple for a development team to use agile software development practices to improve their development process, likely reducing the injection of defects and possibly increasing their productivity. But what happens if they don’t? A lesson in communication and human behavior may help.
In the movie The Avengers, a team of super heroes joins forces to combat a threat that human forces cannot defeat. The PMO can learn valuable lessons from this story about how to assemble a powerful team (but please, no smashed buildings!).
Question: My organization outsources to save money, but it creates communication issues and other problems for my agile team. Can offshoring (outsourcing) work effectively for non-collocated agile groups?
|A.||Yes, but success may depend on how far away from your collocated team the outsourced resources are located.|
|B.||No. Agile practices stress collocated teams. If you are not based together, there is no way for an agile approach to be effective.|
|C.||Yes, but only if the teams switch the locations where they live every six months so that each group learns the language and culture of the other.|
|D.||No. Agile was created in the United States, and therefore it is only intended to work for American teams.|
In reading articles about the worst companies to work for (and their practices), there are many common elements that helped them qualify for such a distinction. Several of them focus on a symbiosis of employee and customer satisfaction.
All of the project planning in the world will not help a project if the resources working on it are not able to do their work. A careful look at the resources of the project--before and after the project plan is loaded--will keep them engaged instead of driving them away.
The project plan can be a strange environment of murky waters, but the adventurous project manager can see clearly if they dive in and explore the depths.
Whether a project manager has a lot of experience or none at all leading teams, there are some basic guidelines they can follow in order to lead people successfully. A trip back to high school shows us three key roles the PM must play.
Interruptions are one of the main battles we face each and every day. What can a PM learn from them about how to manage personal productivity in a world of digital distraction?