PM Network

PM Network is the award-winning professional magazine published monthly for members of the Project Management Institute. This blog will highlight some of the publication's valuable information and insights, keeping you up to date on industry trends.

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Recent Posts

Dealing With Robot Recruiting

Risky Robots

How to Deal With Bad Sponsor Behavior

Sharing the Learning

Voices That Offer You Value

Dealing With Robot Recruiting

Categories: careers, resumes

OK, the robots have not totally taken over all hiring functions, but there’s a fairly good chance that automation could play a role in winnowing down a stack of résumés to an initial cut.

What do you do? A little strategy is called for here.

As Lindsay Scott says in her “Career Q&A” column in this month’s PM Network®, today’s CVs must contain details that match the job requirements.

This means customization. Make sure your résumé emphasizes the same keywords as the job description.

“Take the first five roles and responsibilities the job posting mentions and tweak your profile, key achievements or recent experience to reference those requirements,” Ms. Scott says in her column. Then take your two most recent projects and use hard metrics such as budget and benefits delivered to complement the descriptions of your achievements with numbers.

Ms. Scott says the whole process of customizing should take 10 minutes each time you apply for a new job, and less than that in time. The approach also will screen openings for you to show if your experience truly aligns with those openings. If your CV doesn’t support each of the job’s top requirements, it’s time to move on to the next opportunity.

Check in with “Career Q&A” every other month in PM Network. Lindsay Scott will help you check all the right boxes to keep your career in growth mode.

What has your experience been with résumé customization?

Posted on: October 22, 2018 03:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Risky Robots

Categories: automation, risk management

Are you managing an automation project? Better get ready to up your risk management game. Whether it is robotic manufacturing or analysis of large amounts of data, project managers must be extra careful about errors that might be magnified in deployment.

One of the severest consequences of an automation problem happened in Britain when an algorithm failure in an automated health service system prevented women from receiving a digital reminder to schedule their mammograms. Some 450,000 patients in England missed breast-cancer screenings.

The cover story in October PM Network® will tell you how to anticipate the worst in automation projects. It also goes into what happens when you don’t take care to thoroughly plan, test and execute. Project managers quoted in the article recommend sitting with workers who perform tasks that will be automated to check whether their actions align with what was previously documented.

Leaving something out is a big, big risk. A telecom project team failed to fully integrate the operations and business support systems, resulting in customers receiving services but not getting billed for them. Uh-oh. A 20 percent budget increase was needed to fix the problem.

Testing is key to identifying unknown risks and ensuring effective deployments. The testing phase must be well-planned and comprehensive. But project teams need to balance the testing need with the reality of potential post-deployment problems. Having good data and documentation will help mitigate those risks and ensure the automation project delivers long-term benefits.

Finally, do not ignore the human risk. That refers to team members and other workers losing their jobs as a result of automation.

What is your experience with automation projects and the associated risks?


Posted on: October 02, 2018 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

How to Deal With Bad Sponsor Behavior

Categories: communication, leadership, sponsors

Project managers face many challenges every day. Whether it is a risk that suddenly becomes an issue, a deadline moving backwards or other unanticipated changes, the project life is rarely a picnic.

One challenge project managers don’t want to see is problem behavior by sponsors. Projects need sponsors to provide executive support and resources. So it is essential for the project manager to find ways to have working relationships with all types of sponsors.

An article in September’s PM Network® provides a roadmap of cringe-worthy sponsor behavior—and advice on how to deal with it. Sometimes the advice might appear counterintuitive, like offering calm empathy to an angry or even bullying sponsor. But it works!

For the micromanaging sponsor, a project manager might have a team meeting to review the governance and function of each team member. But don’t forget to find out why this type of sponsor feels the need to “get into the weeds”—there may be a legitimate reason.

The poor communicator makes it difficult to get answers—and answers you get tend to be vague or unspecific. Project managers might need to build more rapport with this type of sponsor and start with more open-ended questions. If this doesn’t work, perhaps a third party of similar or higher rank than the sponsor can trigger more complete communication.

A rubber-stamping sponsor might seem like a good thing, making approvals quick and easy. But if a project veers out of strategic alignment, this type of sponsor might not be helpful. If this happens, the project manager should talk with the sponsor about strategic alignment and seek to focus the sponsor’s attention on that. In some companies, the project manager might have to go to a higher-level manager once in a while to confirm strategic alignment.

Finally, the “AWOL” sponsor is just too hard to track down. How can the project manager get on that sponsor’s calendar? The answer to pinning down an overbooked sponsor might involve being available outside the usual working hours, or limiting a meeting request to 15 minutes. But if sponsor absenteeism is causing the project to slip, the project manager might have to suggest the use of a backup sponsor.

What have you done to keep projects on track despite these types of sponsors? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Posted on: September 14, 2018 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Sharing the Learning

Categories: lessons learned, megaprojects

I confess that I have a strong interest in transportation, especially trains. So I am thrilled with the cover photo on this month’s PM Network® magazine, which shows a train in a tunnel from London’s Crossrail, the largest infrastructure project in Europe.

For those working on major infrastructure projects, the thrill is not necessarily the train; it is the systematized effort to produce and share lessons learned from one megaproject team to future teams. The U.K. Parliament insisted the team creating Crossrail capture and curate lessons learned to help future megaproject teams be efficient and navigate complex challenges.

The initiative, called Crossrail Learning Legacy, generated and shared around 650 documents from decades of planning and 10 years of construction. All these lessons, ranging from contractor oversight to limiting environmental impact, are shared on Learning Legacy’s website.

To ensure the lessons’ value, the Learning Legacy team captured feedback from institutes representing areas such as civil engineering and occupational safety and health. Crossrail used that feedback and a review of a similar effort done by the 2012 Summer Olympics team to organize the information into 12 knowledge subject areas.

It was critical that each document explain what happened, what went well and what needed fixing. Finally, the information needed to offer recommendations for future projects.

So what were some key recommendations for future megaproject teams? Set up a governance structure to make sure the team could handle high-stakes contracts with large amounts of taxpayer funds; develop a benchmark to drive and improve contractors’ performance; increase project teams’ environmental awareness; and assess health and safety metrics frequently.

Did your project team ever do a major lessons-learned initiative to share your experiences? Please tell us how that worked in the comments.

Posted on: September 07, 2018 03:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Voices That Offer You Value

Categories: career, perspectives

While most of my PM Network® posts aim to draw you into one of our interesting feature stories, today my goal is to tell you about the Voices section of the magazine.

Voices is where you will gain information and perspectives that you can use right away. It’s a place where you can see the value proposition of your PMI membership.

This is especially true for one of our most popular Voices columns, Career Q&A. Written by Lindsay Scott, the director of program and project management at the recruitment firm Arras People, this column answers readers’ questions on getting ahead in your project management career. In August PM Network, Lindsay talks about whether volunteer work will help someone break into project management (training and networking might be a better bet), and protecting yourself from giving free advice when interviewing for new consulting engagements (avoid specifics in your answers).

PM Network’s Voices help you at all levels of your project management journey. In this month’s issue, several practitioners provide nugget-sized advice on what their greatest challenge was when adapting to agile approaches. Our leadership columnist focuses on creating a compelling vision for your team. The Culture Club column talks about the power of ritual. And, for an executive’s point of view, Inside Track turns to an insurance company CIO to tell how having someone in the C-suite with a project management background helps ensure that technology-related projects align with organizational strategy.

We do not neglect practitioners who are out there day in and day out, getting things done. The appropriately named Getting It Done articles are written by readers who enjoy sharing tips and techniques that might help you do your job.

The August issue gets it done with an article promoting cross-organizational approaches to manage risks on nuclear power plant projects. Another article advocates for cross-cultural training to improve global projects’ chances of success.

Be sure to turn to the Voices section of PM Network every month for valuable advice and opinions. If your projects and/or careers has been impacted by the magazine’s Voices, please share your story in the comments.

Posted on: August 22, 2018 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

"Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes."

- Chinese Proverb