Project Management

PMO Setup T3 - Tips, Tools, and Techniques

Bringing you PMO Setup Tips, Tools, and Techniques for PMOs of all shapes and sizes.

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PowerPoint Presentation Tips

Planning tips from a mouse..!

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me..!

Project Manager Knowledge Areas

Who is to blame when a project fails?

PowerPoint Presentation Tips

Categories: PMO Tips

Presentation (noun) / the manner or style in which something is given.
Top 10 PowerPoint Presentation Tips
Over the years I have attended more than my fair share of presentations and I have certainly given more than my fair share. Always, in addition to hearing from speakers and learning from what they have to say, I am always on the lookout for presentation tips and techniques. Many people may think that good presenters were just born that way or are naturals, but I have found that not to be the case. Like with any craft, being good takes planning and practice. And in the case of giving a good presentation, it can also take having a good command and repertoire of some of the common and effective tips and techniques. So today, we have amassed a list of tips, ten altogether, for giving PowerPoint presentations.
  1. Simple Design: Keep the design of your PowerPoint presentation very basic and simple. Decorate sparingly, but beautifully. You want the information to jump off the page, not the design.
  2. Consistent Appearance: Have a consistent appearance throughout your presentation. Use the same font style and sizes throughout your presentation. Use color in a consistent way that adds meaning and fosters organization to your content. A poor choice of font styles, sizes, and colors can ruin an otherwise good presentation.
  3. Use of Contrast: Use contrast to help your audience easily view your presentation. Black text on a white background is great contrast and prints well, but also a boring choice. Experiment with colors to find the contrast of background and text that you like remember first and foremost that you don't want your audience to have to strain to guess what is on your slide.
  4. Apply Brilliance: Carefully select your colors to bring out your message. Using too many colors will weaken the color effect. Seek to match a few colors for design and then use good contrast to highlight your message. The combination of a few colors and contrast will produce brilliance and will be very pleasing on the eyes of your audience.
  5. KISS: We all are familiar with the term Keep It Simple, Stupid. A good rule to remember is that your slides are only there to support your talk, not to replace it. Be sure to tell your story and in your own words. Use slides to emphasize key points. If you read your slides, you may run the risk of putting your audience to sleep.
  6. Aha Message: In your presentation, make your message an aha message. This is not just a summary of your data or summary of your story, but an epiphany for your audience that is memorable.\
  7. Use Images: Use more images than text, but don't over decorate. A great image will convey not just words, but thoughts and emotions. Use images to visualize and explain your point.
  8. Don’t Be Foolish: Be mindful that your audience defines the content and context of your presentation. Use humor to complement your message as appropriate, but don't go overboard with it. The last thing you want is for your audience to remember your humor but not your message.
  9. Remember Your Audience: Always keep your audience in mind. Seek to understand what they know, what they need you to tell them, what they expect from you, what will help keep them focused on your presentation and message. If you lose sight of your audience, no amount of creative design, animation, and colors will bring them back.
  10. Practice: Years back, my high school golf coach would plead with me to practice like I play and play like I practice. This would be sage advice for giving presentations, especially to the executive team. Know you material inside and out. Practice giving your presentation and then give it with the same confidence, comfort, and control of your practice. Don't allow yourself to be unprepared to give your pitch.

Good luck...!

Posted on: November 02, 2012 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Planning tips from a mouse..!

Categories: PMO Tips

Rush (verb) / to move with urgent haste.
Planning tips from a mouse..!

Before your business customers and project sponsoring executives insist that your project managers jump right in and execute, ensure that sufficient time and ample thought is given to planning.

Planning takes time. Planning should take time. Ensure your project managers approach planning in a methodical and deliberate manner. The more complex the project, the more planning is required.

Generally speaking, unless there is a very good reason to do otherwise, don't let your project managers rush through planning or be rushed into and through it. A good project plan will enable your project managers to execute with speed, deliver the project and the product of the project, and avoid all of those “mouse traps” along the way.

Planning tips from a mouse. The early bird gets the worm, but it’s the second mouse, that gets the cheese.

Posted on: September 04, 2012 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me..!

Categories: PMO Tips

Fool (verb) / to trick or deceive some.
Fool me once shame on you, fool my twice shame on me..!

How many of you have heard the saying, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”..?

Usually, this saying is offered up to remind us not to be fooled by tricksters, those folks that offering you something that sounds too good to be true, and that almost always is. So, try to avoid being taken for a ride, and for heaven’s sakes, don’t be taken for a ride a second time.

So what does this have to do with the PMO? Well, I will get there, but I need you to stay with me on this for just a bit.

You see, the first I ever heard, or remember hearing, the expression, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” was at a process improvement class and it stayed with me ever since. The instructor, a process improvement expert, was making the point that often times in an organization when we experience a process defect, the first thing that we do is bitch about it in the break room, and to whoever will listen. And often, we find out that someone else experienced that same difficulty or process defect earlier and was similarly frustrated at the time. But no one did anything about it. No..!

So, time after time, one after another would experience the same, repeat, process defect. Whether that is a workflow defect, a tooling defect, a communication defect, or an input, output, or process defect.

Now, think about all of the various problems, issues, observations and/or lessons learned feedback we get to see everyday in the PMO. How many of these do we just allow to reoccur and how many do we take note of and fix? And why is it that for so many of us, and organizationally, our natural tendency is to just grin and bear it? INMJ - it's not my job.

It would like to suggest a new mantra for the PMO regarding these little defects, and that is, “Have a PMO process defect once, shame on our process; have the same defect again and again and again, shame on us..!"

Posted on: September 04, 2012 11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Project Manager Knowledge Areas

Categories: PMO Leadership

Knowledge (noun) / familiarity with someone or something.
Project Manager Knowledge Areas

Pick two. If I were to ask you to pick two of the following three areas of knowledge that you want you project managers to be adept in, which two would you pick?

  1. Knowledge in project management
  2. Knowledge of the business
  3. Knowledge of core technologies that drive the business

This is an age old discussion and debate. Usually the discussion concerns itself with whether or not a skilled PM can be effective cross-industry without being skilled in that industry. Often the example that follows is one of IT project management vs. construction project management.

That is an interesting discussion, but I have a more basic perspective. And that is not whether or not a skilled PM can be effective in different industry domains, rather can a skilled project manager be effective, at all, without an acceptable degree of knowledge of the business and knowledge of the core technologies that driven the business?

Not surprisingly, many PMO managers want to see their project managers have more expertise on the business side and in the technologies that enable and drive the business. However, there are those in the profession that would suggest that a project manager can be, effective and of value, in any project environment without needing to be industry savvy, skilled in the business, or technically deep. Really! And then there are those, that is, some project managers, that don’t care to be industry savvy or technical, preferring instead to just manage the project before them. These folks can tell you what drives Earned Value for a project, but they can't tell you what drives Market Value for their company. Hmn.

Consider the following.

  • How is it that some (not all of course) project managers regularly attend project management conferences and local chapter meetings to learn about project management (this is good of course), but they never seek to learn more about their business or to meet some of the divisions, departments, and people that make up their business?
  • How many of these project managers attend regular monthly meetings or conferences to extend their knowledge and skill in the industry of the company or to extend their knowledge and skill in the technologies that enable and drive their company’s business.

Or put another way, when a project begins to go wrong, is it really a technical project management issue that is behind the failing project? Or is it something else? And if it is that something else, what are we doing to ensure that our project managers have the skill they need to relate to, to recognize, and to manage that something else..?

Therein lies a real problem. Challenge your project managers to become experts in the company’s business and in the technologies that enable and drive the business. It will make them better project managers today, and for the future.

Posted on: August 29, 2012 10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Who is to blame when a project fails?

Categories: PMO Leadership

Blame (noun) / to assign responsibility for a fault or wrong.
Who is to blame when a project fails?

When a project fails, who is to blame? Should the blame fall entirely upon the project manager? Or, is a failed project the result of others not doing their work, whether that is the users responsible for but not providing clear requirements, the business analysts responsible for analyzing and validating the requirements, or the developers responsible for design and delivery of the solution, or perhaps management redirecting resources and jeopardizing the project.

Surely, the blame can be spread around. But, it is the project manager that is the person that must deliver the project and manage and be responsible for all issues and obstacles that stand in the way of successful project delivery. So, at the end of the day, there is only one person to blame for a failed project, the project manager.

Or, is something else really the blame.

According to Deming, “95% of a problem is the process, only 5% the people.” Perhaps not always, but more often than we would like to admit, project organizations have much better people skills and tools, than they do processes.  Treating project failure as a process defect, and correcting that defect, will likely be more beneficial to the organization and than berating the project manager, not to mention the right spot to place the blame.

Posted on: August 27, 2012 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

"Military justice is to justice what military music is to music."

- Groucho Marx