Project Management

The Money Files

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

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Who gets involved in project contracts? [Infographic]

Q1 tends to be a time when new budgets are approved and that means we’re starting to see requests for contracts with suppliers trickle through the PMO. It always takes a few weeks for budgets to get released, even if the intention is to start the work in January. By February, project teams are ready to get started, knowing that any further delay in the admin is going to put pressure on their ability to deliver by the dates from the business case. And that’s why all the supplier agreements seem to be floating around at the moment.

The infographic below talks about the major groups/people involved in putting together and approving supplier contracts for new third parties, but it’s the same people involved in renewing deals and reviewing an existing supplier to see if we want to give them more work.

 As with any internal process, this is probably a bit specific to certain environments and types of contract, and you might not see all of these roles in your business.

Equally, there might be some other key positions that have a part to play – I know that in one set of contract negotiations for a multi-million software project, my project sponsor attended every conversation, along with the technical architect. And just as well they did too: it created a great sense of common purpose and everyone was on the same page from the beginning.

Take the suggestions below as a starting point for opening up the conversation with your colleagues if you are creating new supplier agreements, so you can make sure the right people are involved from the start.

Read more about who gets involved in contracts.

Posted on: February 08, 2022 04:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

5 Reasons to Crash Your Schedule [Video]

Your sponsor has asked you to get the work done faster… who hasn’t been in that situation?! That’s one reason why you may want to crash your project schedule, but there are others. In the past, I’ve written about 7 reasons to crash the schedule, and in this video, I pick out my top 5 to discuss in more detail. I talk about schedule compression (obviously), when part of the project has the potential to put the overall project at risk, when you’ve got a fixed deadline, when the team is needed for other work and when there’s a general delay which affects your ability to hit your expected deadlines. Crashing can help in all of those situations, used sensibly. Engage professional judgement before you go for it!

What are your thoughts on crashing? Personally, I try not to do it too often because it’s a lot of effort and it doesn’t always give you the results you were expecting, but it is a useful skill in the toolbox for predictive project managers, so it’s worth knowing when you would consider to use the technique.

Posted on: February 01, 2022 04:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

6 Considerations for Holiday Celebrations [Infographic]

Categories: events, team

It’s holiday time! I do love December, even though the evenings are now so dark here. Perhaps that’s why it’s so special to be considering things to do to brighten up the mood. Last year was a bit of a wash out in terms of team celebration. We would have normally gone out, and we did nothing (along with the rest of the world). This year, while we’re still a virtual team working from home, perhaps we’ll have the opportunity to organise something a bit more fun. I’m thinking a virtual escape room? There are quite a few that have popped up over the past 12 months and the opportunity to do something together that isn’t work is quite appealing.

The infographic below shows some things to think about when you are planning festive celebrations for your team, if you intend to do something to mark the end of the year. Over here, we can take a Christmas theme, but if you don’t celebrate Christmas, think about how you can join in with the festivities relevant to you – or just celebrate getting through another 12 months!

My top tips are:

Plan early and get your booking in soon as many people this year will be attempting to organise something to make up for last year when teams weren’t able to get together in the same way.

Think beyond meals out: restaurants are one option but there are other things you could consider as a team, like an escape room, for example.

Send holiday cards to your team and supplier. I have digital templates every year that do the job – message me if you would like them.

Include the whole team. If someone on the team doesn’t feel ready to go out into the world yet and meet up in person, then I believe the team should adjust the celebrations to revolve around activities that everyone can do.

Know your tax: In the UK, there is a limit to what employers can spend on team gatherings for the holidays. Anything more than that and there is a personal liability involved for participants, and trust me, no one wants to get taxed on the “fun” office party. Talk to your manager or finance team if you think that’s an issue for you. In my experience, it tends to be a problem if there is a corporate event and you also want to do something as a project team, as that means some people are effectively attending two events.

Have fun! And best wishes for 2022 😊

Posted on: December 14, 2021 04:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

3 Options for Dealing with Team Conflict

Categories: team

team conflict

Whether it’s raised eyebrows and eyerolling or a full-on shouting match, projects are a conflict-inflicted environment!

You could be on the receiving end of the conflict because team members or stakeholders have fallen out over something. Or you could be contributing to it, having to address an issue such as not having enough money to complete the work.

As a self-confessed conflict avoider, I have always wanted to get conflict dealt with and out the way as soon as possible, so we can all get back to work. Here are 3 options for diffusing conflict situations on a project.

1. Take the heat out of the situation

One option – one of my favourites because it’s not confrontational – is to help everyone calm down a bit.

Oftentimes, a problem doesn’t look so bad with a bit of distance, and the heat disappears from the conflict.

The simplest thing to do here is to draw a line under the conversation, take a pause, and say you’ll come back to the conflict-causing topic at another time.

Remember to actually address the topic at that time, though, otherwise you just cause seething resentment in the team members who want to air their views and haven’t had the opportunity to.

If you are one of those people who can diffuse tension in a room with a joke, go for it. I’m not, so I wouldn’t risk saying something not very funny and making the situation worse, so I opt for calm voices, and a short pause in proceedings.

2. Agree

It’s so difficult to be rude or argumentative to someone who agrees with you. I don’t remember who I learned this from as a retail assistant in a busy shop while I was at college, but it certainly works with angry customers.

If you aren’t defensive, they stop fighting. It’s no fun arguing with someone who isn’t arguing back and who appears to actually be on your side.

Obviously, this isn’t going to work in every scenario. You can’t agree with a construction worker who is choosing not to wear protective gear on a building site and causing a fuss about it.

But in some situations, this is a good technique to try. You can always move the discussion along and use other techniques if necessary.

3. Say you are sorry

Again, this isn’t a solution appropriate for every project conflict situation. However, you shouldn’t be above saying sorry. If the mistake is yours, own it. Sometimes that’s all people want – for someone else to accept the issue happened and to own up to it.

I’ve been in meetings where I’ve taken the blame for something the project team did (collectively) as I’m the one who is responsible for the successful delivery. And we didn’t deliver. That’s on me. The body language of the person with the complaint changed significantly after I said sorry. The discussion moved on.

These 3 techniques aren’t going to win you any peace treaty awards, but for day-to-day small gripes and grumbles on a team, they are easy things to try. What’s your best tip for keeping the peace on a project?

Pin for later reading:

dealing with team conflict

Posted on: March 17, 2020 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Should You Let Your Team Work From Home?

Categories: team

I’ll come straight out and say it: I’m in the Yes camp.

I believe that you should let your team work from home. There are so many benefits for individuals, families and, by virtue of the fact that workers are happier, employers and managers too. Let me explain why I’m a believer in homeworking.

Homeworkers Save Money

When I first got interested in finding out about homeworking I went to an event: The Remote Workers Awards. The awards celebrated companies who let their employees work from home but had a very financial overtone. A presenter explained the financial benefits to his company of having homeworkers and they included:

  • Lower costs for office space
  • Lower costs for office overheads (think tea bags, toilet paper etc)
  • Lower costs for sick pay (as workers didn’t phone in sick as often, perhaps because they weren’t sick or because they could still manage their work from home as they weren’t that sick)
  • Lower cost of absenteeism in general.

And I’m sure there were some other things in there that he mentioned that I don’t recall.

As homeworkers don’t need a permanent desk in the office you can have a smaller office. They can hot desk if they come in. With fewer workers on site you don’t need as many resources and the office overheads are smaller. You’ll also find that homeworkers provide some of their own kit – I use my own chair and desk for example, although some companies will pay for this set up for remote workers if it is required.

Homeworkers Work More Hours

A common believe is that if you let your team work from home then they’ll slack off more because they can. A long lunchbreak watching Jeremy Kyle? That’s never happened to me.

No, genuinely, that’s never happened to me.

Work-from-home-rs are more likely to work longer hours because their office is just there. Without the commute you can start earlier and finish later. Overall the time you spend working is often longer because you aren’t leaving the office at 4pm to get home – you can work until 5.30pm and still get home earlier than commuters.

If you work from home I think the bigger problem is knowing when to stop. Still checking and responding to emails from the sofa at 10.30pm? Yes, that has happened to me.

Homeworkers Are More Loyal

The homeworkers I know fiercely protect their ability to work flexibly. It’s a perk so valued that I know people who won’t look for another job because they feel they wouldn’t get the same commitment to flexible working from another firm.

That loyalty and motivation is something that employers value. It’s expensive to onboard a new project manager, and having someone around who understands how things work and who has good working relationships with teams across the business is valuable.

You’ll notice that I haven’t included any links to research studies in here. Over the years I have researched this topic extensively and there is a lot of data out there to back up the benefits of flexible working and results-based workplaces.

There are new studies coming out all the time. If you want to find the data it won’t take you very long to find something up-to-date and probably specific to your industry.

However, there is one living breathing study that I’m part of that I think proves why you should let your project team work from home.

My own personal experiment.

I’m The Proof

I work from home a couple of days a week. I have an office in my garden. It’s far enough away from the house for me not to be disturbed or to be constantly thinking I have to put a load of washing on. But it’s close enough to pop back in for lunch or to take a delivery. And it means my commute is seconds.

The commute being only seconds is one of the hardest things to adjust to as a home worker. If you have had a difficult day, or challenging meetings, then a commute gives you time to unwind, refocus into ‘home’ mode and face the family without the burden of the office on your shoulders. I don’t get that, and I have to switch between ‘work’ and ‘home’ almost instantly, regardless of the time I need to mentally process the day. That has to come later – often much later such as when I am getting ready for bed, and l don’t recommend lying in bed trying to fall asleep while also trying to unpick the office politics of a particular meeting.

So, are you convinced? Or are you doing it already? Let me know what you think about letting your project team work from home in the comments below.

Posted on: April 12, 2016 12:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)
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