PMI Global Insights

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The Project Management Institute's annual events attract some of the most renowned and esteemed experts in the industry. In this blog, Global Conference, EMEA Congress and experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Kristy Tan Neckowicz
Jack Duggal
Saurayan Chaki
Dan Furlong
Marcos Arias
Danielle Ritter
Laura Samsó
Karen Chovan
Lawrence Cooper
Yves Cavarec
David Maynard
Deepa Bhide
Fabio Rigamonti
Kristin Jones
Marjorie Anderson
Michelle Stronach
Nadia Vincent
Sandra MacGillivray
Emily Luijbregts
Karthik Ramamurthy
Sarah Mersereau
Nic Jain
Priya Patra
Cheryl Lee
David Davis
Gina Abudi

Past Contributers:

Catalin Dogaru
Carlos Javier Pampliega García

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Viewing Posts by Gina Abudi

#PMICON18 “Abigail’s” Challenge

“Abigail” popped by the Ask the Expert booth to see me yesterday (day 1). Abigail is a fairly new project manager; she has worked on a number of project teams – but only recently was put in charge of a project with all remote team members.

On a team meeting call last week, Abigail and two team members called in from one location while four other team members called in from two other locations. The team was trying to solve a particularly knotty problem and were pretty vocal about how the problem occurred and the best way to solve it. Abigail shortly lost control of the meeting. It got contentious and there were arguments, blaming, and side conversations going on – not just in Abigail’s location but also another location where three members were calling in. One poor team member calling in from her home office was very quiet (probably because, as Abigail noted, she couldn’t get a word in edgewise!) Abigail never got control of the meeting and it ended within 45 minutes with no decision made on solving the problem and no plan to move forward.  Since then, the problem has been solved by the sponsor who gave the team a solution to implement.

Abigail asked how she could have managed the situation.

What Could Abigail Have Done?

Abigail could have started with her own location and asked everyone to stop the side conversation and remain quiet. She then could stop the meeting and ask everyone to minimize the side conversations as they are distracting and don’t enable for full participation. She should also remind them that they are a team and pushing blame back and forth would not solve the problem.

Once she got everyone quieted down, Abigail can “reset” the meeting, ensure understanding of the problem and reiterate the goal to solve it in a collaborative way for the good of the project.  She might use a “round robin” approach, calling on each individual to share their thoughts on the problem. By using a “round robin” approach, each team member will be able to share their ideas and thoughts and then more easily come to a collaborative solution.

What are your challenges? Stop by the PMI Ask the Expert booth in the Exhibit Hall at the Congress and meet with one of the experts. #PMICON18

Posted by Gina Abudi on: October 07, 2018 04:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Socializing Your Project Initiatives #PMICON18

Sell Others on why The Project Matters!

Too often project managers do not consider the importance of socializing their projects prior to actually beginning the work on the project. It may be because they haven’t thought of the benefits of doing so or because they feel the project is assigned and already decided upon, so why bother. However, the most effective project managers - those who take a strategic approach to how they lead their projects - look at projects from both the perspective of the organization and the perspective of the individual - thereby understanding the benefits of socializing the project early on during the pre-planning stages.

Undoubtedly, you may have to highlight the benefits of socializing projects to your project sponsor and other key stakeholders if this is not common practice already within the organization. Let’s look at an example. I was called in to work with a client who, about 5 months previously, had launched a project to change processes in how they captured and input client data to enable for improved marketing. They never socialized the project first. The end users, on average, had been doing the job in a particular way for about 4 years. Old habits die hard - no one wanted to change what they had been doing; it worked for them. It was 5 months already into the project when I was called in to help correct the situation - progress was very minimal. I recommended they step back and start again - this time taking some time to socialize the initiative and talk about the benefits to the organization as a whole, the departments affected and the individuals. First, however, we needed to do a bit of “repair work” to smooth over feelings.

Benefits of Socializing Your Projects

When we take the time to socialize projects before we actually start the project, we provide individuals with a “heads up” about what is going on and why. In this way, we provide a sense of comfort around the changes that will happen. It helps us to:

  • Better manage expectations throughout the project
  • Secure buy-in and commitment earlier on in the project
  • See where we might be missing something that could cause significant rework or even project failure later on
  • Convey to individuals that we are interested in their ideas, suggestions, thoughts, comments about the project
  • Improve efficiencies and effectiveness in managing the project during execution
  • Increased acceptance of the project upon implementation

I consider socializing the project to be part of the “define” or “pre-planning” phase of the project. It helps me to find out who is supportive of the project and who I’ll need to spend some more time with to make them comfortable and convert them to champions. Depending on the size and complexity of the project and the number of individuals impacted within the organization, I may plan for anywhere from two weeks to a few months to socialize an initiative.

Selling Socialization to Executives

If you are in an organization that has never socialized projects before launch, you may need to sell it to the executives. This is not as difficult as you think. First of all, in most cases, as a project manager, you know about projects coming along before they are actually ready to start. Begin socializing the project then if you can do so. When I’m working with clients to help them develop more effective and efficient ways of managing their projects, I make sure that plans include involving project managers very early on in decisions to initiative projects so that, prior to actual launch, time can be set aside to socialize the initiative. Rarely do we cut into project time. And, when we do cut into project time, we have shown, time and time again, that by socializing up front, we actually spend less time on the back end managing expectations of those impacted and get much more commitment which enables to improved management of the project throughout execution. Additionally, we have found in some situations, that by socializing the project, we learned a few things we did not know that would have derailed the project down the road.

Frequently we look at projects from the perspective of the organization’s view. We understand how the project will benefit the organization and why it is the right thing to do now. We tend to forget about the individual. The individual is the one who will be impacted by the project in some way. We need to consider the project from the perspective of the individual, who, while certainly concerned about the organization is also concerned about him/herself. It’s only natural. Going through this person’s mind are questions such as, “What will happen to my job?”  “Will I be able to do the role when it changes?” “What if I don’t have the skills I need?” “How can I handle all of this when I have so much going on personally?” These are all valid concerns of individual employees and the most successful projects are run by those who work with the individual to address these concerns through a variety of ways, such as:

  • All staff, or all hands, meetings
  • Departmental meetings
  • Small focus groups
  • Surveys
  • “lunch and learn” sessions
  • Emails
  • Posters in the hallway
  • Company portal (intranet)
  • Internal newsletter

These are just a few ways to socialize the project throughout the organization. Always choose a variety of ways to reach the largest group of people.

Summary

Take the time to socialize your projects prior to their actual start. You’ll find that you will increase the commitment and support for the project which only makes your job of managing the project much easier in the long run. The benefits are many and well worth the extra effort involved. Remember also, that, periodically, throughout the project, as a best practice, continue to socialize it by checking in with individuals to be sure they are still on-board and feeling good about what is going on.

Posted by Gina Abudi on: October 06, 2018 03:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Best Practices for Creating the Business Process Improvement Project Charter

Develop a document that will help you manage your BPI project!

Creating a project charter for your business process improvement (BPI) projects are a best practice for a number of reasons:

  • Enables you to get your “head” around the scope of the BPI project
  • Enables for clarification of BPI project needs/expectations
  • Ensures a link between the BPI project and strategic objectives

While we all know that, in theory, the project charter is handed to the project manager from the project sponsor, in reality this never happens! The project manager develops the project charter based on information from the sponsor and other key stakeholders. Too often project managers skip developing a project charter and focus purely on the project scope statement. I prefer to use both documents. I use the charter to develop a list of questions that provide me further information about the BPI project, why it is being undertaken, its link to the organizational strategic goals and the overall objectives for the project.

Once finalized and approved by the sponsor, the charter is then used to develop the project scope statement. This charter, as well as the scope statement, enables me to better manage my stakeholders as the project work takes place. I frequently refer back to that charter to ensure we stay on track with the project, pushing back as necessary when the project is taking the wrong direction or is at risk of doing so. It enables me to have better conversations regarding changes to the BPI project.

BPI Project Charter Components

Components of BPI project charters are described in the table below:

Component of Charter

Description

Project manager authority level

What are the responsibilities of the project manager for this BPI project? Will she have authority to source and manage project team members? Is she responsible for securing and selecting external vendors? Can she manage to the budget or must approval be obtained before money can be spent against the budgeted amount?

Business case

Why is the BPI project being launched? Is it to reduce expenses, increase time-to-market for new products, or merge redundant processes within two divisions? There are any number of valid business reasons as to why a BPI project is being planned.

Project description

This section provides a brief 2 – 3 sentence description of the project. For example, enhance internal communication processes cross-functionally to enable for improved transmitting of information about current projects underway within the organization. Included here, if available at the time of project charter development, will be specific high level tasks associated with the project.

Project objectives and success criteria

Denote here the objectives of the project at a higher level, along with what is considered successful. For example, project will be completed within one year of launch or budget will not exceed a specified amount.

Considering the example project description provided above, also included in this section might be a success criterion such as, departments will share information more readily and early on when projects are initially launched using a variety of approved channels.

Expected risks

When projects are launched, there are usually risks that can be expected. Risks might include difficulty in engaging stakeholders, reduced resources to commit to work on the project, or limited time for completion. Some organizations have common and consistent risks associated with every BPI project. For example, engaging the workforce to change might be a consistent risk within an organization if the workforce tends to resist change.

Department involvement and participation level

Early on in many BPI projects you will know who needs to be involved in the project. For example, if the BPI project is to evaluate Accounts Receivable processes, surely the Accounting Department will be involved in the initiative. Their participation level may include providing information on the current process, participating in design of a new process and testing the new process.

Project benefits and business impact expected

List each desired project benefit in this section, along with the business impact expected. Be specific, ensuring goals are measurable. For example, improve collection of A/R, reducing time from 45 days to collect to 30 days within 6 months of new process launch.

Project milestones

Milestones are major events within the project. For BPI projects, milestones may include documentation of a current process, straw model design of a new process, or completion of stakeholder interviews.

Project expenditures

When possible for the project, provide an estimate (or approved budget allocation) for key components of the project. For example, $5,000 may be set aside to interview stakeholders or $50,000 to hire an external contractor to document the “to be” process.

 

BPI Project Charter Best Practices

Here are the best practice steps I take to create a BPI project charter:

  • Compile all of the information I already have for the project based on emails I have received from the sponsor and others, memos I have received and conversations I have had. I add that information to the project charter – filling in whatever blanks I can based on my knowledge of the business and what the business is trying to accomplish.
  • Review the charter with the project sponsor and any other key stakeholders to validate the information I have and fill in the blanks. I have found that by going in to this meeting with a charter that includes not just the information they have provided but also information that I assume to be valid based on my knowledge of the business, I’m able to have better, more productive and efficient conversations about the purpose of the BPI project. The more I know about the project the better I can manage it and share that information with the project team to get them engaged, committed and excited about the initiative.
  • Revise the project charter with the additional information based on my conversation with the project sponsor and other key stakeholders. Incorporate any new information and identify any new questions or concerns for another conversation with the sponsor.
  • Review the charter one more time with the sponsor and any other key stakeholders. Get any additional questions or concerns addressed.
  • Finalize the charter and get sign off from the sponsor.

While this may seem initially like a large effort, it really is not. Spending this time up front to get the charter accurate enables for me to develop strong relationships with the project sponsor and any other key stakeholders. It also ensures that I understand what we are doing with this project and why – which enables me to have better conversations with team members and other stakeholders. You can’t effectively manage a BPI project – and get others committed to it – if you don’t know the business reason behind the BPI project. You notice that in each conversation with the sponsor I have advanced progress on the charter. Additionally, I have taken some steps in filling in the blanks myself based on knowledge I already have. It may not be completely accurate, but enables for far more productive conversations with the sponsor and other key stakeholders.

In summary, create a project charter for all of your BPI projects, to enable for getting your “head” around the project and developing key questions to ask sponsors to ensure you have what you need for project success.

Posted by Gina Abudi on: October 10, 2017 07:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Are You Ready for Your Next Project?

Before you officially begin your next project, consider whether you can answer the following questions:

  • Are you aware of why the project is being launched? If not, find out! Ask the project sponsor why this particular project is being launched? What is the goal of the project? To what strategic organizational goal is the project aligned? This information enables you to understand the priority level of the project as well as have information that enables for securing resources and “selling” the project to team members and stakeholders.
     
  • Do you have the knowledge to run the project? What are your strengths and weaknesses regarding the project? When you understand areas that you are not as knowledgeable as you might be or may have limited skills, you can use that knowledge to ensure you recruit team members who can help fill in the gaps. You don’t need to be an expert in every area of the project, others will have expertise you do not. Rely on their expertise to ensure a successful project.
     
  • How do stakeholders feel about the project? Are they champions of the project? Are they against it? How do you know? If you don’t know, find out! Ask stakeholders their opinion about the project. Are they excited about it or worried? If worried, dive deeper to understand why so that you can address those concerns and get stakeholders on board with the project.
  • Can the project be implemented as is? If it is a large, complex initiative, you might consider breaking down the project into smaller components to be more easily managed and to enable for quicker successes.
     
  • How will the project “stick” when complete? What reinforcements will be put in place to ensure the project end result “sticks?” Will training be needed? What incentives are necessary? What processes will need to change? Consider what will need to happen to ensure the project sticks so that you can prepare early.

What else do you do to get ready for your projects?

Posted by Gina Abudi on: September 11, 2017 02:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

5 Ways to Engage Employees in Change Projects

Engaging employees in change projects is essential to ensure that the change initiative is accepted and “sticks.” Consider these five ways to engage employees in your next change initiative.

  1. Get employees involved in shaping the change early on. Ask their opinions via a survey or in focus groups. This enables employees to provide their thoughts, concerns and feedback. When employees are involved in shaping the change they are more committed to the change overall.
  2. Ensure a cross representative group of employees who will actually work on the tasks associated with the change project. Since employees will be working with the change, it is important that they serve on the team who is working on the change project.
  3. Ask for feedback throughout the change initiative. As the change project progresses, ask employees to provide their thoughts through participation in pilot group testing, surveys, an internal website, focus group sessions or in one-on-one conversations. Enabling for continuous feedback enables for shaping a change initiative that will work for employees.
  4. Consider creating a stakeholder support committee. This group, comprised of employees from throughout the organization, enables for regular engagement in the change initiative. For complex change initiatives in particular, a stakeholder support committee are your champions on the project and keep others engaged in the initiative through sharing information about the change project.
  5. Once the change initiative is launched, be sure to check in with employees after they have had time to work with the change. This may be through surveys, focus groups, department meetings or in other forums. Use this check in time to determine improvements that may be made to ensure the next change initiative is even better.
Posted by Gina Abudi on: September 11, 2017 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
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