Project Management

Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

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Viewing Posts by Peter Tarhanidis

10 Ways to Support Team Members During Trying Times

Categories: Careers, Disruption

By Peter Tarhanidis, PhD, MBA

The COVID-19 pandemic, political and racial division, unemployment and other serious issues are casting enormous shadows across the globe. 

On top of these stressors, many of us have isolated ourselves from each other in order to lessen the spread of the virus and combat the pandemic. As such, we’ve adopted new behaviors and virtual ways of working to rightfully ensure our health and safety. And yet, these same efforts to maintain connectivity with each other have created more virtual isolation for many of us. 

Especially for those working in isolation, it is critical to stay connected. While tacit interactions drive human behavior and develop relationships, what can leaders do to re-create and sustain team members’ engagement?

Below is a list of ten action items that can help project leaders improve working relationships and performance during these tough times:

  1. Display compassion for colleagues and create a supportive environment.
  2. Listen to colleagues’ professional and personal needs, and provide support to help them maintain their best selves.
  3. Make it a point to meet and greet new colleagues.
  4. Arrange introductory sessions for new colleagues to support their onboarding. 
  5. Communicate the organization’s unique cultural attributes that bind teams and drive performance.
  6. Recognize colleagues’ small wins to provide encouragement and motivation throughout these trying times.
  7. Celebrate the track record of wins to recreate your company’s “flywheel.”
  8. Identify development and training opportunities to undertake new challenges.
  9. Ensure working parents have time to be successful at both home and work.
  10. Take time off to recharge, stay healthy and be there for those who rely on you.

What actions would you add to this list to benefit our community and colleagues?

Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: August 24, 2020 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Believe It or Not, You Were Built for This Time

Believe it or not, you were built for this time

By Peter Tarhanidis, PhD

No one could have expected the reality of what a pandemic unleashes on each of us—our families, communities and places of employment. A once booming economy filled with demand and focused on the deployment of strategic investments and projects has now changed. This global pandemic has brought on uncertainty, sparking leaders and NGOs around the world to step up with varying approaches to crisis management, emergency response and the critical need for communication.

The implications of COVID-19 have exposed us to new health risks, limited healthcare capacity, challenged supply chains and the need to operate in the new normal of isolation and social distancing.

Yet we all have witnessed how leadership can stand up, rally and partner with government and industry to provide guidance to avoid undue risks, maintain connections and guide us through this pandemic. While this entire episode may be distressing and taking its toll, YOU were built for this unprecedented global crisis. Your development as a leader and manager of teams and initiatives has established an excellent foundation to rely on to guide your teams through this time.

As I continue to evolve and flex my leadership style during this time period, I’ve developed a list of key habits to offer some guidance to all project leaders:

  1. Reset your leadership style with compassionate behaviors.
  2. Connect with your team and continue to maintain your relationships.
  3. Stay in control by collaborating with your team to redesign the team’s guiding or working principles.
  4. Set clear boundaries to enable the balance of work and family time.
  5. Enable healthy habits for you, your family and your team members.
  6. Celebrate small wins and keep everyone motivated.
  7. Streamline unnecessary activities and prioritize new activities to combat the pandemic.
  8. Leverage technology to maintain professional and personal connections.
  9. Communicate and support your organization’s leadership messages to mitigate the pandemic.
  10. Consider re-prioritizing your milestones and initiatives, and realign goals to meet long-term business strategies.

Please comment below with any tactics that have helped you and your teams endure this time and keep moving forward.

Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: April 09, 2020 03:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Plan for the Velocity of Change to Keep Increasing!

Plan for the velocity of change to keep increasing

By Peter Tarhanidis, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Today, developments in emerging technology, business processes and digital experiences are accelerating larger transformation initiatives. Moore’s Law means that we have access to exponentially better computing capabilities. Growth is further fueled by technologies such as supercomputers, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, Internet of Things (IoT) and more across industries.

Emerging Tech
The global IT industry is valued at $5.3 trillion in 2020 and is poised to grow 6.2 percent by 2021, according to tech market research firm IDC. Emerging technology like augmented reality and robotics will make up an increasing share of that growth.

Business Process Maturity
Organizations are improving the maturity of their business processes. They’re doing this by automating tasks, eliminating them, improving performance or finding the lowest-cost way to perform a task. Organizations are connecting with experts to collaborate across a wider network of colleagues. This enables strategies to be integrated across the value chain to quickly drive business outcomes.

According to market research group IMARC, automation and the IoT are driving growth in business process management (BPM); the BPM market is expected to grow at a 10 percent compound annual growth rate between 2020 and 2025.

Customer Experience
In addition, having a formidable customer experience strategy can make the difference between customers choosing your brand or your competitors in 2020. That’s according to Core dna, a digital experience platform vendor.

Customer experience is redefining business processes and digitizing the consumption model to increase brand equity. Gartner reports that among marketing leaders who are responsible for customer experience, 81 percent say their companies will largely compete on customer experience in two years. However, only 22 percent have developed experiences that exceed customer expectations.

Economic Forces
Lastly, the potential for cash flow growth remains high in 2020, despite economic risks, according to the U.S. Corporate Credit Outlook 2020. This will likely lead to capital investments and a fair portion of companies funding transformational projects.

The Way Forward
While transformations have evolved, they encapsulate the way we think and operate. Old methods may seem encumbering and administratively difficult, creating bureaucracy and delays in decision making. The challenge is the velocity of change, which is very disruptive to organizations.

I’ve developed a few guidelines to help navigate this change:

  • Work with an agile mindset.
  • Fail often and fast to ultimately filter out winning initiatives.
  • Define the cultural attributes that propel staff and colleagues to succeed on their endeavors.

Change is now inherent and pervasive in the annual planning process for organizations. Given that, I like to ask: What is the plan to prepare staff and colleagues to compete in this hyper-transformation age?

What observations have you made to keep up with this new era’s velocity of change?

Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: February 13, 2020 04:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

The Project Initiatives That Influenced My Career

By Peter Tarhanidis, PhD

I’ve been fortunate to have a career that constantly challenges me and my team to apply new approaches to achieve an organization’s mission. I believe that adapting these contemporary management practices and innovative operating models has helped me become the project leader I am today. 

Below are select project initiatives that have helped me develop my skills:

  1. I integrated process and technology to drive staff productivity. Customer centricity is at the heart of the experience. While working in a call center, my team and I initiated a training process improvement for onboarding new hires. I drafted process steps and key instructions for each one, and then connected the technology opportunities to automate non-value steps. This resulted in reduced training cycles and onboarding staff time from eight weeks to two weeks. It also increased customer satisfaction.
  1. I quantified assumptions with data and facts. I remember one instance where senior leaders did not have the data to explain consumer behavior and decided to stick with the status quo of the same services at the same rate—not realizing consumer segments had changed. By applying statistical analysis and regression theories, I was able to identify pricing elasticity levels that formed a new strategy to increase revenues and attract new consumers.
  1. I leveraged standards-based solutions to scale growth and introduce emerging technologies. Prior to standards adoption, I relied on international standards bodies to align on the highest operating performance of disparate systems. This helped to standardize new telecommunication technologies that architected new building designs with IT infrastructure to integrate disparate HVAC, security, green services, data centers, retail systems and real estate development opportunities across the U.S. This led to increased revenue and operating efficiencies by creating an online retail catalogue and also reduced the cost of managing business services.
  1. I extended expertise across the globe by managing vendor partnerships. I established a vendor management practice to oversee strategic partnerships, outsourcing and offshoring to improve from hybrid technical data centers to Global Business Shared Services across non-core services in organizations. This extended needed services in local countries in their time, language and at lower costs—and also enabled increased market share for commercial operations.
  1. I designed business operating models to align strategy across an organization. This included key projects to benchmark customer market space, work with senior leaders and define a gap analysis to address via business cases. This allowed me to transform departments, business units and re-engineer organizations.
  1. I worked across diverse geographies and industries. For example, I drove cultural and change management in R&D, operations and supply chain. This exposed me to business development and mergers and acquisitions, and allowed me to learn the latest in designing user experiences, advanced robotic automation and AI technologies to connect to deeper business insights.
     
  2. I led a nonprofit organization of volunteers to develop my leadership skills. When individuals give their time, it is important to be clear and align the volunteers to action. These interactions and relationships are truly based on a work-at-will agreement. If you treat everyone with dignity and a set of behaviors that empower purposeful action, you will achieve a great leadership style that supports many environments and solves social and business needs.

What themes have you identified in your career? How have you broadened your range?

Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: November 13, 2019 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Unlock the Value of Artificial Intelligence

By Peter Tarhanidis

Artificial intelligence is no longer a tool we’ll use on projects in the future. Right now, many organizations are formalizing the use of advanced data analytics from innovative technologies, algorithms and AI visualization techniques into strategic projects.

The maturity of advanced data analytics is creating an opportunity for organizations to unlock value. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates AI’s global economic impact could climb to US$13 trillion by 2030.

As an example, in the healthcare industry, Allied Market Research reports rising demand for data analytics solutions due to the growth in data from electronic health records, among other factors. The global healthcare analytics market was valued at US$16.9 billion in 2017, and the report forecasts it to reach US$67.8 billion by 2025.

The Evolution of AI Maturity
Gartner describes four growth stages of analytics and value activities. The first is descriptive analytics, which gains insight from historical data on what occurred in the firm or a project. This includes key performance measure reports and dashboards. Second, diagnostics analytics allow you to learn why something happened and the relationship between events. Third, is the use of predictive analytics to develop viewpoints into potential future outcomes. Finally, prescriptive analytics allow you to provide users with advice on what actions to take.

Everyday examples of these solutions range from simple automated dashboards, remote check deposit, Siri-like assistants, ride-sharing apps, Facebook, Instagram, autopilot and autonomous cars.  

Tips on Successful Transformation
Leaders must consider advanced data analytics as a transformational journey—not a complex project. Without thoughtful consideration of the implications of managing AI projects, one may create chaos in adopting these new services.

As a project leader, take these steps to avoid key pitfalls:

  1. Develop your understanding of data science tool kits and technologies and identify any centers of excellence. Start with basics such as descriptive statistics, regression and optimization techniques. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with technology such as machine learning and natural language processing.
  2. Determine how these AI initiatives integrate into the organization’s mission and vision. This may require a new strategic business plan, optimizing an organization, culture change and change management.
  3. Establish a data governance body and framework to ensure accountability, roles, security, legislative and ethical management of consumer, patient, customer and government data.
  4. Develop strong multiyear business cases that clearly indicate cost versus revenue or savings.
  5. Maintain an agile mindset and leverage design thinking methods to co-create the pilots into products alongside stakeholders.

Please comment below on what approaches you have taken to enable advanced data analytics in your role or in your organization.

Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: August 12, 2019 01:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)
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