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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Cameron McGaughy
Lynda Bourne
Kevin Korterud
Conrado Morlan
Peter Tarhanidis
Mario Trentim
Jen Skrabak
David Wakeman
Wanda Curlee
Christian Bisson
Ramiro Rodrigues
Soma Bhattacharya
Emily Luijbregts
Sree Rao
Yasmina Khelifi
Marat Oyvetsky
Lenka Pincot
Jorge Martin Valdes Garciatorres
cyndee miller

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Rex Holmlin
Vivek Prakash
Dan Goldfischer
Linda Agyapong
Jim De Piante
Siti Hajar Abdul Hamid
Bernadine Douglas
Michael Hatfield
Deanna Landers
Kelley Hunsberger
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
Alfonso Bucero Torres
Marian Haus
Shobhna Raghupathy
Peter Taylor
Joanna Newman
Saira Karim
Jess Tayel
Lung-Hung Chou
Rebecca Braglio
Roberto Toledo
Geoff Mattie

Recent Posts

3 Agile Disconnects We Need to Address

What to Expect: Anticipating and Adapting to Dynamic Economic Trends

Governance Models: The Secret to Successful Agile Projects

3 Valuable PM Lessons I Learned in 2023

The 4 P’s of Successful Modern PMs

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What to Expect: Anticipating and Adapting to Dynamic Economic Trends

By Peter Tarhanidis, Ph.D.

In the ever-evolving landscape of corporate strategic planning, organizations face the perpetual dilemma of choosing between capital spending for growth—and optimizing operations for efficiency. Striking the right balance amidst economic trends and leveraging organizational strengths becomes paramount when navigating through strategic projects. Meeting shareholder and stakeholder needs, while aligning with the organization's mission, presents a constant challenge.

To anticipate potential initiatives, project managers must consider global macroeconomic conditions and CEO outlooks. A preliminary assessment based on the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects and OECD Economic Outlook reports for 2024 reveals a projected global economic growth slowdown from 2.7% to 2.4%. This trend suggests a delicate balance between slow growth and regional divergences. Key considerations include:

  • Global inflation showing signs of easing from 5.7% to a projected 3.9%
  • Slowed global investment trends due to uncertainties, debt burdens and interest rates
  • Fading global trade growth attributed to shifting consumer expenditure, geopolitical tensions, supply chain troubles, pandemic effects and protectionist policies
  • Notable regional examples include the United States expecting a GDP drop from 2.5% to 1.4%, China experiencing a modest slowdown from 5.3% to 4.7%, Europe and Japan projecting growth rates of 1.2%, and Africa's growth expected to slightly increase from 3.3% to 3.5%

Examining the corporate landscape, a survey of 167 CEOs in December 2023 indicated a confidence index of 6.3 out of 10 for the 2024 economy—the highest of the year. The CEO upsurge assumes inflation is under control, the Fed may not raise interest rates and instead reverse rates, setting up a new cycle of growth. Furthering the CEO agenda, McKinsey & Co. identified eight CEO 2024 priorities:

  • Innovating with GEN AI to dominate the future
  • Outcompeting with technology to drive value
  • Driving energy transition for net zero, decarbonization, and scaling green businesses
  • Cultivating institutional capability for competitive advantage
  • Building out middle managers
  • Positioning for success amidst geopolitical risks
  • Developing growth strategies for continued outperformance
  • Considering the broader macroeconomic wealth picture for identifying growth

As project managers, navigating the uncertainty of economic shifts necessitates staying vigilant. The year may bring variables and predictions that impact the execution probability of strategic projects. Shifting between growth plans and efficiency drivers demands different preparation. To stay prepared, consider the following:

  • Regularly monitor global economic indicators and CEO outlooks
  • Foster agility within the team to adapt to changing priorities
  • Develop scenario plans that account for potential economic shifts
  • Collaborate with key stakeholders to gather real-time insights
  • Continuously reassess project priorities based on evolving economic conditions

In an environment of perpetual change, proactive monitoring, adaptability and strategic collaboration will be key to successfully steering projects through the dynamic economic landscape.

How else can you stay prepared as the demands shift on you and your team?

References

  1. JP Morgan: Economic Trends
  2. Economic outlook: A mild slowdown in 2024 and slightly improved growth in 2025
  3. UN: World Economic Situation and Prospects 2024
  4. McKinsey: What matters most? Eight CEO priorities for 2024
  5. CEOs Gain Confidence About 2024 On Hopes Of Lower Rates
Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: January 26, 2024 12:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Virtual Teamwork Makes the Virtual Dream Work

by Mario Trentim

 

My earliest experience with remote work came in around 2010. At the time, I believed it would enable me to connect with project teams from around the globe. What I considered a novelty has now become a new normal for myself and project professionals everywhere. With this shift comes the necessity to rethink leadership, collaboration and teams.

A high-performing team can be defined as a group of people with clearly defined roles and complementary talents and skills, aligned with and committed to a common goal to innovate and deliver results.

The importance of teams is not about to diminish as digital transformation reshapes the notion of the workplace and how work gets done. On the contrary, the (digital) leadership role becomes increasingly demanding as a diverse workforce, including freelancers and partners, works from home.

It’s time that we adapt the essential characteristics of high-performing teams in the digital age:

 

Open and clear communication

 Maintaining an open-door policy can be a challenge in the modern workplace. Multiple notifications and meetings take a toll on productivity. High-performing virtual teams define ground rules for productive communication without abandoning social interactions. It’s possible to create water-cooler sessions, happy hours and the like to engage people on a personal level, while also keeping formal meetings focused on getting work done.

 

Solid team infrastructure

Virtual spaces enable people to connect with other teams, yet it’s necessary to have clear roles and responsibilities just like those that existed in physical work spaces. Many-to-many interactions cause distraction and waste. Leaders must clearly define team topologies, boundaries and interfaces.

 

Positive atmosphere

Working from home isn’t easy—and some people don’t get used to it. Trust, motivation and well-being are all deeply affected by remote work. So be sure to give those issues your attention by establishing the right incentives and offering feedback.

 

In a way, digital transformation empowers people to do more, extending and expanding capabilities. But it means nothing without strong leadership and clear communication.

 

How have you adapted your leadership style to best manage your virtual teams? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Posted by Mario Trentim on: October 19, 2020 12:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Defining a Standard Methodology and Project Management Metrics

By Mario Trentim

Defining standards and metrics is a key function for the Project Management Office (PMO). In many ways, a PMO is uniquely positioned to provide guidance and orientation in order to build consistency in the application of project management best practices among the projects within an organization.

As you can imagine, a standard methodology provides a basis for performance, and metrics provide a basis for the measurement of that performance against the standard. To that end, project management practices can benefit from metrics to establish the depth and extent of applying standards selected by the organization.

Here, I will outline the steps in developing good PM methodology for your organization and how to define metrics and key performance indicators.

Developing a Project Management Methodology

The first step in introducing formal project management processes and practices is the awareness of the starting point (AS IS - current situation). The PMO should scrutinize the organization’s capabilities in the project management environment as a prerequisite for designing the type, depth and comprehensiveness of project management methodology processes and tools. The PMO’s examination of current project management practices involves the following activities:

  1. Assessing current capability, using Maturity Models and other techniques
  2. Analyzing assessment findings (AS IS, TO BE and Gap Analysis)
  3. Comparing best practices (benchmark with other organizations)
  4. Developing project management methodology (identify common practices and describe processes and tools in detail)
  5. Defining metrics and KPIs (establish oversight and thresholds)
  6. Implementing the methodology (provide orientation and training)
  7. Making adaptations, if needed (get feedback and measure effectiveness)

Bear in mind that project management methodology development is not a simple task. This undertaking requires:

  • Patience in constructing detailed process steps
  • Business acumen in defining processes and practices that provide a functional fit
  • Product and service awareness to ensure alignment of technical processes and interests in project management performance
  • Advanced project management skills on the part of developers
  • Strong executive and senior management support for the development (and subsequent implementation) effort

 

Below you can find a simple structure to guide you in developing a detailed methodology to suit your organization’s needs.

Defining Project Management Metrics

The PMO will be involved in determining which metrics are used in the project management environment. Actually, most PMOs are responsible for metrics comprising the various sets of data that represent and quantify either its prescriptive practice guidance or results from its directed measurements.

A good set of metrics can be used to:

  • Facilitate decisions and ensure compliance
  • Provide a common understanding of project and activity status
  • Monitor and control project performance
  • Monitor consistency and improvement

Some metrics could be:

  • Estimate to project completion
  • Number of unresolved issues
  • Current resource allocation
  • Labor costs spent (per month)
  • Project schedule (Agile or Waterfall)
  • Issues found by QA
  • Issues found by customers

Defining a standard project management methodology is very important for consistency, helping to improve maturity and increase project success rates. This is a collaborative endeavor and should be led by the PMO, if there is one.

What are some of your biggest lessons learned from developing standard methodology or defining project metrics?

Posted by Mario Trentim on: August 26, 2020 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Digital Transformation in the Midst of Chaos

By Mario Trentim

There have been a number of memes and social media jokes about how the COVID-19 crisis is “accelerating” the digital transformations of many organizations. But that’s a misunderstanding: The pandemic is in fact a major setback to digital transformation, as organizations venture into the uncharted waters of sustained virtual work and remote project management.

What Is Digital Transformation Anyway?

Digital transformation refers to the integration of technology into all areas of business operations, fundamentally changing how the organization operates and delivers value. It also describes the application of digital capabilities to processes, assets and products.

Let’s take the sharing economy, for example. Uber, Airbnb and many other modern services are built on the idea of collaborative consumption. But did you know that bike-sharing was first introduced as a business model in the 1960s? At that time, it didn’t work well because there was no easy way to find the bicycles. Now that we have mobile phones, GPS locators and ubiquitous connectivity, business models that seemed unviable before are now possible.

The pillars of digital transformation include:

  • Engage your customers by reaching them where they are with offerings that speak directly to their needs.
  • Empower your employees with effective collaboration and productivity tools.
  • Transform your service offerings by evolving your products and business models to better serve your customers.
  • Optimize your operations, focusing on data-driven management, clear workflows, better resource management and more.

As project teams across the globe settle into the reality that remote work is the new normal, focusing on these pillars becomes even more important.

What Lies Ahead for Project Teams

A few months from now, organizations may face unforeseen cybersecurity issues, sensitive information leaks and the uncontrolled spread of data across digital channels.

In terms of cost, adopting consumer-grade or free preventive tools might seem reasonable now. But that’s because organizations are not taking into account the fact that these tools won’t be effective to take their competitive advantage to the next level.

In fact, a myriad of tools without integration, uncategorized information, old business processes and tech-averse employees pose a huge challenge to collaboration and productivity.

As teams continue to collaborate virtually, people will likely waste even more time trying to reach a solution, and they will plan multiple, unfocused daily meetings, as managers struggle to provide guidance and accurately measure the performance of employees working from home.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

How to Avoid a Dark Project Fate

Now that you know what digital transformation is and the setbacks imposed by the COVID-19 crisis, what can you do?

1. Review your digital transformation strategy and reprioritize all projects and initiatives. If you don’t have an official strategy, start working on it now before it is too late.

2. Your organization likely already put in place business continuity plans, contingency plans and crisis management measures. As a result, you probably launched projects to enable remote work. Considering there was not enough time to conduct proper analysis, now take a step back and reevaluate these choices. Do they still make sense? How can they be improved?

3. Begin by understanding different organizational needs, since digital transformation starts with people and processes. Next, develop a teamwork architecture that encompasses people, processes and tools. Finally, create a roadmap to implement integrated tools that accounts for the total cost of the life cycle, including support, maintenance, training and more.

Final Thoughts

Digital transformation is platform-dependent, relying on common data and integrated information flows and workflows. On top of that, security, compliance and general data protection must be observed at all times. There are no shortcuts.

Digital transformation is a very serious strategic topic. Wrong assumptions might lead your organization into a dark future of low productivity, ineffective collaboration and potential issues and liabilities.

How is your organization navigating the digital transformation shifts brought about by the COVID-19 crisis?

 

 

Posted by Mario Trentim on: April 20, 2020 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

The Importance of Changing Perspectives

by Wanda Curlee

Not long ago, neuroscience was considered something akin to science fiction. In recent years, however, it has crawled out of that genre and into practical reality. By identifying ways people can reason, it’s even making major contributions to the project management profession.

Take the functional MRI (fMRI).

The fMRI creates an image of what a person’s brain is doing when they’re working. If you’re doing math, let’s say, the fMRI shows what areas of the brain are functioning.

Through these studies, neuroscientists have said that there are three ways a person can reason:

1. The detailed-oriented person. This is someone comfortable with schedule management, risk management, budget management, issues tracking, etc. Normally, this would be someone from the project management office (PMO) or a junior project manager.

2. The person who can see the forest for the trees. This is the seasoned project manager or a junior program manager. They are savvy with integration and can see the strategy that is needed for decision making.

3. The strategic-minded individual. Think senior program managers and portfolio managers. These individuals are focused on delivering the organization’s strategic objectives. They can see what the landscape needs to be into the future.

So how does this help you as a project leader? Studies show that if you provide the opportunity for a detailed-oriented person to work in the role of seeing the forest for the trees or putting a strategic person into a detail-oriented role, these individuals become more creative and innovative.

Think about it: By putting individuals in radically different positions—with some guidance and mentorship, of course—you are forcing that person to see problems from different perspectives.

When CEOs claim they do not have creative and innovative people in their organization, I would contend that the CEO is wrong. The CEO just doesn’t nurture the creativity and innovation.

Imagine a brainstorming session where you have individuals who have switched roles. These employees can take an idea presented at the brainstorm and now see it from different perspectives. You no longer have people trapped in thinking from only their own worlds.  

Are you as a project leader willing to push your team to experience the world from a different perspective? Are you willing to take a detail-oriented person and cajole him or her into seeing the forest for the trees? Will you mentor and guide the person? You will need to help with the anxiety of doing something totally foreign.

If you are willing, then you have created a more innovative and creative team!

 

Posted by Wanda Curlee on: May 17, 2018 03:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)
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