Project Discovery

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The nature of project work means constantly discovering new problems to solve. So in this blog I'm focussing on discovering innovations, new ideas in project management, also share and learn from others.

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How to start a project that has a relatively low priority?

Dealing with unclear requirements

Choosing the right method for overcoming resistance

Use Of Affinity Diagram As A Brainstorming Tool

Key to Information Management Strategy

How to start a project that has a relatively low priority?

Many organizations struggle to balance a long list of new projects because of funding problems, while the need for core services continues in a rapid pace.  Since organization cannot put every project as top priority, it looks like the project stakeholders need to figure out how to get things done even though other work may take precedence. So in order to succeed, these low priority projects need continued sponsorship and a dedicated team. 

Verifying the priority

Whenever we are overwhelmed by the challenges of project prioritization, we should remember that there is always a way forward. We may not be able to keep every project stakeholder perfectly happy, but if we can make the most effective use of our available resources while keeping the projects on track. However, If the project benefits appeared to be of considerable importance but inadequate priority than it's a threat, so we need to ensure that the sponsor clearly understand this. 

How to gain sponsorship

A sponsor is needed right from the start of the project, and that need will continue throughout the life of the project. But before we approach any stakeholder to consider sponsoring the project, be sure that we know the reason they should sponsor. Moreover, the relationship between the sponsor and project team must be based on high degree of interdependence, transparency and trust. So, discuss the expectations of the project with the sponsor, and ensure that both parties have a consistent understanding of the consequences if it ends up in failure. Repeat these discussions and make sure to document the sponsor and stakeholder commitments. 

Build a cohesive team

High performing teams are not the result of coincidence, but It's obtained by managing emotions. It is the ability to get team members inspired, so we must understand how team cohesiveness works and how bonding in a team will build energy.  They achieve greater levels of participation and collaboration because team members trust one another, and have confidence in their abilities and effectiveness. Finally, whatever we can uncover to build a committed team, it will help the project manager to get through the project regardless of it's priority level. 

Posted on: March 04, 2018 07:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Dealing with unclear requirements

As project managers we know that one of the greatest challenge in managing projects is dealing with the unknown or unclear requirements. In most cases, project managers fall into the pressure trap from executives and proceed with the project based on their own estimations. I think it's not easy to excuse ourselves by saying that there will be a delay in starting the project because the requirements are unclear. What you think the best way in situations like this?

Go for Agile
Whether it's having unclear requirements, or lack of customer involvement in requirements development, it looks like agile practice can go a long way in mitigating risks. The good thing is that we can start with what we have and go for an iterative development cycle by requesting feedback from customers at every stage of development. And at the completion of iteration, team members can show stakeholders the completed work and review the results.

Try phased
Divide the project into different phases and work with the unknowns. I think when it's broken into smaller pieces they are much easier to tackle. Also, this will reduce risk and also ensure the involvement of the right people at the right time with the right tasks.

Add to risk
When the requirements are not clear we need to record that the estimates are based on unconfirmed assumptions. The next step is to report the risks to the leadership so that the issue can get the visibility and identify any impact to the timeline. Assign an owner and include a resolution target date. If the action owner confirms that assumptions are wrong, we can reestimate with a change management process. 

Make assumptions
Normally the PM can start the project with some carefully planned assumptions based on the best knowledge on the domain. Then the team can build the estimates based on these assumptions. The key point is to ensure that these assumptions are available and visible to the project stakeholders, by recording them in the project documentation. 

Communicate with stakeholders
As usual communication is the key in project management, so If the project manager does not communicate that the requirements are not clear to stakeholders, then there will be confusion and misunderstanding. Having clear requirements is always important to measure the project success, as it allows the team to compare planned and actual results

Summary
It's very clear from the above discussion that poor or unclear requirements may lead to project delay or failure. Poorly specified requirements can lead to, lost development time, missed project deadlines, poor quality of documentation the list of causes can go on and on.

Posted on: February 03, 2018 07:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Choosing the right method for overcoming resistance

My current project is dealing with moving a web based application from self hosted to a vendor hosted cloud environment. So, after deciding the change, the project team must decide how to actually implement the change. The main concern here is how the project team could deal with and minimize the resistance to change.

Why do people resist change?

Dealing with resistance is always challenging because the resistance isn't necessarily based on rational factors. In reality people resist change due to factors like:

  • Loss of job security
  • Fear of unknown
  • Poor timing
  • Fear of failure
  • Organizational politics etc. 

The key to the problem is to understand the true nature of resistance and allow the people to participate in making the change. Also, make sure they recognize the need for change and to search for new solutions. 

Methods for dealing with resistance

Communication is the key here, also educate people when inaccurate or missing information is contributing to resistance. Forcing through the change is effective when speed is essential or when the organization wants to implement the change quicker. 

  • Communication and training: This is most useful when there is a lack of information.
  • Involvement and participation: Normally people who participate will  be more interested to implement the change, or when others have power to resist.
  • Help and support: This works best when fear is the main problem for resistance.
  • Negotiation and agreement: One of the easiest way to avoid resistance to change.
  • Forcing: This is speedy and can overcome very easily any kind of resistance to change.

Conclusion

I think creating a sense of urgency has a very important role in overcoming resistance to change. For those who might want to resist the change, it can convince them of the need for the change. Finally, for any change effort to be effective, the organization need a thoughtful strategy and a thoughtful implementation approach to address various barriers.

 

 

Posted on: January 27, 2018 11:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Use Of Affinity Diagram As A Brainstorming Tool

When there is lot of information coming our way during scope management plan, it is hard to sort through everything and organize the information in a way that makes sense and help the project team to make meaningful decisions. Whether we are brainstorming ideas, or when the team members are dealing with lot of information from a variety of sources, we can end up spending a huge amount of time trying to collect all the bits and pieces. Rather than letting the disjointed information get the best of us, we use an affinity diagram to help organize the information we collected during this process.

In my experience most decision-making exercises begin with brainstorming, and I think this is one of the most common application of affinity diagram. Usually after a brainstorming session we will come across pages of ideas. And, in most cases these won't be edited in any way, many of them will be very similar, and many will be closely related to other ideas in a variety of ways. 

In my current project, each team member decided to write ideas on a separate sticky note and put them on a wall. Then we sorted ideas into groups by asking, what ideas are similar? Is this idea connected to any of the others? etc. We kept on moving the sticky notes around until consensus were reached.  We continued to group ideas until we had reached the broadest. 

The brainstorming session was the most challenging during the collect requirement process. We gathered ideas and content from all team members and key stakeholders. The data gathered were analyzed and different patterns were grouped and created. With the results available and the information gathered from team members, this diagram was presented to sponsor and key stakeholders to ensure that they had a heads up on the structure created. 

Conclusion

Affinity diagrams are great tools for grouping and understanding large amounts of information. When you work through the process of creating relationships and working backwards from detailed information to broad groups, you get an insight you would not otherwise find. Team members themselves brainstormed and reorganized data which otherwise may not provide good results.

The lesson we learned from the project was that next time when we are confronting a large amount of information or number of ideas and if we feel overwhelmed at first glance, will use the affinity diagram approach to discover all the hidden linkages. And when we cannot see the forest for the trees, an affinity diagram may be exactly what we need to get back in focus.

Posted on: January 13, 2018 02:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Key to Information Management Strategy

Most of the project management activities, interact with variety of information, sometimes directly or indirectly, so organizations should have some form of  information management system. Also, organizations are aware that information management strategy is highly crucial to the success of every business. Since it's difficult to survive in the current competitive and innovative world without a framework for information management strategy.

I think this strategy should aim to develop an information culture in which all members of the organization understand the importance of information in relation to their roles and responsibilities.  Also, the ultimate objective of having a strategy is to develop a plan for implementing various systems to support the organizational needs. 

The objectives of the information management strategy planning are to:

  • Initiate an information management strategy based on an assessment of the business strategy. 
  • Initiate a development plan to meet information needs and priorities. 
  • Initiate a technical strategy for the best use of new information technology.

Key to the information management strategy is of course, understanding of the information needs of the organization and its employees and the way information flows through the organization.  First of all, information should be held securely, and protected to ensure its confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA triad).  All information in the organization should meet the necessary quality standards. Also, it should be delivered consistently across all end users and shouldn’t have to wait long to get their requested information.

Conclusion

Based on my research and experience, ownership is a critical element when implementing a strategic plan. So, without proper ownership, end users which are affected by the plan may resist in implementing it. The most effective means of developing ownership is to make sure that there is a broad participation from all end users across the organization during the planning process. Also, the participation can take place at many levels, including information gathering, brainstorming, focus groups, interviews, and facilitated workshops etc. Finally, by implementing the information management strategic plan we can make sure that the project management information needs are integrated, preserved, and leveraged throughout the entire project life cycle.

Posted on: December 26, 2017 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)
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