Archive for category Project Management

Maximizing Project Meetings

Meetings, your not out of one when your already in another. In order to have a successful, productive meeting always have and agenda.  Plan ahead so that all the required team members are available to attend.  Give at least 48 hours notice or longer depending on on the scale of the project.  When it comes to scheduling keep in mind your intended participants and how busy they may be.

Stay one step ahead, know what will members need to  bring and notify them of any work needed before the meeting.  This will help make the meeting most productive.  Compose an outlined agenda that everyone one has access to that includes the following points:

  • Introduction
  • Update
  • The plan
  • Action items
  • Other business

Provide everyone at the meeting a chance to provide their opinion on the topics that were discussed.  As a project manager send out a summary to those who may not have been able to attend and to everyone that did attend.  Follow through so that your meeting is not wasted.  Keep in touch with members and assure that everyone understood the action items.  Hold a follow up meeting within a given time frame so everyone can review prior and future action items.

Meetings take up most of our daily work time for professionals sometimes its a wonder anything else gets done.  Hopefully the advice above helps guide everyone in and out  of meetings so they can move  on and accomplish more.

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Know Your Cost

As a Project Manager it is essential to have financial knowledge to manage a budget well and precisely.  Know all the cost to include in your budgets and try not to overlook any important costs.  Once you have identified the costs that need to be included it’s a good idea to start off with estimates.  Your estimates will fluctuate as the project progresses, don’t worry this is normal.  In order to meet targets make sure you have cost tolerances that  meet senior managements expectations.

A budget is more than just a balance of expenditures.  A budget also serves as a metric that Project Managers can use to make informed decisions.  A budget can also be used to identify key points in a project where decisions may need to be made.

The best way to keep track of what your spending is to keep track of the project process itself.  Know where you are in the process and what you budget target was set at for that point in the project.  Make sure the project and the budget match.

The size of the project small or large should not affect how you go about setting your budget.  Small projects are just as much work as large projects.  The budget process should be similar for both just at a different financial scale.

Knowing how to manage budget is a key factor to being a successful Project Manager.

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Top Trends in Project Management

Along with 2011 came new trends in the field of Project Management.  Changes surround  Project Management as it gains acceptance as a discipline.  I will focus on 5 of the newest trends for 2011 that will affect the success of future Project Managers.

Leadership skills- An old trend with a new level of importance.  In 2011 Project Managers will need to master their core competencies of skills in critical thinking, communication and change management.  These skills are crucial to being on time on budget for assigned projects.

Competency Models-  Company specific competency models will be used in hiring, assignments, promotions, and professional development of  Project Managers.  These models will illuminate the behaviors required for project managers to be successful and take on larger more complex projects.

Experiential Learning- Professional development of Project Manger’s will be more on the job training.  Training courses and programs will need to be more relevant based of real projects in order for Project Manager’s to be successful in the live business world.

Informal Learning- Organizations will develop informal learning approaches such as communities of practice, social media, coaching, and mentoring.  Learning will be conducted through technologies and approaches such as wikis, blogs, video, podcast and other sources.

Outsourcing- Continued growth of outsourcing will cause organizations to pay more attention to risk and the due diligence process.  Forcing organizations to strengthen their risk management cultures and recognize the value of best practices.

In this economic down turn the skills needed and held by many Project Managers will be sought for by companies.

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Saving the Environment Through Project Management

Green project management is a new concept that is important to spread.  It’s a new way of thinking green throughout the process of  the project.  Making projects more efficient while taking the environment into consideration instead of ignoring it.  Some decisions may stay the same while others change or maybe just make the same decision differently.

Standards have been set to meet the environmental challenges companies face in the 21st century.  Compliance is voluntary yet many companies have applied for certification while encouraging vendors and partners to do so as well.  Companies realize the importance of sustainable development and how it will affect  them as a company and the environment in the future.

It is important for players to know the impact of their operations on the environment, and to establish management standards to promote environmental awareness.  These changes may seem minimal but when taking into account companies that hire anywhere from a dozen to thousands of employee’s small impacts can go a long way.  Bellow is a list of small changes to follow that can really have an impact on the future of the environment:

  1. Change in energy consumption
  2. Resign of buildings to take advantage of solar/wind power
  3. Save PDF copies instead of printing
  4. Use energy efficient computers/fixtures
  5. Properly allocating project resources so processes aren’t dragged out

Project delivery can be done in ways that have minimum impact on the environment.  Please add other ideas to my list that can make Project Management go green.

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The Redudant Process

Working in project management there are set process that individuals must follow to reach the desired outcomes.  I know we’ve all been there following a tedious process in which several steps can be taken out and still the desired outcome would be the same.  Project after project you follow the sames steps and nothing ever changes if you do try to take out a step your boss scolds you.  Well its time to speak up, sit down and review the process with your manager to make everyone  more productive.

Once again one of the most important factors in project management is good communication.  You can’t just take out a step and expect your boss to be okay with it.  The best way to handle this situation is to hold a short meeting with your boss and explain why the step is not necessary and how it will improve the process overall.  As the Project Manager no one knows the process better than you.  Your boss has a job to and they my not have the time to review processes that you do.  So be a team player and point out any needed updates.

In the end the desired outcome is always more important than the process itself.  Bellow is  a list of steps to follow to help keep your processes up to date:

  • Review regularly and remove all redundant steps
  • Have upper management approve, provide reasoning for this desired change
  • Make sure the desire outcome is the same after the process is changed

Please add to my list of way to streamline processes and make everyone’s work day more productive.

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No One’s in the Office Anymore

No one is in the office anymore.  When working in project management it seems like your working more with computers than people.  This is due to the fact that lots of Project Management teams are broken up either by travel or offices in different cities.  Although your not with someone in the same office they are still a team member and everyone’s participation is key to the success of the project.  Luckily several virtual tools have been created to help us keep our teams connected.

Start off by motivating your remote team and holding everyone’s interest.  Be respectful of each others time and keep time zones in consideration.  When the team finally has a chance to get together us the time to get everyone on the same time brainstorming ideas, and making decisions. Empower everyone in the meeting to make decisions. Showing diagrams, meeting notes or issue logs that are being through virtual technology so the team can see what your talking about.

Bellow is a list to tools to help remotes teams collaborate:

  • web meetings, GoTo meeting/Live meeting or Skype, great to see each others expressions
  • speaker conference calls, quick and easy
  • web-based collaboration tools, Central Desktop

There are many more virtual tools to explore look around and find what works best for your team.  Although there are many virtual communication tools I still find it very important to take the time to meet your team at least once face to face.  Please feel free to add any tools you use to conduct your remote business.

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There is no Perfect Project

Until the perfect project is discovered we must all learn to work together.  Working in teams can sometimes lead to missing great ideas due to lack of time or the over powering of strong members.   Brainstorming is a good way to allow everyone to share their ideas.  The best ways to gather everyone’s ideas is to hold several short meeting rather than one long meeting.  I have found that it can be hard to keep track of  things when a meeting is dragged out to long.  Begin by brainstorming  general list of possible ideas and then going back and adding details.  By the end of each meeting have a list of  your strongest ideas to present to the decision makers.  Wait to make any final decisions until the actual decisions makers are present.

The items bellow will help your team develop a strong brainstorming list:

  • consider exaggerated ideas
  • get as many ideas as possible
  • give everyone a chance to participate and add to each others ideas
  • avoid criticizing and provide productive feedback

To help shorten meetings have a prepared list of potential topics ahead of time.  You can even send out a list before a meeting so members show up with ideas.

Possible topics to brainstorm about:

  • project risk
  • new business
  • solutions to problems

Remember there is no perfect project so it’s important to communicate an let everyone know the final expectations for any given project.  Projects can quickly lose scope and become unprofitable without a determined team.  Does anyone else have any good ideas to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to speak out and add to the brainstorming list? Please add to my list above.

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