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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Goals In Life

“Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk.” J.C. Penney

I believe that in order to be successful in life and anything you do one must have set goals.  Goals ranging form your personal life to you professional desires.  I used to have a great co-worker who was close to his 40s in age.  I remember talking to him, he was such a charming, funny guy.  I remember asking him, ” How does such a great guy like you end up single.”  He replied, “I guess I just never planned for it.”  After that I gave him the spill about my poor aunt in Mexico who never got married or had children and now she lives all alone in Mexico with diabetes and no one to care for her.  I told him that’s is never to late. I emphasized the goals in ones personal life because in order to be successful professionally one needs the balance of both.  Many individuals bring their emotions to work bringing down the whole team, so remember plan  for happiness.

Once you have your personal goals set its time to set your professional goals.  Education can have a big influence on your professional goals.  Education opens the door to opportunity. One mistake I did was think that education alone was enough to get me to where I wanted to be.  When planning make sure to set small goals in between while you accomplish your larger goals.  For example my life goal was to get my bachelors degree  and that was it.  So when I got my bachelors degree I was so unprepared.  I never did any internships or volunteer work to add experience to my degree so I had trouble getting into the field I enjoyed.  If you ever feel lost its okay, review your goals and and remove some, but always try to  be as specific as possible.  Never settle for less and dream big.

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Last Minute Notice

Being a new Project Manager can be hectic.  Its very important be organized and know what you will need next in order for the process to flow smoothly.  Not only do you have to manage your work but sometimes you also have to manage the work of your team members.

One of the first things I have learned is to never wait until the last minute.  I was working on updating a project tracker and I had 1 hour left until the expected due time when I realized I was missing a piece of information.  Not only was I missing something but I would have to turn to my team member to find that information.  All my team members are just as busy as me and now that team member had to put their work on hold so that I could meet my deadline.

It seems like, in large projects sometimes its okay to miss deadline.  Deadlines are always being pushed back.  Is it bad planning or lazy Project Managers?  Either way I’m the kind of person that rarely misses a deadline.  I guess as part of a team you just have to work together in order to be successful.  From now on when I’m working on a project I will first scan it to see what information  I need to get from others and then start working on the things I can handle myself.

Building strong relationships is important a person who is your friend will be more willing to help you than someone who dislikes you. Remember never give last minute notice it stresses the whole team.

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Problems


When managing a team as a Project Manager, who owns a problem when it arises?  Is it the person who noticed it first or perhaps the one believed to have caused the problem.  Your working as a team therefore  everyone one has some responsibility when something goes wrong.

What is a problem?  A problem is any error or malfunction that needs to be corrected.  Problems have different levels of technicality and should be handled by the correct person.  A level of severity and priority should be give to the problem.  Make sure problem is assigned to someone who will be able to address it.  As a Project Manager if you will not be directly handling the problem yourself, be sure to follow closely and be aware of how it is being addressed.

Quick steps to managing problems:

–  Have a plan of action, to figure out how severe an issue is and how to best decide who will address the issue.

– Have a centralized reporting system like excel.

– Always assign a team member to handle the issue directly.

-Follow up make sure issue is taken care of and handled correctly.

When a problem  is found it is important to Maintain communication with your team members.  Manage, that the problem is being handled by the right person and keep track of who was assigned to the problem and how long it took to address it.  Focus and attention need to be given to the problem before it gets out of hand. Never play the blame game remember you are a team and everyone is responsible for the success  of the project.

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Power

I am new to the field of Project Management and have heard of the all mighty Project Manager. Teams will consist of engineers and business professionals. In many cases you’ll have highly skilled engineers that are being led by a Project Manger who perhaps is less technical.  This can lead to a frustrating situation when someone feels like they are being lead by someone who does not have the expertise they do.  In these situations it is important to recognize that everyone is on the same team and that a variety of expertise are needed to complete a team.  The Project Manager is specialized in overlooking the project as a whole and therefore may have  power over the team.

A good project manager realizes that the best workers are ones willing to do the work not ones that have been forced into submission.  There are several types of power a Project Manager can use to  influence the team.

Expert power-  The Project Manager can take the training necessary to become an expert on the product or project they manage.  Become the go to person, know the answer or know where to find it.

Reward Power- The Project Manager can reward team members with status or recognition or by simply allowing team members to do the tasks they enjoy.  The key here is to give team members what they desire so you can ask them to do something in return.  Reward power may also work in the reverse by withholding a reward if the people do not comply.

Legitimate Power-  Power that is given to the Project Manager from a higher authority, formal authority.  When a team member is hired on they also accept who is in charge according to senior management.

Representative Power- The group voluntarily elects who to follow which may not always be the Project Manager.   The Project Manager needs to get to know the team members and build trust.

Coercive Power-  The project manager has the ability to inflict punishment on group if tasks are not completed.  The team finds the punishment to be worse than performing the task itself.  Always use this power as a last resort.

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Project Management and Renewable Energy

It has been about 3 months now that I started my blog to brand myself in the field of Project Management  so far I have been very successful with my objectives. My objectives were to find a job in the field of project management and to educate myself in this field.

I start my new position as Assistant Project Manager next week.  Especially with everything that’s going on right now with the Japan nuclear pant I feel very lucky to have gotten my foot in the  field of project management in renewable energy.  I know that there are many unemployed individuals out there, for example project managers for construction projects since construction has been greatly limited.  I recommend that unemployed individuals put their expertise to use in the growing industry of renewable energy.  Many international company’s are coming to the United States to invest in this growing industry.  This is providing jobs in the US’s economy. There is a great push for renewable energy since the rise in gas prices and the nuclear disaster in Japan. Renewable energy is all over the news has government tries to find safer methods to provide  energy to everyone.

Renewable Energy Sectors:

  • Solar
  • Wind Energy
  • Biomass
  • Geothermal Energy

Project managers handle all aspects of putting a plant to work. Bellow is a list of the resources that are managed:

  • Business Development
  • Engineering
  • Manufacture and Assembly
  • Installation Maintenance

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