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Every organization has a unique company culture. Even a business that appears very similar to others in the marketplace has its own blend of corporate values, maturity, and personality that set it apart. Culture wields wide influence, from shaping the company’s workforce to determining how collaborations are formed.

Company culture also has a heavy hand in project success, something that can create either opportunities or challenges for PMs as they guide initiatives from the planning phase through execution.

Below are just a handful of areas where culture often sets project teams up for success or failure.

Communications

Some companies have terrible internal communication habits. It’s surprisingly common in this age of e-mail and document management software that organizations still have a culture of secrecy.

If the business environment treats communication as an inconvenience rather than a tool, department heads may purposely withhold data as a way of retaining control and power over their groups. Others may simply be so inured to the silos that exist all around them that they don’t recognize or care that someone else would find their information useful.

Only a culture that supports and encourages healthy communication channels can overcome the fear, indifference, and inattention that prevents project teams from gathering and sharing the data they need to move a project to a successful completion.

Stakeholder engagement and sponsor support

Silos do more than just hamper good communications. They making it extraordinarily difficult to gain and sustain strong support from sponsors and other stakeholders. Any time the culture of a business tolerates silos, it’s not uncommon that competing priorities exist between the various departments. They may even have trouble coming together under a unified project management strategy. When the environment is too disconnected, PMs may not be able to get high-level sponsors to cooperate or provide the critical support necessary to secure enough resources to execute the project.

Performance improvement

Organizations often say they want to improve their operations. However, some never go any further than talking about getting better. When it comes to actually examining past project performance and developing a strategy to enhance their results, they simply put on the brakes. Why? Money, time, and ego are common underlying factors.

Executives may balk at conducting a review of how well previous projects were executed. Their concerns typically revolve around the need to dedicate staff to this function, as it could lessen the resources available to launch new projects in the near term.

A lack of understanding may also come into play. It’s possible the senior management team assumes their company’s skilled PM will already know how to spot opportunities for improvement as part of their daily responsibilities.

Even a PM who’s vocal about wanting to deliver a better return on the company’s project investment may not make much progress. If the culture doesn’t prioritize continuous improvement efforts, then the business will never allocate the time or resources to implement the necessary changes and achieve better results.

Skills, tools, and infrastructure

Every business wants a project team that’s competent and experienced. However, the skills needed to drive a project to the finish line go beyond core project management competencies. Not only do team members need to be experienced in their own functional areas, the company should also be proactive about ensuring they have the tools and infrastructure in place to help them bring different parts of the organization together in support of the project. A culture that discourages political strife and infighting—one that genuinely champions the notion of working as a team toward a common set of goals—is vital in achieving consistent project success.

PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.

The post The Importance of Culture in Project Management Success appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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Issues that are of immediate importance consume much of a PM’s time. This is especially true when the schedule is busy with active projects and additional initiatives are waiting in the wings to launch. Near-term problems such as schedule delays and funding concerns are just a few of the items vying for attention.

As a PM, it’s difficult to pull your focus away from the urgent matters of the day to think about the future benefits of a good PM training program. But instruction and guidance—for individuals as well as your entire team—are vital to project success.

If you’re finding challenges in unexpected places, or if your projects continue to drop into the same pitfalls over and over, it may be time for some additional education. Depending on how much your organization has grown and how often you engage new stakeholders in your projects, a refresher on the fundamentals may also be in order.

Consider some of these red-flag issues that signal your project team could use some updated PM training.

1 – Incoming status reports are a jumbled mix of information

Routine progress updates provided by team members are an important component in making sure your project is on track. When that data isn’t consistent from one functional area to the next, it can cause big problems. Metrics may be missing, information might be submitted in different formats or using different measures—one group identifies remaining tasks as percentages while another offers estimated completion dates, for example. To avoid the ongoing risk of misinterpreting or misrepresenting the incoming information, design your PM training program to help team members better understand how your organization’s reporting methodology is structured and what type of standards they should use.

2 – Stakeholders are confused about the project’s goals

As a project moves through the planning phase, its achievables may evolve. And though this process should be wrapped up by the time the project is officially launched, final information about goals and expectations isn’t always relayed clearly across the stakeholder base. Some of your team members may not know they’re using obsolete or incomplete data to assign priorities and assess risks. It all comes back to good communication skills, but those aren’t acquired by accident. A strong training program is essential in ensuring that everyone on the project team knows the best techniques to build and maintain healthy information flows.

3 – Team members aren’t accountable for their activities or timelines

Though this seems like a straightforward accountability issue, it may be rooted in a lack of training. In many cases, stakeholders don’t fully participate in the development of the project plan. As a result, they don’t have a high level of individual commitment and there’s nothing to drive their personal accountability. Good PM training emphasizes the importa ce of team participation in developing and managing project plans. It also helps to pull the team together around a shared set of goals and a desire to move the initiative to a successful completion. This makes accountability a much higher priority for everyone.

4 – Risk assessment efforts are hit or miss

When risk assessments aren’t executed consistently, your initiatives are more likely to experience some unpleasant surprises. Lack of resource availability, budget overages, and schedule delays are just the beginning. Though risk management has its own training niche, additional instruction on good project management techniques will help your team members recognize where risk areas may lurk within large, complex, high-impact, or long-duration projects. The right instruction will also arm them with the tools and techniques to properly assess potential risks and develop effective strategies to address or mitigate them.

PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.

The post 4 Signs Your Project Team Needs Better Training appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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Good leaders possess a range of important skills. From effectively managing people to making solid strategic decisions, leadership requires experience and knowledge. But the baseline skills that many good leaders possess make up only a small part of the project management discipline. Unfortunately, senior staff may not have good awareness of the core competencies a PM needs to consistently drive projects to a successful completion. Without a well-crafted mentoring program in place or the support of an outside project management consulting firm to help develop and bolster any skills that are incomplete, they may move a very good leader into a project management role and later express surprise when they aren’t able to perform as expected.

Knowing that good leaders bring so much value to the table, why do they often fail at project management?

Scope Management is a Challenge

Maintaining control over a project’s scope—particularly when the effort is large, complex, or when tasks will occur over a long duration of time—can be extraordinarily difficult. It requires good insight into the many downstream effects that scope creep could have and also a thorough understanding of the risks the project may encounter if its boundaries aren’t well managed. PMs need to be knowledgeable about all the tasks and objectives a project’s scope includes, while also recognizing what is outside the approved parameters. In addition, they must have the skills to accurately assess the impacts of broadening the scope and enough experience to estimate what would be required to successfully deliver an initiative that’s more expansive.

Difficulty Leading in a Matrix Environment

Leaders commonly have direct authority over the majority of people working in their group. This structure greatly simplifies concepts such as accountability, delegation, discipline, and engagement. But because PMs frequently must rely on people outside their reporting structure, the traditional leadership qualities need to be augmented to ensure a successful project outcome in a matrix environment. Skills such as securing stakeholder buy-in and building enthusiasm among a cross-functional team are essential.

Job Security Fears Hinder Communications

PMs must sometimes deliver bad news to the organization’s executive team. Unforeseen budget issues may require additional funding, for example, or quality testing may have revealed problems that need to be fixed before the project can proceed, resulting in unavoidable delays. Even leaders with good communication skills sometimes find themselves avoiding these conversations because they fear that upsetting the executive team could hurt their prospects for advancement. A PM’s career opportunities really will begin to diminish if communications aren’t robust and executives learn about issues at the last minute, when things are so far off track that any resolution is likely to be expensive and disruptive.

Risk Management Requires its Own Set of Skills

Depending on the size, maturity, and mission of the organization, it’s possible that some group or department leaders haven’t had much exposure to risk management. Without reliable experience identifying, assessing, measuring, and mitigating risks, a PM new to the project management field could miss important hazards.

For people who already have solid leadership skills, building these project management-specific competencies can be accomplished through time and targeted training. A mentoring relationship with a seasoned PM is one way to gain valuable knowledge about real-world situations and strategies to avoid trouble. These competencies can also be added to the project team through a partnership with an experienced project management consulting firm. Their experts will have valuable experience navigating the areas that commonly present good leaders with challenges, and they can also provide tools and techniques to help overcome the roadblocks that often stand in the way of project success.

PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.

The post Why Good Leaders Fail at Project Management appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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As part of your continuous improvement efforts, your project team should be gathering, analyzing, and acting on project feedback received from stakeholders. Whether they’re customers, sponsors, executives, internal support departments, or even your vendors, your project collaborators can often provide important insight into how well your team is performing and where things need to be improved. Many teams, however, don’t get as much value as they could from the project feedback process because they haven’t put enough structure in place to maximize the benefits.

If your team wants to see if additional performance gains are available, the following questions can help ensure you’re making the best use of project feedback.

Who receives and reviews incoming project feedback?

Questions and concerns should always be handled quickly and the people managing that near-term function need to receive relevant feedback right away. Over the longer term, however, this feedback should also make its way to the project team’s leadership or other designated people so they can maintain a wider view on how the feedback loop is working. They’ll have enough insight into the team’s operations and available resource levels to develop plans to improve problem areas and capitalize on potential opportunities. Once you’ve identified which individuals in the team are best placed to assess inquiries, criticisms, and observations, create a process that ensures all forms of feedback are funneled to them for future review.

When is feedback solicited?

Because time is tight and resources are usually lean, many teams don’t ask customers and other stakeholders for feedback until the project is nearly complete. If that’s your current approach, you may want to look for opportunities earlier in the project’s lifecycle to solicit feedback. End users, for example, have plenty going on with their regular workload and may not remember the questions they had or the challenges they encountered while the project was underway. Begin by identifying one or two milestones in the project schedule and send out short customer surveys after you’ve reached those interim markers. This keeps issues fresh in everyone’s mind and helps you gather feedback in a timely manner.

When is feedback reviewed?

Feedback is commonly reviewed during the project’s post-mortem phase, when activities have wrapped up and the team is looking back over how things went. Unfortunately, teams that focus their feedback analysis efforts to only one master session may be losing out on opportunities to improve. Instead, consider how much more successful your group could be if they incorporated feedback while the project was still ongoing. You may be able to head off negative feedback later by addressing problem areas now, such as when end users complain that a lack of communication left them in the dark on a scheduled work disruption. By reviewing that feedback soon after receipt, PMs can tweak the communication plan and either broaden the user base that receives project notifications or change how they issue outbound communications to disseminate that type of information more effectively.

Are you proactively looking for trends in feedback received across the entire project portfolio?

Examining feedback from a standalone project is a must, but it’s critical that PMs also review feedback as part of the larger portfolio picture. Look for commonalities from one project to the next. See if you’re hearing the same questions or receiving the same grievances during every large project, or during every project that involves a particular type of activity—department relocations, software development, system upgrades, planned outages, etc. These themes can help you focus resources on the areas that are currently lacking, and you may also find opportunities to streamline activities and improve performance across multiple projects.

PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.

The post Make Better Use of Project Feedback appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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More teams are finding it advantageous to incorporate Agile concepts into their traditional waterfall project management structure. This strategy can deliver some big benefits, but a hybrid approach has the potential to present challenges if PMs don’t address a few key issues early in the process.

Whether this is your first time implementing a hybrid strategy or your project group has had trouble bringing Agile and waterfall together in the past, consider if there are some additional steps you can take to make the effort a success.

Though several disciplines and functional areas have been leveraging Agile’s principles for a number of years, many have not. It’s important that PMs recognize that some team members may not be familiar with the Agile framework. Even stakeholders with significant project experience under their belts might not know what a Kanban Board is. The notion of sprints could be completely foreign to them. This creates fertile ground for problems, since you’ll soon have a flurry of terminology and concepts flowing through the project team that could cause confusion and introduce the potential for errors and miscommunications.

PMs may also encounter stakeholders who don’t see Agile as a legitimate project strategyor who strongly believe it isn’t the best approach for the initiative that’s currently in front of them. A subset of people could be vocal with their pushback but others are likely to keep their opinions to themselves, choosing instead to simply continue with the framework they normally use. It’s a mistake to assume it will be easy to change anyone’s mind on this—some team members will ignore all but the most vigorous efforts to get them to employ Agile’s principles.

The good news is that these issues aren’t insurmountable and ultimate success is still achievable. But getting past a lack of understanding or a reluctance to use Agile requires PMs to acknowledge that some additional training is likely to be necessary. They should also focus on securing stakeholder buy-in early when it comes to adopting Agile.

Provide targeted training so everyone is on the same page

You need to know that your team understands the concepts of Agile well enough to navigate a hybrid environment. Unless you’re a long-time master of the Agile approach, most PMs will find that working with an experienced instructor is the most effective and efficient option when it comes to teaching Agile’s concepts to a project team. A qualified trainer will ensure your group’s questions are answered and that they’ve learned what they need to know to make the most of the hybrid approach you plan to use. A skilled teacher can also discuss how to fit Agile’s concepts alongside the waterfall strategy so your team has a better real-world idea of the bigger project management picture. Scenario training may also be employed to help stakeholders retain the information better and prepare them to tackle the challenges and risks they’re likely to face.

Find a knowledgeable partner to fill in any missing project strategy expertise

A project management consulting firm with a background in blending Agile and waterfall approaches can be a tremendous asset in driving a hybrid project to a successful completion. As you evaluate potential partners, ask about the tools and techniques they have available to help manage the different status update reporting schedules from one cross-functional group to the next. Inquire about their ability to provide facilitation expertise to assist the team in working through problems. The consultancy’s communications acumen is also important, as it will enable them to answer questions that may arise regarding the best way to dovetail Agile and waterfall.

The post Project Managers are Key to Agile Success appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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We’ve looked at some of the problems pleasers can sometimes create within the project team as they try to execute initiatives without upsetting customers. Fortunately, a strong project management methodology gives PMs the tools they need to eliminate many of the issues pleasers commonly trigger. This not only keeps customers and the executive group happier, it also ensures the team is able to perform well and derive more satisfaction from their role in moving every project to a successful completion.

One way to help solve the pleaser problem is to develop healthy communication channels, both internally and across the stakeholder base—that includes sponsors and champions, end users, the executive team, and any external vendors or other outside collaborators. But bad news occasionally needs to be given and a solid communication plan alone won’t necessarily help a pleaser deliver a message that’s sure to upset someone.

To smooth out that process, consider partnering with a facilitatorto help keep team meetings, progress updates and other interactions efficient and driven by data rather than emotion or ego. In toxic environments especially, where sharing unpleasant information is discouraged or punished, an experienced project management consultant can act as a buffer between stakeholders and the project group. Team members will be more comfortable raising alerts about potential delays or budget issues, while the senior staff benefit from having someone involved in the process whose role is to focus on the project’s ultimate success.

If your pleasers are famous for staying mum even as their workloads become unsustainable, it’s time to leverage highly accurate task duration estimates. This approach starts the project on the right foot, since your team will have the detailed, dependable data they need to create a timeline that’s realistic and workable. You’ll help your pleasers avoid finding themselves juggling too many tasks down the road and your executives will appreciate knowing they can rely on the schedules your team presents to them.

It can sometimes be a challenge to gather good quality estimates if your group is used to developing schedules based on guesses or using timelines from previous projects. This route is fast but it’s not nearly accurate enough to be useful. Instead, you’ll get better results from bringing in a project management consultancyto help identify who should be providing task duration estimates in the early planning stages. With the right people in the room, you’ll receive much more reliable data and you’ll also have an opportunity to flesh out questions about sequencing dependent activities, where craft labor or other niche expertise will be needed, and if there are opportunities to compress the schedule by carrying out some tasks simultaneously.

With many of the baseline pleaser problems handled, the use of stringent project controlswill help to ensure things are on track once the planning phase is out of the way and the team has moved on to execution. You’ll get early notification of potential delays, funding issues that are still on the horizon, and looming resource conflicts. If you’re concerned your team is running too lean to monitor progress or that your pleasers may still try to avoid alerting the rest of the group to pending trouble spots—particularly when you’re dealing with an initiative that’s high risk, high visibility, complex, or where you’re facing tight deadlines—you’ll benefit from establishing a relationship with a project management consulting firm experienced in applying project controls and tracking progress in real time.

With the right project management methodology in place, your pleasers and the rest of your team can focus on moving your project down the path to success.

PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.

The post A Proven Project Management Methodology that Fixes the Pleaser Problem appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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When your team handles projects on a routine basis, it’s tempting to just plug the information on the latest effort into your software, add in a bunch of time and budget estimates based on previous projects, and start working on the first set of tasks. Stop! This approach sets you up to repeat mistakes you’ve made in the past, leaving your team unlikely to reach its full potential.

If you want to improve your project management performance—greater efficiency, less waste, and fewer delays and other setbacks, then consider some ways you can make your next project better.

1 – Confirm your project portfolio priorities.

Deploying your resources most effectively means working on those projects that will deliver the most value to the organization. Rather than automatically launching the next project on the list, take the time to review the entire portfolio (and your company’s strategic goals) to make sure this is still the right place to direct your resources.

2 – Identify your project’s critical paths.

Project management performance is often impacted by a few critical paths shaping your project’s scope, timeline, and deliverables. Before you start assigning tasks and earmarking funds, it’s wise to confirm the critical paths with the senior leadership team and your project’s sponsors. You’ll be able to ensure everyone is on the same page and that expectations are aligned across the board. Though there may still be a lot of setup that needs to be done, don’t wait on this step. You don’t want to find out mid-project that you aren’t focusing on the right paths and that you must scramble to quickly resequence tasks and try to get back on track.

3 – Know your target completion date.

It may seem surprising, but it’s not uncommon for executives to want to get things going immediately, even before vital details—the expected completion date among them—are known or approved. You’ll be setting your team up for headaches if you get too far into the process without a firm timeline in mind, so don’t cave to the pressure from above. Improve your success rate and nail down your important milestones up front.

4 – Rally your champions.

Your longer-term efforts to engage key stakeholders and sponsors will be more successful if you’re enthusiastic about ensuring their support in the early days. Schedule a brief meeting to review the project and confirm where you’ll need assistance and who will be there to provide it. This gets the project going on the right foot and will establish a good foundation as the initiative moves forward.

5 – Look at your communication strategy.

Your stakeholders—staff, end users, vendors, business partners, etc.—may change from one project to the next. Look at how this project’s groups will interact and what will be needed to keep their participation levels high. Are people dispersed across multiple regions? Will time zone differences make it difficult to bring everyone together? Technology tools such as web conferencing or group chat can be a huge asset, so set them up early and put them through their paces to be sure they’re ready to go when you are.

6 – Acknowledge where you don’t have much leverage.

Projects rely on cross-functional teams, bringing people from across the organization into the effort. While highly effective, this structure can cause issues later when project tasks vie for the same pool of time and energy as employees’ non-project work, particularly when they don’t report to you. By knowing ahead of time where accountability could be an issue, you can focus on those areas and ensure people are engaged and fully committed.

PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.

The post 6 Ways to Make Your Next Project Better appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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Project teams that adopt an Agile framework as a project management methodology sometimes begin to operate under a “time is flexible” mantra. In many cases, this mindset manifests as a project team that isn’t too worried about when they deliver the product, as long as they deliver the right features. It’s an approach that may help ease team members’ time burdens but it ignores the needs and expectations of other stakeholders. Without the right project management methodology to maintain a balance between being nimble and being accountable, the project team could find itself losing the trust of the senior management group.

To the customer—whether that means the organization’s executive team or an outside client—time matters very much. They aren’t interested in which project management methodology and strategy your team uses, they just want their stuff, and for good reason. A product that continues to be vaporware long past the original due date can cause big problems. The company’s leadership team may have made financial commitments based on the expected delivery date, or the business could find itself losing market share if product launches or updates lag behind schedule.

Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to choose between Agile or accountability. The use of an Agile approach doesn’t require a divorce from the time component of your initiative. Your project team, along with your stakeholders and sponsors, can still expect to meet important deadlines and achieve the project’s goals. When time is a primary consideration, such as when a technology project absolutely must reach key milestones on schedule and hit its target completion date, you don’t need to abandon Agile to make that happen.

The right project management methodology can position your team to execute each phase of your project on time while still reaping the benefits of Agile. As you begin the process, a few important considerations should come first.

To ensure your Agile project doesn’t leave your team or your customer in the dark, begin by identifying the needs and expectations of everyone involved. If you’re working closely with the executives on a project, they will likely expect to see the entire schedule with firm milestone and completion dates. This is one group that absolutely values time, and the project team must keep that in mind. For every day your project is late, the company will see a resulting cost—lost revenue, a diminished customer base, investors who pull their funding, business collaborators who chose to leave the project, and potentially even in fines or regulatory fees. Those dollars may not always add up to large amounts but there will be an impact and the leadership team will remember it.

As part of the time component, you’ll also need to identify a critical path for your project and manage your team’s efforts using the critical path method. Your customers’ expectations around the project’s goals will typically determine the critical path. Straying from that path could result in missed deliverables and potentially the failure of the project. As you look at the critical path and develop a timeline that aligns with the milestone deadlines, you can still predict when the project will be done using an Agile framework. Whether you prefer to leverage sprints or story points, your team will need to estimate their task durations. Using the right projcet management methodology, the schedule you develop will continue to be accurate and up-to-date because it uses those duration estimates as its foundation. This gives you the ability to monitor your project’s progress against the original schedule and provide status reports to your customer throughout the project’s lifecycle, since your dynamic timeline will accommodate ongoing updates from your team.

PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.

The post Mastering Time in Agile appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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When launching a new initiative, companies often feel they need to choose one project management approach for the entire effort, whether it’s Agile, waterfall, or something else. But within a single project, there may be some disciplines that lend themselves to an approach like Agile while others fit better into a strategy with a different structure.

Before you settle on one project management approach to rule them all, consider if the application of multiple strategies might be better. Depending on the scope of your initiative and the type of work being done, your organization may actually benefit from a hybrid approach.

Look first at the disciplines, functions, and activities that will be part of your project.

  • Do some functional areas require flexibility in how they tackle or sequence their tasks? Will other activities need to be carried out using a predetermined set of steps?
  • Will matrix or other reporting structures make it more challenging to keep everyone on track?
  • Are the sub-team structures expected to be static from beginning to end, or will they evolve to suit different stages of the project’s progression?
  • Will it be necessary to receive mid-project approvals before moving on to the next phase, or can multiple phases be active simultaneously?

In essence, if a portion of the team needs to be nimble, Agile can help you do that. This same flexibility may be useful in projects where sub-teams will reform or reorganize themselves several times throughout the initiative’s lifecycle. For areas that require strong accountability, on the other hand, or when there’s a need to work under tight or fixed timelines, then a more traditional approach will likely give you the right kind of structure to do that. This could also include more challenging reporting hierarchies, such as when the PM doesn’t have direct control over the majority of the people doing the work.

As you evaluate the benefits of each type of project approach, you might also consider soliciting feedback from your team members on the concept of running multiple project management strategies within a single initiative. You may find that some of them have strong feelings one way or another, especially if they’ve worked under a project approach in the past that didn’t end well. Team members may have more questions than input and that’s okay. You can help them navigate whichever strategy their functional area ends up using, but getting their concerns out in the open is important. It will help you monitor for potential issues and proactively provide training and other guidance to ensure the team avoids pitfalls.

Once you’ve determined that a hybrid approach would be the best solution for your project, it’s time to figure out how to make that happen. Few PMs have hands-on experience implementing and maintaining this type of project management strategy, and without some history doing it successfully it can be difficult to drive a project to completion using multiple approaches. It requires discipline and the ability to translate terms and concepts from one strategy to the other. Without that expertise, the various sub-groups will be speaking different languages and it’s possible they’ll provide their project data in different formats and using different metrics. Things are likely to begin falling through the cracks almost immediately as you try to put the pieces together into one cohesive puzzle.

The use of a proven project management methodology as the foundation for a hybrid approach is key to long-term success. It will provide the flexibility to blend different update schedules and other reporting variations while still giving your team the structure to maintain progress and meet important deadlines.

PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.

The post Project Management: Agile, Traditional, or Both? appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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Does it feel like your project meetings could be better? Maybe they used to be more productive and focused. The discussions might seem less dynamic now, or you’ve noticed that team members no longer leave meetings as engaged on the actions and issues that come out of those conversations. With everything going on, it’s possible your project meetings have become stale or less efficient than they used to be.

Whether you want to put the oomph back in your group meetings or you’re bringing a new team together and want to get things started on the right foot, we’ve compiled a few targeted strategies to help you make your project meetings more powerful.

Trim the attendee list

It’s a rare project meeting that requires the attendance of the entire team. Instead, you’ll get better participation if you keep the attendee list scaled back to include only those representatives that are truly necessary. Do you need just one representative from each cross-functional group? Make that clear in the meeting invite. Will this meeting focus primarily on the upcoming schedule for craft labor resources? Select only those people who are able to contribute to that discussion. The participant list can change frequently without upsetting the team dynamic as long as meetings are productive and people are able to discuss the issues that are on the radar.

Turn to data to help drive the discussions

In this age of technology, projects produce a vast amount of information. Be sure to leverage the data within the team to keep the discussions on track and productive. Whether the focal point is schedule deviation data, actual expenditures versus budget estimates, or projected staffing requirements, be prepared with information to help streamline the meeting and keep the attention on the areas that genuinely need it.

Identify priorities and stick to them

Project meetings can sometimes stray all over the map, especially when the initiative is complex and multi-faceted. If your gatherings seem to wander or if the team spends too much time on one topic, it’s time to give your meetings some structure. Though you may have a standard set of talking points to cover at every meeting—progress updates from the various sub-teams, a review of upcoming activities, etc.—providing participants with an agenda can still be a useful exercise. With the agenda as a guide, you can cover the relevant topics and keep the meeting moving forward.

List action items for everyone to see

The list of current and upcoming project activities is another bit of data that can help keep your meetings on track. You may want to either begin or end project sessions with a quick list of action items. This approach reinforces the high priority for key tasks and also provides a visual reminder of what you’re there to discuss. Wrapping up with an action item list is also useful and helps participants leave the meeting with renewed purpose.

Send out meeting minutes

Even if you use a software platform to maintain project documentation, consider pushing meeting minutes out to team members manually. The reason? Asking people to fetch the minutes themselves means that many of them won’t do it. Either they attended the meeting and they don’t want to spend the time recapping, or they didn’t attend and they don’t feel the need to find out what was discussed. By putting the minutes in front of them, you’re ensuring they’re aware of what happened during the latest meeting—concerns raised, questions asked, and opportunities presented. When it’s easy for them to review meeting minutes, they’re much more likely to do it.

PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.

The post Make Your Project Meetings More Powerful appeared first on Project Management Consulting, Training and Project Team Services.

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