Its time to change for CIOs

It is not about the organization or head of other functional department of the enterprise. It is just for CIOs who normally are more advanced and educated in technology as compare to others. They (CIOs) typically have better ability to foreseen the vision of the organization from multiple dimensions as compare to other top management positions. They ordinarily have best skills to meet with the strategic needs so that vision can be achieved. How many of CIOs irrespective to their core expertise and experience care about project management in their projects? Hardly 2 out of 10?

It will not be fair to say that CIOs do not take interests in projects, they surely do and put their best efforts to achieve them. But, how many of those delivered projects went through proper project management cycle? Do CIOs deliver projects just based on their experience or they really take time to formally plan the project including its people, equipment, materials, risks, quality, cost, etc? Do CIOs welcome customer engagement during planning or other phases of project?

It has been noted from the results of several surveys that majority of IT projects got failed due to lack of project management practices or governance. Lack of communication was a major reason behind those failed projects. After improper communication, poor management of stakeholders and expectations were most highlighted cause behind those failures, where CIOs as well as project managers froze the wrong expectations due to minimum involvement of customer and passed them further to their team.

It is really a time to change for CIOs and everyone who think that they can deliver successful projects without any project management framework. There will always be a risk if you sacrifice the project management. Don’t you think that CIOs should change their mindset while delivering the projects? Please share your opinions in comments.

Why project sponsor is so important?

Before starting, lets clear our minds that we take project sponsor on board only to provide resources in terms of money, human and materials such as appointing CFO of the organization as project sponsor, because he will give money to buy licenses or etc. It is not definitely true. Even PMBOK 5th edition defines project sponsor as very critical part of the project, who provides resources and support for the project and is accountable for enabling success.

We really need to focus on support element of project sponsor from his core responsibilities. What do you think that how they would support your project? What support do you want from sponsor? For most of the experienced project managers, project sponsors play vital role in two stages of their project’s life cycle. First, when they want someone from top management of the organization to promote the project’s benefits and ensure the continuous support of other important stakeholders throughout the project. It normally happens in initial phases of project, where you want everyone to realize the project’s benefits and change it will bring to them.

Secondly, when project managers stuck in some kind of dead conflicts and their project is now need special attention for further progress. Conflicts would be regarding team management, change controls, issues, etc. Here in these situations only project sponsors can bring huge relief to your project by showing their involvement. For example, you may receive change request in the final stages of project from very essential stakeholder, which can not be entertained at any cost. In this case, you can ask project sponsor to intervene and resolve the unwanted change request.

Why to choose project sponsor(s) from higher level of management?

There is no hard and fast rule to pick person from higher management as project sponsor. Idea is only to have project sponsor, who can influence your stakeholders very effectively. As discussed, project sponsor will be promoting your project’s benefits as well as he / she will be resolving issues that are beyond your control, so there should be someone influential.

That was all about project sponsor and his roles in project management. What do you think why project sponsor is so important? How you define project sponsor in your projects? Lets share it in comments.

5 best productive tips for project managers

It’s Monday morning and most of us have an opening day of a week. We have five or six more days ahead to achieve something in our project(s). Lets move directly to explore 5 best productive tips for project managers to make coming week more comfortable and successful.

Productivity Tip # 1 – Organize your work

I used word “organize” your work instead of “plan” due to elemental differences between organizing and planning. Whatever, key is to prepare a list of tasks that you want to achieve by the end of week then divide it further on daily basis. Remember to adapt prioritization technique, because you know best that what is important for you and what can be delayed.

Strongly recommend to use electronic calendar of any collaborative suite such as Outlook, Gmail or IBM iNotes. You must be able to see your tasks spread in a week with proper reminders and assignments. Use desktop or mobile widgets to make it more accessible.

Productivity Tip # 2 – Reduce the duration of meetings

It is not possible to fully cut off the meeting culture from the organization. But if you have enough authority then start reducing 15 minutes from your standard meeting duration on each day. Do some maths to realize that how many hours in a month will actually be available to spend on project’s task.

You must also learn to conduct effective meetings, which ensures achievement of all agenda items in less time. For instance, you can forward the agenda of meetings to the participants as well as you can route your expected inputs. It will save lot of time in a meeting.

Productivity Tip # 3 – Follow up your work

Once you have scheduled your tasks for a week now start tracking their progress on daily basis. Make a simple rule to update your schedule before leaving the work-space at the end of the day. These updates should include completion of achieved tasks, reorganization of pending or next day’s tasks. Only intention is that you must know in advance that what you are going to do tomorrow at work.

Productivity Tip # 4 – Keep focusing

Ability to focus will definitely help you to achieve your work in effective and efficient manners. It is always very difficult to focus on something, but quite easy to distract. Block your all distractions such as social media, marketing messages and calls from bank, etc. Keep yourself in environment, which pushes you towards your goals.

If you are having lot of notifications from social media networks then do a favor yourself by blocking notifications of all social media applications on mobile or desktop. Make it part of your schedule by giving dedicated 15 to 30 minutes during during commute or lunch or end of the day.

Productivity Tip # 5 – Clean your work-space

This would not be a great tip for everyone, but most of the project managers found it very helpful in their career. There will always be a time in your project’s life cycle where each and every deliverable will be on your table. These deliverable would be on your table to review, comment, decision, remarks, etc PMI called that stage “Monitoring & Controlling”. So what you need to do is simply clean your work space by moving those deliverable to right person.

Approach to forward those work load is depend on you. You can move them as soon as you received or transfer at the end of day. It is recommended to adapt as soon as possible’s strategy here.

There are many other productive tips available, but listed ones are more specifically for project manager and project management. Lets share your productivity secret in comments section.

Communications is the biggest problem with projects?

Environment of any project carries multiple factors to deliver the desired results. These critical success factors varies by the size, nature and complexity of each project. But lack of effective communications has always been biggest problem with projects. Lets find out why and how communications can be so vital?

Most of the time poor communications affect the “expectations” area of project, which would also be called initial stages where project managers set the expectations in shape of charter, plan or scope statement. It is always essential for a project manager to firm the clear and right expectations. Everyone associated with the project must have a common set of expectations, which should state that what is to be delivered, when and what cost.

Information distribution is also a necessary element of compelling conversation and project management. Sometimes project managers do not distribute the information at all or miss the right time, which actually give unwanted surprises to stakeholders. Reasons would be late identification of risks or anything else, but being a project manager you should inform your stakeholders for all happening whether its bad or good. For instance, if you are going to miss the deadline then inform your stakeholders as soon as possible then you can continue to keep people up to date on the status. The Idea is to become proactive communicator where you raise your voice as soon as risk tigers.

Although communications between project managers and clients need to be very impressive, communications between project managers and delivery team must also be very competent. Team members must know what is expected of them. Clear assignments of tasks, roles and responsibilities make team members more adequate and efficient.

It is so imperative to manage and control communications productively in your project, as it turn your project’s results into success or failure. For us, communication is a common and most crucial critical success factor. What factor do you think is more important behind success of any project? Share your words in comments please.

Strategies to manage difficult team members

If you are managing a project in professional environment for more than two or three years then you must have faced many stages where you were required to resolve critical issues by applying your behavioral skills and abilities. There would be several attitude related problems in different phases of project life cycle, but admonishing difficult team members is the most common and complex concern on the list.

Before diving in to the sea, lets review that why these people would become burdensome and problematic? Why their presence is actually damaging the project? Being a human, there would be number of reasons of-course. Might be your team members have been distracted by personal reasons or they would have reached the limit of their capabilities which leads to frustration or they are not motivated and disengaged and ready to withdraw. As said, there would be many logic. But you being a experienced project manager need to identify those reasons very honestly, so you can make an attempt to solve it.

You can adopt several conflict management strategies to manage difficult team members as suggested by experts, but first of all you being a PM need to first evaluate your own behavior. If you are an aggressive PM then your team members will be following same tone and if you are negative then seriously there should not be any point to find the strategies to fix the behavior of team members. Secondly, objectives, roles & responsibilities should be very clearly defined and communicated to each team member. Most of the time, unclear roles, objectives and responsibilities create conflict situations in team, so it should be very carefully executed plus managed.

If you have applied both approaches, 1) fixing your own behavior to give them a role model for following and 2) clear goals, objectives and responsibilities and still facing difficulties in your team members then following brief strategy would be very helpful:

  • Keep yourself soft for team members and try to show some empathy.
  • Build one-on-one relationship with person(s) or do other team building exercises.
  • Never say anything bad behind.
  • Try to become helpful instead of frustrated. Helping your team members will have positive impact on both team members and project itself.
  • If all fails, take formal action. (in worst case).

Majority of conflicts in most of the projects have been solved through above strategies and we hope it can be helpful for you too. Lets share your strategy to deal with difficult team members? How badly it can be affect the project? Give your answers in comments.

Difference between Portfolio, Program and Project Management

Unfortunately, most of the new comers to project management industry got confused to realize the difference between portfolio, program and project management. However, they might have been aware with individual’s and bookish definitions. But core differences along with integrated dimensions between portfolio, program and project management is still not clear to the masses.

You might have learned that portfolio have an organizational scope that changes with the strategic objectives of the organization where managers continuously monitor changes in the broader internal and external environment, but probably you do not have any idea that how a strategic objectives of the organization can actually be achieved through portfolio management? You might have also studied that programs have a larger scope than project and provide more significant benefit where program managers develop the overall program plan and create high-level plans to guide detailed planning at the component level, but you could not justify the whole phenomena of programs while we can utilize project to handle these tasks.

There is no doubt that portfolio, program and project management are aligned or driven by organizational strategies, but you being a new to profession must understand that portfolio, program and project contributes to the achievement of organizational goals in different ways. In portfolio management you align organizational strategies by selecting the right programs and projects, prioritizing the work and ensuring the committed resources. In program management you unify its projects and program components and supervise inter-dependencies in order to realize agreed benefits. In project management your focus is about to a specific scope that is of course driven by the objectives of program or portfolio and ultimately to organizational strategies.

It has been noted that all such concept of portfolio, program and project management gets clear and matured with with the passage of time and exposure of work. So do not worry and keep focusing. Do you have any question related to portfolio, program or project management? If yes then feel free to ask in comments.

Understand your team to become a successful project manager

We probably have been managing multiple, complex and large budgeted projects since many years. Some of us would also have been managing multiple resources to convert those projects in to successful result / service / product. If you have positive response from above two queries, then you must have had experience the importance of relationship between team member and project manager.

Whether its about the IT project management or matter of a construction related project, association of project managers to their team members plays an essential role and requires genuine efforts from both end. It will eventually become the top reason behind “successful project manager” status.

Project managers must know their team members at the deepest level including their strength, weakness, behaviors, personal or corporate problems, etc. Healthy rapport between project managers and team will not only allow better control to the project managers but team members would also put their best in assigned task(s).

It is also equally necessary to keep improving that association by giving priority and importance to the team members. For instance, arranging the additional as well as double incentives for working late hours on critical task. This might charge the energy along with focus of team members.

In the end, success of any project or project manager is really depend on the contribution and quality of their team members and leadership style of project manager, who ensures that enough efforts have been made in right direction. How you handle your team members? What issues do you face while managing teams? Lets share it on comments.

Why project management?

This would be a basic question, but experts and seasonal project managers are unable to define the project management. Of course there are lot theoretic definitions available in the books, still lack in practical dimensions as well as exposure. Normally, these definitions cover only the generic part and avoid its different impacts on different areas during application.

Lets revise the standard definition provided by PMI in its PMBOK Fifth Edition

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. It is accomplished through the appropriate application and integration of the 47 logically grouped project management processes, which are categorized into five process groups (i.e. Initiating, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing).

Although the core purpose of project management is pretty much clear in above definition, insight about knowledge, skills, tools and techniques along with the clear understanding application and integration of the project management processes is still need to be discussed and learned.

It is not just about managing resources, or tracking schedule. We really need to understand the importance of project management? Why project management matters?

Thousands of the organizations across the globe have been appreciating project management. They have been getting better results irrespective to industries or type of businesses by applying project management discipline. Many of the executives believe that addition to project success, project management discipline allows them to reduce rework, control changes, improve communications between technical and functional team, increase value in marketplace, etc.

To summarize, efforts to establish effective project management environment would have lot of benefits such as greater likelihood of achieving the desired results, efficient use of resources, better management of stakeholder’s needs.