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Friday, April 22, 2005

Project Management Basics

To improve your project management results you need to look back over your organization's project management successes and failures. In doing so patterns or trends will emerge that will help you pinpoint areas for improvement. Research in the area of project management has shown the following simple steps can lead to radical improvements in your project management results.

Here are some ideas:

When starting a project a core team of competent, motivated people must be assigned as early as possible to the project and kept on the project until the end.

The project manager is held responsible for managing the success of the team and for motivating and monitoring the team's performance.

The project manager position needs to be a full-time position with documented job responsibilities.

The organization must ensure that the project manager is held responsible for the success or failure of the project.

The project sponsor's organization and/or the end user group(s) are responsible for defining the specifications of the project's product. This is not a project manager's responsibility, however the project manager works to coordinate these activities.

A project plan (word document) needs to be developed with the cooperation of the core team.
Developing the project plan is the responsibility of the team, not just the project manager.

A lessons learned/project close-out meeting needs to be held at the end of every project to determine if the project objectives were met and to identify project management process improvements for future projects.

A communications plan must be developed for the project, and kept up-to-date.

There are many other items we could add to this list, but the ones listed here are vital if an organization wants to have any success at managing projects.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Communicating with Discretion and Tact

How are your project communications? How do others perceive you? How do you perceive yourself as a communicator?

Let us review some rules of communication that will help us better manage our projects.

When making presentations know your:

OBJECTIVE – Goal, Purpose, Destination

LISTENER – Know facts about the group, the group expectations, the key people

APPROACH – Premise, Strategy, Theme, Pay-off for the Listener

When speaking with others one-on-one, use statements that show you are concerned about them. Remember the three “A”s when communicating.

APPRECIATING – Show appreciation for the other person’s problem or situation

Examples: “I appreciate you bringing this to my attention”
“Thank you for letting me know that”

ACKNOWLEDGING – This lets the other person know that you hear them

Example: "I can understand…”
“I sorry to hear that..."

ASSURING – Lets the other person know that you will help

Example: “This will be taken care of…”
“I will see to that personally.”

Some thoughts to ponder…

Project Managers that do not communicate effectively at the right times are destined to fail.

Poor communication skills have derailed many a career.

More than likely you will never be told that your communications skills are lacking.

Every project needs to have a written communication plan.

In closing, there are many good resources available to help us all improve our communication skills. A couple of books you might consider are: “The Four Agreements” and the “Seven Survival Skills for a Reengineered World”.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Conflict in Negotiations

In the book "Field Guide to Project Management" by David I Cleland, there is a discusson on page 282 about "Conflict in Negotiations". As the book mentions, PMI (the Project Management Institute) outlines eight project management functions that can be a source of conflict.

To paraphrase from the book, the areas are:

Scope: what is to be done (results, products, services)

Quality: what measures, what steps to be taken

Cost: financial outcomes, savings, ROI

Time: deadlines, resources, when complete

Risk: what risks are accepted, avoided, deflected

Human Resources: what resources, what skills, availability, competency

Contract/Procurement: cost, requirements/specifications, when, how, what, where

Communciations: when, how, to whom, contains what

There are several ways to approach handling conflict (see the Guide to the PMBOK), however the important point to keep in mind is we must confront the issue(s)and work with the individuals or groups to come to a win/win outcome.

Unresolved conflict can often lead to bitterness and resentment, which can linger and rise up later to sabatoge your project.