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Monday, November 28, 2011

Politics and Projects

Here is a list of things to keep in mind when managing projects in a highly politicized environment:

  • Learn to negotiate from a position of strength
  • Do everything you can to educate those around you about Project Management. Stress the benefits and overcome the objections by pointing to your successes.
  • Master the art of influence.
  • Understand that masterful politicians are sometimes helpful to you and your project, but can also be detriment to your project's success.
  • An effective executive sponsor can help minimize political time wasting events that slow project progress and increase project budgets.
  • Recognize that conflict on your project is inevitable and necessary.How you respond to conflict will determine how successful you are.
  • Mastering the art of negotiation is a critical skill for project managers.
  • Negotiate up front how much power you will have as project manager, how and where it can be used, and when it applies to securing needed resources for your project.
  • Realize that for the most part internal politics wastes time and is usually not something that people enjoy.
  • Team commitment and loyalty will help to minimize project politics.
  • Don't fight a political system you don't understand and can't influence. Leave that to the experts. (Hint: get these experts to support your project if possible).
  • A good communications plan will help to lessen the politics on your project.
  • Every project usually has at least one "politician" in the organization that is out to either sabotage it, or will try to ensure that it isn't fully implemented.
  • Recognize that change (which is what projects are all about) scares some people and your project's deliverables can lead to a loss of power or influence for certain individuals or departments. Anticipate this and have a plan to deal with the behaviors that will surface.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Culture of Project Management

Is the culture in your organization in chaos?  A great first step an organization can take is to ensure that their project leaders are trained and fluent in the discipline of Project Management. Also, and most importantly, senior management must understand and embrace the value of project management, and commit to support the process of implementing project management throughout all levels of the organization. 

To help change the organizational culture to one that embraces and values project management, it should fund and support the development of a project office, which can help facilitate rolling out this “project management culture”.

Some first steps that should be taken:
  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of existing project managers and project support personnel
  • Develop a basic project management training plan for the entire organization to familiarize all with the project management verbiage and practices
  • Identify and provide specialized advanced training for all project leaders and functional managers
  • Develop a project management office (PMO) to provide enterprise coaching, and to develop and manage your organization’s project management methodology
  • In addition to the methodology, the PMO should develop and maintain standard project management templates for the organization to use
  • Ensure that existing projects are audited and meet your organization’s minimum project management standards
  • Setup a program where your PMO provides coaching to less experienced project managers and oversight of all enterprise projects
  • Ensure all projects have Lessons Learned captured
  • Use software tools and systems to show the value of project management.
There are many more things that could be added to the list above, but the intent of this post is to get people thinking about ways to change the Project Management Culture where they work.  As always I welcome your comments.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

PMO Checklist

If your organization is planning to start up a PMO, you might want to look at the points below.

Identify the participants and their roles
Identify potential project team members as well as the major players in the user community that will test and except the final product or service. Ensure the Sponsor is engaged and has signed the Project Charter

Assign the project manager early
The Project Manager will make or break a project. Be sure the individual has the expertise to manage the project and they work well with others. Do not hesitate to look at outside sources if there is no one on staff that qualifies.

Assess the qualifications and experience of the planned project team members
Along with the project manager, assess carefully the qualifications and experience of each team member as they pertain to the specifics of this project. Keep in mind the importance of team players, and the ability to get along with others.

Conduct a project kickoff meeting
Officially start the project with a meeting of all parties involved. The project team should be introduced, the milestones reviewed with estimated completion dates, and expectations as to the level of participation, should be outlined.

Complete a detailed work plan
A preliminary work plan with major milestones should have been completed while developing the Requirements Document or Statement of Work. Now is the time to work with the project manager in identifying the tasks involved for each milestone. The work plan should list the tasks for each milestone with the estimated hours, start and stop dates, costs and responsible parties. Sample work plans and templates are available through the PMO upon request.

Establish an issues control tracking systemEstablish a method by which, all issues pertaining to the project are recorded and can be reviewed regularly and tracked by the project team. All issues should eventually have a documented resolution.

Establish a regular project team review meeting scheduleRegularly scheduled project review meetings should be incorporated into the work plan. These meetings are to review the current progress of the project including the percentage of completeness of work plan tasks.

Establish a participant update meeting schedule
Periodic participant update meetings should be incorporated into the work plan. These meetings are to present the current progress of the project to upper management and major participants in the user community.

Follow your Work Plan, create and maintain an issues list, and
Track, Manage, and Obtain Approval for
ALL Scope Changes
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