ARE YOU FACING A LEADERLESS PROJECT?

A popular tactic of stakeholders who don’t really want to commit, “leaderless” projects are those that end up being turned over to entire groups of end users to babysit, and often result in nightmares for Project Managers. Below are a handful of scenarios that could tell you you’re facing a leaderless project.

Approval authority has been delegated to more than one person. On the surface this looks like empowerment, but deep down you may discover the project’s primary champion has simply eliminated their role and effectively left a host of others in charge without giving them the true authority to keep the project moving forward. Leadership-by-committee works for a while, but if difficult decisions must be made it’s likely no one will feel they are in a position to have the final word.

No one seems to have approval authority. A number of individuals may have been tasked with acting in the primary champion’s stead, even though none has been given the power to make project-impacting decisions. Trying to pry approvals or firm direction from the chief stakeholder is likely to be difficult, and the project ends up languishing in a mess of internal red tape while purchase requests and pending contracts sit in limbo.

The primary stakeholder rarely attends high-level project meetings. Often a co-symptom of leaderless projects, along with either delegating approval authority to several others or delegating approval to no one. An absent champion isn’t a concern if they continue to be accessible in other ways (via e-mail or phone, or through regular drop-in visits to their office). The bigger issue is the champion who is absent because they’re getting pushback on the project from other sectors (budget, corporate objectives, etc.), or has lost their zeal for the project and no longer gives it the support it needs.

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PMAlliance uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consulting, project management training and project office development services.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TIPS : 4 SIGNS IT’S TIME TO STOP

Sometimes, in their zest to achieve a project’s objectives, Project Managers go a little too far. They push too much, talk too much, or ask too much. But there are usually flags warning you’re in danger of overplaying things. From body language to other subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) cues, below are 4 signs it may be time to say “when.”

1 – Crossed arms. A classic indication folks have stopped listening, a wall of crossed arms across the conference table should tell you it’s time to adjourn the meeting and take a breather. You may be facing tough opposition, so consider if your approach is too heavy handed or if you should instead try talking to folks one on one before addressing them as a group.

2 – “I don’t understand.” This is a clear warning flag your message isn’t hitting home. Occasionally used by stubborn people as a way to avoid capitulating to an idea they don’t completely embrace, but more frequently it’s an honest response to a situation that just isn’t coming together for a particular individual. Rather than repeating the same message, step back and see if there’s a different way of explaining it.

3 – Excessive doodling. Many people find it’s helpful—when listening to detailed information, brainstorming, or simply pulling their thoughts together—to scribble pictures or notes. However, if your audience seems more involved in their artwork than your presentation, they’re probably ready for a time out. Sometimes a short break is all that’s needed to bring everyone back on task.

4 – Lack of interaction. If others who should be involved in your discussion seem to be on automatic nod or simply aren’t participating, it’s likely you’ve lost their attention. Think about ways to spice up your presentation or consider developing a more interactive format for the discussion.

PMAlliance uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consulting, project management training and project office development services

GETTING OTHERS ON THE PROJECT ADVOCACY TRAIN

Engagement is an important aspect in many projects—whether it’s with other project management team members, stakeholders, end users, or external business partners—but sparking real interest in people outside the project team can sometimes be difficult. There are a number of approaches a good project advocate can take to make their efforts really count, but how can they get others thinking (and acting) along the same lines? Below are a handful of simple strategies to get you started.

 

Encourage team members to interact with end users. Open lines of communication are the best way to ensure all needs, requests, and concerns are brought to the PMP team’s attention early. Rather than creating unnecessary bottlenecks, a commitment to project advocacy should be driving PMOs to solicit end user input through as many channels as possible. Conversations don’t have to be formal, but they do need to go both ways. When project updates are released, make sure end users know that team members are available to answer any questions. As project milestones are achieved, even minor ones, empower team members to ask end users how things are going from their perspective.

 

Invite stakeholders into the trenches. Project champions, especially high-level ones, don’t need to be part of the day-to-day operations. But it can be useful if they understand a project’s impacts on end users at a granular level. Make the majority of project meetings open to stakeholders, and try to get them to attend at least occasionally. Partner them with team members during informal discussions with end users. Encourage them to learn about the project’s challenges, and ensure they know which end user groups are likely to be affected by them. By bringing stakeholders closer to the project’s inner workings, they’ll be better equipped to understand the genesis of end user requests and concerns.

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ARE YOU REALLY A PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATE?

GETTING OTHERS ON THE PROJECT ADVOCACY TRAIN

2 COMMON MISTAKES THAT CAN SABOTAGE ANY PROJECT

Because every project inherently changes the status quo, much of project management revolves around change—planning for it, explaining it, mitigating its negative impacts, and convincing stakeholders that it will all be worth it. Even if change management isn’t part of your official job description, you will inevitably be dealing with change and its impact on not just stakeholders, but also on partners and collaborators, as well as the other members of your project team. Unfortunately, many project managers who say they’re great change agents really aren’t. In fact, there are 2 mistakes project management professionals make that can undermine their ability to achieve project success.

 

You compare a project’s progress against how things are today instead of against the deliverables set with stakeholders. Project Managers who use the current landscape as their benchmark are missing much of what goes into good project management. Projects are nearly always about improving upon what’s in use today, whether it’s a piece of software or a new office building. But viewing milestones against the backdrop of the existing environment isn’t the best way to move forward. Instead, work toward the end result picture you’ve painted with your stakeholders to achieve success.

 

You invest too much time focusing on where the project might go wrong. Of course it’s important to look for potential problem areas ahead of time, but simply worrying about challenges isn’t a constructive way to move ahead. This approach often breeds negativity, which can be such a morale killer that it can actually threaten your project’s ultimate success. PMs who have truly embraced change instead put their energy into finding solutions to those potential trouble spots. Creative problem-solving sessions with the rest of the team are the best cure—you’ll overcome the project’s challenges and have a more positive outlook to share with stakeholders.

 

MAKING PROJECT MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES A PRIORITY AGAIN

We recently talked about some reasons your PMO’s best practices might not be what they once were, (WHY YOUR BEST PROJECT MANAGEMENT PRACTICES MIGHT SUCK) but how do you overcome the roadblocks to better performance? There are several ways to attack the problem, and the right approach will depend on the problems, your project management team, and your organization.

 

If you haven’t focused on best practices in a while. It falls to the team’s leadership to reinvigorate widespread engagement with the latest industry thinking. Senior project professionals or even an experienced project management consultants should be recruited to establish a plan to get the entire team to bring its current methodologies up to date. To avoid an initial eager pushed followed by waning enthusiasm (it’s human nature, after all), these same top-level folks will need to devote themselves to setting a good long-term example.

 

If you haven’t fine tuned current best practices to fit your organization. Overcoming what may seem like a monumental (and monumentally frustrating) endeavor will require everyone’s support. Gather the team and candidly evaluate the resources available to you. Identify where you can incorporate best practices and where you may need to be satisfied with doing your best with what you have. Consider determining where the team can set some stretch goals to improve those areas that are a bit behind the times.

 

If your team is well-versed in best practices but has chosen to ignore them. A strong push by leadership will be required to either overcome the team’s apathy or to rectify what may be a top-down lack of commitment. Examine where best practices have historically fallen by the wayside and develop a strategy to modify the behavior that allowed the lapse to happen. Be sure to build in check points to ensure the plan is working and the team hasn’t slipped back into its old ways.

3 WAYS PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATES MISS THE MARK

Project Management advocacy is a crucial role within the PMO. Unfortunately, with all the other responsibilities on project managers’ plates today, sometimes their opportunities and obligations as advocates are overlooked or minimized. To help Project Manager‘s maximize their advocacy efforts, we’ve put together the 3 things that most often go wrong.

 

1 – Waiting too long to identify all stakeholder groups. Project teams aren’t always able to tackle planning and execution the way they’d like. Budget cycles and other factors often come into play, leaving PMs trying to balance stakeholder needs with organizational limits that sometimes have little to do with the project itself. But no matter how or when the planning phase takes place, it’s important that advocates focus on identifying all stakeholder groups early in the process so their needs and concerns can be properly considered and addressed.

 

2 – Lumping stakeholders together. All too often, disparate groups of stakeholders are combined—at least in the eyes of the project management team—and viewed as a single entity. Not only does this have the real potential to undermine the PMO’s relationships with each stakeholder group, it also raises the specter of overlooking important interests held by the various subsets of affected parties. Stakeholder groups should typically be drawn along narrow lines to ensure that everyone is able to fully participate.

 

3 – Eschewing the responsibilities of a true advocate. One crucial role embodied by advocates is the ability to give a voice to those who would otherwise go largely unheard. When significant weight is given to those controlling funding and those controlling executive-level approval, it can be all too easy to ignore concerns or issues raised by anyone else. Advocates must remain committed to actively engaging all stakeholder groups and reviewing needs and feedback on a wide and reasonably equitable scale.

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3 WAYS PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATES MISS THE MARK

ARE YOU REALLY A PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATE?

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WHY YOUR BEST PROJECT MANAGEMENT PRACTICES MIGHT SUCK

Project management professionals often work hard to incorporate best practices into their PMOs. From creating a workable budget to conducting a useful post-project analysis, best practices stand ready to help PMs execute their projects and achieve their objectives. But sometimes, best practices become little more than words on paper (or aspirations that are discussed only when things go wrong). If your team is feeling stagnant, see if your real-world use of best practice methodologies might be less than ideal.

 

You haven’t revisited them in years. Project management best practices, like most things, can go stale after a period of time. The fundamentals are likely to stay the same, but innovations such as new technologies should be incorporated to continue moving your PMO forward. Stay plugged in to industry groups, to be sure your team has the latest information on trends. Attend conferences and seminars so you know what other thought leaders are doing.

 

You haven’t matched them to your organization. Even well-intentioned plans usually need to be tailored to fit the available resources of a company. Workflows are different in every PMO, and those best practices will likely need a bit of tweaking to be most effective. Look around and see what you have at your disposal—time, talent, and funding—and where your team is strongest. Then make the most of what you have.

 

You aren’t really following them. You probably think about them, and chances are good that you discuss them from time to time. But is your team really applying project management best practices in their everyday routines? If it seems you’re struggling to keep up, or if accomplishing the most basic of tasks feels like recreating the wheel every time, it might be time to reevaluate how well you’ve incorporated those best practices into your PMO’s workflow.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TIPS: DON’T FEAR THE SUPERSTAR

Every PMO has one—that project guy or gal who routinely hits it out of the park. Maybe they know exactly how to get the best price out of your least flexible vendor, or they have an uncanny knack for spotting potential problems long before everyone else. Whatever their claim to fame, it can be tough to be on the same team as someone who seems to get all the limelight. But project managers don’t need to fear the superstar.

First, remember that they didn’t become an overachiever just to make you look bad by comparison. It’s easy to think (even subliminally) about how they’re wreaking havoc on your morale on purpose, but that sort of perspective will only make the relationship more difficult. Whatever the superstar does, chances are good it has nothing at all to do with you. Stop trying to outguess them and return your focus to the things on your plate. The more your attention is on them, the worse your own performance is bound to be.

Look for areas where the superstar’s responsibilities and yours touch. Those instances represent good opportunities to partner with your resident overachiever and share the spotlight. You may also be able to gain some insight into why they find such a high level of success in particular project areas. By keeping an open mind and being observant, your own skill is likely to expand along the way.

Realize that all the praise stakeholders and end users heap on the overachiever flows through to the rest of your PMO, too. Rarely will those outside your project team have a granular understanding of who does what, so it’s likely they view any success as a success for the entire group. Appreciate the good vibes coming your way and let them move you forward.

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ARE YOU REALLY A PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATE?

Most project management professionals will tell you that project advocacy is part of their job, but are they really taking that task seriously? Simply being on a project management team doesn’t make you an advocate. On the contrary, busy project managers can actually undermine their role as advocate if they aren’t committed and focused. Take a look at some of the hallmarks of strong advocacy, and see if your efforts are keeping you on the right track.

Project advocates truly listen to stakeholders. Too often, a project’s objectives take over. At some point, it can even seem that PMs are beholden to the objectives above all others. Advocates stay in regular contact with stakeholders throughout the project to ensure things are moving forward as expected. They also encourage a robust two-way dialogue with stakeholders so that any concerns are aired early and dealt with as a partnership.

Project advocates recognize every group of stakeholders. Powerful project supporters wield a lot of influence, but project advocates also seek out other groups that have a vested interest in how the project goes but are often given little opportunity to participate. Advocates strive to include underserved groups at all stages of a project. This helps in developing good objectives as well as managing potential disruptions or other issues throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Project advocates understand that success is more than meeting deadlines and staying within a budget. Instead of focusing solely on completing each project, advocates work hard to maintain an overall vision that encompasses administrative objectives (dollars, schedules, etc.) in addition to stakeholder and end user satisfaction. Shifting organizational needs are evaluated against stakeholder expectations, and vice versa. Priorities that compete with management’s directives must be balanced—rather than dismissed without any real consideration—as the advocate endeavors to execute the best quality project possible.

project management training by PMAlliance

 

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THE PROJECTS OF SUMMER

Warm days are upon us, and with summertime comes some perks—and a few pitfalls—for project management professionals. Learn how to make the most of the nice weather without watching your timeline wither.

First we’ll look at the downsides of trying to tackle projects during the dog days of summer.

The vacation conundrum. Not only are many PMOs short staffed while folks take their annual family vacations, but vendors and other outside partners may also be stretched thin for the same reason. Remember to plan accordingly when putting together the project’s initial timeline and resource requirement projections, and be realistic about the level of support that’s likely to be available during the summer season.

Jostling for resources. If you’re scheduling weather-sensitive projects, be ready to compete with other similarly-minded organizations. PMOs facing this challenge typically have two avenues open to them: reserve the necessary labor and materials in advance (sometimes paying for them upfront to ensure they’ll be there when needed), or figure out a way to move critical deadlines either forward or back so they don’t coincide with the highest-demand months.

There are, however, some summertime benefits your PMO can take advantage of.

Boost morale the natural way. Events held in the fresh air often feel less like work, so plan meetings outside, schedule warm weather team-building activities, and perhaps even allow for more flexibility in work hours if possible. The team will appreciate the change of pace, and they’ll also have fun memories to chat about during the gloomy winter months.

Compress schedules when nice weather hits unexpectedly. If summer arrives early or stays late, be sure to pack in as many weather-dependent project tasks as possible. It’s often prudent to have a list of such activities handy, so the team can act quickly when good weather hits.

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WHAT YOU’RE DOING WRONG WHEN IT COMES TO PROJECT MANAGEMENT PHOTOS

Pictures are useful in many areas of project management, from showcasing improvements to documenting problems. But now and then, project management consulting teams completely flub photos. I’m not talking about taking poor quality images. Instead, a somewhat greater concern is where PMOs either miss the benefits of project management pictures or stumble into procedural problems (or worse) because of a photo.

First, let’s look at an administrative mistake with the potential to give you serious trouble.

You aren’t treating photos as data. PMOs sometimes forget to apply relevant information retention practices to project photos, or they don’t protect pictures against unauthorized access. Photos should typically be treated like a project write-up or other piece of documentation. They may need to be scheduled for review and/or destruction per the organization’s guidelines, or encrypted for safe storage.

Now we’ll talk about why your pictures aren’t as effective as they could be.

You’re relying on pictures to tell the story. Photos convey a ton of info, but use them as visual aids rather than standalone narratives. Viewers might easily misunderstand what your pictures show, and your project could suffer as a result. You may be trying to highlight a new piece of equipment, but what if folks only notice the snazzy tile flooring? Opt to include a bit of text with each photo so viewers know exactly what they’re looking at (or for).

You aren’t including enough candid photos. Glamour shots—of newly installed equipment or screenshots from the latest software program—look great to those involved in the project, but human nature is a funny thing. Instead of focusing on posed (read: sterile) pictures, people will almost always gravitate toward the unstaged photos. If you really want folks to pay attention to your pictures, give them a selection of informal, engaging, and even funny images.

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3 SCENARIOS WHERE MEDDLING MAKES SENSE

I normally encourage project managers and team leaders to fight the urge to get involved in garden-variety conflicts (“Stop Meddling!”), since these often lead to innovative and creative solutions. But there are times when some intervention by a PMO’s leadership is a good idea. Below are some guidelines to help you determine when to step in and when to step back.

Professionalism has gone out the window.  The instant a conflict escalates into all-out warfare, you must intervene. Direct personal attacks are forbidden, as is divulging sensitive details (either business-related or personal) to others in an attempt to influence their opinion or gain their support, general venting that includes bad-mouthing another team member, and any refusal to interact with the other person that impedes the group’s activities.

Productivity has dropped. When you notice productivity levels—of the people involved in the conflict or of those around them—are slipping, it’s time to get everyone back on track. Signs that the team’s output is dropping could range from meetings that are monopolized by arguments (these will usually be about the same things over and over) to unresolved disagreements that delay a project’s progress or negatively affect critical milestones. If any of these triggers crop up, you need to step in and mediate so the team can move forward.

The players aren’t on equal footing. If the seniority level or reporting structure of the involved parties means that one is at a distinct disadvantage, you should pay close attention to how the conflict is progressing. Any abuse of a position merits intervention, so be on the lookout for arguments where one person is able to withhold resources, deny new opportunities, or otherwise interfere with the work of the other. Productive conflict only happens when everyone involved is able to participate without fear of retribution.

TURN PERFECTIONISM ON ITS HEAD

We’ve talked about why Project Managers don’t need to be perfectionists (“Perfection not needed”), but if you suspect that you are one (“3 signs you’re a project perfectionist”), what can you do about it? Seeking perfection can be a difficult habit to break, even as it wreaks havoc on the rest of your PMO. Fortunately, we have some tools to turn your perfectionism on its head.

If you’re constantly identifying new ways to improve upon projects that are already in progress (or are already done!), it’s time to refocus your attention. Try turning over as much of the management of your PMO’s current projects to others in your group, and instead put your creative energies into those projects that are still under development.

When you find yourself taking back tasks you’ve delegated to others, consider the status of everything else you’re already doing. Is it all current, or are some areas behind schedule? If anything is running late, it’s crucial that you get those items delegated to the right person on the team right away. Next, step back and evaluate your role and its responsibilities, along with the goals of others in your group. If a task doesn’t fit into your job, ask yourself if it would give one of your teammates an opportunity for growth and development.

Handing out advice (whether it’s requested or not) can seriously undermine morale even if your PMO is full of high achievers, so breaking this habit will do the entire team some good. The next time you’re ready to open your mouth and offer your opinion, do an about-face and instead ask those you’re working with for their perspective. Even if you end up giving your point of view later, your teammates have had the opportunity to speak their minds and there’s a good chance their input influenced the direction you gave them.

 

Check Out These Other Blog Posts on Perfectionists:

3 SIGNS YOU’RE A PROJECT PERFECTIONIST 

TURN PERFECTIONISM ON ITS HEAD

PERFECTION NOT NEEDED

3 SIGNS YOU’RE A PROJECT PERFECTIONIST

Earlier we talked about why project managers don’t need to be—and in fact should not be—perfect (“Perfection Not Needed”). Some of you probably have a sneaking hunch we were talking directly to you, but how can you tell for sure? Take a look at these 3 signs and see if they sound familiar. If so, you just might be the unreformed perfectionist other members of your project management team dread.

1 – You often say something similar to, “You know what would be really great?” Most of the time, this leads to enhancing the requirements needed to meet existing objectives and sometimes even adds new goals mid-stream. Either way, it’s scope creep, and it’s sure to undermine your team’s ability to successfully execute the project. Yes, you probably have some great ideas for making every project even better, but remember that you still have a budget and a deadline to meet.

2 – After delegating a task, you frequently take it back. It doesn’t matter if you justify it by saying that team members aren’t completing things just the way you like or you feel they’re taking too long/not devoting enough attention to it/not giving it a high enough priority, these are all warning flags that your perfectionist tendencies are taking over.

3 – Competent and able professionals in your PMO regularly ask for direction or approval on everyday tasks, or seek your input on things you know they’re perfectly capable of handling on their own. If it’s just one person looking for help, you may have a training or performance issue on your hands. But if it’s endemic to the team, chances are good they’re tired of your perfectionism interfering with their duties after they’ve invested the effort to complete a task, and are instead trying to proactively figure out what will make you happy.

 

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3 SIGNS YOU’RE A PROJECT PERFECTIONIST 

TURN PERFECTIONISM ON ITS HEAD

PERFECTION NOT NEEDED

BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE

The concept of bullying doesn’t just apply to kids. Bullying in the workplace is also getting more attention these days, and PMOs aren’t immune to the problem. Project management leaders often find themselves in a position of power, and some wield significant control over others in their group and beyond. Below we’ve outlined a few ways to spot a bullying problem within your project team.

Disconnected stakeholders. There are many reasons stakeholders may disengage from a particular project (or from your PMO in general), but it’s always worth considering if their sudden distance from the team is a result of bullying. Pressure exerted by a domineering PM could easily lead a valuable stakeholder to find other initiatives to throw their weight behind. If a former project champion’s reasons for their diminished enthusiasm don’t stand up to scrutiny, there’s a possibility they felt they were being pushed around.

Frustrated end users. It’s the rare project that doesn’t spark concerns or queries from end users, but a bulldozer of a PM could leave your team with a slew of unhappy customers. If they feel they’re being bullied in retaliation for pointing out problems or for asking for resolutions to something they aren’t content with, they’re likely to become increasingly frustrated to the point they no longer even try to raise issues in a constructive way.

Demoralized team members. If enthusiasm within your PMO has gone into a nosedive, something is clearly amiss. And unfortunately, whenever a person in a leadership position users their power to intimidate coworkers, morale will certain go down. Some previously happy team members may raise complaints, but others will simply leave for greener pastures.

Have you run across a bully on a project team? What sort of behavior did they display, and how did it affect those around them?

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PMAlliance provides project management training services.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING: STOP MEDDLING!

Project management leaders are always looking for ways to boost synergy within their teams. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to near-constant meddling. Not to be confused with micromanaging, the sort of meddling I’m talking about revolves around the team’s various personalities, not  its overall effectiveness. But leaders who want their PMO to resemble one big happy family should realize it’s actually detrimental to the team when they involve themselves in every disagreement. Below are some of the problems teams often encounter when members aren’t able to forge their own solutions for balancing personality differences and overcoming strife.

A lack of productive conflict may result in unimaginative problem-solving efforts. We’ve said it before: conflict isn’t always bad. In fact, sometimes it can be very good. If the team’s leadership imposes its will in an attempt to quell arguments—determining a specific course of action or a preferred solution to a particular problem, for instance—any potential innovations that might have arisen from the conflict-discussion-resolution process are lost.

Too much interference allows underlying problems to fester. Sometimes, seemingly minor issues can grow significantly worse if those involved aren’t able to butt heads and successfully devise a way forward that works for them. When this happens, whatever put them at odds in the first place may actually continue unchecked. If others in the group also become embroiled in the situation, morale in the PMO could quickly drop.

Personality clashes could consume project management time. Once the PMO’s leadership decides to take on anything but the most difficult personnel conflicts, the entire team may learn to depend on having these types of issues solved for them. And if managers are focused on individual-level conflict resolution or confrontation avoidance, high-level efforts such as mentoring and the championing of strategic initiatives could suffer in the long term.

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PMAlliance uses a team of certified professionals to provide project management training services.

PERFECTION NOT NEEDED

Many times I’ve watched project management professionals get derailed by being good at what they do. That’s right—great is often the enemy of good, and project managers who seek only excellence can quickly undo their own best efforts because they don’t rejoice in their accomplishments and move forward.

When a project team member (especially one with experience and seniority) is chasing perfection, it’s easy for the entire project to get sidetracked. Spending too much time or too many resources on any one task can end up dragging other aspects of your project down. And let’s face it—if someone is a perfectionist is one area of project management, they probably have similar tendencies across the rest of the project’s lifecycle, too. Chances are good that you’re also a) driving others in your PMO crazy by obsessing over every detail, and b) passing along your bad habit to junior-level team members who are still learning new skills and expanding their knowledge base.

If you’re a project manager that harbors dreams of total project superiority, is there a way to continue to strive for excellence without being diverted by your own quest for perfection? It turns out that there is. As with many self-defeating habits, admitting that you have a problem may be the first step. Once you’ve made peace with that, it’s time to embrace the fact that you are very, very good at project management. But you’re also going to face end users who will never be happy, stakeholders who always want more, and budgets that just aren’t big enough to accomplish everything that needs to be done.

Bottom line: Will you have strokes of brilliance? Yes. Will you also have projects that seem like one long slog, where your results meet expectations but don’t blow people away? Yes. Get over it.

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Check Out These Other Blog Posts on Perfectionists:

3 SIGNS YOU’RE A PROJECT PERFECTIONIST 

TURN PERFECTIONISM ON ITS HEAD

PERFECTION NOT NEEDED

7 THINGS THAT CAN KILL YOUR BUDGET

Project management professionals are highly attuned to budget obligations—nearly everything they do is with an eye toward meeting budget objectives while adding value at every opportunity. But with all of the other tasks under the umbrella of the PMO, there are some common practices that often wreak havoc with project budgets.

1 – Not appointing a budget monitor. If your team doesn’t have a specific person keeping an eye on the amount spent and dollars still available across the entire project, budget issues can quickly build up and spiral out of control.

2 – Waiting until late in the project to add up actual expenditures. This habit has nightmare written all over it, as you likely won’t recognize problems until it’s far too late to properly resolve them.

3 – Assuming you can get additional dollars approved. This usually guarantees an uncomfortable conversation with an executive who may not have any more money available (and who will surely wonder why your projections were off base in the first place).

4 – Focusing only on high-dollar items for aggressive cost negotiations. Don’t underestimate the amount of money your PMO can save by value engineering small budget items, which often greatly outnumber the big ticket expenditures.

5 – Expecting to address cost overruns by “borrowing” money from other projects. Even if you resolve your current problem, you’ve now created a new crisis that will need to be tackled later.

6 – Relying on another group for real time cost tracking. Many departments have their own methodology for accruing and recording project costs, and their approach may not provide your PMO with the information it needs to stay on track.

7 – Monitoring all costs equally. Most projects have high-risk areas that should get additional scrutiny (either checking expenditures more frequently or examining them at a higher level of granularity).

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MAKE YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT PHOTOS SING

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it’s time your PMO made its project photos earn their keep. Stakeholders across the board rely on good pictures—to help them understand what your project will correct as well as to see all that you’ve accomplished so far. We’ve put together some guidelines to help you take great project management pictures that support your message.

Pay attention to quality. Grainy, dark, and out-of-focus pictures aren’t what you need. For photos to convey information and have impact, viewers must be able to see things clearly. And while some cell phones take great pictures, a quality point-and-shoot camera is often a worthwhile investment. Also, consider if you’re likely to enlarge pictures for display at open house events or to show greater detail. In those instances, it may be helpful to use a high-resolution camera.

Give some perspective. Photos that are too close-up or too far away may not give viewers the kind of understanding you want them to have. Be mindful to offer information on scale (a ruler often works for small items, a desk chair or even a car for larger objects, structures, etc.) and take the picture from an angle that makes it clear what you’re focusing on. Also, do your best to minimize the appearance of unimportant items or clutter, so the photo is easy to view and comprehend.

Offer additional information. Supplemental graphics and text will often help to explain the finer details of your photos. If someone in your PMO is skilled with PhotoShop or a similar software platform, you can add all kinds of extra information while also cropping, rotating, and shrinking or enlarging specific areas of a photo. Low-tech solutions, such as post-it notes and arrows drawn with a felt-tip marker, can also get the point across.

PMAlliance uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consulting and project management training services.

7 TIPS FOR SHARING PROJECT METRICS

Most PMOs strive for transparency, and that often includes releasing metrics related to project objectives, budgets, and a host of other data points. But there are some recommended—and other not-so-recommended—guidelines for sharing that information to best effect. We’ve put together 7 suggestions to keep stakeholders engaged while ensuring your transparency efforts remain on track.

1 – Focus on the data stakeholders ask for most often. Your team can often avoid answering the same questions a dozen times by putting the information front and center.

2 – Consider including some data points that aren’t usually requested. If there are little-known metrics that would help stakeholders understand how successful your project truly was, be sure to highlight them. If nothing else, it’s good PR for your team.

3 – Provide enough detail to make the data meaningful. Remember that most stakeholders aren’t project professionals, so include any additional information that will help them understand the data points you’re sharing with them.

4 – Let readers know where they can find more information. Part of transparency is responding to follow-up inquiries, and that’s best accomplished by designating a point person to field stakeholders’ questions.

5 – Identify who’s responsible for particularly impressive metrics. Rather than feed the notion that your PMO is a faceless mass, take the time to call out particular team members with notable accomplishments.

6 – Release a subset of metrics on a regular schedule. Things like staffing levels, number of active projects, budget overages, and new vendor agreement metrics are often helpful on a quarterly or even monthly basis.

7 – Share data in a number of places and ways. Some stakeholders may not read the corporate newsletters or frequent your PMO’s intranet site. To widen your audience, consider other avenues, such as an e-mail blast or a short presentation at each company meeting.

PMAlliance uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consultingproject management training and project office development services.