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.

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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Check Out These Other Blog Posts on Advocacy:

3 WAYS PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATES MISS THE MARK

ARE YOU REALLY A PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATE?

GETTING OTHERS ON THE PROJECT ADVOCACY TRAIN

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

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).

Project Management in a down economy

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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.

THE DANGERS OF OVERPLANNING

Can you really overplan a project? It turns out you can. When schedules are adjusted too frequently, or when task durations are forecast too optimistically, the project can quickly fall into the overplanning trap. Most people recognize and quell the occasional bout of overplanning when they see it in themselves, but what happens if that gene runs wild? There can actually be downsides to too much—or too frequent—planning.

The moving target syndrome. One pitfall of updating plans too frequently is that milestone dates can become too fluid. Unless you’re the only one involved in bringing the project to fruition, others will already have target dates in mind for items they’re managing. Manipulating those dates too often can make it difficult for others to achieve their milestone objectives.

Whittling down contingencies. It’s not uncommon for project management teams to build contingency time around key tasks, where variables make tight planning less precise. When a project timetable is managed too closely and updated too often, there’s a tendency to chip away at those contingency days. If everything doesn’t line up perfectly and that additional time is actually needed, the rest of the schedule may again need to change to accommodate the wiggle room that shouldn’t have ever been removed.

Unrealistic targets. This becomes a problem when one person updates the entire project schedule based on their own progress, rather than communicating with all stakeholders to ensure that time savings in one area actually affords the opportunity to adjust target dates in other areas. It’s particularly troublesome if equipment installation schedules or other dates along the project continuum are fixed, and changes create a milestone date that another team member can’t possibly meet. If changes aren’t communicated well, deadlines may be missed simply because someone didn’t know their target date had changed.

PMAlliance Project Management Training

Project Management Documentation Tips: Forms & Templates

Forms and templates are the foundation for many types of project documents. Rather than putting unnecessary effort into creating new forms for each project, the use of existing forms and templates can streamline your project’s documentation requirements, and allow your team to focus on higher-level objectives. A variety of resources are available to you when looking for ready-made forms, and a few simple tips will help keep your project’s momentum moving forward when truly custom forms are needed.

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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.

Our goal is to give you a competitive advantage through improved project planning and control techniques. Our flexible combination of project management services is tailored to meet your individual needs. We develop long-term partnerships with your team as we work together with the highest level of integrity. Our immediate project management solutions and long-term assistance can transform the way you manage projects.

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