DON’T PANIC! STEPS TO STEM THE TIDE OF WORRY

Panic in a PMO is a terrible thing. It crushes productivity and saps morale. Helping project team members confront and deal with frightening situations can be difficult, particularly if the senior leadership group is facing the same concerns. Fortunately, a set of baseline steps can bring the team together to address the anxiety in front of them and help get everyone back on track.

Get informed. Panic is often driven by one of two things: Misinformation or no information. If you have a feeling of dread when it comes to a project (or perhaps a particular task or issue), take it as a cue that you probably need better information. If possible, go straight to the source. A trusted vendor may be able to answer your questions, as might another internal team member with direct knowledge of the situation. Avoid simply asking around inside the PMO, as you’re likely to receive details of the same dubious origin you have now. Gathering the facts allows you to tackle the problem from a real-world perspective.

Communicate. If you suspect others in the PMO are shifting into panic mode, consider what information you may have that would be useful in helping them better understand the current lay of the land. Even if you don’t hold the key to quelling the team’s concerns, bringing everyone together to discuss the project’s status and provide a progress review can be immensely helpful. It encourages other PMPs to ask questions in a safe environment (sometimes team members don’t know who to ask or feel it’s inappropriate to dig for details) and also shows those who are worried that they probably aren’t alone. Camaraderie can be a powerful tool in times like these.

Look for solutions. Continuing to sit around and worry is rarely an effective way to address panic. Instead, pull the team together and begin brainstorming. Talk about potential fixes and evaluate if additional help—either assistance from another department or perhaps an experienced outside consultant—might be needed. Openly discuss the triggers behind the team’s concerns. These conversations may be uncomfortable (fear of failure usually is), but reassure team members that they should speak candidly and without fear of reprisal. Finger pointing solves nothing, and you’ll need to be ready to shut it down if it occurs. Keep the focus on finding workable solutions.

Focus on avoiding panic next time. Falling into panic mode is nearly guaranteed if the PMO repeats the same steps that led team members to become concerned in the first place. Improve communication channels within the team as well as with stakeholder and external partners. Maintain tighter focus on milestones, resource management, and activity planning. Employing a proven project control methodology is a wise approach. Not only will it keep the current can’t-fail project on track, it also allows the team to carefully manage their time and resources, ensuring that future projects don’t stumble and push the team into panic mode again.

Admit you may not be able to address every worry immediately. There are times when panic descends for reasons that simply can’t be fixed right away, even by seasons PMPs. Rumors of staffing cuts or lost contracts, for example, can easily spread terror through the team. Rather than searching for solutions (which the PMO may not be in a position to provide) instead bring the group together to evaluate existing workloads and discuss how best to deal with potential impacts. You might not be able to formulate a solid plan to deal with every issue on the horizon, but the PMO will be prepared to tackle unpleasant realities if necessary.

Pitfalls o fBig Projects

Project management training tips provided by PMAlliance Inc.

KICKING OFF A NEW PROJECT? DO THIS FIRST

It’s always exciting—as well as hectic—when a new project receives the green light. Last-minute discussions are often held with stakeholders to finalize the details, and as the organization turns its attention to making the project official (usually in the form of assigning capital budget numbers and similar internal machinations) there’s often a lag between when your project management team knows the project is a go and when you can actually begin working on it in earnest.

Rather than waiting for all this to happen before your team turns its attention to the new project, there are things the PMO can do right now to increase efficiency and ensure success.

new projects

Set up a master project file. Establishing a full-fledged project folder—in a file cabinet, on the PMO’s intranet, etc.—is a crucial piece of infrastructure for projects large and small, but teams often hold off on this step until the project is “real.” That’s a big mistake. Yes, the executive team could still kill an early-stage project because of funding or other concerns, but it’s far easier to delete the project in your team’s internal systems than it is to play catch-up once the project is in full swing. Begin populating the file with the relevant information and the team will be one more step ahead.

Alert outside partners. Unless this project is on the super-secret hush-hush list, there’s little reason to keep vendors in the dark. You don’t need to reveal every last detail, but notifying them of an upcoming need will help everyone in the long run. Your partners will be able to begin earmarking resources to be sure they’re available, and you’ll have a much better chance of getting exactly the supplies and support you need. If the project has components that are new or uncommon to the PMO, this is a good opportunity to seek out and evaluate new vendors.

Look at staffing levels. Though some of the finer details of the project may still be in the works, even a rough idea regarding the type or amount of people resources you’re likely to need is a help (and hopefully something you’ve already estimated as part of the project’s planning phase). Whether you need to recruit a new team member or hire a consultant, both often require some lead time. Don’t put the PMO in a bind later—immediately begin gauging your needs and work with HR or an external consultancy to fill those gaps as quickly as possible.

Seek out opportunities for savings. Now is the time to consider what impact existing projects will feel once things get underway and how you can make the best of it. If there’s a potential to combine your team’s purchasing power or to consolidate tasks across multiple projects, start putting together preliminary plans right away. Work with your organization’s purchasing group to determine where deeper discounting on materials may be available. Contact the legal team to see if it’s possible to simply expand or extend existing contracts for labor resources and supplies. The time you save later will be well worth the effort.

Get people excited. As soon as the new project is official enough to be announced, do it. Let stakeholders and everyone else likely to be affected by the project know that efforts will begin soon and offer them with as much information as you can on details such as scope, timing, achievables, etc. Assure them that you’ll be providing regular updates as the project moves forward, and give them the name and contact information of the person who can answer any questions they may have.

Project Management Training Tips provided by PMAlliance Inc.

WHEN TO TAKE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Project management training isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it type of undertaking. It’s something that should always be evolving to address changing needs, new views on best practices, and ever-advancing technology tools. With that in mind, we put together a few scenarios to look for that signal it’s time to take Project Management training—either for individuals within your group or for the PMO as a whole—to the next level.

 

When the skills you want to develop are highly specific or uncommon. Generic training typically won’t suffice when targeted disciplines are involved. Whether it’s industry-specific (such as a competency related to regulatory compliance) or a niche job skill (software platforms that require detailed knowledge, for instance), sessions that are narrowly focused will typically give your team the best bang for their training buck. For results that maximize investments of both money and time, look for a consultant who specializes in the areas or competencies you want to address, and who can tailor training to your organization’s specific needs.

 

When you want to train the trainer. Most standard training opportunities are great for the majority of project professionals, but if you want to create an in-house expert, it’s time to move things up a notch. Look for elevated training that not only includes deeper insight into project management competencies, but also has a curriculum that deals with the skills needed to successfully transfer knowledge to others. Remember—teaching is a skill of its own!

 

When an individual has trouble picking up new skills during standard training courses. Some folks just learn in different ways, so take the time to look for different, possibly unconventional types of training opportunities. Sessions that focus on increased participation, or perhaps even a short-term internship, may offer individual team members the kind of educational experience that suits their style.

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE

 

More posts on Project Management Training:

6 SNEAKY WAYS TO GET MORE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – RISK MANAGEMENT

SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – COMMUNICATION

GROUP FACILITATION – SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING

WHEN TO TAKE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

DO YOU NEED PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING? INFOGRAPHIC

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How Much Is Bad Project Management Costing You? Infographic

Bad Project Management can be an extremely large cost to your enterprise. We have discussed many of the pitfalls that can cause problems in past posts, but here are some scary statistics to ponder. Check out our latest infographic filled with stats on the costly expense of bad Project Management.

infographic Project Management

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.

6 SNEAKY WAYS TO GET MORE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

We’ve talked about the benefits of Project Management Training and even covered some of the secrets of putting together a good training program. But sometimes just figuring out when to pack training into an already crowded schedule is the hardest part. Below are 6 ninja tricks for getting more training in your PMO.

1 – Use what you have. Is someone on the team a guru when it comes to a piece of legacy software? See if they’ll give a quick brown bag session that includes a cheat sheet with the platform’s coolest tricks. It’s a fast, free, no-fluff way to get targeted training.

2 – Make meetings do double duty. You can’t cram training into every project meeting, but you can assign the task of ferreting out at least one low-cost training opportunity to a member of the team on a rotating basis. Have them present their findings as an agenda item.

3 – Connect with external mentors. Industry groups regularly pair experienced mentors with new professionals. The cost is usually free, aside from any dues you pay to be part of the organization.

4 – Build education time into purchase contracts. Did you just buy a new piece of equipment? See if the manufacturer will throw in a factory tour that includes an “Installation and Maintenance 101” session.

5 – Make software training mandatory. When shopping for new software, always include a training line item in the budget. You’ll maximize your software investment when the team can use the platform to its full potential.

6 – Volunteer. Professionals who donate their time at project management conferences and local business functions not only give back to the industry, they also frequently get to attend the event’s training and informational sessions for free.

 

project management training tips PMP

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE
More posts on Project Management Training:

6 SNEAKY WAYS TO GET MORE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – RISK MANAGEMENT

SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – COMMUNICATION

GROUP FACILITATION – SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING

WHEN TO TAKE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

DO YOU NEED PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING? INFOGRAPHIC

4 BENEFITS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

The Function of a PMO

Our last PMO infographic (ALL ABOUT PMO’S INFOGRAPHIC) dealt with the Who, What, and Why.

Check out our latest infographic: “The Function of a PMO”

It explains what they are, what functions they serve and what you can expect to accomplish with one.

Download a copy and share!  CLICK HERE

PMO infographic

MAKE THE MOST OF MEETINGS

Meetings are a fact of life in project management, but are you getting everything you can out of them? We’ve broken down some common meeting types with do’s and don’ts to help your team maximize its time.

Kick off
Get everyone on board with a new project, outline primary achievables, reveal and discuss the timeframe,and explain stakeholder expectations. May also assign major areas of responsibilities and designate key point people within the team.
DO: Have graphics ready, such as timetables, floor plans, and budget overview. This allows folks to quickly take in large amounts of important information. Follow up by sending electronic copies to the team so everyone is using the same data.
DON’T: Get bogged down in details. Instead, put together an action list of items to be addressed offline.

Progress report
Team members provide status updates for their respective areas. Issues that are likely to affect more than one functional sub-team are discussed and potential concerns are identified.
DO: Have a firm agenda, even if it doesn’t change from one meeting to the next. It’s crucial that each group have sufficient time to report on the happenings in their area.
DON’T: Short-change this meeting’s allotted time. Reports should be presented efficiently, but dedicate enough time to ensure each group is able to provide the info that others on the team need.

Problem solving
Potential glitches that were identified in other meetings are tackled here. Discussions are action oriented and focused on specific results.
DO: Minimize the number of issues the team takes on in each meeting. It’s much more productive to hold a series of highly focused meetings than one multi-topic gathering that wanders around and accomplishes little.
DON’T: Invite team members that aren’t directly related to either identifying concerns and their underlying causes or implementing solutions.

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

Too Much Sisyphus in Your PMO?

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Project Management in a Down Economy

Each year, companies execute projects for the purpose of improving their bottom-line and expanding their competitive advantage. The difference between success and failure often depends on how committed organizations are in utilizing project management to monitor and control schedule delays. Schedule delays are the villain in project management and are the biggest cause of budget overruns, missed deadlines, and poor quality. During good economic times, investing in project management is financially feasible and acceptable by most companies. However, during bad economic times, project management is considered an overhead cost and the tendency is to downsize. This paper discusses the importance of investing in project management to mitigate the impact of schedule delays in good and more importantly during bad economic times.

Continue reading Project Management in a Down Economy