12 PMO ACTIONS THAT GIVE BIG RESULTS

If your PMO is looking for ways to improve efficiency or reduce overhead (or maybe the team just needs a general refresh), consider any of these 12 actions as a launch pad.

Project management with gantt chart

1 – Make end user communications a priority. So many aspects of successful project management hinge on end user interactions, including advocacy efforts, stakeholder satisfaction, and even avoiding scope creep. When end user communications are a top priority for the entire team, every one of these activities benefits.

2 – Centralize documentation and other project information. Managing data in multiple locations is, with few exceptions, less efficient and more error-prone than bringing everything together in one place. Software platforms are now available to maintain strong data security while still allowing team members the access they need.

3 – Make status updates available on demand. With the number of project management team members and stakeholders working offsite or independently, sending regular status updates isn’t always enough. By making updates available on demand, everyone has the information they need to make the best strategic decisions.

4 – Boost productivity with online solutions. Web-based platforms—from video conferencing to document sharing—can dramatically improve the productivity of project teams. These are especially useful for PMOs with mobile workers or executives, or who often partner with remote stakeholders.

5 – Renew your PMO’s commitment to training. Even if budgets are lean, every team member should have the opportunity to participate in regular training sessions. Project management training expands the PMO’s knowledge and capabilities while increasing team members’ job satisfaction.

6 – Encourage networking. Robust connections with other professionals are crucial for short- and long-term career success. Well-connected PMPs have access to a wider base of knowledge, are able to tap into better information on market pressures, and can use their networks to identify helpful industry partners.

7 – Support mentoring. Your PMO doesn’t need to create or manage its own mentoring program. Instead, it may be sufficient to make it known throughout the team that mentoring relationships are encouraged. Team members will often develop mentor/mentee partnerships on their own if they know it’s something the management group supports.

8 – Engage the entire team in strategic discussions. When PMPs at every level are involved in developing strategy and linking project achievables to the organization’s mission, their engagement throughout the project’s entire lifecycle is typically greater.

9 – Develop a true culture of advocacy. Talk is cheap when it comes to being good project advocates. PMO leaders should work to make advocacy efforts part of every team member’s role while also doing their own part to be good advocates.

10 – Partner with a data expert if you don’t have on in-house. Benchmarking is an important tool, but only if your team knows how to properly gather and interpret information. If that isn’t a skill your PMO possesses, partner with an outside expert who can ensure your data measurement efforts are on track and effective.

11 – Be consistent with project post-mortems. A thorough post-mortem analysis of every project is important to a team’s ongoing success. Unfortunately, each analysis takes time, something that’s often in short supply. PMOs should make a concerted effort to consistently carry out post-project evaluations as a way to improve stakeholder satisfaction, eliminate waste, reduce costs, and boost efficiency.

12 – Use technology to streamline operations. Tasks such as deep-level data analysis and knowledge base management may be better accomplished with one of the new breed of technology tools now available. Include the upfront purchase cost and training time in your ROI considerations and see if one of these platforms might increase your team’s productivity.

THE GOOD AND THE BAD OF PMO MATURITY

Many PMOs strive to mature. The project management professionals within these groups don’t just want to become better at what they do, they often see tangible benefits in acquiring or developing the skills, expertise, and resources necessary to take on more complex project tasks. Expanding capabilities and mastering competencies is well and good, but PMO maturity sometimes brings unexpected challenges. Below we look at the good and the bad that comes with developing a mature project office.

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The good

Availability of metrics. One benefit of a mature PMO is that gathering and analyzing detailed metrics is typically part of the team’s established practices. For organizations where cost containment efforts are a priority or where datasets are important tools in developing strategy, such as for setting manufacturing  levels, a mature PMO offers an increased ability to assemble large, very specific data points and conduct targeted benchmarking.

Standardized methodologies. Organizations that must follow precise practices—most commonly found in regulated industries but also occurring when a particular project falls under one or more compliance mandates—often find the capabilities of a mature PMO to be a significant benefit. Projects across the company can be handled in accordance with a single methodology for managing controls, expenditures, documentation, and contracts.

Centralized management. Many organizations tackle only a few projects at a time, making oversight relatively straightforward. But for those companies with multiple projects happening at once, and often with differing durations, having a mature PMO capable of handling everything in one centralized place can be a huge positive. This typically allows for better purchasing power and leaner resource management, both benefits for those organizations that have experienced overruns or inefficiencies on past projects.

Internal expertise. If the culture of the organization eschews the use of external resources, then a mature PMO—with its broad knowledge base and skills—is often the answer. A wider variety of projects can be successfully executed without a heavy reliance on outside expertise, and juggling workloads across multiple projects is less complicated than when coordinating external labor.

The bad

Hurry up! Moving a PMO along the maturity spectrum is, by its very nature, a slow process. Competencies must expand, expertise typically broadens through experience (rather than new talent acquisitions), and best practices must filter across the wide range of activities the team oversees. That sometimes plodding pace can create an enormous amount of frustration among team members, who are often high-achieving, results-driven individuals. But try to hurry the process and you’ll probably progress even more slowly, as changes no longer have time to permeate throughout the project lifecycle and support teams flounder in their attempts to assimilate new practices and protocols.

Beware complacency. Mature PMOs can rest easy in the knowledge they’re adhering to best practices and achieving consistent success. The problem? Resting easy is exactly what project teams can’t do when it comes to implementing improved processes and incorporating new thought leadership into existing practices. Sometimes it’s a fine line between maturity and entrenchment, so keep an eye out for complacency.

Disconnect between the PMO and parent organization. Different companies have different needs, and not every organization wants or requires a PMO with a high level of maturity. The corporate culture may lean toward departmental independence, where each group is encouraged to oversee its own projects and initiatives. If the PMO interjects itself into this process uninvited, it could put the project team at odds with stakeholders as well as the organization’s leadership. This type of situation also has the potential to negatively impact the level of resources the PMO is able to procure, making project success far more difficult.

Project management training tips provided by PMAlliance inc.

THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT SECRETS OF SOAPBOX RACERS

On the surface, a soapbox derby seems to have little in common with project management. But project management professionals can actually learn quite a bit by observing how soapbox teams achieve project success.

Corporate management and consulting concept

Some projects are huge. Scale doesn’t have to be about complexity or duration. Sometimes projects are simply so monumental—in a career, in an organization—that they fill your entire windshield. A few high-profile soapbox races happen each year that are truly grand. As in the corporate project management realm, teams need to make peace with the enormity of these projects so they can tackle them without feeling overwhelmed.

Don’t let past failures get you down. When race day arrives, every soapbox team knows there can only be one winner. They also know that, even if they didn’t win last year, their efforts this time around might still be enough to get them over the finish line in first place. Project teams should learn from their past mistakes, but they need to be able to meet new challenges head on and without trepidation.

Past success is no guarantee of future results. The defending champion from last year’s derby walks into each new event with something to prove. Rather than sitting back riding on the wins from previous years, these racers know their past successes mean they need to work even harder with each successive race if they want to win. PMPs should be careful they don’t become complacent with their skills, since every new project brings the potential for new challenges.

Stakeholder engagement counts for a lot. Fan support doesn’t win a soapbox derby, but every good racer makes it a priority to entertain the crowd. The energy given off by fans—and stakeholders—helps to keep everyone engaged.

Be mindful of potential dangers, even when things are going well. A soapbox racer setting a blistering pace is always aware the next corner could bring a problem. Will they be going too fast to negotiate a tight turn? Is there gravel on the road? Like PMPs, soapbox drivers have learned to maximize their productivity now without losing sight of where challenges are likely to lurk.

Planning and execution are equally important. Showing up at a derby without a good car is a recipe for failure, but so is tackling a course with a driver who isn’t capable of getting the best performance out of their machine. Savvy soapbox racers scout out the course and fine tune their car’s handling setup before every event. When race time comes, they put all their energy into performing well right here, right now. PMOs should also be mindful of this balance between good planning and competent execution.

Teamwork should be fun. Watch the soapbox cars carrying multiple people and you’ll quickly see that teamwork isn’t all about work. PMPs may not always enjoy their working relationships as much as the soapbox teams do, but engaging is some lighthearted activities or putting together an occasional social function can really improve morale.

Learn to recover quickly. Many soapbox racers stumble—they hit a hay bale, they lose speed in a turn, a wheel comes off—but they know that persistence can save the day. Every project is sure to have its own set of glitches, even if they’re only minor. Project teams need to have good momentum if they want to overcome these obstacles and achieve consistent success.

Enjoy the journey. Win or lose, crash or conquer, every soapbox racer has a good time. If they’ve given their best effort, PMPs will also be able to look back on every project with pride and satisfaction.

 

Project management training tips provided by PMAlliance Inc.

BETTER PMP RETENTION THROUGH TRAINING

Project management is a highly competitive field, and experienced, skilled project management professionals are in demand in industries across the spectrum. Retaining key employees continues to be a challenge, with organizations continually looking for innovative and compelling ways to keep high-performing PMPs on board.

One concept that’s often overlooked, even in progressive PMOs, is the role project management training plays in employee retention. As the project management field continues to expand and diversify, it’s no longer enough to offer workers new opportunities for growth and career advancement. Top-level PMPs expect more for their efforts, and a thoughtful, forward-focused training program can be a compelling benefit.

project management training

A well-crafted training initiative contributes to employee retention objectives in several ways. One of the more obvious and traditional concepts is that a wider variety of responsibilities are open to workers when they broaden their skills. On a more intangible level, workers also want to feel valued. They’re investing a portion of themselves every day in the organization, and they prefer to work for an organization that invests in them in return. Along with compensation and general working conditions, these are the kinds of benefits PMPs look for when weighing their employment options.

The details of what constitutes engaging training will vary by organization, but PMOs can use the following tips to maximize the hiring and retention advantages of their particular program.

Training can’t be an afterthought or an add-on. Programs that focus only on baseline skills, that don’t encompass the latest thought leadership on methodologies and best practices, or that only target junior-level team members send the message that the organization doesn’t truly believe in the value of solid project management training. The skill sets needed to successfully execute projects continue to expand. Soft skills, such as leadership and communication, also have greater importance as PMOs increasingly rely on diverse, distributed teams. Training curriculums must keep pace, evolving to meet emerging needs.

Don’t limit training to what your group already knows. Niche skills and insight into best practices are sometimes better found outside the organization. Internal team members are often fantastic repositories of knowledge, but if they’re the only ones contributing to the training program then PMPs aren’t getting the comprehensive education they need and expect. An inside-only program also has the potential to limit the range of skills team members are able to develop. Outside experts are sometimes the best resource for specialized or advanced training, and an organization that recognizes the value of external trainers will set the standard for ongoing education.

Don’t overlook technology training. New tools, software platforms, even mobile applications are often sizeable investments. PMPs want to get the most out of them and training is frequently the best way to make that happen. Maximizing efficiencies is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The latest crop of technology offerings give project teams the power to conduct far more in-depth benchmarking exercises, to produce more granular cost projections, to leverage more comprehensive historical data, and to better allocate finite resources. An organization that takes technology seriously will also give it the attention it deserves when it comes to training.

Make time for training. Too many organizations continue to haphazardly cram training between other duties, shortchanging the entire team in the process. PMPs are often already losing time at the office and at home because of travel schedules and other demands. A company that exacerbates that issue by not carving out sufficient time for training lowers worker satisfaction and compromises the ability to retain key employees. Training is an important activity. Organizations must make it a priority and put real action behind that mission.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING CROSS-SKILLED

Project management teams are comprised of individuals with a variety of backgrounds, experience levels, and skill sets. That’s one of the strengths of the PMO—they possess a deep well of expertise in multiple areas. There are many advantages to this structure, but savvy PMPs are increasingly seeing the need to broaden their capabilities and learn new skills and techniques outside their established disciplines. While the concept is sometimes a tough sell (training costs time and money), those PMOs and project professionals that have embraced the notion of cross-skill training know the advantages are numerous.

Adding skills, particularly those outside the usual project management arena, gives PMPs far more flexibility in the types of projects they tackle. The PMO gains new insight and methodologies for approaching specific issues or problems. Pursuing knowledge in human resources, for example, would allow a PMP to apply more advanced techniques to staff oversight and development. It would also provide them with expertise well suited to managing a project involving the implementation of a new HR technology platform or construction of a space dedicated to candidate interviews and new hire training.

By applying a deeper level of knowledge of the areas and operations a project will impact and ultimately improve, the PMO is able to increase its value to the project’s stakeholders. Team members will be better positioned to function as good project advocates. They will likely have an improved understanding of the challenges stakeholders face as the project impacts their workflow, and deeper insight into how issues that crop up in the project will affect stakeholders and their day-to-day operations.

Expanding the range of skills within the project management discipline also benefits the organization. Studying risk management practices in depth, for example, gives a PMP the ability to take on those projects with a significant risk profile and to better manage or mitigate the liabilities the organization may encounter. In addition, a PMP with risk management expertise is in a position to oversee high-risk projects which might otherwise be outside the scope of the PMO to handle internally.

Even where robust skill sets are already available within a project office, increasing the abilities of team members often pays dividends in the long run. PMPs with extensive backgrounds in finance management, as an example, can cover for each other during vacations or they can team up on projects involving complex financial requirements or finance-focused regulatory oversight. Not every PMP needs to exercise these cross-skills in every project, but having them available is a benefit to the team, to stakeholders, and to the company.

Nearly as important as being cross-skilled is knowing where gaps in expertise exist, at both the individual level as well as across the project office. Not only does this knowledge allow each PMP to focus their training efforts on the areas that will be most beneficial, it also gives the PMO an opportunity to prioritize and plan for filling those gaps appropriately. It may make sense to provide training in a particular area or discipline, or the PMO may choose to identify an external expert if time and budgets lean that direction.

Justifying cross-skill training can be difficult in some organizations. PMPs should be ready with a thorough overview of the specific skills they would like to pursue, along with examples of projects that would have benefitted from having those capabilities in-house. Be sure to include all potential impacts, including workflow efficiencies, cost savings, improved vendor management, reduced time to accomplish specific tasks (e.g., meet compliance deadlines or complete contract negotiations), and the need for fewer labor resources either internal, external, or both.

project management cross skilled training

Team Project Management Training Done Right

Many PMOs include team-based project management training sessions as part of their educational program. It’s often an effective way to solidify preferred methodologies among all members while enhancing communication between working groups and smoothing out task hand offs. But creating useful team training courses takes more than just putting everyone in a room and giving them a curriculum. Savvy PMOs will get the most out of their training investment by following a few simple guidelines.

Be thoughtful when setting class size. It’s not only important to include enough team members to make team training useful, it’s also critical that training not include too many people. You want to elicit good discussion and knowledge sharing without making the class overwhelming for participants or unwieldy for the instructor. If the sessions are intended to convey information on new processes or changes to administrative procedures, then interactive portions will probably be less frequent and a larger group may be workable. On the other hand, teaching new skills or rounding out niche competencies is usually best done with smaller subsets of the team.

Balance cost with scheduling. Depending on the topic and the dynamics of the team, it may make more sense to hold several smaller training sessions than one big, all-encompassing event. Weigh what you expect the training to accomplish before signing up for the least expensive option. If attendees don’t receive the level of instruction or depth of knowledge necessary, then your PMO will likely need to invest additional time and money in follow-up sessions.

Consider personalities before lumping team members together. Mixing strong personalities with those who are more reserved can be an effective strategy, but think carefully about how you include those at either end of the spectrum. Will a group of particularly energetic members overpower one or two individuals who are typically more subdued? In some cases these lopsided classes are a big hit, but you’ll need to take your team’s individual personalities into account before deciding what will work best.

Format matters. Will the course feature breakout sessions? Is a single-day event the most appropriate length? Is it advisable to group together members who manage similar disciplines? Would it be preferable for the team to conduct scenario discussions using the PMO’s real-world projects instead of hypothetical examples? Look at the team’s needs when determining which format will offer the most effective training experience.

Onsite or offsite? There are big pros and cons for each, so weigh them carefully before deciding. Onsite project management training may appear less expensive at first glance, but beware the potential for reduced productivity when attendees flock to their desks at break time to check messages or take care of tasks. By contrast, offsite sessions usually entail more travel and lodging costs, and individuals must plan for time out of the office. On the plus side, offsite events typically have fewer interruptions and remote workers may save time and money by traveling to a more central location.

Work closely with the instructor. Experienced trainers may already have ideas on how to address your PMO’s particular challenges, whether it’s devising a format suited to the team or moving the sessions along at a pace that allows junior members time to soak up the knowledge they need. Talk with the instructor about what you’re hoping to cover and which areas the group needs to focus on to move forward. Some instructors may also be able to accommodate requests for multiple training sessions in different regions to accommodate workers at satellite locations. Ask for the trainer’s input and then work together to create sessions that address exactly what your team needs.

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

 

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Project Management Training Courses Are Coming to a City Near You

PMAlliance‘s national open enrollment project management training schedule has been posted. The initial calendar consists of an eight city event beginning in Nashville, this April. Followed monthly by Indianapolis, Houston, Seattle, San Jose, Washington DC, San Diego, and Atlanta. For the full schedule and to register click HERE. Continue reading Project Management Training Courses Are Coming to a City Near You

IDEAS INTO ACTION: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER BRAINSTORMING?

Many project management teams are good at brainstorming new ways to make their processes more efficient and to devise strategies that allow them to have repeatable successes. But sometimes moving those innovations into practice is harder than coming up with the ideas in the first place. How good is your PMO at turning all those good intentions into action? Below we’ve put together 3 steps to help you make sure the seeds sown during brainstorming sessions have the opportunity to grow into real fruit.

1 – Keep track of ideas. Your team is too busy to remember all the great suggestions that come up in brainstorming meetings, so make a record of everything—notes, screenshots, whiteboard postulating, etc. Don’t sell the process short by editing the list too early or too much. And remember that an idea may be introduced before its time, so a periodic review of the list is helpful in keeping things from slipping off the radar.

2 – Assign every good idea to one person for further review. Too many promising concepts fade into obscurity because no one shepherds them along. Rather than allowing useful ideas to fall through the cracks, give them a home by assigning each one to a member of the project team. That person can then evaluate the idea’s real-world viability and identify potential issues that could affect implementation.

3 – Follow up. Project Managers are busy, and the best way to keep good ideas on the front burner is to create a schedule for routine follow ups. These will allow the group to get together for updates on pending ideas. They can then continue vetting the ideas, offer potential solutions to any problems that have been identified, or come to a consensus that an idea isn’t feasible or doesn’t return enough benefit to continue exploring it.

Project Management professional

 

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.

Project Management Tips

 

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

GROUP FACILITATION – SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING

Project management doesn’t happen in a vacuum. A huge portion of the discipline revolves around people and the dynamics at work when they get together—conducting needs assessments, justifying objectives and costs to leadership teams, coordinating with end users to mitigate project impacts, communicating with stakeholders, and devising practical solutions to potential problems. Unfortunately, many project management training programs skip over group facilitation skills.

The what:  Project management is one long list of opportunities for group facilitation expertise, from the creation of project charters to performing the post-project wrap up. Strong facilitation skills enable almost anyone in the PMO to lead others through the project’s complex stages without losing focus, to maximize the effectiveness of group work sessions, and to deal with difficult personalities in a group setting.

The why:  Getting groups of people to effectively work together is at the heart of successful project execution. Without a good facilitator, the various groups involved in the project become much more vulnerable to inefficiency, ineffectiveness, in-fighting, and poor communication. Any one of these factors has the potential to put the project’s success in jeopardy. Meaningful progress—especially when facing difficult time or budget limitations—often hinges on good group facilitation. If all that sounds extreme, remember that simply running productive meetings (especially when teams are particularly diverse or include a number of competing priorities) may require better-than-average facilitation skills.

The how:  By its very nature, facilitation training should be highly interactive. If your PMO already has someone in-house with top notch facilitation skills, they may be able to offer others on the team solid and very focused instruction. Otherwise, look for an experienced outside consultant so you know your organization will receive quality training. Group facilitation skills are so important that cultivating bad habits is sometimes worse than having no habits at all.

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

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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.

project management consulting PMAlliance

Check Out These Other Blog Posts on Advocacy:

3 WAYS PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATES MISS THE MARK

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SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – RISK MANAGEMENT

Many PMOs have internal project management training programs, some of which focus tightly on filling in the blanks most relevant to a particular organization. We’ve already covered where training programs often overlook important communication skills, but the majority of in-house training programs also skip over the more advanced disciplines associated with risk management. Project Managers may find that a more thorough understanding of risk management is not only useful, it’s actually a key factor in achieving repeatable project success.

The what:  Comprehensive risk management skills cover the entire project lifecycle. PMs must be able to understand and articulate which risk factors are present, what sort of impact they may have on the project, how best to mitigate them, and how applied risk management strategies are functioning as a project moves through to completion.

The why:  Competency in risk management principles allows PMs to pinpoint  and mitigate potential areas of risk. If a team has less-than-excellent risk management skills, the downstream effects may be numerous, including an inefficient use of resources, missed milestones, and failure to fully achieve deliverables. But with many PMs focusing their risk management skills on the narrow swath of projects most frequently managed within their organization, it’s easy to sidestep the more complex aspects of the discipline. By rounding out the team’s expertise with additional training on risk management best practices, a PMO will be better able to effectively gauge and manage risks on a day-to-day basis.

The how:  Targeted instruction from a trainer experienced in project risk management can provide PMs with valuable skills without spending a lot of time or money. Modules on identifying risk (and risk types) should be combined with sessions devoted to in-depth risk analysis, both qualitative and quantitative. Developing the right approach to address each project’s unique risk profile is also a critical skill.

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

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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.

 

SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – COMMUNICATION

As PMOs develop and tweak their project management training programs, there are often a handful of core areas that are overlooked. Whether it’s because many project managers have already received foundational instruction in these areas or because most project management training is focused on other competencies, these baseline skills are crucial to project management success. One of these areas is communication, a vital skill for any team but one that is frequently discounted or ignored.

The what: Too often, communication training focuses on negotiation tactics and presentation skills. For truly effective team communication, project managers must be able to develop and employ solid listening techniques. They also need to understand how their communication skills contribute to the team’s accomplishments, as well as how to use appropriate communication strategies to successfully resolve conflicts (both within the group and with external partners).

The why: A deep understanding—of user needs, of stakeholder and coworker concerns, of potential project limitations—are all necessary for repeated project success. Project managers with sagging proficiency in the communication arena will often create the same obstacles for the group—such as the prolonged needs assessments that may result from poor listening skills—over and over again. But with all the other areas project managers must master, it’s easy to overlook communication skills as being less important than they really are. By regularly nurturing and expanding this fundamental area of expertise, project teams have more tools available to them in overcoming challenges and working together to solve problems.

The how: Continuous development of good communication skills is crucial for project success. Along with targeted communication courses, consider adding components of communication training to other educational offerings. Planning and risk management modules, with their strong attention to communicating well and accurately, may be good opportunities to provide team members with additional coaching in communication best practices.

Also check out “BE A BETTER COMMUNICATOR” and “COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES AND PUMPKIN PIE

project management training

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

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.

PMAlliance project manager training

 

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

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

4 BENEFITS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

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.