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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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

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING INFOGRAPHIC

 

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

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.

project management training

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

4 WAYS TO SPICE UP YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM

Project Management Training is an ongoing activity for most PMOs, but participants can get burned out if the routine gets stale. We’ve rounded up some tips to keep students interested and enthusiastic.

1 – Offer one on one sessions

Training is typically more time- and cost-efficient when multiple students attend, but individual sessions can offer a helpful alternative. They’re especially useful for students who travel or work irregular shifts, and may have difficulty blending common class times into their schedules. If you have a mentor program, you already have a list of experts potentially willing to lead occasional sessions.

2 – Go offsite

Students who are too close to their desks might not give training their full attention— it’s too easy to run back for a quick e-mail or voicemail check, which is never actually quick. Traditional venues are fine, but if you’re looking for something more interesting (and perhaps less expensive), consider the picnic benches at a nearby park or even a coffee shop for events with only a handful of students.

3 – Go online

Computer-based training is a great way to offer sessions that are efficient and can accommodate the schedules of multiple students. It works particularly well for short classes, where participants can easily tune out distractions because they know they’ll be available again before long. Online presentations can also be used during traditional training sessions to offer students access to remote experts or additional accompanying material.

4 – Turn students into trainers

Interactive classes can help to keep things interesting, and tapping participants’ expertise to expand the group’s knowledge base is a fun way to maintain a high enthusiasm level. Be sure you don’t rely on any one person too much—instead, schedule several folks to present different material. This will ensure that everyone gets the chance to be a student.

PMAlliance project management consulting.

 

4 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN DEALING WITH STUBBORN PEOPLE

Much of project management consulting centers around negotiation—objectives, expectations, timeframe, and budget. There are occasions where negotiation may be impossible, such as when budget limitations simply won’t allow additional money to be approved, but sometimes plain human stubbornness keeps the team from making progress. When someone comes to the table refusing to negotiate on key points, project professionals should keep a few things in mind as they try to move the discussion forward.

1 – Even hard data might not sway them
Before you dedicate significant time or energy to gathering data that supports your viewpoint, remember that stubbornness is sometimes immune to empirical evidence. Facts won’t always unseat deeply held ideas, concerns, or opinions.

2 – Ask and listen
Because data might not be enough to change a stubborn person’s mind, see if you can get to the root of why they’re stuck on a particular point of view. Turn the tables and pull information from them by asking about their experiences and perspectives. They might divulge something that points you toward an acceptable compromise or workable solution.

3 – Public opinion could work in your favor
You alone may not be able to bring enough pressure to bear to convince a stubborn person to back down or to secure a compromise. In these cases, consider rallying others to support your cause. This could take the form of user surveys, or it might require getting the senior leadership on your side.

4 – They might not actually be stubborn
There’s a chance they’re stuck on a particular issue because their boss or other influencer has an agenda. As you discuss why they hold such a firm perspective, try to determine if someone else is at work behind the scenes. If so, you’ll likely need to address that person directly before progress can be made.

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

Why Consensus Doesn’t Always Equal Project Success (And What You Can Do About It)

Project management professionals know that consensus among stakeholders is a critical component in moving a project forward and meeting final objectives. But consensus is just one component of many that must be addressed, and sometimes even the most foundational agreements are too flawed to withstand the future challenges that typically arise.

How can you ensure that your project achieves the level of consensus it needs? Getting all involved parties to agree on something doesn’t procure the funding, timeframe, or other resources that are often needed to shepherd a project through to a successful completion. What happens when you’ve achieved consensus nirvana, and things still aren’t going the way they should? Original agreements sometimes don’t fully support the fundamental objectives your project is supposed to meet. Below is an overview of how the consensus phase sometimes goes wrong, and tips for steering it back on course.

What type of consensus have you reached? Beware the final agreements that required foundation-level compromise. If too much has been negotiated away, your project management consulting team may soon be looking at a project that is so far diminished from its original scope or intent that it no longer meets everyone’s needs (and may, in fact, meet no one’s needs). Have you lost necessary support or resources? Have you agreed to conditions or objectives that leave no wiggle room for managing the occasional glitch? If you’ve finally reached consensus only after stripping the project to its lowest common denominator, chances are good that your project is lacking some critical pieces. Agreeing that you need additional manufacturing capabilities isn’t sufficient to clearly define your project’s objectives, let alone plan and execute a project that meets that goal. Scope, cost, impact, timeframe, and other factors must still be worked out. Reminding stakeholders that “this is what we agreed on” will not resolve the fundamental errors in planning or execution that may result from a poorly-supported consensus.

What’s still left to do? Especially when negotiations have been protracted or tense, it’s important to constantly evaluate the objectives of the project against the agreements you’ve been able to reach so far. Is the price your organization will pay—in terms of financial cost, impact to operations and personnel, market standing, and any other area which may be affected—still worth it when viewed against the project’s compromised objectives? Have your project’s objectives been chipped away to such a degree that your access to funding or other resources has been hindered? Have your stakeholders lost their passion for the project? Has the timeframe been compromised as a result of an extended negotiation or planning phase? Has your PMO lost key talent or expertise since the project’s inception? Ensure that your project management team is still capable of fulfilling its role, that needed resources are available, and that the scope continues to meet the necessary metrics to be considered a success.

How do you tackle a too-soft consensus? Your approach will depend heavily on the type of organization and complexity of the project you’re supporting, but some good first steps include returning to your project’s original scope and re-opening negotiations, conducting a new cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate any diminished ROI, gathering updated market data to reaffirm your need for additional resources or other support, and working with end users to highlight any potential negative effects of moving forward with your project’s current plan. You may also want to evaluate your decision-making team—if negotiations have in any way been based on a lack of proper authority to commit funds, staff, or other resources, then you may consider elevating the discussion to include individuals with increased authorization levels.

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

Project Firefighting – Lessons Learned from Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow

Many a great catastrophe has started from humble roots. Consider the Great Chicago Fire of 1871: The initial cause of the fire is still unknown (popular legend holds that Catherine O’Leary’s barn on the south side of Chicago was set ablaze when her errant cow, Daisy, upended a lantern), but that it left the city devastated is incontrovertible. Continue reading Project Firefighting – Lessons Learned from Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow

Project Management Tips: Read for Success

Business publications come in every flavor, from glossies aimed at C-level executives to no-frills journals written for those on the front lines of everyday operations. With the seeming overabundance of available trade magazines, it’s easy to narrow your focus to 2 or 3 that most closely speak to your needs, and leave it at that.

Continue reading Project Management Tips: Read for Success

A Phased Approach to Project Management Implementation

Implementing a formalized project management process in an organization that does not have a history of using a structured approach to project planning and control can present significant challenges. A phased approach to implementation is a crucial element of a successful implementation strategy because it helps overcome resistance to change, allows lessons learned in early phases to be incorporated in the systems installed in later phases, and ensures that a solid foundation of project-level data is available prior to rolling-up enterprise-level information.

Resistance to change is a well-documented phenomenon. And, we know from experience that the implementation of structured project planning and control techniques is a substantial departure from the norm for many companies. Therefore, resistance to change with respect to project management is something that should be expected (and even planned on). A phased approach to implementation can help overcome this resistance by allowing an organization to create success stories, provide the necessary communication (downward and upward), and build momentum prior to rolling-out the process to the general population. By taking a phased approach, we can dramatically increase our chances of acceptance by the organization and reduce the probability of a “program-of-the-month” fiasco. A project management system must be tailored to the organization. A “one size fits all” approach has a low probability of success because it does not recognize differences in project types, management and staff capabilities, and organizational culture. A phased approach to implementation allows time in the initial phases to gather first-hand information about project characteristics, personnel, and cultural nuances. Then, based on this information, a project management system can be designed and a roll-out plan crafted that maximizes the prospects for success.The later stages of implementation are focused on providing the enterprise-level tools that allow an organization to gain visibility to project schedule, resource, and cost information across the entire portfolio of projects. This information can be used to optimize business decision making given that there are constraints related to limited resources, limited budgets, and project priority. Unfortunately, enterprise-level decision making must be based on solid project-level information, otherwise, the decisions that are made may not be correct. A phased implementation approach allows time to ensure that sound plans for all individual projects are created prior to rolling-up enterprise-level information. Also, enterprise-level tools can represent a substantial financial commitment. A phased approach can coordinate the timing of the investment in these tools with the point of maximum usefulness.

The Four Phases of Project Management Implementation

PMAlliance utilizes four phases for the project management implementation process: Initiation, Project-Level Installation, Enterprise-Level Installation, and Maintenance. A description of each phase follows.

1. Initiation Phase

The purpose of the Initiation phase is to mobilize the organization, remediate any current at-risk projects, and set the stage for the Installation phases. Time is of the essence in the Initiation phase. Management “cracks the door open” with the organization by endorsing the process at kick-off and requesting the support and participation
of all employees. However, from the moment of kick-off, employee patience and willingness to participate is in jeopardy until success stories have been created and communicated. This is perhaps the riskiest of all of the phases of implementation because even small failures at this stage can fuel the arguments of naysayers, substantiate the fears of those employees “sitting on the fence” with respect to project management, and dissipate any momentum created by management during the kick-off process. For these reasons, the Initiation phase includes the selection of pilot projects that have the potential for near-term of successes and great emphasis is placed on creating and communicating those success stories to the organization.

2. Project-Level Installation Phase

During the Project-Level Installation phase structured project planning and control processes are implemented on all targeted projects, the project management infrastructure necessary to support the consistent, successful application of project management techniques by the Project Office on future projects is created, and Project Office staff are trained and mentored.

3. Enterprise-Level Installation Phase

The Enterprise-Level Installation phase creates the infrastructure necessary to support business decision-making based on schedule, resource, and cost information “rolled-up” from the entire portfolio of projects and transitions the day-to-day responsibility for developing and maintaining individual project plans to the Project Office staff.

4. Maintenance Phase

The purpose of the Maintenance phase is to transition the responsibility for supporting all of the project management requirements of the organization to the Project Office staff and to ensure long-term continuity by establishing project management as a core competency and an essential function within the organization.

Conclusion

In today’s economic environment it is absolutely
essential to ”get it right the first time” when it comes to making organizational changes. A phased approach to implementing project management can dramatically increase the probability of success because it helps to overcome resistance to change, creates an opportunity to incorporate lessons learned into the design of the project management infrastructure, and ensures that high-quality enterprise-level information is available to major stakeholders.

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

The Project Office (PMO)

Companies today increasingly recognize that, with respect to project management, they must advance beyond the ability to create occasional success stories through the exertion of heroic effort. They know that a core element of their overall success is driven by the ability to consistently bring their entire portfolio of projects to successful completion: on-time, within budget, and per-specification. In addition, they know that if they can cost-effectively accelerate the delivery of their new products and services (without sacrificing quality in the process) they can create a strategic advantage over their competitors.
Continue reading The Project Office (PMO)