MAKING PROJECT MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES A PRIORITY AGAIN

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

3 WAYS PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATES MISS THE MARK

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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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.

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.

 

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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 TIPS: DON’T FEAR THE SUPERSTAR

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

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

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

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

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PMAlliance

Do You Need Project Management Training? Infographic

Check out PMAlliance’s infographic on the importance of  Project Management Training. It has some great statistics on the benefits that proper PM Training can bring to your projects. Even if your organization’s processes have been refined over the years, it’s up to YOU to follow and further improve them.

Also check out our other Training Infographic for more great stats: PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING INFOGRAPHIC

 Project Management Training Infographic PMP

Maintain your project management training with PMAlliance and keep up to date with the latest project management techniques to have more successful projects.

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

4 Benefits of Project Management Training

Most project management professionals come into the PMO with at least a baseline skill set in the art of project management. But savvy teams know that a well-crafted project management training program brings benefits that go beyond just nailing down core competencies. If your PMO hasn’t seized on the value of good training, consider just a few of potential payouts.

1 – Better participation. When team members have strong project management skills, they can more fully participate in all phases of a project’s lifecycle, from planning to execution to post-project analysis. Project professionals that are pigeonholed into a narrow sector of disciplines often miss out on new opportunities, and are less able to lend their expertise across multiple aspects of each project.

2 – More consistency. A solid training methodology available to all project professionals in an organization allows members across the team to apply consistent project management principles. This leads to better long-term project execution, as well as improved stakeholder and end user satisfaction. It’s also a launch pad for project improvement initiatives that result in repeatable successes.

3 – Increased confidence. Training gives team members the confidence to tackle difficult, complex, and critical-path projects. A strong training program introduces real-world project scenarios that allow PMs to develop good decision-making and other skills in a safe environment. It also gives them a much broader set of experiences to draw from when faced with challenging circumstances.

4 – Improved efficiency. When training focuses on a particular tool used in a PMO, such as a specific software suite, or on aspects of the project lifecycle that required detailed knowledge (planning and facilitation are two that come to mind), team members are able to become power users and experts much more quickly. They can then maximize the functionality and effectiveness of that tool or discipline.

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

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING INFOGRAPHIC

ARE YOU REALLY A PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATE?

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

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

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

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

project management training by PMAlliance

 

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

THE PROJECTS OF SUMMER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

project management photo

 

TURN PERFECTIONISM ON ITS HEAD

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

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

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

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

 

Check Out These Other Blog Posts on Perfectionists:

3 SIGNS YOU’RE A PROJECT PERFECTIONIST 

TURN PERFECTIONISM ON ITS HEAD

PERFECTION NOT NEEDED

3 SIGNS YOU’RE A PROJECT PERFECTIONIST

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

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

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

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

 

Check Out These Other Blog Posts on Perfectionists:

3 SIGNS YOU’RE A PROJECT PERFECTIONIST 

TURN PERFECTIONISM ON ITS HEAD

PERFECTION NOT NEEDED

BANISH THE BULLY: PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

Earlier we looked at some of the signs that indicate you might have a bully in your PMO (Bullying In The Workplace). But once you’ve confirmed there’s bullying going on, what can project management team members do about it? If the bully is the leader of the team, affecting their behavior will likely be difficult. You may also be hesitant to raise the issue with someone in a position to fix the problem—the bully’s boss, for example—for fear of reprisals. There are other options, though, that may help your project management team address the situation in a positive way.

Get HR involved. Employers today typically won’t tolerate any measure of bullying in the workplace, so bringing an HR rep into the conversation may be the best way to resolve the situation. They’ll work with the bully to modify and improve their behavior, and may also be able to address issues the problem has caused within your PMO. Be sure to pull together several examples of the bully’s problem behavior ahead of time, to help illustrate exactly what’s going on.

Establish alternate communication channels for stakeholders. Help project supporters and end users avoid the bully by designating a point person for these folks to contact with project questions or concerns. Beware that this may not be an option in those cases where the bully has purposely made themselves the sole communication conduit into and out of the PMO, as they’re unlikely to relinquish such a powerful, visible role.

Create new opportunities for team building. If one person’s domineering behavior is hurting group morale, take the time to schedule some activities designed to pull folks back together and rebuild trust. Even a simple team lunch can work wonders. Plan something offsite, and keep your intentions quiet so the bully doesn’t catch wind of it and show up.

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

BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE

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

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

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

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

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

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PMAlliance provides project management training services.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING: STOP MEDDLING!

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

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

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

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

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

WHEN DYSFUNCTIONAL PMOs SUCCEED

Nearly every project management consulting professional has watched a completely dysfunctional PMO execute a project successfully. How do they do it? When the rest of us are carefully creating solid budgets and timelines, while we’re diligently minding our progress and watching for potential problem areas downstream, these broken teams manage to succeed in spite of themselves. Is it just luck? I don’t think so. In those cases where I’ve seen a heavily flawed project team achieve its objectives, there are usually some extraordinary circumstances that contribute to the project’s success.

A lot of problems can slip past disconnected stakeholders or an executive team that isn’t paying attention. Projects that are over budget or miss a deadline may never be questioned, and even failures on a critical deliverable could glide under the radar. If your performance is never truly subjected to scrutiny, what does it matter if you do a good job or not? But beware the downside: the long-term effectiveness of projects that don’t pass muster is diminished, meaning that stakeholders might not trust your PMO’s recommendations in the future, or other projects may need to be implemented to fix what went wrong the first time.

A project team comprised of high-performing individuals will often succeed, even if a subset of members aren’t pulling their weight. Self motivation and sheer determination can usually drive those who set high standards for themselves to cover a lot of faults if it means the project will succeed. Unfortunately, in my experience these situations ultimately put the organization in an even worse position when the stars of the PMO move on in search of a team that doesn’t take advantage of them.

Have any of you ever worked in a dysfunctional PMO? What were the underlying problems, and how did your team manage to find success?

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

THE TASK CONUNDRUM

In project management, there are two schools of thought on doling out tasks to team members—assign all tasks at the beginning of the project, or assign them as they come up in the project schedule. Each method has merits, along with some notable pitfalls. Here we examine both strategies to see what’s good about each, and where problems may lurk.

Assign at the beginning of the project

Benefits of this approach are felt at both the team and individual levels. Project professionals often feel they are better able to juggle tasks for multiple projects simultaneously when they can budget their time early in the process. From the team’s perspective, assigning tasks during the initial project phase may allow resources to be more efficiently managed across the overall project load. Possible downsides include increased susceptibility to delays, due to the unavailability of the person responsible for the task. If one individual gets behind, the effects may be magnified across the entire team.

Assign when the task is ready to begin

This strategy may enable PMOs to eliminate delays by leveraging available resources on a just-in-time basis, rather than wait for a specific individual to begin the task. It may also facilitate a generalist approach to project management by ensuring team members have opportunities to oversee a variety of tasks, rather than just those in their areas of expertise. Potential concerns include the delays that may occur if a task languishes before being assigned, and the unavailability of a team member suited for the task if there is a requirement for a specific skill set.

A team comprised of high performers could likely use either strategy successfully, assuming that some things—communication channels, stakeholder expectations, etc.—were well established and carefully managed. How have these approaches worked in your own experience?

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7 THINGS THAT CAN KILL YOUR BUDGET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Project Management in a down economy

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