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

The Benefits of Including Project Sponsors in Your Training Program

Corporate America invests millions of dollars each year in project management – offices, technology, project management training, and project management consulting support. Conversely, data reflects that even with project management being a relatively common process used at most companies; project success rates do not reflect the investment. Studies show that project management success rates range between 35 to 45% – far from a sensational benchmark to brag about. Bottom line, despite many companies investing in project management infrastructure most projects are not delivered successfully (on-time, within budget and to desired quality). Though the root causes for project failures are many, one glaring deficiency becoming clearer is the lack of project management training at the sponsor level. Project managers usually garner most of the attention for project management training initiatives, followed by team members and software experts. However, project sponsors – those individuals who fill the role of resource provider, key decision maker and remover of obstacles -tend to slip through the training cracks. Including project sponsors (and executive stakeholders) in project management methodology training will help three key areas project sponsors training: (1) better project direction, (2) better project data utilization, and (3) improved cultural adoption of project management.

Common Characteristics of Productive Sponsors

  • Understands the Planning Methodology
  • Provides Active Direction During Planning Sessions
  • Stays Current on the Latest Project Status Report
  • Uses the Project Information Provided to Challenge Teams
  • Commits to Instilling PM in the Corporate Culture
  • Is Present and Engaged During Control Meetings

Better direction

The project sponsor plays a key role in defining the strategic direction of the project and communicating management’s expectations for the project. This information is often times captured in the form of a project charter. If a project sponsor has not been involved in the basic building blocks of project charter development, they often times struggle to provide
clear direction to the project manager. The result is the project manager may drive the team to successfully completing the wrong project! The project sponsor is the conduit between the executive stakeholders and the project manager. Without a clear understanding of how to communicate the objectives of the project, how the objectives of the project determine the key deliverables, and how the project manager can best deliver the project with specified deadlines; the sponsor is ultimately helping to facilitate a failed project. By ensuring your project sponsors are grounded in the same project management methodology as the project manager, you are providing your project manager and team the best opportunity to launching a successful project.

Better Project Data Utilization

Project management information is not very valuable if it is not being utilized effectively. Even the most detailed report package or visually stimulating powerpoint presentation will fall on deaf ears if the recipients do not know what they are supposed to do with the information provided. To this point, the sponsor’s key role throughout the course of the project is to allocate and redirect resources as needed, remove obstacles preventing the project from moving forward, and providing strategic direction to the project manager, among others. Without the sponsor understanding the same planning methodology as the project manager, discussions on concepts of critical/controlling path, compression techniques, and resource management alternatives, will often get confused. In the end, the sponsor and project manager may either get misaligned or the sponsor gradually becomes disengaged. By including the project sponsor in the project management training, they are able to internalize the data being presented to them, understand strategic options and provide more sound direction to the project manager.

Cultural Adoption

Successful project management initiatives are not rolled out without some discomfort involved. Project management is a process that involves the team’s time, focus and commitment to success. Without these elements, everyone is simply going through the motions and not viewing project management as a value added management tool. When utilized to its fullest, project management can be an early warning system that helps reduce organizational stress and assists the project team with prioritizing their time.  A strong sponsor that is well trained in the planning methodology and bought into its success can act as a “lightening rod” in channeling project success into a cultural game changer. By driving the team to become engaged in the planning and control process and utilizing the techniques they have been trained in, they can quickly generate momentum that illustrates their investment (time and budgetary) are worthwhile.

The project sponsor fills a critical role in the success of a project and thus should be grounded in the same planning and control concepts as the project manager and team. By not including the sponsors in the training, the message received from the project manager and team is “do as I say, not as I do” – a recipe for failure. By speaking the same project management language the sponsors are able to take a more active role in setting the direction of the project, ask the right questions when the project management data is presented, help the project manager navigate potential obstacles during the project execution and ultimately motivate the overall corporate culture to adopt project management as a value added process.

project sponsors 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

 

 pmTraining

Motion Graphic – The Control Process

The foundation for successful projects is the use of a formal, proactive control process continuously over the life of the project.  Though most studies agree on its importance, the control process tends to be the single most common element that project teams underemphasize. PMAlliance can help implement a best in class, proven control process that does not create an undue burden on the team.

By using our formal approach your teams and executive sponsors will realize a number of advantages:

  1. They will have an early warning system that alerts them to project problems while there is still time to take corrective action

  2. They will have a neutral, non-subjective assessment of the status of the project on a regular basis

  3. They will have a mechanism that will allow project managers to keep the team focused on the project especially when team members are assigned to multiple projects

  4. They will have a process that ensures their project plans are continually updated

In addition to being formal, an effective project control process must also be proactive.  We believe that the emphasis in project control should be placed on resolving future problems rather than “fire fighting” problems that have already occurred.  PMAlliance incorporates a number of important techniques into our Duration-Driven control process that make it proactive:

  1. We require all team members to reconfirm near-term commitments on a weekly basis,

  2. We create a completion-oriented atmosphere where the emphasis is placed on problem solving and achieving results rather than assigning blame,

  3. We work with project managers to create a team environment where it is “safe to tell the truth”

  4. We work to ensure that any deviations or slippage in the plan are dealt-with and resolved quickly.

But how do we do it?  First we start with a good quality, network-based project plan that was developed using our Duration-Driven techniques.

Then on a weekly basis, PMAlliance consultants facilitate a structured, disciplined control process that incorporates the latest technologies for collection, analysis, and reporting of project information.

For project teams to be successful they need to have an accurate and reliable project plan not only in the beginning, but also throughout the duration of the project.  The PMAlliance Control Process ensures on an on-going basis that project teams have an up-to-date project plan they can use to identify problems and make smart decisions that drive the success of their projects.

For more about our project planning approach, check out our video on: Duration-Driven Methodology.

control process by PMAlliance

PMAlliance provides project management consultingproject management training and project office development services.

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

Speak Your Mind and Overcome That Less-Than-Ideal Training Session

Project management training should be a high priority for every project management consulting professional. But occasionally you may attend training that isn’t quite what you hoped for. Fortunately, there are some tricks you can use to improve the experience. If you’re willing to speak your mind and go after the information you want, chances are good that you can overcome a less-than-ideal project management training session.

The material isn’t what you were looking for. Maybe it’s geared toward a different industry or there aren’t enough real-world examples to develop a thorough understanding of the principles. If that’s the case, start by asking open-ended questions that will lead the conversation toward the information you hope to learn. When the workgroup sessions begin, pick the brains of those on your team to see if they can add useful knowledge to what the presenter has already offered.

The content is too remedial. You’ve paid for the class and taken time to attend, so get the most out of it. Pay attention to what sort of questions the other participants—who may be digesting exactly the kind of information they need—are asking. These are the likely the same things the more junior members of your own PMO are keen to learn. Gather as much insight as you can into the skills and scenarios the other attendees are interested in and carry that knowledge back so you can boost the competencies of your own team.

The presenter isn’t great. Many factors can dampen an otherwise great class—a flaky sound system; a presenter who talks too fast; slides with a tiny or unreadable font. The key is to say something to the organizer as soon as you discover there’s a problem. The instructor likely doesn’t realize you can’t hear them, or that they need to zoom in on key graphics.

project management Brainstorming

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

 

 

BUILDING YOUR PMO’S PROJECT PORTFOLIO

 

Most project management professionals have their own project portfolios—they come in handy during job interviews, performance reviews, etc. But your PMO should also have a portfolio. It’s a great PR tool when your team hosts networking events, and it’s also helpful when introducing your team to a new executive or key stakeholder. We’ve put together a quick guide to get your PMO’s portfolio started.

 

Select a handful of projects to include. You can’t include everything, but look for a variety of projects that showcase your team’s versatility. Include at least one very large project, one high-visibility project, and one project that directly affected the company’s bottom line. Projects with particular significance (improvements to a manufacturing facility, for example) or that demonstrate your team’s expertise in niche areas (perhaps a project completed under regulatory oversight) would also be good additions.

 

Create a project summary for each project. Viewers of your PMO’s portfolio will want to quickly understand the basic objectives and parameters of the various projects your team has executed, so give them the basics at a glance: a short list of key deliverables, information on the project’s duration or timetable, cost data that includes budgeted and actual figures for expense and capital line items, a list of key project team members and their areas of responsibility, and other notable resource allocations or project details. Keep each project summary to just a single page for easy viewing.

 

Pull some photos together. Few things can help viewers understand the scope and impact of your projects like pictures. But you don’t need many—select one or two large photos that best describe the project’s challenges and final outcome, along with a few smaller pictures that highlight particularly interesting aspects of the project. Any more than that, and your viewers will likely lose interest.

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

 

Project Management Training Infographic by PMAlliance

Check out our latest infographic to find out why Project Management Training should matter to your team and organization.

Also check out our other Training Infographic for more great stats: DO YOU NEED PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING? project management training infographic pmalliance

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

PMAlliance project management consulting.

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3 TIPS TO ESCAPE A LEADERLESS PROJECT

Earlier we talked about the hallmarks of leaderless projects and some of the issues they bring. It’s crucial to reignite stakeholder engagement, hold one champion accountable for supporting the project, and sidestep a leadership-by-committee structure if you see one looming on the horizon. If you suddenly find yourself knee deep in a project without a champion, what can you do?

1 – Reconnect with your champion. If you suspect your primary stakeholder has (or is planning to) jump ship, don’t hesitate to re-engage them. You may be tempted to start the courtship by e-mail, but savvy Project Managers will opt for a more direct route. Schedule a brief meeting with the stakeholder to bring them up to speed on the project and the challenges their absence may have created.

2 – Know what you need from your champion. As you bring your champion back into the loop, be prepared with timelines and budgets that highlight any problem areas. Also explain issues you anticipate to encounter should the team continue without the stakeholder’s support. Provide the champion with a list of immediate needs, if any—resource authorizations, approvals for action, etc. Even if you don’t get their full attention, you may at least receive the support the project needs to succeed.

3 – Put the leadership back on one champion. If you suspect your project is leaning toward leadership-by-committee, it’s crucial that you place one stakeholder at the top of the organizational chart, and fast. Try to identify a stakeholder with the highest approval authority as well as influence. Have a candid conversation with your champion to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding existing problems, support needs going forward, and expectations on both sides. Close the loop with your team and others impacted by the project by announcing the champion’s formal leadership position.

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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6 SNEAKY WAYS TO GET MORE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

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SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – COMMUNICATION

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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

ARE YOU REALLY A PROJECT MANAGEMENT ADVOCATE?

GETTING OTHERS ON THE PROJECT ADVOCACY TRAIN

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

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

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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