Category Archives: Project Management Tool

Project Management Tool

Five Project Management Mistakes

#1: Inadequate Planning

I have heard project managers say that the time they spend planning could be better spent actually “doing the work”. This is not right. Before the project work begins, the project manager must make sure that the work is properly understood and agreed to by the project sponsor and key stakeholders. The larger the project, the more important it is that this information be defined formally and explicitly. When you think about it, many project problems can be traced to problems in planning. These include

  • Poor estimates based on not understanding the totality of the work.
  • Lack of scope change management because scope was not properly defined to begin with.
  • Issues occurring because of poor risk management.
  • Missing work because the schedule is not thought out.
  • Not understanding all the stakeholders involved.

It should not be surprising, then, that the best way to avoid this problem is to do a good job of planning the project up-front. There are four main components to the planning process.

  • Defining the work. You need to understand the nature of the project including objectives, scope, assumptions, risks, budget, timeline, organization and overall approach.
  • Understanding the schedule. You should create a  project schedule before the project starts. This is needed to help you determine how to complete the work, and to estimate the total project effort and duration.
  • Estimating costs. You and the sponsor need a good estimate of costs before the project gets going.  
  • Agree on project management processes.This will include how the project manager will manage scope, issues, risks, communication, schedule, etc.

People ask me how much time it takes to complete the project planning. The answer is “sufficient”. You need to spend the time to define the work, create a schedule, estimate the costs and set up the project management processes. If your project is small, this should not take much time. If your project is large the planning may take a long time. In other words, planning is scalable based on the size of the project.

Spending time on good planning ends up taking much less time and effort than having to correct the problems while the project is underway. We all know this to be the case. We just need to practice this on our projects.

Project Management Tool

Proactively Manage Project Resources Without Authority

One of the frustrating parts of being a project manager is that it can be difficult to manage the project when you have no formal management authority over the members of your team. From an organizational perspective, if the people do not report to you as a functional manager, then you are probably operating in some type of matrix structure. The matrix makes the most efficient use of people resources, but it can also be very challenging on the part of project managers.

How do you hold team members accountable for their deadlines without this authority?

Proactively Manage Project Resources Without Authority

If team members are missing their deadlines you must first try to determine the cause. For example, if it is due to a lack of skills, this should be addressed through training or replacement resources. If it is because they do not fully understand the expectations you have, then you may have some changes to make as well.

Although the team members do not report to you functionally, their work on the project should still be input into their overall performance review.  You can try to hold people accountable by making sure they understand that you will be providing performance feedback into their review. This should also be reiterated and agreed to by the functional managers

From a process management side, there are project management techniques and processes that should be utilized. First of all, if the availability and performance of the team is in doubt, you should raise this early as a project risk. As part of risk management, you need to put a proactive plan in place to make sure that this risk is addressed. When people miss their deadlines and your deadline is in jeopardy, you may need to raise an issue and perform issues management. During issues management, you again look for the cause of the problem and try to resolve it.

In addition, make sure your team members are communicating proactively with you. In many cases, it is not the fact that people miss their deadlines that gets you frustrated; it is that the team member does not tell you ahead of time. If the team member communicates proactively, you can see the problem beforehand while you still some ability to help. If he just misses the date and does not communicate, then he is not managing expectations as should be done. By the same token, the project manager needs to communicate proactively as well. Communicate well with your team and make sure they understand dates and expectations. Also communicate proactively with the functional managers and make sure they know when there are resource sharing issues or people performance issues.

Matrix management involves a complex and delicate balancing act between project managers and people managers. The project manager usually has limited people management authority in these situations. Even so, it is possible to complete your projects successfully. There are many project management processes and techniques that can help. Utilize them to raise risks and issues when needed. Also, make sure you utilize the project sponsor. The sponsor can help you generate urgency and focus, and can also have an impact on the functional managers to make sure that you have the resources you need to be successful.

Project Management Tool

Project Management Training Made Easy

The project management training is made easy today with the use of the high speed internet that most companies now have access to. This means of communication has changed forever the way your staff can receive the necessary training for them to improve their skills on the job.

By having your staff take a project management training course online, they will miss less work and be able to absorb the knowledge at their own pace. This is because unlike a huge seminar where the speaker dictates the speed and topics of the course, your staff now does. This is since most of this type of training is done individually. You can set up a screen in a conference room so more than one can attend, but then applying the knowledge in a real world situation will be delayed till after the training is over.

The advantage of conducting the project management training course separately allows for the critical topics that each individual needs training in, to be chosen first by the individual. Since each project team member has different responsibilities in the project, each one will be studying a different section. They can also then review what they learned at their own pace. This allows for a greater absorption of the knowledge. They can also apply what they are learning when they are acquiring the knowledge.

One of the reasons you may wish to have your entire project team to be involved in the project management training courses is so they can make a bigger and more efficient contribution to the business ventures. The more they know, the less ambiguous any situation involving the project will be. With fewer questions, there is a deceased chance of delays when the deliverable is being created.

The accessibility to the project management training courses is set by the management. What has made it easier for management to include more people in this type of training is the reduction in the cost. With no plane tickets or hotel costs to be included more of your staff can learn how to help your projects to be more profitable.