Project Accelerator News http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk The latest project management news, views and project management sites from the around the world Tue, 23 May 2017 07:49:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 How to influence others http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/how-to-influence-others/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/how-to-influence-others/#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 07:45:42 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5574 A while ago I posted on influencing without authority, that post looked at building credibility and ‘currency’ to trade for the support and help you need.  Those ideas buy you a seat at the table but how much influence you exert in any given situation largely depends on how effective you are at being influential. …

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A while ago I posted on influencing without authority, that post looked at building credibility and ‘currency’ to trade for the support and help you need.  Those ideas buy you a seat at the table but how much influence you exert in any given situation largely depends on how effective you are at being influential. This post looks at some of the subtle ways you can influence situations to help everyone move to a satisfactory outcome[1].

Smart influencers recognise it is often futile to work against powerful resistance, rather than fighting the situation (and making the situation worse) they slow down and look for ways to influence the eventual outcomes. They change and combine the situation, their language and their actions to achieve an outcome. The timing, and the way you use these skills defines how influential you are in any situation.

Being in the right situation at the right time helps enormously some of the key factors include:

  • Being open and aware. In stressful situations, effective influences slow down, take a breath and observe what is occurring before taking action. Focused breathing is an important and often neglected way to create awareness. As we take the time to focus on our breathing we relax, which increases our perception, creates options for viewing the situation from a new perspective and heightens empathy. This in turn enhances our ability to influence and lead.
  • Use physical movement as a trigger for a change in attitude. Dealing with a tough colleague, who has assumed a hostile, close position and is unwilling to open up to you may benefit from inducing a physical change to trigger a change in attitude. Suggest ‘we go downstairs for a coffee’ – if you are moving together for one thing, it may open up other ways of ‘moving together’.  A more subtle way to change a closed attitude, particularly if it is manifest in a ‘closed position’ with arms crossed, etc., is by offer the resisting colleague an object such as a pen or a document. This can result in them moving to open their folded hands, or shift forward in their chair. The change in outward behaviour can often cause changes the inner attitudes, just as surface behaviours generally are a reflection of inner feelings.
  • Use the space around you to influence attitudes both in formal meetings and in your own office space; creating the right ambience will help you influence others. Some of the things to consider include:
    • A meeting table is virtually divided into personal zones. These zones are maintained zealously. Make sure you don’t inadvertently cross the lines.
    • Move away from negotiation stalemates and conflict situations by reorganising the physical setting. If the meeting has stalled try moving to a low circular table in the lobby or sitting in a corner; the less formal situation can often break down barriers and yield better results.
    • Be aware of personal space and seating hierarchies. Rather than confronting the ‘opposition’ across a rectangular meeting table consider setting up a ‘round table’ where ‘we’ can work together on the issue.

Once you have the situation optimised for influence, what you do and how you do it creates your ability to be influential. Active listening and the use of language are the key tools for creating influence. Some easy to use techniques include:

  • Where appropriate use collective language ‘we’ is almost always better than ‘you’.
  • In the situation where a colleague clearly dislikes your proposal avoid closed questions. It is much easier to avoid getting a ‘no’ in the first place than to change a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ later. Questioning is a powerful way to influence a person’s attitude but requires skill, consider these three options:
    • “Do you like my suggestion?” This is a ‘closed question’ and if the answer is ‘No’ and you have nowhere to go.
    • “You do not appear to like my suggestion, why?” This is better, you now have a conversation starter but the ‘why’ has negative implications – it look as though you are blaming the other person for disagreeing with you.
    • “How could my suggestion be improved to make it acceptable to you?” Opens up a whole new paradigm; if the person makes some suggestions that are incorporated into the overall proposal, the proposal becomes ‘our suggestion’.
  • Focus on what you want to achieve rather than what you think should be done. By openly stating what you want to achieve, you lead by example and create an opportunity for others to do the same. If there is agreement on what ‘we want’, reaching agreement on what has to be done to get to the desired outcome is much easier.
  • Consider ‘amplification’: work with colleagues to reinforce your messages by adopting a meeting strategy called “amplification”: When one person makes a key point, other colleagues repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forces others in the room to recognise the contribution.
  • Everyone reads body language, for most people it is a subconscious reaction that can help or hinder your attempts to influence. A couple of the key things to focus on include:
    • Paying attention, and being seen to pay attention – this makes the other person feel valued and is likely to enhance your ability to influence the situation.
    • Being careful what you do with your hands, gestures are culturally significant (and can have very different interpretations in different cultures) but almost everywhere if you place your hand on something you are claiming ownership – make sure you know what you are saying with your hands.
    • Don’t overreact to ‘body language’; it is a complex language and generally reacting to superficial signs can cause more harm than good. But paradoxically, your subconscious reading of the whole situation will very often be accurate.
    • Remember it is very hard to fake body language (unless you are a professional actor), to get yours right you need to have the right thoughts and attitudes first and then let nature do its bit. For more on this see: Influence: Body Language Silent Influencing by Michael Nir https://www.amazon.com/Influence-Influencing-Employing-Techniques-Leadership-ebook/dp/B00ATJUROG

The ability to influence people is a key leadership skill and is critically important if you need to ‘influence without authority’.  One way to acquire the skills is to watch others in a group situation and see how the people who are influencing attitudes and actions are behaving.  Then try emulating their behaviours in your next meeting.

How effective are you at influencing others?

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[1] Influence has to be used ethically if you intend to remain influential over an extended period. For more on ethics see:  http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-Knowledge_Index.html#Ethics

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How to waste less on IT projects http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/waste-less-projects/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/waste-less-projects/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:47:35 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5568 Reading The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) 2017 Pulse of the Profession report something jumped out and really grabbed my attention. It’s something that should be celebrated. As a profession, the Project Management industry is less wasteful. Specifically, more projects are achieving original goals. they’re coming in within budget and they are aligned with business strategy. …

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how to waste less on it projectsReading The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) 2017 Pulse of the Profession report something jumped out and really grabbed my attention. It’s something that should be celebrated.

As a profession, the Project Management industry is less wasteful.

Specifically, more projects are achieving original goals. they’re coming in within budget and they are aligned with business strategy. Which all added up means that fewer projects are failing.

However, this should not be seen as ‘mission accomplished’ but more as the start of a trend that when looked back upon in five or ten years will really be something to hail as a huge success.

Thing is, that efficiency and success are addictive and once you have tasted them … you crave more. Thankfully there is plenty more of both to be achieved.

The PMI report has a really useful benchmark for measuring waste against spend that allows even the most casual observer a valuable insight. By measuring waste per billion dollars spent on projects it is easy to see which industry sectors and geographical regions are successfully combating the problem of waste and which could do more. Comparing waste against previous years’ data allows you to unpack trends and identify what works and what doesn’t.

The previous year, across all sectors, an average of $122 million was wasted for every $1 billion invested. This represented a 12 percent increase from the year before and was a trend in the wrong direction that sent a warning shot across the industry. The reason was clear … poor project performance. Simple as that. This year the story is a happier one. The trend has apparently been reversed and organisations throughout the world have reduced the average amount of money they wasted on IT projects to $97 million for every $1 billion spent … reducing waste by 20 percent year on year.

There are some individual sector and regional success stories but there are also some red flags that need to be addressed. Many sectors, for instance, are sitting considerably above that average $97 million waste figure and if the trend towards reducing waste is to continue or (as is hoped) accelerate energy ($101m), telecoms ($106m) and healthcare ($112) need to be a little more introspectively critical.

Similarly, while India ($73m) and China ($82m) can celebrate, to remain competitive Europe needs to reflect on reporting the highest average waste on IT project spending at an average busting $131 million wasted per $1 billion invested.

There are 7 clear lessons that can be learned and repeated moving forward and the more that they become habits the less wasteful Project Management will become.

Habit 1 Explore Project Management as a Service Solutions

It is in the interests of a good project management partner be more conscious of reducing waste. Most reputable partners will look towards recommendations or future work that you may put their way rather than padding out a job to fleece you on this one. Having said that there are stories of firms who take the longer route to project completion in order to bulk up their bill. Find a partner who is habitually on their ‘client’s side’ and who will really get to know your business strategy and corporate culture.

Habit 2 Align Business with Project Culture

Often, waste occurs when cultures within businesses and project teams are at odds with one another. For example, a business with “do it now, do it brilliantly, do it for the customer” written into its mission statement was hampered by a project leader who (you could argue rightly) kept a tight grip on scope within his portfolio. The problem was that he was SO inflexible that business opportunities were being missed. The CEO had a great attitude to scope creep and was happy to sign off on contingency budgets if there was customer benefit but the project leader was running his portfolio by the book and saw requesting extra money as a failure.

Habit 3 Develop Talent

32% of respondents told the PMI that they consider both technical and leadership skills a high priority, this is a 3% increase on last year. There are many ways that you can develop talent from traditional training and attainment of qualifications to what I call the positive contagion effect of complementing your in-house talent with talent from the PMaaS sector. An injection of new ideas, best practice and efficient operating methods usually leads to an improvement in skills and performance and that in turn tends to drive down waste.

Habit 4 Make Waste Reduction a Manageable Benefit

Almost a third of organisations (31%) report high benefits realisation maturity. Inevitably, when you identify intended benefits at the outset of your project you proceed in a deliberate, thoughtful manner when the project is live to make them happen. For instance, by stating that 5% sales hike, quantifiably faster order processing and measurable waste reduction, are project outcomes you improve your chances of achieving them. Be mindful during your project’s lifecycle that waste reduction, for example, is one of your pre-ordained benefits and you and your team will look for ways to turn intentions into results.

Habit 5 Stimulate Stakeholder and Sponsor Engagement

When everyone is bought into an IT Project’s mission it is amazing how potential risks, like scope creep, take care of themselves as no-one wants to be the person who throws a spanner in the works! Actively engaged executive sponsors remain the top driver of projects achieving their original goals and business intent with an average of 62% of projects reporting with actively engaged sponsors (up 3% on last year).

Habit 6 Develop an Effective PMO

Business strategies and project mission statements are better aligned in organisations that have an effective Project Management Office (PMO). Half of firms with a PMO report having an ‘enterprise project management office’ (EPMO) and 38% more projects meet original goals at organisations where their EPMO and business strategy are aligned and 33% fewer projects are deemed to have failed.

Any gaps in your PMO should be bridged to trim waste, a Project Management Assessment can help refocus and refine or redesign your project management capabilities and via the PMaaS market, you can access a complete range of Project Management services, including full Programme Management Office.

Habit 7 Celebrate Being Less Wasteful

It’s funny, of all the project outcomes that inspire the popping of Prosecco corks, reducing waste rarely seems to be celebrated. I suppose that it’s not as ‘sexy’ as an exciting business change delivered through IT or a vast software roll out. Celebrated it should be though and I am encouraged by the focus on waste reduction in the PMI’s Pulse report. So measure your waste and as you see a trend emerge, make sure that you have a bottle on ice ready to rejoice!

Start tomorrow to make these good habits part of your IT Project DNA and watch yourself magically become measurably more efficient.

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Great talent is not easily replaceable http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/great-talent-not-easily-replaceable/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/great-talent-not-easily-replaceable/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:42:10 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5563 When your firm loses a great team member, they take with them a business value that cannot be easily replaced. First, there’s the rich knowledge that they have of your organisation, its products, culture, systems and processes. They may have fostered relationships with your clients and internally with colleagues over many years and they have …

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HOW DO YOU REPLACE INGREDIENTS WITHOUT RUINING THE CAKE?When your firm loses a great team member, they take with them a business value that cannot be easily replaced. First, there’s the rich knowledge that they have of your organisation, its products, culture, systems and processes. They may have fostered relationships with your clients and internally with colleagues over many years and they have experience of what has and hasn’t worked for your company that can be lost to your greatest competitor.

No wonder talent retention is increasingly important to many organisations. If you have the chance to retain great talent, you should do everything you can to do so, it’s the people working for you that makes you what you are, as one friend of mine puts it, “if you use different ingredients chances are you’ll bake a different cake.”

However, people do move on so is great talent replaceable? I mean, your company can hire someone to fill a vacancy, but what about the hole their departure leaves in your experience and knowledge bank and your corporate culture? How can you be sure that you fill those when you hire new talent?

You’re kidding yourself if you think you can do it by simply hiring someone with a more impressive CV or list of qualifications. Many generalist recruiters offer this and on paper, it looks like you’re getting a “new and improved” version of the person you lost. Often though, unless your recruiter has their finger on the pulse of the industry and a thorough understanding of your culture you won’t get the maximum return on your investment.

Of course, no-one knows you better than you do so you may decide to go down the “D.I.Y.” hiring route. You may already be a personality assessment expert, you may know what to look for in a covering letter or CV, you may have a set of killer interview questions … or you may just get lucky BUT it’s not just about identifying the ideal candidate. Half your battle is attracting them and even just getting their attention in the first place can be hard.

A specialist recruiter should yield a greater quantity and quality of candidates for you, but it’s more than that because the holy grail is replacing the ingredients but not affecting the flavour of that cake!

This is why a really good specialist IT recruiter should get to know you and your culture first – they need a big taste of your cake! This is how they to produce superior results. Aligning talent with business culture is the best way to ensure perfect fit.

To do this they should be able to demonstrate an understanding of your needs, they should get to know your goals and how you go about achieving them and be able to recite them back to you. Then, because they have a database of pooled interviewed talent they should be able to quickly find you the perfect match. In short, they need to have their finger simultaneously on the pulse of the industry and your organisation, its structure and its business needs.

That ongoing relationship that your specialist IT recruiter has with talent is important to you. The best specialist recruiter builds such relationships because let’s face it, a candidate is likely to switch more than just once in their career but it helps you too because it usually means that they can suggest suitable candidates without having to even advertise. Reach and speed are vital when replacing great talent.

If they do have to enter the market you have to be confident that they know where to look and that they have the relevant industry background and experience to know what they’re looking for. A proven track record or a connection and working experience within your industry are things you should look for in a partner, it is these guys who will find the right candidate for you.

That word “partner” matters too. To ensure that you get the right cultural fit you should look for a partner who sees themselves as just that. Look for specialist recruiters who will share the risk of the hire for example.

Your niches should dovetail too. If for example, you have a vacancy in Project Management your partner should be able to field any questions that you ask them on the subject. They should speak the same language as you and your potential candidates. The more they know about your subject, the better they’ll be at recruiting the right person. Subject matter experts and peer profiling are ways that the best specialist recruiters achieve this. When hiring for key roles or when replacing great talent it’s worth spot testing your potential recruitment partner on their knowledge of your specific area to make sure that they are best positioned to get a result for you.

In conclusion, 2017 is going to be a challenging year for IT employers. In the past, you’d only have to worry about rival companies in the same field headhunting your staff. As more firms become ‘tech firms’ there will be a greater number of opportunities for your talent to transfer their skills in a wide range of businesses. You may not be able to hold on your best people.

The title of this post was “Great Talent Is Not Easily Replaceable” and that’s true but with a plan and the right talent attraction partner, it is not impossible.

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Blue Ball Solutions Becomes First Changepoint Partner to Reach Platinum Status http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/blue-ball-solutions-becomes-first-changepoint-partner-reach-platinum-status/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/blue-ball-solutions-becomes-first-changepoint-partner-reach-platinum-status/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:32:13 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5561 Changepoint a leading provider of project and portfolio management (PPM), enterprise architecture (EA) and professional services automation applications (PSA), today announced that Blue Ball Solutions has become Changepoint’s first partner to achieve Platinum status. As Changepoint’s first dedicated European partner, Blue Ball has worked with numerous global enterprise clients to achieve technology-led business transformation goals, including …

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Changepoint a leading provider of project and portfolio management (PPM), enterprise architecture (EA) and professional services automation applications (PSA), today announced that Blue Ball Solutions has become Changepoint’s first partner to achieve Platinum status.

As Changepoint’s first dedicated European partner, Blue Ball has worked with numerous global enterprise clients to achieve technology-led business transformation goals, including Extra Energy, Arco, Schlumberger and Ziggo.

“Working with Changepoint partners means clients benefit from decades of experience and expertise in the full range of Changepoint solutions,” said Mike Spacone, vice president, partner strategy at Changepoint. “Blue Ball Solutions is an outstanding partner in our channel landscape, and their Platinum status is testament to their dedication, focus and ongoing success in delivering cutting-edge Changepoint technology projects.”

Since joining Changepoint’s global partner program, Blue Ball clients have benefitted from Changepoint’s solutions including Changepoint PSA, Daptiv PPM and barometerIT. Changepoint is consistently recognized by top industry analysts for delivering leading project and portfolio management and enterprise architecture solutions.

“Real-time insight into the status of projects is even more essential for business today,” said Matt Lowman, managing director at Blue Ball Solutions. “Bringing order to chaos requires a firm grip on an organization’s portfolios, programs and projects. Changepoint’s local presence, global user community and cloud-based solutions best fit our clients’ needs for solutions that transform how they do business.”

Daptiv PPM is a highly-configurable SaaS project portfolio application that provides top-down and bottom-up visibility for resourced-based project management. Its designed for organizations that need a structured approach to managing their projects, programs, and portfolio. Daptiv PPM automates project data capture to reduce errors and provide enterprise-wide visibility.

barometerIT is a cloud-based data management application that provides a real-time enterprise asset map. Data is inventoried from people-driven crowdsourcing and from third-party system integration that barometerIT leverages to illustrate the relational data using graph technology and rich visualizations. Real-time, authentic data about the state of the enterprise enables organizations to make smarter, more informed decisions.

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Everything You Need to Know About the PMO Conference in London this June http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/everything-need-know-pmo-conference-london-june/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/everything-need-know-pmo-conference-london-june/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:36:45 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5552 The PMO Conference is back for a third year this summer at St Paul’s in London – and over 400 PMO practitioners come together to gain great inspiration and ideas to push their PMO and their careers forward. Will you be amongst them? The PMO Conference gives you 19 hours of new PMO content, spread …

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The PMO Conference is back for a third year this summer at St Paul’s in London – and over 400 PMO practitioners come together to gain great inspiration and ideas to push their PMO and their careers forward.

Will you be amongst them?

The PMO Conference gives you 19 hours of new PMO content, spread across four streams from 23 inspirational speakers. Can’t decide what to see on the day? All delegates receive the full video set of presentations from the PMO Conference to watch back at the office.

The PMO Conference also features the PMO Exhibition – the largest ever in the UK with 23 organisations showcasing PMO products and services to help you and your organisation push your PMO on.

The PMO ConferenceThe PMO Conference is a full on day – kicking off at 8am in the morning with breakfast networking and expo, the main keynote starts at 9am.

Mark Price Perry, the world renowned PMO author of the Business Driven PMO, brings his energy and passion to kick-start the day and challenge you to Test Your Convictions.

You then have a choice of sessions that take you up to the lunch break – choose themes such as managing stakeholders; Agile PMO; portfolio management or listen to a PMO case study – real stories from the trenches.

Lunchtime gives you chance to get back into the expo – pick up the latest in products and services happening in the PMO area. Take time to connect with other PMO practitioners or browse the bookshop.

Not looking forward to the post lunch slump as the afternoon session gets underway?

We’ve got it covered with four fast paced, innovation, even controversial PMO Flash Talks – you’ll leave the session energised ready for the next two sessions. Choose from themes that cover PMO governance; strategy; innovation or further case studies from real PMO practitioners.

We finish the day with brain tricks and behaviour fixes to achieve extraordinary results, inspiring everyone to find the gap between stimulus and response and be the best they can be.

An energising and inspiring end to the PMO Conference.

But don’t forget, you take away all the presentation sessions with your 19 session video pack – perfect for catching up on the sessions you couldn’t make – and sharing them with the team back at the office.

Make sure you are at the UK’s premier PMO event of the year this June in Central London.

The PMO Conference

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From Zero to Hero: Four Ways to Stop PMO Failure in Its Tracks http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/zero-hero-four-ways-stop-pmo-failure-tracks/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/zero-hero-four-ways-stop-pmo-failure-tracks/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 13:58:48 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5545 Its not just Dilbert cartoons where projects are doomed before they begin. Real-life PMOs are no stranger to failure. In the past three years, PMI research found that 75 percent of Project Management Offices closed or failed to add value. Yet, while project success metrics are less than optimistic, effective project management can deliver tremendous …

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Its not just Dilbert cartoons where projects are doomed before they begin. Real-life PMOs are no stranger to failure. In the past three years, PMI research found that 75 percent of Project Management Offices closed or failed to add value.

Yet, while project success metrics are less than optimistic, effective project management can deliver tremendous business value by improving project execution and strategic resource alignment. Businesses agree. An astounding 97 percent of organisations believe project management is critical to business performance and organisational success.1 In fact, the increasing drive to complete more projects on time and on budget with fewer resources means demand for project management discipline is greater than ever.

Stakes are high for underperforming PMOs. High-performing PMOs nurture capabilities that enable successful strategy implementation, contribute value to their organisation and impact financial performance. While these high-performers are perceived as integral to strategy implementation initiatives, underperformers who ineffectively manage programs are viewed as cost-centers that offer little value to their organisation.

In reality, some projects will fail and yet, many failures are easily avoidable. In these situations, failure rarely has anything to do with project management itself. Taking a few relatively simple corrective steps can quickly illustrate the PMO’s value and head off trouble before it impacts how the PMO is perceived.

Read on to learn some of the most common warning signs and actions you can take to go from project failure to project hero.

Warning #1

You’re asked, “How does that project map back to our goal this quarter?” and you have no clue.

What to do: Ideally you discussed the PMO department’s metrics when you first began your role. However, as business goals change, sometimes they are not communicated to each department. This is especially true in business climates that revere adaptation and transformation. In fact, almost 80 percent of project management executives don’t know how their projects align with their company’s business strategy.2 It is critical to regularly connect with the business leader to ensure that your projects are consistently mapping back to operational efficiency and business value. Book that meeting before its too late.

Warning #2

You receive multiple emails asking for the status of Project X.

What to do: The term “over-communication” is overused for a reason–30 percent of the time, project failure can be attributed to poor communication.2 Proactively offer update the leadership team and take a hard look at your reporting to ensure you provide a true and complete picture of the portfolio at all times. Better still, once you’ve established two-way of communication, ask if the project is a dependency for another objective. Consistent communication and robust reporting will help projects stay on course and build trust and cooperation with your stakeholders who will recognise your efforts to align projects with larger initiatives.

Warning #3

While walking down the hall, you overhear someone from another team comment: “I don’t even know what the PMO does.”

What to do: Adopt an outward focus. Remember the PMO was created to serve the needs of the business. When coworkers do not know why the PMO exists, what it is or what the PMO’s objectives are, it’s often because the PMO’s mission has not been effectively, and repeatedly, communicated across the full entire team. Hint, here’s a sample mission statement for some inspiration: “The PMO exists to provide a standard approach to project delivery, full and accurate visibility into project status and effectively prioritise project management resources to support the organisation’s strategy.”

Now that you’ve got a clear mission statement, ask to present an update at the next company meeting or contribute project milestones to the intranet news page. Include metrics that support business objectives to remind everyone you’re all working toward the same goal together.

Warning #4

Your project success rate is low–and that’s not going to change next quarter, either.

What to do: First, revisit or repeat steps 1-3. Consider it your checklist. Step one: Ensure alignment with business goals. Step two: Confirm you’re proactively communicating project status to stakeholders as part of a robust reporting plan. Step three: Verify your organisation is aware of the PMO’s mission.

If the first three steps are done effectively, stakeholders should be aware of at-risk projects, understand why they’re falling behind and be confident in the steps that are already underway to address project threats.

However, don’t take comfort in this reassurance for too long. Immediately consider steps to ensure a higher project success rate. Complete an audit of your project tracking tools to ensure your toolkit meets the needs of your organisation. While needs will shift depending on your organisation’s maturity, you should have access to real-time insights into your resources and a big-picture view of your current projects. Next up, work with your team to establish a standardised process for determining when to cut a project that just isn’t working. Twenty percent of project failure is blamed on limited resources3. Eliminating a doomed project could free up resources for a future successful project.

Conclusion

In a turbulent environment where the unexpected has become the norm, agile organisations lead the pack. Project leaders, business leaders and stakeholders must work together to build greater agility. When they do, they’ll solve problems, take smarter risks and deliver innovative products and solutions faster—all key components of success

References
1Project Management Institute: Pulse of the Profession 2016: The High Cost of Low Performance
2Changepoint: Did you know? Executives lack visibility into organization and performance is at stake
3Project Management Institute: Pulse of the Profession 2015: Capturing the Value of Project Management

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How to Survive in a Multi-Project Environment Using MS Project http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/survive-multi-project-environment-using-ms-project/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/survive-multi-project-environment-using-ms-project/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 11:42:17 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5540 What is the best project planning software for managing large numbers of projects simultaneously? This question concerns C-level managers, project managers, and executive decision-makers who attempt to find the perfect PM solution for navigating their projects. Microsoft Project is the most commonly used PM application; but is it efficient for multi-project management? GetApp Lab, a …

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What is the best project planning software for managing large numbers of projects simultaneously? This question concerns C-level managers, project managers, and executive decision-makers who attempt to find the perfect PM solution for navigating their projects.

Microsoft Project is the most commonly used PM application; but is it efficient for multi-project management? GetApp Lab, a company that highlights current trends and research in business software tools, reports that 67% of respondents to their 2016 survey use MS Project for their project planning and management needs.

 

Still, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Project Management Maturity Survey indicates that only 2.5% of companies successfully complete 100% of their projects. The Project Management Institute’s  2016 Pulse of the Profession report estimates that for every $1 billion invested in the US in 2016, $122 million was wasted due to poor project performance. Considering that the latest statistics point to frequent project delays and cost escalations, project management appears to be on the verge of failing. Is the lack of proper PM tools the reason for the above-mentioned painful outcomes? The Epicflow team, with 30 years of combined experience in project management, has investigated what features MS Project is actually missing and has offered a solution to consider in 2017.

 

Why MS Project Is Not Enough For Multi-Project Management

When searching for software features to develop in 2017 to meet the current demands of project managers, the Epicflow team noticed that almost all PM tools were designed for single project environments. Nearly every project management solution, including MS Project, Jira, Trimergo, TOPdesk, and Primavera is built on a single project philosophy and requires manual planning and replanning. Even though they encourage continuous collaboration, these apps lack software features that can set priorities, create adequate effort-based workloads, and eventually prevent overload and planning overhead in multi-project environments. How can project managers respond to this ongoing flux of replanning and what digital tools do they prefer to track project performance? How can you upgrade MS Project to fit multi-project environments?

 

Don’t Change the Tool, Change the Philosophy Behind it

MS Project is cumbersome to use in multi-project environments, as it lacks analytics to allocate resources efficiently. But what if you could get insights about where processes are stuck and predict resource bottlenecks in your pipeline with MS Project data?

Dutch scientists Albert Ponsteen and Jan Willem Tromp have already made this possible by integrating smart algorithms into their web-based solution that fits modern multi-project environments in many domains: engineering, manufacturing, software development, and others. These PM-savvy experts with 30 years of combined experience collected evidence from 4,000 business experts, CEOs, and project managers and concluded that it was essential to find a solution that would set priorities and reduce overload and planning overhead.

 

Approach Multi-Project Management from the Perspective of Resource Availability

Ponsteen and Tromp agree that what overwhelmed project managers really need is flow, order, and simplicity to help them manage large numbers of projects, solve capacity problems, set priorities, and allocate resources properly. One of Epicflow’s purposes is to save time and energy otherwise spent on excessive planning by approaching project management from the perspective of resource availability and task distribution.

 

Opt for Speed, Durability, and Flexibility in Multi-Project Management

Is there a reliable PM solution that can be easily integrated and used with MS Project? Yes, there is. Now it’s possible to upgrade MS Project for multi-project environments, adding analytical value to a static PM application and lifting the planning burden from project managers’ shoulders.

The Epicflow software add-on offers a package of useful PM features and integrates data from MS Project or nearly any other PM tool you use. Epicflow was designed to prevent bottlenecks by collecting and analyzing workflow updates and visualizing these analyses in a number of graphs that provide full visibility of resources, tasks, and projects. It brings order and simplicity to dynamic work environments and increases focus.

 

The Epicflow team discussing the SaaS release

 

Even though Epicflow’s web-based version has just been released, it has already been proven effective; many companies already consider this project management software the key to solving their top PM issues. The early version of Epicflow, Flow MPM, was an offline application that helped many businesses reduce lead time, restore due date performance, and improve the quality of business outcomes. Flow MPM proved effective for the TKF cable factory, which produces transatlantic cables. Hans de Boer, R&D Director at TKF, pointed out that Flow MPM helped the company increase its output by 200% and reduce lead time by 50% over 2 years, at the same time enabling realistic commitments to customers. This PM application, the precursor to Epicflow, successfully connected with Trimergo to help construct superyachts like the “Venus” for Steve Jobs. The web-based version, Epicflow, is even more flexible.

In tandem with MS Project, Epicflow offers superpowers for successful multi-project management. It enables smooth and adequate workflows and resolves resource conflicts, not only engendering a peaceful environment for win-win cooperation, but signalling where your project’s arteries are clogged. From now on, it’s possible to revamp MS Project by adding new analytical prowess courtesy of Epicflow. What’s actually stopping our progress when the solution is at hand?

 

References

  1. Project management software features report: is 2017 the year to replace your current solution?
  2. Project Management Maturity Survey
  3. PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2016

 

Biography: Albert Ponsteen and Jan Willem Tromp are Dutch scientists with deep knowledge of project management based on more than 25 years of experience. They have contributed their research expertise to Epicflow, an online PM tool.

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Why and how IT hirers should embrace social media http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/hirers-embrace-social-media/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/hirers-embrace-social-media/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 15:04:06 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5535 I was amazed to learn this week that a UK firm, one that is a major user of technology to deliver its services and a large employer of millennials … bans its staff from using social media during office hours. It got me thinking. Given that increasingly this age group (and younger) are accessing so …

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WHY AND HOW IT HIRERS SHOULD EMBRACE SOCIAL.I was amazed to learn this week that a UK firm, one that is a major user of technology to deliver its services and a large employer of millennials … bans its staff from using social media during office hours.

It got me thinking. Given that increasingly this age group (and younger) are accessing so much, from sales leads to networking opportunities … if firms are imposing such bans – are many leveraging the potential hiring power that social platforms can deliver?

I selected ten firms who I follow on Twitter – firms who use social media to try to sell me their product and investigated how well they are using social platforms to attract talent. Only one of the ten seemed to have an effective social media recruitment strategy.

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about just tweeting that you have an opening. That’s potentially going to be as effective as an old-fashioned job ad. Clearly, you will still get better results with a recruitment partner who will write bespoke adverts focussed on candidate attraction to match your business or company culture and sell your business as a great place to work. Your social platforms can help as part of the mix but it’s more than posting #jobad and hoping for the best.

What I’m talking about here is creating a presence on social media that singles you out as the best place for IT Talent to work. It’s about projecting a culture, under the radar, that will attract talent with digital skills. Talent who, nowadays, can pick and choose where they work.

Here are five thoughts on how you could use social platforms to complement the work of your IT Recruitment partner.

Blog Thoughtfully

Only one of the firms I chose in my survey did this. I read a blog from an IT Project manager about how he and his team had collaborated to solve a significant challenge.

As I read the post I got a sense of the kind of meaty challenges that they faced, the creative way that they approached them, the true sense of teamwork and togetherness, the difference that they had made to their customer and the recognition that they got from their company bosses.

It sounded like a fabulous place to work and it would have made me likely to keep an eye out for any opportunities that come up there.

How powerful is that?

They weren’t advertising a job but they made me want one.

Using social media to report industry trends, for example, helps you stay in touch with candidates on a more regular basis.

Engage.

How many firms do you follow on social media who are a bit anti-social? They seem to use their Twitter account like a loudspeaker to shout corporate messages at you. My timeline is full of them and I wouldn’t want to work for a single one!

BUT …

When you truly engage with current and potential customers you create a perception that yours is the kind of company that would probably engage with its current and potential staff. Certainly, a firm that worth applying to work for, should an opportunity arise. For example, one company that I follow has its Twitter feed regularly manned by managers answering questions. Now, none of it is employment related but it leaves you with a definite sense that here is a culture of integrity and openness that you imagine would be a really cool place to work.

Use Social Media To Colour In Your Firm’s Offer

Nine out of the ten companies I looked had a very safe social media offer. They were beige!

I know for a fact that one of the companies had just completed a charity abseil … but there was no mention of it on the firm’s social media channels. This kind of extracurricular ‘make a difference’ type of activity can be really appealing to certain talent who have a Steve Jobs ‘make a dent in the Universe’ attitude.

Be Active, Authentic And Consistent

Like with most things, you will reap what you sow. The more active you are on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, etc) the more awareness you will gather and the more effective your recruitment efforts will be.

It is essential that you talk in your ‘company voice’ – your online personality should be a mirror of the feeling that your business gives to its clients and visitors. Measuring activity, authenticity and consistency will help create a brand image that will attract culturally aligned talent.

Encourage Employees To Engage

Your employees are going to use social media.

So are your potential employees.

You should get to know the content that they habitually engage with and share as a professional community and identify and encourage the sharing of company related areas of content – like success stories, great change projects that they were involved with, or big contract wins.

This, in turn, creates an awareness of your business that makes you more attractive to potential talent who may otherwise never have heard of you. Then, when you advertise your position potential candidates already have an idea of why they’d want to work with you from the ‘testimonials’ of their fellow professionals – your existing employees.

You should acknowledge best practice in this area!

Conversely …

Always Challenge Worst Practice

The company that I mentioned at the start, the one that banned social media during office hours, did so because they are afraid that any posts by staff may reflect negatively on their brand. If someone says in their profile that they work for you and during the hours of nine to five they post something controversial it could be attributed to you.

Really?! OK, occasionally someone may post something negative about your company. We all have bad days. We all have days where the job stinks! Some people take to social media to vent and that could put off potential candidates.

The best way to deal with this kind of thing is quickly and decisively. Be proactive! You should run regular training on the consequences of social media bad practice … but don’t ban it altogether.

Recruitment can be an incredibly frustrating process but you can make life easier with the right recruitment partner and an effective narrative on social media. You can ensure a cultural ‘best fit’ and sell your business as a great place to work but social media is not a replacement for other recruiting processes. It is a useful addition and an enhancement, another tool in the toolkit and like most tools, knowing how to use it will get better results.

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Never blow an IT project budget again http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/never-blow-project-budget/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/never-blow-project-budget/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 11:30:47 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5528 Most of my friends, colleagues and clients are forecasting that IT budgets will increase during 2017 but according to a recent survey, many CIOs say that managing and implementing those budgets is getting tougher. Which, I suppose, stands to reason. With greater budgets comes greater responsibility and every organisation wants the best possible return on …

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Never blow an it project budget againMost of my friends, colleagues and clients are forecasting that IT budgets will increase during 2017 but according to a recent survey, many CIOs say that managing and implementing those budgets is getting tougher. Which, I suppose, stands to reason. With greater budgets comes greater responsibility and every organisation wants the best possible return on their investment.

In the survey, by Apptio, 67% of CIOs and other senior IT executives expected their budget to either increase or stay the same over the next year but more than half said that they found managing these bigger budgets a challenge.

Ask anyone who has had their budgets cut and they’ll tell you that increased allocation for spend should be a reason to cheer not fear!

With this in mind, I thought I’d share 7 strategies that could help you never blow another IT Project budget again.

1 – Prepare A Separate Budget For Change

This simple strategy creates a reserve of funding for any changes that are approved. Many Projects suffer because each time a change is approved the PM has to prepare a budget forecast for it and get approval. This way funding is pre-approved.

To create a Budget For Change you need to estimate change requests during the life of your project based on your experience and awareness of the project and resources. Once it is approved it is normally down to the Project Manager to apportion funding. However, be careful to only use your Budget For Change to fund approved changes. Some projects fall into the trap of confusing their Budget For Change with a contingency fund and find that it soon runs out.

As with all aspects of the project, communication is key. Any spending from your Budget For Change should be communicated with your client, if it’s an external project or with your stakeholders if it’s internal. That way, at the end of the project everyone will know what’s been spent and what’s left in the pot.

2 – Regularly Check In With Your Budget

IT Project budgets are a little like diets. Keep a regular check on how you’re doing or you will soon start to fail.

My Project Manager friend is the ultimate expert at breaking Projects down into bite size chunks and it’s from her that I took the diet analogy. She approaches weight loss with an “eat healthily and exercise more just for today” mentality that she learned in IT Project Management. All those “just for today’s” soon add up and she recently dropped three dress sizes for her sister’s wedding.

She also uses this approach when it comes to monitoring the budget. She breaks down resource allocation and budget in relation to those bite size chunks and by checking in at least weekly she has carried budget over to the next chunk on more occasions than not. The ultimate return being that she is regularly delivering IT Projects under budget.

Does she find it easy?

She says, “It’s as easy as losing weight. Which for me is really hard! But when you create habits that are in line with your goals, whether it is packing a salad and taking the stairs or making a diary note to check spend against forecast every week, it soon becomes second nature.”

3 – Align Your Project With Business Strategy

I’d say 90% of the Projects that I see run into fatal budget issues are not properly aligned with the business mission of the organisation. Conversely, probably 99% of projects that I see delivered within or well under budget are well aligned.

I’d love to see some actual research on this but my gut feeling will probably be backed up by most Project Manager’s experience.

When a Project shares the business mission trajectory of your firm it’s harder to overspend. Maybe it’s because you all have a common sense of direction of travel and appreciate the value of keeping travel costs down, perhaps it’s because well thought out strategy begets well thought out strategy, it could be there’s a perception of increased governance and accountability when you have a higher power to answer to … I don’t know for sure!

BUT I do know that IT Projects without a business case are the likeliest to wander off into the wilderness of overspending because there is nothing strategic against which to measure them.

4 – Get Some Help

I think it’s great that more than half said that they found managing bigger IT budgets a challenge. At least, I think it’s great that they have acknowledged the challenge. That’s 80% towards solving the problem in my book.

There’s no shame in admitting that any part of the Project Management job description is not your strongest suit. As long as having worked out your weakness you do nothing to address it!

Last year a Project Manager in the UK public sector bravely acknowledged that increased budgets and Project portfolio were going to overstretch his (already fairly stretched) budgeting capabilities so he used the extra workload to request they hire some new talent to the team. The person who got the gig, surprise, surprise, was a budgeting maestro. I know this because the Project Manager they hired is a friend of a friend and a .. well … a budgeting maestro.

The point is, you can bring in talent to complement any weakness that you have and increased budgets is a great time to push for such a review.

Alternatively, if you can’t increase headcount, the Project Management as a Service market has solutions from people to end to end Project Management that can help with managing budgets. Furthermore, a PMO assessment, where a fresh pair of eyes takes a look at your operation might find a simple fix to any issues that are the root cause of your budget dilemmas.

5 – Forecast Resource Needs And Availability Throughout Your Project’s Lifecycle

I recall years ago hearing the legendary football manager Brian Clough talking about the strategies that had won his Nottingham Forest side two consecutive European Cups. Among them was an embedded knowledge of where each player was meant to be for each phase of play.

It is a wonderfully simple technique that in IT Project Management budget planning can reap huge wins. If you have gone to the trouble of chunking your project into bite size pieces allocating resource to each phase and checking that the resource your need is available is a reasonably simple next step. As well as giving you peace of mind that all your bases are covered it gives an early warning of gaps that can be filled by re-prioritisation the rest of your portfolio or through the Project Management as a Service market.

6 – Manage Scope

You know it, I know it. If you don’t manage your project’s scope then you most likely struggle to manage your budget. Despite us all knowing this, scope creep is still one of the greatest project killers. Unfortunately, as the size of the project and budget increase so do the risks of scope creep.

You don’t need a tutorial here about how to define, control and manage scope but one of the most dangerous and invisible forms of scope creep that I’m seeing a lot of is worth a special mention.

It’s a form of self-inflicted scope creep. You and your team are working in your project day to day and you notice that there may be better ways to do things or enhanced deliverables could be achieved by making a simple tweak. It’s all done with the best of intention but someone needs to keep an eye on these because they all add up quickly!

Make sure that budget, resources and schedule grow in line with the project’s scope and if they don’t robustly challenge any creep that may affect your budget.

7 – Establish Who Is Responsible For Budget – Guess what – It’s Everyone!

A quick one to end with!

One of the best ways that CIOs and Project Leader’s can manage budgets better is by sharing budget responsibility with individuals on the team. You don’t abdicate responsibility – it’s still your name above the door – but by communicating what the business strategy is and how your project will help deliver it you’ll get a greater collective mission buy in.

If you get this right you’ll find that team members police their own spend in line with organisational budget expectations. When you keep your project team thoroughly informed of the project’s budget forecast you’ll find that they take greater ownership of the project and when you keep them updated on the current status of the budget you will find that they take more care of the costs associated with their project area.

As with any aspect of Project Management, good budget management comes down to good governance, a great strategy and best practice. Try these ideas, develop your own or get support from the Project Management services community. In 2017, do whatever it takes because greater budgets are something to be celebrated not a cause for sleepless nights.

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Learn How To Succeed At Stakeholder Management http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/learn-succeed-stakeholder-management/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/learn-succeed-stakeholder-management/#respond Thu, 16 Mar 2017 15:42:32 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5524 New research from Elizabeth Harrin shows that project managers understand the value of stakeholder management but in many cases they aren’t doing it (or aren’t able to do it). Engaging stakeholders on projects is essential for success. The survey, conducted at the end of last year via Elizabeth’s blog, GirlsGuideToPM.com, included responses from over 300 …

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what prevents you from engaging stakeholders

New research from Elizabeth Harrin shows that project managers understand the value of stakeholder management but in many cases they aren’t doing it (or aren’t able to do it).

Engaging stakeholders on projects is essential for success. The survey, conducted at the end of last year via Elizabeth’s blog, GirlsGuideToPM.com, included responses from over 300 project managers worldwide. They reported that the value of stakeholder management is clear. It:

  • Helps manage risk
  • Improves the perception of success
  • Improves project handovers
  • Helps secure resources
  • Ensures the team does what is required.

Doing stakeholder management well, and moving beyond the obligation to document a list of people affected by a project on some kind of log, has a real impact on being able to deliver your project successfully. When you know that it can help you smooth out issues on your project and get work done more effectively, wouldn’t you prioritise doing it?

That doesn’t seem to be the case. Project managers are prevented from doing effective stakeholder management for a number of reasons including not having management support (45%), not having enough time to do it when juggling their other responsibilities (48%) and not having the templates to set the processes up (27%).

Constrains on stakeholders’ time came up multiple times in the comments that respondents added to their survey results. “This seems to be a real issue for people,” Elizabeth says. “When your stakeholders don’t give you the time you need with them, your project suffers because you can’t get the direction and decisions that help you keep moving forward.”

In response to the survey results, Elizabeth has put together a Masterclass on stakeholder management to help project managers create better working relationships with stakeholders and customers.

“The difficulty with stakeholder management is that there is no magic wand,” she says. “It’s impossible to hand out a formula that would work in every situation, for every business, for every project, and that’s where much of the formal teaching about stakeholder management falls down. We give people the templates and processes but we don’t explain how to actually move people’s positions, or share the techniques that really work.”

Much of that hard-won knowledge comes from experience, and that’s difficult to get for someone new to the role. Equally, even mid-level career professionals can struggle when faced with a difficult set of personalities or a particularly challenging project.

Elizabeth’s Masterclass is a shortcut to gaining that knowledge, packed with practical tips to navigate the difficult terrain of stakeholder relationships. “What I can do is give you the tools, techniques and confidence to boost your stakeholder relationships at work so you can effectively decide which way on the map to go,” she adds.

Unlike lots of online training classes, the Stakeholder Management Masterclass will be delivered live over 4 weeks. “I’ve already had students sign up from overseas who know now that they won’t be able to make the live classes,” Elizabeth explains. “They’ll be getting information in advance of the classes so they can still ask their questions and then they can watch the replays. I hope I’ve created an engaging format that will allow me to tailor the course and enable delegates to get the most out of it.”

Elizabeth’s objective is that she can give project managers the confidence to engage with project stakeholders – even the difficult ones. When you have confidence, and the techniques, you can build credibility and authority at work and put together a clear engagement plan for working with others on the project.

Read the full research results and find out more about the Stakeholder Management Masterclass.

Enrollment closes on 20 March 2017 with live classes starting on 22 March 2017.

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