Project sponsors send a message to their project teams and other stakeholders through the goals contained in their project charters. The focus of the goals — either business results or project activities — will drive the project team. As Steven Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.”
Project managers are often asked to undertake projects to transform the business operations or to respond to an operational risk. There is often a disconnect. The project manager may not understand — since the sponsor may not have shared — how the project connects to the business strategy.
When writing project goals, the author — typically the project sponsor — should determine whether to state their goals as business results or as project activities necessary to drive the business results.
“If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you’ll be amazed at the results.” — George S. Patton
With this in mind, allow me to illustrate the difference and why it’s super important. Get this right and project teams will start to run in the right direction.Continue reading
You get on the elevator with someone who asks you about your upcoming project. Can you clearly describe your project in 60 seconds?
Perhaps you are on the way out of a meeting with senior leaders when a Vice President asks you about your project. She says, “I only have a minute, but could you give me a brief summary of the project?”
Your ability to describe your projects helps others understand your projects. You (and your project sponsor) will be in a better position to engage your stakeholders and get their support. Are you ready?
Let’s look at creating a summary that allows you — at a moment’s notice — to tell others the most important information about your project.
Why do you need a project summary? Here are three reasons:Continue reading
Have you ever encountered conflicting ideas when facilitating change within a department, business unit, or across an organization? Do you often see resistance to your change efforts? Have you ever started down a path that made perfectly good sense to you but seemed crazy to others?
Perhaps you’ve recently started a program. The program team has been working on an organizational strategy, where the mission is translated into a strategic plan that is subdivided into projects. You are looking for ways to align your efforts to gain the greatest benefit.
For any program, it’s critical to identify your stakeholders and seek to understand their needs and expectations. Invariably, stakeholders have different needs. How can we resolve and harmonize the different stakeholder perceptions and distinct expectations?
1. Identify Stakeholders. First, identify the stakeholders. Stakeholders include individuals, groups, or organizations — internally and externally — that may be impacted by the change initiative. In the program example, stakeholders might include the project sponsor, the project team, the project manager, the board, program vendors, information technology, and human resources, to name a few.
2. Analyze Stakeholders. Next, identify the needs and concerns of the stakeholders. We should also identify the stakeholders with the greatest interest and power. Who can influence the change in a positive or negative manner? Change can be deliberate (planned) or emergent (unplanned). As much as possible, guide the change process in a deliberate manner. Things coming out of nowhere can be highly disruptive.
3. Facilitate the Resolution of Conflicting Ideas. After identifying and analyzing the stakeholders, turn your attention to resolving the conflicts. In the change management world, this is called sensemaking. Sensemaking consists of things that help individuals and groups to make sense of what’s happening around them. How does this happen? It often occurs in hallway discussions, rumors, gossip, and half-baked emails.
What change initiatives are you managing right now? Does the change make sense to your stakeholders? If not, consider identifying and analyzing your stakeholders. Pay particular attention to the high-power / high-interest stakeholders. Then apply some of the approaches listed above to harmonize the interests of your stakeholders. Best wishes!
Life is filled with new adventures and experiences. Remember the first time you rode a bike, climbed a tree, or took a job. New adventures are exciting, but they can be filled with great uncertainty.
Project managers may be asked to manage a project, unlike anything they’ve ever faced. Consider Sue, an event planner, who was asked to manage a project to implement a new accounting system for her organization. Sue had no accounting background or experience in implementing software.
To varying degrees, every project is different from our prior projects — that’s what makes them unique, and for me, this is what makes project management fun. It’s different every day.
But, some projects are completely alien to us; the endeavors are foreign to our experience. How should we approach these projects? What steps can we take to improve our chance for success?
I recently decided to write my first book — The Intentional Project Manager (10 Things Successful Project Managers Never Tolerate). I’d like to share some transferable concepts that you can apply to your alien projects, Here are some tips:Continue reading
People have expectations. Individuals, teams, or organizations have a strong belief that something is going to happen in the future.
Project sponsors expect projects to be completed in a timely fashion. Developers expect clear requirements. Testers expect the test region to be stable. Users expect that all of their needs will be met. Vendors expect a statement of work.
Sometimes the expectations are valid; other times the expectations are false. The individual’s expectations are unrealistic or invalid. What causes false expectations and how can we set and maintain the proper expectations?
Let’s look at seven common causes of false expectations and what we can do about each. Take note that all of these problems are related to communications.
When do you think risk exposure or the level of risk is greatest in a project – in the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the project?
Risk exposure is highest in the beginning of your projects. Why? We have the least amount of information – this is when uncertainty is greatest. We know very little about:
Here are five activities that you can undertake to reduce the risk exposure early.Continue reading
Have you ever had a customer accept your project work although they were not happy with the project?
According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, customer is “the person(s) or organization that will pay for the project’s products, service, or result. Customers can be internal or external to the performing organization.”
Internal customers have many problems. The problems may include:
Your company’s future is at hand. Select and execute the right projects and you will reach your greatest potential. Select the wrong projects and you will fall behind your competition—possibly crash and burn.
I have seen companies wrestle with the project selection process for years. Which projects should we choose? Do we have the right resources to execute the projects?
Here’s a common scenario. Senior management has grand ideas on enhancing an existing product and leaping past the competition. The project sponsor has declared a six month project deadline.
The project manager expresses concern: there is insufficient information to determine whether the project can be delivered within six months. The project sponsor says we have no choice. Do the best you can.Continue reading
The success of a project manager largely lies in the individual’s ability to communicate. Some project managers have great oratory skills but don’t ask the right questions at the right time.
Here are some key questions for each of the project management process groups (PMBOK). This is not meant to be a comprehensive list; just some questions to get you thinking. Neither will you need to ask all of these questions for every project.
Keep in mind, the project process groups are seldom sequential, one-time events; they are overlapping activities that occur throughout the project.
Question: What other key questions would you ask?