Archive for the ‘Project Methodology’ Category

Thoughtful Communication

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

This is a guest post by Ben Richardson, a director of Acuity Training, a UK based business that offers a variety of Microsoft Project and other project management courses. It is a follow up to his previous post of the 1st October 2015.

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My previous article introduced the three key ways that top class project managers keep their projects on track. This is despite the inevitable delays and problems in any large project.

This post will expand on the first point that I made in that post. Namely, they know how to communicate thoughtfully.

To be clear, top project managers know how to be assertive. They ensure that their needs are clearly communicated and understood. They don’t pussyfoot around difficult problems or conversations.

What it does mean is that they have the emotional intelligence to know that people have different priorities and drivers. Ignoring this fact will lead to delays and miscommunication.

They also know that executing large projects has a significant emotional element to it. Many (should that be most?) people do not like change at heart. This is doubly so when they feel threatened by a proposed change. Strong communication skills allow project managers to address these fears head on and help people to move past them at the start of a project.

This post can’t cover all aspects of communication. However the following three points are a very good place to start.

TheHighwaysAgency

 

Image credit The Highways Agency

 

  1. Good communication takes time

Differing ages, perspectives and experiences mean that people can approach projects in wildly differing ways.

This isn’t because they are stupid, or inexperienced. Everyone has had different experiences of projects in their life to date. These will colour their view of any new project that they are introduced to.

Top project managers will take the time to explain their project from the basics up. They don’t rush the basics. They ensure everyone is clear on the who, what, why, when, where and how of the project. This ensures that everyone starts from the same place.

They also know that they will need to repeat themselves often to ensure that their message really gets through. Often people who aren’t heavily involved in a project will need the basics explaining a couple (perhaps three) times to really get it. Frustrating as it might be, it’s not that they are stupid. It’s just that your project isn’t top of their list of priorities.

They also allow plenty of time for and make themselves available for questions through out the project. Answering questions will allay people’s concerns. Unanswered questions are why unfounded rumours get started.

Taking time to communicate clearly also has the effect of making the people the project manager is speaking to feel valued and listened to. This will help build relationships that will survive the stresses of a large project.

  1. Good communication requires empathy

Great communicators are empathetic. They can see things from other people’s perspectives and are open to their ideas. Empathetic communicators are sensitive to other people’s feelings and demonstrate this to the people they are dealing with.

No one can ever know what is going on in someone else’s mind. However, the ability to show people that you care about their feelings and ideas is vital.

The first step in understanding someone else’s emotions is getting them to be open about them. Openness is usually reciprocated. Top project managers will often disclose their own feelings in order encourage others to do the same.  They will also show people that they are paying attention, physically and mentally, to what they are saying. This shows that they really care about what is being said.

Having got them to opened up it is important to show people that their point has been taken on board. The easiest way to do this, and to be sure that you have understood them correctly, is to paraphrase what they have just said and repeat it back to them.  This allows people to correct misunderstandings and also feel listened to.

Once you have got people to open up so that you are clear on their point of view you can then move to dealing with their issues.

  1. You don’t get bonus points for figuring it all out yourself

As project manager the project is yours. People expect you to led it and tackle problems as they arise. That’s your job. However, it doesn’t mean that you are expected to have all the answers.

Other people will not think less of you for asking for their opinion, especially if it relates to their area of expertise. In fact, asking someone for their opinion has been shown in a Harvard study ((( link to http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/Advice%20Seeking_59ad2c42-54d6-4b32-8517-a99eeae0a45c.pdf))) to increase their opinion of the person asking for the advice.

In many situations people’s opinions and priorities will be at odds with yours. If this happens don’t think that you have to come up with the solution.

Asking ‘Well can you suggest anything?’ or ‘How would you tackle this?’ is a good way to use their knowledge and show them that you value their input. When people feel that their concerns and issues are understood they will usually help to work around any issues that they generate for other people.

The joy of really good communication is that people will help you to deal with their concerns if you get it right. This brings me to my ultimate point.

The time you invest in good communication will pay itself back many times over in almost every instance. If you view it as something to be invested in because of the return that it will pay you then you will approach it the right way.

Process Improvement Projects:

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

How OPM3 and Change Management can impact process improvement
By: Neil Stolovitsky

Abstract
In a business world where continuous change is inevitable, competitive organizations understand the value of quickly adapting to market trends can be the difference between keeping one’s head above water and leading the pack in industry innovation. Leading companies are always looking at new ways to improve their processes and seek the latest in process improvement strategies and methodologies to build a more efficient business model and better serve their customers. Whether it’s the family of ISO 9000 Quality Management certifications and Six Sigma methodologies common to the manufacturing world, or the CMMI maturity model often leveraged by software development teams and the OPM3 model employed by project-centric environments, business process improvement strategies have proven time and again to deliver on their promises. However, the challenge with any of these valuable process improvement methodologies lies with their effective deployment. Many organizations, do not recognize that process improvement changes are not strictly operational in nature. These highly impactful initiatives are in fact strategic projects that require careful planning, stakeholder management and change management strategies to ensure their success.

Although many organizations initially underestimate the role of project management in their process improvement initiatives, once they have committed to these strategic changes, the implementation of these improvements naturally fall into the hands of a designated project manager to see these initiatives through. This white paper will help organizations identify what to expect when facing the delivery of business process improvement projects and the challenges of dealing with extensive change resulting from these strategic initiatives. Moreover, it will also explore the OPM3 project management process improvement methodology and the role of change management that can impact the overall success of process improvement delivery.

Treating Process Improvement Initiatives as a Project
The first step in moving forward with any new process improvement initiative is to properly plan all the moving parts of this strategic project. More than any other project, process improvement will greatly impact all those who are currently linked to the work in which these improvements will touch. This being the case, preparing all the relevant stakeholders and leveraging their past experiences when building the project plan will allow for a smoother transition to occur. Whether you are implementing a Quality Control process or a Maturity Model, plotting the steps to move from the “old way of working” to the “new way of working” is a critical project that requires a timeline, milestones, deliverables and documentation that needs to be shared with a formal project team. Treating the process improvement initiative as a project will formalize the process change and will ensure the new process improvement will be delivered in a timely manner.

Process improvement projects typically follow these phases:

  1. Project Kick Off – The team and stakeholders are assembled to discuss the launching of the initiative, timelines and any outstanding questions that need to be addressed.
  2. Indentifying the process improvement need – Tasks are assigned for documenting the current process. Intensive collaboration is needed between the project lead and those currently involved in executing the work for the process in question.
  3. Analysis of current process in question – Following documentation of the current process, a carefully selected team of internal and if necessary external subject matter experts provide analysis and shortcomings of the process that is slated for improvement.
  4. Redesign of business process – Proposed redesign or existing best practice process improvement methodology is documented and aligned with the corporate goals.
  5. Pilot of improved process – The improved process is deployed to a pilot group for testing and tweaking to ensure process alignment is achieved. In parallel, a change management strategy is defined to ensure a successful pilot and future roll out.
  6. Present process improvement to stakeholders – the results of the pilot are presented and evaluated by the stakeholders of the project. This is where final buy-in to the improved process occurs and roll out is approved.
  7. Roll out of improved process – Actual roll out of improved process or methodology takes place fully implemented in the organization. The tested change management strategy occurs in parallel to ensure the project’s success.
  8. Measure and evaluate its success – This final phase occurs at various milestones in the future to ensure the implemented process improvement has successful results and/or requires modification due to changing goals or needs.

It is critical that process improvement projects are consistently headed by a project lead so that potential arising issues in the future can be quickly addressed and that both stakeholders and those part of the new process can centrally communicate feedback. As any organization will confirm, a successful process improvement project is an ongoing initiative that requires knowledge transfer and tracking in order to reach the goals set forth by the improved process.

OPM3: Improved project processes can impact overall process improvements

The objectives of process improvement projects are to implement best practices and proven methodologies to business processes delivering competitive benefits and an overall improved performance of an organization’s operations and bottom line. Successfully implementing these strategic initiative are an incredible task that requires extensive support from both top down executive leadership and bottom up company staffers who are responsible for putting the new process improvement initiatives into action. Whether formally established or not, the vehicle to successfully deliver these projects is the project management team. This being the case, the maturity of an
organization’s project management practice and/or team are intricately linked to the success of any process improvement initiative. Hence, poor project delivery will ultimately lead to poor process improvement results.

In light of this reality, PMI’s Organizational Management Maturity Model (OPM3) is one of those few process improvement frameworks that can impact all process improvement projects. By identifying first the maturity of your project management practice and then providing practical process improvement strategies to this area of business, OPM3 will not only help deliver successful projects but will also provide program and portfolio management strategies and best practices to ensure you prioritize and implement the most valuable process improvement initiatives.

OPM3

The basic tenets of OPM3 framework include:

  1. Knowledge – allowing organizations to access hundreds of Best Practices to improve their project management practice.
  2. Assessment – tools and a methodology that allows for self evaluation and the identification of areas of improvement to reach a higher level of project management maturity.
  3. Improvement – framework and road map for process improvement to achieve defined goals.

For those going down the process improvement path, OPM3 and other project management frameworks can lay down the foundation in building better processes for the overall organization. After all, the delivery of process improvements projects is equally as important as the improved processes themselves.

Don’t forget to manage Change

In addition to successful project delivery, establishing a change management strategy as part of your process improvement project is an area that cannot be ignored. Process improvement needs to move beyond the motions of changing the way your organization works and requires a strategy that will ensure that the people responsible for executing the new changes are on board. Consequently, both resistance to change and organizational roadblocks need to be addressed so that the process improvement project will fully integrate into the organization’s business operations and culture.

A key component into effectively managing change requires a deep understanding of the primary stakeholder responsible for the process improvement’s success. Typically the natural urge to resist the “New” can cause the most problems with the transition taking place. With this reality looming, it is key for the primary drivers of the process improvement initiative to align and promote the positive benefits of the new processes delivered to the organization.

An effective change management strategy needs to communicate and convince the end user that although change can be difficult, the end result will benefit all parties involved. Creating a positive message around change can be very powerful. In the case of process improvement projects the following positive outcomes can be benefited from the organization:

  • Stronger alignment of organizational goals with improved processes
  • Higher quality of individual working experiences
  • Improved quality of service and/or product delivery yielding more profits
  • Better transparency and visibility into operational processes and activities
  • Improved productivity and/or decline in wasteful and redundant work

In the end, the goal is to effectively communicate and prepare the alignment of the positive impact resulting from the new and improved business processes in relation to the everyday challenges faced by those inheriting these new changes.

Genius Project will support your improved processes

Process-driven project management software mapped to your business

Genius Project’s unique role-based workflow engine can manage any kind of process from the most simple to the most complex. This can include parallel revision and approval, conditional transition of information and the automatic creation of data and documents. In addition, Genius Project can incorporate the desired flow cycles, gates and typical phase reviews and approvals that meet your organizational requirements.

Genius Project’s integrated workflow engine delivers:

  • Customizable approval cycles
  • Roles based workflow engine
  • Automatic distribution of information
  • Email and to-do notifications
  • Business rules engine
  • Document creation
  • Phase Review support
  • Pre-configured workflows

To learn more about Genius Project’s workflow engine go to: http://www.geniusproject.com/workflow-management-software

Free Software Package Selection Process

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

We have made available on our site a comprehensive online process for selecting software. It includes:

  • 160 Activities fully described and shown as a process flow within phases
  • 120 Templates for every possible document
  • 30 User Guides to help you with everything from risk management to negotiation to creating an RFP (Request for Proposal).  Also includes draft vendor letters and a business case.
  • Links to other sources of information.

Most of the online methodology is applicable to any project.  All this is free on our website.

Software selection methodology

SP2 – Software Package Selection Process

Try it out now by clicking on the image above.

Project Perfect Members Club

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

For those of you who regularly visit our site, you will not have seen much activity over the last few weeks. We have been busy building a whole new area for you. Welcome to the <b style=”color:black;background-color:#ffff66″>Project Perfect Members Club.</b> As well as our library of over 150 white papers, we offer lots of other goodies.

  • Free software.  Get our Meeting Administrator and Method H software for free.  Method H normally sells for A$35.
  • Project Management Templates.  A whole range of templates to help you with your project management.
  • User Guides.  Documents that guide you through regular tasks such as risk management, carrying out interviews, managing scope, and lots more.
  • 40% discount on a single user license for Project Administrator when you pay an annual subscription to the members club.  The discount pays for your annual subscription.
  • Access to Software Package Selection Process.  SP2 is our online methodology for undertaking a software selection and implementation. Most of the methodology is applicable to any project.

There is lots more to come.  We plan to expand the offerings to make our members club a vital part of any project managers toolbox.

You can subscribe for A$10 per month and cancel at any time.  If you want to save some money, pay an annual subscription of A$100.  At the time of writing this post – mid June 2012 – the A$ is on parity with the US$. A$1 = US$1.

Click here to register.

Click here to find out more.

Introduction to Data Normalisation

Monday, February 13th, 2012

This is a white paper we have been going to write for a few years.  It explains in simple terms what data normalisation is all about and why it is important for users of the system to get involved with the data design through a logical data model.  We give an example and show you a technique to list entities, attributes and relationships.

You can read the white paper online or download a PDF version which will give you the knowledge you need for data normalisation.

Click here to view the white paper.