By Ava Heuer – VP – Professional
Development and Training
As VP of Professional Development and Training, I spend most days during
my real life, teaching project management. I love teaching in general,
and project management specifically, because of the immediate applicability
of the tools and techniques, as well as the insight into visible improvements
in project results. Students who are currently working as project
managers but are looking to broaden their skill set often pose interesting
questions regarding real project experiences, the successes and pitfalls
of PMBOK application or non-application as the case may be. Of course
there are always the expected questions about concepts like earned value
and critical path. But whether I’m teaching students in the software,
pharmaceutical, automotive or financial industries, as we go through the
various PMBOK processes there is one type of comment that is repeated fairly
consistently: “Are all these processes necessary?”
“Can’t we just do some of them?” And my favorite, “My boss will never
give us the time or money to carry out all these processes!”
All are very valid concerns. As we anticipate a new PMBOK version next
year, there will most likely be additional or revised processes as well.
So what is the answer? PMI clearly states, right in the PMBOK, that
processes are meant to be tailored, or customized, for size and complexity
of the project. However, the questions still persist.
“Our projects are small,small; these processes are simply not applicable
for us. Why do I even have to know them except to pass the PMP exam?”
Probably my favorite modern composer is Claude Bolling,
who creates incredible music that blends genres in unusual ways. (While
it seems as if I’ve switched subjects abruptly, bear with me, I’ll tie
them together!) The most amazing piece he composed is called “Bach
to Swing” which starts out as pure Bach, and slowly throughout the piece,
gradually morphs into a swing tempo where by the end of the number you
would swear you are listening to something by Count Basie. The point
is that in order to “customize” something you have to first know the basics.
You cannot improvise music until you understand the foundation from which
you are improvising. Every serious musician first studies his scales
and chords before attempting improvisation. And so it is the same
with project management processes.
Without first knowing the basic processes, you cannot customize or improvise
in the most effective way, as you may be missing key elements that you thought
were unimportant but may be the key to project success. In
addition, even very experienced musicians know that in order to keep playing
flawlessly they must continually “go back to basics” and practice the scales.
Likewise, without reviewing those basic project management building blocks,
in the midst of the pressures of project demands it is easy to lose sight
of some key concepts that may make your project more efficient. So
it behooves all of us in the project management profession, whether you are
looking forward to tailoring the processes for your project or are already
using a standardized process, to take the time to review the basics.
I encourage everyone to set aside time to review the processes, tools and
techniques, described in the current PMBOK as well as making sure to read
the December 2012 forthcoming 5th edition of the PMBOK…or perhaps it should
be called PMBach?
Report - Student Paper of the Year Awards - June 2011
By Ava Heuer – VP – Professional
Development and Training
The annual Student Paper of the Year Award has been a tradition of PMI
New Jersey Chapter for nearly fifteen years, and recognizes outstanding
work in a project management course by students enrolled in a Master’s Program
in Project Management. This year we were very pleased to confer two
awards, one for a paper written by a team, and another for a paper written
by a single individual. Although submissions from two universities
were considered, both award recipients this year were from Stevens Institute
of Technology in Hoboken.
The review team who evaluated the submissions consisted of 6 PMPS who are
members of PMI NJ: Marge Dukes, Ava Heuer, Bill Sasso, Paul Travers,
John Tse, and Louis Vazquez. The recipients of the awards were
recognized at our June monthly meeting where they presented their papers.
The recipients of the team award were Bhavin Shukla, Craig Edwards,
and Manoj Rana from their Project Management and Leadership class, taught
by Paul Stevens. Their paper, “Radiation Oncology at XYZ Medical Group”
examined a real-world project to determine the feasibility of expanding
the reach of a large private medical group to include radiation therapies
for cancer patients. The added capability was analyzed from a number
of different perspectives for both the medical practice and the patients
in terms of costs, benefits, risks, and competitors. A “surprise” ending
to the presentation was that the project was cancelled at the end of the
feasibility phase due to the inability to obtain the required approvals from
the township and the state necessary for the expansion. There was an
audible gasp from the audience when that was stated; but it was a real-life
example of the risks inherent in any project where government approvals are
The recipient of the individual award was Julia Steponanko for her work
in the Advanced Project Management Class, taught by Dr. Michael Poli.
Julia presented her paper, “Intersection Improvements at Road A and Road
B,” where the traffic patterns at a particularly troublesome intersection
were examined, and a contract specification was prepared for re-routing the
roads to ease the bottlenecks. PMBOK processes were followed and the
project was declared a mixed success, as it was completed 12 months late,
but experience was gained and subsequently 3 new projects were awarded to
the company. Lively discussion followed Julia’s presentation.
PMI New Jersey Chapter once again extends their thanks to all participants
in the competition, and offers our sincere congratulations to the recipients
of the awards. We encourage other students to speak with their professors
about submitting papers for next year. Volunteers interested in participating
on the student paper review team should send an email to volunteers(:@:)pminj.org.
Volunteer of the Quarter: Suzanne Walsh
Suzanne brings more than
20 years of experience in Healthcare Information Technology to her PMINJ
chapter volunteering. She also brings a detailed oriented and pleasant
personality that is needed for the Symposium Registration Team. Suzanne
has been the Team Co-Lead for symposium Registration Team for the past
5 years and has worked tirelessly during the year to organize and stream
line the annual event registration process. Suzanne and her team are instrumental
for the on-line registration, confirmations, badges and gifts for attendees
for the May Symposiums as well Nov IPM Day events. Before becoming registration
team lead, Suzanne served as a volunteer on the Registration Team.
The first step for a successful
Symposium is to have smooth registration process. Every year over 600
members register for the May Symposium and over 500 members register for
IPM Day Seminar, both online. There are significant efforts involved for
planning, setting up team and assign responsibilities, setting up dates,
setting up online registration with web master, continually monitor registration,
answering phone calls related to registration and resolve any issues members
might have registering for the events. On the day of the event, Suzanne
and her team arrives at the facility very early in the morning to set up
registration tables with gifts and name tags. Due to hard work and dedication
of volunteers like Suzanne, the chapter is able to provide quality events
like symposiums to the members.
Suzanne’s thoughts on
her PMINJ volunteering experience:
PMINJ is a volunteer
organization and chapter’s success is attributed to volunteers like Suzanne
who works tirelessly to provide quality service for chapter membership
and we thank her for that.
“Initially when I joined PMINJ I thought that I would be able to attend
some interesting seminars on Project Management and keep my PMP certification
current. After attending a few Chapter Events and seeing the quality
of the programs as well as the knowledgeable membership, I knew I had
to be part of the organization and help make things happen. I am proud
and excited to be an active member of the PMINJ Chapter and encourage everyone
to Volunteer as you not only help the organization, you help yourself and
make many new friends and acquaintances”.
Report - Secure Your Financial Future – Jan 2011
By Ashay Gharat, MBA,
Speaker Helen Hogan – Financial
Consultant – Sunset Financial Services
The PMINJ Career Networking Local Community of Interest (CNL)
January meeting was very informative. Helen Hogan, Financial Consultant
with Sunset Financial Services discussed how Wealth Accumulation strategies
can secure your financial future. Helen, who is a PMP since 1996, explained
how we can apply PMBOK® principles to this real life project.
To achieve your financial
- Evaluate your
present financial situation - Present Mode of Operation (PMO)
- Identify your
goals and objectives - Future Mode of Operation (FMO)
- Develop a project
plan to achieve those goals and objectives - Work Break Down Structure
- Execute the plan
- Review plan annually
- Change Management
- Plan for things
that could go wrong - Risk Management
Evaluate your present
Perform an analysis of your financial health by considering the following
- Financial Plan:
Do you know your short term and long term goals and how you envision financing
- Spending versus
Budget: Do you know how you are currently spending your money?
- Outstanding debt:
Do you have a plan to pay off credit card debt/personal loans? Do you pay
your bills on time?
- Having emergency
fund: Do you have six months of expenditures saved up in case of an emergency?
- Multiple Streams
of Income: Are you dependent on one income or Do you have a strategy for
developing multiple sources of income?
- Insurance: Do
you have insurance (term/whole Life) to protect your assets against major
- Investments: What
percent of your income are you investing annually?
Identify your goals
Define your financial future:
- Do you have enough
money to pursue your dreams? Do you know how much money you will need to
pursue your dreams?
- Are you planning
to help your children afford college?
- Are you planning
a family trip, a wedding, or buying a vacation home?
- Are you planning
early retirement? What does early retirement mean to you?
- Are you planning
to leave a legacy to your heirs
Develop a project plan
to achieve those goals and objectives (WBS)
Based on your goals and objectives you've identified, sort them by time
period and prioritize competing goals. Identify the risk and risk response
for every goal. Take the following points into account when you create
- Address any concerns
you have about investing by educating yourself or getting professional financial
- Saving for College:
Leverage college savings calculators online to arrive at the total cost
of putting your children through college.
- Vacation – Use
a Savings calculator to help you plan how much money you will need to put
aside to achieve your vacation goal.
- Retirement – Use
a retirement calculator to determine how much income you will need in retirement
and also to arrive at monthly savings goal amount
- Social Security
- Assuming Social Security is still solvent when you retire, it will
pay no more than about 1/3 of your pre-retirement income
- Know your risk
- Mix and match
taxable and non-taxable income investments
- Plan diversification
of asset allocation (Stocks, Bonds, Money Market Funds, Annuities, Mutual
Funds, Cash Value Life Insurance, Coverdell IRAs, 529 Programs, Rental property)
- Inflation - It
can reduce the value of investment returns as well as the purchasing power
- Compound interest
- Investing in compound interest accounts early can make a huge difference
in the amount of money earned by the time you retire.
- Bottom line in
investing - The earlier you start, the better it will be!!
Execute the plan
Implement the plan by leveraging the following financial vehicles:
- Stocks, Bonds,
Money market funds
- Mutual funds
- Annuities – Fixed
- Tax deferred savings:
Your assets will grow faster if a portion of the gain does not have to be
paid out in current taxes.
- Some of the Tax
deferred investment vehicles include IRAs (Traditional and Roth), Fixed
& Variable Annuities, Universal & Variable Universal Life Insurance,
Tax-Qualified Retirement Plans (401k, 403b)
- Traditional Individual
Retirement Account (IRA): Transactions in the account, including interest,
dividends, and capital gains, are not subject to tax while still in the
account, but upon withdrawal from the account, withdrawals are subject to
federal income tax.
- Roth IRA: Contributions
are made with after-tax assets, all transactions within the IRA have no
tax impact, and withdrawals are usually tax-free
- Universal Life
Insurance plans: It is a type of permanent life insurance based on a cash
- Variable Universal
Life Insurance: The cash value can be invested in a wide variety of separate
accounts, similar to mutual funds, and the choice of which of the available
separate accounts to use is entirely up to the contract owner.
- 401 k: Maximum
pre-tax contributions for 2011 are $16,500 if you are less than 50 years
old. For individuals who are 50 years old or over are eligible for
pre-tax contributions of $22,500 in what is called as 401K “catch up”
- Rental property:
Understand that the property occupancy rate averages around 80% and you
need to have a cash flow. Take into account the risk of not finding a tenant
or getting a bad tenant.
- To manage your
budget better, examine your spending from time to time, reduce your debt,
pay credit card balances every month, and pay yourself first.
Review plan annually
and manage risk
Unintended life changing events like health issues, layoffs, divorce,
relocation and death of provider in family can happen. The right risk and
change management plan can help protect against market fluctuations and
undesirable life events and may result in greater wealth over the long term.
There are things you can control (like minimizing costs, minimizing taxes,
making better decisions on how you should spend your money over time) and
things you cannot control (rising interest rates, inflation). Revisit and
restructure your investment portfolio periodically. Diversify!
We thank Helen for this
enlightening seminar. Helen Hogan was nominated by NJ monthly magazine as
one of the top 100 Wealth Managers in NJ. Helen was also recently quoted
in an article “Shifting into retirement gear” on Fidelity.com. Helen can
be reached at hhogan(:@:)sfsrep.com or Cell: 908-385-5534.
Speaker Helen Hogan – Financial Consultant – Sunset Financial Services
Management – The PM’s Best Friend
By Gareth Byatt,
Gary Hamilton, and Jeff Hodgkinson
Here’s a question for you to quickly consider: effective risk management
underpins a successful project – true or false?
Was “true” your first reaction? We believe that you’re right. All three
of us are strong believers in the positive value of a well-managed and
controlled approach to project risks. An Internet search for “images of
risk management” will return many illustrations of dice being rolled. If
it is done well, risk management measures the uncertainty involved when
you “roll the dice” during your project, and allows the Project Manager
to obtain a consensus how to best handle risks and unexpected events on
This article does not cover in detail the processes necessary for effective
project risk management. A large amount of material and advice exists on
the subject. Rather, we put forward just a few “pointers to consider” for
your project – whether it is already underway or getting ready to start.
Take-Away points to consider
We put forward the following considerations for risk management (this
list is not exhaustive or prioritised):
The essentials of
project risk management
- Risk management
affects all aspects of your project – your budget; your schedule; your
scope; the agreed level of quality; your communications and stakeholder
engagement; the success when the project’s output is implemented; and so
- Risks can be positive
(i.e. opportunities), as well as negative (generally referred to as risks).
- Risk management
is about behaviours that prove that risk management is a top priority for
you and the team, such as “being constantly aware of what might happen,”
agreeing on strategies for all risks, and undertaking actions to prevent
negative risks from becoming issues (i.e. occurred events) whilst maximising
the opportunities of positive risks.
- Risk management
needs to be conducted from the start of the project, constantly discussed
and monitored, and involve all members of the project team.
- How you choose
to handle risks depends on your most influential project stakeholders’ “appetite
- Each identified
risk needs to be assessed, a strategy for dealing with it agreed upon by
all appropriate parties, and tracked until closure.
- Project risk management
is not “the Project Manager tracking risks in a Risks Register and sharing
it occasionally when or if people ask to see it” – it is much more than
A project risk can be defined as an uncertain event or condition that,
if it occurs, will have a positive or a negative effect on a project’s objectives.
Some very comprehensive guidelines and procedures for managing risk are
available from many sources. For example, the Project Management Institute
describes the following summary process to managing project risks:
You may come across
other models. Your means of conducting risk management and the behaviours
you and your team display in “making it real” make all the difference. We
have mentioned “behaviours” a few times in this article. We are referring
to the communication (in all its shapes and forms) that you use, the importance
with which you treat risks, and the willingness and drive to see actions
through to completion and closure.
- Plan risk management.
- Identify risks.
- Perform qualitative
- Perform quantitative
- Plan risk responses.
- Monitor and control
Here are a few questions for you to ask yourself:
Remember: risk management
is your friend and ally
- At the start of
a project, do you plan how you and the team will approach risks? By this,
we do not mean jumping straight to a Risks Register, but putting some serious
thought into how risks will be managed during the project.
- Do you understand
and monitor the appetite for risk of your customer and influential stakeholders?
- Do you involve
all people in the team to identify project risks – not only at the start,
but throughout the project?
- Do you review
the risks of previous projects, and look to lessons from the past as part
of your initial review and identification process?
- Do you strive
to ensure each risk has an owner, and that the method to tackle them is
agreed upon, i.e., whether to mitigate the risk with an action, to transfer,
avoid or accept it and so on?
- Do you readily
assess opportunities as well as negative risks, and devise strategies to
maximise the likelihood of opportunities occurring in order to exploit or
- Do you assess
“triggers” to each risk so that you can monitor if/when there is danger
of their becoming real?
- As well as qualitative
assessment of risks, are you able to apply a quantitative financial or time
value to each risk, both negative and positive, should it eventuate? If
the impact is negative, will it turn into an issue? Can this estimated financial
value help you justify an appropriate project contingency in terms of cost
- Are you pro-active
in tracking the agreed strategies to handle risks?
- Do you maintain
a project Risks Register on a regular basis – moving priorities up and
down the list, watching for low-priority risks that may escalate in importance,
being attentive to risks that are likely to occur soon?
- Do you discuss
the “current high-priority risks” with your key Stakeholders at each project
review (in whatever forum you have for such review meetings)?
- Do you discuss
what will happen if major and problematic “unknown unknowns” occur on your
project, perhaps with action scenarios if such events happen?
As per the title of this article, risk management is the project manager’s
friend. Done well, it helps you ensure that the “appetite for risk” is appropriately
understood at the start; that all risks are agreed upon, prioritized, assessed,
communicated and understood in alignment with this “risk appetite;” and
that you have a solid platform to track agreed actions, including escalation
up the management chain if necessary. The key is to demonstrate positive
behaviours in a way that ensures risk management is kept at the forefront
of all your project activities. There is always the potential of “unknown
unknowns” impacting your project, but the more you can assess reasonable
risks from the start of the project and actively manage them throughout,
the better you will be as a team to realise a positive outcome for your
If you have an opinion on this article, we would really like to hear
from you. Please email us at Contactus(:@:)pmoracles.com with your point
Started with Project Leadership
By Cornelius Fichtner,
In May of 2011 The Project Management Podcast launched its Project Leadership
Series at www.pm-podcast.com. The series started with interviews with Thomas
Juli, author of Leadership Principles for Project Success, and Rick Valerga,
author of The Cure for the Common Project: Five Core Themes that Transform
Project Managers into Leaders. More interviews and discussions on project
leadership are planned throughout the year. To kick us off let’s begin with
an explanation about what project leadership is and how project managers
can start out on the path of becoming true project leaders.
Defining project leadership
“There are so many definitions of leadership out there,” said Thomas.
“Leadership has to do with the right attitude and understanding the core
principles of building an overall vision, knowing about the power of collaboration,
knowing how to promote performance in the team he or she is leading, and
then still having the maturity to reflect on their own activities and creating
a culture of learning. And last but not least, a leader ensures results
because this is the bottom line.”
Rick agrees. “I define leadership as the ability to influence others
to deliver results,” he said. “Project leadership exists at the nexus of
project management and general leadership.”
Project leadership doesn’t mean being a strategic visionary sitting
at the very top of your organization. It’s about leading the project team
to achieve their objectives and producing a successful result.
Getting to success
“If you run a project, you have to be knowledgeable and experienced
in project management,” said Thomas. “Project management is basically structuring
chaos and without the structure, you cannot really be creative. That means
without project management, there cannot be project success.”
However, Thomas doesn’t believe that project management skills are the
only thing necessary to deliver a successful project.“Leadership gives the
project a direction, the right direction,” he said. “If you talk about sufficient
conditions of project success, we’re talking about leadership.”
Without someone providing this overall direction, the project team members
run the risk of going off in several directions, or nowhere at all. It’s
difficult to achieve results in that situation. Thomas believes that to get
to success projects need both management and leadership. Fortunately, one
person can fill both functions.
“Integrity is the absolute foundation for project leadership,” said
Rick. “Integrity means never letting your project live a lie. So if your
project plan is a house of cards, or your schedule will be indisputably
delayed, or if you discover that your product will fall flat in the market,
you need to have the courage to bring these issues to light.”
Rick said that managing expectations is key to building integrity. “When
we’re doing this, we’re making responsible commitments even under duress,”
he explained. “That’s integrity.” He also explained that integrity comes
from solving the projects’ toughest problems without destroying our team
members or their families, and providing frequent up-to-date, consistent messages
that are agreed across all the project stakeholders.
Teams are at the heart of projects, and project leaders can’t lead if
they don’t have people to lead. “Let’s face it, projects are at their best
when people are at their best,” said Rick. “I’m not just talking about
taking care of the troops and then getting out of the way which many project
managers do. Projects are at their best when all the people are at their
best including the sponsor, customers, suppliers, adjacent functional organizations.”
Thomas agrees. “As a leader, it is your responsibility to create an
environment that promotes performance on both the individual and the team
level,” he said. “First of all, you want to be a role model. You have to
walk the talk. Demonstrate authentic leadership.” By that, he means making
sure that your words and actions align. Don’t set rules for the team and
then break them yourself.
“You really want to empower your team,” Thomas added. “That means you
have to give the team the information it needs and you have to share the
power so that the team can actually get the opportunity to excel and have
an active hand in project success.”
When the team feels empowered, there is no need to micromanage them.
Thomas believes that it is important to want them to feel empowered, and
not just pay lip service to the team. You have to be able to trust the team
members. “You have to let it happen,” he said. “You have to give the team
the opportunity to show how it can perform. That’s very important.”
If becoming a project leader sounds difficult, Rick had some simple
advice about how to get started. “One way to start is by simply listening,”
he said. “We have a vast amount of knowledge available to us through our
stakeholders. We need to make sure that we are regularly tapping into it.”
Another easy step towards becoming a leader is to celebrate performance.
“You want to look for behaviors that reflect the purpose and values, skill
development and team work and reward, reward, reward those behaviors,” said
Thomas. “Don’t wait until the very end of the project to celebrate the
same results. Celebrate performance.”
The great thing about leadership is that we’ll instinctively know what
it feels like to be doing it right. The people around us will let us know
that we’re doing a good job. “In the end,” Rick said, “our projects are
judged by people, the customers, the sponsor, and the team members. Most
of these people are not imbued with project management theory. They only
judge whether the project lived up to its billing as interpreted by them.
It’s a subjective process and above all, these people hate to be surprised.
So the best way to address this is by making expectation management a daily
mantra.” That’s good advice for any leader.
Listen to the complete interviews on project leadership with Rick Valerga
and Thomas Juli on The Project Management Podcast for free at www.pm-podcast.com.
About the author: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted project management
expert. Since 2005 he has interviewed over 100 project managers from around
the world on The Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com. The
interviews are available for free. Topics cover all areas of project management
like methodologies, PMOs, earned value, project leadership and many more.
NJ Agile User Group
NJ now has its own Agile
user group! Come meet your Agile NJ brethren in Morristown for our
premiere meeting on Monday, September 12th at 6PM. Join us for a presentation
by Agilist Geoffrey Bourne, refreshments and some great giveaways.
Location: 10 North Park Place, Morristown, NJ, 07960
For more information and to register, email Jardena DiGiorgio at jdigiorgio(:@:)rosettatg.com.
By Camper Bull
This is a really interesting question that you can ask regularly.
It is not asking if you are physically there; or if you are there and engaged
with the people you are around at the time. Presence is a vital part of
Leadership. Individuals who are with you should feel like you are 110%
focused on what they are saying and on the tasks and actions that you are
engaged in at that moment.
[insert READ MORE here]
I had the honor of meeting a gentleman by the name of Brendan Bechard,
who I believe is one of the masters of presence. Brendan has the unique
ability to make you feel like you are the only person in the room when
he is talking to you. I met him as he was getting ready to speak to 300
entrepreneurs. Understand that this was a huge organization in a
huge room. There were people wandering around laughing and chatting
before the presentation started. I went over to Brendan to introduce myself.
He shook my hand and looked me in the eye which was quite unnerving I must
admit. On the other hand, it felt like I was the only person in the
room and he and I were having the only conversation that mattered, while
hundreds of others revolved around and spoke because they too were trying
to get his attention.
Developing a habit of presence is a powerful tool for a Leader. Being
fully present and listening to someone that people recognize and respond
to makes him or her feel more energized, more interested, and more creative
in the process. They feel like not only are you concerned with them,
you are willing to help and willing to listen not distracted by anything
else making them feel like they are the most important person at this moment.
Great leaders are great politicians. They understand the in Port’simportance
of presence: some people call it charisma but it truly is the ability
to connect and fully focus on the task individual and conversation at hand
without being distracted by either things internally or externally to the
Imagine if you will being able to be so present with each one of your
team members that they look forward to talking to you and giving you updates.
They so look forward to it that they actually clamored to do the process
and always want to give you good news because you are so focused on them.
At this point that they can really feel like they are the only ones in the
room. We all like to feel special – and the ability to develop presence
not only allows people to feel special but also allows us to focus on the
importance of each individual and let them know how important they are to
the team and/or the project.
Presence is not something that we do easily or readily. It is
something that needs to be routinely practiced. We are so used to
multitasking or thinking about what our next answer to the question is
going to be, or what we think it is going to be done that we lose presence.
It is rare to find someone who can create that kind of presence on a regular
basis, to the point that they become the superstars. Presence is cultivated
every minute of every day. Every time you sit and talk to someone you
should be practicing being very present with them by focusing on exactly
what they are saying, what they are doing, and how they are interacting.
Being so with them and into with them that they can continue to give you
information, continue to have conversations with you, and know that you
are the one who is interested in the process and in them.
Presence is not something that is easily done. One must sit and
make sure that they become present every time they sit down; and as their
mind wanders, they re-focus on the individual. Interestingly enough when
you are that focused, new things will come into your mind. You will
become more creative or innovative and more interested. The person you are
talking to; or the team you are talking to will also feel that energy and
become more interested, more dynamic and more boisterous. Your job
and presence is to help them keep that focus. This is not easy and requires
practice – but the interesting thing here is that the more you practice
it, the easier it becomes. The more people that want to talk to you
and interact with you, the more people that will want to be on your team
because they feel listened to – they feel cared about and important.
Cultivating just one technique can change the way your team and your
people work together. It is difficult and distracting and in the beginning,
your team will not understand what you are doing. They may actually
feel uncomfortable the first time you start creating that presence. During
my few moments with Brendan, I must admit that the first time was an incredibly
disconcerting. His being so present with me in this massive room actually
made me feel uncomfortable. Once I recognized that it was not a challenge
or a competition, but that it was him actually trying to make a moment and
recognize how important I was to him, I became comfortable and now recognized
just what a gift it was.
The best place to practice presence is in our home life, with the people
we love and spend the most time with because these are the people who not
only need our presence the most. They may not get it because they
are always around. With my daughter and my wife, when they are talking to
me to be I try to be completely present with them. This is difficult
because there are many things going on. If you can do that for just
one minute a day, it will change your relationship drastically and help teach
you the power and the pleasure of presence. So, I would encourage you to
pick one person to start being completely present with and listen to absolutely
every word they say – hanging onto every word, and being completely with
them. While you are talking, and once you get comfortable with the process,
start expanding. You will be amazed at how easy it becomes. It
will become effortless for you to deliver that kind of presence to your team
Presence is not something that we are used to. If there is one
secret to effortless leadership it is to be present as much of the time
as you can – no other technique will give you more success for the effort.
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Solve the Project Execution Problem?
By Curt Finch, CEO,
Project management technology has been around for years now, so the
problem of project execution must be basically solved, right? Wrong.
The Standish Group has found that 68% of technology projects failed in 2009.
Does this mean that project management solutions are just a waste of time?
The truth is that project management technology is only as good as the
processes that support it. The only way to improve project execution
rates is to look at the root causes of project failure and implement the
necessary changes that will allow the technology to work. Here are
a few of the top ways to accomplish this in your organization.
Problem #1 – Ignorance of True Per-Project Cost
We all know that people hate to track their time for a variety of reasons.
Most find it to be a tedious exercise and believe that it takes time away
from more important work. Others might feel suspicious that management
wants to keep an eye on them. One of the biggest reasons is often
that employees simply do not know what the time data will be used for or
why they are tracking it in the first place, so why bother? This is
a problem because time data can provide cost insight that you cannot obtain
any other way.
If you do not know how much time your team members are spending on various
projects, you do not really know how much the projects cost. A project
that is a large resource drain can be much more expensive than the numbers
in the budget indicate. Not only that, but when the boss tells you
to cut 10% somewhere, how will you know where to cut if you do not know where
your profit lies? Having employees track their time by project – and more
specifically, by task – gives you the knowledge necessary to make the right
decisions. In this case, it is not enough to have a time tracking
software solution. You must also obtain widespread employee adoption,
because the system is only as good as the data entered into it. Usually
this can be achieved with an explanation of how the data will benefit the
organization or some kind of rewards system. It is also essential to
integrate this data with project status and cost reports for analysis purposes.
Problem #2 – Poor Resource Management
Most automated systems fail because they try to get people to track
time only for payroll, DCAA compliance, billing or project accounting.
This forces managers to use a variety of systems, resulting in employees
tracking their time in multiple places and not being too happy about it.
Not to mention the fact that these disconnected islands of data are not very
useful for analysis or planning.
If, however, you have all of the time, project and billing data in the
same system, you can understand who is over- and under-allocated, who is
behind on their work, and who is available to work on your project next
month - all important issues for a project manager to know.
Not only that, but a technology solution that incorporates resource
schedules and allows you to conduct “what-if analysis” before assigning
work provides project managers with a huge advantage. They will be
able to see the impact of their projects before scheduling them, allowing
them to avoid unnecessary risk and only implement plans that are feasible.
For example, if a project manager puts a potential project plan into the
system and finds that with the current timeline, resources will be too constrained,
he or she can adjust it accordingly before actually scheduling the work.
Problem #3 – No Estimate Feedback Loop
Whenever you ask someone how far along they are on a project task, the
answer is always the same: 90%. Rather, the right question to ask
is, "How many actual hours of work remain to complete this task?" Once
you have this data, it should go back into your project plan. The
more you reinforce estimates with actual data, the better your estimation
will be for future projects.
I recently spoke with a project manager at a well-known beverage corporation
who told me that though his company had purchased a large PPM solution,
people were still entering their time in multiple systems. This leaves
them unable to feed actuals from different departments and groups back into
the central project plan for up-to-date status and improved estimation.
After spending so much time and money on a PPM solution, they are not getting
any of the promised benefits. This is just another example of how
technology will not magically fix project issues without the right processes
in place to support it.
Problem #4 – Communication and Collaboration Issues
Microsoft SharePoint sales have been exploding lately, and the simple
reason for this is that managing multiple people and projects across departments,
companies and even time zones is extremely difficult. Everyone has
their own PM methodology, technology system, culture and habits, and you,
the project manager, have to accommodate for all of it. SharePoint
and other tools like it can be extremely helpful, but ultimately, communication
can still fail across the board. This is a human problem, not a technology
problem, and the project manager must address it as such.
Problem #5 – Balancing Quality, Schedule and Cost
Have you ever heard the question, "Do you want it good, fast or cheap?"
You might add value delivery to this equation as well. For example,
if a wedding cake shows up seven hours late, it is worthless. At every
step of the way, project managers have to ensure that they are still going
to be able to deliver something useful in the end.
These days, the world is moving so fast that you have to constantly
check to see if you are still on target for delivering value, even if quality,
schedule and cost constraints are met. Technology cannot do this for
you; it is a subtle, complicated process that requires market research and
an understanding of your customers, for starters.
The Power of Project Management Technology
Project management technology is at the most advanced that it has ever
been, providing all kinds of functionality and benefits to the project manager.
Yet it takes a bit more than a software solution to solve the project execution
problem - it takes a quality project manager who can implement the correct
processes and manage people effectively. The right project management
solution can be a powerful tool, but only in the hands of someone qualified
to wield it.
Author: Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx.
New Certificate Holders
The following have received their certification
since the last newsletter:
|Maxim h Abrams
Dawn Marie Barton
Claudia N. Campbell
Calvin Mankin Chiu
Stephen James Colasante
Josephine M Deliberto
Welson Eduardo Giovanini
Naresh Kumar Girni
Henry Edward Hansch
|Thomas W Harmke
Ravi Kanth Kancherla
John A Kichura
Jeff C LaFlamme
Misty Hope Lamendola
Karen Fay McLean
Hugh Andre Mitchell
Victor R Neyra
Thomas S Povanda
Steven J. Rapos
Kristen F Riley
Daniel F. Ritz
Howard Forrest Rothbard
Paul G Rubin
Michael David Ruiz
Yvonne Class Shimshock
Ronald Scott Shute
Arnold W. Stovell
Bruce A Tamashunas
John Robert Thomas
Todd S Walrath
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