The Role of the Project Manager( MEGA VISION) A project manager is the person who has the overall responsibility for the successful initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of a project. The job title is used in construction, petrochemical, architecture, information technology and many different industries that produce products and services. The project manager must have a combination of skills including an ability to ask penetrating questions, detect unstated assumptions and resolve conflicts, as well as more general management skills. Key among his or her duties is the recognition that risk directly impacts the likelihood of success and that this risk must be both formally and informally measured throughout the lifetime of the project. Risks arise from uncertainty, and the successful project manager is the one who focuses on this as the main concern. Most of the issues that impact a project arise in one-way or another from risk. A good project manager can lessen risk significantly, often by adhering to a policy of open communication, ensuring every significant participant has an opportunity to express opinions and concerns. It follows that a project manager is one who is responsible for making decisions both large and small, in such a way that risk is controlled and uncertainty minimised. Every decision taken by the project manager should be taken in such a way that it directly benefits the project. Project managers use project management software, such as Microsoft Project, to organise their tasks and workforce. These software packages allow project managers to produce reports and charts in a few minutes, compared with the several hours it can take if they do it by hand. Roles and Responsibilities The role of the project manager encompasses many activities including: Planning and Defining Scope Activity Planning and Sequencing Resource Planning Developing Schedules Time Estimating Cost Estimating Developing a Budget Documentation Creating Charts and Schedules Risk Analysis Managing Risks and Issues Monitoring and Reporting Progress Team Leadership Strategic Influencing Business Partnering Working with Vendors Scalability, Interoperability and Portability Analysis Controlling Quality Benefits Realisation Finally, senior management must give a project manager support and authority if he or she is going to be successful. 20 Questions All Project Managers Should Ask Get the PDF Version By Michelle Symonds 16 Jan 2012 One of the many skills required of a project manager is the ability to ask searching questions and persevere until a clear answer is obtained. Many of the pitfalls in projects could be avoided if questions were articulated fully and if the answers were given clearly and in detail. Too often areas of a project that should be clearly defined are not. Assumptions are made about who is responsible for what and, even worse; assumptions are made about what exactly the business objectives are and what benefits the project will deliver to the organisation. In our enthusiasm to get started on an exciting new project it is easy for everyone, not just the project manager, to rush through the early preparation stages of a project and get on to the exciting parts. But in uncertain economic times every project should be delivering substantial business benefits that can be accurately measured. The benefits might be time or cost savings, but equally they might be aimed at maintaining a certain reputation (or rescuing a failing one) so they are not always easy to measure and cannot always be accurately predicted in advance. Nevertheless, the expected benefits should be documented so it is clear to everyone involved why the project is needed. No list of questions is ever exhaustive, but here are 20 questions a project manager should always ask, whatever type of project they are working on in any type of organisation: 1. What are the business goals the project is aiming to achieve? 2. What business benefits will these goals deliver if achieved? 3. What will be the consequences to the business (financial, reputation etc) if the project does not go ahead or fails to deliver the objectives? 4. Are there any easy-to-implement alternatives to this project? Sometimes other solutions are available that do not require the cost implications of a full-blown project. 5. Are there any disadvantages to implementing this project? Staff redundancies might be an obvious one, but there might be some that are less obvious. 6. Who is the main stakeholder, with ultimate responsibility for driving the project forward? It is important that someone senior takes ownership of a project – that person should never be the project manager. 7. Who is responsible for ensuring appropriate resources (time, people and money) are allocated to the project? This should be someone with the authority to allocate whatever resources are required. 8. Who will be responsible for deciding whether the project goes ahead or not after the initial investigations? This will often be a group of people, sometimes with conflicting aims. 9. Is the new project dependent on the successful delivery of a current project? If so, a full report on the status of the project already underway should be obtained before committing to the new project. 10. What are the success criteria that will indicate the objectives have been met and the benefits delivered? 11. Will new equipment/products be required to facilitate project delivery for example is new software needed? 12. Will there be any necessary staff changes (redundancies or new hires)? 13. Will existing staff require re-training, for example, to learn new business processes? 14. Which individuals, teams or departments will be involved in the project? 15. Who will be responsible for documenting the business requirements in detail? 16. Who will determine interim and final deadlines? Projects where the marketing department, for example, decide on a deadline for an IT project have a far less chance of success than when informed estimates are made about the resources required. 17. How much contingency will be available in the budget? 18. Who will be responsible for making the decisions to include or exclude requested changes once the project is underway? 19. Will the project deliverables need to be tested and, if so, by whom? 20. Who will provide the final approval of the project deliverable? There are many more questions that could be asked to ensure a project starts off with a good chance of success. But just as important as asking a question is getting a proper answer. The majority of people will have received appropriate training for project managers to help them develop a series of questions that is most relevant for their business. Those new to project management can benefit from knowledge-based training such as APM IC or one of the PMP credentials. Understanding the Project Management Triple Constraint Get the PDF Version By Duncan Haughey, PMP 19 Dec 2011 All projects are carried out under constraints - traditionally cost, time and scope. These three important factors, commonly called the triple constraint, are often represented as a triangle (see figure 1). Each constraint forms the vertices with quality added as a central theme. Projects must be delivered within cost. Projects must be delivered on time. Projects must meet agreed scope, no more - no less. Projects must also meet customer quality requirements. Figure 1: The triple constraint More recently the triangle has given way to a project management diamond, with cost, time, scope and quality the four vertices with customer expectations as a central theme (see Figure 2). No two customer expectations are the same so you must ask what their expectations are. Figure 2: The project management diamond 1. Cost: All projects have a finite budget; the money a customer is willing to spend delivering a new product or service. When you reduce the projects' cost, you will either have to reduce its scope or increase its time. 2. Time (schedule): As the saying goes 'time is money', a commodity that slips away too easily. Most projects have a deadline date for delivery. When you reduce the projects' time, you will either have to increase its cost or reduce its scope. 3. Scope: Many projects fail on this constraint because the full scope of the project is not fully defined or understood at the start. When you increase the projects' scope, you will either have to increase its cost or time. When a customer asks you to carry out a project they will usually say what is important, for example, the project must cost no more than £50k, be delivered on a particular date, or contain certain features. The triple constraint is about balancing each constraint to reach a successful conclusion. As the project progresses, the project manager may find changes impact one or more of the constraints. So what might happen? Here are some examples: 1. During an automotive engineering project an unexpected budget cut is imposed on your project after the company posts poorer than expected 4th quarter results. Impact: Scope is cut, quality reduced and the schedule pushed out so cheaper resources can be made available. The most important constraint in this case is cost (the money the company is willing to spend). 2. During a project to create a new mobile phone handset, your customer asks to bring the launch date forward by two weeks to coincide with a major industry show. Impact: Costs increase as more people are added to meet the new deadline. Some features of the product are removed and put in a phase 2 release to reduce the delivery time and meet the new launch date. The most important constraint in this case is time (the project schedule). 3. During a software development project your customer increases the scope. They ask to add new features to the software after hearing about a competitors' product that will be in direct competition with theirs. It is important the product has the new features if it is to compete successfully. Impact: The budget and schedule increase as a result pushing out the final delivery date. More people are added to the project to minimise disruption to the schedule increasing the projects' overall cost. The most important constraint in this case is the scope (the features of the product). In each of these examples the project manager needs to rebalance the project to meet the new constraints and deliver a success. The adage 'fast - cheap - good: you can have any two', has more than a grain of truth. Rarely does a project manager find they have a budget to deliver top quality on time. More often the project manager needs to weigh one constraint against another to reach the best result. As a project manager you need to educate your customers about the project management triple constraint, create the best balance and be aware of all changes that impact cost, time and scope. The triple constraint represents the key elements of a project that when balanced well leads to success. Don't Just Tell Them... SHOW Them! Get the PDF Version By Michelle LaBrosse & Kristen LaBrosse 14 Jun 2011 I sat in a window seat on the plane with my nose stuck in my newly purchased book. It was one of those books that sucks your right in, leaving you completely unaware of your surrounding, which is exactly what I needed to save me from what otherwise would have been a monotonous travel day, full of weather delays and missed connections. At my next stop, as I waited in an endless line to find out which flight was available for me now that I missed my connection, I was an island of contentment surrounded by a sea of angry and frustrated individuals, and all because I had a good story to occupy me. I got to thinking about why certain stories were so riveting, why others were just so-so. What I decided was that a good author did not simply tell you the story, they showed you the story as if you were there, revealing the plot with actions of the characters, and not just with explanations. The act of showing, rather than telling, is very powerful, and can turn a story from "boring" to "best seller." In your profession as a Project Manager, make sure that you are using good story techniques to advance in your occupation by showing others your story, not just telling. Become a captivating author of your career by following these tips. Walk the Talk Or better yet, don't talk at all, just walk! A good Project Manager earns the respect of their project team from leading by example. If you want your project team to go the extra mile to accomplish a goal, then be the first to show them how it's done. I recently worked on a project where team morale was way down due to gossip running amuck among team members. It was worse than a high school prom, and it was affecting project progress. To snip this attitude in the bud, I changed the script and created a "no whine" bubble around me, where I was not allowed to complain unproductively, and I would not listen to others do it. I showed my project team the appropriate way of communicating by doing so myself, and dealing with unresolved issues by addressing the person involved directly, privately, and in a professional manner. Soon, others followed suite and team morale began to grow as we built trust and respect within our project team. The simple act of leading by example changed our project results from what may have been a tragic end, into a success story. Experiential Learning Think about the last time you learned a new skill. Did you learn by reading about it, listening to someone else that is proficient in the skill, or by doing it? For most of us, we need our teachers to SHOW us how to perform a task, and then be able to do this task ourselves in a safe environment. Some of the most innovative private schools in our country are adopting school schedules that provide longer classes. The extra time allows teachers to capitalise on experiential learning that takes place when you give students the time and space to learn the tasks themselves. Do the same for your project team by showing what they need to learn rather than telling them. Show Your Stuff Imagine you are sitting in an interview and you are asked about your best strengths as a PM. You could list off your many attributes, such as your fantastic negotiation and communication skills, OR you could show your skills. Tell your interviewer a story about the time you procured the resources you needed for a project against all odds. While other projects in your organisation were running into budget problems, you utilised your negotiation skills and ability to assess others, as well as the situation, arrived at the most optimal situation, saving the project and earning company wide recognition. The ability to demonstrate your capabilities to others comes in handy in an interview, but it is also an essential skill needed throughout your career as a PM. The more specific you are in describing situations and outcomes to show your skills, the clearer your capabilities are, and the more memorable you are. Show your stuff PM! Because the more you show, the more they know, and the more your career can grow. Nine Keys to Successful Delegation in Project Management Get the PDF Version By Fred Morgan 26 May 2011 Successful delegation is crucial to successful project management. Many people involved as leaders in project management are, however, afraid of delegation. They fear that if they delegate, the work won't be done properly. Deadlines won't be met. They cannot trust collaboration and teamwork to others; they have to do most things themselves and directly oversee the rest. It is the delegation itself that must be done properly, however. Project management depends upon delegation simply because of the law of the division of labour: one person or team focused on one or two specific task(s) is more efficient and more productive than one person trying to juggle multiple tasks. One cannot be all things to a project or a business. As far as successful collaboration and teamwork go, these elements take care of themselves from an "emergent properties" perspective once delegation is done properly. The more laissez-faire project management is, the better. That manager is best who manages least. What we want to look at are the nine things to be careful of with delegation. To reiterate, successful project management depends upon collaboration and teamwork; and proper delegation makes these elements emerge successfully. What should you be careful of when delegating in the role of project manager? 1. Don't be vague. If you are involved in project management and you're delegating tasks, you have to be quite specific about what each task is supposed to accomplish, how soon it should be done, and what those doing the task should expect. Vague descriptions lead to murky results and failure to meet deadlines. 2. Ensure that the deadlines you set are realistic. They must be realistic and do-able time- wise, and they must be realistic and do-able for the people whom you select for the task. Obviously, your delegation must involve choosing the right people for the right tasks insofar as their talents and skills go, but you must also ensure from the outset that the people you delegate tasks to won't have scheduling problems or conflicts. 3. Provide all necessary information to each delegation. Also point those you've delegated tasks to in the direction of any other resources that they may be able to use to complete their work on time. Collaboration and teamwork might be among these resources. 4. Ensure that you are available as the project management leader. Your delegates should be able to come to you with any questions or concerns about the project or their tasks. Furthermore, you must hold them accountable. Require periodic progress reports of your delegates. However, don't be heavy handed about this. A weekly status report should be sufficient, assuming the project will take longer than one week to complete. 5. It is assumed that you are delegating tasks for project management because you don't have the time to do everything on your own. It might be that you are so overwhelmed that you cannot provide explicit instructions for the tasks. If this is the case, you must make sure that you delegate a person as the contact person and the manager of the project. It will be this person's responsibility to be your "right hand" and to provide the specifics to those involved so that there is successful collaboration and teamwork. Sometimes, even the overseeing of a project must be delegated. If at all possible, delegate this to someone with experience managing projects or experience in the type of work that the project requires of the people involved. 6. After you have delegated, remember to keep your hands off as much as possible. Allow those involved in the project creative space. Let them come up with their own ideas, and even make suggestions about how to do things better. What matters is that you get the desired results and project outcome. Of course, you must have the final say in approving changes to things, but there is no need to be tyrannical. 7. In addition to having the weekly status update, have in place a system for reporting on the project. It is important that you have constant access to information on how things are progressing. Make this a non-disruptive system. Those involved in the project should be able to easily record updates without the need to pay you a visit. They are not disrupted by this, and you also don't want to have your own schedule constantly disrupted. 8. Keep a log for yourself concerning who is doing which tasks. Note all status reports and recorded details on progress in your log. Keeping the log keeps your mind fresh about the project even as it allows you to double-check any details. 9. Don't neglect to give praise and credit when tasks are completed properly and on time, or when there is good progress being made on a task. Workers need positive feedback when they are doing things right. Not only do they deserve it, but positive feedback also keeps them focused, keeps them motivated, and helps them to understand what they should be doing. As you can see, there is much to successful delegation for successful project management. Delegation is not a simple thing. It requires thought, understanding of a project's requirements, and an understanding of those who work under you. Collaboration and teamwork will fall into place if proper delegation is done from the outset. Through proper delegation, you guide a project through to its desired results. You do this without needing to micro-manage or giving yourself headaches. All concerned are happier and the project turns out the way that everyone desires. How Do You Deliver Bad News About Your Project? Get the PDF Version By Jennifer Whitt 2 Apr 2011 We know the expression "Don't Kill the Messenger" indicates that the person delivering the bad news is not the same person responsible for causing the bad news. In our day-to-day activity as Project Managers we find that the recipient of bad news (managers, project stakeholders, and customers) sometime forgets this and react inappropriately. It is a given that the Project Manager is responsible for the success of their project. However, there are events that arise that may be entirely out of anyone's control. For example; shifts in management at a client could introduce delays, or new technology is taking longer to implement than anticipated. Add to this the role that the PM plays as Risk Manager on reporting issues that have the potential of turning into bad news, and the messenger can turn into someone that nobody likes to see. This is not a good position to be in. Over the years, I've watched three different approaches PMs have used to deliver bad news: The Grenade: This is where the messenger walks into a crowded room (typically full of executives), delivers the bad news with all of its horrendous consequences without any warning, and then leaves. This is totally unacceptable, ineffective and not sustainable...primarily for the PM's career. The Silent Treatment: This is where the messenger chooses NOT to deliver the message. The reasoning may be that they feel the problem will resolve itself, or they don't want to deal with the subsequent activity necessary to resolve the situation. This approach is not recommended. The Trial Balloon: This has been the most effective method I've seen used. The messenger meets with a couple of stakeholders at a time, laying out the facts of the situation with a "let me pass something by you" approach. This allows for additional options to be considered, further information to be introduced (for example, more resources may be available that the PM did not know were available) and crafting of the final message to occur prior to introducing it to the entire group. The result is that the messenger doesn't stand alone, multiple options have been considered, and the bad news is not sensationalised. Delivering bad news about your project is an inevitable part of our jobs as Project Managers. It takes discretion, skill and good judgment on how to effectively deliver bad news without leaving a path of destruction behind. When in Doubt...Leave it Out Get the PDF Version By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP 16 Mar 2011 Imagine you are sitting in your car, wondering, what shall I do for dinner? Shall I pick up Chinese food to go? Meet my friend Sally for dinner, or go home and cook dinner myself while watching American Idol? All of a sudden you are sitting there, frozen in time, unable to make a decision about what to do for dinner. And this is one of the easier choices in life. Don't be upset. Indecision can happen to anyone, and often occurs when you least expect it. The pause that takes place when you are in the midst of making any important (or not so important) decision is like a comma in your life, separating one idea from the next, and one task from another. And like anyone who has passed the third grade knows, the comma rule states: "When in Doubt, Leave it Out!" This rule can be applied similarly to life's frozen moments of indecision. When it doubt, leave that pause out. Now, I'm not encouraging you to stop making decisions all together. I'm talking about the decisions that take an inordinately long time to process. Some of the reasons that we succumb to prolonged indecision are the following: Parkinson's Law: Work Expands to Fill the Time Available for its Completion When you have to make a decision, give yourself a time limit on when you will have to come up with your final choice. Some of the hardest decisions are the ones that linger because they have no time limit. You wouldn't tell your project team to decide who will be creating the WBS for various tasks without giving them a deliverable date. Use this same discipline in our own decision making process by giving yourself a time frame in which to make a decision, and holding yourself accountable to this. Too Many Options Options are fantastic when you are in an ice cream parlor. Options can rear their ugly head when they are abundant and when the benefits of each are unclear. In the case of ice cream, you are pretty much guaranteed to be satisfied no matter which option you choose. But what if you are deciding among various vendors to fulfill a certain task of a project, and you have so many that its hard to see the forest through the trees anymore? This is when you have to develop a systematic rating system to help you objectively assess your options without getting lost in details. Tasks are of Equal Importance The typical rule of thumb for tasks at hand it to do the most important and urgent tasks first, and work your way down, putting out fires as you go. A dilemma arises when you have a variety of tasks to perform, and they all have around the same urgency level (whether they are all of high urgency or all of low urgency). There you find yourself again, frozen in indecision, wondering what you should do first. The bad news is that there is no right answer to this question. The good news is that there is no wrong answer, either. If you have a list of tasks to do that have the same priority, convert your anxiety into action and just START. Waiting for More Information Many times we postpone making decisions because we are waiting to gather more information. I have always followed the philosophy of "Ready, Fire, Aim." In most cases, you will never have all the information that you need to make a decision, but rather need to use the knowledge and resources that you have to do the best you can, and modify your tasks as you go. The hardest part of most tasks is just getting started, so stop waiting, and start doing! And remember, decisions made too soon tend to have to get made again. Make your decisions when the time is right to make that decision and not before. Tune into how and when you make your best decisions. Use this information to help you learn how to make better decisions. 12 Tips for Being a Good Manager Get the PDF Version By PMAlliance 22 Nov 2010 Keeping a project management team running smoothly can be a challenge, especially when budgets are lean and expectations are high. Every manager needs to figure out the best way to lead and motivate, but a few baseline principles will keep you pointed down the right path. 1. Know Your Role While you may be the leader of the group, your primary concern must be the group itself. Even if you're a hands-on manager, remember you're also there to coach, evaluate, and mentor. Make time to attend to each of these areas regularly. 2. Understand the Value of Your Employees You can't accomplish your team's objectives by yourself, so work hard to help your employees do their jobs. Remove obstacles, work through glitches, and fight for the resources your employees need to achieve success. 3. Keep Fairness in Mind Avoid playing favourites or putting your own ambitions above those of your team, because people are quick to sniff out words and actions that are unfair or self-serving. You'll still need to make unpopular decisions from time-to-time, but you'll retain your team's respect. 4. Treat Your Employees Like Adults Few things undermine respect and enthusiasm as quickly as being criticised, disciplined, or embarrassed in public. Allow employees the courtesy of carrying out sensitive discussions in private, give them the benefit of the doubt when mistakes occur, and never lose sight of their individual career goals. 5. Look for Each Member's Strengths and Leverage Them By utilising an employee's natural strengths to their full potential, you'll not only allow the employee to feel a tremendous sense of value and accomplishment, you'll also be giving your team the benefit of those skills. 6. Encourage Success When an employee accomplishes a tough goal or really pulls out a win, seize on it. Let the rest of the team know about the accomplishment, look for other ways to repeat the success on future projects, and keep an eye out for opportunities that would allow the employee to help mentor others to achieve similar results. 7. Give Prompt, Direct, and Useful Feedback Without it, your employees will become frustrated that their efforts aren't paying off, and you'll be equally exasperated because your team isn't reaching its potential. 8. Focus on Long-term Success Don't expect employees to learn new skills, modify behaviours, or improve their performance overnight. Instead, work on small changes here and there, and you'll find solid long-term results. 9. Use Mistakes as a Learning Tool Once you've worked with the team to correct an error, shift your focus to helping them understand how the mistake occurred, what signposts they missed originally, and how they can avoid repeating the same mistake later. 10. Realise That You Aren't an Expert in Everything If you have a team member with more expertise in a particular area, don't try to hide or mitigate it-celebrate it! Successful teams combine each member's specific talents into a high- performing whole, and any ego or insecurities you bring to the table will only undermine that. 11. Delegate, and Then Get Out of the Way By stepping back and allowing your employees to do their jobs, you'll instil in them greater confidence and a higher degree of accountability. You'll also be supporting their efforts to increase their skills sets and improve their decision-making capabilities. 12. Be a Cheerleader You should be your employees' biggest fan and strongest supporter. Ensure that your executive team is aware of your group's accomplishments, work with senior staff members to gain recognition for the team's successes, and be diligent in rewarding individual achievers with promotions when appropriate. 14 Ways to Be the World's Worst Web Project Manager Get the PDF Version By Chris Roane 18 Aug 2010 There are a great number of ways to manage website projects, but regardless of your management style, there are behaviours that you should learn to avoid as much as possible. Steering clear of these pitfalls will not only allow you to get through projects on time and on budget, but will leave a very good impression on your clients, and win you more work in the future. 1. Let Interruptions Dictate Your Schedule Too often we allow ourselves to be distracted from what we need to be focusing on right now. Mostly it's unnecessary to jump on every new e-mail immediately; issues can usually wait until we're done with the current task. As a project manager, you'll most likely be in charge of multiple projects and employees at the same time. It's important to have a system that allows you to have a lot on your plate and still be on top of things. This could include creating a priority list when you check your e- mail/voicemail messages, or when you're available for meetings. The key here is to make sure you get done what needs to be done. Tim Ferriss wrote a great blog post on the topic called 'The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now'; I highly recommend you check it out. 2. Don't Communicate Clearly With Your Clients The way you communicate through e-mail and voicemail will be reflected in how clients perceive you. This can include both the clarity and conciseness of your writing, as well as spelling and grammar. Often I'll re-read an e-mail three to five times before I send it out, just to make sure I catch any remaining glitches. Keep in mind that clients typically respond better to shorter e-mails and voicemails. Write short, focused messages that communicate key information and action points. Sometimes you need a long e-mail to clearly explain an involved concept or process, but as a general rule make a consistent effort to trim the fat. When I have a choice between a phone call and an e-mail, I usually stick to e-mails, as they provide a communication trail that I can access later on. This is especially valuable when dealing with clients who are busy and forget to read the e-mail, because you can go back and resend it at a later time if necessary. 3. Keep Your Clients Guessing Nobody likes to feel out of the loop. The more time you spend in making it clear to your clients what your team is working on, the more they'll appreciate your work. All this usually takes is an e-mail letting them know what you achieved today or in the last few days, and what your team is going to work on next. I also find this is a great opportunity to remind the client of anything you're still waiting to receive from them (content or images, for example), and the timeframe within which you need to receive it in order to avoid holding up your process. 4. If You're Not Going to Meet a Deadline, Don't Tell the Client As I outlined in the previous point, this scenario can be prevented by doing a good job of keeping the client in the loop. If you do find you're going to be unable to meet a deadline, make it very clear to the client why this is happening. Say that you originally thought that integrating a new API was going to take two hours, and it ended up taking eight hours. The client should be made aware of this as soon as it happens. You could word it like this: "We originally thought integrating X was going to take 2 hours, but we had issues making their examples work and it ended up taking much longer than we anticipated. I do apologise for the delay, but we'll do our best in making up the lost time." The client should be made aware of any delays that will affect a deadline well before that deadline. If you end up telling the client this on the day of the deadline, then you've spent too little time planning and communicating to the customer what your team is doing or of any delays you've encountered. 5. Always Underestimate the Resources Needed for a Project The scenario: Client A wants a website "just like Facebook," but is only willing to pay $5,000 for it. We think we can cut a few corners to make this happen, and so we agree to do it for $5,000 to keep the client happy. What happens is that the project takes much more time than we'd originally thought it would, and either our company ends up wearing the cost of the extra time spent on the project, or we displease the client when they receive a finished product at odds with what they expected. This can be prevented by doing a good job in estimating the time and cost of each element in a project, and being honest about the scenario when speaking with the client. If your client thinks you can build a site like Facebook for $5,000, perhaps you could be doing a better job helping them understand how much time goes into various elements of site design and development. Another option is to present them with a realistic estimate of what can be done with their proposed budget, and possibly come up with a plan that includes a series of development phases. This way, they can kick-start their project with the budget they have, and then expand on it later when more funds are available. 6. If a Client is Being Rude, Respond in Kind It's always in the best interest of your company to be professional. If a client is growing agitated over the phone, it's advisable to say something like: "I'm sorry to hear that this is happening. My team will look into it immediately and get back to you." Having a shouting match with your client will usually end badly, and could potentially land you in trouble with your boss. Knowing when you're becoming too worked up takes a level of maturity and professionalism. By realising your error at the time, you can make amends to turn the situation around and please the customer. 7. Never Admit to Making a Mistake Most clients won't be upset with you if you make a mistake, as long as you're honest about it and take steps to avoid the same problem happening again. They understand that you're human and will make mistakes. The key is to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again; otherwise, your apologies will be hollow. Usually, just explaining to the client in an e-mail what happened is enough to satisfy them. Making sure to fix the issue immediately will give you bonus points in the eyes of your client, because that communicates that you care about what you do. If you're giving your client access to an area that you're still working on, or that you know has bugs, you should clearly communicate to them that it's a staging area, and that your team is still ironing out the bugs. If there are major bugs, it's a good idea to let the client know about them specifically, so that they won't have a panic attack when they come across them. 8. Shift Blame to Someone on Your Team If you're a project manager, you're responsible for your team. If a team member makes a mistake and you fail to catch it before the client, it's ultimately your fault. Your instinct to shift blame might come from trying to protect the client's image of you personally, but more frequently it will have the opposite effect. Trying to shift responsibility for mistakes just makes it look like you're not paying attention to your team's work. You should, however, still talk to the team member about their mistake. But think about it from the client's perspective: they just need to know that you're in control of your team. The occasional slipup won't hurt the client's perception of you in any significant way. But pay very close attention to the mistakes your team members make, and ensure they're learning from them. Furthermore, each and every person on your team needs to earn your trust, so that you feel comfortable taking full responsibility for their work in your dealings with clients. 9. Don't Double-check Your Team's Work We're all human, and on occasion we'll make mistakes. But part of being a project manager, as I've already outlined, is taking responsibility for the team's work. And that means ensuring that as well as being bug-free, the site also works the way the client expects it to work. Project managers need to connect the dots in ways that their team may miss. Does the gallery do everything the client wants it to do? What exactly is listed for this area in the agreement? Is the site compatible with the major browsers? Running through a simple checklist like this will not only make sure that the project meets the specifications of the agreement, but allows us to improve on the work that our team produces, which ultimately reflects on us. 10. Spend Very Little Time Writing E-mails A quickly written e-mail to which little attention was paid can be easy to misinterpret. You want to ensure that you're clear and concise in your e-mails. If you need the client to send you anything, make sure to outline everything you need in a numbered list. The same goes for any questions you have. This makes it easy for them to respond via e-mail, because they can reference each of your inquiries by number. Never put a bunch of questions or requests in a paragraph, as they'll frequently be missed. If you need to receive an item before you can continue work on part of the project, make this very clear in your communication with the client. In fact, I suggest bringing this up multiple times. If these factors will affect a deadline, make that clear to the client. For example, you could word it as follows: "Please keep in mind that if we're still going to make the 10/10/2010 launch, we'll need to receive the content for the website by 2/10/2010." I always aim to sound gracious when writing to a customer via e-mail. It might take a little bit more time to achieve the right tone, so that you're sure it won't be misread, but avoiding misunderstandings with your clients is well worth the effort. 11. Don't Get to Know Your Team If you're managing a team, it's your responsibility to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team, as a whole and of each member. Managing a project shouldn't be like a game like Russian roulette, where you're never sure what your team is going to produce. As project managers, we need to do put ourselves in a position to succeed. Below are a few questions that may help you: What does this team member's code look like? Will they be able to complete their part of the project on time? How reliable have they been in the past? If they fall behind, what is my backup plan? Does it make sense to have this team member work on a project that is this complicated? Have they worked on other projects with a similar level of responsibility? Will it be more work for me to have them work on this? 12. Assume Your Team is on Schedule A project that was on time last week could suddenly find itself well behind schedule, because an element that you thought was done properly turns out to have been botched, or because a team member misunderstood what needed to be done. Set up firm deadlines for your team, but give them some cushion for any unexpected items that arise. Make sure that your team members clearly communicate with you if they're unable to meet a deadline, and train them to do this long before the deadline arrives. Make it very clear that you're okay with them asking you questions on a project, and that you would rather have them ask more questions than to assume. With a big project, this becomes even more important, because being behind in one area could affect the whole project. Make sure you're doing a solid job on what should be prioritised. If half your team has to wait on one team member to achieve what they need to do, that item should be on top of your priority list so that no time is lost. 13. Don't Create a System to Remind You to Contact Clients If you're managing many different projects, and you have a long list of clients that you've worked with in the past, it's easy to lose track of who's waiting on an e-mail from you. You need some kind of system that allows you to know who you need to contact. This could be as simple as having a folder or label in your e-mail system for e-mails that require a response. That way, when you want to play catch-up, it's very easy to determine who's still to be contacted. It looks extremely bad if you constantly forget to respond to client e-mails, or if you're slow in getting back to people. Even if you're busy, you need to let your clients know when you expect to be able to deal with their query. I have found this method to be very effective, and it gives me some extra time to prioritise and figure out what I need to jump onto next. 14. Come into Meetings Ill-prepared Even if it's difficult to be 100% prepared for everything in a meeting, you should never go into a meeting unsure of what you're going to say when they ask you about specifics on the project. If you're asked for a detail you're unsure of, let them know that you will look into it and get back to them later. Don't make promises that are impossible for you to keep, or that you're unsure about, even if they push you for answers. This includes deadlines and timeframes. In whatever you're talking about, be confident. You're the expert in your field, not the client. But just make sure you're very deliberate in what comes out of your mouth. The main objective of the meeting should be to convince the client that you're in control, and that they made a good choice in going with you. Even if you're behind, or if something went wrong, how you word it can determine the success or failure of the meeting. I have found that in most meetings that happen during the course of a project, the client is mainly looking for reassurance. Do not give them any reason to doubt that it's all under control, and you'll have a happy client who loves to work with you! We all make mistakes, and the area of managing web projects is far from immune to human error. But if we're deliberate in learning from our mistakes, and learn how to improve on what we've done in the past, we can keep our clients, bosses, and team members happy, and lead our projects to success. Trust Me, You Are in Good Hands Get the PDF Version By Ann Drinkwater 8 Aug 2010 Savvy project managers have radar and can sense and predict events and circumstances. Their brains are gigantic magnifying glasses. They see what others don't. If you have someone like this in your organisation or on your team, it may take a bit to acknowledge their abilities and foresight. Once they have several successful, complex projects under their belt with your company, it is time to trust them to do their job. Project managers that take their profession and the PMI code of conduct seriously will always give you 100%, and while you it might not be the news you want to hear, they should deliver the straight scoop. They should also be able to alert you to issues that may occur, AKA risks. While everyone may not personally foresee the issues, we should never discount the suggestions and insight provided by these professionals. We hired these individuals for a reason: 1. Forecast and Anticipate Events. 2. Tap Into Their Arsenal of Experience and Knowledge. 3. Reduce Issues by Following #1 and #2. 4. Assist in the Development of Others. 5. Successfully Manage More Complex Projects, and More of Them. So as project managers, what can we do to ensure our voice is heard and our knowledge is applied? A competent, engaged and intelligent project manager will be able to: 1. Develop a Repository of Project Results Document and showcase successes, failures and the details surrounding. Be humble and intrinsically analyse all situations. Understanding all the variables to failures AND successes is important. 2. Market Your Successes Yes, those in direct contact with us may see the great work we do, but they may not truly understand the significance, obstacles that were overcome or general complexity. We unfortunately tend to only take note when things don't go so well. It is our professional obligation to make others aware of successes. 3. Collect Objective Measures You can't refute numbers and the facts. If you can quantify your successes (percent to budget, schedule, cost savings, etc.), this will speak louder than any other message. 4. Educate Your Organisation The bearer of bad news or potential bad news may not always be viewed the most positively. We aren't paid to make friends and peace, but to achieve business results. We must reinforce this with our organisations, and the fact that we aren't being negative, just properly analysing the situation and controlling our projects. Of course, we should be polite and diplomatic in all communication and establish strong relationships in advance, so our message is better received. 5. Analyse Your Company's Culture Some times, no matter how much you know or how hard you work, others will not allow you to do your magic. If you have given your complete effort to items 1-4, perhaps your organisation is not 'ready' for what you can offer. No one wants to hear this, but as professionals, we must treat our careers as another very important project. This may mean making some hard decisions and making sure we are in the right place. 10 Things Every Manager Should Know Get the PDF Version By Gina Abudi 7 Aug 2010 In working with clients over the years to develop programmes for new supervisors/managers - there are some skills, knowledge and competencies that rise to the top of "must have's" for someone in a management role. These are in no particular order, but all are of equal importance to be successful in a management role. 1. Finance 101: Understand the basics of finance; know how to read a balance sheet, understand how to create a budget. 2. Feedback: Learn how to give constructive feedback; provide those who report to you with feedback on a regular basis about how they are doing. 3. Influence: Effective managers can persuade others to accomplish the organisational goals; just telling someone what to do doesn't work - even if they report to you. The most successful managers are able to influence others to move in the direction they need them to go. 4. Interpersonal understanding: Managers must understand those around them; not just their staff, but their managers and the other department heads/employees. The ability to understand how others think and what's important to them helps to ensure success in accomplishing your goals. 5. Motivate: Learn how to motivate those around you - what's important to your staff? Not everyone is motivated by the same things and a good manager understands their staff and what motivates them to come to work each day and do a good job. 6. Team leadership: Team leadership requires ensuring the team - whether your own staff or others - understand the mission, goals and objectives before them. A strong team leader builds effective teams that can accomplish the goals of the organisation and enables the team to move toward a common goal. 7. Planning: The ability to effectively plan projects is important for any manager. This requires sharing the vision with others, getting them on board, creating plans to implement the vision, and ensuring timelines are met and budgets are managed. 8. Problem solving: Effective managers know how to understand a situation completely - they plan, they don't react. Understanding the root cause of a situation is necessary in order to effective problem solve the issue. 9. Communication - written and verbal: Strong communication skills is required of everyone, and especially of managers. The ability to effective and efficiently communicate changes, plans, next steps, the direction of the organisation, etc. is required to ensure that staff understands where they need to head and how to get there. Effective communication builds trust. 10. Organisational awareness: It's important to understand how things happen within the organisation and how things get done. What are the informal paths involved in meeting goals. What is the culture of the organisation? How do departments work with each other? This "insider knowledge" about the organisation is key to the effectiveness of the manager and ensures the ability to get things accomplished. In addition, no matter what your role - there are some core values that are of importance for everyone, including: Honesty and integrity. Focus on the customer. Respect for others. Cultural awareness. So much more can be added to this list! What would you add? What's important for managers to ensure they are successful? 5 Things Project Management is Not Get the PDF Version By Joelle Godfrey, PMP 2 Jun 2010 "Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements." PMBOK, 4th Edition Right. If I were reading this definition to make a decision about becoming a project manager, it would totally leave me cold. The term Project Management itself has a kind of vague, undefined shape to it that always leaves me reaching for an image when people ask me, 'What is it, exactly, that you do?' Phrases like: Planning high Frustration Failed plans Backup plans Exhilaration Life changing Completion All go through my head and generally, at the end, out pops: Herding cats. Sometimes you get a clearer definition of a thing by defining what it is not. From my experience, I have found that Project Management is not: 1. An activity where you create your plan and watch it play out perfectly until the Project Complete milestone. The best laid plans...and Man plans and God laughs all fit here. Sometimes when thing seem the most straightforward, there is an expected turn to events. To be honest, that's why I love project management. 2. Just PMBOK Tools & Techniques Following PMBOK's Tools & Techniques without looking carefully at what suits your project and the environment can get you into trouble too. The PMBOK is a collection of best practices that can help you deliver your project, not a rule book. 3. Loading up projects and people with meaningless process that hinders the work Not every process needs to be used on every project. Some process is good, so that we can get out of our own way. Too much process can seem like make work that prevents people from getting the work done. 4. Being in control: Unless by control you mean being inside quality control limits The best project managers that I've known lead, cajole, cheerlead and sometimes direct, but they are never dictators. They work in concert with their teams. Besides, any time you think you are in control, the Universe will very clearly let you know with a twist in the project that you are not. 5. Just schedule tracking Tracking the schedule is absolutely necessary to successfully delivering the project, but it's just a part of being successful. The schedule is just an indicator of everything else that should be happening: Communication, Risk management, Stakeholder management, etc. I'm not sure that my list of 5 things that Project Management is not sheds any more light on what I do for a living, but it does present a picture of what I don't do. Care to share yours?