How to get people to take action as a result of your documents

Posted by Elizabeth

bigstock E learning education or intern 47354347 300x225 How to get people to take action as a result of your documentsDo you have problems with people not reading your project documents? It’s really frustrating when you send out documents for comment and then find that the people you sent them to don’t read them. Or have any recollection of receiving them.

One of the best ways that I have found to avoid this happening is to make sure people know what is expected of them when they receive an email from you with a document attached. If you don’t spell out what you are waiting for then it’s really unlikely that you’ll get it, so you have to make it clear for stakeholders. There are 4 statuses that I use when issuing project documents to the rest of the team. Read more »

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4 Options for building your project plan

Posted by Elizabeth

bigstock Project Management 42694993 300x210 4 Options for building your project planThere are many ways to create a project plan, although most project managers will automatically think of using project management software to build a Gantt chart. This is a bar graph that displays tasks down the side and dates across the top. You can also add in additional information in columns like dependencies and resource names. While the Gantt chart is a popular and professional way to prepare your project plan, it’s not your only option.

Below are the pros and cons of 4 different options for building a project plan, including project management software. Read more »

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The two facets of change management

Posted by Elizabeth

Managing change is part of every project manager’s job. There is (or there should be) a structured process to follow to ensure that every change is logged, assessed and a decision made about whether it should be incorporated into the project or not. When the change management process is working well it isn’t difficult to get changes into the system, although it might be difficult to implement them once the decision has been taken to go ahead with whatever is being changed!

When you have got agreement to make a change, there are two things that you should consider, and these aren’t part of the change management process as you will see it defined in many places. They are the need to mitigate the impact and the requirement to effectively communicate. Let’s look at those in a bit more detail.facets of change 300x171 The two facets of change management

1. Mitigate

A project change obviously changes something on a project. It could be:

  • Removing something from scope
  • Adding something into scope
  • Amending delivery dates
  • Changing quality criteria

Or anything else that alters what you originally agreed to do on the project. All changes pose a risk to the project. Your neat, structured plan is going to change and that will affect the team and potentially third party suppliers or other groups too. So one of the important things to do with a new change is to mitigate the risk to the project.

You can do this in several ways. Read more »

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5 Reasons to use mind mapping software

Posted by Elizabeth

bigstock Inspiration concept crumpled p 48155009 300x200 5 Reasons to use mind mapping softwareI don’t use mind mapping software often because I nearly always have a notebook and pen with me and prefer to take notes that way. I also ‘think in lists’ rather than visually so mind mapping isn’t a natural structure for me to use. I have sat next to people at conferences who have mind mapped a presentation instead of taking linear notes like me and it is fascinating to watch.

However, recently I’ve been looking into it more. I have less time available (doesn’t everyone?) and it is more convenient to take notes directly into a software tool so I don’t have to retype them when I get back to the office or out of the meeting. And running workshops really does need some kind of mind mapping tool when you are trying to generate ideas from the people in the room. So I’ve been considering why I would use the modern type of mind mapping product and come up with these 5 reasons. Read more »

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Who does what in project communications?

Posted by Elizabeth

presentation 300x206 Who does what in project communications?If you are anything like me, you probably deal with all the project communications yourself. That’s because it’s a rare (and large) project that has a full-time communications professional seconded to the team. It is far more likely that you have no communications budget and are expected to tell everyone about the project, create buy in and manage the communications on top of managing the project. And as the person who knows the most about the project, it is usually the project manager who takes on this role.

But you don’t have to be responsible for communicating everything or doing all the project comms work yourself. Part of your communication strategy and plan should be to work out who is going to do what on the project – the roles and responsibilities. You’d do this for other areas of the project so why not communications?

Here is a starter for 10 about who should be doing what on the project. Of course, you’ll need to adapt this to your own team and make it suitable for your project, but it might help you get started and prompt a discussion with your colleagues.

The project manager is responsible for:

  • Stakeholder analysis, involving the rest of the project team as appropriate
  • Managing relationships with stakeholders
  • Communications planning – preparing the plan with input from the rest of the team and communication experts such as your internal Marketing or PR department as required
  • Setting the project’s key messages that need communicating, in conjunction with the sponsor
  • Preparing communication materials (depends on your project, but it is likely that the project manager will end up preparing some if not all of the communication materials such as newsletters, email bulletins, etc). My latest ebook can help you prepare good project status reports, which are another form of communication, if you need any guidance on how to get your message across.

The project sponsor is responsible for:

  • Communications strategy: while the project manager might actually document this, the sponsor should set the overall strategic approach for the project and ensure it is in line with the business case and benefits
  • Setting the project’s key messages that need communicating, in conjunction with the project manager
  • Managing stakeholder relationships with the senior, C-suite or executive stakeholders, plus any relevant external groups
  • Signing off or approving communication materials before they are used.

The Project Management Office is responsible for:

  • Sourcing and sharing templates for communication work e.g. comms strategy, comms plan, newsletter template in standard corporate format etc
  • Ensuring communications stick to corporate or departmental guidelines about style, brand etc.
  • Being a sounding board if the project manager needs any advice on best practice for project communications planning
  • Sharing lessons learned of what worked on other projects so the project manager can adopt or avoid these practices
  • Supporting the tools used for communication planning such as DropMind for preparing mindmaps of your communication approach and plans.

If you are lucky enough to have someone on the project team who just does project communications (even if they are only part-time) then be very grateful! They can take on a lot of this work, liaising with the right people at the right time to get the message across. If the burden of project communication falls to you as the project manager, don’t worry – you can get everything done with the right tools and support from your colleagues. Setting out the roles and responsibilities for yourself, the sponsor, the PMO and the others on the team is a good start and ensures the work is spread out evenly with no duplication of effort.

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