I wish project teams worked well together from Day 1 but experience shows this isn’t the case. At all, some of the time. Here are 6 behaviours to watch out for in your project team and some things that you can do to manage these behaviours and attitudes before they start to cause problems on your team.
Arrogance is a dangerous trait because it is directly attributable to missing risks. If you feel that you are untouchable and you have everything you need on your project, then you aren’t going to be on the lookout for that one risk that will knock your whole project over.
Watch out for arrogance in your team members (and yourself). It’s easy enough to spot because people start to feel as if the rules don’t apply to them, that ‘nothing will go wrong’, that they have everything under control and they show excessive confidence. Of course, there is nothing wrong with confidence as long as it is built on fact and is constantly reassessed as the project environment changes.
Complacency is similar to arrogance in that people stop questioning what is going on. There is a general sense of smugness that the individual’s work in on track. They are happy in their work and secure in the ‘knowledge’ that nothing is going wrong. This also leads to a lack of critical analysis of the work in hand and a full appreciation of the project risks.
Project managers always try to accomplish two goals when managing a project: save time and money. However, project managers know this isn’t always easy or possible, depending on the project…and the customer. The good news is there is a lot a project manager can do on the front end of projects in order to increase the likelihood of reaching these goals as well as successfully delivering a quality product.
Proper planning. The success of every project, regardless of how complex, risky, and costly, starts with proper planning during the development phase. Properly gathering requirements, managing expectations with the customer, and estimating time, costs, and resources can go a long way in setting the tone and success of a project.
Unfortunately, too many project managers struggle with this phase of the project due to a lack of time and resources, which only results in project teams scrambling to finish a project. We all know this can be a recipe for disaster that results in poor communication and poor deliverables.
Gathering requirements. A great deal of work goes into this phase at the front end of the project, and it is one of the most important steps in the project life cycle. After all, how do you know what purpose the project will serve if you don’t properly identify the requirements? Gathering requirements often means asking questions that surround a project’s purpose. Being able to identify and describe all project stakeholders is crucial in properly gathering requirements.
Managing expectations. After gathering requirements, project managers should also properly manage expectations with customers. This is another area that is difficult to manage mostly due to communication. How a customer might perceive the end result of a project might be different than how a project manager conveys deliverables and the end product. This is another recipe for disaster because ultimately it leads to disappointed or frustrated customers.
Implementing proper modes and channels of communication is the solution here. Communication is one of the most important elements to successful project management. While it is important to implement proper communication tactics and channels throughout teams and suppliers, the same tactics should apply with customers. Obviously the language and vocabulary will differ between audiences, but proper communication will allow project managers to effectively manage customer expectations and ensure the accurate delivery of a project.
Estimating. Estimating is often the least favorite project management step. This step often involves a combination of the above steps…and some math. It can also be difficult to estimate a project’s costs, and even the net price of a particular project, if the project scope isn’t accurately or completely defined during the development phase. This means the project manager needs to work with the customer on a regular basis in order to define the scope so that the development and design steps can begin, and estimating is more accurate.
Finally, saving both time and money on a project is a huge challenge, but it is possible with proper planning, gathering requirements, managing expectations, and thorough estimating. These are the keys to success and wise project management.
Are you a member of your local PMI Chapter? I have been on and off for a few years now and there are a number of benefits that make it worthwhile. If you are thinking about expanding your skills during 2015 then getting involved in your local Chapter could be a great step forward for you. Here are some of the ways that they can support your in your career goals over the year.
If you want to get into project management but don’t have a great deal of experience then volunteering for a project-based organisation like PMI is a good step in the right direction. You can get involved project managing some of the events that the Chapter holds. They might even run a scheme where you can work with local schools or businesses providing volunteer project managers. It’s an easy way to get project experience without having to do it as part of your job. You won’t get paid but you will get experience that can go on your CV and also count towards the professional requirements for qualifications.
If you didn’t work that well as an international project team last year then now is the time to do something about it. Get 2015 off to a great start by sorting out how you are going to work together in a virtual environment now.
1. Time zone awareness
Try to spread team meetings across the day when most people are at work. Avoid it always being one team in one country who has to attend a meeting at an unsocial time. I use TimeAndDate.com to plan my meetings. I still don’t always get it right but at least I’ve got more of a chance with an accurate tool.
2. Use online tools
Pretty much anything that you use for managing your projects with a co-located, national team can also be used in an online version for working with an international, dispersed and virtual team. For example, you don’t have to be restricted to brainstorming in face-to-face workshops. Online mind mapping tools give you the option to use advanced mind mapping systems in a virtual environment and share the output with your team members, wherever they are based.
Ah, the annual buzz of New Year’s resolutions. Every year I talk to project managers around this time and at least half of them tell me that they are going to get a new job. Or at least look for one. Even my own team tell me that they want to expand their horizons and try new things, take on new projects and build their skills. This really is the time of year for reflection and creating new career goals. So if you are part of that group of people who want to grab 2015 and make the most of the next twelve months by securing a new job then here are eight tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Update your CV
First, you must have an up-to-date CV or resume. Start now – dust it off and update it with your relevant experience from 2014. This isn’t optional because as soon as you hear about a good opportunity you want that document to be ready and working for you. You may not have time to spend a few hours updating it prior to sending it off or handing it to someone, so be ready.
It actually doesn’t take that long to update your CV if you do it often. It’s the one career document that should reflect your current experience so make a habit to update it regularly.
While you are at it, update your experience eon your LinkedIn profile too.
Tip #2: Network e.g. with Chapters
Not all jobs are advertised. A good many of them are but you’ll also hear about things on the grapevine if you know what to listen out for. Network actively for jobs and let your network know that you are looking for a new opportunity.
Places like your PMI Chapter meetings are great locations to tap into the local knowledge of hiring managers and people who may be aware of recruitment drives coming up in their companies. Read more »