You know all those other options that pop up when you are creating a task on your project schedule? The ones I normally ignore and just go for the defaults? Well, one of the other options you have when scheduling tasks is to add in the type of constraint.
A constraint is a feature that alters when your task will appear on the schedule. Constraints offer you more choice when it comes to automated scheduling as you can tweak your task dates based on additional information – things the software doesn’t know without you telling it.
There are 8 types of constraint and you should find most, if not all of these, in your scheduling tool. Look under Task Properties or Attributes to find them.
The 8 types are:
- As Soon As Possible
- As Late As Possible
- Start No Earlier Than
- Finish No Earlier Than
- Must Start On
- Must Finish On
- Start No Later Than
- Finish No Later Than
Let’s look at each of those in turn. Read more »
In Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In, Mark Goulston and John Ullmen explain why some of the old techniques that you have been using to influence project stakeholders on your projects may no longer work.
In short, people have become immune to the hard sell-type negotiation tactics. They don’t like being influenced. They are savvy, and they know how the media and other outlets influences them into making certain decisions. And they’ll no longer put up with that kind of behaviour.
It translates well to a project environment as one of the big things that a project manager spends his or her time doing is influencing people. We need people to do things for us, generally because we don’t have line management responsibility for them and have to get them to complete their project activities through other means.
The main concept in Goulston and Ullmen’s book is that we should approach negotiating situations from the point of view of the other person. They call this ‘their there’. Too often we start communications from what they call ‘your here’. They say that this means we start off discussions communicating from our blind spot. It’s basically an approach that says that we have a different take on the situation to the other people involved, and the more we know about what they want, the easier it is to get a solution for everyone. Read more »
There’s enough to think about on projects – paperwork, keeping the team on track, monitoring budgets and schedules. Why should we care about health and safety as well? There’s barely enough hours in the day to manage to get a decent work/life balance, without having to worry about a whole host of regulations that don’t really apply to office-based project teams.
Well, health and safety is applicable to more than only civil engineering and construction projects. Just because your project isn’t going to deliver a new bridge or shopping centre, or the architecture for a fancy new office block, doesn’t mean that health and safety is irrelevant for your project team.
Health & safety for project teams
Office-based project teams may think that there’s no need to worry about health and safety-related topics, but it would be wrong to discount these out of hand. The welfare and well-being of your project team should be your concern as a project manager, and there are a number of considerations, even if you think your working environment is very low risk. For example, dangerous trailing cables, unsafe electrical equipment like printers, blocked fire exits or hazardous chemicals not stored correctly. Here are several of the many reasons why you should address these (or make sure that someone else addresses them).
Although remote working is not utterly ubiquitous, with the rise of the mobile phone, more people than ever currently telecommute, presenting new challenges for business owners everywhere. An estimated 59% of employers offered teleworking in 2011 according to CBI, a sharp increase from 13% in 2006. This is an increase that is almost definitely assisted along by the more robust mobile communication network that we have today.
For all its benefits, remote working can cause confusion and increase opportunities for tasks to slip through the cracks and not be picked up by the right people. As a result, the mobile phone has created new risks and helping to exaggerate existing ones with its rise to prominence.
Business functionality risks
There is a risk that important things will not happen thanks to the mobile phone. Someone working remotely is only going to pick up on every task if your processes and communication abilities are flawless. Can you honestly say that they are?
Internal communications frequently scupper businesses large and small and taking a member of the team out of the office itself can cause an extra strain. It is rare that someone can work truly remotely all of the time and someone only being accessible via smartphone at a critical moment can be an issue.
Although the infrastructure to support smartphone use is mostly there, it is far from perfect and as for the processes that most companies have in place, standard methods of dealing with remote workers are rarely fit for purpose and still break easily.
Last year, Yahoo! made the decision that none of its staff could work from home because they are not as productive when they do. This raised a few eyebrows and sparked a debate that still rears its head from time to time.
The risk of low productivity of staff and team members has always been around, although the smartphone making it easier to work remotely means this can become a much larger issue. Monitoring over-all productivity is something employers would be advised to keep an eye on as it could mean that this particular people issue is brought a bit more to the fore.
Most project managers will answer the question by saying that they only have one project sponsor. This is a great answer – and it is far easier to manage a project with only one sponsor.
But for some projects, we find ourselves managing two (or, infrequently, more) executives who all want the role of sponsor. For example, a project where you are launching new software for the customer service division may have the IT Director as a sponsor (as her team provides the deliverables and manages the work) and the Customer Service Director (as his team is the one which will be using the output when the project is finished).
So who is in charge? Read more »