Category: Tips

5 Ways to wow your sponsor

Posted by Elizabeth Harrin

When you start working with a new project sponsor it’s important to make a good impression. Here are 5 ways to wow them with your project management prowess.

1. Hit your deadlines

Project sponsors – and all managers when you think about it – appreciate someone who delivers what they say they are going to deliver. Hit your deadlines.

If you can’t manage to make your deadlines and deliver your project actions on time, then at least have the courtesy to let them know. It’s poor stakeholder management if you let the dates drift without reporting back that a significant task has passed and you’ve done nothing to notify them.

2. Manage risks away

Risks bother project sponsors. They don’t like risk because it makes the outcome of the project less predictable. They do like project managers who can proactively look at the risks on the table and come up with ways to mitigate them.

Active risk management makes the project much less risky overall. That in turn means it is more likely to meet its objectives and deliver something of value of the stakeholder. It’s unrealistic to expect you to be able to manage away all project risk, but you can have a go! Read more »

What skills do PMs need to lead complex projects?

Posted by Elizabeth Harrin

According to PMI’s Navigating Complexity: A Practice Guide, there are 6 skills that project managers should develop in order to excel at managing complex projects. Let’s take a look at what they are and how you can get them.


Complex projects benefit from a project manager who has domain knowledge. Subject matter expertise can really help as it’s based on real-life, practical experience of this industry sector or discipline.

How do I get it? Expertise is gained over a long period of time. It relies on carrying forward the learning from one project to another and working in a domain for a while. You can speed up the process by getting a mentor, reading and researching lessons learned from other domain experts and working on several projects concurrently. But really, expertise comes with time. Read more »

How to spot a priority project

Posted by Elizabeth Harrin

I was on the train recently and noticed the sticker announcing that the seats near the door were for priority customers: those with mobility problems, pregnant women and those with infants. Then it went on: “Please remember that the need for this seat may not be immediately obvious.”

Priority projects might not look obvious either. The projects that are the top of the list may not appear that exciting from the outside. Here’s how you spot a priority project.

They enable something else

Some projects aren’t glamorous in themselves. Think, for example, of a network upgrade. That doesn’t sound very “priority”. It’s infrastructure, it has probably been planned for a few years as the relevant team would have been aware that the kit was coming to end of life. It’s not wildly expensive or likely to make headlines.

But without the network, the underlying infrastructure, you can’t deliver anything else. That e-commerce project would fail as response times for customers would be too slow. The secure project management tool you want to roll out wouldn’t perform well and project teams would get frustrated, going back to their old tools and wasting the investment. There are plenty of other examples I’m sure you can think of too: without the network to enable the other projects, the other projects are dead in the water.

That’s why enabling projects can be the top priority. Read more »

6 Behaviours to watch in your project team

Posted by Elizabeth Harrin

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.

1. Arrogance

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.

2. Complacency

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.

Read more »

What your PMI Chapter Can Offer You

Posted by Elizabeth Harrin

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.

Volunteer experience

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.

Read more »