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Some tips and tricks to help get certified

Taking exams can be nerve racking at the best of times, regardless if you are looking at obtaining project management certifications such as PMP, Prince2 etc., or furthering your education in any field. The one aspect which cannot be denied is being prepared and that goes for most things in life. There can be other factors which can assist with being prepared to take that exam and the following are some tips and tricks which you may consider using before taking that test.

Reading through some of the tips and tricks may seem like common sense, and you will work out that most things normally relate to what is common sense, but we are all different and there could be some elements which may have not been considered as an opportunity to remember an answer to a possible question. To that end, the following are a few tricks which have been of assistance to people I have spoken to over the years, and you may find them useful, and possibly apply to certification exams.

Attempt the easy questions first, don’t spend too much time working out the answer to the complex question first, save the time. No matter the question, there are always some clues and sections that are easier than others. Possibly use those to help answer harder ones and to build confidence. Leave answers blank when unsure, and only lightly pencil in those partly known.

So when applying this method during a certification exam, skip hard questions and leave them blank the first or second time through your exam. Exam creators like to put hard questions near the beginning to test understanding. It is easy to spend 10 or more minutes on early difficult questions, which leaves precious little time for the remainder. Skip them! As, difficult questions are easier the second or third time through.

When an answer is not evident, then rely on patterns to figure out the answer. So applying this in exam conditions, look for distracters (e.g., oxymoron like “assumption constraint”) to spot incorrect answers. Look for answers that have 3 commonalities between them and one that does not (odds are good that is the correct answer, but not always.) Wording from one question can help you with others.

Ensure that the question has been comprehended correctly, so interpretation is extremely important. Exam writers want more than someone who can recall the answer, but think of it instead. For instance, suppose a question is encountered that makes common sense but contradicts your understanding. An example of this can be, and this during preparation to take the PMP exam, a question regarding paying bribes to get a project approved in a foreign country where the practice is common was asked. That option would not be the correct answer because it violates the PM Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide®).

Consider using multiple iterations to complete answers, unless you love doing tests, and it is a common occurrence for you, this is not the case for the rest of us. Prepare by doing two or three iterations of reading through and answering questions on the exam. Follow rule number one that is leave blank every hard answer encountered on the first read-through. Flag any questions partly sure, as mentioned in rule number 2. Doing practice exams also enables discussions, and it is during these discussions that you work out that changing an answer or two can lead to discovery that the first answer was correct after all. Ensure this does not happen to you during the exam. Leave answers blank until you are sure of them.

The best guess, not very scientific, but at times a fall back, especially when time is almost up and there are still unanswered questions. There is no penalty for guessing, only for not answering a question. Try to pace yourself, so time management is a must so you don’t have make an educated guess on too many questions. If you are seriously close to the end, put down any answer. When in serious doubt, and this may be a myth, but the answer “b” occurs most often in exams. Not entirely sure if this is true but putting answer “b” on say five blank answers probably ensures you get one or two of them correct.

It is understood, that one common denominator among virtually all students is exam anxiety. It is very common, and if nothing else this was to provide you with more than one approach in combating it.  It would be great to hear from you and please share your own tips and tricks that have worked.

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Project Timelines, a step in the right direction

Project Timeline

A project timeline is a visual list of tasks or activities placed in chronological order, which lets project managers view the entirety of the project in one place. Building timelines allows the project manager to visualize and collaborate on projects. Typically taking the form of a horizontal bar chart, where each task is given a name and a corresponding start and end date. It also provides an in-depth overview of the entire project from start to finish.

A project timeline can be priceless for a project team, but they can be challenging to make by hand or even in Excel. Fortunately, project timeline software can create an interactive timeline in just a few clicks.

Project timelines provide an opportunity to:

  • Organize their tasks
  • Show when in the project the tasks start
  • View task deadlines
  • Link dependent tasks
  • Break the project into phases
  • Identify team members assigned to a task

Project timelines are very important for the successful delivery of a project; the following are steps for a thorough project timeline,

  • Write a project scope statement: A scope statement outlines the tasks, milestones and deliverables for the project. It’s an essential part of the project management plan and it has all the information needed for a project plan timeline.
  • Make a work breakdown structure (WBS): Use this graphic tool to break down the project scope into smaller work packages. The WBS provides a visual and organizes the project’s tasks, milestones and deliverables by hierarchy to establish a chronological order
  • Identify task dependencies: Once tasks are identified, determine which of those activities are dependent on other tasks to start or end
  • Estimate task duration: Make a reasonable time estimate for each task. This is a critical step to create the project management timeline, and determine the time required to complete the project
  • Define deadlines: Determine how much time the team can spend on each task
  • Set milestones: Milestones are important dates that mark the end of one phase and the beginning of the next, which makes them an important component of a project management timeline. Milestones are reached by completing task sequences and deliverables

Project management timelines can take many different forms with varying levels of efficacy. They can be drawn by hand, or on a whiteboard, but this method is inflexible and large changes to the project might require scrapping the entire timeline.

Using a spreadsheet loaded up with macros can make for very capable, if time consuming to create, timeline. A project timeline excel template can save the effort and time it takes to create the spreadsheet. However, such macro-heavy Excel sheets can prove difficult to maintain for larger projects.

To run projects effectively and efficiently, project managers prefer project timeline software that integrates their tasks with an interactive, feature-rich Gantt chart that can schedule, assign tasks, monitor progress and report on performance. Project timeline software is more versatile than project timeline templates because it allows project managers to easily update the timeline and keep track of tasks with dashboards and reports.

As stated, software is commonly used by project managers to create their project plan timelines. Project timeline software is an integral part of the planning process and often includes additional features that help to monitor progress when executing the project.

Using project timeline software is generally regarded as a necessity for keeping a modern project on schedule. It allows managers and teams to see the status of their tasks; that is, whether they’re in progress, overdue or done.

At its most basic, project timeline software creates a graphic representation of the project on a timeline with tasks and milestones plotted across. Tasks can be assigned start and end dates, and display a duration bar that indicates the planned amount of time to complete the tasks. More powerful software offerings can also include further options to manage tasks. There are many applications to choose from so select one that works best for you and the team.

Online project timeline software offers a centralized data repository in which everyone involved in the project can access the project timeline and other critical project documents and data. This means that managers and teams can access the project timeline when they need to, even if they’re working different shifts and located in different time zones.

Every project is impacted by the triple constraint of time, cost and scope. To start controlling the time and scope part of that important triangle, create a project timeline during the planning stage.

The project timeline helps everyone on the project team by giving them a roadmap of where they are, and where they should be, at every point in the project. Timelines and schedules are essential to execute the project plan.

Tasks are given start and end dates and show on the timeline as a line connecting two points in time. If some of those tasks are dependent on another to start or finish, these task dependencies can be indicated on the project timeline as well.

This assists a manager by keeping those dependencies visible and preventing possible bottlenecks that could block the time during the execution of the tasks.

Milestone feature is used to break up a larger project management timeline into more manageable phases. Milestones mark the end of one phase and the beginning of a new stage of the project. They can also be used to indicate any important dates or deadlines in the project.

Communication is the common thread that ties together all aspects of managing a project, and it is a core pillar in maintaining a project timeline. A timeline is only as good as the schedule it reflects. As that schedule changes, and it will, the timeline must change with it.

Project changes can come from various places via external issues, such as whether there is a disruption in supply chain, which causes delays. If and when this happens, keep the timeline current.

Communication can help changes are updated by staying in touch with suppliers, for example. Other changes can come from stakeholders whose expectations alter. To manage project timeline more effectively, schedule presentations with stakeholders to keep them updated on progress and to field any questions or requests they might have about the project.

In order to facilitate communication, project timeline has to be shareable. The team needs a copy to know when the tasks they’re assigned to execute must be completed within the project timeframe.

Stakeholders also need to have the project timeline. They are invested in the success of the project and want to know the big picture as it moves from stage to stage. To keep them updated, you’ll need to have them shared on current copies of the project timeline.

How to share the project timeline depends on the tool you’re using. If you use a project timeline template it can be printed and distributed. Obviously, this isn’t ideal. As noted, projects change and the last thing you want is to have multiple copies of various iterations floating around.

If a digital tool is used, then export the project management timeline and save it as a PDF. This can then be printed out or emailed to whoever needs it. The timeline is still a static document, but can be named by date and avoid confusing it with an older version.

Project timelines allow for organization of all activities that make up a project, in order. Create milestones, set deadlines, and manage tasks and more— all in one easy to view location. Share your thoughts with us, we would like to hear your timeline approach.  All the very best on your project management journey.

Steps to a robust project budget

Project Budget

Let’s face it, projects cost money, and proper money management requires strong budgeting to ensure everything goes according to plan. There are direct and indirect costs, fixed and variable costs, labor and materials, travel, equipment, rent and more, capturing each item can be a challenge. Invariably an item arises from left field to add to the financial complexity.

Without sufficient funds, the project will not be completed successfully, regardless of how hard you try. That’s why project planning and budget is so important: it’s the lifeblood of the project. To assist you in securing the funds necessary to support the project through every phase, there are steps which should be taken.  

A project budget is the total projected costs needed to complete a project over a defined period of time. It’s used to estimate what the costs of the project will be for every phase of the project.

The project budget will include such things as labor, material procurement and operating costs. But it’s not a static document; the project budget will be reviewed and revived throughout the life of the project.

The budget is needed because projects cost money, but it’s more than just that. The budget is the engine that drives project’s funding, communicates to stakeholders how much money is needed and when it’s needed.

But it’s not only a means to get things a project requires, such as a team, equipment etc. it’s also an instrument to control project costs. The budget is a plan, which acts as a baseline to measure performance as the actual costs are collected once the project has been started.

To meet all the financial needs of the project, a project budget must be created thoroughly, not missing any aspect that requires funding. To do this, there are seven essential steps towards creating and managing project budget:

The use of historical data, looking back at similar projects and their budgets is a great way to get a head start on building a budget. To further elaborate on historical data, learn from their successes and mistakes. It provides a clear path that leads to more accurate estimates. It may also cover how changes were addressed to keep the budget under control.

Another resource to build a project budget is to tap those who have experience and knowledge—be they mentors, other project managers or experts in the field. Reaching out to those who have created budgets can help a project stay on track and avoid unnecessary pitfalls.

Once the budget information is available, there is still some work to do, take a look at it and make sure figures are accurate. During the project is not the time to find a typo. Also a good time to seek those experts and other project team members to check the budget and make sure it’s right.

The project budget is the baseline by which progress will be measured once started. It is a tool to gauge the variance of the project. It is best to re-baseline as changes occur in the project. Once the change control board approves any change it will need to be re-baselined.

It is best to update the budget in real time when or if a change needs to be addressed. The use of cloud based software is helpful here otherwise valuable time is wasted.

Things change and projects go off track all the time. It’s the projects that get back on track faster that tend to be successful.

Managing project expenses using these building blocks should be a sound foundation for project’s success.

It’s clear that building an accurate budget is key to setting up a project for success. A well-put-together budget isn’t just for managing money. It can also act as a baseline to measure performance against the actual costs of the project as they become apparent. Let us know how you put together your project budgets; we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.

Timesheet and benefits to the project

Project Management and Timesheets

Don’t underestimate the benefit and use of timesheets to track vendors and internal resources alike. As the name suggests they record the amount of time an employee works on tasks. Timesheets are a mechanism for payroll used by management, human resources and accounting to record time and pay employees based on the proof of their total hours worked. The most common association is with time cards or time clocks.

In project management, timesheets have also become invaluable for businesses to monitor their time and keep projects on track. They can also be used as a management tool for expense tracking, capacity planning, or to estimate team availability.

There are a number of ways to create and use timesheets. The simplest is a physical, paper-based timesheet. Using a physical timesheet template saves costs, but can introduce issues such as lost timesheets and difficult-to-search archives.

Electronic timesheets can be made in Excel or Google sheets with a breakdown of tasks, project, program, client billing and more. Using an Excel timesheet template saves time and streamlines much of the payroll process. However, it can be unprofitable as it requires more time spent in inputting data and shepherding the timesheet through departments.

The third and best option is online timesheets, which show the team’s logged hours in real time. Timesheets can be auto-filled as tasks are completed, and last week’s work can be copied if recurring. A manager can be notified when timesheets are ready for approval and then locked when they’re approved; creating a seamless process that saves time and money.

Timesheets are essential to the payroll and client billing process. Employers use timesheets to record data related to an accounting of their employees’ work time to accurately pay them. To create timesheets managers must consider many variables such as their employee’s time cards, pay period, hourly rate, regular hours, overtime hours, mileage log, among others. Timesheets can be submitted weekly, biweekly, monthly or bimonthly.

Timesheets are mostly used for non-exempt employees, as it allows employers to not only pay for the hours worked, but track them to stay compliant with state and federal regulations such as the Fair Labour Standards Act. This is known as timesheet compliance, and the standards differ depending on the industry and the regulatory entities. For any firms that bill their clients regularly, timesheets work as a means to track those billable hours for each client.

There are many important uses for timesheets, from lowering costs due to inaccurate invoicing to tracking the time of the employees and using that data to adapt roles and improve performance. They act as protection against possible litigation by providing detailed records.

We’re long past the age of office workers clocking in and out on an antiquated time log sheet or time card machine, but that doesn’t mean timesheets are no longer in use to track time. In fact, their utility has only increased as project management tools have become more advanced. Today, timesheets are a very versatile time tracking tool.

Project management is modern, knowledge-based work, which requires the tracking and processing of large amounts of data in real time—and that includes time spent on tasks. Some project teams working in consultancy or agency environments will bill for the work hours that their team spends on projects using this data.

Savvy project managers, though, make full use of rigid adherence to online timesheets to identify avenues of optimization and improvement for their projects or business operations. The real value of timesheet tools is that they provide an easy way to see what the team is working on, at any time, and if that work is being properly executed.

With proper use of a project timesheet, you can easily identify:

  • Who is working on what
  • What tasks are still outstanding
  • What tasks are going to overrun their scheduled time
  • Who is really busy and logging lots of hours
  • Who isn’t recording many hours and may have capacity to pick up more work to optimize team availability
  • Data that will be useful for capacity planning and expense tracking

Timesheet systems generally include the following data:

  • The Name of the User: This is the person who is completing the timesheet. Managers may have access to employee timesheets to complete them.
  • Date: Weekly timesheets are the most popular. The date field lets you navigate through the calendar and enter your working time for a particular week.
  • Project: Timesheets can group tasks by project to make it easier for the user to see what they are recording at a glance.
  • Task: The list of tasks that the user has been allocated to work on that are not yet marked as complete.
  • Copy Last Week: If you’re working on similar or the same tasks each week, you can auto-populate the timesheet with last week’s tasks rather than have to input them again.
  • Days of the Week: The rest of the timesheet columns display the days of the week. Mark the hours worked on each task against the correct days. Some projects might demand the use of daily timesheets, which describe the tasks performed in a day and other details such as hours worked, clock in and clock out time, among others.
  • Percentage Complete: See what percentage of your tasks is done.
  • Auto-totals: Columns and rows will automatically total so that you can see at a glance how many hours you have worked in a day or on a particular task. This helps both employers and employees calculate total hours, regular hours, overtime hours and double time for payroll purposes.
  • Submit: If an approver has been assigned, the timesheet when ready can be sent to that person to review. Electronic timesheets are easily shared online, while printable timesheets can be delivered in person.
  • Notes: Add comments and upload files to timesheet entries to remind yourself of what the task was about or to note why it took longer (or less time) than expected.

You’ll also typically see lines on the timesheet that do not directly tie back to tasks on the project schedule. These lines could represent things like paid time off (PTO), team meetings, training and so on. These tasks take up time during the working week, but don’t necessarily contribute directly to a project.

When applied properly, it won’t be long before estimates improve, confidence in hitting deadlines is bolstered and project success rates increase. Let us know your opinion of timesheets and if they benefit tracking resources. We would like to hear from you, all the best on your project management journey

Avoiding Friction with Work Plans

Avoiding Friction with Work Plans

As project managers and a project team focusing on delivery avoiding friction is almost a daily event, whether that be with stakeholders maintaining scope or vendors. But another aspect to consider is being torn between priorities and having to switch tasks at a whim to achieve daily targets. There’s a difference between elapsed hours on the job and effective available hours. If people don’t incorporate friction factors into their planning, they’ll forever underestimate how long it will take to get work done.

People do not multitask—they task switch. When multitasking computers switch from one job to another, there’s a period of unproductive time during the switch. The same is true of people, only it’s far worse. It takes a little while to gather all the materials needed to work on a different activity, access the right files, and reload your brain with the pertinent information. Changing your mental context to focus on the new problem and remember where you were the last time you worked on it. That’s the slow part.

Some people are better at task switching than others; however excessive task switching destroys productivity. When deeply immersed in work, focused on the activity and free from distractions, a mental state called flow is entered. Creative knowledge work like software development requires flow to be productive. It is understood what is being worked on, the information needed is in your working memory, and you know where you’re headed. You can tell you’ve been in a state of flow when you lose track of time as you’re making great progress and having fun. Then your phone pings with a text message, an e-mail notification pops up, your computer reminds you that a meeting starts in five minutes, or someone stops by to talk. The flow is then lost.

Interruptions are flow killers. It takes several minutes to get your brain back into that highly productive state and pick up where you were before the interruption. A realistic measure of your effective work capacity is based not on how many hours you’re at work or even how many hours you’re on task, but how many uninterrupted hours you’re on task.

To achieve the high productivity and satisfaction that come from an extended state of flow, you need to actively manage your work time. There are several recommendations for reducing context switching and its accompanying productivity destruction.

  • Time block your schedule to create clearer focuses boundaries. Planning how you will spend your day, with dedicated blocks of time allocated to specific activities, carves out opportunities for extended deep concentration.
  • Employ routines to remove attention residue as you migrate from one task to the next. A small transition ritual or distraction—a cup of coffee, an amusing video—can help you make a mental break into a new work mode.
  • Take regular breaks to recharge. The intense concentration of a state of flow is great—up to a point. You must come up for air occasionally. To minimize eyestrain, periodically focus your eyes on something in the distance for a few seconds instead of the screen. Short mental breaks are refreshing before you dive back into that productive flow state.

At-work hours seep away through many channels. You attend meetings and video chats, respond to e-mails, look things up on the web, participate in retrospectives, and review the next task. Time gets lost to unexpected bug fixes, kicking around ideas with your co-workers, administrative activities, and the usual healthy socializing. Even if you work forty hours a week, you don’t spend anywhere near that many on your project.

Besides the daily frittering away of time on myriad activities, project teams lose time to other sources of friction. For instance, most corporate IT organizations are responsible for both new development and enhancing and repairing current production systems. Since you can’t predict when something will break or a change request will come along, these sporadic, interruption maintenance demands usurp team members’ time with unplanned work.

The team composition can further impose friction if project participants speak different native languages and work in diverse cultures. Unclear and volatile requirement priorities can chew up hours as people spend time researching, debating, and adjusting priorities. The team might have to temporarily shelve some incomplete work if a new, higher-priority task inserts itself into the schedule. Unplanned rework is yet another time diversion.

Distance between project participants can retard information exchanges and decision-making. However, the long-distance reviews took longer than expected, as did follow-up to verify the corrections made. Sluggish iteration to resolve requirements questions and ambiguity about who the right contact people were for each issue were further impediments. These—and other—factors put the project behind schedule after just the first week and eventually contributed to its failure.

It is best to estimate how long individual tasks will take if no distractions or interruptions occur, that is just focus on productive time. Next, convert that ideal effort estimate into calendar time based on effective work-hour percentage. Also consider whether any of the other aforementioned sources of friction could affect estimates. Then try to arrange the work to focus on a single task at a time until it’s complete or hit a blocking point.

If people always create estimates without accounting for the many ways that time splitting and project conditions can slow down the work, they’re destined to overrun their estimates every time. Let us know your thoughts on the subject; we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.

Essential Project Management Skills

Essential Project Management Skills

I think it can be agreed that Project management is not an easy job. Actually its a few jobs, so project managers can be considered all-rounders, that’s not to mention including the initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing of a project. Adding to the complexity the project is delegated to a team, given specific goals to achieve over a defined timeline for a determined budget.

Even with the assistance of project management software, that’s a lot to ask of any one individual, but project managers have a variety of skills to get the job done. These include the technical, business and management skills you’d expect, but also a number of soft skills. Project managers aren’t only dealing with systems and processes, but also people. When you boil it down, successful team management is built on creating and maintaining strong relationships across the organization.

But that’s just one aspect of the project manager’s many-faceted job. Below we’ve collected the top 10 skills every project manager should have. There are certainly more than just the following 10, but if you have these, you have the foundation on which to build a successful career in project management.

Leadership, everyone has the potential to learn how to apply proven leadership skills and techniques. As a project manager you’re responsible not only for seeing the project through to a successful completion. This requires you to motivate and mediate when necessary. Remember that project leadership comes in different styles, one of which will suit your personality. It’s more than managing tasks; it’s managing people.

Communications really go hand-in-glove with leadership. You can’t be an effective leader if you’re not able to articulate what it is you need your team to do. But you’re not only going to be communicating with your team, you’ll need to have clear communications with everyone associated with the project, from vendors and contractors to stakeholders and customers.

Now we’re starting to get into some of the hard skill sets required of project managers, and few are as essential as knowing how to create a project schedule. The only way to achieve the goals of the project within the timeframe that has been decided on is to break down that goal into tasks on a timeline.

That’s scheduling, and it’s the heart of what a project manager does: setting up a realistic schedule and then managing the resources to keep on track so the project can be successfully concluded on time. There are many tools that can help with this process, chief among them an online Gantt chart, which provides a visual of the schedule with tasks, durations of those tasks, dependencies, and milestones.

Doing anything is a risk. Planning a project, big or small, is inherent with risk. It’s part of your job to see those issues before they become problems. Therefore, before executing the project, you have to put in the work to identify, assess, and control risk.

The more you can manage risk, the more likely your project is going to succeed. Of course, you can’t anticipate everything that might happen over the life cycle of your project. There will be unanticipated issues that arise, so you need to have a process in place to handle those when they come up.

You can’t do anything without the money to pay for it. You have created a budget. Your first job is to make sure that budget is realistic and can meet the financial needs of the project, and, secondly, controlling those costs through the execution of the project.

This is easier said than done. Unless you are lucky and work for an organization with unlimited funds, you’re going to have certain financial constraints, and more likely, be given a very tight budget. It takes a great deal of skill to figure out how to squeeze every cent out of those limited funds.

Being good at negotiation is sort of a subset of communications, but it deserves its own space. Negotiation isn’t merely haggling for the best price from a vendor or contractor, though that’s certainly part of it. Leading a project means you’re in constant negotiations.

For example, you’ll likely get demands from stakeholders that can impact the scope of a project. You’ll have to give them pushback, but diplomatically, so all parties concerned feel they’re getting what they want. Then there’s the inevitable conflicts that will arise among team members or other people involved in the project. If you’ve got strong negotiating skills you can resolve these disputes before they blow up and threaten the project.

Critical thinking is simply being as objective as you can in analysing and evaluating an issue or situation, so that you can form an unbiased judgement. It pulls you out of acting on emotions or from received knowledge, and isn’t that what a project manager must do? You’re faced with problems every day when you’re working on a project, and you want your decisions to be impartial. The only thing guiding your decision should be what’s best for the project.

Here’s another one of those technical skills that should be stamped onto the DNA of every project leader. If scheduling is bedrock to project management, then tasks are the mortar that holds everything together. There are going to be tons of these pesky little jobs for you to create, assign and manage – some of which will be dependent on others, meaning that mismanagement of this process can severely impact the success of your project.

You can look at this as making a super to-do list, which is not entirely wrong, but as you add complexity you’ll also want to add the tools to help you manage these tasks more efficiently. You’ll want features in your task management tool that fosters collaboration with your team, help you prioritize and give you instant status updates when tasks have been completed or are running behind.

Most of these skills are obvious, right? Well, they are the top 10 project management skills. But quality management is one that is often overlooked by project leaders, and it’s one that needs to get more attention. Quality management is overseeing the activities and tasks that are required to deliver a product or service at the stated level indicated in the project paperwork.

Sound familiar? It’s basically a part of your job that you might never have given a name to or worse, you’ve been neglecting in favour of meeting deadlines. Staying on schedule is important, but that schedule is pointless if it produces something that is subpar.

It’s good to have a sense of humour, you don’t have to be a comedian. That’s because a sense of humour is really about having a different perspective. It allows you to see a problem differently. Humour relieves stress for you and your team, and only when tensions are lifted can smarter actions and ideas show themselves. A sense of humour also helps with morale. You’re going to work as hard as your team, but that doesn’t mean the environment you’re working in should be stifling. You can set or at least influence the culture of the workplace, and a lighter mood rises all ships.

Nothing is solved by rushing through a project or getting frustrated when things don’t go as planned. While time is a constraint, if you speed through the process you’re going to make mistake. That’ll make you frustrated, which leads to more mishaps.

Projects take time, from research to planning, they need to be thoroughly thought through in order to run smoothly. That doesn’t mean there won’t be issues. They’re always issues. Whether it’s a change request or a team member acting up or stakeholders having grand expectations, if you don’t have patience everything will be exponentially worse.

Technology is constantly evolving. Just as you get used to one tool another takes its place and you’re back on the learning curve. True as that might be, to lock yourself in antiquated ways of doing things just because you’re used to them is a recipe for becoming antiquated yourself. Tools have migrated from the desktop to online and while this might not be what you’re used to there are myriad advantages.

Project management is a vast field with a range of skills and responsibilities. Make sure that you know which are the most important and why, before you take on a big project. Let us know your thoughts, we would like to hear from you, all the very best on your project management journey.

Correcting a Process Improvement Plan

Improving Process Plan

Project managers and their teams depend on processes to ensure that a project runs smoothly. Too often processes are relied on as if they were somehow perfect and cannot be touched. That type of thinking is what will quickly send a project off track and possibly cause it to fail, meaning there is always room for improvement.

Constantly analysing processes is the best way to reach a successful end, through a technique called process improvement. Implementing what is learnt through process improvement is done by creating a process improvement plan. Document’s outlining how to improve processes after identifying and analysing them.

The process improvement plan is part of a larger, overall project plan. It guides the project team on how to analyse the project processes and outlines where there’s room for measurable improvements. It tends to be an iterative process that occurs throughout the project’s life cycle.

The point of a process improvement plan is to find weak links in the process chain or bottlenecks that are impeding work, and then figure out ways to rectify those inefficiencies. This leads to processes being completed faster, more efficiently and with a greater quality of deliverables.

A process improvement plan will also help to reduce wasted efforts and keep teams working more productively. It helps to reduce any friction that exists in the processes, and ensures processes meet regulatory compliance standards when required.

To do the work of identifying the weak points in a process and do nothing about it is counterproductive. It might feel like the effort of creating and implementing a plan is not worth the investment.

If there is a belief there are flaws in the process and don’t respond to improve them, there will be a bigger problem down the line. Therefore, it’s always beneficial to respond to the problem and work towards resolving it. To do this requires a plan. The process improvement plan can be broken down into seven steps.

The first step is to get a full overview of the process that needs improvements. Take that process and break it down into a map. This assists in getting an idea where the weaknesses are in the process.

Commence the analysis of the process to see where the issues might lie. Look closely at each of the steps and see where there was a problem, such as delays, over-allocation of resources, too much money spent, idle team members and so on. Once known, trace back the issue to its origin in order to address its cause and how to avoid it in the future.

Once the cause of the problem has been uncovered, it’s time to redesign the process to improve it and avoid the issue when next using it. At this point, it is best to involve the whole project team.

They are the ones who have the most intimate knowledge of the process and hands-on experience with it. They’ll make sure that there are no stones left unturned and everything has been documented in the process. They’re an invaluable resource for process improvement and should be listened to.

Get their ideas on how to redesign the process and brainstorm with them for more solutions. Then analyse all the solutions offered and figure out which one is the best and most likely to improve the process.

Assigning resources is the next step; they are the go-to people or team members who are impacted by this process and its change. Once the team is assembled, give them detailed instructions on how to redesign the process and why it’s important.

Implementing the process improvement plan is then put into action, which means creating a detailed task list and assignments. This part of the process is just as any project plan is created, breaking down the deliverables into tasks and assigning each team member with those tasks. Create a schedule with a timeline and add tasks, their duration, and any dependencies.

Take the time to communicate plans to the team and make sure they fully understand their part. Listen, be open to feedback, and make sure the team understands they will be kept in the loop throughout the whole process. This creates buy-in and helps them embrace the new process.

Once the team is executing the project, it’s important to track their progress. Monitoring is not micromanaging. It provides a window into the project and allows for any tweaks to keep it moving as scheduled.

Being equip with the tools needed to improve any process is important. From making a process improvement plan to executing that plan and monitoring its progress, as this will break you out of complacency and help achieve more in your projects. Unfortunately, it’s easy to stagnate when you get used to the routine of your current processes. You shouldn’t change things willy-nilly—if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it—but you should always be seeking ways to improve. Let us know your thoughts on process correction we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.

The Art of Project Management, a discipline for initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve a specific goal. A project is a temporary endeavour designed to produce a unique product, service or outcome. The end to end delivery of the project, known as the project lifecycle is affected by resource, time management and a fixed budget. The purpose of project management is to enhance a particular situation through the avenue of delivery and change. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all the project goals within the given constraints, normally defined in a user or project manual, created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, quality and budget. The secondary and more ambitious challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and integrate them to meet a pre-defined objective.