Author: PMCompanion

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.

Digital Transformation, efficient Projects, Skilled Project Managers and Quality Reporting.

Digital Transformation and Project Management

We know the world is moving through a rapid digital transformation phase wherein various organizations, companies, industries, institutions, and governments are transforming their processes, infrastructure, applications, software products, design, testing, customer management, and other elements into a more robust, automatic and sophisticated foundation to keep themselves business and customer-focused, progress faster with cutting-edge technology and march ahead of their competitors in this disruptive and advanced digital transformation journey.

The transformation occurring is digital with each of those advancements mostly starts with a strategic idea in the direction of transformation aimed at long-term growth, gets converted to a requirement, and then moves on to the fast-paced design and implementation depending on the respective domain and industry where the strategic idea is born and a ‘project’ is born.

While all these digital transformations are executed ultimately as a project, it is also worth noting that in this process, even projects, project managers, and project reporting are also getting transformed into more innovative, cutting edge and erudite resources or execution processes thereby becoming the most prominent factor and the vital launchpad for the success of multiple digital transformation journeys.

Talking about projects and project executions, gone are the days when manual copies of project contracts and other documentation were filed and protected throughout the duration of the project. Project processes are now digital, automated, and saving a lot of administrative time. Project creation, assignments, tracking, and monitoring all happen through various automated tools and applications. These management tools are also web or network-based such that these can be accessed and updated by a project manager (PM) irrespective of where the PM is located. 

Digitalization has revolutionized the project execution processes to be implemented in a completely remote manner without the need for a team to be physically present in one location. Communication channels, stakeholder meetings, project testing, and training are all web-based thereby removing the barriers of physical presence and additional admin time to be invested in projects. These progressions and reserves also indicate and prove that cost saved is cost invested in executing more projects than was the case before.

This transformation of projects is the vigorous and the most effective instrument that plays and will play a key role in the larger picture of implementing scalable digital transformation programs within giant organizations.

The main drivers or the pilots for the progress, execution, and success of digital transformation projects are the so-called “Project Managers” who have themselves automatically transformed over the years and with the dawn of automation, artificial intelligence, and cloud technologies, they have found competent ways of getting projects executed at a much faster pace without an impact on the quality, timeline, and other relevant execution parameters.

Thinking in the grand scheme of things, it would be more apt to say that Project Managers are spending less time on individual projects but still delivering them within the boundaries of scope, time, cost, and quality and have also transmogrified themselves into a state where they are executing more projects than before within the same amount of time – which means more transformations are actually getting executed at the base level, resource usage is optimized, revenue generation is at its maximum possible thereby putting organizations on a growth trajectory in this intense, disruptive and competitive transformation journey.

The combination of automation and technology has been a boon in disguise for the PM’s in recent years due to the fact that these two elements take care of the intelligence that needs to be analysed in the back end and presenting the most valuable decision making information to the PM’s – thereby saving more time for the PM who otherwise would have to spend a lot of mechanical effort to decrypt the available data and convert it to a form that can be analysed easily.

One other important element that measures the success of these transformations and the accuracy of mechanisms used for execution the digital transformation is the financial and other reporting that comes out of this “technology-processes-automation” combination being used by PM’s and organizations for digital transformations of all sizes. For any program or a project (large or small), organization always need some kind of a measure to check whether their project (and or investments) is progressing in the right direction and or need some kind of a corrective action(s) to be implemented in case of deviations from the growth path. It is for this reason that PM’s and stakeholders always have a continuous feedback loop based on measurements coming from automated tools. These measurements contain vital information about the various project financial and non-financial reporting which give the stakeholders enough food for thought on what’s causing the current issues and/or if something is going to cause panic in the future.

It is to be noted that though there are a lot of non-financial reporting parameters that could have an impact on the overall progress and hence on decision making; it is also evident that at the end of the day all of these parameters eventually impact the financial numbers associated with the project progress or execution or results. It is not always the profit that the project should aim at but also on the value or the projected return on investment that’s expected from the digital transformation. It is here that the automation/tracking of all the financial information comes in handy and serves as the most important instrument for PM’s and stakeholders to review how and which direction are the transformations going.

In Summary, the three dimensions of projects, project managers and project reporting together with their fast-paced evolutions are a vital ingredient to the progressions of the digital transformation journeys. While success of digital transformation journeys may vary based on domain, technology, and other aspects, it is worth noting that these three elements may form the foundation of most of the transformation journeys when we look at it from a bottom-up approach.

A concept without a clear execution path or project, without a central focused leader and without measurements of the progress could lead it to failure and confusions. To add, it is also evident that in the recent years, these three dimensions have taken leaps and bounds in their specific areas and have embraced “technology-processes-automation” combination to such an extent that any projects or transformations that are built around these dimensions have a higher success rate – due to the fact that these combinations not only have the ability to automatically analyse and report, but they also provide a very high value in enhancing quality decision making which is the key to resolve bottlenecks and spearhead the digital transformation projects onto their completion, success and growth trajectory. Let us know your thoughts, we wish you all the best on your project management journey.

Ways to improve being a Project Manager

Ways to improve being a Project Manager

Ever heard the term “There is room for improvement”? At some stage of our project management career we would have heard it at least once. Regardless of how skill full or experienced you maybe as a project manager, it’s important to understand that there is always room for improvement. This is because every project presents a new set of challenges that may not be familiar.  The following are some ways we can be improving as project managers

As a project manager, you need to have a great team with you to help you execute the project in the best way possible. For a successful project, you’ll need to assemble qualified and competent individuals who are ready to work together seamlessly for a common goal.

After assembling the team you’ll need for the project, the next step is assigning representatives. It is these team representatives that will help you run the project in a more organized manner. The team representatives are responsible for communicating any messages from the team members and attending meetings.

As a project manager, before proceeding with any project, it’s very important that you outline it to the rest of the team. You might know everything about the project, but this doesn’t basically mean that the rest of your team is aware of everything that is expected of them.

For this reason, you need to educate all the team members about every important detail of the project. For example, you want to ensure that everyone working on the project understands the project goals, the estimated time of completion, and their job descriptions, among other aspects.

This means that before the project officially begins, you need to present the project outline to everyone involved in it. As a project manager, it’s very important to understand that communicating the project goals from the start plays a critical role in achieving them.

If you’re looking to improve your project management skills for the best results possible, you need to improve your communication skills. You could be a very great planner, but without good communication between you and your team members, your project is bound to fail.

For this reason, if you’re going to improve your project management, you need to be ready to communicate your expectations, project goals, deadlines and always provide updates to the team and the stakeholders in the project.

With good communication, you can undoubtedly transform any team and get the best out of it. It’s important to note that good communication doesn’t only improve the performance of the team, but also enhances the overall quality of the project.

For better project management, you need to establish firm goals for the project. This is very important because it lets your team members know what exactly they’re aiming for and what they have to accomplish for the project to be labelled done.

After you’ve established clear project goals for the entire team, the next step is to ensure that you prioritize these goals. You need to ensure that every task that is carried out by the team is only focused on achieving the set goals within the time limit set.

By doing so, your team will gain a better understanding of the expectations you have for the project and the deadlines to meet them. In simple terms, prioritizing the project goals will optimize the project progress and put you in a better place to succeed.

Everything from good project planning, communication, and getting the best out of the team is fueled by realistic expectations. You can never build a successful project if the goals you’re setting for the team are not realistic.

You need to consider your team’s strengths, weaknesses, and all the challenges they might encounter throughout the project before setting any goals for them. When you set realistic goals, it will motivate the team, and you’re likely to achieve great success by the end of the project.

Setting goals that way above your team’s capabilities will only demoralize them and derail the whole project.

These are only some tips to help guide project managers to be better and improve project management. However, you should always be open to new ideas and particularly new learning opportunities to perfect your skills. Let us know your thoughts we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.

What to Leave Off Your Project Management Resume.

Project Management Resume.

Looking for your next project management assignment, without a well written resume the task could seem that much harder. Invest your time in putting that puzzle together and providing all the necessary information to hiring managers. While you focus on what to put on your resume, information that can harm your chances of getting the job can slip in.

Some things can be an instant turn off for hiring managers. Not to mention that in some cases, you’ll need to pass through the first gate which is that your resume is in the pile of possibilities instead of the bin. So, what are the things that will make hiring managers and dispense your resume instead of reviewing it?

The following are some recommendations on what not to put in your project management resume.

Try and avoid buzzwords, your resume should not be the time to play word bingo. While trying to make your resume impressive, you can easily take the wrong turn. That wrong turn comes in the form of buzzwords.

Candidates commonly have a misconception that buzzwords can make their resume stand out. In fact, they can only confuse the reader.

Your resume can be initially evaluated by someone who doesn’t have project-manager experience. Buzzwords will only throw them off as they are vague and, ultimately, completely unnecessary. Not to mention that buzzwords won’t get you anywhere near the first gate.

Make sure that you haven’t fallen into the buzzword trap and check your resume for the following words:

  • Paradigm shift
  • Synergy
  • Scope creep
  • Scalable
  • Agile
  • Mission-critical
  • Lean
  • Gap analysis

Sweep up any jargon and fluff. Replace buzzwords with specific, data-based information. For example:

  • Don’t: “Made mission-critical changes.”
  • Do: “Developed a database management program that helped the team meet every project deadlines.”

A resume statement or resume objective does nothing for the hiring managers. It doesn’t carry any value.

Just think about it. Writing “Working as a project manager will allow me to put my skills and experience to use and help your company grow” doesn’t provide any relevant information.

With the growing competition for project manager positions, hiring managers have to go through numerous resumes. Therefore, they don’t want to waste their time on useless words.

There are several important reasons why a resume statement should be avoided:

  • It is too generic
  • It doesn’t provide relevant information
  • It takes up resume space
  • It is outdated

Instead of a resume statement, you can opt for a career summary. For example:

“Project manager with 7 years of experience in various industries, proficient in conducting research, overseeing process improvement, and preparing project studies.”

A career summary provides a sneak-peek into your overall accomplishments and abilities. That’s what hiring managers want to know all about.

Unlike a resume statement, a career summary is your chance to add crucial keywords from the job description, such as your hard and soft skills.

As a project manager, you really need to stand out to get the job you want. With that in mind, some candidates resort to lies. These “white lies,” as some consider them, can do some unrepairable damage.

Bear in mind that the truth always comes out in the end. You might get to the interview or even get the job. But, when an employer realises that you weren’t honest, you’ll close those doors forever. Not to mention that you can forget about any type of recommendation.

When in need of a project manager who will be in charge of crucial projects, hiring managers don’t care about hobbies or vague personal traits. How does the fact that you are a “stamp collector” or “nice” help them see you as the perfect project manager?

Hobbies can tell a lot about a person. So, you want to mention the ones that will present you in the best light.

Here are some hobbies that can work in your favor, as well as what they signal to the hiring managers:

  • Traveling – Proactive and isn’t scared of trying new things
  • Volunteering – Community-oriented rather than egoistic
  • Writing – Creative
  • Reading – Inquisitive
  • Playing basketball, soccer, or any team sport – A team player

opt for characteristics that present you as a capable project manager, such as:

  • Accountable
  • Team player
  • Ethical
  • In terms of personal traits, Organised
  • Motivated
  • Dynamic

If you are having trouble assessing the relevancy of your traits, hire an editor to go through your resume. You can easily find cheap writing services whose expert editors will brush up your resume in no time. They can simply switch vague personal traits with impactful ones.

Hiring managers are interested in three things:

  • Relevant education that provided you with a strong foundation for this job
  • Relevant work experience will show that you know how to do the job
  • Professional qualities that can make you a suitable project manager

Everything else will be seen as filler information.

Hiring managers are not interested in your summer job at McDonald’s or your grade point average. Mentioning a grant you won as a college student, your high-school, or meaningless job positions signal that you are just entering the job market, and you want to fill in the empty space.

Hiring managers don’t want a layman to be their project manager. They want a person whose resume exudes experience and capability.

Therefore, skip any work and education-related information that isn’t correlated with the project manager position. For every piece of information you want to include, ask yourself, “Does this make me a better project manager?” If the answer is no, you know what to do.

Embed these “don’ts” deep into your mind. Make sure that you avoid them religiously when writing or editing your resume. Remember that every word or sentence your write can be determining for the outcome. Therefore, put your eyes on the prize and focus on writing a relevant resume that showcases that you are the right person for the job. Let us know the information you put in your resume we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.

Going Back in Time

Going Back in Time

Lessons learnt in project management, if you could take back time, what would you do differently in your projects? Ask any project manager, lessons learnt are an essential part of any project, what happened in the last similar project that can be done here differently to make the path to success that smoother.

Regardless of how many projects completed it can be said that we’ve all made mistakes. The ability to learn from them separates the good from the not so good, you are not meant to know everything, if that was the case then you wouldn’t need to work.  Learning from mistakes, big or small will make you a better project manager. Think back to errors which occurred in your career and did it make you any better in delivering your projects?

If given the opportunity, what would you go back and tell your younger self to do differently?

The advice I’d give my younger self given the opportunity would be to be a more active listener. Active listening is vital to actually hearing what’s said. Active means fully concentrating on the speaker and what’s being said. It’s all too easy to passively listen without actually hearing what’s said – without really taking it in. Making it clear, to the speaker, that you’re actively listening is also helpful, so acknowledge the speaker. You can do this by nodding, making eye contact or adopting an attentive posture.

Stop prejudging situations. Not taking the time to talk and listen to the experts can be painful to the team and the project itself. You don’t have all the answers.

Take the time to sit with your team and make use of their knowledge. Listen to all points of view to make better, more balanced decisions. Have you considered all the angles, or are you leaning towards your favoured approach without giving others a fair say?

How successful was your last major project decision when you ignored other experts on the team?

Failure to mitigate risks is a significant failing. Risk is everywhere all the time. The ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude is usually a mistake.

Make sure nobody can say they didn’t know a particular risk was present. Ask the team to help you mitigate all risks and assign a single owner to each risk to ensure you’re mitigating all risks all the time. Not bothering to identify risks in favour of getting on with the work could leave you exposed and in a potentially awkward situation.

Don’t avoid conflict situations that need resolving, and don’t try to please everyone. When you do, everything seems fine at first, until the cracks start to appear. A truly happy project requires being straightforward and upfront with your customer, your team and other stakeholders. Tell them exactly how it is, and then work together to improve any bad situation. It never pays to sugar-coat the truth. Try not to be too optimistic, this can be avoided by being realistic.

Pitfalls are everywhere in a project and I’m sure have been encountered through the years, some are bigger deal than others. The following are pitfalls which should be avoided.

  • Not having a good project plan
  • Allowing scope creep or gold plating
  • Failing to manage expectations
  • Communicating poorly
  • Making false assumptions
  • Failing to manage risks and issues
  • Lacking a business case
  • Gathering requirements poorly

For the more experienced project managers, travel back in time – in your head – and see if what you would tell your younger self is based on something you do well today. What do you wish you’d known back then?

For the young and aspiring project managers tuning in, why not ask some experienced project managers what they wish they’d known at your age?

Ultimately, we never stop learning. And that’s exactly why all businesses should employ a ‘learn it all’ culture rather than a ‘know it all’ one. No matter where you are in your career, keep learning and keep improving. You don’t need a time machine to learn from the past. Let us know what you have learnt in your project management career, we would like to hear from you. All the best on your project management journey.

Improving Project and Engagement Management Performance

Improving Project and Engagement Management Performance

The relationship between project and engagement management and the improvement program that seeks to optimize their performance to satisfy stakeholder expectations. There is always an opportunity for organizations and teams to seek continuous improvement in processes and optimize performance. Both organizations and individuals understand the need to define their performance values and indicators so they can measure improvement success.

Engagement management encompasses the full range of activities from the initial contact with prospective clients, through the identification and qualification of opportunities, proposal development/quotations, portfolio-level decision making, negotiating and closing the sale, delivery and managing the ongoing relationship, including billing and the extension of services over time to serve the client’s evolving needs.

Engagement management is not limited to business-to-business organizations like consulting and engineering firms that sell services. In-house software development groups and other groups that perform projects to serve operational departments within their enterprise can gain from taking an engagement management approach.

Focused skills training is a vital part of any improvement program. Training a myriad of project managers on how to schedule and manage risk more effectively may make those managers better at performing those tasks but can lead to conflict with management, staff, salespeople, and clients. Training salespeople in contact and closing skills can bring in more sales.  But organizational performance can suffer unless the participants have learned about and are accountable for a “sale’s” profitability and that they understand delivery pipelines.

A program to improve engagement performance includes project management courses for both hard-core PMs and other stakeholders, sales training, methodology training, emotional intelligence and mindfulness training, relationship and communications training, performance assessments, regular facilitated reviews, and team and individual coaching to better enable putting skills to work collaboratively.

Learning is a bit more complex but still not so difficult. These two are measured at training time, or, in the case of projects, upon project or phase completion.  Behaviour and Results require assessment over time. Behaviour assessment is easy if leadership understands that for skills and products to be useful, they must be used.  To determine if they are used requires resources, assessments, and reporting.

Results are the bottom line. Measuring results is not so easy and is frequently not done. It requires clarity about performance indicators, a baseline, regular and ongoing review, and recognition that multiple interacting factors drive results like greater profitability and higher quality.

When focusing on projects, the desired results are outcomes that consistently meet stakeholder expectations (including benefits realization) by delivering the agreed-upon product or service, on-time and within budget.

When using the term “stakeholder”, remember that it refers to anyone who may impact or be affected by the project, including project performers. Optimally, a project results in a viable product or service that makes a positive difference in terms of cost and effort reduction, improved quality, profitability, and healthy client and staff relations.

To determine if an engagement is successful, it is necessary to look at relationships over time and across multiple projects with the same client. Recognize that the value of many, if not most, products and services are the result of sustained use and the effectiveness of maintenance, enhancement, support, and customer service. Measure the degree to which project and service staff are happy, healthy, and can sustain effective performance without burning out. Assess attitudes, turnover rates, productivity vs. effectiveness, and the degree to which conflicts are effectively resolved.

Achieving optimal performance requires an improvement program that combines assessment, coaching, consulting, and training to ensure that desired results are achieved consistently over time.  Because improvement occurs through a program its success is measured in the same way any program is measured – have desired results been achieved?

Optimal performance relies upon healthy projects within a well-oiled engagement management process in which success boils down to achieving value and stakeholder satisfaction. An improvement program is essential. Success requires a “contract” and a governance process. The contract (we use the term to include any agreement) provides the objective criteria for measuring success. The governance process makes sure that the flow of improvement and operational projects is moderated to satisfy client expectations, maximize value, and not overburden the performance staff.  It considers success from an enterprise perspective.

Let us know your thoughts, we would like to hear from you, all the very best on your project management journey