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An Overview of ITIL V3

The acronym ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, which is the most recognized system for IT service management. For almost 20 years, since its creation, ITIL has been refined and changed scope in business and technology practices over the years. It provides a body of knowledge that can be helpful to achieve a particular standard. The description is to represent a better understanding of terms that come with ITIL. The overview here is to first understand the definition and fundamentals.

The first publication of ITIL occurred in the 1980’s and made it one of the most used systems by organizations to provide IT service management (ITSM) processes. ITIL consists of the best processes and practices that can be adopted to provide excellent service management. The system provides effective service delivery at a cost-effective rate. There are different versions of ITIL released to meet the changing requirements of businesses. As it is termed, ITIL V3 is the third version of ITIL released in 2007. However, there was an updated to ITIL V3 in 2011. This made ITIL V3, also known as ITIL 2011 V3, to fit the latest business environment as it includes strategic elements. Because of this, IT service management becomes more aligned with the requirements of a business.

There are ITIL V3 fundamentals factors which need to be considered, one of those fundamentals are change management, and the very nature of project delivery is that change in some form is occurring. The technologies continuously upgrade and will always have to be replaced. That’s why ITIL V3 has a set of practices called Change Management. These practices are served to prioritize, implement, and handle changes effectively. It is done by using Change Management properly so that downtime can be avoided and organizations are well versed with the changes occurring around them.

Another ITIL component is incident management, it is essential to make sure that the operations are manageable. In some situations, if the service is interrupted in the organization, the production is affected. ITIL V3 incident management provides best practice to handle effectively and ensure the business operations are working optimally with minimal to no downtime.

Problem Management team are responsible for Root Cause Analysis (RCA) function. As they are liable to find a permanent solution for recurring incidents. Problem Management makes sure to maintain a known error database.

The ITIL Service cycle is where the ITIL V3 framework revolves. This cycle comes with the set of best practices and supporting processes in each stage. The following are the steps involved with the ITIL stages;

  • ITIL Service Strategy
  • ITIL Service Design
  • ITIL Continual Service Improvement
  • ITIL Service Transition
  • ITIL Service Operation

There is a structured closed-loop process that goes together with the life-cycle stages designed in ITIL. When creating services from scratch, most of the service management activities were not performed. This is why ITIL stages are important. While integrating into the overall ITIL framework, each stage is represented by one of the ITIL volumes and is self-contained.

The ITIL service design is an integral part of the process, it is about the design of services and supporting factors for the initiation to the actual environment of the business. There are scopes included in the Service Design life-cycle. This life-cycle consists of changes and improvements to the existing services and the design of the new ones as well. The factors to consider in ITIL service design are outlined below;

  • Design Coordination – This makes sure that the design of the IT services, architectures, service management information systems, processes, metrics, technology, and information is consistent and effective.
  • Service Level Management – Designing services according to the agreed service level targets and checking all Operational Level Agreements and underpinning contracts where appropriate.
  • Service Catalogue Management – Taking responsibility for the maintained Service Catalogue. Also, it must be produced and contain accurate information to all the operational services.
  • Risk Management – must assess, control, and identify risks. This includes the analysis of the value of assets of the business. Must also have early detection of threats to the assets and evaluate how vulnerable the assets could be to the risks.
  • Availability Management – this is liable for checking the IT infrastructure, tools, roles, processes, etc. to ensure that it is appropriate for the availability targets, which are agreed upon.
  • Capacity Management – Responsible for the capacity of the IT services and infrastructure to deliver the agreed service level targets on-time and in a cost-effective manner.
  • IT Service Continuity Management – The minimum agreed Service Levels should be provided to IT service. This process can happen if the risk of disaster event is reduced to an acceptable level, including planning for the recovery of the services.
  • Information Security Management – The organization’s information, IT services, and data should remain confidential, available, and integral. This responsibility goes to Information Security Management.
  • Compliance Management – Should comply with the enterprise’s legal requirements and policies. It will happen through IT services, systems, and processes.
  • Compliance Management – Ensure IT services, processes, and systems comply with enterprise policies and legal requirements.
  • Supplier Management – Should make sure that all suppliers will meet their contractual commitments and that the contracts will support the needs of the business.
  • Architecture Management – Provides a blueprint of the future development of the technological landscape and should consider the new technologies and service strategy.

The purpose of the ITIL service design is to ensure the development and fulfillment of services with organizational intent. It should also be considered the support-ability, business continuity, and risk management. The transition of the service becomes more comfortable if there is an early integration and control of the issues addressed during the service design.

Next in the list is ITIL service strategy which provides a strategy for the life-cycle of service, and the service perfectly suits the purpose and availability for its use. The strategy should be synchronized with the business objectives and also to the needs of the customer. The stage of the Service Strategy life-cycle identifies which services to offer by the IT organization. Also, it determines the functions that need improvement.

  • Business Relationship Management – identifies the everyday needs of their prospective customer or client. Also, knowing their needs is making sure that the appropriate services will develop to meet their needs.
  • Strategy Management – Developing a strategy is done through the assessment of the service provider’s competitors, offerings, and capabilities.
  • Financial Management – The accounting, budgeting, charging requirements of the service provider is kept managed.
  • Service Portfolio Management – To meet the required outcome of the business at the appropriate level of investment, Service Portfolio Management ensures the proper combination of services of the service provider.
  • Demand Management – For the services, it should understand, influence, and anticipate the demand of the customer. This action will make sure that the service provider has enough capacity to meet the needs of the customers.

There is certification associated with ITIL, and deals with the first level V3 Foundation. This level is provided when the business starts the construction to Master ITIL V3. The ITIL V3 Foundation level provides the terminology, concepts, and fundamental definition. The level can be taken by those who want to:

  • Understand the implementation of ITSM based on the ITIL V3 framework.
  • Gather knowledge as a beginner on ITIL V3 framework.

The ITIL V3 Foundation Level: Examination Format is for anyone who wants to learn and be certified in the ITIL processes. ITIL foundation serves as another way to take other level exams. IT professions can be achieved by individuals who want to pursue this career through this examination. There are formats to take the ITIL V3 foundation level exam. Below are the formats:

  • The exam has 40 multiple-choice questions. Candidates who clear this level will be granted with two credits.
  • The ITIL V3 Foundation level certification can be achieved with a minimum score, which is 26/40 or 65% of the examination.
  • ITIL V3 foundation level exam is a strictly closed book exam.

There are four levels of accreditation available to the IT professional when dealing with ITIL V3; they are Foundation, Intermediate, Expert, and Master. The foundation level is about the basic concepts and the terminology of ITIL as a whole. Each of ITIL’s five major topics goes to the higher levels. ITIL V3 explains the concept of the IT service to support business goals. While the ITIL V2 focuses on IT operations. Once there is a profound understanding of the ITIL V3 IT methodology, then it can assist an organization plan the day to day solving of problems that may be encountered.

How to be an indispensable PM during a pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has made the work environment challenging to say the least, as offices around the world mobilize their workforce to either work from home, or redirect their attention to other areas of the business. In many instances projects are placed on hold and resources, including the PM are either told to take leave, and as is the case with most contractors, let go entirely. This in turn causes its own set of challenges. All of a sudden we are no longer office based, and have to deal with the plethora of negative news and still focus on the well being of our loved ones. If you look at your training as a project manager, would you say that you are prepared to negotiate the oncoming twists and turns? For the seasoned campaigner more than likely for those just starting out its sink or swim.

One thing about being involved in a global pandemic, we are all in this together, and a lot of the outcomes are based on ideas from many different areas whether they are locally or globally, if a good idea to maintain project delivery is shared via a social media mechanism then it should be seriously considered. As the stakeholder is still concerned with the positive outcome of a project, because once the pandemic has subsided then it is all hands to the pump. So during this time it would be a good idea to ask the stakeholder how they would prefer to receive information. The more an individual stakeholders requests can be catered for the more value is being provided to them, remember they are feeling as anxious as you are.

Maintain relationships with the client and the overall team as best as possible, working in isolation, or remotely, doesn’t mean that information also has to be remote. Establish more one to one interaction, be empathetic, and listen to needs of the team. Make special effort to make contact with them on a daily basis, this could be via a daily “Stand Up” or an email which is not work related but care factor related. Try and use the avenue which would be best appreciated by the team members, and the client for that matter, you will only work this out if you ask.

Being concise, that is clear, sharp, frequent communication needs to be delivered, and try not to over communicate where possible.  Being face to face with team members and stakeholders in a room is priceless, but not mandatory. Use “check-in” and “check-out” during important project meetings to ensure that participants deliver and receive exactly what information they came to the meeting to give and receive. This also provides a crystal-clear readout for meeting recaps. Also, be cognizant during calls that many resources now have more than one distraction when working from home that is with spouses, children and pets.

There is no one clear approach which is best in a situation of this nature, quite frankly this is a very uncertain time, and none of us are in a position to understand the full consequences of what the work environment and project delivery will be like once life both at home and in the office returns to some normality. Also what will be normal given that during a pandemic projects were still being delivered via mechanisms available at the time.

How to support teams during times of CONVID-19, no matter the barriers

We are facing unprecedented times, and businesses across the globe are having to adapt rapidly to the new challenges presented by the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home will become the new normal and in many instances the necessity for the well-being of workers.

Being able to play a critical role while delivering projects during testing times will not only the lead to the success of the team but just as importantly the overall well-being of the team. As organisations begin to make this shift to working remotely it is crucial that employees or team feel they are still in touch with each other and have the opportunities to thrive!

It is best to be equipped with the tools needed to maintain ‘business as usual’ as much as possible, and inoculate the team and company against the uncertainties of the current health crisis.

In particular tools to master strategies to boost productivity and eliminate procrastination.  By fostering healthy work cultures that transcend geographical obstacles and hone sophisticated communication skills to enhance collaboration.

Remote work has been a catchword in the financial papers, but for many it’s never been a reality until faced with a worldwide pandemic. What to do when the office isn’t open, but still expected to carry on and keep up productivity? There are tools and practices already in place to ease the transition to a remote working environment. The following is a collection of the best tools to maintain connectivity, in communication and collaborating successfully.

Projectmanagementcompanion.com is an online reference tool which provides access to the most common online project management software that lets teams plan, manage and track projects together in real time. Everyone on the team is connected no matter the location or time. Tasks can be provided to the team from any of the multiple project views, such as the Gantt chart, and attach directions and documentation as needed. Team members can manage their work with a task list, calendar or kanban board view.

Once an assignment has been sent, working together with teammates is easy. Projectmanagementcompanion.com references collaboration by creating a virtual office space. Team members can comment on their tasks and bring others in on the conversation by tagging them. They can also add as many files and images as needed to communicate effectively. No more scrounging through email histories; the information they need is always at their fingertips.

The online tool should enable team updates, always be available, and project progress is visible. The real-time dashboard should reveal task progress, project costs, project slippage, team workload and more—as it happens. This high-level view keeps everyone on the same page.

When a more granular view is needed, ensure the tool has one-click project reports for a variety of different metrics, including variance, progress and cost. These reports can be filtered to show just the data needed. It’s an ideal feature for tracking team productivity, but also for reporting back to stakeholders and showing them that work is getting done, even if the office is dark.

It can be difficult to know if people are overworked or have nothing to do when they’re not in the office. All of the better online project management tools provides a workload page that is colour-coded and shows at-a-glance who has too many tasks and who doesn’t have enough, so keeping track of work balance across the team shouldn’t be an issue.

Other tools to consider are;

2 Slack

Slack bills itself as an alternative to email, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an online communication and chat tool that keeps the entire organization connected. Organizations might already have embraced the technology. It’s become a darling of the working world and for good reason.

Slack makes email all but antiquated. Attachments can be added and messages sent individually or in groups. Groups can be set up to include company-wide correspondences, which is great for general announcements. Channels can be set up as well for more targeted sectors of your company, such as IT, marketing, etc. Plus, GIFs and emoji’s add much needed levity to lessen the sense of isolation and stress because of the coronavirus.

3. G Suite

G Suite is Google’s answer to Microsoft Office. It offers a number of online tools, but Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google slides are the most useful for collaborating on work. Unlike MS Office, it’s free, at least for personal use of up to 15 GB. That means a word processing program is available, spreadsheet and slideshow software for free.

G Suite helps with collaboration, as files can be private or shared. When they’re shared, they’re updated in real time, so there aren’t multiple versions of a document floating around and creating confusion. Instructions can be given, comments can be made and teams can work together on tasks.

4. Dropbox

Dropbox is like a digital file cabinet that’s been supersized. It’s a cloud-based way to share files, so it keeps all of your company files in one place. These files can be shared or kept private.

From a home office, with only a few keystrokes, get the documents and assets needed to complete tasks.

5. Dia

Dia is an open-source tool for making network diagrams. Possibly considered as a free version of Window’s Visio, though it’s more for making informal diagrams for casual use.

It can make many different kinds of diagrams, such as relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams and others. These diagrams can help illustrate ideas in an email or during video conferences. They can be saved and exported in a number of different formats.

6. Evernote

Evernote is a cross-platform app (desktop, apps, web apps, mobile apps) for taking notes. Notes, of course, are the seeds from which great ideas spring. Evernote makes it easy to jot down a note or share ideas with others, even while in the middle of working.

But, Evernote does more than simple note-taking. It integrates with many other app, has browser extensions, syncs with iOS and Android devices and can even save a web page with just one click. Wherever information is being collected, it’s all saved and easily accessible in one place. It’s safe, simple and makes sure that nothing falls through the cracks.

7. Zoom

Zoom is a virtual meeting space. Meetings will not be denied, coronavirus or not. Teams will need to talk, and managers will need to lead. Zoom provides a virtual conference room for anyone with a computer and an internet hook-up.

Zoom acts as a phone, instant messenger for business, video webinar and a conference room. It’s a social way to stay socially distant.

8. OFFTIME

OFFTIME is an app for iOS and Android devices to curb social time. Social distancing doesn’t apply to social media, but when it comes to wasting time its epidemic. People can’t help but distract themselves from a stressful assignment with cute cat pictures.

OFFTIME restricts social media time on smartphones, it can set limits on usage and schedule timeouts.

9. Pocket

Pocket enables articles to be saved whenever something interesting is encountered. When in the course of a day, an article or video is shown that captures interest it can be saved. Pocket allows saving, no matter where it was published. That way, remaining focused without getting pulled away from work.

10. Noisli

Noisli is an app that uses music to both soothe and be more productive. It doesn’t provide pop, classic rock or hip-hop, but the app does have over a dozen sounds, from nature to trains and coffee shops.

Noisli sets the mood and creates an aural soundscape that improves focus and productivity. The sounds can be mixed, adjust levels and curate a perfect chill vibe to provide calm during stressful times.

Tips for Working from Home with Remote Teams

Now that tools have been covered, the following are some tips that will help better regulate time and improve ability to collaborate, even with people in different time zones.

Daily Scrum

One thing is the daily scrum. Scrum is a framework for working in a more agile fashion, which means faster and more iterative. An essential part of scrum is the daily scrum, a meeting where the team gets together and briefly states what they did yesterday and what they are doing today.

Whether working that way or not, just having a moment at the beginning of the day when the team can video conference and talk about what they’re all working on is helpful for context and morale.

Set Up a Productive Work Station

If forced to work from home, then a workstation would need to be setup, a quiet location away from family to ensure concentration. Therefore, find a private place, preferably with a door that can be closed, so there is space and silence necessary to work. Ensure there is a good desk, chair, computer, lighting, etc., just like it would be expected in a work office.

Keep Regular Hours

It is suggested to keep regular hours when working from home. By setting a schedule and sticking to it, at least most of the time, it will give the day more structure.

With structure comes discipline and, believe it or not, most will need more discipline without the group modelling productive behaviours. So, follow the same morning routine every day to get in the right mindset, have lunch at the normal time and take periodic breaks—but act as if the boss is watching.

Go Outside

It might sound counter intuitive with a pandemic, but leaving home is important. It is possible to go stir-crazy being locked in a house. That’s not going to help with productivity.

A change of environment is essential. It refreshes the senses and brings you back to your desk with a new and better perspective to handle the coming challenges of the day.

Considering the infectious nature of coronavirus, though, keep away from public spaces, don’t go to coffee shops or restaurants and keep a safe and recommended distance from other people. But do get out and walk.

Stay Sharp by Diversifying your Downtime

Finally, take advantage of your home office. Instead of taking a break and chatting with a co-worker, do the laundry, prep for dinner or take a break to read. That doesn’t mean slacking off on work responsibilities, but rather managing time wisely.

Set Deadlines

Tracking a team’s progress with one of the online tools found in Projectmanagementcompanion.com and daily scrum meetings will also help, but there are other things that can be done to make sure the team is focused and staying productive when working from home. For example, set more aggressive deadlines for the team and assign them concrete tasks. This will promote productivity.

Managing the Stakeholder and Management Strategies

Experienced project managers understand the importance of stakeholder management. Stakeholders can influence many aspects of a project, including its budget, resources and overall progression. In order to manage stakeholders well, a fluid line of communication must be established. This requires that a project manager deliver regular reports to stakeholders and actively listen whenever stakeholders provide feedback. To properly communicate this with the stakeholder then they should be identified first.

The term stakeholder includes anyone that is affected by the project, both within the organization and without. Typical stakeholders can include investors, regulatory bodies, vendors, project teams, senior managers, board members and more. Obviously, not all of those stakeholders will be impacted by the project to the same degree, so the next step is to identify how and to what extent each stakeholder is affected.

Once the stakeholders have been identified, then analysis must take place in respect to their interest in the project and their influence on its outcome. These two metrics combined will help prioritize which stakeholders to focus on as the project is being managed.

For example, if a stakeholder has a lot of influence over the project, but isn’t that interested in its daily progress, then they shouldn’t be pestered with status reports every day. For help with prioritizing project stakeholders, it’s common to perform a visual process called stakeholder mapping.

Keep in mind that a stakeholder mapping matrix will only give part of the story, as stakeholders are human beings and will naturally react to events and communications in unique ways, even if they have similar levels of interest and influence. Some individuals might have endless patience, while others might be quick to anger. This is important to consider as communication plans with the stakeholder is being composed.

Once this has been conducted, then it is time to create an overall plan for managing them as the project progresses. Because without an agreeable relationship with stakeholders, the project is in for some rough sailing.

Communication is essential for a positive relationship with each of the stakeholders. Stakeholders need clear business communications, free of jargon that fits busy schedules and provides the information that applies to their project interest. Some stakeholders will like phone calls, others emails. Some stakeholders will demand in depth task reports, while others will want overall project status reports.

If a project management software is chosen, it must be able to efficiently communicate with the stakeholders, allowing for leverage of relationships and promote progress and avoid any bureaucratic roadblocks. Projectmanagementcompanion.com has a selection of easy reporting tools that can create status reports, task reports and project progress reports, making it easy to quickly distribute tailored reports to stakeholders.

Remember communication is a two way street, the stakeholder must be listened to throughout this process, and not just feeding them with reports and updates. That’s where a strategy to adapt to changes comes in handy.

It’s important to actively listen to the stakeholder when feedback is given. Always ask questions to really understand what they are wanting from the project. It’s better to ask questions now then have to deal with another meeting later that takes up even more time. Of course, implementing changes to a project plan will require a redistribution of resources. Resource management tools can be absolutely critical in this instance.

Use software which has workload tools that allow quick overview of the workload assigned to the entire team on a single calendar view, and then easily reassign work and project resources with just a few clicks. This allows the adoption of changes put forth by stakeholders in just a matter of minutes.

Naturally, the stakeholder won’t always be right, ensure to pick battles carefully. It’s okay to say no to a stakeholder, be ready to defend the argument with solid data.

Use regular communications with stakeholders to not only converse, but to monitor their emotions and reactions. If there are any abrupt changes in attitude noticed, then something might be amiss in the relationship.

Stakeholder relationships can also take a hit if there are errors in the overall project execution, such as missed deadlines, inaccurate budgets or employee turnover. In such instances, it’s smart to make an extra effort to reach out and keep everyone informed.

In addition to managing the stakeholders themselves, it’s also import to monitor any project changes they might have suggested. The best way to do this is with a project dashboard that provides a bird’s eye view of all the important data.

Given everything that’s been mentioned, the importance of project stakeholder management is clear. Without their cooperation, it’s impossible to bring a project to a successful conclusion. That’s why, as a project manager, it’s critical that an atmosphere of positive stakeholder relationships will leave them happy with the team’s performance, the project manager, and outcomes.

Project Team Definition and covering the resource gap

Resourcing is a key component of any projects success or failure, to underestimate the importance of a project team, is at the project managers peril. Frequently, projects are executed with teams of inadequate size and composition, due to budget or internal skill-set. Other factors include poor comprehension of the nature and amount of the work to be done, and a superficial or in-existent analysis of the required skills in the team members.

To engineer the project team is an important process to be done carefully. To do that, it’s fundamental first to have a clear understanding of the nature of the scope of the work. A good requirements elicitation, a correct project scope definition and a detailed work breakdown structure are key process to ensure the comprehension of work that the project involve.

Once the work breakdown structure is clear, is the moment to meditate on the preassigned human resources to the project team. Is it suitable in quantity and quality? The organization has a fixed staff, or the organization hire people to create a dedicated team for the project? Probably the answer will depend on the organization and in the particular project.

To define the team, the first step is to assign to each activity or work package, the required number of people with their associated qualifications or expertise. Once finished this exercise, it’s necessary to check the time frame of the execution of the tasks. For instance, if several activities that requires the same specialists can be done in sequence, the number of persons to consider in the team are few than in the case if the activities should be executed in parallel.

This optimization can only be possible when the problem is quantitative (number of people), but not in the case in which the resource gap is qualitative. For instance, if the project requires a doctor in robotics, the project cannot be delivered with who don’t have knowledge in robotics, even if sponsors provide double or triple the time. This is obvious, but frequently is forgotten. In this instance there is a degree of freedom: by trading off the number of people with the execution time. The same set of activities can be executed slower with less people or faster with more people. Therefore, there is an optimization analysis to be done. Off course, this analysis is constrained in certain limits. For example, a task originally planned to do with three people can be accelerated if there is an introduction of two additional persons, but if ten extra people are added, they will obstruct the fluid development of the task. In this case entropy is being produced, and the task will not be finished early.

An instrument or tool to identify the gap of skilled people in the project team is the resource gap table, as depicted below

Being conscious of the project team resource gap is important in the planning process. It is useful to ask for resources, time or, in the worst case, at least to be conscious of the risks and communicate them opportunely to stakeholders.

How to Support and Develop effective sponsor engagement

The relationship between Project Managers and Project Sponsors is a critical one, often there are significant challenges in new sponsors getting to grips with their role in shaping and supporting their projects. Do not underestimate the value in forming a productive working relationship with a project sponsor. It can be a challenging prospect for project managers, as sponsors are often time poor who are set in their ways of working, which can cause friction in how a project is delivered. Whilst the sponsor may be accountable for the benefits, the responsibility of delivering the project always rests with the project manager — as does the responsibility of setting the tone on how the relationship develops.

Establishing a relationship with a new sponsor can be particularly fraught. New sponsors have never been in the role before and indeed may have little or no understanding of what it takes to deliver a successful project, let alone understand the weight of the role they will play in its outcome. There are a few key aspects an experienced PM can follow to support the novice sponsor.

Wherever a role sits within a project’s organisation chart, it’s fair to assume that everyone has been hired on merit, which often includes an interview process to drill into each person’s suitable experience for the role at hand, including their qualifications. Anyone hoping to join a project team, whether they are project managers, business analysts, testing professionals, or change practitioners, it should be expected as part of the process. Except, of course, the project sponsor.

The sponsor is a key role in the project organisation and is the person who will ultimately be accountable for the benefits it delivers as well as its success or failure. Yet, despite the importance of the role, a project sponsor is rarely interviewed to understand what their credentials are for the role or if there’s a gap in their skillset.

Typically, the sponsor is a C-suite manager, and this is how they are interviewed and appointed with a focus on their day job: It is based upon their line management expertise in their field. They are not interviewed in terms of their understanding of project delivery or what it means to be a good sponsor. Thus, a sponsor will often need to learn on the job and this is where a good project manager or PMO can assist.

Once it is clear that a project manager is working with an inexperienced sponsor, this will become apparent very quickly, just ask their understanding of the difference between risks over issue. The focus should be on upskilling them in an ordered way whilst minimising risks to the project because of their lack of experience.

The optimal approach to upskilling is to make it a collaborative exercise and focus on mutual delivery. An experienced project manager will focus on developing a strong rapport with the sponsor to ensure that they understand the PM is there at all times for the good of the project. They will also establish the link that a successful outcome is a joint outcome which enhances everybody’s reputation.

Everything is easy when a project is running smoothly. It’s only when a project hits challenges that project management can become difficult and that is where it is vital as a project manager to be able to surface bad news to facilitate any hard calls that need to be made.

Inexperienced sponsors often cannot follow the bouncing ball of how a poor decision manifests itself should no decision be made. This is where the project manager needs to be able to be open and forthright with the sponsor to:

  • identify the risks that lie ahead
  • calculate how a misstep will likely impact the success of the project, and
  • shepherd what ‘we’ need to do about it

Again, if the relationship between the sponsor and the project manager is a healthy and collaborative one, having difficult conversations to surface bad news might be challenging but will be considered essential.

Covering up the bad news because there is concern that the sponsor will be displeased or not have the wherewithal to assist in making decisions about where to next is a zero sum game: there will be a price to pay somewhere for not making a good decision early.

It is far better to get this out in the open and be very much on the front foot in involving the inexperienced sponsor in helping facilitate the right outcomes.

The dynamic between an inexperienced sponsor and an experienced PM can be challenging but it is manageable with a couple of critical techniques as has been outlined above. Ultimately nothing guarantees success, but understanding how an inexperienced sponsor might come into the role and having the right approach to working with them give, at the very least, a project manager and the PMO a fighting chance to bring out the best in a sponsor and help make their first and future projects a success.

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.