Project management events in 2019: An overview in Italy and Europe

Project management conferences are an excellent way to meet new people, do networking and improving one’s skills. Obviously, it is not always worth participating to all of them.

We thought, therefore, to do a selection of the most important events. Basically, a list of the major Project Management events that will take place in Italy and in Europe in 2019.

CONTENT INDEX

PMI Central Italy Chapter

There are many interesting events organized every year by the PMI Central Italy Chapter, but the two events that are under international attention and which will surely be worth following will be:

  1. InNOWvation: Creating the Future, an international event, in which innovation in planning will be the main theme. This event will be held on the 13th and 14th June 2019, in Rome, and you can find all the details at this link: https://innowation.pmi-centralitaly.org/;
  2. The 3rd National Project Management Forum scheduled for mid-October

PE Award Assessment Training Lisbon 2019 – Lisbon, Portugal

A three-day training program organized by the IPMA – International Project Management Association for potential PE Award assessors.

Much attention is devoted to the evaluation process itself, including the ability to interview and report.

Before this training session in Lisbon, there are also two other sessions in the form of webinars that are carried out online.

More information can be found at the official link
https://www.ipma.world/projects/project-excellence-awards/pe-assesment-trainings/

APM Project Management Conference – London

This conference, sponsored by Hyde Park Solutions Ltd., will explore how the profession is delivering value in a changing world, following the “Delivering Value in a Transforming World” macro-theme.

Key speakers will discuss how project managers can take control of their projects and provide more benefits using innovative methods, tools and techniques.

The three streams this year will focus on adapting to develop a career, working smarter and how to develop personal performance.

The appointment is for May 2nd, 2019: https://www.apm.org.uk/apm-conference/

Congress PMI® EMEA 2019 – Dublin, Ireland

The PMI – Project Management Institute is the leading association for project, program or portfolio management professionals.

The PMI® EMEA 2019 Congress will provide the concept, skills, and behavior needed in order to make a difference in project management.

More than three days, in which the global perspectives on this fast-moving profession will be heard.

The congress will take place from the 13th to the 15th May 2019 in Dublin, Ireland: https://www.pmi.org/emea-congress/registration-options

SUPSI Project Management Forum – Lugano, Switzerland

The second edition of the Project Management Foruma – PMF will take place on the 23rd and 24th May 2019 at the Palazzo di Congressi in Lugano.

The program of this new edition of the PMF has not been published yet, but this event was created to contribute to the development of knowledge and the dissemination of culture in the field of project management.

Surely, even in 2019, there will be an interesting program. More information will be published here http://www2.supsi.ch/cms/pmforum/pmf-2019/
the 2019 project management events

Portfolio & Project Management Summit 2019 – Berlin, Germany

The agenda and keynote speakers of this congress have yet to be published, but this is definitely an event to attend.

The 2019 Portfolio & Project Management Summit will take place in Berlin, Germany, on October 24th and 25th 2019.

The information will be published in this official link https://qepler.com/events/portfolio-and-project-management-summit-2019.html

CUOA –Executive Project Management Course

In this case, we are not talking about a congress, but about an executive course in Project Management offered by CUOA – University Center of Business Organization.

This course focuses on all aspects of project management in operational terms, and not just theoretical ones as most of the courses do.

In fact, technical competence is necessary, but not sufficient for a professional project manager.

The 15th edition of the course will take place from the 15th February to the 25th May 2019.

Keep in mind also that the Jobleader Project Management course of CUOA Business School is a prerequisite for the certifications in Project Management of the PMI.

For more information, here is the link: https://www.cuoa.it/ita/formazione/corsi-executive/project-management

MIP – Politecnico di Milano, Project Management courses

MIP has always supported organizations of different sizes and from different sectors in the training of their project managers.

Also in 2019, three courses will be proposed:

  • Project Manager Fundamentals, which allows the acquisition of the base knowledge regarding project management;
  • Project Manager Advanced, which focuses on the project management theme with practical and theoretical examples;
  • PMI Certification Course, the PMP certification promoted worldwide by the PMI and which attests the individual skills in Project Management.

To know all the dates, consult the official website of the MIP
https://www.mip.polimi.it/it/offerta-formativa/management-academy/aree-tematiche/innovation-design/corsi-brevi-in-project-management/

In our opinion, these are the most important project management events of 2019. In case you have new events to report, you can easily do so by leaving a comment below.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

New Twproject 6.5.65004

A new Twproject release is out today, with some small enhancement and some bug fixes. This release is free for all plan and does not contain any schema update. For the complete list of changes take a look out our change log.

Features

This new release includes a new rich HTML editor that you can use for sending messages, writing notes and meeting minute.

We also introduced a new repository type to organize uploded twproject document in folder by day/month/year and a new bar in task statistics for task’s helth.

The list of small improvements is rich as well so just go take a look!

Check the list of improvements and fixed bugs.
organizational process assets

Organizational process assets and the project environment

Before starting to talk about the Organizational Process Assets, we want to spend some words in order to “contextualize” the topic.

As the 6th version of the Italian PMBOK highlights, the projects exist and operate in environments that may have influence on them.

Such influences can have a favorable or unfavorable impact on the project and this obviously depends on a number of conditions.

However, there are some categories of priority influences:

It is precisely the updated guide of the PMBOK that highlights this structure.

organizational process assets

Starting precisely from this division, we have chosen to deepen in this article the topic related to the Organizational Process Assets.

 

What are the Organizational Process Assets?

Organizational process assets (OPA) are valuable information, documents and knowledge tools that the organization accumulates over time.

In a simpler way, we can say that they are one thing: lessons learned from the past.

In other words, while the organization is involved in various projects, it gradually gains and develops more Organizational Process Assets. These are the history of the company itself and of its projects.

Organizational Process Assets include documentation that serves as an archive or repository of the company.

An asset is something of value and the assets of a mature company are priceless. It took a long time, human and economic resources to achieve them.

It is therefore easy to understand how the organizational process assets correspond to a real treasure in project management.

Here is a list of the Organizational Process Assets normally used and that can be divided into two categories.

  1. Processes and procedures
  2. Basic knowledge of the company

organizational process assets 2

The first category deals with the processes and procedures needed to carry out the work, which includes the following:

  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Standard models
  • General guidelines

The second category includes basic company knowledge for storing and retrieving information:

A project manager should normally include all this information during project planning.

What are the advantages of organizational process assets in project management?

As mentioned, the organizational process assets consist of what the company has acquired over time and are therefore very valuable especially considering project planning.

Documents, policies or procedures that are part of the organizational process assets are used as input for most planning processes.

For example, if the company is trying to start a new project very similar to a project already carried out, the documentation of lessons learned about the past project will provide a lot of useful information for the new project.

In short, the assets will act as inputs for the new project.

The resources of the organizational process can also be advantageous in terms of saving time in the case of hiring a new employee.

If all that is connected to the role of the new employee is well documented, it will be really easy for this new team member to start working quickly and effectively. Obviously, the same thing will happen in the case of a change of role within the company.

At the end of each project, during the closing process, the new lessons learned will be collected within the organizational process assets and will help in future projects.

First of all, come the lessons learned by the team, and after those the evaluations of customers and stakeholders.

The format of the assets can be  different depending on the project or the type of organization.

It is possible to use databases, sometimes specific, for the collection and documentation of information or these can be collected in paper format.

It is important to keep in mind that the organizational process assets are not only fundamental for the project management, but also for the general management of a company. In fact, they represent its historical basis and its experiences.

In conclusion, and we repeat the concept, the organizational process assets can be considered a real treasure when it comes to project management.

These exist to make suggestions, to be used, to develop and grow further, from project to project.

This is why it is essential that the project documentation is always available and updated.

In Twproject, we have created an intelligent system for managing and archiving project documents.

By choice, we keep document management to the essential, with some powerful and simple technique that can satisfy most companies.

The documents, even those related to the organizational process assets, are always just a click away!

Let’s check this new feature.

process-project2

Process or project? What differences? What goals?

People often confuse projects with processes.

Some might argue that this is only a question of semantics and that saying “project” rather than “process” does not change much.

In fact, there are some areas where projects and processes can overlap (which is why confusion arises), but there is also an essential difference that impacts the way in which the activities are managed in one case or the other.

Project vs. process: the definition

A recognized definition is that:

Projects concern actions never done before, while processes are actions that are done repeatedly.

A project is about creating something new or implementing a change. On the other hand, a process is designed to create value by repeatedly executing an activity.

In a project, the goals and plans can be modified by the stakeholders. The processes, on the other hand, are established procedures for work and can be generally modified only with planning and investments.

In fact, a project is ideally needed to change an established process within an organization.

A project is temporary because it has a defined beginning and end date, and therefore defined scope and resources.

Moreover, a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to achieve a singular goal.

Projects are designed to create changes.
On the other hand, processes are designed to resist change because they establish a repeatable and executable workflow.

Project vs. process: the common points

Both processes and projects aim to achieve something through a sequence of planned activities.

In general, they both need teams and resources that can execute them.

Moreover, they can coexist, as in the case where people work on processes and have a project going on.

process-project


Project vs. process: the differences

It should be underlined that between projects and processes there is a significant difference: the frequency with which the activity is repeated.

The projects are in fact one-off, even if there are cases in which the projects become repeatable.

In this situation, if the project becomes repetitive, it becomes a process.

The processes are in fact repeatable and create value by producing a given output on demand.

The fact that the activities are repeated means that it is possible to efficiently cushion the planning effort thanks to the many repetitions.

Instead, in the case of an already planned project, the effort must be repaid by the outcome of the single time it is performed.

When dealing with a project, much of the effort goes into the initial planning. After this step, the effort is focused on checking that everything is following the plan.

The process works differently. In fact, you can review the result from a process and learn from it, you can make changes to the process and you can experiment and see what works and what does not.

The “management effort” is less focused on keeping things on track and is rather oriented to learn how to optimize the process.

So this is the big difference regarding the “management effort” in projects and processes.

Further differences between process and project

In addition to this, projects and processes are supervised differently, making most of the tools incompatible for managing both of them.

Projects are supervised by a primary authority, usually a project manager, who guides the project towards its goal.

The processes are instead managed by all the people involved in the workflow in progress. In other words, they are everyday actions that are formalized with the goal of improving overall efficiency and productivity.

process-project1

Project management is a consolidated methodology for managing and executing changes within an organization.

It is interesting to see that the project management itself is a defined and repeatable process. Ultimately, all the work involves a process and the project management functions in the same manner.

The correct management of the project proceeds according to well defined principles and procedures that allow to manage organizational changes and new initiatives.

It is simply a very specific and carefully designed process that is repeated and performed every time the company makes a major change and is doing something new for the first time.

The process of implementing these changes is called project management and each change must be managed as a project.

Projects, projects and TwProject

All of what has been said so far shows that there are several reasons for extending project management with processes; often projects or processes are presented as alternatives for the organizational needs of the team.

With Twproject you can get benefits from both, in an integrated solution.

Surely it has happened over time to repeat some of the company’s projects and to standardize them and transform them into “business processes”.

Well, in our software you can find the solution to this situation …. And many others!

In TwProject, the integrated tool for managing business processes greatly expands the possibility of modeling in relation to the project tree. It improves usability even for complex cases, keeping the organization based on the project.

In our  meetings with customers we often present two ways according to which they can model their business processes:

  • with the projects, aimed at giving a minimal structure to work and collect a maximum amount of feedback, worklog, etc.,
  • using business process models, which are workflows. Workflows are more rigid but more accurate. They are more complex to plan but often easier for the end user, who has just to say “go ahead” on their tasks when this is the case.

In conclusion, we can say that there is no difference in importance between a project and a process. In fact, everyone plays an important role in achieving goals within an organization and it is necessary to make sure that they are both used appropriately.

Processes are continuous and repeated procedures that help to achieve business goals, while projects are ways to change processes, launch new products, or otherwise make changes within the organization in order to develop the goals in new ways.

Did you already know the difference between a project and a process? Are there any further differences that you consider relevant? Give us your opinion.

Projects and processes in an integrated solution.

delegating project activities

Delegating project activities effectively: (7) key suggestions

Delegating project activities is a delicate task, but most often necessary in the management of complex projects.

By working alone you can only do a limited amount of work. Indeed, the hours in a day are limited.

Often, however, especially in the case of the project manager, it will be required to do much more.

This can lead to a real sense of pressure and overload, leading to situations of stress and unhappiness, if not to a real burn out.

One of the most common ways to overcome this limitation is to learn how to delegate the work to other.

If it is done correctly, you can quickly build a group of strong and successful people.

This is why delegation is such an important skill in project management.

In fact, delegation is the main key to maximizing the productivity of a single person.

The problem is that many managers do not know how to delegate effectively, or are not willing to do so unless it is absolutely necessary.

But do not worry, the delegation of the project activities is a skill that, like any other, can be learned and improved over time.

Here are then 7 key suggestions to effectively delegate the project activities.

Delegating project activities : Learn to let go

For the project manager, this is probably the most difficult thing to put into practice.

The biggest problem faced by most managers is, in fact, the inability to abandon part of their work in favor of third parties.

Sometimes you feel so involved in the project and in meeting the deadlines that one can refuse the help of other people.

At other times, it is feared that no one else has the skills or abilities necessary to perform the job effectively. In both cases, we end up overloading ourselves and, paradoxically, moving away from the positive outcome of the project itself.

This is why learning to “let go” becomes fundamental for the success of the project.

But as in all things, the beginning may seem so complicated that is postponed.

“This project is too important … for this time I complete it, next time maybe I will delegate …” (And next time never comes.)

Then a suggestion in order to begin with the process is to start with small steps, thus delegating only the smallest and most basic activities, and then progress.

Delegating project activities : Establish a priority system

Obviously, this system will vary based on experience, sector and types of activities that are normally managed.

Generally speaking, however, it can be helpful to create categories, based on the degree of effort required by a task and the degree of skill.

The category with the highest skills should contain activities that the project manager will have to perform in the first person, while those in the less specialized categories can be delegated.

The degree of commitment is a good reference point in order to understand which are the most important activities to delegate: for example, delegating responsibility for a task of high intensity and low skill will save a lot of time for the project manager.

In order to define the right approach the matrix that Eisenhower, or Covey Matrix, is very interesting and we will discuss about it in a future article.

What we wanted to create in TWproject (in line with this aspect) is the possibility to plan the right priority for each assignment.

Thanks to this the PM can see the assignments for the week, change the priority or remove the points of change: and can do it for every resource involved in the workgroup.

delgating project activities

And not only that: Twproject shows the priority assignments wherever possible, even for the individual participant. In this way each component of the project is able to display and monitor the priorities of his assignments.

delegating project activites - priority od assignment

Delegating project activities : Evaluate the strengths of the team and employees

A project manager should know each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, including his current and potential range of skills.

When delegating, you need to evaluate your team and assign tasks to anyone with the skills most relevant to that activity.

It would seem obvious, but the mistake in which many fall is to delegate to those with the lightest workload or where is most convenient.

Furthermore, it is also important to be consistent. For example, delegating the same type of task to the same team member will increase that individual’s attitude to perform those tasks.

Delegating project activities : Always include instructions

Although the process in the eyes of a project manager seems obvious, you need to make sure to include the instructions for each activity that will be delegated.

If you have specific preferences about how the task should be carried out, this information must be included. If there is a deadline or strict targets, this need to be clear.

Including simple details and instructions from the beginning will avoid much of the communication gap and will allow the colleague to perform the tasks effectively.

Here, then, inserting a specific document, visible only to the operator with the indications of the activity takes only a short time with Twproject, but its benefit is lasting.

This proactive strategic action will definitely be appreciated by the collaborators.

Delegating project activities : Teach new skills

The lack of someone in the team who can perform a certain activity does not mean that work can not be delegated.

Have you ever thought about it?

Most skills can be learned, so do not be afraid to teach these skills as part of the delegation process.

Even if the initial assignment of the first tasks will take more time than is actually saved, this must be seen as an investment.

By transferring these skills, it will be possible to assign all similar activities to that individual in the future, thus saving more time in the long run.

Delegating project activities : Trusting is good, communicating is better

Once a task has been delegated, it is right to trust the collaborator.

This will allow the person to do the job in a serene way.

However, do not be afraid to intervene from time to time and verify that the activity moves as planned.

For example, if the delegation has been done a week ago, it is fair to trust that the team member is working on the task, but activating direct communication is not a wrong step.

This encourages trust and respect within the team and helps to prevent interruptions in communication or understanding.

Delegating project activities : Use feedback

Feedback is the most important part of the delegation process and works in both directions.

If the collaborators have done well a task, it is good to thank them; if the work was not done in the best way, it is good to criticize them constructively in order to avoid the same mistakes in the future.

Likewise, team members must also share their feedbacks and opinions on how the delegation process is working.

This is a fundamental moment in order to determine if the project manager is providing enough information and if the right activities are assigned to the right people.

Delegation is not always easy, but the sooner you start, the sooner you will develop the skills to do it effectively.

At first glance, delegation may seem more problematic than it actually is, but by effectively delegating it is possible to vastly expand the amount of work that can be offered.

Do you regularly delegate in your work? How do you manage the delegation process? Tell us about your experience.

Delegate in effective way.

agile and lean

Lean and Agile: differences and similarities

Agile and Lean are two popular methods in the project management world that help teams deliver faster, more sustainable results.

However, the differences and similarities between these two methodologies are often not clear.

Even the terms themselves are often used in the wrong manner, as synonyms to describe a particular set of practices.

For a project manager, it is important to understand the differences and similarities between Lean and Agile methodology in order to guarantee the correct application and to obtain an effective and efficient organization.

What is the Lean methodology?

“Lean” generally refers to a set of knowledge called more specifically “Lean Manufacturing“, developed in Japan in the ’50s and’ 60s by an engineer named Taiichi Ohno.

Lean Manufacturing has transformed many traditional concepts including:

  • Production should be based on demand and not on supply. It is simply about doing something when someone wants it and orders it, rather than doing it first, hoping then that someone will need it;
  • The production is more efficient if performed in small lots in order to exploit economies of scale;
  • Taking the time to focus on quality also increases production and efficiency;
  • Employers, not managers, are responsible for defining their method of working;
  • Rather than executing predefined tasks over and over again, workers must continually improve their way of working (the so-called “Kaizen”).

agile and lean (2)

These ideas, at that time, seemed to be heretical in the eyes of the American and Western industry, but the Japanese industrial organizations that adopted these philosophies quickly outperformed their “colleagues”.

In short, the Lean methodology says to implacably eliminate all that does not add value.

Eliminating waste means eliminating unnecessary meetings, tasks and documentation, but also means eliminating inefficient methods of working, such as multitasking.

The Lean methodology also places a very strong emphasis on what is called “the system”, i.e. the way the team works as a whole.

Work should always be seen from a higher level in order to ensure that the process are really optimized.

This methodology says to respect the fact that the people who do the job are those who know how to do it at the best. Once they receive what they need to be effective, they must be left “alone” and trusted.

What is the Agile methodology?

Agile refers to a set of values and principles set out in the Agile Manifesto.

The Agile Manifesto basically underlines the following aspects:

  • Interaction of individuals on tools and processes
  • Collaboration with potential customers in the negotiation of project results
  • Respond to change with a plan

The Agile methodology is very similar to the Lean methodology and for this reason you will see many similar points between these two.

The Agile methodology, in general, is more based on development rather than production.

Agile and Lean are very similar …

There are some clear similarities between the Agile and the Lean methodology.

The Lean methodology expects the construction of objects / products in the least possible number of lots. According to the concept that it is more efficient this way.

The Agile methodology provides many small frequent versions of a product, rather than a large production.

The Lean methodology also says that every process should be continuously inspected and adapted in order to improve it. This method is therefore very focused on continuous improvement, the so-called Kaizen.

The Agile methodology also provides for regular checks of the results and of the working method in order to evaluate possible improvements.

Another similarity between Lean and Agile is the focus on cooperation between employees.

In both methodologies, the people – the workers – who perform the tasks are more important than the tools they use.

agile and lean (3)

When it comes to Agile and Lean, nothing is more important than the final result. This result must create value for the customer and is the only goal of the development process.

The Agile methodology allows the client to constantly adapt his needs, while the Lean provides for the manufacture of the product in such a way that there is no waste. In any case, the customer must get exactly what he expects.

But Agile and Lean are also very different

The main difference is that the Agile methodology concerns the optimization of a development process, while the Lean method concerns the optimization of a production process.

In production we generally have a predefined product and we want to produce as many high quality products as possible, in the most economic way possible.

In production, variation and rework are negative and expensive, while in a development process they are good and optimal.

Indeed, in the development process the factors are continuously reviewed and are changed according to new information or feedback.

It is no coincidence that Lean Management was born in the industrial sector with the intention of making production systems more efficient, while the Agile methodology was born in the creative and software development environment.

In the first it is important that processes work in such a way that no waste occurs. This ultimately translates into a final product that is produced as efficiently as possible.

In the second situation, instead, the development of prototypes is foreseen, which are first tested and evaluated in order to then develop the final product.

But the differences between Lean and Agile are not over.

The Lean methodology is often applied to improve processes in all organizations. On the other hand, the Agile methodology is applied within a team, often composed of no more than a dozen people.

So Lean or Agile?

It is difficult to say which methodology is better. This is something that people must understand for themselves and also depends on the organization and the type of project that must be developed.

Both methods are strictly interconnected, everything revolves around the focus on customers and giving them the product they want in the most efficient way possible.

Each method has its strengths and weaknesses and it is necessary to know the characteristics of both in order to be able to evaluate them.

In our experience, success and productivity are linked to how you manage two aspects of work management:

  1. Carefully model the complexities of your work environment – and here, of course, Twproject assists you perfectly
  2. Bring this complexity to something simple, light, quickly manageable and upgradeable by the individual user.

beyond the ideas that surround the “agile” management and the “getting things done” revolve around this process.

And what methodology do you use? Why did you choose it and what are the advantages for you? Tell us about your experience.

Improve your project management method.

top performers 1

How to manage a highly productive team: top performers and key aspects

We all know that managing a team is not easy. When then, in the group there are also top performers, the situation becomes even more complicated.

Yet a highly productive team is a great advantage for everyone as long as one can manage it.

Let’s see then how to manage the top performers for the benefit of the group and the project itself!

Top performers represent the elite troops of any organization. Few, highly esteemed and sometimes difficult to manage, they represent a great corporate value.

Studies have shown that top performers, on average, reach 400% more than the average employee in the companies in which they work.

Let’s try to analyze them better.

The characteristics of a top performer

Positivity: the top performers tend to have a positive attitude towards everything.

They believe that through hard work, concentration and persistence there is little they can not accomplish.

This vision not only helps them overcome difficult situations, but also inspires the people around them to support them in their missions.

Having a growth mentality: top performers are always looking for ways in order to learn new skills, refine existing ones and learn from their mistakes.

This mentality allows them to find innovative solutions to the most complicated problems and makes them also highly flexible and adaptable.

In short, they follow the concept “you never stop learning”.

Do, not talk: these people are incredibly result-oriented.

They live to accomplish things and want to demonstrate to themselves and others that they can complete the most demanding tasks and projects.

In general, they do not waste time in chatter, but they focus on doing.

Self-taught: the drive to reach the goals and to act comes from the deep and it is almost never necessary to encourage them.

They have their own agenda and are ready to show themselves and others what they can do.

Hard workers: often they do not even seem to notice the hours that pass.

You may receive e-mails, reports, questions and worksheets at impossible times, on weekends and on public holidays (sent from them)

Their drive to progress, improve and complete things regardless of time and public holidays.

Moreover, their performances are not sporadic, they are continuous and consistent over time.

Constructive feedback: top performers are always looking for improvements.

Getting constant and constructive feedback is a fundamental part of this process, and they expect it.

Learning also outside the organization: not only do these people seek approval from managers and colleagues, but they also look outside the organization for elements and advice that they can use in order to become even better at their jobs.

Top performers management

Once we have seen the characteristics that, on average, we find in all the top performers, let’s now see how a project manager can deal with them.

As we have mentioned, a top performer can be difficult to manage, but with the following suggestions it will certainly be easier to establish a good working relationship.

top performers

Agree upon clear goals and align expectations

With top performers it is essential to be clear when defining goals.

These goals should be agreed on both sides and be measurable.

It is possible to use a framework, such as the SMART one, in order to both agree on specific, measurable, responsible, relevant and binding goals.

In general, however, as well as for any worker, it is necessary to ensure that the goals are ambitious, but not unattainable.

In this case, in fact, even a top performer could quickly lose motivation and confidence towards himself, towards the boss, in the project and in the company in general.

Offer them the tools in order to succeed

The role of the project manager is to set up a strategy, provide direction and give employees the resources they need in order to succeed.

It is therefore important to ensure that the top performers within the team have the tools they need (people, budget, training, etc.).

Get out of the way (Let them be free)

Once agreement is reached on the goals and the necessary tools are provided, a manager must leave the top performers completely free to act.

These high-level employees love their freedom and autonomy to do things the way they want. If they need help, they will ask for it.

If the manager continues to disturb them, they will feel frustrated and the situation could quickly get worse.

Plan meetings

Top performers are extremely allergic to non-productive meetings, whatever they are.

It is therefore necessary to make sure that you have a clear agenda and know how to manage meetings in a productive way.

The “1 to 1” meetings should help to find out what obstacles the top performers are facing, where they need help, if they need more resources, or if there are important changes that could affect their priorities.

The 1-1 is also a great opportunity to provide constructive feedback, highly appreciated by top performers, as said before.

These meetings can also be an opportunity to make sure that the top performer is focused on the “right” projects. He could, in fact, be distracted by other requests or new projects that awaken his interests.

Provide growth opportunities

As explained above, growth is like oxygen for top performers.

The growth can come from online courses, work on part time projects in other teams or even attend a part time course at a local university.

A lack of clear growth opportunities can be particularly frustrating for top performers. It often becomes a reason why they look for their future elsewhere.

top performers (2)

Gather players of the same level

One of the best ways to motivate top performers is to surround them with other au pair workers.

This is one of the main reasons why people stay in companies like Google or Amazon.

Top performers want to surround themselves with others of the same caliber. They want to be able to learn from them and improve the overall success of the team.

Encourage them to decompress

These people are like high-performance sports cars, they will continue to go to the maximum, as long as possible, until they run out of gasoline.

The problem is that some of them can stress a lot and even suffer from burnout.

As a manager, it is important to pay attention on how they feel, both physically as well as psychologically.

Having “burned” one of them is not only unpleasant for the person, but also means increasing and complicating the workload of the rest of the team that can no longer rely on the driving engine.

Work to trace a path for career advancement

Top performers are willing to invest more time and energy than many other collaborators, but they are also often more demanding and more ambitious.

With these people, it is important to discuss regularly on the progress of work role and on a possible increase of role with tangible and agreed metrics that must be respected by both parties.

It is therefore necessary to ensure that these progress metrics are in line with human resource policies. It will also be necessary to ensure that there is an internal support when the moment of promotion arrives.

Finding and hiring top performers is certainly difficult, keeping these people loyal to the company is even more so.

We hope these suggestions can make this process a little easier.

Have you ever found yourself in front of a top performer? Did you manage him/her? What were the most complicated situations you experienced in this sense? Tell us about your experience.

Coordinate your top performers effectively.

A try is worth more than a million words.

Twproject 6.5.65000

We are happy to announce that Twproject 6.5 is out with some great new features free for all plans. This new release includes some database changes and updates so do a complete backup before upgrade.

If you are updating from a version before 6.3 remember to check the upgrade guide here:
https://twproject.com/support/twproject-advanced-usage/installation/update-twproject-6-3/

Task Updates

Task logs, recording dates and status changes have been converted in the new task updates that you can use to save also comments/notes/updates of your projects and tasks.

Now you can record important information that remains in task history, visible to everyone that has the rights to see that task, on the overview page, Gantt editor, dashboards.

Task updates can be easily added from the task overview page but also from the Gantt chart. Just click on the + button and add a new note.

Task updates are fully indexed so you can search within their text and find them easily, thanks to this new feature it will be even easier to manage and control your projects progress!

Updates con be also monitored in a dedicated webpart that you can add to your dashboard showing you all new updates in real time.

And much more…

The new release includes also several minor features and bugfix.

You can find the entire list of updates here our Twproject Changelog.

Let’s check this new feature.

Work Breakdown Structure meeting

Work Breakdown Structure: some suggestions for using it to the best

A Work Breakdown Structure, abbreviated with WBS, is a visual tool for the definition and tracking of a project deliverable and all the small components necessary to create it.

With a Work Breakdown Structure, the project manager can concentrate on what he has to accomplish as he approaches the project deadline.

This is a fundamental tool for a PM as it helps to plan, manage and evaluate any type of project.

With a WBS, we start from the result or the desired final product, we analyze it and decompose it into smaller deliverables or the activities necessary to create it.

In a WBS, the deliverable can be an object, a service, or an activity.

Focusing on deliverables, rather than methods – the “what”, not the “how” – a Work Breakdown Structure helps to eliminate unnecessary and superfluous work.

A weighted WBS helps in planning, costs estimation and risk analysis.

It is usually a graph or a visual diagram that defines the temporal sequence and the process of a project. It breaks down into each activity that will be performed during the project life cycle.

A WBS is often represented as a structure, as a summary, but can also be organized using tabulations or other visual organizational systems.

What are the purposes of a Work Breakdown Structure?

Here are some of the benefits that arise whit the creation of a Work Breakdown Structure:

  • Provides a visual representation of all parts of a project
  • It offers a continuous vision on how the whole project proceeds, helping its management
  • Defines specific and measurable results
  • Decomposes the job into manageable blocks
  • Provides a system that allows successful experiences to be repeatable
  • Sets a basis for estimating costs and allocating resources, both human and other
  • Avoids overlaps or lack of work for the resources
  • Minimizes the possibility of forgetting a critical result or a risk.

 A well-done WBS can make the team work like a well-oiled machine, with the following advantages:

  • Increases productivity
  • Helps project managers predict results based on various scenarios
  • Helps with the project organization
  • Helps to describe the scope of the project to stakeholders
  • Helps to distribute responsibilities
  • Allows a correct estimate of costs, risks and time
  • Increases and improves communication
  • Allows more creativity and brainstorming
  • Focuses on the final results
  • Organizes the details
  • Prevents potential problems
  • Addresses programming issues
  • Helps to manage risks
  • Gives flexibility to the team
  • Eliminates confusion
  • Provides clear descriptions of the tasks of each team member
  • Provides a basis for a clear report on the status of the project, since each task is a measurable unit

Work Breakdown Structure templates

For a WBS, different types of formats and templates are possible:

  • Graphic format: emphasizes visual visualization of the project;
  • Linear structure: presents a time interval and dependencies between the components of a project;

  • Hierarchical structure: puts at the top the most important elements of a project for a greater emphasis;
  • Tabular view: allows team members to easily navigate to the most relevant sections for them.

Not all projects require the same type of format.

This can and must be adapted to the type of project and the type of members in the team.

Work Breakdown Structure: Best practices

1. Focus on the final results, not on the methods / actions.

The key lies in thinking about the “what”, not about “how”.

The main purpose of a WBS is to define the main deliverable taking into consideration the small components that compose it.

If the deliverable is not a physical product, a specific and measurable result must be provided in any case.

For example, if you are creating a WBS for a professional service, you need to define the results of that specific service.

2. 100 percent rule

The work represented by the Work Breakdown Structure must include 100% of the work required to complete the general result without including any extraneous or unrelated work.

Even sub-activities, at any level, should be taken into account, because are all necessary to complete the main activity.

In other words, the elements in the second level are equal to 100% and the elements in the third and lower levels are positioned within the percentage of the higher level with respect to them.

The finished project should never give a sum greater or less than 100 percent.

3. 8/80 rule

One of the common mistakes is to break down the work too much or not decompose it enough. There are several ways to decide when a work package is small enough without being too small.

The 8/80 rule is one of the most common suggestions: a work package should not take less than eight hours of work, and no more than 80 hours.

Other rules suggest not to give activities that exceed ten working days – which is equal to 80 hours if you consider a full-time employee.

In other words, a work package should not take more than a month to complete.

Clearly, this rule should be applied if it makes sense within the project and the industry.

4. Attention to the level of detail

In general, work packages should provide activities that can be completed by a team member, or by the team in general, within a reference period.

If the team is less experienced and needs more supervision and coaching, one solution is to make the work packages smaller and shorter.

If you have a deliverable that may take longer to complete or cost more than your given budget, it may be useful to divide the project into smaller deliverables with shorter work times.

With a more frequent reporting and review time, you can solve problems and solve them earlier.

Another suggestion is to create tasks and delegate activities at the beginning of a project, but in case and if necessary create new tasks and new delegations during a project.

Work Breakdown Structure

How to create a Work Breakdown Structure

The first step to create a WBS is to bring the team together.

Regardless of whether the team works in an office or remotely, it is essential that members participate in identifying derivables.

Collaborators must know exactly what is happening.

The project manager must also assemble the key documents of the project in order to start the development of the Work Breakdown Structure: the project charter, the problem that the project will solve, the scope definition, the documentation that refers to the existing processes for the project management, etc.

To start the creation, it is necessary to define the level one, ie the main result of the project.

Then gradually add as many details as possible. From the second level you will descend to the smaller pieces up to the third level, to the fourth level, and more, if necessary.

It is important to always define what is required in the previous level in the most detailed way possible before moving on to the next levels. It will be essential to further break down the work.

Here is a brief structure that can be useful for writing a WBS:

  • Determine and describe the project result;
  • Highlight all the necessary phases of the project;
  • Divide the final results into manageable tasks;
  • Assign each section and make sure that each owner, ie the corresponding team member, has all the information, skills and knowledge necessary to complete the job.
  • Ensure frequent feedback. The WBS is a dynamic document, whose content can be revisited, even frequently, to ensure the correct execution and delivery of the project.

In conclusion, the creation of a Work Breakdown Structure is a team effort and is the point of arrival of multiple inputs and perspectives for the given project.

Its goal is to make a large project more manageable.

The deconstruction into smaller blocks means that work can be done simultaneously by different team members. This will lead to better productivity and easier management of the project in general.

Have you ever created a WBS structure for your project? What tools and methods did you use?

Share them with us in the comments below.

Start creating your Work Breakdown Structure.

total quality management 3

Total quality management: plan the quality management of a project

Total Quality Management is an extended and structured organizational management approach. It focuses on continuous improvement of the products and services quality using continuous feedback.

The exact origin of the term Total Quality Management is not certain. What is certain is that it was certainly inspired by the works of Armand V. Feigenbaum and Kaoru Ishikawa.

From its origins the concept has been developed and can be used for almost all types of organizations, not just traditional companies but also schools, hotels, communities, etc.

Nowadays, Total Quality Management is also used in the e-business sector and perceives quality management entirely from the customer’s point of view.

Total Quality Management’s objective is to do things well and satisfactorily for the customer and to repeat this positive experience.

This allows the organization to save the time it takes to correct poor work and failed implementations of products and services, such as warranty repairs.

Total Quality Management can be set differently depending on the type of organization or for a series of standards to be followed, such as in the case of the ISO 9000.

In this type of approach, the strategy, data and communication channels are used to integrate the quality principles required in the organization’s activities and culture.

The principles of Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management has a series of basic principles that can be summarized in the following points:

  1. Focus on customers
  2. Employee involvement
  3. Process centralization
  4. Integrated system
  5. Strategic and systematic approach
  6. Decision-making process based on facts
  7. Communication
  8. Continuous improvement

Focus on customers

When following the principles of this approach it’s essential to remember that only customers determine the level of quality.

Regardless of the efforts made in the training of employees or the improvement of processes, only customers determine, through questionnaires, for example, whether the efforts have contributed to the continuous improvement of the quality of services and products.

Employee involvement

Employees are internal customers of an organization.

Employee involvement in the development of an organization’s products or services largely determines the quality of these products or services.

All employees within a company must understand that they have an important role to play in ensuring high levels of quality in the products and services that the organization produces.

Hence, it’s good to create a corporate culture in which employees feel involved in the organization.

total quality management 5 - meeting

Process centralization

The thinking process and managing processes are a fundamental part of Total Quality Management.

Processes are the guiding principle and people support them based on goals that are related to mission, vision and strategy in general.

Integrated system

It’s important to have an integrated organizational system that can be modeled, for example according to ISO 9000 standards, or a company quality system for understanding and managing the quality of an organization’s products or services.

Strategic and systematic approach

A strategic plan must embrace the integration and development of the quality of an organization’s products and services.

Decision-making process based on facts

The decision-making process within the organization must be based only on concrete facts and not on opinions, emotions and personal interests. Data should support decision making.

A quality management system is only effective when it is possible to quantify the results; in fact, it is necessary to see how and if the implemented process is having the desired effect.

This will help set goals for the future and make sure each department is working for the same result.

Communication

A communication strategy must be formulated in such a way that it is in line with the mission, vision and business objectives.

This strategy includes all stakeholders, evaluates communication channels, measurability of effectiveness, timeliness, etc.

Continuous improvement

By using the right measurement tools and innovative and creative thinking, continuous improvement proposals will be launched and implemented so that the organization can develop into a higher level of quality.

Total Quality Management is not something that is done once and then forgotten. It’s not a management phase that will end after a problem has been corrected.

Real improvements must occur frequently and continuously in order to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Practical approach to Total Quality Management

When implementing Total Quality Management, a concept is implemented.

total quality management 4

In fact, it is not a predefined system to “mount”, but it is a line of reasoning that must be incorporated into the organization and its culture.

The practice has shown that there are a number of basic assumptions that contribute to the success of Total Quality Management within an organization.

These basic assumptions are:

  • Form the top management on the principles of Total Quality Management and ask for their commitment in this regard;
  • Evaluate the current company culture, customer satisfaction and the quality system;
  • Senior management determines the desired core values ​​and principles and communicates them within the organization;
  • Develop a total quality management plan using the basic principles mentioned above;
  • Identify and prioritize customer and market needs and determine the products and services of the organization that can meet these needs;
  • Determine critical processes that can make a substantial contribution to products and services;
  • Create teams capable of working on process improvement;
  • Managers must support teams through planning, resources and training;
  • Management integrates the desired changes for the improvement of daily processes. After the implementation of improved processes, standardization comes in play;
  • Evaluate progress continuously and adjust planning or other critical issues if necessary;
  • Stimulate employee involvement. Awareness and feedback lead to a general improvement of the whole process.

In summary, Total Quality Management is not a quick solution and one must understand that real results may not occur immediately.

It is not a short-term investment but is designed to help an organization find long-term success.

What is your experience with Total Quality Management?

Is its principles applied within the organization you work with?

Are there any other basic assumptions that you think are important? Leave us your feedback below.

Manage the quality of your projects in a professional way.

brainstorming

Brainstorming and Project management: creativity at the service of a project’s success

Brainstorming, a technique apparently so far, but so useful for a Project Manager.

In the life of a project manager, in fact, creative thinking is required every day to solve problems.

Steve Jobs himself underlined it with the phrase: “Creativity is nothing more than connecting things”

In fact, many job descriptions for project managers specify creative thinking as an fundamental skill.

Brainstorming is an excellent way to develop new ideas and creative solutions to problems.

But to get the maximum benefit from this mental exercise it is essential to know how to use it correctly.

That’s why brainstorming is an interesting solution:

  • It is far more productive than traditional troubleshooting methods;
  • It is less structured and helps people find more creative solutions;
  • Helps more to get the agreement between team members on the chosen solution;
  • Offers an open environment that encourages people to contribute;
  • Enhance the different experiences of team members;
  • Help team members to create a stronger bond, both with each other and with the organization.

So let’s see what are the steps to perform efficient brainstorming sessions.

Brainstorming must have a goal

The moderator of the brainstorming meeting should present himself with a specific problem to be solved or a question to be answered; this is how we ensure a productive meeting.

If necessary and if it makes sense, you can provide the team with basic information and basic data a couple of days before the meeting.

The contribution will be concrete, reasonable and applicable only if people know what direction their effort is going.

brainstorming (3)

Prepare the team for brainstorming

Ensure that the meeting environment helps the team to concentrate.

The room should be well illuminated and include all necessary resources or tools, such as a whiteboard, post-it, pens, etc.

A very popular solution is also to include some refreshments. This solution is valid both to make the atmosphere more pleasant, and to prevent people from being misled by creating a way to drink machines 🙂 .

Prepare the basic information – if these have not been sent previously – without exaggerating.

Too much data can easily limit the creative potential of the team during a brainstorming session.

Finally, consider and choose the people who will participate in the meeting well.

If the team members invited to brainstorming session think in the same way, you will not be able to count on many creative and innovative ideas.

A heterogeneous group is therefore to be preferred.

The ideal would be to choose people from various departments and roles that will surely have different styles of thought.

Establish basic rules of brainstorming

To make sure that the discussion proceeds smoothly, establish basic rules at the beginning and stick to them.

Should people raise their hands before speaking? Or will they be able to make suggestions at any time?

Defining the basic rules will guarantee a smooth discussion and communication.

Moderate the discussion during the brainstorming

Remind to the participants that the brainstorming session is not a competition, but a collaborative effort to solve a problem.

This is how the team is helped to develop ideas – even those of other people – and to create new solutions.

To encourage everyone to contribute. Discourage employees from criticizing each other. Stick to one idea at a time and refocus the team when the discussion loses focus.

If the brainstorming session gets longer, organize breaks to help members regain concentration.

Comfort of brainstorming’s participants

There is only one way to get many creative ideas: give people the freedom to express themselves.

Even if an idea seems silly or scandalous, it must still be exposed and discussed, it could in fact lead to a new solution never thought of before.

Certainly some employees will be reluctant to exhibit and share their ideas for fear of being judged or that they are considered with no-sense.

Hence, it’s creating an environment in which participants feel comfortable that they will not run this risk.

Also, it’s important to show the team that it’s ok to have fun or strange ideas.

brainstorming (4)

Use brainstorming tricks

Here are some tricks to use during a brainstorming session:

Ask to the team what is the opposite of what you want to achieve

For example: what is the worst navigation project on a website?

These questions lead to thinking of a problem in an unusual way.

Play

For example, any person at any time can say “Wheel!” And everyone in the room will have to get up and move to the chair on their left.

This type of exercise helps people to move, not only physically but also mentally, and can become useful when the team feels stuck or lacking energy.

Introduce a new constraint on the problem, often exaggerated

The idea here is not to make the team work harder, but to help it think creatively.

For example, you can suggest that the product will be used only by left-handed people or that the budget for a given (large) project must be € 100 or less.

Challenges of this kind stimulates people and, because the constraint is so exaggerated, almost ridiculous, people will feel safer to expose any kind of idea.

At the end of a brainstorming session, do not forget to keep the participants informed about the continuation of the process and about new ideas and solutions, through follow-up.

In conclusion, an effective brainstorming leads to greater creativity and the generation of quality ideas.

Furthermore, it can also be a lot of fun for the team!

Which other aspects are important for successful brainstorming? Write us your opinion!

Manage your new ideas in an innovative way.

corporate change 3

Corporate change: the 8 reasons that cause difficulties and resistance

Today, the resistance to change in the company is a very important, and the same time delicate, subject.

In fact, in business, it is assumed that – big or small – organizations must change to remain competitive and survive in an ever-changing market.

However, facing this (big) change leads to face resistance barriers.

There are many different types of organizational changes.

Organizations can change:

  • their strategy,
  • their use of technology,
  • their structure,
  • their culture,
  • any combination of these aspects.

That’s why having a perspective view becomes fundamental.

Only by looking forward and defining the new organization and the new way of working of the people involved it is possible to identify the key aspects of the change process.

In short, it will be appropriate to plan “how the hypothetical change must take place” and to define the necessary actions that can counter the potential obstacles that may arise.

It is necessary to understand to what extent the people, in this case the employees, are ready to accept the changes and if the process threatens them in some way.

For a manager who must effectively manage the process of change implementation, it is important to know the reasons why people might resist change. The comprehension of motivations is essential to find and apply ways that encourage cooperation.

Resistance can delay or slow down the process of change, hinder its implementation and increase its cost. A manager can not afford it.

Why do people resist change?

In practice, there are 8 reasons why people resist change at work place.

A good manager must recognize these signs easily and understand the emotions that employees feel in this phase. Let’s try to examine one by one the causes of resistance to change.

1.Loss of work

In a company, any technological progress, process or product change will include more optimized work. This means a reduction in costs, an improvement in efficiency and a focus on faster completion times.

All this means that there will be changes that can affect certain roles and jobs. The team will tend to resist to protect their role.

2.Fear of the unknown

Employee responses to corporate change may vary. It can be fear or total support.

During times of change, some employees may feel the need to stick to the past because it is safer, more known and more predictable.

If what they did in the past worked well for them, they could resist change because they fear this comfortable situation will change in the future.

How can you blame them?

What is known is definitely an anchor, a safe haven, whatever the area.

This is why listening and dialogue become fundamental in this situation. Periodic meetings, comparisons and communication on change can be therefore very useful.

corporate change (2)

3.Loss of control

Asking to change the way the work is made can make employees feel helpless and confused.

People are more likely to understand and apply changes when they feel they have some control over them.

The key is therefore to keep the communication doors open and to encourage input, support and help from employees.

4.Lack of competence

This is a fear that employees will hardly admit openly.

Some people will feel that they will not be able to make the transition. This is because of their (few or insufficient) skills.

Therefore, the only way for them to survive or not to show their “ignorance” is to counter change.

Some employees express reluctance in learning something new in general. In this way, however, besides hindering change, they also hinder their personal growth.

5.Wrong time

It is important to consider that change is, itself, an event!

For this reason, change must be introduced when there are no other important initiatives in progress.

In this case, it is essential to prepare a strategy for change management since the beginning. The general situation of the organization must be assessed and the analysis should be complete.

In some cases it may be useful to hire a business change management consultant. This serves to design an effective and objective change management strategy.

6.Lack of rewards

Employees can resist changes when they see no reward. It is the simple question “Who makes me do it?”.

Without reward, in fact, there is no motivation to sustain change in the long run.

Therefore, to support change management, it is important that the organization’s reward systems are modified accordingly. The change must be seen as a rewarding system, an improvement for the company itself.

7.Social environment

Each company has its own internal policy. Thus, some employees resist change a priori, like a “political strategy“. It is simply a way like another to go against the management.

Employees can also join forces against change. They can do it, for example, to show that the person leading the change is not good for the task.

In the same manner, employees can resist change in order to protect their work colleagues. They do this when, for example, there is a risk of layoffs.

Sometimes even managers themselves could resist change in order to protect their working teams.

8.Lack of trust and support

A corporate change can not succeed if it takes place in a climate of distrust. Trust implies faith in the intentions and behavior of others.

In this case, any change in the workplace can be a cause of fear for the employees. The fear that their roles within the company may change.

In companies where a high degree of trust exists and employees are treated with respect and dignity, there is less resistance to change.

corporate change

Recognize resistance to change

How do you know if there is resistance to change in the company?

Sometimes people say or demonstrate quite directly that they are not happy or that they will not follow the plans.

Often, however, resistance is less obvious. It tends to act in a hidden way.

Those who remain silent can resist just as firmly as those who openly communicate their dissent.

Silence does not always mean consent. It is more difficult to manage a silent dissent than an open resistance.

Others may question the methodology. They could do it by undermining the process by which the changes were decided. In short, they will tend to weaken the initiative of change.

Then, there are those who are too busy to think about implementing changes.

Running everywhere the whole day, sending messages and continuously answering calls, they simply do not have time to make changes to their operating modes.

 

So, how do you handle the obvious and less obvious resistance to change?

Strategies to overcome resistance

If new initiatives seem to fade before moving on and the best plans go nowhere, these can be signs that employees are resisting to change.

Even if not all resistances are negative, the inability to adapt to change can have disastrous consequences.

Several studies have shown that around 70% of corporate changes fail due to the resistance of the workforce.

So what do you do to face resistance to change? Here are some suggestions.

Link the change to other issues that affect people. To improve the perception of change, one can think of connecting it to other issues that people care about (eg work safety). By showing how change is linked to these factors, it is possible to make resistance less likely.

Show attention and understanding of concerns. Communicate with employees about new initiatives and their progress. Ask them which are their worries that they see behind the change. Listening to others’ opinions is the first step to influence them.

Identify team members who support change. These people are the supporters of the new way of working. They can be the link between change and the rest of the team. Ensure that they participate in the forums and to the change initiatives so that their voices can be heard.

Communicate openly. It is essential to give precise information on what will happen and when, which aspects will change and what will remain unchanged. People are more likely to get stressed when they do not know the details of the situation.

Offer resources and tools. In a change, one of the biggest obstacles can be employees who are unprepared to manage changes. It will be necessary to provide training courses, equipment and everything that will not only help them to adapt, but also to excel in the changed environment. In this way, not only they can stop resisting, but they can even feel encouraged and confident about the new situation.

Timing is everything. Good timing is crucial when it comes to change. If you try to make important changes all at once or too quickly, employees may be more likely to resist. It is good practice to introduce change in measured doses in order to give employees the chance to acclimatize. This not only guarantees less interruptions to the activity, but also makes employees more inclined and therefore more productive.

It is a cliché, but it is true that change is difficult, in every sector, both in the working as well as in the private sphere.

By following a few simple strategies and a well designed plan of change, it is possible, however, to reassure the employees that the company’s commitment is to ensure, as never before, their well-being and success.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation of corporate change? Which side did you stand for? Tell us about your experience.

Manage your change process.

time-management-1

From time management to schedule management: the new time management in a project

Schedule management or project scheduling is the process of project time management through milestones, activities and final results, usually indicating the expected start and end dates.

A schedule or scheduling is the project or program calendar.

This shows how the work will progress over a period of time and takes into account factors such as limited resources and the uncertainty estimation.

This process begins with the work necessary to meet the requirements of the stakeholders.

This includes the technical / practical work that creates the results and the management activity that deals with aspects such as risk management and stakeholder management.

Definition of types of work

Some types of work can be defined much more easily than other types.

Engineering work, for example, tends to have detailed and complete specifications from the start, while some IT activities follow a more iterative approach to define what needs to be done.

The approaches to time calculation must be equally flexible.

In some cases, you can use rigorous techniques to model the work and calculate the detailed times.

In other cases, general estimates have to be made from the start, then, as the project continues, they are constantly refined thanks to the information available.

A detailed model can be used to perform “what-if” calculations and analysis to test the result of potential events.

For example: “what happens if the X resource is not available in February?” Or “what happens if there are unfavorable weather conditions in March?”.

Rolling Wave Planning

The detailed high-level planning approaches usually follow the so-called  “rolling wave” planning.

Short-term work is generally better defined and can be subject to more rigorous and comprehensive planning.

Long-term work is more vague and subject to changes and will be detailed working progress.

The detail window then moves along the program like a “rolling wave”, literally a rolling wave.

The most commonly used graphic planning form is the Gantt chart.

In its simplest form it uses bars on a horizontal chronological scale to show the beginning, duration and end of the various activities.

Variants of the Gantt chart can transmit all types of information adapting to the circumstances.

At the end of the work scheduling shows what has been planned and what really happened and can be an important tool in identifying and determining the lessons learned.

How to perform project scheduling

Before deepening  project planning, let’s examine the basics.

You have to ask yourself three questions to start project planning:

  1. What must be done?
  2. By when will it be done?
  3. Who will do it?

time-management-to do list

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start planning dates, linking activities, setting duration, milestones, and resources.

Following are the necessary steps  to plan a project:

  • Define activities: Using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) structure and a deliverable diagram, you can begin to perform these tasks and organize them by mapping the activities needed to complete them in an order compared to what is necessary;
  • Making estimates: Once the activities have been defined and divided, it is necessary to determine the time and effort required to complete them;
  • Determine dependencies: Tasks are not isolated and often it isn’t possible to start a new one until the previous is not completed. This is the so-called dependence of activities;
  • Assign resources: The last step to finalizing the planned program is to decide which resources will be needed to perform these tasks on time.

You will have to choose the project team and the time of the collaborators will have to be planned exactly following the planned activities in the planning.

As the complexity of work increases, it becomes impractical to maintain a single detailed program.

Large-scale projects will often use wave planning in which only short-term work is shown in detail with the long-term work that is shown in summary.

As the amount of management activity increases, it may be useful to create separate delivery plans for different areas such as a communication plan, a technical plan, a marketing plan, etc.

The need for multiple plans is inevitable as the complexity of project increases.

To be effective, the project manager must ensure that similar programming policies are adopted throughout the program.

These policies can be defined in a planning management plan.

The scheduling management plan has essentially three parts:

  • Development planning
  • Control
  • Planning of changes

Development planning

In this section the procedures for the development and revision of the program are established.

The personnel responsible for the development is identified and the potential contribution of the project team members is discussed.

Written procedures for estimating asset duration and budgets, contingency levels, and resources are specified for the project.

Moreover, if the project is complex, a project planning software is very often a useful tool to have.

Scheduling check

In this section the procedures for measuring and monitoring the project program are implemented.

Throughout the project, planning deviations and costs should be known or calculated regularly, which requires an estimate of the percentage of completion of each activity according to scheduling.

At this stage it is necessary to have clear answers to the following questions:

  • How will the program be measured?
  • Which units will be used to measure completeness of activities?
  • Who will measure it?
  • How often will it be measured?

Scheduling changes

Normally, any change to the initial project planning must be communicated and approved.

In fact, in most cases, someone has initially approved the project budget and deadline and expects to receive results accordingly.

That person is usually called the “project sponsor“.

And it is the project sponsor together, often, to the stakeholders who must be informed and approve all the changes to the initial planning.

time-management-desktop

Here are the basic questions to consider in this case:

  • What are the appropriate reasons for a change of program?
  • How much notice do you need?
  • Who must approve the changes?

Project planning is probably one of the most difficult jobs of a project manager, but the coordination of delivery dates on estimates can be simplified and made more efficient when you have gained experience and when using appropriate software management.

What are your experiences with project scheduling? Write us your comment here.

Start planning your projects.

how to manage remote working team

How to manage remote working teams

The idea of  how to manage remote working team until just 20 years ago was pure madness.
Internet has changed the history, and companies are adapting to it.

In the ever-changing and rapidly developing modern world, it is almost impossible to imagine something stable and stationary.

Communication, teamwork and society itself have changed radically.

In fact, today more and more companies and freelancers offer their services on a global level, transforming the virtual workplace from a mere exception to normality.

This trend offers countless opportunities for professionals and companies from all corners of the world.

In Italy more and more companies are activating remote working processes, transferring part of the personnel work remotely.

Managing a team remotely in efficient way, is therefore the new challenge for project managers!

Following there is a series of suggestions to help the project manager in organizing and managing a remote work team.

How to manage remote working team: Choose the right members for the team

Everyone dreams working from home, but only a few can do it.

Actually being able to work professionally and without being overwhelmed by everyday activities is not easy.

In a traditional office, the environment is necessarily more social. It interacts with colleagues also because avoiding them is practically impossible.

Some people need that extra level of social responsibility to work properly.

But there are also other people who manage themselves pretty well.

They organize their workload and keep aligned themselves with the working team.

They can do it even remotely.

Hence, It’s essential to hire this second type of worker in a team that has to perform the job remotely.

This person does not need to be with others to properly to his task.

Effective remote teams are composed of self-motivated individuals who can complete tasks on time without being managed closely.

These workers must be engaged in communication.

They have to know that clear, detailed and continuous communication is vital for a healthy team.

They will work hard and make every effort to interact with the rest of the team every day.

In general, however, it is much easier to appear as a professional worker on the Internet than in real life.

Therefore, before hiring someone, you need to make sure of his expertise, experience and knowledge of the industry.

But how do you know if a person is really the right one for the job?

A possible and simple solution is to start with a test.

It will only take a couple of weeks to find out if the worker is valid for the project or if it is better to find another employee.

 How to manage remote working team: Communication is the key

Clear and regular communication is the key to the success of any team work.

In the case of remote teams, continuous and fluid interaction is the lifeblood.

Nowadays there are a lot of free or paid services and tools that facilitate the management of the virtual team.

Depending on the purpose of the communication and its urgency, you can choose the most suitable tool for team members.

In Twproject we have created a very popular tool for business discussions, both formal and informal: the chat.

Its use among our customers was immediately appreciated and widespread.

how to manage remote working team

The TWproject chat was designed and implemented to allow all communications to be centralized.

A single place to communicate, talk about individual projects and having the history of what happened.

And not only. In fact, it often happens that in the discussions emerged activities to be done, not planned or planned.

Here is that thanks to the TWproject chat, it’s possible to mark any message and turn it into a task / issue.

how to manage remote working team

Chatting with colleagues, even without always talking about work, certainly does not damage the process.

On the contrary, it will help people to bind themselves more closely, just like a team. It will help them feeling important for the other team members.

This is why in TWproject the chats can also be created between colleagues only.

Because if it is true that everyone likes to talk about work, it is true that sometimes you can keep the relationship even by discussing a good movie.

To improve the reading of the chats, the log of these chats is visible only by the participants.

Twproject chat is included for free on every floor. (a further money saving, beyond that of time)

So if usually, the best strategy is to have everything in one place, there are some cases where you need to use other communication tools.

This happens when situations become complicated: there are problems that must be managed “face to face”.

Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting or other video-conferencing software are essential for successful remote collaboration.

Sometimes, you need to see a person’s emotions and talk to us directly to understand how things are going.

It serves to know what is really happening on the other side.

It is also advisable to plan regular, weekly or monthly meetings.

The frequency will depend by the frequency of communication with the team.

In this way, it is possible to understand the spirit with which the collaborators are working.

It will help the Project Manager to be sure of the team’s alignment on the project objectives.

How to manage remote working team: Keeping track and reporting of progresses

The tools that are used for communication and control within the team are important. But they don’t affect the success of the project you are working on.

The success of the project in fact, always depends on the people hired and the way in which the overall work process is built.

When dealing with a remote team, the answer to a project manager question may not be immediate.

Sometimes the project manager could wait several hours before receiving an answer. This is due, for example, to a time zone difference.

This is why it is necessary to implement an easy and transparent system for tracking and reporting progress.

Every professional should have a clear vision and understanding of the step he is taking and of what will come next.

Remote team management tools such as TWproject help all team members to be on the same wave line.

They can also obtain the assistance of the right person when necessary.

These tools usually help people to:

  • stay organized;
  • plan work effectively;
  • be more productive.

Clearly defined roles, objectives and expectations help each team member to perform tasks more productively and independently.

 How to manage remote working team: The importance of feedback

Every healthy relationship is based on trust and communication.

Remote team management is no exception to this rule.

The project manager must be aware of the team’s expectations.

Collaborators in the same way, should know exactly what the project manager expects from them.

It is easy to lose motivation and “the track” when working away from the rest of the team and when communication is not excellent.

This is why building an empathic listening is essential.

A good remote team manager should not just worry about completing tasks.

It should also show genuine interest in the general well-being of team members!

how to manage remote working team

Take an interest in their job satisfaction and be alert to any further expectations.

The self-motivation of an employee is a must for remote working.

It will not last forever without proper communication, feedback and interaction.

Furthermore, even asking the team regularly for feedback is essential.

If people have been hired prepared and available, why not ask them how satisfied they are with the way things are going?

Why not ask what their ideas are on any business process improvements?

A new perspective and an idea received from the remote team can greatly improve the development of the project.

How to manage remote working team: Real Meetings

The world of technology is great and can make almost anything possible.

But we are humans, and for us “relationship” is a fundamental element.

In the age of technology, the other aspect of the coin is being shown in all its fullness.

It’s the biggest and least obvious digital disadvantage … we’re talking about loneliness.

The remote worker is alone.

And if at first, when the team is formed, it can be an opportunity to start the activities with greater concentration, in the long run this aspect can become a boomerang.

That’s why team building activities for remote teams are as important as those for people who work physically in one company.

how to manage remote working team

If the company allows it, real meetings, even if only annuals meetings, they should be done!

They are perfect for increasing cohesion and team closeness.

The connectivity that can be obtained in real life is difficult if not impossible to reproduce digitally.

Even for the project manager himself, these real meetings could be useful.

Personally meeting colleagues from different cultures will help you understand them better.

Also the overall management will be easier.

Managing remote teams is certainly a challenge.

Remotely, organizing the work process, monitoring team members’ activities, and keeping track of workflow is much more difficult than in an office.

However, the simple tips of this article will help in this task.

In this way, it will be possible to have a group of loyal, hardworking, productive and satisfied employees who will help to achieve company objectives quickly.

Have you ever involved with managing a team at a distance?

What kind of problems did you deal with? What did you like?

Tell us about your experience.

Start managing your remote working team.

agile methodology

Agile methodology: advantages and disadvantages of an innovative method

The Agile methodology is a project management methodology that uses short development cycles, so called “sprint”, to focus on continuous improvement in the development of a product or service.

The key principles of the Agile methodology in the project management

The key principles that guide the project management according to the Agile methodology are 12:

  1. Customer satisfaction is always the highest priority and is achieved thanks to fast and accurate delivery;
  2. The evolution is adopted at any phase of the process;
  3. A product or service is delivered at a higher frequency;
  4. Stakeholders and developers work closely every day;
  5. All stakeholders and team members must remain motivated in order to achieve optimal project results. The teams have all the necessary tools and support to achieve the project goals;
  6. Face-to-face meetings are considered the most efficient and effective form of communication for the success of the project;
  7. A final product that is working is the final measure of success;
  8. Sustainable development is achieved through agile processes where development teams and stakeholders can maintain a constant and continuous pace;
  9. Through a continuous attention to technical excellence and correct planning, agility will be improved;
  10.  Simplicity is a fundamental feature in every phase of the project;
  11. Self-organized teams are more likely to develop the best ideas and projects and to meet the requirements;
  12. Teams make changes in behavior in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of work.

The advantages of the Agile methodology

The Agile methodology was firstly developed for the software industry.

The task was to optimize and improve the development process and to try to identify and quickly correct problems and defects.

This methodology allows to provide a better output, more quickly, through short and interactive sessions / sprints.

In the era of digital transformation, where many organizations are migrating to a digital workplace, the Agile methodology suits perfectly in companies that are looking to transform the way in which projects are managed and the way they operate as a whole.

If we consider the benefits for the company, the digital workplace and the Agile methodology provide:

  • More flexibility;
  • More productivity;
  • More transparency;
  • Products of superior quality;
  • Decreased risk of missed goals;
  • Greater involvement and satisfaction of stakeholders.

agile methodology

In the field of project management, the Agile methodology gives teams, sponsors, project managers and customers many specific advantages, including:

  • Faster implementation of solutions;
  • Waste reduction thanks to the minimization of the resources;
  • Greater flexibility and adaptability to change;
  • More success thanks to more focused efforts;
  • Faster delivery times;
  • Faster detection of problems and defects;
  • Optimized development processes;
  • A lighter/less complicated structure;
  • Excellent project control;
  • Greater attention to specific customer needs;
  • Increased collaboration frequency and feedback.

The disadvantages of Agile

As with any other methodology, even the Agile approach is not suitable for any project.

It is therefore recommended to do an adequate analysis in order to identify the best methodology to apply in every situation.

Agile may not work as expected, for example, if a client is not clear about the goals, if the project manager or the team has no experience or if they do not “work well” under pressure.

Because the Agile methodology has less formal and more flexible processes, it may not always be easily included into larger and more traditional organizations.

Here, in fact, processes, policies or teams could be rigid.

The Agile methodology is also difficult to implement when clients follow rigid processes or methods.

Furthermore, given that this methodology focuses mainly on the short term, the risk that the long-term vision will be lost does exist.

The sixth edition of the PmBok and the Agile methodology

At this point it is appropriate to make some small considerations according to the fact that the PmBok, ie the bible of Project Manager, is mainly based on the so-called “Waterfall” approach – which explains a sequential development in phases, in the life cycle of the project.

In some of these phases, the PmBok contemplates possible application of an Agile approach, provided that this is in line with the goals of the project.

The advantages of the Waterfall approach are:

  • Defined, agreed and formalized requirements;
  • Possible defects or risks are already assessed in the initial phases of the project;
  • Detailed and punctual documentation;
  • Due to the detailed project documentation, even non-expert colleagues can manage the project.

On the other hand, the disadvantages of this approach are the following:

  • Analysis and planning activities can take a long time and thus delay the actual launch of the project;
  • The requirements, as soon as they are formalized, can only be modified through another process, which – again – takes time;
  • During project development, new needs or new tools may arise that can require more flexibility.

The Agile methodology focuses mostly on optimizing the process.

The PmBok, and therefore the Waterfall method, focuse more on managing goals and risks and on forecasting and controlling costs.

An Agile approach works at its best in situations that have a relatively high level of uncertainty, where creativity and innovation in order to find the appropriate solution are more important than predictability.

A very simple and clear example is the research for a cure for cancer. In this case, for instance, it would be ridiculous to develop a detailed plan on the strategy to follow.

A traditional approach, such as Waterfall, works well in situations that have a relatively low level of uncertainty and where predictability, planning and control are essential.

Here the best example can be the building of a bridge that must always follow the same system.

Many project managers have seen – and still see – these two approaches as competitive with each other.

A high level of skill is needed in order to see these two approaches in a new perspective, as complementary to each other.

agile methodology

In fact, both methodologies are valid, but require a great interpretative capacity – beyond experience – in order to apply the correct principles in every situation.

In the development of the Twproject software, we came to a very important consideration.

Particular approaches can help to solve certain classes of problems, but they will never cover all the work activities of a company.

Therefore, it would be extremely non-agile to have a specific software for “agile” projects, and one for others.

And even “agile” projects can present many variations, which will fit into the agile metaphor at different stages, and hardly in a single “software model”.

Therefore we have reached a basic assumption: agility is in the methodology, not in software.

A software should be flexible enough to let you map projects, tasks, issues, to people and customers, in endless ways, but so that all data from different projects and methodologies are collected in the same place.

For this reason, we made Twproject a real project management tool, regardless of the chosen approach.

Which methodology is applied in your business?

According to your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Leave us your feedback in the comments.

Start managing your projects.

project stakeholders

Project Stakeholders

Who are the stakeholders? When we read the title, this is the first question that comes to mind.

If we take the definition of the PMBok, a stakeholder is an individual, a group or an organization that can influence or can be influenced (or perceive itself being influenced) by a decision, activity or result of a project.

Shortly, a stakeholder is a person, a group of people, or an organization that has an interest in the project or is influenced – directly or indirectly – by its result.

This can include, for example, project team members, project sponsors, members of the organization, and people outside the organization.

But let’s try to analyze all the aspects that can be of interest of the subjects directly or indirectly involved in a project and the evaluations and actions that inevitably are in the hands of the Project Manager.

Project stakeholders: interests and necessities

In a certain manner, a stakeholder has an interest in the outcome of the project.

It is therefore essential to identify all the stakeholders in a project, and it would be trivial to say the reasons.

The identification of the stakeholders must be done from the beginning of the planning phase in order to create a strategy to manage them.

This will help in managing the project with minimal obstruction from them. The sooner the stakeholers are identified, the sooner we can start to communicate and to involve them in project decisions.

In this way, they will feel a connection to the project. They will be able to understand the benefits and they will support the project manager everytime he needs it.

The project is successful, if all the stakeholders are happy and satisfied with the result.

It may happen that even if the project is complete and all the deliverables have been accepted by the client, the project is not successfully completed because some stakeholders are not completely satisfied.

Therefore, in order to successfully complete a project, it is very important that a project manager can keep all stakeholders satisfied.

Normally, if the project is simple, the list of project stakeholders is probably small.

However, if the project is more complex and perhaps spread across a large geographic area, it is possible that the number of stakeholders is huge.

In a big project, in fact, project stakeholders can also be communities or the general public.

The important thing is to keep in mind that the stakeholders are not all the same.

Every stakeholder has different needs and expectations.

So, each stakeholder must be treated according to its needs and expectations.

Not doing it can compromise the success of the project.

For this reason, knowing all the stakeholders, their needs, expectations and requirements will increase the chances of success of the project.

project stakeholders

If we forget or disregard an important stakeholder, this could lead to difficulties in the later phases of the project.

The Project could suffer: delays, cost overruns and, in the most serious cases, the closure of the project itself.

Type of Stakeholder

Project stakeholders can be divided into two categories:

  • Internal stakeholders;
  • External stakeholders.

Internal stakeholders are directly within the organization. For example:

  • A sponsor;
  • An internal client (if the project arose because of an internal need of the organization);
  • A project team;
  • A project manager;
  • A portfolio manager;
  • A manager of another department of the organization (for example, trade manager, administrative manager, ecc.).

On the other hand, external stakeholders are external to the organization. For example:

  • An external client (the “standard” type of clients);
  • An end user of the project result;
  • A supplier;
  • A subcontractor;
  • The government;
  • Local communities;
  • Media.

Moreover, stakeholders can be positive and negative.

A positive stakeholder sees the positive side of the project and benefits from its success.

These help the project management team to complete the project successfully.

On the other hand, a negative stakeholder sees the negative result of the project and can be negatively influenced by the project or its outcome.

This type of stakeholder is less inclined to help.

Perhaps we will appear boring, but it is fundamental to understand the importance of identifying the project stakeholders in the early pahses of the project.

It is also necessary to note down the details, requirements, expectations, power and influence on the project in the stakeholder register.

Some of these stakeholders will have a minimal interest or just a relative influence on the project.

However, the project manager must also take care of them.

Indeed, you can never know when secondary stakeholders can become the dominant stakeholders and if the dominant stakeholders become less influential.

The register of Stakeholders

After having identified all the stakeholders, their information will be recorded in a so-called stakeholder register.

This register is a project management document that will contain all the aforementioned information.

In this document all the people, groups and organizations that have any kind of interest or involvement in the project will be identified.

Here we can find the names, titles, roles, interests, requirements, expectations, type of influence, etc. of each one of them.

The stakeholder register will be created as soon as the project statute is signed.

project stakeholders

Doing this in the first stage of the project will help complete the project with minimal effort.

Once the register is created and all the stakeholders are listed, a strategy to manage them will be easily drafted.

The contents of the Stakeholder register

Usually, the stakeholder register contains three types of information about each stakeholder:

  • Identification;
  • Evaluation;
  • Classification.

In some cases, the register can also contain the stakeholder management strategy.

In the first section, we will have the following information:

  • Name;
  • Title;
  • Contact information;
  • Role in the project / organization.

In the second section about the evaluation of the stakeholders, we will have:

  • Stakeholders requirements;
  • Communication necessities;
  • Communication frequency;
  • Expectations;
  • Influence on the project;
  • Interests and power.

The last section will classify the stakeholders on the basis of various criteria.

They can be divided according to their power and interest in the project, whether high, medium or low.

It is also possible to assign other attributes to the stakeholders, for example, if a stakeholder is internal, external, positive, a supporter, a resistor or a neutral stakeholder.

After completing the evaluation, it is possible to edit the stakeholder management strategy.

This strategy will help to interact with each one of them based on individual needs, influence and interest in the project.

The stakeholder register must be kept up to date throughout the project life cycle.

While the project goes on, it will be possible to identify new stakeholders or it can happen that other stakeholders should no longer be considered. The register should be therefore contain these changes.

Moreover, during the project life cycle, the interest or power of one or more stakeholders could change. This must also be duly noted in the register.

As it appears clear, the identification of stakeholders is a continuous process. This is why the stakeholder register must be considered an “open” document during the entire life cycle of the project.

Because this registry contains names, e-mails, classifications, and management strategies, it may not be shown to everyone.

It is therefore necessary to keep this document in a safe place with limit access.

Every project manager must therefore remember to always take the project stakeholders into consideration.

In fact, a deficiency in this sense could have serious and negative repercussions on the whole project.

Have you ever had any difficulty in identifying one or more project stakeholders?

What are your experiences?

Leave us your comment.

Identify the stakeholders of your project.

leadership skills

Leadership skills of the Project Manager: the key elements of the role

The leadership of a project, in very few words, is the act of guiding a team towards the completion of a project.

It is obvious that it is a simplistic definition and that the true meaning of Leadership in a project is much more than that.

It is about obtaining something well done through other people who, in turn, are happy to have done it.

Leadership is a soft ability; part art, part science

Everyone is obsessed with this topic, from professionals to companies.

It represents an important – and necessary – quality for a project manager.

We have been asked the following.

Can everyone be a Leader?

Can leadership be learned and taught or is it an innate talent?

This is still an open point on which there are discussions.

But one thing is certain: successful leadership can be monitored and studied.

Different leadership styles

If we analyze the management style of everyone involved in a project, we can find different ways in which project managers try to reach goals and set their job.

Most of these differences are based on the personality of the professional and on the style of leadership.

We tried to reproduce these differences graphically and this is how the Project Leadership Matrix was born, which you can see below.

leadership skills

It’s a tool that says what kind of leader you are, and with this knowledge it is possible to correct or change the style to become a better leader.

This matrix divides the leadership into four main types:

  1. Reactive people leadership;
  2. Reactive task management;
  3. Proactive people leadership;
  4. Proactive task management.

It is unlikely that a project manager fits perfectly in a single quadrant.

It is much more likely that every Project Manager is a mixture of two or more leadership styles.

However, in general, the best project managers are those who emphasize a proactive leadership style.

It is important to remember, though it may seem obvious, that people are not like activities.

Managers are often more comfortable with processes and methodologies, rather than with human beings.

However, the work is not done by automata and treating the team, which is made up of human beings, in an abstract and cold way means risking the disaster.

Here is where excellent project leadership must come. As a leader, the goal is to inspire and empower the team.

Planning, monitoring and reporting are certainly fundamental for the construction of a project, but the morale of the collaborators may not be quantifiable like a milestone on a timeline.

How (as project manager) do I become a GOOD project manager?

Knowing what good project leadership means leads to the inevitable question: how is it possible to apply this concept to reality in order to become a good project manager?

The aspects that many – excellent – leaders share are the following:

  1. Keep the focus on the goal;
  2. They are aware;
  3. They create solutions;
  4. They are analysts;
  5. They can evaluate the risks;
  6. They can generate a sense of urgency when necessary;
  7. They are perspicacious;
  8. They promote cohesion among collaborators;
  9. They motivate the team;
  10. They reach results.

These represent ten pillars on which it is possible to build a good leadership.

Leadership is difficult to teach through books, videos and courses.

Of course, you can learn the basics by reading, but the “practice” at work is another story.

What does the sixth edition of PmBok on leadership say?

It can be more difficult to manage a team, and a project in general, through leadership rather than authority.

However, leadership is usually more effective because it is built on trust and respect.

Leadership is particularly important at the beginning of a project to define the vision, communicate it to the team and start this necessary relationship of trust and respect.

This let all employees take part in the project objectives.

Good leadership skills will also keep the collaborators inspired and motivated to do their best.

In order to be a project manager with good leadership skills, it is important to recognize situations and select the appropriate action.

The PmBok summarizes the leadership as:

  • Lead team members and stakeholders towards a common project goal;
  • Doing things “through” the project team members;
  • Manage with respect and trust;
  • Communicate with, motivate and inspire the team;
  • Maintain the vision, strategy and communication of project performance;
  • Evaluate the performance of the project team.

Communication is the key

Clear communication is the most valuable tool that a project manager has.

Clear communication not only with the team, but also with the possible leaders and with all the stakeholders.

This quality is probably what firstly characterizes a good leader.

Communication is not only a means through which needs and desires can be explained but, if used correctly, it clearly transmits to the team what are the expected objectives, the requirements and the limits to respect.

This allows everyone to act correctly in an autonomous way.

The more team members know, the more they can act autonomously and make the right choices.

To ensure that communication skills are clear, a simple pattern, both for written as well as spoken communications, can be followed:

  • First of all, communication has to be compelling, as the message must arouse interest and involvement in the topic.
  • Secondly, commication must be persuasive. If you are not able to influence the person with whom you are communicating, you will not be able to change her/his way of thinking or her/his habits.
  • Finally, communication must be powerful. This means that we need to communicate effectively and efficiently. The correct result of communication should be the action.

Leadership for a project manager is a term probably easy to describe but represents a goal to pursue and to try to achieve throughout the whole working life.

What kind of leader are you?

Which are the most difficult aspects for you in the field of leadership?

Tell us about your experience.

Increase your leadership skills.

Kanban method

How to apply the Kanban method to project management

The Kanban method was developed as a methodology to improve production efficiency.

The Japanese word “Kanban” means “billboard” in English and it was born in the company of Toyota, in Japan.

Today this method is widely used.

Nowadays, the Kanban method is not only used as a planning system for lean production, but also in Agile projects in order to manage the backlog of activities.

Actually, thanks to the popularity of Kanban, there are now countless project management tools that follow this method. The goal is to help people plan and prioritize.

The advantages of this method are different.

Kanban cards work like visual panels with virtual notes that can be added.

These notes can be moved to organize the order of activities or in order to prioritize the things to do.

Kanban method

Therefore, the Kanban method enables more flexible planning options, a quickier output, as well as more carefullness and transparency throughout the project life cycle.

The Toyota company, where this system was first implemented, has created six rules that permit to apply the Kanban method to the production process.

Today, people and project managers of the most different sectors use the Kanban method for planning and managing activities and their priorities.

In fact, Kanban is a structured process of prioritization.

What is a Kanban Board?

A Kanban Board is like a blackboard.

A space in which Kanban cards  stand for the individual activities that have to performed and are categorized based on priority and delivery.

Nowadays, Kanban cards are used mainly as online softwares, or in some cases are directly integrated in more complex project management softwares.

In general, they allow to track the work flow not only of a team, but also of the single collaborators.

It is particularly used by the software development teams that follow the Agile methodology.

It is used to define user history and the activity priorities in the backlog or as a collaboration tool for innovation.

If we consider the most basic (and more structured) form, the Kanban card can be divided into three levels:

  • Work/activity in standby;
  • Work/activity in progress;
  • Work/activity completed;

Obviously, the complexity of the card depends on the goal of the project.

As every task is completed, team members move Kanban cards through the different sections of the board.

Kanban cards allow to:

  • Visualize the workflow;
  • Limit the number of activities in progress;
  • Move an activity from one section to another;
  • Monitor, adapt, and improve the process.

What are Kanban cards?

The Kanban method can be considerated as a system of knowledge and the cards permit to represent each singular object of work or activity.

Each Kanban card includes the critical data for the specific activity to which it refers.

The cards have different colors that indicate the type of task performed.

Different colors can also refer to other distinctions that have been agreed upon at the beginning of the project.

Some of the ways a Kanban card helps teams and project managers: 

  • Quick understanding of the details of every activity/task;
  • Easy communication within the team;
  • Information on documents;
  • Support with the future workflow.

How to use the Kanban method in project management

In order to manage different projects in an efficient and productive way, different methodologies are required.

In general, the Kanban method is an excellent tool for planning the project and prioritizing the activities.

It can increase team efficiency, optimize time management, as well as allow a more fluid and simple overall project management.

It is also excellent for supporting with resource allocation, workflow management and waste reduction.

Here is why in more detail:

Use the Kanban method to: Assign resources

The first step is to create the activities and then assign them to a team member.

It’s fundamental to make sure that the right people are working on the right job in the proper manner.

This will help to correctly manage the work, without blocking any other member of the team or delaying production.

Everytime a new project activity is added into the workflow, the right resource can be assigned to it in a easy and quick way.

Use the Kanban method to: Workflow management

The Kanban method is a perfect tool that allows to visualize the workflow of any project.

The workflow is a sequential series of activities and the Kanban card with its visual representation makes everything more understandable.

Kanban method

Thanks to the observation on how activities are related, collaboration within the team will be promoted and at the same time greater efficiency and productivity can be achieved.

Use the Kanban method to: Reduce waste

The reduction of waste, whether of resources or costs in general, is not only the rule of a lean system.

Every project manager is interested in obtaining results in this sense.

Kanban cards help in the identification of a probable expensive process.

Something that does not work as planned, an overproduction or a situation where team members are blocking the workflow are easily detectable.

The big advantage lies in detecting these factors before they become problems.

There is no limit to the number of cards, integrations and workflow management that the Kanban method allows.

This method can work not only in a small company with a single office, but also in a multinational company with offices all around the world.

The Kanban method in the software

The common thread that permits to use all the advantages of this method is a project management software.

For this reason, we added in TWproject the Kanban functionality in order to organize the to-do-list of the project.

The Issues that in Twproject are used as to-do can be easily managed with the Kanban multi-dimensional of TWproject.

Indeed, it allows to organize the issues in a fully visual way.

It is possible to move them and organize them by task, assignee, status or severity degree.

Shortly, a very flexible multi-dimensional Kanban.

Kanban method

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Use the Kanban feature to organize the to-do-list of the project

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Project risk analysis

Project risk analysis

The project risk analysis or risk management,  is the process of identification, analysis and response to any risk that occurs during the life cycle of a project.

Analyzing the risks that may lie behind the execution of a project, predicting the possible obstacles and having a vision of the solutions in advance is certainly vital for any project.

It serves to help the latter stay on track and reach his goal.

But risk management can not and must not be just an action in response to something.

It should itself be part of the project planning process, in its evaluation phase.

In fact, during the planning of the project, the potential risks should be assessed and, obviously, also the possible solutions in order to manage these risks should be evaluated.

But what does “risk” mean?

A risk is anything that could potentially affect the timing, performance or budget of the project.

Risks are considered as potentialities and, in a project management context, if they become reality, they are classified as “problems“, which must be addressed accordingly.

Thus, risk management is the process of identification, categorization, prioritization and risk planning before they become problems.

Risk management can be managed differently depending on the project and its scope.

If it is a large-scale project, for example, risk management strategies could include detailed planning for each risk.

This is to ensure that mitigation strategies are activated in case of problems.

For smaller projects, risk management could mean a simple and prioritized list of high, medium and low priority risks.

Project risk analysis: How to identify risk

To begin with, a clear and precise definition of what the project will have to produce, the objectives and the final results is essential.

In this way the risks can be identified at every stage of the project, even with the help of the team.

Some companies and industries develop risk control lists based on past project experience.

The team’s past experience, the project experience within the company and industry experts can be valuable resources to identify potential risks on a project.

Project risk analysis

Identifying the sources of risk by category is a possible method to explore the potential risk of a project.

Some examples of categories for potential risks include the following:

  • Technology;
  • Costs;
  • Timing;
  • Clients;
  • Contracts;
  • Financial situation;
  • Political situation;
  • Environmental situation;
  • Persons.

Each defined risk must then be included in the risk monitoring model and marked by its priority

Consequently, a risk plan that shows the impacts on the project, both negative and positive, must be created, as well as the actions to use and implement in order to manage the problem.

In the context of risk management, it is also important to maintain regular communication with the team throughout the project.

Transparency is fundamental, so that everyone knows what elements to take into account to recognize and react to a problem.

Project risk analysis: Risk assessment

After identifying potential risks, the project manager, with the help of the team, assesses the risk based on the probability of occurrence and the potential loss associated with the event.

Not all risks are the same.

Some risk events are more likely to happen than others, and even the cost of a risk can vary greatly.

Therefore, evaluating the probability that the risk presents itself and the concrete repercussions on the project are the next step in the risk analysis.

Having criteria for determining high-impact risks can help narrow attention to certain specific and more critical risks to the project.

For example, suppose it is established that high-impact risks are those that could increase project costs by 5%.

Only a few potential risk events will satisfy this criterion.

These are therefore potential risk events on which the project team should focus on creating a mitigation plan.

The probability and impact of risk are both classified as high, medium or low.

A risk mitigation plan normally concerns events that have high results on both factors.

There is a positive correlation between the risk of the project and the complexity of the project.

In the case of highly complex projects, an external expert can be included in the risk assessment process and the risk assessment plan can take on a more prominent role in the project implementation plan.

Project risk analysis

Project risk analysis: Risk mitigation plan

After the risk has been identified and assessed, the project manager with the team develops a risk mitigation plan, a plan to reduce the impact of an unforeseen event.

The risk can be mitigated in the following ways:

  • Risk avoidance: it usually involves the development of an alternative strategy with a greater probability of success, but usually linked to a higher cost;
  • Sharing risk: involves collaboration with other stakeholders, in order to share responsibility for activities at risk;
  • Risk reduction: it is an investment to reduce the risk on a project. For example, hire and rely on consultants to take care of high-risk activities;
  • Risk transfer: it is a risk reduction method that shifts the risk from the project to another part. For example, the purchase of insurance on certain items is a method of transferring risk. In fact, the risk is transferred from the project to the insurance company.

Each of these mitigation techniques can be an effective tool to reduce individual risks and the overall risk profile of the project.

As far as the project manager is concerned, not everyone conducts a formal risk assessment on the project.

The lack of formal risk management tools has also been seen as an obstacle to the implementation of a risk management plan.

In addition, the project manager’s personality and management style differentiate the approach to risk.

Some project managers are more proactive and will develop risk management programs for their projects.

Other managers are reactive and are more confident in their ability to handle unexpected events when they occur.

Others, on the other hand, are risk averse and prefer to be optimistic and not consider risks or avoid taking risks when possible.

Whatever the case, the ability to accurately analyze the risks of a project must fall within the skills and tasks of a project manager.

In any project, a proper risk assessment becomes fundamental to a successful plan.

What about you? What kind of project manager are you? How do you manage potential risks?

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Analyze the possible risks of your project.

digital project manager

The digital project manager: when the project meets the web

What is the Digital Project Manager? It is quickly explained!

Nowadays, our routine goes in parallel with the digital world, we are connected 24 hours a day and – almost – anything is possible thanks to the Internet.

The work itself is largely digital.

For these reasons, the figure of the digital project manager is born, a specialist who knows the online business and knows the modern tools for managing online projects.

A digital project manager is not so different from a traditional project manager.

Even a digital project manager, in fact, manages tasks related to projects, such as the planning of the project, the communication with stakeholders, the management of the team and, of course, the delivery of projects within the deadline and without exceeding the given budget.

The difference is that they work in the digital space.

digital project manager

A digital space that is growing day by day and that offers ever more performing instruments.

One might think of the digital project manager as an exclusive figure for high-tech and software companies, but this is not the case.

Digital impregnates our lives, we are increasingly connected and this hyper-connectivity and hypertechnology becomes more “normal” every day.

Almost all commercial companies now have an online presence, that they try to improve and take care of.

Many people are beginning to understand that the presence on the web is no less important than a physical presence, like a branch of the company or the company itself.

This is the work space in which the digital project manager moves: a space of innovation, but no longer futuristic.

His figure is every day more requested by the market and its importance in a company that faces the web or intends to improve its online presence is increasingly essential.

Any company that pushes sales through its website, through search engine optimization, newsletters, social media marketing and copywriting may want to seek the help of a digital project manager.

The digital project manager: What does he exactly do?

The projects of a digital project manager work similarly to any other project, but we can find subtle differences.

Digital project management usually follows these five steps:

  1. Discovery: the idea generation stage, in which new concepts or new technologies are explored, solutions are identified and risks assessed;
  2. Project planning;
  3. Production: work in concrete;
  4. Distribution: that is, the work of evaluating and analyzing the product of the project, for example, a social media marketing campaign;
  5. Maintenance: the digital project rarely has a definitive ending, but remains open for corrections and re-elaborations throughout its life. For example, a social media marketing campaign, while active, can be directed to another target audience, can be modified in the image, etc. depending on the results of the data analysis.

The digital project manager will assess the risks, plan the work and coordinate the tasks, direct the team and maintain the project “on time”.

He is also involved in the business development process that will go hand in hand with the brand and business development on the web.

In addition to managing the team and the project, these new digital managers have to deal directly or indirectly with customers and their needs.

Indeed, their relationship with the customer could have more influence than that of the sales team.

In fact, they will collect the “humor” of the customers, perceive their desires and direct the company management towards choices that could prove decisive for the business development.

What are the tools and skills required to be a good Digital Project Manager?

The set of skills and competences required for a digital project manager will be slightly different than those of the traditional project manager.

We can list the following:

  • CMS – Content Management System: software that allows the management of web content, without the need to use the webmaster. These changes can be made directly by the digital project manager, thus freeing developers who can concentrate on more complicated tasks;
  • Information Architecture: structure and categorization of information, content and digital processes;
  • Analytics: digital project managers need to know how to analyze and use data collected from tools such as Google Analytics. The data obtained are in fact fundamental for understanding and correcting the performance of the website;
  • HTML: this competence allows the digital project manager to perform some programming jobs personally, allowing developers to concentrate on more complex tasks;
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): being able to position your website in the first results of Google and search engines in general is crucial for online success. The digital project manager must know all the SEO tools that allow to promote the site in the best possible way;
  • Social media: these are used by a company mainly to drive traffic to their site and to improve brand awareness and online reputation. Knowing platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is therefore essential for a digital project manager.

Job Description

Digital project managers are responsible for managing digital projects, which may include, for example, the launching of websites, online tools, applications for mobile devices, social media advertising campaigns and more.

They are experts in technology and innovation, with a deep knowledge of how technology works in order to achieve business objectives.

Digital project managers are methodical, have excellent time management and communication skills, both personal and online, and effectively manage projects respecting the requirements of quality, time and budget.

This involves drafting supporting documentation, such as risk analysis and plan and requirements specifications, to ensure that actual progress is in line with planned progress.

Digital project managers highlight risks and develop plans to tackle, stem and proactively solve these problems when and if they occur during the project life cycle.

In addition to risk management, they will also always be looking for business opportunities to explore in new potential projects.

Another task includes the creation of effective communication channels with the team and with stakeholders.

Gaining consensus on the project and ensuring that all the activities delegated to them are clear is one of their main objectives.

A digital project manager must also have great adaptability.

The digital space can present big changes every day and without warning and flexibility and a high spirit of adaptation are therefore fundamental.

Last but not least, the digital project manager must possess a technical and marketing language, but at the same time must understand and speak the language of the people of the web.

Speaking the right “language” will help the digital project manager better understand what online customers say, in order to contribute to the conversation and effectively communicate messages to others.

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