motivate team project

How to motivate a project team: 8 fundamental aspects

Why is understanding how to motivate the project team so important?

All experienced project managers know that there are times when Gantt diagrams, flowcharts, Work Breakdown Structure, or any other tool are not enough. None of those in those moments will help the project team members to advance towards the finish line.

These are times when the team needs something else: motivation.

In those moments, project managers must find ways to inspire and motivate their teams in order to overcome obstacles and stay focused. This is even more true when things do not proceed exactly as planned.

The figure of the project manager and team leader must therefore also be able to motivate the team that deals with the activities of the plan.

Of course, it is not possible to control all the emotions of the team members. But what is possible to control is the way in which projects are conducted in order to generate more enthusiasm.

Let’s see today 7 fundamental aspects to increase the motivation of the project team:

Set realistic goals

This is an obvious advice, but always valid.

The beginning of a project can be exciting, and it is difficult not to be into that at the beginning.

If a detailed agenda is not set from the beginning, team members may do extra work and not need to do so. The natural consequence will be that of not being able to respect the chronology of the project.

The feeling is definitely good when starting a new project, but do not forget to plan the workload correctly.

It does not make sense to start with a sprint and at great speed and then remain breathless during the rest of the race.

Setting realistic and smart goals prevents this from happening and not only works as a project development strategy but also as a powerful motivational tool, especially if individual goals are also set.

Give and ask for feedback from the first day

Project managers often give and ask for feedback only when things go wrong.

This is definitely a non-motivational remedy. It is wiser to ask team members to share their opinions throughout the project, from the first day.

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So, the team will feel empowered and respected and will be motivated to do their best.

Measure the performance

A tool that measures and tracks performance is critical in project management.

A project manager must always evaluate how the project is going compared to the initial planning. If the project is off the track, the project manager has to decide what can be done to get back on track.

Additionally, it can sometimes happen that a team member does not meet his performance goals. This can be because he needs additional training or experience in order to manage the tasks.

Measuring performance regularly allows to assess these aspects and also serves as a motivation tool.

Have informal review sessions

Informal review sessions during a project are important not only to discuss the status of the work, but also as a motivational tool.

These meetings should be simple, friendly and, in fact, informal.

Team members should consider these sessions as opportunities to learn, understand what they are doing well and where they can improve.

If team members know that every Friday, they will all be sitting together, in a friendly way, to discuss progress, without anyone being judged, they will be more likely to follow the deadlines and stay motivated to do their part.

Celebrate success

Celebrating successes not just at the end of the project, but all along the way, even in the case of small milestones.

The team or even a single team member can be rewarded for achieving small steps.

Recognition can also be showed by simple things, and here the examples are innumerable …

Do team members like pizza? A dinner at the pizzeria together will be perfect. Or are they all sports fans? An active trip can be organized. The ideas are endless.

In some cases, an incentive can also be considered. Although this is not always possible, there is often nothing better than an economic incentive.

Know the team

With this, we intend not only to know the skills of the various team members, but also to know them from the personal point of view.

When we talk about rewarding and motivating a team, we have to think about ad hoc prizes. An introvert must be motivated and rewarded in a slightly different way than in the case of an extrovert.

An introvert does not like much attention and most likely will not want balloons or colleagues applauding him during a surprise party. On the other hand, a treatment like this could please an extrovert.

Knowing these personal aspects also helps keep the team motivated and give everyone the chance to shine.

In short, knowing the team means understanding how to allow each member to have the opportunity to be in the spotlight, in his own personal way.

Use a project management software

One of the most intelligent, simple and, above all, welcome methods for motivating a team is the use of cloud-based project management software.

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Why this? Because it allows to give individuals and groups panoramic and updates in real time. It will give you a clear idea of what has been achieved, what the team is currently doing and where the team is heading.

Moreover, it brings everyone within the same environment and makes them feel part of something shared.

We have listed our 7 methods to motivate project team members to new levels.

But let’s not forget that there is an absolutely essential eighth point: you must be a motivated project manager yourself!

How can you think of a motivated team when the project manager is not?

Of course, it could be difficult, after all, even the project manager is human and can be discouraged like everyone else.

So, how to stay motivated?

You can create a list of activities that the team has already completed and look at them whenever you feel stuck and depressed. For example, if you use TWproject, you can filter the status of team activities.

Make sure you put aside all your personal problems when you go to work and always try to look for the bright aspects of life and work.

Of course, it may be difficult to keep your head up high and motivate the team, but do not forget that team members rely on you.

And one thing is sure: once you realize that you’ve been able to motivate them, this will surely make you feel good.

A project manager knows that his success also depends on the motivation and success of his team.

We know it too. That’s why we talked about the self-motivation ability in this article.

For this reason, moreover, the TWproject software was built to support the development of projects and make people feel really part of a team, sharing environments, topics, and opportunities.

Have you ever found yourself having to motivate your team in a moment of discouragement? What tools did you use to motivate them? Tell us about your experience.

Want to know more about Twproject Mobile app?

One try is worth a million words.
project management software

How to implement a project management software from scratch: 8 errors to avoid

A project management software can increase the efficiency and productivity of the project, but its implementation is not always simple.

It is often the case that organizations start the process of inserting a new software without a clear understanding of how to deal with its implementation.

The implementation of a project management software is important, but the process can be stressful and challenging. This applies to both the employer and the employees.

Whatever system should be implemented, a structured implementation process will be needed in order to contribute to the sustainability and successful long-term operation of the new system.

Let’s see today what are the 8 mistakes to avoid.

Avoid keeping everything as before, while waiting for everything to magically improve

Often, we tend to keep the old settings and functionality unchanged, waiting for everything to change magically from one moment to the other. It does not work that way.

Processes are the most flexible component of the implementation process as they can be adapted in order to meet the requirements of technology and people.

It is therefore essential to define the new processes in the early stages of the implementation project. It is essential to define them precisely because their underestimation can lead to a decrease in productivity. In fact, it is easy to understand how productivity can be undermined due to the duplication of work and the refusal of users to apply new processes if these are not clear.

Therefore, the implementation of a new software solution offers the opportunity to redesign the workflow. New systems have to be designed in order to maximize internal resources and efficiencies.

This is why it is important to clearly define the processes and the way in which people will have to interact with the software. Vice versa, it will be necessary to understand if it is necessary to modify existing processes.

It is possible to do this by answering these questions. How is it possible to:

  • keep data clean and consistent?
  • record data and analyze information?
  • get answers to the questions?
  • manage the system on a monthly basis?
  • integrate other information systems with the software?
  • interact with the software on a daily basis?
  • overcome a software constraint by modifying the processes?

Moreover:

  • Is the constraint really a software limitation or a capacity limitation within the team?
  • Is it possible to work on improvements or adaptations in order to develop the personnel interface with the software?
  • Is it possible to take advantage of multiple functions by adapting processes?
  • What processes are needed in order to maximize the use of this new system?

The transfer of data from one system to another will also be a good time to eliminate obsolete and useless data for the project.

Interesting for this phase is the use of the brainstorming technique in order to involve and define the needs related to the implementation of the new project management software.

Do not dispel fear that is inevitably present in team members

As in all things, people need to try and, you know, mistakes can always happen. This is even more the case if the system is totally new.

If the fear of a mistake is so great and the consequences can be so important, one solution is to offer a trial version of the system. Thanks to this version it will be possible to experiment without risk all the features of the new software.

This will help to make the members of the team safer and avoid the fear of making mistakes that can have an impact on the project.

Moreover, it is necessary to provide one or more training sessions planned within the implementation plan.

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Do not engage and trust anyone

Sometimes, project managers are so focused on the implementation process that they forget that other team members have the task to make the transition effective.

As a result, the project manager ends up being the only person who uses the software. The rest of the team will not feel involved and will have a reluctance to use something they do not know thoroughly.

Promoting values of openness, transparency, communication and above all sharing the “ownership” of software are the right attitudes.

The more we work together, the more efficient the implementation of the new project software will be.

Rely on the software to solve resource management problems

Softwares can certainly help in managing the resources of a project. However, offline management is always a fundamental and indispensable factor.

The tool can facilitate decisions regarding work priorities and tasks, but it cannot make all the necessary decisions, no matter how evolved it is.

A software does not have the sensitivity to understand moods and any perplexities or conflicts that can undermine a team’s productivity.

Therefore, it will be essential to organize meetings during all phases of implementation and to manage resources directly.

Lack of leadership in implementation

Regardless of the skills of the employees and the project team, the missing support and leadership are deleterious. They will inevitably lead to employees refusing to use the new software.

If leadership and support are lacking, the investment in the project management software will be useless. It will essentially be a lost investment and the efficiency of the organization will inevitably worsen.

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It is therefore fundamental that the leadership, at project manager and at managerial level, is present throughout the software implementation process.

Failure to communicate expectations

If you try to make changes without notifying the personnel, you will inevitably find yourself facing a wall.

Before the implementation of a new project management software, it is necessary to communicate in detail the expectations on how the software will increase productivity.

This can include:

  • discussion of the motivations that led to change,
  • the timing with which the change will occur,
  • the type of training necessary or available,
  • how the team can communicate in case of questions and doubts.

Missing motivation for the use of the software

Expressing interest in reducing general costs does not represent a sufficient motivation to get employees to accept change.

For employees, change is simply a further effort, something that requires an investment of energy and time.

However, the transition can be facilitated by providing an incentive for employees in case they accept and use the software.

Lack of feedback

It is not enough to simply implement the new project management software, and have it used by the employees. In fact, once this has been done, it cannot yet be said that the implementation has been completed.

Creating a forum for regular feedback from users, in this case the employees, will give the opportunity to provide honest feedback on the perception of the new tool.

Feedback should also be given by the project manager and the management.

Only in this way it will be possible to understand if the software needs to be improved or updated. Feedback will give the idea if it was an optimal choice or if the new software is completely against expectations.

Conclusions

The chances of achieving goals for an organization are higher with a plan that is appropriate for software implementation.

By understanding what the pitfalls are to avoid, it is possible to make the transition to a new project management software easier and more effective

Moreover, regular monitoring of goals with respect to actual performance will make it possible to get the most from the investment.

Have you ever faced the implementation of a new project management software? How did you experience the situation? Tell us about your experience.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

work life integration 2

The integration of Work Life Balance: Work Life Integration is born

Work Life Balance has been a key concept in recent years, a goal for many.

Many managers and entrepreneurs have taken the path described by this concept, attempting a real balance between work and private life. The intent was to try to distribute the time equally between work and personal activities.

Currently, the concept of balance between work and private life is still very strong.

However, this concept is affected by the evolution of man and the new ways of working, in short, the new approaches to work.

Today, in fact, for many, the working day does not end when they leave the office.

The classic day, 8am – 5pm, begins to be surpassed by many organizations.

Work is transforming. It becomes less traditional and many offices evolve towards virtual spaces. You work more and more remotely in remote teams.

Hence the new concept of “Work Life Integration”, that is the integration between private life and working life.

The difference between the two concepts

The word “integration”, in the concept of Work Life Integration, defines a merger in a functioning or unified whole.

In this way, the integration of working life focuses on the incorporation of the different areas of one’s life in order to create a unique image.

The concept of Work Life Balance, on the other hand, means a balance, a uniform distribution between the two activities, in this case work and leisure time.

In this concept, work and private life are seen as two competing elements. They are essentially two completely different worlds.

Here are some examples of the difference between Work Life Balance and Work Life Integration

 

WORK LIFE BALANCE WORK LIFE INTEGRATION
Leave the office at 5 pm to pick up your child at school Bring your child to work after school
Leave the office at 5 pm and turn off the phone Hourly flexibility and being able to answer calls remotely
Use the lunch break to take the dog out Bring the dog to work
Offer employees lunch Have employees choose between a free lunch or receive the equivalent sum for holidays

What are the advantages of Work Life Integration?

This new concept is a great way to give equal time and attention to all areas of an individual’s life. All without necessarily having to sacrifice one or another.

Creating a division between work and private life, as in the case of Work Life Balance, may not always be feasible. This could lead to mood alteration and increased stress.

On the contrary, combining work with personal life could make everyday life less monotonous.

Instead of counting the hours left to leave the office as inevitably happens in the case of Work Life Balance, you could directly work from home and enjoy the company of the family at the same time.

Everyone will be able to manage their activities in an appropriate manner and according to their needs.

How to create Work Life Integration

  • Request flexible working hours. However, not all organizations and all roles allow this.
  • Discover your needs. Integration into working life is not the same for everyone. The way you choose to organize your time will depend on both professional and personal commitments.
  • Plan. Be sure to plan taking into consideration the biological clock. Are you a morning bird or a night owl? In the most productive phases, we need to plan the most important work that needs more effort.
  • Coordinating work and private life. If you have a family and / or other significant commitment, you need to make sure to organize work in conjunction with these other commitments. After all, the integration of work into personal life should make life easier, not more complicated.
  • Give importance to productivity and not to hours. It is easy to associate the amount of time spent at work with productivity. However, this is not always a measure of the real contribution. We must focus on the value that is created rather than on the hours spent at work.
  • Is it really the right method? Integrating work into private life is often a useful way to meet both personal and career goals. However, this is not a suitable method for everyone.

How an organization can implement Work Life Integration

1. Evaluate the current work-life balance programs

Many organizations are wasting resources on programs that employees do not evaluate or use.

This is why everything starts with an assessment of the real use of these programs. The collection of feedback on awareness of benefits will also be indispensable.

Sometimes, employees may not even know certain benefits. It is therefore necessary to evaluate the awareness within the organization, before abandoning any program that is not used.

2. Segmentation of pilot employees

Not all customers are the same and not everyone has the same needs. The best customer service adapts the experience to these values and needs.

Employee segmentation groups employees based not only on skills and functions, but also on their needs.

3. Expand the flexibility of virtual work and planning

An increasing number of organizations are investing less in physical offices and increasingly expanding into virtual workforce.

A remote work force requires many considerations and planning. However, it represents a great advantage in terms of Work Life Integration: time flexibility.

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4. Identify employee benefits and flexibility

Instead of offering some “general” benefits to everyone, it is sometimes more efficient to offer choice among multiple options.

This ability to modify benefits offers greater flexibility to employees and also allows the assessment of the use and ROI of programs aimed at integrating working life.

5. Be creative with the benefits of Work Life Integration

To get the most out of Work Life Integration programs, an organization must become creative.

There are in fact innumerable advantages that can be offered, and it is important not to take anything for granted.

Here are some questions that might be useful:

– What do employees do outside the office and want to do in the office?
– What would make the office more similar to the personal lives of employees?
– What are employees afraid of losing when they are working?
– Why do they feel the need to completely separate their work and their personal lives?
– How do they spend their free time outside work?

6. Start slowly and proceed step by step

Assuming that the organization has obtained the data and knows where to focus in order to adopt the method of Work Life Integration, the advice is always to start slowly and proceed step by step determining the success and ROI of the programs adopted.

This allows you to try many benefits simultaneously by increasing the positive buzz and employee engagement.

In conclusion, Work Life Integration is a trend that must be considered and monitored.

Work is increasingly integrated with personal life.

It is a fact that if the work aspect is not good, life as a whole is affected and vice versa.

Work is life and life is work and the two things are becoming one.

Change the way you work.

One try is worth a million words.
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Create the project team: 7 tips for identifying, approving and supplying it at the best

Creating a work team is a delicate but strategic phase for any project manager. The outcome of the project will really depend on the choices made here.

Stephen Covey, famous writer and author of the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” states:

 

Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success

 

Thanks to teamwork, the shared talent amplifies the value of each individual resource and increases the value of the group as a whole.

It is therefore essential that when defining the working group, particular attention is paid to all the people involved in the project. This means all the project associates, stakeholders, customers and partners.

But let’s go into detail and see some fundamental aspects of this delicate activity.

First of all, it is good to remember that, in order to create a high performing Project Team, it is necessary to follow three key steps:

  1. Organizational planning necessary for the identification of the team;
  2. Staff acquisition, necessary for approval;
  3. Team development.

Organizational planning

Organizational planning identifies, documents and assigns project roles, responsibilities and relationships.

Before the project begins, all roles and responsibilities must be given. This will reduce any confusion after the start of the project.

Each team member will know exactly what is expected of him (or her) and will be able to follow the assigned tasks.

Also, having a staff development plan and an organization chart will reduce uncertainty and conflict.

Indeed, a staff development plan describes how and when human resources will be transferred and removed from the project team. This knowledge of the already planned events will make the whole team smoother.

The organization chart, on the other hand, is a graphical way to subdivide the project’s reporting relationship. A detailed organizational chart will avoid superfluous questions about relationships and connections.

For a winning project, it is then essential that there is a good organizational planning. This also includes all the supporting documents necessary to outline each job title and description or any training needs.

Staff acquisition

The acquisition of the people that have to deal with the project is the process to obtain the necessary human resources assigned that will have to work in the team.

Choosing the right people for a project is almost as important as the project itself. Without an experienced and close-knit team, the project will be much more difficult.

Some things to consider when choosing the team are the previous experiences. In fact, the interests, personal characteristics, availability, skills, could give the work team additional determinant capacities.

Team members can be chosen internally from the organization, thanks to negotiations with managers and other project teams, or from outside.

It will also be necessary to determine if each team member will work on the project full or part time.

Team development

The development of the project team includes the development of individual and group skills in order to improve performance.

Working together as a real team, the project will be more likely to succeed.

Team development can be achieved in various ways:

  • Team building
  • Management capacity
  • Reward systems
  • Frequent feedback and personal meetings
  • Training

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If the team has been properly developed, the project will work efficiently and achieve quality results.

How to choose the members of the project team

Here are 7 key elements in order to choose the right project team members.

1. Project analysis

It is essential to devote time and effort in order to understand and thoroughly analyze the project. You will have to define the steps and activities that will need to be worked out for a successful completion.

It will also be necessary to break down these steps into individual tasks and sub-activities. In this way it will be possible to easily detect the resources needed to complete the project and its duration based on the set productivity.

2. Project requirements

It is essential to verify what is required by the management. Time limits, budget or resource constraints are essential to plan the recruitment and the project team members accordingly.

3. Meeting with the Human Resources Department

The Human Resources Department can assist in finding the most suitable project team members, especially in the case of outsiders.

It will also be necessary to prepare, in coordination with this department, a recruitment campaign for the project and the specific training.

4. Meeting with other managers

Together with the Human Resources Department, it is also a good practice to meet the managers of internal employees in order to obtain a complete view of the staff available for the project.

You can ask other managers to provide ratings for their staff skills, technical skills and teamwork skills so that you can make the best decision based on real needs.

create the project team

5. Refine the selection

Once the options have been assessed, a list of potential candidates suitable for the roles will be drawn up.

This will be the basis from which to select the members of the project team who will work for the implementation of the plan in the future.

6. The final choice

The list of candidates will be evaluated very carefully in all its details. Finally, the team members who will work on the project will be chosen.

These candidates should have the right mix of personal behavioral skills and attributes in order to become members of the project team.

If doubts continue about any of the employees, additional personal interviews can be conducted in order to collect additional information.

7. Analyzing the team

At this point the project team is made, but there still remains one thing to do: To conduct a continuous analysis in order to assess whether the team has the necessary balance to complete the project as planned.

It will also be necessary to regularly check whether there is a potential personality conflict between team members. Perceiving these conflicts and resolving them straight away, will avoid stress and creative blockages during the execution of the project plan.

It is very important to have a fully developed and dedicated project team in order to run the project properly.

The team includes several people who must work together to carry on the individual activities.

Organizations are constantly committed to forming increasingly performing project teams. Work teams that will be able to achieve even complex project goals and which will increase productivity, performance and returns for the organization.

Team members, together with the project manager, are the driving forces of a project, and it is therefore essential to know how to choose them well and to develop them to the maximum.

Have you ever created a project team? What process did you use to choose the project team members? Do you have any other suggestions? Write us your opinion.

Still in doubt? Well you can try yourself with a free demo.

Emotional intelligence3

Emotional intelligence and project management

When the concept of Emotional Intelligence entered the mainstream for the first time, the skeptics labeled it as a temporary fashion that would soon be forgotten.

However, since the publication in 1995 of Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence”, emotional intelligence has increased its credibility in the business world more and more, becoming an important skill for managers.

Today, indeed, the project manager’s work is not limited to defining the project scope, creating a plan or keeping track of costs and timing.

Other activities are entering the field and the agenda of the PM. We talk about activities such as relationship development, team building, influence, collaboration and negotiation.

Attention to the business climate has also increased. In order to optimize the results of the project, while maximizing the use of resources, it becomes essential that those who manage the project understand and apply the principles of emotional intelligence.

The project manager must be able to create a climate in which customers, team members, stakeholders and management can communicate clearly. A climate in which it will be easy to manage challenges more effectively and make choices in order to act strategically and quickly.

 

Emotional Intelligence: the capabilities of the Project Manager

In fact, project managers must be able to do the following:

  • Operating in complex environments: project managers must influence, negotiate and collaborate with other departments and teams and understand the interdependencies of projects. The ability to build relationships and understand how to get the best out of others is a critical skill that the project manager must inevitably possess.
  • Creating effective teams: people are the key to the success of any project and project managers rarely have direct control over the staff they work with. They must therefore be able to motivate the team, manage members from the most disparate sources and manage conflicts, all skills that require the ability to understand people and their particular needs.
  • Managing change: by their very nature, projects cause change. Building a technical solution is just a component of a project; understanding and managing the impact of this solution on a population of users and the effect of this change is a critical skill for a project manager.
  • Leadership: project managers must have the role of leader with respect to the people involved in the project, to the stakeholders and to the other groups with whom they interact. In addition to the ability to make decisions based on analysis of the situation, the ability to make decisions based on understanding the impact on people is also an important aspect of leadership.
  • Results: the complexity of the environment and the degree to which the collaboration must be successful are unprecedented and the simple ability to draw a project plan is not sufficient to make a project manager succeed. Understanding your emotions, the emotions of others and how these can be managed more effectively, can have an important effect on the ability of a project manager to deliver results.

The ability of emotional intelligence is based on an individual’s ability to recognize, pay attention and understand the emotions in oneself and others.

This refers to the critical skills that demonstrate empathy, differentiate between emotions, and identify the impact that emotions have on a situation.

Research shows that about 55% of what we perceive from someone comes from body language, about 38% from the tone of the voice and only 7% from the actual words the person is using.

The perception of emotional signals for project managers is therefore a critical skill.

For example, misunderstanding the body language of a stakeholder when trying to negotiate a given factor within a project will not only be a critical factor in the outcome of that single situation, but also on the tone of the relationship throughout the whole project life cycle.

So let’s see in detail the role of emotional intelligence in the routine of a project manager.

Emotional Intelligence and Management: control and management of emotions

In this sense we mean the ability to manage, control and effectively express emotions.

Identifying our moods and the impact of our moods on our behavior is a critical aspect of self-awareness.

For example, if the project manager is stressed out and goes to the team directly after a negative meeting without understanding his personal stress level, there is a risk that this stress will be passed on to the team members. The consequence will be a dramatic reduction in staff motivation.

Emotional intelligence

In this case, the project manager must take time to calm down and rebalance himself and only then he can talk to his staff.

It is therefore essential to be able to perform a self-analysis in order to understand the emotions that are being experienced and how to manage them.

Emotional Intelligence and Decision-making: on whom do I impact?

With emotional intelligence in decision-making, we mean the ability to apply emotions appropriately in order to manage and solve problems, something that a project manager has to do on a daily basis.

Project managers must be able to make decisions by analyzing all aspects of a situation, without distorting reality in a positive or negative way, and understanding the aspects and impacts of people on any decision made.

Decisions often translate into changes and therefore part of the decision is the ability to identify and understand the emotional impact of change on other people.

Emotional Intelligence and Realization: inner motivation

Emotional intelligence with respect to realization is the ability to generate the emotions necessary to motivate oneself in the pursuit of realistic and meaningful goals.

A manager should be able to set goals and, if he fails, to step back, analyze what mus be corrected or changed and continue with corrective and proactive action.

Determination and vigor are feelings that help to advance towards action and realization and for project managers these are fundamental skills for success.

Emotional Intelligence and Influence: being the leader

Influencing, in the concept of emotional intelligence, is the ability to recognize, manage and evoke emotions in others in order to promote change.

It is the ability to assess a situation, interpret the emotional tone and understand the impact of this in the ability to build and maintain social relationships.

How a project manager manages his own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, can have a significant impact on the nature of a relationship.

Emotional intelligence2

Positive emotions tend to translate into a more collaborative relationship. while negative emotions tend to reduce the likelihood of collaboration.

Since a project manager almost always has a variety of heterogeneous groups to influence in order to succeed, the ability to positively influence relationships in order to obtain collaboration can have a perceptible effect on results.

Emotional Intelligence: Conclusions

In summary, project managers work in increasingly complex environments, and it is not enough for a successful project manager to just bring technical skills into the role.

Relationships must be developed, teams must be motivated, changes must be managed.

Improving the ability to perceive the emotions of others, allows you to empathize and adapt the style of management to get a better result.

When a person is able to manage his emotions, he can be sure that these are the right ones in every situation.

If it is possible to use emotions to improve decision making, then it is possible to improve the ability to solve problems.

If it is possible to self-motivate ourselves, it is possible to achieve more realistic goals.

Finally, if it is possible to improve the ability to interpret the emotional tone, it is possible to build more effective relationships and influence the goals and results of a project.

In this way, project managers can be more effective leaders and, consequently, experience greater success in project delivery.

Project managers who truly understand the talents, values and potential of themselves and their teams, who know how to manage their emotions and the emotions of others, and who can connect with team members have the opportunity to create a project environment that will not be second to none.

Leave us your comment and let us know what you think.

Simplify the management of your project.

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scope-management eng

Scope Management: managing the project scope

The Scope Management of a project is the set of processes necessary to ensure that the scope of a project is precisely defined and mapped.

Project scope management techniques enable project managers to assign the right amount of work required in order to successfully complete a project, particularly by controlling what is and what is not part of the project scope.

The management of the project scope is what ensures that the project includes all the relevant work in order to achieve the project goals.

Plan the Scope Management process

The process explains how to define, manage, validate and control the scope of the project.

You could even use the project management plan of another project as a starting point, because the Scope Management processes do not vary dramatically once the organization has opted for a successful method of working.

Scope management process planning includes:

  • preparing a detailed project declaration
  • creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  • maintaining the WBS
  • obtaining formal acceptance of the project results
  • managing any changes in the project scope

Scope Management: Collecting the project requirements

At this stage, it is necessary to gather what are the needs of the stakeholders with the intent of achieving the project goals.

In this process, managers use different techniques and tools in order to gather the requirements.

If this process is executed in a complete and correct manner, it can greatly reduce the possibility of unpleasant surprises as the project progresses towards completion.

scope management

In this phase, it is therefore necessary to understand what the stakeholders want from the project.

Once found out, requirements must be documented and stakeholder expectations must be properly managed.

This is an important step, since it may happen that what is required is not realistic or achievable due to other project constraints, such as cost.

The output of the work of gathering requirements is a documented set of requirements.

Scope Management: Defining the project scope

Here the requirements and the needs are transformed into a detailed description of the product or service that the project will create.

The output will be a declaration of the scope of the project that can be referred throughout the entire project life cycle.

The document will also include a list of what is in scope and what is out of scope.

The scope clearly indicates what the project is supposed to achieve and what not.

Scope Management: Creating the Work Breakdown Structure

This process transforms the list of requirements into a structured view of what needs to be done.

The main work here is the subdivision of large tasks into smaller and more manageable blocks, called work packages.

The result of this process is the so-called Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

The WBS is an important element of the scope management process and the PMI places great emphasis on this aspect.

Many project managers often skip this step leading to inaccurate plans.

The resulting WBS should provide a complete list of all the work packages required to complete the project successfully.

Scope Management: Validating the project scope

This process focuses primarily on the acceptance of the project by the client.

In simple terms, it is when the client of the project formally accepts all the results of the project.

scope management 1

This process occurs at the end of each phase.

It is therefore important to know who will approve a deliverable and what criteria will be used to evaluate the success of the result.

Scope Management: Checking the project scope

This process involves the evaluation of additional requirements by the client or the proactive observation of the project’s scope by the project manager.

Managers measure the work product with respect to the forecast in order to ensure that the project remains on track, helping to prevent any unnecessary modifications.

This phase therefore involves monitoring the status of the project and managing any changes to the scope.

Some pitfalls of Scope Management

The problems that may arise during the definition and documentation of the project scope are:

Ambiguity: ambiguity often leads to unnecessary work and confusion. To avoid this, the scope must be clearly defined, both by the stakeholders as well as by the team, without being misinterpreted;

Incomplete definition: incomplete areas lead to planned deadlines which almost certainly lead to cost overruns. To avoid this, the scope must be complete, accurate and detailed;

Transitoriness: this is the main cause of late deliveries and “endless” projects. To avoid this, the scope document must be finalized and remain as long as possible for the duration of the project;

Non-collaborative scope: an area not managed in a collaborative way causes incorrect interpretations in terms of requirements and planning. To avoid this, the document should be shared with all stakeholders at each stage of the scope definition process.

Without Scope Management, the cost or time that the project will take to achieve its goal can not be estimated.

Scope Management is not difficult to implement; however, it requires effort, time and patience.

But it is worth investing it: with a proper management of the project scope, it is possible to have clear guidelines and deliver the project with minimum overruns.

Have you ever dealt with the Scope Management of a project? How was your experience and what are your opinions about it? Tell them below!

Check costs, time and performance of your project.

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.

earned schedule 2

Earned Schedule

The Earned Schedule (ES) is a rather recent methodology.

It was first introduced in 2003 and it is a method of analysis that extends and completes the benefits of the Earned Value Management.

Currently, the Earned Schedule method is used globally in projects of any type and size.

This method is taught in academics, is included in project management manuals and standards dictated by the PMI and is also a research topic at the university.

Not only theory but also practice. It is now widely demonstrated that the ES is useful for project managers for the analysis and control of project performance.

Why is the Earned Schedule born?

Everything is born and takes its cue from the EVM (Earned Value Management) method that offers the project manager and other stakeholders the possibility to visualize the actual costs of the project during its entire life cycle. This, as it is easy to deduce, allows a more effective management of the project itself.

In its original form, the EVM was used to evaluate project performance and predict the cost of the project upon completion.

Normally, project control is established at the level of the work package or the cost report.

In fact, however, this control, although helps in cost management, does not contribute to the control of implementation times. EVM data indeed are not generally used to estimate the time needed to complete a task, a work package or a project or to predict the completion date.

This can lead the project manager to make bad decisions about the Project in general.

It is precisely to fill this gap that the concept of Earned Schedule (ES) is born.

In fact, the ES can transform EVM metrics into time or duration metrics in order to improve the evaluation of the project planning performance and to predict the duration required for its completion.

When combined with an appropriate analysis, this approach can improve the understanding of the estimated time for the Project completion.  It can also provide further insights that allow to make better decisions about project planning and other related parameters.

So let’s see more in detail what it is.

Measure and indicators of the Earned Schedule

The idea of Earned Schedule is similar to the concept of Earned Value (EV). However, instead of using the costs to measure project performance, the reference unit is time.

If we consider the projects that are late, in fact, using the Earned Value, we will have unrealistic indicators. The obtained values will, in a misleading way, make the state of the project look better than it actually is.

The problem lies in the fact that the Earned Value is a value indicator and not a scheduling indicator.

This then brings the planned value at the end of the project to coincide with the budget upon completion even if the project is late.

Therefore, the fundamental concept of the ES is to determine the moment, in terms of time, in which the planned work should have corresponded to the value of the work carried out at that precise moment.

earned schedule

The formula of the Earned Schedule

The Earned Schedule formula corresponds to
ES = C + I.

Where  C is the number of intervals in which EV is equal to or greater than PV and I is the share of the intervals after PV.

In the researches carried out, the question asked was whether the ES is a better method of predicting the duration of the final project than the EVM methods.

The answer is that the ES is way better than any other method related to Earned Value Management.

Of all the methods and data sets studied, the ES is referred to as the best duration prediction method of a project.

For sure, this method is useful for project managers when they have to make decisions in order to meet delivery dates.

While the Earned Value provides an estimate of when the project is likely to end, the Earned Schedule produces an understanding of the probability of completion in precise moments over time.

The ES can also provide useful information to the project manager and analysts and is not difficult to calculate.

Of course, additional work is needed, but it is not as time-consuming as a complete bottom-up review of the entire project program.

EVM and ES have been integrated with statistical confidence limits in order to obtain probable results for the final cost and duration of the project.

The results of this work have shown that the proposed approach is sufficiently reliable for the general application of the forecasting method, both in terms of cost and duration.

earned schedule 1

Moreover, it is shown that the ES approach can be applied effectively no matther what the type of work or the extent of the cost and duration of the project.

Big deviations between the project status and the forecasts usually attract the attention of management and translate into corrective actions. Small deviations are usually not taken into account.

By quantifying and highlighting these deviations, it is possible to bring the focus of management on projects or work packages that require more attention.

As a result, these tools support the effective management of projects and improve the management of the portfolio of business projects.

Consistent use of these techniques that predict project outcomes provides an optimal approach to project reviews, increases confidence in project delivarables as time progresses, and improves management’s ability to take corrective action and appropriate decisions.

Conclusions

In conclusion, we can say that the EVM is a powerful methodology that helps project managers and other stakeholders managing projects and programs more effectively.

By integrating it with the ES method, it is possible to produce valid indicators and reliable predictions on the duration of the project.

The research found out that, compared to other methods based on the EVM, the ES produces the best predictions on the duration of the project.

The Earned Schedule method has a lot to offer to the project manager in order to help him drive and control his project from the beginning to the end.

Have you ever had the opportunity to apply the Earned Schedule to one of your projects? What are your observations? Write them in the comments.

Analyze your projects with the right tools.

If the project manager motivates others … what motivates the project manager? (self-motivation ability)

Much has been written and said about the motivation of people and the team in general.

Certainly, in a project team, a project manager who personally cares about each individual, personal ideas and concerns can contribute enormously to the motivation of a team.

And it is found that well-motivated teams achieve greater success than their disinterested counterparts, as detailed in this article.

But this assumes that there is a well-motivated project manager that instills enthusiasm into the team.

So what motivates the project manager?

Motivational techniques

There are two main types of motivation that can be described in general as:

  • Intrinsic = love. In other words, “I do it because I want”
  • Extrinsic = money. In other words, “I do it because I have to”.

Both in work as well as in life, we can meet people motivated by both factors and, more often, by a combination of the two.

People’s motivations also change at different times and also in front of different tasks and challenges.

To be an effective leader, it is necessary to be aware of the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. In particular, we need to know what are the things we love and which we would accept even without being paid – in a figurative sense of course.

Being self-motivated means doing your job well because you want it and not just because you receive your salary at the end of the month.

Individuals, and therefore self-motivated project managers, want to be the best they can, regardless of where they work or what they are working on. Often they take responsibility even when they are not directly concerned.

Self-motivated individuals tend to:

  • Work longer
  • Learn new skills and regularly follow training courses
  • Take ownership of problems
  • Go beyond the job description of their role.

There are five general methods that can help a project manager find the motivation in the workplace. Let’s see what they are:

1. Check what you can and let the rest go

As a project manager, there are always things that are not under your control, but that does not mean that one has to give up.

You need to have clear in mind what factors and dynamics you can control and, consequently, focus on doing those well.

In short, it is about managing current responsibilities to the best of one’s capabilities.

2. Continually test yourself

The job is not particularly difficult or demanding? Then find another way to test yourself.

Take a training course, help a colleague that may have difficulty, just improve your skills …

Do not let the time goes by by sitting on your laurels and then say you are bored and without motivation.

As adults, we tend to stay still with what we have and not look for new opportunities for growth.

If you can not get this challenge in the office, you can always search elsewhere, through hobbies, new experiences, etc.

Not only continually improving your skills is important for team members, but also for the project manager.

3. Mindfulness

Books could be written about the application of mindfulness for a manager.

In today’s stressful environment, it is necessary to take a step back and take time for yourself, even if it is just 10 minutes.

Life is simply too short to be stressed and to run all day.

Everyone, even the project manager, must find a way to maintain the balance and find a healthy stability between work and private life, between obligations and free time, whatever this means for a person.

On the other hand, if a project manager does not listen and does not first manage himself and his needs, how will he be able to manage the team members?

4. Having fun, even at work

Entertainment is not intended here as an expensive or time-consuming activity.

With fun in the office, we mean the planning of a team event where also the project manager can participate directly.

An internal prize game, a treasure hunt in the office, an activity for the whole team outside of the office, there are endless possibilities.

Project management is a serious topic, but that does not mean that you can not have fun at work.project manager

 

5. Write down the reasons why you chose a project manager career

What do you like about the job? What makes you excited every day? What would you absolutely not want to eliminate from your work routine?

When times become difficult, there is a tendency to forget the positive elements of a situation, even in work.

This is an excellent exercise not only for the project manager, but also for the team members.

In this way, all the positive factors of the profession will be learned and will be clear in mind and, consequently, it will be much easier to find the motivation and continue successfully.

So, we have seen the methods for a general self-motivation of the project manager, let’s now see four specific tips to stay motivated when it comes to a particularly challenging project.

1. Focus on small but significant results

It is not necessary to be satisfied only once the final goal of a project has been reached.

There are intermediate milestones, which could be equally important throughout the whole project life cycle.

These can be used to find satisfaction at the end of each working day.

2. Reassess the goals

If you are facing a dead point in the project, focusing again on personal goals can always be useful and stimulating, as well as a way out.

By working on these other aspects, you can find the answer to the problems that are stifling the project.

3. Indulge in secondary tasks

It is important to feel fulfilled every day. But when the project seems to be extended to infinity, it is difficult to obtain this satisfaction.

In this case, the key is to make yourself useful in other ways, for example by briefly contributing to another task, helping a member of another team, offering yourself as an extra resource for a temporary project.

4.Everything will pass

Probably the most important advice of all.

When you are in the middle of a long and complicated project, it seems like this never ends. But one thing is certain, everything will pass.

Even if the project does not end successfully, the malaise will pass.

If you consider work as a way to continue learning, growing and developing, there is a truth: having managed a difficult experience is the best curriculum you can have.


What can block motivation in a project manager?

Bad habits: In order to meet the desired results, project managers should be able to evaluate the factors that prevent them from achieving the desired goals and replacing them with positive or productive habits.

Lack of adequate resources: In the absence of adequate resources, leaders fail to achieve the desired goals. They may have problems related to lack of funds, lack of qualified personnel, technological limits or management disruptions.

Pressures or external circumstances: Pressures and external circumstances hinder the level of self-motivation of project managers. These may be, for example, lack of support and cooperation from stakeholders or team members.

project manager

Many factors hinder the self-motivation of project managers, these may vary from personal factors such as bad habits to environmental factors or circumstantial factors.

Efficient and highly motivated leaders, however, are able to overcome all challenges by exploring ways or alternatives in order to achieve the desired results.

We can therefore conclude that self-motivation for a project manager is a fundamental prerequisite and those with a high sense of self-motivation are in a better position to achieve strategic results and drive growth and productivity of themselves and their team.

Self-motivated leaders stimulate passion among team members that in this manner want to achieve ambitious goals.

These individuals play a crucial role in leading organizational excellence by creating examples and best practices that can inspire the team.

What are your motivations in the office? Have you ever had problems motivating yourself? How did you deal with the situation? Tell us about your experience.

Manage your projects easily.

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.

corporate environmental factors 2

The internal and external corporate environmental factors and the project environment

Managers must recognize and respond to all the factors that can influence their organizations.

Navigating through the modern chaotic work environments is like trying to drive a small boat to shore during a hurricane.

Just like this small boat, the modern organizations and their managers are faced with a significant amount of factors that require immediate response.

The forces that drive this change in the business are known as internal and external environmental factors.

The internal environment

The internal environment of an organization refers to events, factors, people, systems, structures and conditions inside an organization that are generally under the direct control of the company.

Corporate mission, corporate culture, and leadership style are factors that are typically associated with an organization’s internal environment.

As such, it is the internal environment that will influence the organizational activities, decisions, behaviors and attitudes of employees.

Changes in leadership style, in the corporate mission or in culture can have an important impact on the organization.

Let’s see in detail what are the internal corporate environmental factors.

Internal environmental factors: the staff

Employees are an important part of the internal environment of an organization.

Managers must be able to manage lower-level employees and, at the same time, supervise the other factors of the internal environment.

Indeed, even when everyone is capable and talented, politics and internal conflicts can destroy a good organization from within.
corporate environmental factors 1

Internal environmental factors: the budget

In business, even the lack of money can determine the survival – or not – of a company.

When cash resources are too limited, that can affect the number of people you can hire, the quality of equipment and the type and amount of advertising you can buy.

If you have enough money instead, you have much more flexibility to grow and expand the business, or to endure an economic downturn.

Internal environmental factors: Corporate culture

The internal corporate culture consists of the values, attitudes and priorities that employees live every day.

A ruthless culture in which every employee competes with his colleagues certainly creates a different, and more toxic, environment than that of a company that emphasizes collaboration and teamwork.

The external environment

The external environment is composed by factors that occur outside the organization but which can cause internal changes and are, for the most part, beyond the company’s control.

Customers, competition, economy, technology, political and social conditions, and resources are common external factors that influence the organization.

Even if the external environment occurs outside an organization, it can have a significant influence on its current operations, growth and long-term sustainability.

Ignoring external forces can be a damaging mistake for managers. As such, it is necessary that managers continue to monitor and adapt to the external environment.

The key is to work in order to make proactive changes rather than having to take a reactive approach and solve problems rather than preventing them.

So, let’s see in detail what are the external corporate environmental factors.

External corporate environmental factors: The economy

In a bad economy, even a well managed organization may not be able to survive.

If customers lose their jobs or take jobs that can barely support them, they will spend less on sport activities, recreation, gifts, luxury goods, and new cars.

It is not possible to control the economy, but understanding it can help identify threats and opportunities.

External corporate environmental factors: The competition

Unless the organization is a monopoly, you will always have to deal with the competition.

When you open a company, you normally find yourself fighting against established and more experienced organizations in the same sector.

On the other hand, when a company has established itself, it will find itself fighting against new organizations trying to steal a slice of the market.

In short, competition never dies.

External corporate environmental factors: Politics

Changes in government policy can have a huge impact on an activity.

A classic example is the tobacco industry.

Since the 1950s, cigarette manufacturers have been asked to put warning labels on their products and have lost the right to advertise on television. Smokers have less and less places where they are allowed to smoke. Therefore, the percentage of people who smoke is diminished, with a corresponding effect on the sector’s revenues.

External corporate environmental factors: Customers and suppliers

Next to employees, customers and suppliers are, in most cases, the most important people with which an organization has to deal.

Suppliers have a huge impact on costs. The weight of a given supplier depends on the scarcity of his service or product and, consequently, on the possibility of negotiation with him.

The power of customers depends on the fact that they are free to choose between a specific organization and its competition.
corporate environmental factors 3

Conclusions

In project management, you can influence those factors that are closer and more directly related to management, such as resources or project management systems.

It will be more difficult to influence the more general factors external to the organization.

In every situations, the project manager must be aware of these factors. This will also apply to the risks of the project related to harmful environmental factors on which the project manager can not exercise any control. In any case, the project manager has to be ready to act accordingly.

Moreover, the project manager is also responsible for communicating and informing the team of factors influencing a project, both internal as well as external.

It is therefore essential that every organization knows which of the internal factors represent limiting conditions and which are the drivers of the projects for their correct management.

If you have any questions on the subject, please leave a comment.

Simplify your work.

gamification project management 3

Project Management & Gamification: using games for project management

For sure, you are asking yourself: “Gaming and Project Management? Did I read well? “Yes, you read very well!

“But how does it work?”. The idea is quite simple: use a game model to create rewards in terms of productivity and goals.

It is simply applying the techniques used in games in non-gaming contexts, in order to increase the involvement in the activities. Those who face work as a game do not feel they are working. They are having fun and therefore this method increases the participation to the full advantage of the results.

In the company there can be various levels in which gaming techniques can be implemented. Here, in particular, we are talking about a completely new level of gaming, in which we play to achieve the highest level of optimization in the workplace.

The whole conversion of projects and business tasks into a game vision is called gamification process.

The premise of Gamification

The world of work is changing: While some companies continue to maintain a physical office and to follow a traditional approach, others have eliminated it. We are moving towards a new method that has already proved to be a winner: The teleworking system or remote work.

One of the biggest problems that is detected within the organizations is the disengagement of employees.

“Gallup”, the American company based in Washington, reports that 87% of workers are “actively disengaged” in their jobs.

Forcing employees to follow the traditional scheme of the 40-hour work week with limited vacation time is an “old” model that in many situations is already disappearing because it is not very productive.

With this strong increase in employee disengagement, the corporate world is looking for other exciting, inviting models, systems and platforms for employees in order to reach the necessary level of motivation and active engagement.

In fact, in order to manage workers, especially remote workers, it is fundamental to concentrate on the results they generate and also the working time analysis system should be more flexible.

What is the gamification process in practice?

The process of gamification means the application of different elements involved in a game, such as points, levels and rules, to other areas of activity, particularly in the company’s activities.

This change to the business model leads, as already mentioned, to a greater involvement of employees in the work they do, making it more like a real game.

Thanks to the involvement of employees, the job is done in a more concentrated way and is of high quality because every aspect of the work is submitted to the gamification process.

People like recognition and feeling part of something: gamification techniques are connected exactly to this concept.

The games consist of points, levels and prizes. Having these elements – considered social activators – in the workplace should therefore make people feel more involved.

gamification project management

Combining the gamification process with Project Management

The idea of combining the gamification process with project management seems perfect.

In fact, the premise is to use a game model and carefully design systems and points for the employee around the daily productivity and contribution to the goals of the project.

Then, it is possible to have team members who are rewarded and assigned to a higher level each time they contribute to the business in an appropriate manner.

The principles of the process of gamification and project management can simply be unified.

In the management of the project there is indeed a goal to be achieved – the end of the game – and the team members are the means to achieve this goal – the players.

It is also necessary to keep employees satisfied with the environment in which they operate. This will serve to make them want even more work – and success – everytime.gamification project management 2

Therefore, the combination between the gamification process and project management represents a win-win situation for both the organization and the employees.

The idea can evolve in a series of positive situations: One could, for example, have a weekly meeting in which the ranking is drawn up with the number of points of each member; or reward those who reach the top of the ranking with appreciation signals or applause in front of colleagues, etc.

In short, every little gesture can be transformed into a great incentive for productivity, if inserted into the game concept.

The benefits of Gamification

Over the years, studies have shown that this model has really interesting results in the production and quality of the organization.

Proven benefits include:

  • Increased productivity: working becomes funny, and people are more focused and stay in the office more willingly for a longer period of time;
  • Increased employee satisfaction: the workplace becomes an exciting place and workers do not want to lose it;
  • Increased employee retention: if an organization is giving everything that is needed, there is no reason to leave;
  • Increased quality: the overall quality of the process increases and, therefore, the company produces products of the highest quality;
  • Increased employee morale: recognition can be very rewarding for the mind and can elevate the mood of the employees.

What to keep in mind about the gamification process

The gamification process is revolutionary on the corporate front and the management of the project benefits a lot.

This is certainly an advantage, but it all depends on how it is managed.

Below are listed 5 essential aspects to keep in mind when implementing the gamification process within an organization:

  • Challenges and play are part of the fun, but when the games are too difficult or complicated, there can be frustration and a drop in motivation. It is therefore important to ensure that the games are not too difficult;
  • Create games that give everyone the opportunity to have a chance of winning; there should not always be just one winner. This can demoralize employees and dissuade them from trying to do their best;
  • The project manager must be the motivator and part of the team. This is a key aspect to show the caliber of leaders and to connect and engage the team;
  • Avoid repetition of the challenges. There is always displeasure when there are high levels of repetition in the activities offered.
  • The gamification process will not work for each department or team in a unique way and must be properly studied before implementation. It is therefore the project manager and the management that have to make decisions about it. Moreover, if the gaming process does not satisfy the target audience, there should be no hesitation in deleting

Conclusions

In conclusion, the process of gamification within organizations gives the opportunity to allow “humans to be human”.

Gamification capabilities enable managers and leaders to gain complete trust from their employees and help them increase their productivity.

The gamification process makes it possible to reach a win-win situation:

  • for organizations, because the targets and goals set are achieved,
  • for workers, because their level of satisfaction increases.

Gamification processes are slowly catching on and many organizations have already adopted this new system in order to successfully increase the overall production.

We wonder if it will become a model recognized by most Italian companies!

Have you ever heard of the gamification process? Have you ever taken part? Tell us what you think.

Change the way managing projects.

A try is worth more than a million words.
project manager skills

Project manager skills: 9 (+1) key skills

What are the skills of the Project Manager today? That’s a good question!

Project management is not an easy job. In reality, this is composed by a series of difficult tasks, including the start-up, planning, execution, control, closure of a project and, last but not least, the management of the team.

And the project manager must do all this successfully. In order to do this, he must possess a variety of not only technical, but also transversal skills.

The project manager does not deal only with systems and processes, but also with people.

Here is then a list of 10 skills (9 + 1) that every project manager should have. 

1.Leadership

One of the first skills that come to mind when thinking of a manager is leadership.

This is a skill that some consider innate and that can not be learned.

However, we think everyone has the potential to learn how to apply leadership techniques.

Leadership can show up in different styles, depending on the personality of the project manager.

2.Communication

This aspect is closely connected with leadership.

It is not possible to be an effective leader if one is not able to articulate needs and necessities, but also praises and compliments.

Not only does a project manager communicate with his team, but also with stakeholders, suppliers and customers.

Communication concerns not only a personal level, but also specific tools such as reporting or collaboration tools via chat, file sharing and other means that allow to tag discussions.

3.Planning

This is a technical skill, absolutely essential in a project manager – otherwise it is very likely that the job chosen is wrong.

The only way to achieve the project goals within the established time frame is to divide the goal into individual activities along the timeline and to associate one or more team members to each activity.

In short, this is planning, and it is the heart of what a project manager does.

There are many tools that help this process. One of them is the Gantt diagram, which provides a visualization of the program with tasks, duration, dependencies and milestone.
skills project manager

4.Risk management

Doing anything is a risk. Planning a project, big or small, is also connected with some risks.

It is part of a project manager’s job to predict these events before they become real problems.

Therefore, before carrying out the project, it is necessary to insert the identification, the assessment and the control of the risk.

The more a project manager is able to manage risks, the more likely his project will be successful.

Of course, it is not possible to anticipate everything that could happen during the life cycle of a project.

Unforeseen problems can arise, so a valid and ready process to handle them when they arise is needed.

5.Cost management

The concept is clear, without money you cannot do anything.

Once the budget is created, the first task is to make sure that this is realistic and that it is possible to meet the financial needs of the project.

After that, the costs should be checked regularly during the execution of the project.

Failure to meet this requirement could harm organizations that manage limited budgets.

A good project manager has the ability to finish projects not only respecting the time, but also respecting the given budget.

6.Negotiation

Being good at negotiating is similar to communication, but it deserves a separate discussion.

Negotiation is not limited to negotiating the best price from a supplier, even if this is part of the job.

Managing a project means being in constant negotiation.

For example, stakeholders could make requests that may impact the scope of a project, and these must be managed and negotiated.

The same goes for the possible conflicts that will arise between team members or other people involved in the project.

Strong negotiating skills will resolve these conflicts before they explode and threaten the project.

7.Critical thinking

Project managers are not the only ones who can benefit from this ability.

Most of us do not think, but react and follow a series of answers that we have said or learned, like an automatic pilot.

Critical thinking is simply objective when analyzing and evaluating a problem or situation, so that an impartial judgment can be formulated.

Every day we are working on a project, we want decisions to be impartial.

The only aspect guiding the decision should be to pursue the best thing for the project.

8.Activity managementproject manager skills

This is another technical skill that should be impressed in the DNA of a project manager.

There can be countless activities that complete a project that must be created, assigned and managed.

This means that poor management in this process can have a serious impact on the success of the project in general.

In these situations a project management tool could be a valid help.

Features that promote collaboration with the team and which help to prioritize and provide instant updates when tasks have been completed or are running are needed.

9.Quality management

This skill is often overlooked by project managers and is the one that probably needs more attention.

It is possible to be negligent in favor of meeting deadlines.

Respecting deadlines is certainly important, but the project in general is useless if it produces a product or service that is poor.

10.Sense of humor

With this we do not mean to be a comedian in the workplace, but there will for sure be a time and a place for a bit of healthy humor.

The sense of humor allows to have a different perspective, allows to see a problem in a different way and, maybe, also to see a possible solution.

Humor relieves stress both in the case of the project manager and the team. Only when the tensions are resolved, in fact, actions and ideas can be more profitable and productive.

The sense of humor also helps morale.  Working hard does not mean that the environment must be suffocating.

Although this may seem absurd, this ability is definitely not to be underestimated as far as project management is concerned.

 

So, these were the most important skills that a project manager should have in order to improve his effectiveness and productivity in  project management.

Having these skills will not only benefit the organization, but also the managerial career in general.

For you, what are the most important skills that a project manager has to have? Have we forgotten something that is relevant to you? Write us your opinion.

Maximize your skills.

A try is worth more than a million words.
visual project management

Visual project management

Visual Project Management is an interesting approach to project management. A project management strategy designed to increase success by visualizing project components like data and activities.

It is a proven fact that people receive more than 80% of information through the sense of sight.

From the most tender age, we write and draw in order to visualize our thoughts, emotions and things to remember.

Why not use this way to make work simpler and more efficient? In fact, visualization is something we can implement in project management.

Visual management of the project

By adopting a visual project management, teams and organizations can complete projects of any kind with more speed and efficiency.

Visual project management therefore becomes a technique for work management.

Instead of listing activities in “to do list” or wasting valuable time tracking information in the mailbox, shared files and spreadsheets, it is much easier to track the work using a visual activity management tool.

Visual functionalities can be a valuable resource for any design style, but are more commonly associated with agile methods like Scrum and Kanban.

In a certain way, Visual Project Management is inspired by the old school blackboard.

The board acts as a roadmap, progress tracker and collaboration tool for all types of development teams.

This is why in TW project, besides the use of visual tools we have already talked about (such as the gantt chart and issue management), we have created real blackboards.

Physical boards and digital boards for visual management

Physical whiteboards are a common way to share information, for example to gather topics for a meeting. In Twproject, we find the “digital twins” of physical boards.

A blackboard is an “open space” where everyone (almost everyone, security is always in the background) can insert a message.

Here’s what a used blackboard looks like.

screen1150 lavagne

At any time during a project, hundreds of single data are manipulated, transformed and communicated.

These data include labor estimates, capital and operating expenses, activity lists, performance metrics, calendars, cost-benefit analysis, risk profiles, trend data, etc.

As business speed increases and the need to focus on increasing numbers of data in order to keep project execution under control, new and innovative tools and techniques are needed to help project managers.

The visualization of complex data and processes has proved invaluable in meeting these needs.

Visual Project Management as a facilitator

Traditional visual tools such as Gantt charts, Kanban cards, process diagrams, project team calendars, stakeholder organization graphs and similar are advantageous in their own way, but they do not tell the collective story of the general state of the project.

Complicating the issue, sponsors and key project stakeholders may no longer have time for long project status reports or weekly briefings.

Decisions must be made at the moment, with any data available.

For this reason, the traditional discipline of project management, that exploits processes and documents approaches in a “heavy” way, is quickly abandoned in favor of more agile methods.

Some studies have also shown that the information presented in text formats is ineffective and inefficient.

The human eye can see visual schems 65,000 times faster on an image with respect to a tabular form.

visual project management 1

 

These facts have therefore led to the creation of a new niche within the project management community known as Visual Project Management.

The Scrum-ban style

Regarding the current methodology, many of the useful visual tools combine the best aspects of Kanban and Scrum to which project teams are accustomed.

Some users have started calling this style “Scrum-ban“.

Common visual features include:

  • Real time dashboard
  • Timeline
  • Graphic reports (Gantt, burndown, ecc.)
  • Boards (Kanban)
  • Roadmap of the product
Scrum-ban

The key advantage of this new approach is speed, as critical project information can be produced, replicated and digested in more efficient and effective ways.

The adoption of this new approach also offers further distinct advantages to project managers, team members and, above all, to the most important stakeholders:

  • The state of project planning, execution, monitoring and control activities are available in a single view, at a glance and it is easy to understand
  • Improve clarity, visibility and understanding of the project’s overall scope and operational plan
  • Resource allocations, or over-allocations, through the project or multiple projects, are clearly visible.
  • As a consequence from the previous point: better planning and allocation of resources
  • The impacts of changes to the scope, plan, priority or resources are available in real time
  • The information is provided in such a manner that everyone can access it, at any time, place and convenient way
  • Ability to isolate problem areas faster

Accelerate processes with Visual Project Management

Visual Project Management can accelerate progress by sharing project information in real time in such a way that is easier to access, understand and transmit.

Today’s project manager has much more to manage than just the project scope, deliverables, communications and teams.

The visual management of the project is not really a radically new approach that messes up the discipline.

It is just a set of tools and techniques that reinforce what we already know: people work and manage projects more efficiently when they have a clear vision of how the project components move and connect with each other.

The best way to represent and share this information in real time is not with a spreadsheet or series of emails, but an image.

Have you adopted visual project management in your work too? Tell us about your experience.

Manage your project in a visual and intuitive way.

A try is worth more than a million words.
project requirements

Project requirements: how to collect and analyze them

Project requirements are a key aspect in order to complete the project on time and without exceeding budget limits.

This is one of the essential skills of a project manager, often underestimated, which consists in the collection and analysis of these aspects of the plan.

Understanding clearly the requirements of any project you are about to undertake is very important.

Too many projects have failed because of no well-defined requirements.

As stated by the Project Management Institute

47% of projects failed due to poor requirement management.

 

There are no two identical projects: each project has its own set of requirements and it is a project manager’s responsability to identify them correctly.

The more complex the project is, the greater the need to define the requirements in order to find certain processes for each part of the project.

What are the project requirements?

Stakeholders hear the term “requirements”, but everyone get its meaning in different ways, depending on the goals.

Therefore, before we can examine anything, it is essential to have a univocal operational definition.

Part of the confusion related to the requirements lies in the fact that there are several types. We will therefore try to stick to the classification made by the PMBOK (link all’articolo PMBOK)

The 6th edition of the PMBOK classifies the project requirements as follows:

  • Corporate: they describe the reason for the project;
  • Stakeholders: they describe the needs of a stakeholder or group of stakeholders;
  • Solution: they describe the characteristics, functions and characteristics of the product, service or result that will satisfy the company and the stakeholders;
  • Functional: they describe the behavior of the product or service;
  • Non-functional: they describe the environmental conditions or the qualities required for the product or service to be effective;
  • Transitional: they describe the temporary capacities necessary to pass from the current state to the desired state in the future;
  • Project: they describe the actions, the processes or the other conditions that the project must satisfy;
  • Quality: they describe any condition or criterion that validates the successful completion of a project result or the fulfillment of other project requirements.

But why are the requirements so important for a project?

When requirements are not clear, projects are at risk; they may not produce the desired and necessary result.

At least, the missing requirements involve reworking.

In short, the lack of project requirements or their poor definition produces negative impacts on the program and on the budget.

Obviously customers, as well as team members, will not be happy with these shortcomings.

We examine the essential steps to arrive at a correct identification and processing of the project requirements.

Collect the project requirements

A project manager can not expect the project requirements to be delivered on a silver platter.

Stakeholders may not know exactly what they want and should therefore be helped in formulating their requirements.

A good project manager knows how to gather the requirements. In case he does not know, he will have to ask for help from those who possess the skills.

project requirements (2)

The tools for gathering the requirements

Here are some tools and techniques that can be useful for gathering the requirements:

  • Brainstorming: also called as group thinking or group creativity. Usually people with different roles and functions are brought together for this This technique is very useful when you do not have fixed needs and you want try to explore new requirements and new horizons
  • Interviews / questionnaires: this technique is usually used in the case of large groups. Having a large number of interested parties does not allow to organize an individual interview. Be careful, however, to ask the right / pertinent questions for a correct and real collection of the needs of the interested parties.
  • Interviews: a tool that involves personally stakeholders in order to understand their needs. Interviews can be facilitated through personal meetings or phone calls.
  • Benchmarking: in this technique, a comparison is made between existing practices and market best practices. With the gap analysis with respect to these examples of excellence, possible project requirements can be.
  • Context diagram: these diagrams represent a pictorial visualization of various interactions between users and different systems. Therefore, they describe the necessary steps to obtain the results and they may be suitable for identifying the requirements.

Requirements analysis

The word “analyze” means to break down or examine in detail the constitution or structure of something.

If the situation allows it, one of the most powerful ways to analyze is to create prototypes or diagrams.

When users can see and / or touch things, it’s easier to see what they like and what do not like. A prototype or a diagram is more tangible than simple data.

Furthermore, in some cases, the priority of each requirement is examined during the analysis. In order to do this, you should ask yourself some questions. Here are some examples:

  1. Which features and functions offer the maximum benefit for the project?
  2. Which ones can cause the greatest risk?

Once analyzed, the requirements are documented and formalized in the project document.

What the project manager must do in general is to keep his team and client focused on clearly defining project goals and mapping valid, detailed and understandable requirements.

All this, in order to create a final solution that provides what the customer really wants.

The criteria for a project requirement

In general, a good requirement must meet four basic criteria:

  • A good requirement must satisfy a specific need
  • A good requirement is verifiable
  • A good requirement is reachable
  • A good requirement is understandable by all stakeholders

A good requirement must satisfy a specific need

A requirement is basically a declaration of something that someone needs.

That something is a product or a solution that performs a service or a function.

Even if it is verifiable, reachable and well declared, a requirement that is not necessary for the final solution is not really a good requirement.

Of course, the definition of the need will depend on the context and circumstances and must be deepened by the team and the client in each specific situation.

A good requirement is verifiable

A requirement must state something that can be verified through quantification, inspection, analysis or testing.

project requirements 3

It is also important to determine the specific criteria for acceptance, which will consequently guarantee verifiable requirements.

A good requirement is reachable

The requirement must be within the budget and must be technically feasible.

It is important not to write requirements for things that can not be built or that are not reasonably within the budget or project timeline.

This is not always easy to determine and a project manager may not have the experience to judge whether a requirement is technically feasible.

In this case, it is necessary to ensure to include the members of the development team in the review process in order to predict technical problems.

It may be necessary to do a research in order to determine the feasibility of a requirement before it is added to the project baseline.

A good requirement is understandable by all stakeholders

A good requirement is understandable by all the subjects involved in the project. It expresses a single thought, is concise and is written in short and simple sentences with coherent terminology.

In this way, as you progress in the design and development phases of the project, the requirement will not change in meaning and will always remain clear to everyone.

Another advice is to formulate the requirements with affirmative language whenever possible.

For instance, it is easier to develop and test a product that does something specific than one that does not do something specific.

In conclusion, we can say that a thorough understanding of how to design, modify and adapt the requirements processes is the key for a successful completion of the project.

Have you ever found yourself in difficulty in collecting and analyzing the requirements? How did you handle the situation? Tell us about your experience.

Measure your project requirements.

business coaching - 2

Business Coaching. How to prepare for the best by strengthening 4 key skills. (Article for Project Managers).

Business coaching for a project manager is becoming a key aspect of the business.

John Whitmore, recognized by everyone as the founding father of Coaching, defined it as the ability to

Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

 

Business Coaching: Introduction

More and more frequently, the Project Manager deals with events where problems have to be solved, ideas presented and results presented.

The project manager spends most of his time communicating with team members and stakeholders, internal (at all levels of the organization) or external to the project.

Moreover, we should not forget that he must also motivate the team every day.

For instance, empowering and encouraging team members to improve their skills, attitudes and empathy in order to achieve better results has the same importance as solving problems or communicating in the right manner with stakeholders.

In addition, the project manager needs strategic skills in decisions and behaviors in order to achieve the objectives of the project.

In short, today more than ever, the Project Manager needs to create a work team and “lead” it to success.

This means knowing how to delegate, supervise, but also motivate.

In short, the role of the project manager for his Team is that of a real Coach that not only dictates the patterns but that also encourages, helps, supports, and gives rewards.

For these reasons, a good method that the project manager can use in his own routine is to instruct other people in the project. He can also use different tools that can help him improve goals and communications.

Business Coaching: the effects

According to a research done by the University of Amsterdam (Theeboom, Beersma and Vianen, 2013), business coaching has significant positive effects on

  • Performance an skills (60%),
  • Welfare(46%),
  • Coping (43%),
  • Work attitudes (54%)
  • Achievement of the objectives (74%).

In general, their research found out that coaching in organizations is an effective tool that improves the functioning of individuals within companies.

Moreover, according to another study by Bersin of Deloitte (Garr, 2011), organizations that effectively prepare managers for coaching have 130% more chance of achieving more satisfactory business results.

Business Coaching: the skills to be improved

Based on the above, project managers should improve at least four skills to become effective coaches.

Four are the skills that could help them when they interact with other people:

  1. Active listening;
  2. Powerful questions;
  3. Direct communication;
  4. Awareness creation.

Let’s see them one by one.

Business Coaching: Active Listening

With active listening we refer to a specific attitude.

Strive to listen not only to the words that another person is saying, but also try to understand the complete message.

In order to do this, the person must pay particular attention to the other.

It sounds easy, but it is not!

The situations we live have accustomed us to listen only on a superficial level.

We take the words of other people, but in most cases, we do not contextualize them, therefore we lose the nuances and key aspects of the message.

This is why, if the project manager has at heart the success of the project, he should listen to a deeper level.

This means to listen to the meaning enclosed behind the words that are said.

Becoming active listeners takes a lot of effort and training.

But there are small tricks to start with.

Active listening and really transmitting the perception to be actively listening are steps that can be improved.

Here are some “exercises” to improve active listening:

  • pay attention, looking directly the talker,
  • set aside distracting thoughts and avoid being distracted by the surrounding environment,
  • show that you are listening with the use of a smile or other facial expressions and encourage the speaker to continue by using small verbal comments such as “yes” and “mh”.
  • provide feedback by summarizing the concept of the talker and by asking questions to clarify some points.
  • postpone judgments and personal comments at the end of the speech (even if the temptation is strong!). Allow the talker to finish each point before asking questions and not interrupt him/her with contrary arguments.

In conclusion, the rule of common sense always applies.

You should respond appropriately, treating others the way you would like to be treated 🙂 .

business coaching - team

Business Coaching: Powerful Questions

What are powerful questions?

These are the questions asked to make the interlocutor reflect. Those questions have the ability to create different perspectives and broaden horizons that had not previously been taken into account.

A powerful question brings clarity, action, discovery, intuition or commitment.

It creates more possibilities, new learning or a clearer vision.

Powerful questions cause people to think for themselves. And when you think of yourself, you generally learn more.

The questions are powerful when they impact people and bring them to think.

They are usually open questions and they generally start with the word “what” or “how” and are very direct on the subject.

Moreover, a powerful question gives the person the awareness of the topic and the opportunity to explore it further.

It brings the person to think outside the box, helping to change perspective.

Sometimes powerful questions can cause a bit of discomfort, but a powerful question should be free of judgment. It must simply be a curious question.

If project managers learn to ask powerful questions, this will help them increase their personal and business communication skills.

The key is to always be genuinely curious about the person you are talking to.

Business Coaching: Direct Communication

Direct communication is the ability to communicate effectively during a conversation and to use a language that has the most positive impact on a person.

Direct communication is clear and articulated, it shares and provides feedback.

It is important to reformulate and articulate the concept in order to help people see from another perspective.

business coaching

Moreover, project managers should use appropriate language that is respectful to the person, for example, words that are not sexist, non-racist, non-technical, not jargon.

In addition, the use of metaphors, stories and analogies should be used to help illustrate a point or give a verbal picture and thus help communication.

Business Coaching: Creating awareness

Creating awareness is the ability to accurately integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information and to help people who are talking to the project manager to achieve the expected results.

A project manager plays an important role in creating the conditions for raising awareness. He must ensure that people can bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be.

The project manager is responsible for creating a support environment in which people can explore and discover their skills.

Once people know something, the project manager should help them take action in order to allow them to achieve better and more successful results for the project.

Project managers are persons that are organized, passionate and goal-oriented.

They play a strategic role and are the keys of change for their organizations.

They pursue learning, implement changes and achieve success.

In addition, they cultivate the interpersonal skills necessary to develop trust and communication among project stakeholders.

Have you ever applied these coaching techniques? Are there any others that are important to you? Write us your opinion in the comments.

Start planning professionally.

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.

gtd method (2)

The Getting Things Done method: 5 important steps for managing time

The GTD (Getting Things Done) method is a system that allows to efficiently organize one´s activities in relation to time, thus remaining productive.

It may seem complicated from an external point of view, but the ultimate goal is to optimize the time to devote to the activities that need to be done, in order to have more time for the activities that a person wants to do.

The GTD method, if used correctly, allows to simplify both the working as well as the private life. In fact, this method can be used in both situations.

The GTD method: let’s deepen the subject

The GTD is a method used for organizing things to do, based on their priorities and on a – daily, weekly, monthly – schedule in order to make them all manageable.

This method allows you to see the activities at stake and to choose efficiently on what and how to work in the future.

The GTD method also allows you to eliminate from your mind any distractions that may impede efficient work.

All this sounds amazing, but this method is also known to be complicated.

Part of the reason for this reputation lies in the fact that there is no single and always valid and correct way to put it into practice.

For sure there are some guidelines, but there is no precise scheme to follow. The application of the GTD method varies in every situation.

Part of this flexibility makes it easy to customize it in order to suit your needs. On the other hand, it makes it difficult to approach and put into practice.

Let´s try to understand how it works in a very simple way.

gtd method doing

The 5 phases of the GTD method

The GTD method is basically an organizational system. In fact, it does not set precise rules on how to carry out the work concretely.

The method focuses on how to organize, structure and choose the work to be done and is based on 5 phases or steps:

1.Collect

Here are meant all things to do, ideas, recurring tasks, in short, really everything

Collect and write everything in a notebook, in a Word sheet, on post-it, on any tool you prefer to use for your organization.

The GTD method does not tell you to use a specific tool, but whatever you use must adapt to your daily flow. There must be no excuse to say “I will add it to my list later”.

2.Analyze

Do not just write “Vacation Planning”, but divide it into practical and executable steps. For example: choose the destination, search for the flight, look for the hotel, etc.

If something can be done right away and you have time to do it, you have to take advantage of it, and do it right away.

If a thing can be delegated, then it should be delegated.

3.Organize everything by category and priority

Assign expiration dates and deadlines where possible, and set reminders to comply with them.

Pay particular attention to the priority of each activity.

Right now you are not concretely doing any of the items on the list, but you are just organizing the list and the points, according to category and priority.

4.Doing

At this point, the system is realized to make it easily understandable and it’s now time to get involved and get to work.

The activities are divided into manageable blocks, of limited size, easy to start. There are no more excuses.

5.Review

Periodically perform a detailed review of the points to see where progress is being made. It is also good in order to see where changes in priorities and categories are necessary and, in general, to verify if the system works.

How to start with the GTD method

Including the basic premises of the GTD method, getting started is simple.

In fact, it is likely that many project managers already use some of the pillars of the GTD and that these are already part of their workflow.

It is probable but not so obvious. So, for those who want to try, here is how to get started.

First of all, we need a tool to acquire and organize all the ideas, activities and tasks to be done, responsibilities, everything that we need to remember.

gtd method

It is necessary to choose a method, an instrument or a tool that allows us to report the new information given to us as quickly as possible.

If the boss announces a new task, in fact, this has to be reported in the tool chosen in the most immediate way.

If the current method does not allow this freedom, it must be changed.

Here is the point that most people do not: dedicate some time each week, or at the beginning of each day, to really get in touch with things to do.

How many of us, entering the office, sit at the desk and start working blindly, thinking only about the individual activities without thinking or having a general picture of the day?

Tasks must be organized into specific tasks that can be managed according to schedule and priority.

Ideally, if the GTD method is executed correctly, all the tasks to be done should be easily displayed. You can quickly see what is most important, what takes more or less time, what can be postponed.

How a person organizes himself, specifically depends on the person, but a fundamental rule is: do not overdo it.

If the list begins to fill with categories, variable priorities and all kinds of labels, flags and possible functions, it’s time to get back to the starting point and simplify.

And above all, do not forget the periodic review, preferably weekly.

Conclusions on the GTD method

The GTD method has a lot to offer, but let’s not forget it: it’s just an organizational philosophy and it’s not suitable for everyone.

In fact, there are several other productivity tools and systems to choose from and the GTD method is only one of them.

The goal of the GTD method is to devote some time for organizing the activities in order to subsequently obtain a large amount of time that would otherwise have been spent on unnecessary and unproductive work.

You will generally be more relaxed, because you will not have to worry anymore with the thought of what to do next, how to do it or when you will have time to do it.

In our experience, success and productivity are connected 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 wonderfully
  2. Bring this complexity to something simple, light, quickly manageable by the individual user.

Many ideas surrounding “agile” and “getting things done” management move around this process.

The final result should be to be more in tune with work and to be more involved in the personal life.

And you, what method of organization of activities do you use?

What is your relationship with the GTD method? Write it in the comments.

Complete the activities with the right method.

program manager and project manager (2)

Differences between Program manager and Project manager: the two roles compared

Program managers and project managers, two roles with similar titles will not be so different, right? Wrong!

It is easy to get confused for the assonance, but above all because in some companies the Project Manager carries out tasks and activities that are very similar to those of the Program Manager.

In reality, the Program Manager and the Project Manager, although sharing similar responsibilities, have positions that are quite distinct due to key differences.

Projects vs. Programs

Before discussing the similarities and differences between the two roles, it is fundamental to understand what is the difference between projects and programs.

Projects are temporary, are implemented one-off, and are generally limited by costs, resources, budgets and time constraints.

Projects have clear end dates and short-term goals that turn into tangible results or derivables.

program manager goals

The programs are instead composed of several underlying and interconnected projects.

These projects complete each other in order to achieve a broader and longer-term business goal.

A successful program brings strategic benefits and organizational growth, rather than a single tangible result.

Note

In short, a project manager has a more focused view on work within a single project; on the other hand, the program manager has a broad view of all workflows that lead to a “higher” goal.

Who is a Program Manager?

A Program Manager is a professional who articulates the strategy and goals of a program. His assessment will focus on how the program will impact the company in general.

The achievement of the general goals will pass from a list of interdependent projects that He (or She) must define, manage, and supervise.

The program manager creates a main schedule for managing dependencies between projects. A program risk management plan and a program communication plan are thus created.

The program manager therefore does not manage the projects, but rather provides the necessary supervision to ensure that the pieces of each project are completed in an effective and efficient way. The goal is to meet the needs of other projects in order to achieve the overall goal.

It may be useful to think of a program manager as an architect who designs a project.

An architect does not install the electrical system and does not build the walls of a house, but makes sure that all these pieces come together to create a solid and usable building.

program manager workers

The role of the Program Manager goes beyond the completion of individual projects and has as focus the long-term implementation of the whole company program.

The responsibilities of the Program Manager

The responsibilities of the Program Manager include: recruiting teams, implementing strategies, measuring ROI and other high-level activities and tasks.

A program manager is a highly qualified leader with a vision towards the future of the company.

The program manager should correctly and accurately inform the project managers of the corporate goal that needs to be achieved.

If the business strategy changes, the program manager must communicate it to the various project managers so that they are aware of the changes and can implement them into the individual projects.

The program manager focuses on the strategy and implementation plan and, as a result, delegates projects according to these factors.

The control of a program manager goes well beyond the life span of the single projects and focuses on long-term benefits for the company.

Who is a Project Manager?

The project manager manages the operations of the individual projects within the programs.

He (or She) coordinates the time, budget and resources needed to complete the work within the program guidelines. Moreover, he reports to the Program Manager on progress and any changes made to the initial project plan.

The role of the project manager is more tactical than that of the program manager. If program managers are architects, project managers are like team leaders.

A project manager focuses mainly on the execution and management of the functional elements of the project, this includes meeting deadlines, respecting the budget, delegating activities and achieving results.

Once the project has been completed and its goal has been achieved, the role of the project manager, with respect to that single project, ceases.

Program Manager and Project Manager

Let’s recap the three main differences between a program manager and a project manager:

  • Program managers supervise groups of projects; project managers supervise individual projects;
  • Program managers focus on long-term business goals; project managers work to achieve concrete results in the short term;
  • Program managers are strategic; project managers are tactical.

One can think and believe that a program manager possesses a wider range of skills and power with respect to a project manager.

In reality, a program manager must wear different glasses in order to look at the program from different perspectives and thus have an overview.

Through these different perspectives, the correct identification and segregation of individual projects arises in order to achieve the company goal.

Once these perspectives are established and segregation is carried out, the role of project managers becomes prevalent.

Project managers do not need glasses to get a general vision, but rather they focus on the goals of the project and manage the process and the workflow that can lead to the success of the single project.

After listing the main differences between these two professional roles, it remains only to mention a great resemblance between the two.

Both are “structured” roles that require heterogeneous skills and individuals who want to strive to make a difference in the business and industrial world to which they belong.

Did you know the difference between project manager and program manager? Do you believe there are further noteworthy differences between these two? Leave us your opinion.

Manage programs and projects professionally.