managing project expectations

Managing project expectations

Managing project expectations is a key skill for any project manager and for the success of a project. The reason why is easy to comprehend.

Delivering a project within schedule and on budget is certainly the goal of any Project Manager, but this is not enough to make a client happy.

Surely more than one project manager found himself delivering a project on time and within budget and then discovered that the client was not satisfied with the final result.

Often this is due to expectations that do not reflect reality, i.e. expectations that go beyond what is really achievable (at least on time and with the budget allocated. This is a rather common scenario, and when it occurs it is quite unpleasant for both parties.

The worst thing is that it often comes out of nowhere, as everything seemed to progress according to plan. You realize that you can’t meet the customer’s expectations simply because you failed to manage them.

Expectations: what are they and why should they be taken into account?

An expectation is “a strong belief that something is going to happen” based on certain assumptions and previous experiences.

The human being is a customary creature and expects certain things to manifest and act in certain ways.

We shape our expectations about others and, in the same way, we are subject to the expectations of those around us.

Certainly, however, life does not follow precise and fixed plans over time, thus sometimes making expectations futile and incorrect.

In particular, in project management, not knowing how to manage the expectations of the client and also of the project team leads to many challenges, including:

  • Ambiguous objectives and successful measures
  • Confusion about what task must be performed and when
  • Focus on wrong priorities
  • Lack of team effort
  • Diminished reliance between project manager, team and client.

Therefore, it is essential to manage the expectations (and not only those of the clients) from the beginning of the project and throughout its life cycle.

In particular, there are five ways to manage the expectations of a project. Let’s have a look at them.

Managing the expectations of a project: Project Planning

Frequently, stakeholders have a vision of the project and its results before any actual project planning takes place.

If this aspect is not properly addressed and approached, it can lead to a conflict between what is promised, how the promise is interpreted and what is actually delivered at the end.

It is important to involve stakeholders at the beginning and during the planning phase to develop realistic expectations based on available resources, team skills and desired outcomes.

Work with stakeholders to formulate the scope, priorities and objectives, identify the dependencies of the activities and decide how to address the risks.

It is also important to involve the team in project planning.

This guarantees that the team is aligned with the objectives and can help create a realistic project plan, leading to greater motivation and involvement of the various members.

Openness is critical during this phase and the project manager should not assume that everyone has the same understanding of the project plan and objectives.

Managing project expectations: Executing the project

The key here is to hold separate meetings with the team and stakeholders to discuss how the project will be executed and monitored.

The meeting with the team should be spent to ensure that everyone fully understands the project, their role and the project manager’s expectations of how the project will be delivered.

The agenda may include, for example:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Tasks and dependencies
  • History, milestones and key results
  • Monitoring and reporting requirements
  • Communication plan
  • Resource availability
  • KPIs and metrics
  • Risk management strategies
  • Modification request process

Also, you need to plan regular meetings with the team – for example once a week – to examine progress and upcoming activities.

A meeting with stakeholders will review project documents and processes, scope and deadlines and clarify any doubts or problems.

This meeting is also a useful opportunity to highlight, for example, the responsibilities of stakeholders, providing timely feedback before it is too late and the project starts moving in the wrong direction.

project expectations

Managing project expectations: Communication

Expectations are based on assumptions and bias, and constant and effective communication is essential to reduce their impact.

Communication begins at the planning stage of the project and lasts throughout its life cycle.

When a project manager meets with stakeholders and the project team, they must be honest about what can be achieved and clear about the agreed plans.

There are several ways to achieve this level of transparency: for example, use simple language to avoid misunderstandings, promote enquiring and end each meeting with a short recap (perhaps emailed to all participants).

Another suggestion is to log and archive the minutes of the meetings in the project folder for future reference.

An efficient communication plan should include:

  • The communication channel for every situation: e-mail, instant messages, online discussion forums, meetings, etc.
  • Communication frequency.
  • Heads of communication.
  • Risk and problem communication management.

This last bullet point refers to the sensitive issue of bad news.

Projects inevitably fall by the wayside, but the problem can be easily overcome by fast and efficient communication.

Managing project expectations: False promises

It is easy before you start work on a project to get involved in the excitement for a new job and fall under pressure from stakeholders by making false promises.

A “we might be able to do it” can easily become a “we certainly can” and you find yourself struggling with unrealistic expectations.

It is therefore important that a project manager accepts goals that they know for sure are achievable, while regarding others they must keep a dialogue window open or make clear the possible risks, without making false promises.

A solution could be, if uncertain about a request or suggestion, to check the history of similar previous projects and/or consult the project team or industry specialists before agreeing on any deadlines.

Managing project expectations: Personal expectations

As stated above, people always expect certain behaviors from those around them.

However, because expectations generally do not match reality, we may be disappointed by the actions of family, friends and colleagues.

As a project manager, it is important to share expectations with the project team.

Being transparent about the standard of end results, communication requirements, responsibility for risk management, etc. can make expectations within the team much more manageable.

In addition, a project manager needs to be clear about the mechanisms and feedback processes to address poor team member performance.

Expecting a project team to deliver results without direction or guidance is simply not fair and wrong.

Conclusions

Expectations are inevitable both in everyday life and in project management.

Everything we do, everything we say, everything we don’t do, everything we don’t say creates expectations about what we will do or say in the future.

This is why it is important in project management that the project manager is able to ensure that all stakeholders maintain the same expectations and that these expectations are feasible and intentional.

Proactive management of expectations consequently leads to successful projects, satisfied stakeholders and clients and teams involved.

Manage your projects at your best.

One try is worth a million words.
six sigma method

Six sigma: what it is and what it’s for

Not everyone is familiar with the Six Sigma method and especially what it is for. We will try to break it down in this article.

Digital transformation has become the buzzword of this decade.

New technologies and tools are supporting the transformation path of large and small organizations that are competing for a larger share of the market in an extremely competitive environment.

Although digital transformation quickly follows the growth of an organization, it must be equally supported by management methods of quality control and business transformation.

Focusing on emerging markets and processes, the American company Motorola developed a new concept of quality management process in 1986.

Over the years, this process has been refined into a defined process aimed at corporate transformation.

This method is called Six Sigma.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a set of management tools and techniques designed to improve the business by reducing the odds of error.

It is a data-based approach that uses a statistical methodology to eliminate defects.

The etymology is based on the Greek symbol “sigma” precisely – σ – a statistical term that measures the deviation of the process from the average or target of the process.

Six Sigma” is taken from the bell curve used in statistics, where a sigma symbolizes a single standard deviation from the mean.

If the process has six Sigma, three above and three below average, the defect rate is classified as “extremely low”.

The 5 Six Sigma key principles

The Six Sigma concept has a simple objective: delivering near-perfect products and services considering business transformation with the aim of optimal customer satisfaction.

Six Sigma has its foundations in five key principles:

1. Customer Focus

The primary objective is to offer the ultimate benefit to the customer. For this, an organization must understand its customers, their needs and what drives sales and retention. This requires the definition of quality standards defined by what the customer or the market require.

2. Measuring the value flow and identifying the problem

Mapping the phases in a given process to determine the areas of waste and collect data to discover the specific area of the problem to be addressed.

3. Removal of defects

Once the problem has been identified, adjustments must be made to the process to eliminate activities that do not add value, thus removing defects.

4. Engaging and training stakeholders

Engage all stakeholders and adopt a structured process in which the team contributes and cooperates in problem solving. Six Sigma processes can impact an organization in general, so the team must be competent in the principles and methodologies used. Therefore, training and specialist knowledge are needed to reduce the risk of errors and ensure that the process works optimally.

5. Guaranteeing a flexible and reactive framework

The essence of Six Sigma is business transformation and change. When a defective or inefficient process is resolved, a change in work practice and/or employee approach is required. A corporate culture of flexibility and responsiveness to changes in procedures can therefore offer an advantage. The people and departments involved should be capable of adapting to changes with ease.

the six sigma method

Six Sigma in project management

The Six Sigma methodology is generally implemented for project management and includes the following steps:

  • Define the objectives and scope of the project. Relevant process and client information is collected at this stage.
  • Measure: data on the current situation and process metrics are collected.
  • Analyze: collected data is analyzed to identify the root causes of the problem.
  • Improve: solutions to the problem are developed and implemented.
  • Check: the implemented solutions are evaluated and, if the outcome is positive, the mechanisms are introduced and standardized in the process.

Six Sigma Criticisms

The Six Sigma method certainly shows several advantages but, like all methods, there are also critical remarks about it. This is why:

  • Scope: the implementation of Six Sigma in the management of the project scope would require a clear definition of requirements and strict management of changes. The risk could be that this application could inhibit innovation.
  • Time: the application of Six Sigma in time management. It would require a better planning, set deadlines, close monitoring of progress, immobile risk management and the application of better resource management. The risk could be that this application could encourage further planning freeze and increase buffers.
  • Cost: The application of Six Sigma in cost management would imply absolute budgets, the imposition of accurate cost audits and effective forecasting. The risk could be that this implementation could require an “untouchable” budget.
  • Quality: the implementation of Six Sigma in project management could set strong quality objectives and a rigorous selection of standards. The risk could be that this application could cause hidden problems and blame others for defects.

Some believe that Six Sigma promotes a process of incremental improvements, hindering and disregarding radical improvements, such as a major technological innovation.

Therefore, it would seem not to fit well in the case of projects or organizations geared towards the search for new innovative methods and processes.

Moreover, in project management, the person in charge is the project manager. For Six Sigma, it is generally the so-called “Black Belt” person.

When it comes to executing projects, these two types of leaders may have a different focus.

Project managers use project management methodology tools that focus on executing a project on time and on budget, aligning it with overall business objectives.

Black belts, on the other hand, are generally more focused on solving a specific problem and finding a solution as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In general, neither approach is the perfect answer in every scenario and a lot depends on the people involved, the type of project and the type of organization.

“Traditional” project management and Six Sigma focus on different aspects, but this does not mean that they cannot perform well together when used in the right way.

Improve your business with Twproject.

the corporate culture

Corporate culture as benchmark for a project manager

Una forte cultura aziendale modella i processi decisionali di un’organizzazione, guida le azioni e il comportamento individuale di tutti i dipendenti.

Nella sua forma generale, la cultura aziendale comprende credenze, norme, valori, atteggiamenti condivisi che permeano tutte le parti dell’organizzazione.

Questi modelli aiutano a fornire tabilità e coerenza all’organizzazione , tuttavia una cultura forte può anche sollevare ostacoli ai risultati necessari per rimanere competitivi.

I project manager che non sono a conoscenza della cultura aziendale possono essere limitati dai valori e dalle convinzioni della cultura di base dell’organizzazione.

Invece, i capi consapevoli del progetto  hanno un forte legame con la loro cultura aziendale, sono più adattabili, flessibili ed efficaci.

Cos’è la cultura aziendale?

Fondamentalmente, la cultura aziendale è il carattere dell’organizzazione.

La stessa persona, inserita in organizzazioni diverse o persino in dipartimenti diversi della stessa organizzazione, agirebbe diversamente, perché una forte cultura aziendale crea ideali sociali che modellano il comportamento individuale .

La cultura aziendale è un canale attraverso il quale i messaggi su ciò che l’organizzazione rappresenta vengono trasmessi ai dipendenti e alle altre parti interessate.

Quando gli individui si impegnano nelle credenze dell’organizzazione , tali credenze vengono incorporate nell’organizzazione e i singoli membri le considerano come credenze personali .

Comprendere la cultura dell’organizzazione è quindi fondamentale per i progetti di successo.

Forze esterne ed interne modellano la cultura aziendale che influenza i progetti.

La struttura, ad esempio, influenza la cultura.

Strutture solide, formali e di controllo possono promuovere l’efficienza funzionale a spese dell’innovazione collaborativa.

Le azioni di leadership trasmettono anche credenze, valori e ipotesi che contribuiscono alla cultura aziendale.

Some leaders promote and incentivize individual and group competition, while other leaders motivate people to work collaboratively and synergistically.

Performance measures also play an enormous role in determining an organization’s culture.

What is measured, whether, for example, profits, i.e., cost savings, position with respect to the competition, etc. is also part of the corporate culture.

Last but not least, even external factors shape the corporate culture and are very powerful as organizations reflect transnational, national, regional and industrial ideologies.

These can be represented by religion, science, political ideologies and environmental concerns.

All these listed elements therefore influence the way people perceive the organization and how they behave within it.

What does this mean for the project manager?

Projects often have a deep impact on the organization and, of course, on the people within it, especially those who work there directly.

Projects change all or part of an organization and by their very nature create changes in the organization in general and/or in individual departments.

Project managers need to be capable of interacting with various subcultural elements within their organization and, where suitable, within the client’s organization, often at the same time.

Project managers who are aware of cultural differences can avoid or minimize conflicts resulting from productivity errors or misunderstandings.

Differences can arise due to communication problems between different corporate cultures.

It is therefore important that the project manager makes an effort to speak and listen to “different languages” so that these differences are taken into account.

Stubborn and hasty judgment that attributes project barriers to another person’s inflexibility or stubbornness can polarize differences, escalate conflicts, and make it very difficult or almost impossible to complete the project.

Projects are more likely to have success when:

  • They begin with the premise that organizations are living social systems.
  • They assess, define, work and align themselves with the basic culture of the organization.
  • They are directly related to the organization’s strategy.
  • They are aligned with culture and leadership initiatives.

Projects considered consistent with corporate culture may have smoother implementations and higher success rates than projects that challenge these cultural norms.

In addition, understanding the corporate culture and its relationship to project management can help organizations understand which projects to pursue and which not to consider.

cultura aziendale

Corporate culture as a crucial element

Culture perhaps plays the most important role in determining whether the organization is successful in running projects or not.

If an organization is experiencing difficulties in completing projects correctly, project managers can’t always be blamed.

Project managers may be working in a corporate culture that does not support their efforts, and until that culture changes, project managers will constantly struggle to succeed.

However, a positive corporate culture can be an incentive for project success.

Organizations and, consequently, project teams have unique personalities and value systems and an individual way of doing things to achieve success.

The more a project manager understands and accepts the concept of corporate culture, the more effective he or she will be in gaining support and guiding the project through the myriad organizational mazes.

Project managers typically work within their own core corporate culture with subcultures of other departments – for example: research and development, marketing and sales or production… each with their own “intrinsic ways of doing things here to succeed” – or external clients.

Understanding and speaking the language of the target culture is key to the success of the project.

Communicating effectively with the surrounding culture can help develop plans and strategies that are more likely to be acknowledged and adhered to over time, bypassing practices that violate the beliefs and values of both the organization’s own and external beliefs.

This is an important part of project team development that also helps to ensure a healthy climate during the team’s work and the basic approach to ensuring the success of the project.

Vuoi saperne di più sull’app Twproject Mobile?

Un tentativo vale più di un milione di parole.
the timeboxing technology

Timeboxing technology: pros and cons

To understand what timeboxing is, it is imperative to think about it and consider a regular working day.

What is the standard approach when you have a list of things to do?

Most people, as well as most project managers, chooses an activity to start with and work towards completion.

You cannot move on to anything else until that first task is successfully completed.

Only then will you choose another task and repeat the process once again.

This is the standard method of doing things, but is it really always the most effective?

What if, for example, one of the tasks on the to-do list is so broad and complex that you won’t be able to work on anything else during a certain period of time?

In this situation, the timeboxing technique can help you to better manage your time.

What exactly is timeboxing?

We have already discussed time management in projects several times, such as the GTD method, when we talked about time management or when we mentioned the smoothing, but we never brought up the timeboxing technique.

Timeboxing is a very simple technique to manage time and become more productive.

The concept is to allocate a certain period of time to a task in advance and then complete this task within that time.

A practical example is to plan a meeting agenda and determine in advance how long you want to work on each topic.

During the meeting, you then set a timer and when the time is up, you move on to the next topic.

timeboxing technology

What makes timeboxing effective?

Timeboxing is a tactic designed to help you stay focused and achieve significant progress by focusing on time rather than the activities in question.

This technique is based on the psychological principle called “Parkinson’s Law” which says the work grows to fill the time for its completion.

To give you an example: If you allow yourself a week to complete a two-hour task, this task will expand to fill the whole week.

It may also not fill the extra time with more work, but only with stress and strain from having to complete it.

That’s why when you set a time limit, you focus solely on getting the activity done.

What are the advantages of timeboxing?

Obviously, the aforementioned sense of self-imposed urgency is one of the major advantages of timeboxing, but this approach also carries a number of other positive aspects, including:

  • Enhanced focus: timeboxing increases the level of attention when performing an activity. There will be no room for distractions and productivity will increase.
  • Recurrent revaluation opportunities: Most people do not spend time evaluating their performance until the end of the working day, when they look at their to-do list and see clearly how much remains to be done. Timeboxing allows you to analyze and evaluate your work when your time is up.
  • Less stressful projects: when dealing with a particularly demanding and activity-packed project, work can become intimidating. The project seems to stretch infinitely and you feel overwhelmed. Here’s how timeboxing becomes useful in these cases: it’s much easier to think, “I’ll work on this activity for an hour”, than to think, “I’ll work on this activity until it’s over”.

How hard is it to implement Timeboxing?

Especially when you have a workflow that focuses on activities rather than time, how difficult will it be to turn the perspective upside down and make use of the timeboxing technique?

Here are some tips to start applying timeboxing in your workflow and, why not, in everyday life as well:

  • Instead of starting with a daunting project, select a relatively small and simple task or job, something that you can complete in a short space of time and without too much stress. In fact, nobody runs a marathon without first training step by step.
  • Likewise, set short time intervals when starting to adopt this technique. The best option is to start with 15 or 20 minutes for an activity and, if possible, to start at the stage where you are most careful, focused and energetic.
  • Set a timer on your phone or computer and, when the time runs out, observe it and finish the job.
  • Focus and force yourself to work, without any interruption, for that set period of time. This is probably the most difficult part and means, basically, not answering the phone, not looking at emails, not surfing the internet and no small talk with colleagues.

In the end, it is important to examine how things went and make the necessary changes for the next time.

Do you really need to check your emails during the activity? Is answering the phone mandatory due to your role in the company?

By following these steps and tweaking them over time, you will be able to effectively implement the timeboxing technique to your workflow.

However, it is also important to underline that timeboxing is not a wonder and will not automatically make you more productive and efficient.

Moreover, it is not suitable for all types of activities or meetings. For example, when it comes to creative activities or brainstorming, you will need time that often cannot be as limited as with timeboxing.

It is also important to always pay attention to the quality of the results.

No matter if with or without timeboxing, the goal of every project manager, project team and organization in general should always be top quality work.

Better organize your time.

One try is worth a million words.
FMEA methodology

FMEA methodology

FMEA methodology was created to solve a primary need of every company. The Brand, the reputation and even the survival of a company pass through the quality of its products and the relationship with its customers.

Nobody wants a defective product and defects are expensive, frustrating and harmful to the reputation of an organization.

The FMEA methodology can improve systems, design and manufacturing processes, helping to identify potential problems and enabling corrective action to be taken.

Its acronym – FMEA – stand for Failure Mode and Effects Analysis.

Furthermore, this technique is also known as FMECA – Failure Modes, Effects and Critical Analysis.

FMEA is a simple, systematic and qualitative technique that involves brainstorming with experts and recording their comments in a table; a process similar to the creation of a probability and impact matrix, i.e. the matrix for risk assessment.

Experts identify and report in a table the possible causes of product failure, the likelihood of their occurrence, their effects and the probability that failures will be detected before they happen.

This allows them to identify many failures that may affect the end result.

Used in many industries, the FMEA methodology is one of the best ways to analyze potential reliability issues early in the development cycle, making it easier to quickly take action to mitigate or eliminate failures.

When to use the FMEA methodology and its different types

The FMEA is beneficial to prevent future errors and improve process and product reliability in general.

This methodology can be used in the following cases:

  • During the development of a new product or process.
  • Before modifying a product or process.
  • After having identified an error in a product or process.
  • When multiple and consistent complaints are received from customers.
  • When sales support costs are uncommonly and exceptionally high.
  • When the integrity of an organization is at stake.

 

The most used applications of the FMEA methodology are:

  • Concept FMEA
  • Design FMEA or DFMEA
  • Process FMEA or PFMEA

Concept FMEA

This is developed at the very early stages of a product or process life cycle, i.e. when it is still in a conceptual phase.

It is performed at the system or subsystem level before the key requirements are set.

The concept FMEA helps to identify the factors that can be included in a product or process.

Design FMEA or DFMEA

Design FMEA is used to determine potential risks when designing a product or service.

The DFMEA is a methodological approach used to identify the potential risk on a new product design and examines the possibility of malfunctions, reduction in product life and safety and regulatory issues arising from, for example:

  • Material properties;
  • Shape;
  • Intolerances;
  • Interfaces with other components and/or systems;

DFMEA identifies the failure conditions of the design features and their possible effect on the end customer with the classification of the severity or danger of the effect.

Process FMEA or PFMEA

Process FMEA is used in the analysis of possible errors and risks in a process.

It detects faults that may affect product quality, reduced process reliability, customer dissatisfaction and risks to safety or the environment arising from, for example:

  • Human factors
  • Methods applied during processing
  • Materials used
  • Equipment used
  • Impact of measuring systems on acceptance
  • Environmental factors on process performance

the FMEA methodology

How to implement FMEA methodology

The use of this technique requires experienced assessment.

One or more brainstorming sessions with specialists, will help to identify, collect and evaluate potential defects, their causes and impact.

Experts should fall within all functional areas so that the entire lifecycle of the product can be covered.

The FMEA methodology is based on three parameters: severity, occurrence and detection. Specifically:

  • Severity (S) indicates the effect of the failure on the rest of the system if the failure occurs;
  • Occurrence (O) indicates how often the problem may occur;
  • Detection (D) is a measure of the effectiveness of current controls in place to identify potential defects before production.

Here is how the FMEA methodology is used, step by step:

  1. For each potential error or defect, experts will assign a value from one to ten, where one means “extremely unlikely” and ten is “extremely likely”.
  2. At the end of the brainstorming session, a list of problems will be generated, with their causes and assessments.
  3. Afterwards, this information will be added in a table.
  4. Lastly, the values for severity, occurrence and detection of each defect will be multiplied to generate an RPN. This will indicate the number of risk probabilities and provide an overall risk impact score for each defect.
  5. The thresholds of each risk level will be decided after generating RPN for all possible defects and failures. Using the RPN number, a decision will then be made whether a cause of the defect has high, medium or low priority.
  6. Work on high priority RPNs will begin to mitigate or eliminate the most important flaws.
  7. Determine the recommended actions. These actions can be design or process adjustments to reduce defects and problems.
  8. Once the actions have been carried out, note the results and the date in the FMEA form. In addition, it is important to take note of the new S, O or D value classifications and the new RPNs.

This is the description of a general procedure. Specific details may vary depending on the standards of the organization or industry.

Advantages of FMEA methodology

  • Improved and more reliable products
  • Less after-sales support
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Improved brand reputation
  • Reduction of breakdown costs and warranty
  • Profit maximization by reducing after-sales expenses
  • Catalyst for teamwork and sharing ideas between different functions

Although this is a simple method and can allow teams to set priorities according to the highest RPN (Risk Priority Number), there are some weaknesses to be taken into account before adopting this methodology.

  • Scope problem. Once the key problems have been solved, what is the limit point for further improvement? If every problem, even the most trivial ones, ends up on an FMEA sheet, the specific meetings can become time-consuming and complex, constraining valuable hours during which the actual processes could be improved.
  • FMEA methodology is only valid among FMEA team members. Problems that have not been experienced by team members will not be presented as possible error modes. When this occurs, the situation may even require the hiring of external consultants.
  • FMEA methodology is an evaluation tool and, in itself, does not eliminate problems.

 

In conclusion, the FMEA methodology is a proactive technique to detect potential defects and failures before they happen.

It is an optimal method that, if used correctly and taking into account the limitations mentioned above, can bring many advantages to an organization.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

manage project benefits

Project benefits: what are they and how to manage them

Project benefits are referred to as “the measurable improvement deriving from a result perceived as an advantage by one or more stakeholders, which contributes to the achievement of one or more organizational objectives”.

Basically it means that the benefits should represent an improvement resulting from the project.

The purpose of launching any project is, in fact, to provide some kind of benefit as a result of the delivery of the output.

It is obvious that not all projects bring the same benefits to the organization. Let’s look at some types of benefits that can be achieved.

Types of benefits in a project

The types of benefits are, as stated earlier, variable. Here are some concrete examples:

  • Quality improvement,
  • Production cost reduction,
  • Error rate reduction,
  • A higher level of customer service,
  • Increased customer retention rate.

Benefits can be classed as tangible and intangible benefits.

A tangible benefit is quantitative, i.e. something that can be measured, such as a reduction in operating costs.

An intangible benefit is something that cannot be measured accurately, although its effects can be seen, such as increasing brand awareness.

The performance management plan describes what the benefits of the project will be and how they will be classified and measured.

In order to measure the delivery of some benefits, such as cost reduction, a study of current costs within the organization is needed so that a comparison can be made after the delivery of the project.

The benefit management plan will therefore include the following key elements:

  • A description of the benefit that should be provided.
  • The “owner” of the benefits.
  • How the benefit will be determined.
  • Assumptions and risks considered in determining the benefit.

This plan will be reviewed regularly throughout the project lifecycle to ensure that the stated benefits remain on the project’s delivery path.

Some benefits, in particular, may be awarded even after the project has been delivered, which is why monitoring and measuring benefits may expand beyond the completion of the project.

Benefit management process

The project benefit management process can be divided into four distinct phases. In each phase there are a number of associated key objectives, activities and results. These are:

Benefit definition

The project must clearly outline what benefits will be provided and how they will be quantified before the start of the project.

The audience for this communication consists of all stakeholders who share an interest in the project.

When defining the benefits, it is important to take into account that most of them occur after the distribution of the output.

Therefore, the measurement and communication of benefits should also – and above all – continue after implementation.

Benefit structuring

It can be tricky to know when and how to assess the benefits of a project, but it is important to make sure to specify:

  • What is measured and what is expected.
  • What measures will be used and how these measures comply with the general measures of the organization.
  • When and how the benefits will be assessed.
  • What is the threshold of success for the realization of the benefits.
  • What will be the impact on the project if the measured benefits do not match the expected benefits?

It is imperative that the method of measuring the benefits is established before the launch of the project.
project benefits

Implementation and monitoring of benefits

Once the project starts, it is also important to measure and report on the actual outcomes against the expected results throughout the entire life cycle and not just at the end of it.

These reports can be used during periodic reviews to assess whether a project is still on track in terms of benefits.

Often it may seem that a project is on track, but if there are no formal reports it may be impossible to know that for sure.

Regular reporting will clearly show whether a project can achieve its objectives.

Clearly, in many cases the final benefits cannot be determined during the project, however it is possible to measure progress towards the benefits and then determine whether action is needed before it is too late.

Often the achievement of benefits can be influenced by factors external to the organization, such as government, competitors, and customers.

These factors must then be included in the measurement and taken into account to determine whether the project is still valid.

Benefit assessment

Monitoring the benefit measures and comparing them with the expected benefits identified at the start of the project will provide a good indication of a project’s performance.

This performance evaluation can be a useful guide in determining what course of action should be taken in relation to the project.

It is a fact that projects do not always achieve the expected benefits and that there are several levels of success.

Having hard data and comparing it to a predetermined threshold will help the organization maximize the potential of a project and know when there is no benefit to it.

The benefit management process certainly offers a structured approach to managing the benefits of a project, but this does not mean that this is a mechanistic activity; it is proactive and takes into account changes.

7 reasons why projects fail to deliver benefits

Sometimes it can happen that a project cannot deliver benefits. How come?

The reasons are different, but mainly this is due to:

  • The initial work on identifying strategic benefits has not been expanded or developed.
  • Poor definition of the corporate objectives of the projects.
  • No mechanism or strategy in place to manage the achievement of the benefits.
  • Lack of commitment from key stakeholders to delivering the benefits.
  • Lack of unambiguous ownership of the benefits.
  • Lack of robust processes to monitor benefits.
  • Lack of updating in case of changes during the project lifecycle.

That is why it is important to have a clear and structured benefit management process.

To be successful, this must become standard practice for the organization, especially every time a new project is started.

During the life cycle of a project it may be necessary to change objectives, change priorities or redefine desired outcomes in light of changing circumstances.

It is critical that this process continues throughout and beyond the life of the project to ensure that the benefits are achieved.

Manage your projects at your best.

One try is worth a million words.
working from home with kids

5 tips for dealing with children when working from home during Coronavirus

All over the world, schools of all grades and kindergarten have shut their doors in an attempt to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

This is incredibly important for the safety of our communities, but parents working from home are thus faced with a challenging domestic situation to manage.

It gets complicated when parents have to work from home for the first time.

Here are 5 tips on how to find work-life balance within the boundaries of the isolation caused by the coronavirus.

1. Create the program of the day, also for the children

As we said in our previous article about time management for home working, the key to an efficient organization of home working is to draw up a to-do list of activities.

The same rule applies for children, drawing up a strict schedule that replicates that of a normal school day.

Many schools have prepared online lessons and virtual homework, so children should be reminded that they are not on holiday, but only in an exceptional situation caused by an emergency.

Every morning it is important to wake your children up, prepare breakfast and dress them just as you would if they were going to school.

2. Communicate, even more than necessary

When working remotely, communicating is one of the key elements in maintaining efficiency and making others understand the situation at home.

When it comes to work, it is important to be clear that you are also dealing with the needs of your children, so that colleagues – and especially your direct supervisor – won’t be surprised.

For example, if you are taking part in a Skype meeting, it is perfectly legitimate to inform others that there is a child walking around the room and may interfere with the call suddenly.

Especially given the unexpected work situation in which many people find themselves, a statement like this becomes fundamental and certainly not negative.

In fact, the participants in the meeting will be more aware and understanding if they are warned beforehand.

Given the exceptional nature of the situation, one could also ask for meetings to be rescheduled so as not to have calls lasting hours and hours, but short and frequent online meetings, in order to better care for their children.

3. Establish limits with children

In addition to communicating with your colleagues and manager, it is imperative to set limits with your children.

At this time, it may be helpful to allow children to play or watch TV for longer to keep them busy.

However, it is important to state clearly that this is a special situation and that this freedom will not last forever.

It is also necessary to say when you absolutely must not be disturbed.

This limitation could be indicated in several ways, for example by closing the door if you have an office room or, if you have a desk in a common room, prepare a “STOP” sign and place it in plain sight when you absolutely do not want to be disturbed.

4. Take breaks

Breaks are essential, even when working from home.

Especially for those who have children, taking a 10-minute break every hour becomes important, also to have the chance to give them some attention and make sure that their day is also going in the right direction.

If you find yourself in a particular situation where your child needs more attention, it is important to tell your superior and try to find a solution.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to offer support or cover your colleagues who may need an extra or longer break to look after their children.

home working with kids

5. Schedule shifts with your partner

If both parents work from home, this can greatly ease the coordination between work and home life with kids.

Here the key is to schedule shifts with your partner so that it is clear who should look after the children and when, thus leaving the partner free to concentrate on their work without any interruption.

Even if the partner doesn’t work from home, but is part of the small section of the population that still goes to work every day, it is still an extra help compared to single parents.

A thorough program will be the secret to maximizing everyone’s day.

It is important to understand that, in the beginning, you will struggle and make lots of mistakes before you will find a relatively “acceptable” home working day.

To find the right solution and routine, as in all things, you need training and practice.

So be ready to innovate, try and repeat more strategies over the next few days and remember that there are already many remote workers with children who can manage this situation successfully.

So there is hope for everyone!

With a bit of planning, definitely lots of debates and an adaptable attitude, you will be able to efficiently manage your home working period with children during this Coronavirus.

Thus we want to close this article with the most heartfelt hashtag of this period: #everythingwillbefine

Are you still having problems with smart working? Try yourself with a free demo.

home working

How to manage your time working from home

Many employees will be working from home for the first time because of the pandemic we are currently facing.

Many companies around the world have, in fact, implemented remote working in a near mandatory way. These employees will therefore have to face the challenge of remaining active and productive in a new environment to which they may not be accustomed.

We have talked about time management before. We have done so, for example, when discussing time management in a project, or when we spoke about the GTD method, but we would have never talked about how to manage time working from home.

Coronavirus or not, the key to working from home is just proper time management and finding the balance between work and private life.

So here are some tips that will help whoever is facing home working for the first time to have a productive working day.

6 tips for best time management when working from home

If you are a Project Manager you might also appreciate reading this article on how to remotely manage a project team, if you’re part of a team, instead, then you need some advice.

You should know that the worst enemy of productivity, when working from home, is time running relentlessly. Often you get to the end of the day tired, but you realize you haven’t really achieved much.

So here are 6 tips for time management (which you must absolutely put into practice) when working from home.

1. Create a list of daily and weekly activities

You can begin by drawing up a list of the activities to be carried out during the week. These activities will then be spread out, according to priority or other important factors, over the different days of the week.

In this way the workload will be evenly distributed and you will not be faced with work overloads on one day and downtime the next.

In addition, during each working day, you will be able to tick off the list of activities carried out. This will create a psychological sense of well-being in seeing that you are making progress at work.
doing home working

2. Plan your breaks

At work, it is frequent to have lunch breaks and coffee breaks and often many people, during their daily activities, take regular breaks to recharge their batteries.

This routine could be totally altered in the case of home working, which is why it is essential to plan breaks.

The time of lunch and coffee breaks will be decided in advance and, unless something important happens, these schedules will have to be observed.

During breaks it is important to leave your computer and/or phone, so that you can really enjoy this time.

Prevent distractions

When working from home, it’s much easier to be distracted.

There’s no one controlling how many times you look at your mobile phone, your personal Facebook page can be open all the time and notifications can always be on, your landline can ring at any time… In short, we’ll be subjected to a myriad of uncontrolled distractions.

Maybe this is one of the most difficult steps to take, but when it’s time to get to work, you have to turn off – or at least put on silent – your private mobile phone and close all social pages.

This way you can carry out your work faster and more efficiently, leading to great satisfaction at the end of your working day.

4. Remember to eat

This section is somehow connected to point number 2, even if taking a break doesn’t necessarily mean eating.

In fact, it is important to remember to eat correctly and healthily, especially considering the fact that we are currently fighting against a virus and the stronger we are, the less vulnerable we will be.

This also requires planning in order not to end up eating a box of biscuits or a bag of chips at the last moment.

In fact, lots of people may be accustomed to having a company canteen or favourite restaurant around the office.

Working from home therefore means facing the “problem” of finding food in another way.

Just as we said in point 1 about creating to-do-lists of work activities, similar actions should be done for food as well.

One suggestion is to draw up a list of what you will eat during working hours at the beginning of the week so that you can plan your shopping accordingly.

5. Remember that it’s a job

Surely working from home gives you the chance to sit in front of the computer in pajamas and with your hair messed up by a night’s sleep, but as tempting as this scenario might be, we strongly discourage you from doing so.

Taking a shower and dressing as if you were going to the office will make you more focused on what you are doing and working and not just surfing the internet for fun.

Another suggestion is to do everything you can to create a space that is exclusive for working at home.

Not having a well equipped home office space, especially when you start working remotely, can cause a temporary reduction in productivity.

Clearly not everyone is lucky enough to be able to afford a room that can be fully converted into an office, yet the solution could be something as simple as moving a coffee table somewhere away from distractions.

This also serves as a signal to those who live under the same roof: when you sit dressed at that table, you’re at work.

Having a space to work in and physically preparing for the working day are crucial steps for the mood that enters “work” mode.

6. Manage isolation the best way possible

There are many communication tools: mobile phones for video calls, Skype, email, WhatsApp, etc.

However, even with these tools, the sudden and forced nature that represents the transition from an office to a home environment could make it very difficult to get used to this change.

Because of the coronavirus, it is not even possible to meet with colleagues and friends once the day’s work is over.

Prolonged isolation could also have a major impact on morale and productivity, leading to depression in severe cases.

That’s why, to try to maintain a semblance of normality and camaraderie in unconventional ways, you can hold virtual meetings like a pizza party or a remote happy hour where people connect and share a pizza or cocktail on Skype.

This becomes a good way to preserve relationships or bond even more and, why not, given the oddity of the situation, it can also become a lot of fun.

It is not clear how long people will stay at home, so it is important to become accustomed with remote working in order to deal with it in the most positive and effective way possible.

It would not be bad to take advantage of this period also to try out new working tools. If you have never done so, for example, you could try TWproject for free. Have a great day at work.

I know what you’re thinking… “everything is easy when you don’t have kids at home driving you nuts.”

We have also covered this issue as well! In the next article we will discuss how to manage children when working from home.

Start doing smart working with Twproject.

project perimeter

Project perimeter

Defining the project perimeter, also called the scope of a project, is a challenge that project managers always meet when they first work on a new project.

Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project objectives, end results, features, duties, tasks, deadlines, and costs.

Simply put, it is what needs to be done and the work that needs to be accomplished to realize a project.

It is important to define this perimeter in the early stages of a project’s lifecycle as this can have a significant impact on the planning and/or costs of the project along its way.

A well-defined project scope is mandatory to ensure the success of any project and we have already discussed this in this article about Scope management.

Without it, no matter how efficiently, how effectively and how hard a project manager works with their team, generally speaking, they will not be able to get the job done successfully.

The significance of defining the perimeter of a project

Here are the benefits that the definition of the perimeter of a project offers to any organization:

  • Defines what the project involves so that all stakeholders can understand what is (or is not) involved in the work;
  • Provides information that project managers can use to assign tasks, plan jobs and budgets accordingly (a perimeter in fact), within which project managers can plan;
  • Helps team members to focus on common goals;
  • Prevents projects, particularly complex ones, from growing beyond the established vision – beyond the perimeter.

The perimeter of a project provides a solid foundation for project management and helps to ensure that resources are not redirected or wasted on elements beyond its scope.

This will allow the project manager to allocate activities more efficiently and provide guidance to team members so that the project can be delivered on time and on budget.

How do we set the perimeter of a project?

The following steps can help the project manager to effectively define the perimeter of a project:

1. Identify project needs

When you are definitely able to identify the needs of a project, you are more likely to establish a solid point of reference from the beginning.

Understanding the “what and why” of a project will allow the project manager to set specific, achievable goals.

The identification of project needs also allows establishing the basics for which activities should be followed and how they should be performed.

2. Confirm project objectives

The establishment of a project perimeter should imply that the objectives are those that follow a SMART guideline; i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and completed within a given period of time.

Let’s see them in detail.

  • Specific is what it means to state precisely what the project wants to achieve. That is, what, why and how it will be accomplished. Openness will reduce the potential for ambiguities and misunderstandings.
  • Measurable: Are the objectives objectively measurable?
  • Achievable: Is it possible to achieve the project objectives, given the resources available?
  • Relevant: the objective must have a – positive – impact on the organization’s business.
  • Temporary: Can the objectives of the project be achieved on schedule?

the project perimeter

3. Definition project perimeter

As project leader, one must be clear about the features and operation required for the product or service that will be the project output.

That is, what certain qualities will be required to successfully achieve the final goal of a project.

4. Expectations and acceptance

Successful projects are those that meet the end user’s expectations.

End users can be either customers or the project team or some other entity within the organization.

For customers, this means the price, value and quality of the products/services as well as the availability, delivery and return policies.

For employees or internal figures within the company, this includes, for example, the effectiveness and efficiency of new operational processes.

Finally, the scope of the project is the one that should be in accordance with the best results to anyone who can be the end user.

5. To identify constraints

There are always obstacles – more or less significant – on the way to achieving a certain goal, and this applies to projects as well.

When one is aware of possible limitations along the way, this can help to minimize problems that could delay or limit the capability to achieve the project result.

These constraints can be caused by environmental conditions, technological problems and/or lack of resources.

Communicating such problems to team members in a timely manner and adopting measures to overcome these obstacles will reduce delays in project completion and keep expenses within budget.

 6. To identify required changes

It is always best to avoid redesigning the project perimeter, as this implies investing more time, money and resources.

However, sometimes these changes are unavoidable and necessary, so the key is to limit them as much as possible.

Tips for project perimeter management

Here are some tips for the project perimeter management, which can help to avoid some of the most frequent problems that can occur during the project lifecycle.

  • Ambiguity: Ambiguity in the scope often leads to unnecessary work and confusion. To avoid this, the perimeter must be well defined and specified.
  • Incomplete definition: A not fully defined perimeter leads to incorrect scheduling leading to cost overruns. To avoid this, the project perimeter must be complete and accurate.
  • Transience: A transient perimeter is the main cause of late deliveries and “endless” projects. To avoid this, the purpose document must be finalized and remain unchanged for the duration of the project.
  • Non-cooperative environment: An inadequately prepared project perimeter causes misinterpretations. To avoid this, the document should be shared with all stakeholders at every stage of the perimeter definition process.

 

The management of the project perimeter is not difficult to implement; however, it requires effort, time and patience.

When it comes to project planning, the definition of the perimeter of the project is one of the most critical steps.

If a project is launched without knowing precisely where the boundaries are, there is little chance of success.

The main purpose of establishing the perimeter of a project is to clearly describe which area will be under the control of the project.

Plan and define your projects using Twproject.

project framework

Project management framework

What is a project Framework? Let’s try to learn it together.

A strong reason why project management is increasing in virtually all sectors is because the world economy has become project-focused.

Basically, everything that is not considered a routine operation is a project.

Therefore, by adopting project management frameworks and strategies – such as the establishment of clear results and the definition of a work programme – operations can be managed more effectively.

Project management in organizations is no longer an extra, but rather a priority and, in some cases, an essential part.

While the role of the project manager has changed radically over the past decade, largely due to rising technologies, the bases remain the same.

The six stages of the Project Framework

An example of one of the main tools that every project manager uses is the project management framework.

This framework integrates a number of tools and processes to ensure that a project runs smoothly from start to finish.

Depending on the company, this framework may have different names for different phases, but the six phases that comprise all the basic elements are:

Project framework 1. Initiation phase

This phase concerns the launch of a project.

Here stakeholders, the scope and objectives are defined and the requirements of the project are set out. It is during this phase that the feasibility of the project is measured.

The main end result of this phase is the start of the project.

Project framework 2. Planning phase

This is the moment when all decisions are finalized and the project roadmap is developed.

The team develops a project plan and a corresponding timeline and determines which materials and resources will be needed to successfully conclude the project.

It also identifies potential threats that could delay the end of the project or prevent activities from being completed on budget.

The final result in this phase is the development of a project plan.

Project framework 3. Execution phase

The project progresses here from design to development.

This is often the lengthiest phase of the framework and involves developing the results according to the project plan.

Here, the team will often use status reports and hold regular meetings with sponsors and key stakeholders to assess progress.

The main end result at this stage is to obtain approval of the planned product or service.

Project framework 4. Control phase

This is the tuning phase in which project stakeholders will take corrective action in response to deviations from budget, timing and scope.

The project manager could re-evaluate resource levels, monitor project objectives, and arrange meetings with stakeholders to approve changes.

The main outcome at this stage is the reporting of progress.

Project framework 5. Evaluation phase

It is at this phase of the Framework that the performance of the project as a whole is reviewed.

The project manager will use key performance indicators to determine whether the project is well on track or not.

The factors that will be monitored include, but are not limited to:

  • if the project is within budget;
  • if the project follows the established schedule;
  • any change in the scope of the project.

The main end result at this phase is the measurement of project performance and progression.

Project framework 6. Resolution phase

A successful project ends – successfully – when it achieves all the expected results.

The lessons learned will then be collected and documented in a special paper.

This paper provides an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past (lesson learned) and implement successful processes for future projects.

project management framework

Thus, these are the six basic phases of a project management framework.

Clearly, traditional project management processes are constantly evolving with the adoption of new practices.

Finding the right balance between the adoption of new modern tools and established classical methodologies is and will be a great challenge for project managers.

Project management framework in depth

The PMBOK Guide describes a project management framework as a basic structure for understanding project management.

Different frameworks are available and project managers will choose the one that works best for the project within their organization.

In some cases, organizations leverage multiple frameworks depending on the departmental unit or project type.

Let’s see what some of the most popular project frameworks are.

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

The CCPM is designed to address the uncertainties inherent in project management.

This method focuses on resource allocation, including personnel, skills, management and capabilities during the project.

The aim is to maintain the workload level for all resources.

Lean

The key concept of Lean project management is to deliver high value with minimal waste.

The Lean method aims to achieve this through standardization, maximum compatibility, safety, repeatability, interoperability and quality.

Lean often employs the Six Sigma methodology, which is geared towards improving quality by eliminating defects, standardizing and formalizing processes.

Extreme Project Management / Megaproject (XPM)

Extreme Project Management (XPM) is a framework designed to meet the needs of very complex and often highly flexible projects.

XPM is more about stakeholder management than about the timing of activities.

In a traditional project, the result is much less complex, the change is expensive and therefore minimized, the technology is assumed to remain largely unchanged and the project is driven by the project plan.

This is not particularly suitable in high technology environments where change is a constant because the technology is constantly evolving.

XPM is therefore characterized by very short development (sprint) periods of two weeks or less.

Scrum

The Scrum method is also based on short sprints, although Scrum sprints are longer than XPM sprints and generally last two to four weeks.

Waterfall

The Waterfall methodology is generally recognized as a traditional approach to project management.

Waterfall is based on the idea that everything happens in sequence, with one phase of a project ending before the start of another.

Why are there so many project management frameworks?

Every framework has its own strengths and weaknesses, but, above all, every project has its own needs and requires specific resources.

Some elements that can determine which framework to use are the type of activity, the unique nature of the projects and the different departments involved.

A project manager must therefore be aware of what the project management frameworks are and must be able to identify which one is best suited to each occasion.

Only by choosing the right framework can a project be carried out successfully, respecting the corporate culture and the ultimate goal of the organization.

Would you like to better manage project frameworks?.

negotiation skills in a project

The importance of negotiations in projects

Negotiating skills for a project manager are crucial and improving them will set the foundation for a successful project.

Project managers hold different roles at the same time: leaders, intermediaries, delegators and even negotiators.

This is why negotiation skills for project managers are on the list of soft skills they should develop.

What is the negotiation in a project

Negotiation is a process consisting of the activities necessary to resolve different types of disputes through consultations between the parties involved in order to reach a consensus.

Negotiations can take place at any time in the project lifecycle and may be formal or non-formal.

Formal negotiation implies an agreement through contracts and formal documents, while informal negotiations include debates to resolve a conflict between team members, for instance.

In project management, the negotiation process is divided into phases and include:

  • Planning: the preparation of all relevant information necessary for the discussion.
  • Debate: here the key issues are examined and discussed.
  • Proposal: the creation of the proposal as a way of solving the problem presented.
  • Revision: this can include negotiating compromises before an agreement is formalized and before the information is shared throughout the organization.

Why negotiation is important for project managers

Here are some situations where negotiating skills play a key role in the success of a project. Cases in which the project manager:

Ultimately, negotiating skills enable project managers to achieve stronger relationships with stakeholders, better relationships with clients and, in general, a more positive working environment.

Negotiating can also be a useful strategy for dealing with conflicts on a project.

While it is almost impossible to avoid conflict entirely, being able to negotiate the way around it is a useful skill.

In the most serious situations, conflict can also halt a project.
negotiation in a project

Improving project manager’s negotiating skills

Here are 5 tips that can help improve project manager’s negotiating skills.

1. Improving negotiating skills: Practice

The very first thing to do, as happens in all things, is to practice a lot.

Probably everyone negotiates more than they think – both in their professional life and in their private life.

It is therefore important to be aware of these negotiating situations, to analyse how you approach and deal with the moment, how you feel and what could be improved for the next time.

2. Improving negotiating skills: Preparation

It is important to spend some effort on preparation for negotiation.

If a project manager knows they are meeting a supplier, for example, they should think in advance about what they want to achieve from this agreement and explore potential alternatives.

This way you will engage in the discussion more confidently and know in advance what you want to achieve.

However, it is important to remember to remain receptive to other people’ points of view as well.

It is not a negotiation if you refuse to change your standpoint and force the other person to accept your ideas.

3. Improving negotiating skills: Manage your emotions

Conflict situations and negotiations often expose the worst in people.

It is therefore important for the project manager to be prepared for how they will react in a potentially difficult and perhaps embarrassing conversation.

4. Improving negotiating skills: Take your time

Negotiations can take a long time and be running on a continuous basis; it is unlikely that in a single meeting, everything will be discussed and resolved.

For large projects, multiple meetings could be held to ensure that everything is documented effectively and to the satisfaction of both parties.

And even when the agreement is concluded, the project manager may find himself negotiating more precise details or new terms to move the project in the right direction.

5. Improving negotiating skills: Listen

When preparing for a negotiation, you need to try your best to think about what you want to say, how to say it, how to reply to what you think the other person will say.

Simply put, a project manager must also be ready to listen.

Listening will help you identify the other party’s weaknesses and help you really understand what others want.

When you listen actively, you are more likely to formulate answers that the other person finds acceptable.

The importance of negotiating: conclusions

Ultimately, negotiation is an excellent project management tool and is critical to getting the best out of any situation.

Negotiation goes beyond reducing or increasing the price of an offer and is a necessary tool in the daily activities of the project manager.

Like all soft skills, knowing how to hold engaging conversations that translate into good results for both parties is something that can always be improved over time.

With the right knowledge, structures and techniques, any project manager will be able to approach negotiations knowing how best to target the project and the organization in general.

Read more about Twproject bootcamps.

One try is worth a million words.
project information flows

Project information flows

Project information flows are crucial to the Project Manager.

Also due to new design methods, pioneering products, technologies and processes, the amount of information within an organization has increased significantly.

However, the increase in the amount of information available for projects is not being exploited effectively and therefore does not add any value to the project.

This is particularly true for complex projects.

The main reason for this is the ineffective management of the information flow.

 What happens to the information?

To better understand how to manage the flow of information, we must try to familiarize with it. The flow of information requires four components:

  • a starting point (source),
  • an endpoint (receiver),
  • a path (interaction)
  • a leading force (mutual relevance).

There are two types of actors that can act as a source or recipient of information:

1) people

2) documents, i.e. tools such as graphs, reports and other documents that allow communication between groups of people.

The role of a person in the information flow is determined by their contractual role within the project.

This role defines:

  • the type of information expected from a person,
  • the type of information the person can provide,
  • how this information is shared and how it is received by it.

Documents affect the flow of information through their structure, their depth of news and the process of information acquisition and use.

This set, i.e. the characteristics of the people and documentation involved in a project, create the potential flow of information, but this does not mean that the available information will actually be embedded in the project.

information flows

Interaction between people and documents as a key element for the Information Flow

It is the interaction between these actors that ultimately determines the fate, and thus the actual flow, of information.

Depending on the type of interaction, information may be accepted, rejected or ignored.

In order for information to add value to a project, three critical steps must be executed:

  • The information must be shared by an individual in the project team.
  • The information shared must be accepted by other project team members. Information that gets ignored or rejected becomes useless and basically disappears from the project unless it is shared again under other circumstances. The information accepted by others is retained in the project team’s collective memory. However, accepting information does not automatically mean that this information is used and creates value in a project.
  • It is only when the information is used in a decision that they are finally able to add value to the project

The “Big Four” of interactions and communication

Several factors moderate and affect the outcome of interactions.

Basically, it is possible to reduce these factors to four main ones: trust, commitment, learning and common understanding.

These key factors then determine what information is shared, how it is shared, how it is received and lay the foundation for future interactions.

Trust implies having positive expectations about another person’s future actions when an individual is vulnerable to such actions.

Commitment is the strength of an individual’s identification in a particular organization or project.

Together, these two factors influence a person’s values in relation to the project, such as:

  • how one sees others in the project team,
  • how one sees their role,
  • how much commitment one is willing to put in,
  • one’s sense of association and interest in the project.

Learning occurs when the processing of new information changes – potentially – the behavioral range of an individual.

The common understanding comes from an informal agreement on what is relevant for the other team members and the project in general.

Together, learning and common understanding form the mental model of an individual. Mental patterns determine how one:

  • Evaluates new information,
  • Links new information to their existing knowledge,
  • Ranks and sorts information for the project.

Project information flows: Values, mental models and decision-making process

People are rationally limited, which means that they can understand only a limited amount of information.

Therefore, one relies on one’s own values and mental models to limit the amount of information one needs.

Based on their frame of reference, people are only aware of a subset of the total information available.

From this information, people filter the information even further according to what they think is important.

The remaining information is what they use to interpret the situation and make decisions.

Due to different settings, individuals may be exposed to the same situation and information, but they may come up with very different conclusions and ideas on the subject in question.

As far as the project team interactions are concerned, the main purpose is to share information and make decisions.

Consequently, the effectiveness of the interaction becomes one of the most crucial factors in determining the outcome of a project.

In a project team moreover, the way in which others share information and the way in which a person’s contributions are received affects trust building.

This includes issues concerning how individuals feel:

  • How are their contributions weighed up by others?
  • Are they treated fairly?
  • Is there mutual responsibility in the team?
  • Have their expectations been met?
  • Do project team members show commitment to team goals above their personal goals?

These considerations affect the quantity, type and quality of information shared in subsequent interactions, interpersonal dynamics among team members and people’s willingness to share and accept information.

Therefore, as mentioned above, the effectiveness of the interaction becomes one of the most crucial factors in determining the outcome of a project.

Project information flows: complex cases

In more complex cases, the increasing importance of information management and integration requires a project team entity responsible for social integration and communication flow.

The main role of the integrator is to create an environment that facilitates trust and positive learning cycles. This includes:

  • Emphasize the value of individual contributions in relation to the objectives of the project,
  • Manage expectations while maintaining responsibility, discipline and fairness by setting clear and consistent objectives
  • Understanding of existing mental models and positive interaction between them.

This is how a proper management of information flows becomes crucial for the success of a project.

If the information is not managed correctly, some important details could fall into “oblivion” generating a series of problems that could have been easily prevented.

Would you like to better manage project information flows?

the project estimation methods

Analog and parametric estimation: differences in calculation for time and cost of a project

Analog and parametric estimation is what we will discuss today, partly to continue the discussion started in the last article about how to estimate the resources of a project.

Project estimation is a key aspect of project management and analogical and parametric estimation techniques are the most commonly used methods.

CONTENTS

These kind of estimates are universally applicable to any kind of project of any kind of organization.

They are used to perform any type of estimate, whether it concerns time/duration, effort, resources, or costs.

There are certainly many other estimation techniques that can be used in a project, however, in this article we will focus on analog and parametric estimation.

Analog Estimation

Analog estimation is a technique used to estimate the duration or cost of an activity or project using historical data from a similar activity or project.

Analog estimates are made based on the time or cost employed by similar previous projects.

Therefore, these estimates are based on team experience or project history.

The only disadvantage of this method is that the estimate may not always be accurate.

By applying this method, historical data from similar previous work can be used to estimate the current work, however, be careful when applying this method.

This should only be used when reliable data from similar works is available. Otherwise, this method may be counterproductive.

Here is an example:

Let’s suppose you want to estimate the timing required to paint a house. Let’s also assume that you have access to data – quality data – of the actual duration of another similar project in the past. This data could come from the same house or one with a similar structure and size, painted in the same location and during the same season – there may be a difference between painting in summer or winter.

Using this technique and applying this data, one can therefore safely say that the current painting work will take 10 days if a similar work was done in 10 days in the past.

Parametric Estimation

project estimation methods

 

The parametric estimation is executed on a unitary basis and employs the ratio between variables to arrive at the cost or duration of an activity or project.

Compared to the analog estimation, the parametric one is more accurate, but the measurement must be scalable to confirm accuracy.

You can use this method only after you have identified one or more parameters and devised an algorithm or formula to perform the specific calculations.

These calculations will then be performed on the historical data obtained and, unlike the previous technique, it is not necessary for the historical data to derive from a similar work or project.

The algorithm, or formula, should be good and effective enough to produce predictable results. Otherwise, this method cannot be used.

Here is an example:

Let’s suppose you want to estimate the duration to paint a house and you know the size of its walls. Let’s also assume that you have access to detailed data on the actual duration of another project, where another building – this time with different sizes – was painted some time ago in another location.

In this case you can use two parameters to get to the parametric estimation: These are:

  • first parameter = size of the overall surface area to be painted
  • second parameter = average duration for painting one square meter of surface area

Our formula for the estimation will therefore be:

Estimated duration = (size of the overall surface area to be painted) * (average duration for painting one square meter of surface area)

Thanks to this formula it is therefore possible to estimate the duration required to paint the house of the project.

Let us now use specific data to illustrate the example more clearly:

  • It is necessary to paint 1000 square meters of walls of a house.
  • On average, it takes 6 minutes to paint one square meter of the area.
  • So you will need 1000 * 6 minutes = 100 hours to paint the whole house.

Difference between analog and parametric estimation

Many professionals misunderstand the difference between analog and parametric estimation because they believe that parametric estimation does not need historical data. This, as seen above, is not true.

Historical data are in fact used in both estimation techniques of the project, only in the analogical one data similar to the project in question are required, while in the parametric one more general data are required.

Here are the main differences between these two techniques in the following table.

ANALOG ESTIMATION PARAMETRIC ESTIMATION
Method Uses historical data from a previous similar project Uses a formula based on historical data from a previous project
When is it used? Usually in the early stages of the project when only high quality data can be used Usually when comprehensive data is available
Usefulness Only when quality data from a similar project is available Only when it is possible to devise a formula, an algorithm or a statistical model
Accuracy Usually less accurate. Depends on the expertise and experience of the individual making the estimate Usually more accurate. It depends on the accuracy of the available data and the refinement of the model used for the calculation
Effort Usually less expensive in terms of effort and time Usually more expensive in terms of effort and time

Generally speaking, the estimation of a project’s activities is not always easy.

How come? Usually because the only time you know exactly how long it takes to complete a project is when it comes to completion.

Up to the delivery point, the project teams led by the project manager, they employ “guesswork” to predict the future.

And the bigger and more complex a project is, the more confused the future will be.

Wrong estimates mean missing deadlines and over-budget spending, two of the main causes of a project’s failure.

Being an experienced estimator is therefore a key skill for a project manager and using proper project management software can be a great advantage in this case.

Need a tool to estimate your projects?
Start a free demo.

the project work

Project work: a method that pays off

Working on projects and more in detail project management is not an impractical science, even if some people see it that way.

In fact, project work is a set of tools and practices, a kind of roadmap, which allows managers to lead a project from point A to point B and to do it efficiently and cost-effectively.

Everyone, in any sector, can benefit from project work, with clearly defined roles and a life cycle and structured processes.

Following a project management method can help to avoid negative situations resulting from failure to properly manage events.

A method provides the project management framework to manage the tasks that need to be performed.

Of course, this does not mean that there will be no problems and that all projects will run smoothly, but this will minimize risks and prepare everyone to deal with them.

Since projects depend on people and often one is working on something new, there will always be a certain level of uncertainty in situations. However, being clear about roles, responsibilities, behaviours, skills, processes and models can ensure that the programme is accurate, that adequate resources are available, that everyone understands what is expected of them, what will be delivered and how much it will cost.

Why project work is a method that pays off

The advantages of a correct project work are different:

  • The project manager is responsible for managing a project while leading his team and establishing a strategy that will result in the execution of the specific project.
  • The client benefits from the fact that they are allowed to give feedback, relying on the knowledge that their input really means something.
  • The project team benefits from this because without it the project would not have started in the first place and certainly not finished. In addition, the project team is able to take part in something, work on it, and see a process carried out from start to finish.

In this way you have the perfect triangle for projects: manager, client and employee working together for the common goal.

In fact, it is this application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques that will ultimately meet the needs and/or expectations of a stakeholder on a given project.

These are the basic rules of working for projects. So let’s see what some of its advantages are.

1. Improved efficiency in service delivery

Project work provides a sort of roadmap that can be easily followed and leads to the completion of a project. Once you know the risks and the general aspect of the path to be taken, it is clear that you will be able to work smarter and more effectively.

2. Improved customer satisfaction

Every time a project is carried out on time and on budget, the client is satisfied. And a happy client is the one who will continue to come back in the future. Smart project management provides the tools that allow this client > manager > organization relationship to continue.

3. Increased effectiveness in service delivery

The same strategies that have made it possible to successfully complete a project will continue to be applied to similar projects in the future.

4. Improved growth and development within the project team

Positive results not only boost respect, but most of the time inspire the team to keep looking for ways to do the job more efficiently.

5. Increased stability and competitive advantage

This isn’t just a good advantage of project management in the workplace, but also beyond it. Word of mouth travels fast and there is nothing like superior performance to ensure a privileged place for an organization in the marketplace.
project work

6. Opportunities to expand services

Great performance brings more opportunities for success.

7. Improved flexibility

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of project work is the flexibility it allows. Surely project management allows you to map the strategy you want to follow to see a completed project, yet the great thing about such an organization is that if you find a smarter direction to take, you can change it and embrace it.

8. Increased risk assessment

When all players are aligned and the strategy is in place, potential risks will arise. Project management provides a red flag at the right time.

9. Quality increase

This goes hand in hand with greater effectiveness.

10. Quantity increase

An increase in quantity is often the result of improved efficiency.

Project work: achieving the objectives

The implementation of fundamental project work strategies therefore allows to narrow the focus, achieve the desired objectives and, above all, achieve them within specific time and cost limits.

The end result is that everyone comes out a winner, which could be the best advantage of project work ever and the confirmation that it is a method that pays off.

Finally, the main advantage of project work is that it helps to manage projects effectively, allowing problems to be resolved more quickly.

It takes time and money to manage a project, but following good practice can help you to:

  • Improve the chances of achieving the desired result
  • Get a new perspective on the project and how it fits the company’s strategy
  • Prioritize resources of the activity and ensure their proper use
  • Set the scope, planning and budget accurately from the outset
  • Keep on schedule and keep costs and resources within budget
  • Improve productivity and quality of work
  • Promote consistent communications between staff, suppliers and customers
  • Meet the diverse needs of the project stakeholders
  • Mitigate the risk of project failure
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Gain a competitive advantage and increase profits

Not working on projects, therefore, can lead to loss of time, money and in the end, poor performance.

Organize your work with Twproject, it’s easy

One try is worth a million words.

Project management: fundamentals and tools

Project Management is a series of activities that allow, in coordination with each other, to successfully implement certain projects.

Many organizations struggle, however, to understand how to control the success and profitability of their projects and the reason is very simple. They lose touch with what are the true foundations on which Project Management is built: people, processes and technology.

Companies that want to implement new strategic objectives need to know that people, processes and technology are the drivers of change that must be identified as catalysts for success.

Only when these three pillars are aligned is it possible for the entire organization to operate as one.

So let’s take a closer look at the fundamental attributes of a project management par excellence.

The first fundamental of Project Management: the people

Talent management is important for effective project management, and project management is important for effective talent management.

They are the people who work and deliver the projects.

Resources must be teamed up in a performing group in order to deliver the project effectively. It begins with the project manager’s leadership skills.

This includes “cross skills” such as communication, business insight and change management – With an increased focus on understanding the requirements and constraints of customers and stakeholders, customer relationship management capabilities are essential.

Although this confrontation between talent and project management has been going on for years, the emphasis on “people” is now a more widely appreciated perspective, as employees and their varied skills offer organizations the chance to gain a competitive advantage.

Project managers may cover different roles from one project to another, yet the need to understand and collaborate with other staff is still present.

The mentality for success is simple: people come first.

The goal is to find, hire and retain project managers who combine technical skills with solid leadership and possess strategic and business management skills.

Moreover, with the importance given to a person’s individuality and the way it relates to their performance with an organization, talent management must also take into account other characteristics such as personality, communication style and even attitude.

The process may be complex, yet the goal is simple: execute project objectives efficiently, using the right people.

However, considering people just as specialised “tools” for the task at hand is not as easy as it might seem.

A person is not just a “tool” you are working with, but an individual who needs consistent communication and guidance to get the job done right.

Nowadays, the best project managers have a multi-level understanding of the business challenge, a multidisciplinary approach to the project and effective communication with project stakeholders.

Furthermore, the key to the success of any project is to ensure that all stakeholders remain enthusiastic and inspired when faced with often tedious tasks and unexpected developments, particularly in long-term projects.
fundamentals of pm

The second fundamental of Project Management: the process

The second mainstay, both for talent and project management, is based on having solid processes.

Although each organization will probably modify them to best fit its business structure, the value of having one (or many) remains similar.

The process, whatever industry it covers, can be divided into three general phases:

  • preparation,
  • identification,
  • communication.

The preparation phase begins with an understanding of an organization’s needs and how best to fill that gap, both currently and in the future.

In the identification process, we begin to look for key factors or attributes that have been previously discussed.

The communication phase, as the name suggests, requires strategic action to initiate interaction.

This phase not only brings awareness of the opportunities available, but also represents the time, energy and skills needed to successfully conclude the process.

Business processes should be based on best practice tailored to the specific situation of the company and its customers.

Bodies such as the Project Management Institute (SME) for example, help in establishing these practices while providing learning and development opportunities for project managers.

Among the advantages of implementing clear processes and methodologies in an organization can include:

  • Avoid the use of a set of tools to reduce unnecessary costs and thus reduce the risk of error.
  • With reduced waste of time a project can be completed faster and more effectively.
  • Greater satisfaction among the main stakeholders of the project is noted.
  • Better effectiveness and motivation from the project team that perceives working in an environment of organizational certainty.
  • A better reputation for the organization that develops successful projects through the work of a committed team.
  • Greater opportunity to take advantage of potential opportunities thanks to a better reputation and greater capabilities of project teams in responding to customer and market demands.
  • Greater organizational flexibility thanks to the greater forecasting capacity provided by monitoring and control processes.
  • Better possibilities to predict and manage potential risks with targeted response strategies.
  • Improved output quality thanks to the reduced possibility of error, which allows energies to be focused on innovation and process improvement.
  • All in all, more and better productivity through greater efficiency.

The third fundamental of Project Management: the tecnology

With an increasing number of IT tools to choose from, deciding what is best for the team can be challenging.

However, the introduction of new technologies can also play a key role in the way talent and project management teams communicate, often influencing them to be proactive in adopting new innovative solutions.

For everyone, and especially project managers, the learning process is constant and has become an expectation of anyone working on complex projects.

Technology has also influenced the development of new project management and planning tools, with dozens of models available, ranging from complex software to simple cloud-based interfaces.

 

Speaking of this topic, did you know that you can try TWproject for free for 15 days? You can do it by clicking here.

Having a unified tool that can integrate with software within an organization is an easy way to increase efficiency for both project managers and the team in general.

 

So here are the three main fundamentals and tools in project management.

Before starting any work, therefore, an organization must ensure that it has no gaps in these areas.

Once the “foundation” is in place, you can move on to project management in more detail to ensure successful projects and motivated teams.

Manage your team effectively

the risk matrix

The matrix system for risk evaluation

What is the matrix system for risk evaluation and why should we talk about it? Well, it’s pretty simple. In today’s era of changing market trends, risks are unavoidable.

Whether it’s a start-up or a multinational company, in the end everyone faces risks that require the utmost dedication.

Every time you start a new business, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is “what could go wrong?“.

Some issues are in fact destined, in most cases, to go wrong during the life cycle of a project.

It is not easy to assess risks, even less to manage them, and if you are not ready to assess and control these risks, the very survival of the project could be at stake.

Companies spend a lot of time and financial resources analyzing different types of risks and devising valuable measures to reduce their impact.

There are some essential steps that need to be taken for proper risk management.

The risk management process – or risk management – begins with a risk assessment and then moves on to risk analysis and actions to be taken to minimise it.

The project risk analysis is not a simple process and there are various methods for effective risk management and one of those methods used for risk evaluation is the matrix system. So let’s examine it further in this article.

What’s the risk matrix?

The risk matrix is also known as the probability matrix or impact matrix.

It is an effective tool that helps in the risk assessment considering the probability versus the severity related to the potential risks of a project.

A risk matrix is a visual representation of the risks associated with a particular project to help organizations prepare a containment plan and the resulting decision making process.

In a nutshell, it is a tool that helps to reduce the impact of risk that might otherwise result in negative costs for the company.

The matrix consists of a grid, showing the probabilities on the Y-axis and the resulting impact on the X-axis.

These two elements are considered to depict accurately the nature of the risk.

Different levels of risk in the risk matrix

risk matrix

A risk matrix looks just like the one shown in the picture and features different levels of risk:

  1. Critical or high priority risks: these risks hold a high call to action. They are an absolute priority and must be addressed immediately.
  2. Main risks: these risks are also high, although generally classified lower than the “extreme” risk cell seen previously.
  3. Moderate risks: These risks are also referred to as medium level risks. They do not rank high priority and are associated with the development of an alternative strategy to overcome possible blockages during the life cycle of a project.
  4. Minor risks: Last but not least, these risks represent a low ranking in the risk evaluation matrix, but this does not mean that they aren’t important. However, these risks tend to be considered only after the major risks have been mitigated.

The grid of a risk matrix is used to assign a certain priority to the risk.

The resulting figure therefore helps to understand the nature of the risk and what needs to be done to minimize it.

In addition to these divisions, as can be seen in the figure, there are three main zones within the matrix.

After having analyzed the risk, it can belong to one of these three zones:

  • A low-risk area considered acceptable – coloured yellow;
  • A moderate risk zone that may or may not be acceptable, coloured green;
  • A high risk area considered critical or unacceptable, coloured red.

These areas makes the result of a risk matrix more open, giving a clear division as to the priorities and future steps to be taken.

The advantages of a risk matrix

Let’s examine some of the advantages of a risk matrix and how it can be effectively used for risk management. A risk matrix helps to:

  • Prioritize risks according to their level of severity;
  • In risk planning, it helps to neutralize possible consequences;
  • Allows the analysis of potential risks with minimum effort;
  • It improves the security measures of the organization;
  • Gives the team an overview of the potential risks of a project.

Without a risk matrix, chaos can result within the organization and some unexpected circumstances can be faced.

By contrast, using the risk matrix for risk management will not only reduce the probability of the risk itself, but will also reduce the magnitude of its impact on operations.

It provides timely data that quantifies threats and facilitates the organization to take consistent measures to reduce the potential chaos that could occur in the event of ambiguities or wrong decisions.

The numerical values in the risk matrix provide an effective way to represent the organization’s exposure to risks and how much effort is required to minimize them.

For a project manager, it is also possible to create a risk assessment matrix and integrate it into project management software (link to home) or create one directly within innovative project management software.

Having a clear view of risks in any organization is in fact a tool that can change the perception of any project.

However, it is important to understand that a risk matrix is a tool and not a complete solution for the needs of a project.

The final decision and how risks are handled depends on the intellectual value of the people who interpret the results of the risk matrix.

Manage your projects with Twproject

Project Management events and conferences in 2020: European overview

This article provides an overview of the most important conferences and events planned for 2020 in Europe.

Project management is a constantly developing factor within organizations and among projects.

Conferences are a key resource to stay up to date on the most effective and modern project management tools and strategies and are very important for networking with colleagues in the field of project management.

Here is an overview of the Italian and European dimension.

Project management events outside Italy

Let’s start by having a look at the most important project management events that will take place in Europe outside of Italy.

 PMO Conference 2020 – London

The PMO Conference is highly acclaimed by the project management community for its learning and networking opportunities.

Offering the most in-depth and modern tools and research to develop project management skills, the PMO Conference hosts a full program of expert speakers in 2020, an exhibition of the latest PMO products and services, and extensive networking opportunities in the field of project management.

Focusing on portfolios, programs and project offices, this two-day conference – June 2 and 3, 2020 – will delve deeper into the knowledge of any PMO, whether it is at an early stage or already advanced.

APM Project Management Conference – Edinburgh, London, Manchester

This conference hosted by the APM – Association for Project Management Conference – named “Power of Projects 2020” – The power of projects – is scheduled to take place on several dates and locations throughout the year. Specifically:

  • Edinburgh, 17 March 2020
  • London, 21 May 2020
  • Manchester, 24 June 2020

This series of conferences focuses on topics that add value to the ever-changing field of project management and focuses on topics such as team management and project management tools.

This cycle of events aims to strengthen the project manager’s profession and emphasize their ability to adapt, work smarter and develop in an ever-changing environment.

The 2020 conferences will focus on the power of the profession and how projects can truly be a catalyst for the social and financial well-being.

Passion for Projects Congress 2020 – Malmö

This congress is Scandinavia’s greatest hub for project managers, portfolio managers and program managers.

In 2020, the congress will celebrate its tenth year, with 4 key lectures and 25 seminars that will engage and inspire the public.

The topics will be different and important at the same time, such as:

  • how new trends on a human level can impact the future of project management,
  • the way value is created through sustainable projects that also include business cases
  • how teams can be enhanced to be more receptive to innovation, technology and change.

This exciting event will take place in Malmö, Sweden, 9 to 10 March 2020.

Portfolio and Project Management Summit – Berlin

The Portfolio and Project Management Summit, to be held in Berlin on 10th and 11th March 2020, will reveal strategies to meet the dynamic changes that occur daily in project management, exploring the evolution of the manufacturing sector.

The meeting will address issues related to business transformation, Agile development, people management, budget and financial management, shared knowledge and best practices on how to leverage innovative strategies with relevant tools.

Agile-Lean Ireland – Dublin

The Agile-Lean Ireland will also be back in 2020 at Croke Park, Dublin’s most historic venue, for its third edition.

This event will be attended by international and Irish speakers, with a mix of lectures, seminars and conferences.

The theme for the 2020 edition, which will be held on 20 and 21 April, will be “Go For It” and is aimed at conveying the spirit of the values of courage, commitment and concentration needed to learn and innovate, including in project management.

 SME® EMEA 2020 Congress – Prague

This congress will provide the concept, skills and behaviours a project management needs to differentiate himself.

For three days, specifically from 14 to 16 June 2020, prestigious international speakers will talk about innovative global perspectives on this fast-moving profession.

On this occasion, it will be possible to learn and share experiences with peers from all over the world and the skills learned will be applicable immediately, once back in the office, to solve everyday challenges and develop one’s career.

 PE Award Assessment Training Vilnius 2020 – Vilnius

A three-day event hosted by IPMA – International Project Management Association – for potential PE Award assessors.

Significant attention is paid to the evaluation process itself, including interviewing and reporting skills.

Two online webinar training sessions are planned before the training in Vilnius, Lithuania, from 6 to 8 March 2020, one on 22 January and the second on 12 February.

 Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data – Copenhagen

This conference about artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data, is not directly targeted to project managers, but can still be an interesting occasion to understand what technological innovation is bringing and will bring in the future.

In fact, these are aspects that will increasingly affect project management.

The conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 17 and 18 August 2020.

Italian Project Management Events

After looking at the most important European events that will take place outside Italy, let’s see what Project Management has in store for us at home.

4 Forum Nazionale di Project Management

The 4th edition of the Forum Nazionale di Project Management will start in autumn 2020.

It’s a must-see for insiders. An event full of meetings and in-depth analysis as well as high-performance and absolutely targeted relationships.

We have been there in the past years and our experience has been absolutely positive. Our participation is guaranteed also for this year.

The organizers have not yet revealed the theme for the next edition but we are sure that the topics will be absolutely actual and capable of anticipating the subjects of the sector.

For example, in 2019 the focus was on the project sustainability. We talked about innovative approaches that balance the 3Ps of Sustainability: people, profit, planet.

Here is the link to a short video interview.

the 4th italian national forum

 

If you think there are other events worth mentioning, please contact our editorial staff and let us know. We will be happy to include them in this article.

Read more about Twproject bootcamps.

One try is worth a million words.
effort and costs

The Planning Game to overcome the risks of estimation of the effort and costs of a project

Estimating the effort and costs of a project is, for some project managers, one of the most difficult aspects of project management.

To prepare an accurate and complete project plan, it will be necessary, in fact, to estimate many factors. How much time it will take to accomplish the work, how much it costs, how much money the project will save or earn, the extent of the risk and a multitude of other aspects.

Estimation is the approximate determination of the size, extent, value, cost or nature of something.

As many project managers will say, the key word in this definition is “approximate”.

The core of project management is thus, even with significant prior experience, the uncertainty inherent in any project. This simply does not allow for absolute accuracy in estimates.

Estimation methods for project effort and costs

It is unnecessary to discuss again the differences between effort and duration of which we have discussed in depth in this article Let’s stick to the concept that estimation is essentially a hypothesis, and let’s see what can be done to make it the best possible scenario.

Here are five methods to achieve the most realistic possible estimates:

  • Ask the person in charge of carrying out the work to prepare the estimate.
  • Ask an expert or a person with experience in that particular area to give their opinion.
  • Use existing data – perhaps from similar past projects – and make appropriate changes (lessons learned).
  • Use tests, field studies or other simulated experiences as a guide.

All these approaches are definitely worthwhile and, depending on the occasion, some will work better than others.

The best approach will depend on factors such as the availability of historical data, the estimation capabilities of the performers or experts in the field and the amount of time available to prepare an estimate.

Estimates should represent what the project manager believes is the most likely outcome and therefore should not be worried about applying their judgement to the input they receive, as long as they have a reason to do so.
effort and costs of a project

Estimate dangers

Estimation is certainly a difficult process and there are many factors that can undermine the accuracy or validity of a project’s effort or cost estimates.

Among the most common dangers are the following:

  • Badly defined workplace: this may occur when the work is not sufficiently divided or the individual elements of work are misinterpreted.
  • Omissions: in a nutshell, something has been left behind..
  • Excessive optimism: in this case, a successful scenario is used as the basis for the estimate and the worst case is not even considered..
  • Padding: This happens when the estimator includes a safety factor in the estimate, a kind of padding that ensures that the estimate is met or not exceeded.
  • Lack of risk and uncertainty
  • Rushed estimates: if estimates are rushed to meet a deadline which is too tight, they are almost likely to be unrealistic..
  • The executor and the estimator both have two different levels of skill: people work at different levels of efficiency and sometimes have a significant impact on the time and cost of an activity. For this reason it is necessary to make an estimate considering who will actually do the work..
  • External pressure: Many project managers are assigned specific – and sometimes unrealistic – project effort and cost objectives. If a project manager finds himself in this situation, they should communicate what they think is within reasonable reach.
  • Failure to involve the executors of the activity: an estimate developed without involving the executors of that activity could be inaccurate because it is based on erroneous conceptions. This is why a direct comparison between the estimator and the executor is always important.

 Planning Game: an estimation method

In addition to the traditional methods to estimate the effort and costs of a project, another one exists, mainly used by the Agile teams: the Planning Game.

The purpose of using this method is to avoid the influence of other participants.

The Planning Game should force people to think independently and propose their estimate numbers at the same time, without input and influence from other participants.

Let’s see how a planning game normally takes place. Each participant has a series of cards with an estimated value (the values can be those, even approximate, of the Fibonacci sequence).

The individual activities to be carried out will then be taken into account. Each team member considers all the factors of the project activity and selects a card that they will place face down on the table. Once all participants have made their move, the cards are turned.

It is not possible to select two cards for the same activity.

Then, the participants will review the assessments made and discuss together the reasons for their choices.

Each participant, in this way, will think independently and how much effort the team will spend to complete the activity in question.

Once the discussion is over, the evaluation will be repeated until all the participants give the activity the same value. Then, this value will be written on the Activity in question and the process will be repeated for the next Project Activity, and so on until the end.

For each activity, the highest and lowest values attributed will be crucial. It is not necessarily the case that those who have given such assessments are wrong, but it may be possible that these team members may have valuable information or knowledge for a more realistic estimate.

This way, at the end of the Planning Game, a shared estimate of each individual project activity will be made. In this way, no team member and no external stakeholders can blame anyone for incorrect estimates.

The Planning Game is sometimes also called Planning Poker or Scrum Poker, and is a derivation of the Delphi Method, a group decision-making technique in which participants give their estimate to a facilitator who is responsible for providing an anonymous summary of the expert evaluations along with an explanation.

The Planning Game to overcome the risks of estimating the effort: conclusions

Ultimately, the most adequate effort and cost estimation technique for each individual project depends on the experience of the project manager, their preference and the parameters available in each situation.

In addition, there are now project management software programs that use statistics to help project managers calculate contingencies to deal with risks, uncertainties, and unknowns relatively smoothly.

Although there are some minor differences, the basic concept is the same in all tools: to provide a set of possible results for the individual work elements of each project. Have you ever tried the TwProject statistics for free? If you haven’t yet, enjoy the 15-day free trial now.

Estimation with Twproject is easier

One try is worth a million words.
the shared leadership

Shared Leadership in Project Management: benefits and techniques for developing it

Shared leadership in project management may not seem like a convenient solution; however, it is not. Let’s see together in this article what benefits could be gained from shared leadership and what are the best techniques to achieve it.

With global expansion, restructuring within each sector, the growing number of organizations merging, the need for dynamic flexibility, and broad knowledge and skills base is more significant than ever before.

Shared leadership, which means using the best-combined capabilities of leaders in this type of scenario, is considered a viable solution to meet these challenging business needs.

What is shared leadership exactly?

Shared leadership involves maximizing all human resources in an organization by empowering individuals and giving them the opportunity to take leadership positions in their areas of expertise.

With increasingly complex markets requiring more excellent leadership, project management work can sometimes become too extensive for an individual.

Shared leadership is not simple, but it is certainly possible and, in many cases, very successful.

Using the shared leadership model gives leaders the opportunity to focus on the areas where they are most talented, to hire team leaders, and then develop a project – and the organization in general – towards success.

Several organizations in different industries have realized that a properly formulated and executed leadership strategy can strongly influence the performance of a project or organization, elevating its results to exceptional levels.

Why implement shared leadership

Here are some of the benefits that can derive from shared leadership practice :

  • The act of sharing leadership promotes innovative and committed behavior among team members.
  • Shared leadership positively transforms the composition of verticalized companies, re-integrating teams.
  • Individuals in the organization create bonds of interdependence through the exercise of shared leadership, supporting teamwork.
  • Freedom and speech during the performance of shared activities increase levels of satisfaction and identification of the company among its members.
  • The example of positive behavior and proactivity of shared leadership motivates team members even more.
  • Successful results achieved through shared leadership lead to recognition of the participatory nature of each employee’s contribution, making teams actively desire the growth of the company.

Here are some tips to share leadership and maximize talent.

  • Giving power to the most qualified people to strengthen their skills.
  • Define the limits of decision-making power.
  • Support an environment in which people feel free to take initiatives.
  • Offer qualified people discretion and autonomy over their tasks and resources and encourage them to use these tools.
  • For leaders: consider yourself an asset rather than the manager.
  • Arrange appropriate follow-up meetings to review progress and take corrective action if necessary.

Empowering the people closest to the customer and allowing them to take responsibility means more time for leaders.

Even better, employees and team members can feel more involved in the project, paving the way for greater success for the organization, the team, and themselves.

shared leadership

What is the ideal moment to implement shared leadership?

Interest in the study of alternative models to one of absolute leadership, including shared leadership, has grown significantly in recent years, changing the way organizations are managed and organized.

In today’s ever-changing environment, understanding how organizations can achieve more innovative results is critical to ensure their continued survival and competitiveness.

It is, therefore, ideal to adopt a shared leadership format, especially if the organization is large and has multiple business lines and sectors.

Through shared leadership, activities will become easier to separate, manage, and coordinate.

Here are some suggestions for implementing a shared leadership model:

  • Always keep partners and team(s) updated on new ideas.
  • Never insist on implementing immediate changes without discussing the need for such changes with partners and colleagues.
  • Enabling partners and team members to interact freely by enabling them to take the initiative.
  • Consider shared leadership as an organizational method, exercising a more convivial type of leadership.

Here are the aspects on which to focus in the case of shared leadership:

  • Avoid situations where the use of power leads to difficulties or outcomes detrimental to other members and teams.
  • Not matching the control of leadership with the ability to achieve results.
  • Be aware and therefore avoid the risks associated with excessive accumulation of power.
  • Acting with self-control to prevent or suppress the desire to exercise control beyond what is strictly necessary.

Ultimately, for a long time, leadership models have been based on concepts such as “One lead and the others obey.”

This type of model is focused on one-person leadership and is mainly used in organizations with rigid hierarchies.

In the modern marketplace, this model is still used but is increasingly being replaced by others, such as shared leadership.

It is, therefore, crucial for an organization to know what is meant by shared leadership and what are the methods to apply it in the best possible way.

 

Manage your projects effectively with Twproject

pm and gig economy

Gig economy in project management

We often hear a lot about the gig economy, but what is it really and how much can project management be involved?

The work and commercial market scenario has changed dramatically in recent decades.

We live in an age in which the economy rewards companies that interrupt and innovate the old ways of creating new models that drive financial success.

One of the major trends in this new culture is in fact what’s called the “gig economy”.

The gig economy has been created by organizations that have chosen to hire contractors or freelancers for certain positions rather than full-time workers.

In theory, by adopting this method, organizations save money and workers are supposed to be free to set their own work schedules and even work from home, from where they connect via software or e-mail.

The projects are by definition limited in time and therefore represent the perfect environment for those seeking to capitalize on the gig economy.

The rise of the gig economy

The gig economy really kicked off after the significant economic recession of 2008-2009, when companies were forced to mass fire and unemployed workers started working temporarily to support their incomes.

The rise of this kind of “temporary” and self-employment became known as “gig economy“, borrowing the term used by musicians – gigs – denoting their pay-per-view in a bar or club.

This trend was born during a negative situation characterized by financial instability, although growth continued even after the economy stabilized.

Gigging – through a pre-arranged contract or advice – tends to offer a higher hourly wage to compensate for the lack of benefits, such as severance pay, health insurance, etc. The latter can also be used as an incentive to increase the number of people in the workforce.

Flexibility is attractive for those who want more control over their work programs or who are looking for breaks between contracts.

There is also an increasing opportunity to work in different companies and sectors, or to start as an external collaborator and then become a permanent full-time worker once the compatibility between employee and employer is established.

Nowadays, gig economy is even stronger than expected.
gig economy

Project management during the Gig economy

Gigging is becoming increasingly popular and can be found in virtually all sectors.

Since these contracts are usually short-term, there is less pressure than a commitment and a greater sense of freedom.

The gig economy empowers the person who performs the service rather than the person or organization that requires it.

What was the project management like before gig economy?

Traditionally, project management revolves around the idea of a temporary effort made within the wider context of an organization’s general objectives.

Led by a project manager, the project – before the gig economy – was carried out by a team of direct employees of the organization, usually consisting of people with different skills and expertise, from different departments.

Based on what was planned for the project, this project team estimated and approached the work while the project manager coordinated timing, scope, requirements and costs.

The project manager monitored progress and helped the team move into the end phase as smoothly as possible.

At the end of the project, the team and the project manager discussed what had been achieved, what could be improved, and any limitations encountered during project life cycle.

At the end of the project, the team was disbanded and all members were available once again to be included in a new project.

What is project management like in gig economy?

One of the most obvious changes in project management during the gig economy is the composition of the project team. One no longer draws on a pool of long-term employees within the organization, but is likely to work in the short term with external specialists.

In the gig economy, it can be difficult to build a sense of relationship and cohesion within the team, however, by taking care of interactions between members and encouraging communication, it is possible to promote an honest, transparent and efficient working environment.

The project manager must have insight on everything the team does.

  • How long can team members work and when are they available?
  • What dependent aspects are included in the activities?
  • Is the current timeline a reasonable indication of expected progress?

These – and many other – concepts of traditional project management are still applicable and, probably, it becomes even more crucial to have access to and monitor this data in the gig economy.

The advantages of the GIG economy for the Companies

There are many benefits for employers when hiring self-employed workers, including:

  • Saving money. With temporary workers, organizations no longer have to worry about expenses such as unemployment benefit, allowances and workers’ wages. This allows companies to save a lot of money that can contribute to their financial growth.
  • Creating a more engaged workforce. With the gig economy, the traditional roles between employee and employer are altered. Workers who have the freedom to choose when and on what they want to work, through project-based work, tend to be happier and more accommodating and, in the end, perform better.
  • Avoiding wrong recruitments. Organizations can now fill in vacant positions with freelancers or independent contractors. This gives managers the opportunity to part with no tax implications if the external employee does not meet expectations.

As times change, it is obvious that approaches and processes need to evolve to keep pace with changes.

The gig economy has radically changed the way we work, yet this shift to short-term contractual work must not lead us to think that there’s no proper management.

The gig economy has a clear model that requires equally clear workflows, planned and managed to meet its needs and complexities.

Increase your company’s productivity with Twproject

One try is worth a million words.