triangle of talents

The triangle of talents: which skills for the project manager?

The triangle of talent, not just a simple shape, but the golden triangle of the Project Manager.

Would you like to know more? I will try to explain it to you.

Let’s briefly think about what are the most important qualities for a successful project manager.

Everybody, both those who have worked for years in this world, as well as those who have just started, will certainly report the qualities of the project manager that are in line with what we will see in shortly.

Considering the many skills, talents and competencies required for this role, it is clear that project management requires many qualities and skills.

And in order not to leave any doubt, the Project Management Institute (PMI) outlined the ideal set of skills of a project manager in a model called the “Triangle of Talent“.

This model synthetically analyzes the art of project management in the three categories we will now see.

Let’s find out what skills make a project manager, a successful figure.

The three sides of the Triangle of Talent

triangle of talents

The Triangle of Talents contains the ideal set of skills for project managers.

Its three sides include the following skills:

  • Technical skill;
  • Leadership;
  • Business strategic management.

The beauty and charm of the Triangle of Talents lie in the combination of skills, elements of business management with technical skills in project management, and human and social skills.

The most successful project managers use all three of these areas in order to grow in their work.

The first side of the Triangle of Talents: Technical skill

A project manager could not excel in his work without the technical know-how of the sector in which he operates.

This includes not only the specific skills of project management, but also the knowledge of the industry in general.

Proper technical skills and knowledge are in fact fundamental to successfully complete the project.

A project manager needs to know how to calculate the so-called earned value, how to manage costs, how to do a risk analysis, etc.

The PMI outlines some of the specific technical skills that the project manager should possess, including:

  • Agile practices;
  • Earned value management;
  • Project life cycle management;
  • Management of project requirements;
  • Schedule management;
  • Time, budget, cost estimate;
  • Data collection and analysis;
  • Governance;
  • Performance management;
  • Risk management;
  • Scope management.

As previously said, a successful project manager needs a solid understanding of the industry in which he operates.

In fact, the daily work of a PM can vary depending on the sector in which he works.

If he does not know the environment surrounding a project, he will have difficulties in understanding any problems and in finding solutions.

Moreover, due to lack of technical experience, the project manager may lose the respect of the members of the team.

In short, the lack of technical knowledge could lead to problems related to the understanding of project details and technical problems.

Both of these factors could jeopardize the future of the project.

Technical knowledge, commonly known as “hard skills“, can be learned, studied and refreshed through training courses, seminars, webinars, etc …

This side of the Triangle of Talents certainly represents the most concrete and easy to learn quality, but in order to have it, dedication is certainly necessary.

The second side of the Triangle of Talents: Leadership

The second core competency of the PMI‘s Triangle of Talents is leadership.

A successful project manager must guide his team – or more teams – through all phases and processes of the project.

Leadership can have different forms.

triangle of talents

Leadership expertise includes coaching and mentoring, influence on employees and stakeholders, team building and brainstorming, interpersonal skills and negotiation.

Even problem solving and conflict management are included into the leadership skills.

Project managers must guide teams towards project completion, inspiring and motivating people to continue throughout the process.

Because using leadership means
TO WIN AS A TEAM, NOT AS AN INDIVIDUAL

As an effective leader, a project manager must inspire team members about the future and offer them a vision that will help them achieve the goal.

As a leader of an effective team, a project manager must be proactive and a problem solver.

The successful project manager must have motivating qualities. At the beginning of a project the motivation is usually high, and then gradually decreases.

Here, in fact, the manager’s motivation capacity is essencial.

Motivating the team is certainly hard and complex, but essential for the good success of the project.

A project manager should also have management and delegation skills that enable him to do his job in the best way and with the right support.

He must be able to understand who to entrust with a particular responsibility or particular task, and who is not the right person.

Moreover, ensuring that the team members possess the skills required to successfully complete the work is also part of the skills of this project leader.

If skills are lacked, the project management will give the necessary training or, in general, will allow the collaborators to receive it.

The third side of the Triangle of Talents: Business Strategic Management

The third side of this magic triangle is as important as the other two.

Business strategic management makes it possible to carry out an analysis of company decisions before implementing them.

Project managers not only apply their knowledge and leadership qualities, but must also align projects with business goals.

This third side of the PMI’s Triangle of Talents includes the following skills and competences:

  • Competitive analysis;
  • Legal and regulatory compliance;
  • Operational functions, such as finance, marketing, ecc;
  • Business Acumen;
  • Customer service and satisfaction;
  • Awareness of the market, its conditions and its trend.

Understanding the purpose of the project and the way it supports the organization’s overall goals enable project managers to be able to drive their teams to success.

These professionals must understand what the organization is trying to achieve in general and how the specific project fits into this general vision.

This helps the organization achieve its long-term goals.

The first step towards success is found in the confirmation and acceptance of the strategic business plan by all the stakeholders.

In conclusion

As any successful project manager can state, the mixture and the right balance of skills and qualities make this figure a complete and successful professional.

That is why the Triangle of Talents works.

In today’s dynamic environment, a project manager must be versatile.

Having just one skill is not enough.

The balance of the three sides of the Triangle of Talents is not just about the possession of complementary skills.

These are all the critical areas that a project manager must master in order to succeed in his career.

The technical skills of project management help to perform specific functions or tasks, leadership skills help to achieve business goals within the organization and strategic business management helps to achieve better overall business results.

So, this is the ideal recipe for a successful project manager.

Do you agree with what the Triangle of Talents expresses?

Do you think there are other qualities that deserve to be mentioned?

Leave us your comment.

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project estimation techniques

Project estimation techniques

The techniques for estimating a project in project management can be different.

Unfortunately, project managers do not always use them.

In some cases, project managers choose to do a planning without having supporting data.

Of course, even the best project estimation techniques are not perfect, but at least allow to show the client, the project sponsor or the boss how to get to estimate the duration and costs.

In this article we will see different options for estimating a project:

  • Analogous estimation;
  • Parametric estimation;
  • Order of magnitude estimation;
  • Bottom-up estimation;
  • 3-point estimation.

Each technique requires specific data and specific mathematical and statistical procedures.

Once defined, it is possible to decide which one to use, keeping in mind that different estimation techniques can be used for different sections of the project.

Project estimation techniques: analogous estimation

This type of estimation uses certain parameters referred to past projects and considered similar to a new project that must start.

To apply this technique correctly, not only similar past experiences are required, but also the ability to understand the factors of similarity and diversity between experiences.

For this reason the skills of the project manager who analyzes the degree of analogy are essential for a good estimate.

A company, if well-organized, should always keep projects data so that they can be used in case of similar future projects.

In fact, in the case of a new project similar to a previous one, even a less prepared and experienced project manager can inquire, study and have the opportunity to plan a new project with a minimum of base history and without groping.

If all the project managers perform the management of the project work, its planning and its documenting in a professional way, it would be possible to create a database useful for a subsequent estimate by analogy.

Project estimation techniques: parametric estimation

The parametric estimation is based on the identification of variables that can provide an estimate on the variables of interest of a given project.

Usually, we talk about parameters referring to costs, time and quantity of resources needed.

Even here, it is required the existence of similar past projects that can be studied in order to understand the causal links between input and output parameters.

Perhaps it is better to make a concrete example.

In a construction activity, the hardness of the rock is a variable from which it is possible to know the speed of execution of the work and which tools suit best.

Project estimation techniques: order of magnitude estimation

The most difficult estimate that is required to the project manager is certainly at the beginning of the project, during the conception phase.

The president and the board of directors want to know how much this new project will cost and how long it will take.

However, the project manager may not have enough information about the project when these questions are first asked.

Usually, however, if the project manager makes an approximate assumption about costs and duration at this initial time, his superiors and stakeholders will consider it as an official response.

project estimation techniques

This is why a shrewd project manager should use the order of magnitude estimation.

For example, here is what a project management should say: “I believe, that 90% of the project can be completed within a period ranging from 50 to 95 days and I am also 90% sure that the project will cost between € 75,000 and € 100,000. ”

The directors do not like this type of estimation because they normally want defined numbers: cost and duration.

They do not want to hear probabilities or intervals.

However, at this stage, the project manager knows very little about what the project will imply, so given a specific response would literally be “suicide”.

The best thing a project manager can do is to explain that the level of certainty will improve as project planning progresses.

With this explanation is likely that the superiors and the stakeholders will be more condescending.

Project estimation techniques: bottom-up estimation

Bottom-up estimation is performed when the planning process has already produced a structure of the various activities and a project team is appointed.

Specifically, in this estimation technique the more detailed elements are taken into consideration and then aggregated in order to provide an overall estimate.

There is a relationship between the detail level of the breakdown and the accuracy of the estimate.

A level of breakdown that is too general and insufficient does not make it possible to fully understand the work that has to be done.

On the contrary, an excessively detailed breakdown will lead to the loss of the overall vision and the probable underestimation of the work of the entire project.

It is a good idea to involve and use the experience of team members in creating estimates.

Beware, however, that in some cases, employees tend to “enlarge” their estimates in order to “protect themselves” from any delays in the project or in the case of an unforeseen event that causes an exceeding of the budget.

Project estimation techniques: 3-point estimation

The concept of 3-point estimation is very simple.

Regarding times or costs, three possible values are assigned, ie the most optimistic case, with the lowest value, the most pessimistic case, with the highest value, and the most probable one.

A continuous probability distribution is then constructed on these three values.

This is an estimation technique developed by NASA especially for its space programs.

In situations like those that NASA was facing, for example the landing on the Moon, the other methods of estimation were not suitable because there were no data from previous similar projects.

This technique is in fact a good choice when a project manager is in charge of managing unique projects that do not have a defined history.

In such circumstances, the project manager asks the team members for more estimates for each activity.

This allows to consider potential positive events that could simplify and accelerate the work, as well as evaluate project risks and any increase in costs and delays in delivery.

The 3-point estimation also provides statistical data to the project manager regarding the probability of duration and different costs.

Concluding this overview, we can assert that, in general, there is no right or wrong method.

The estimation of a project is an art!

A mixture of knowledge of the project, of the industry, including a historical review, a customer survey and a large part of instinct.

In Twproject it is possible, for example, to manage future projects using skills as resources; create projects by assigning skills instead of resources.

This is very useful during the project planning phase.

Furthermore it is possible to:

  • manage actual open projects with real people;
  • model future projects with skill assignments.

Having both possibilities in the same system makes it possible to share, for example, the creation of the project tree and its maintenance between the planning project manager and the production project manager.

A single space to monitor ongoing activities and plan future ones, directly estimating their impact on projects.

An advantage not to be underestimated.

And what estimation method do you prefer?

What are the strengths and weaknesses you’ve noticed?

Leave us your comment.

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effort

Effort and duration: key differences in the estimate of project

Time management is one of the most important aspects in managing a project.

In order to estimate the time accurately, it is necessary to have a correct understanding of the two concepts of effort and duration.

What is effort

Effort is the number of units of work needed to complete a task.

It is usually expressed in hours, days or weeks worked.

The effort is therefore the number of hours of work needed to complete a task, ie the actual time spent working on the project.

In order to estimate the duration of a project, first we have to determine the effort.

Let’s try to give an example to simplify the concept: if you estimate about 30 hours of active work to complete a fence, the effort will be 30 hours.

Be careful, however, that this does not mean that the fence is ready within 30 hours – unless you plan to build it for 30 hours non-stop.

The duration is the total number of work periods (excluding holidays or other non-working periods) necessary to complete an activity, so in other words it is the total time needed to complete an activity.

effort

The duration is usually expressed as working days or working weeks and depends on the availability and capacity of the resources.

For example, if you spend 3 hours a day working on the fence, the total duration would be 10 days (30 hours of total effort divided by 3 hours / day).

But if, for example, a friend helps every day, then you would have two resources working for 3 hours a day on the fence = 6 hours a day.

The duration in this case would therefore be 5 days (30 hours of total effort divided by 6 hours / day).

However, if the friend could work only 2 hours a day, the duration would extend to 6 days because the resources would only work for a total of 5 hours a day.

The total effort is always 30 hours, no matter if there are one, two or more people working on the project.

It is not possible to reduce the effort to 15 hours if two people work on the project, but it is possible to reduce the overall completion time.

The concept of Schedule Padding

The estimates represent one of the most critical and complex areas for a project manager.

It is never certain that these are correct and there is always the doubt that they may be mistaken for excess or defect, despite all the good will in formulating them.

The estimation techniques , such as the analogy or bottom-up estimations, can provide more or less reliable estimates, but all have the same problem: they depend on the capabilities of those who formulate them.

The concept of Schedule Padding means adding more time / value to the estimate, a sort of “pad” (hence the term Padding) that can soften the “fall” in case of unexpected or errors of evaluation.

When there is not enough information or experience to make a realistic estimate, it is very easy to fall into the “Padding” technique.

In other words, there is the tendency to increase, even exceedingly, the estimate of duration due to excessive prudence.

Clearly, if everyone in the company, including the project manager, uses this technique, the final estimate would be totally exaggerated and misunderstood.

So, how to avoid Schedule Padding?

In project management, it is advisable to first estimate the effort and after that duration.

The effort is the total estimated time for the realization of a task, of an activity.

The duration is instead the time interval required for the realization of the task / activity based on the availability of resources and the project calendar.

With respect to the 8 hours that correspond to the normal working day, the TenStep methodology considers productive only 6.5 hours.

This is also a value that should be kept in mind and that is not always considered during the scheduling of a project.

Techniques to avoid Schedule Padding

There are several possible techniques to decrease the risk of Schedule Padding:

  • Ask for the opinion of a disinterested professional regarding the project;
  • Use the PERT method (Program Evaluation and Review Technique), also known as a 3-Point estimate, which provides a more optimistic, a more pessimistic, and a more probable estimate.
  • Grant the time it takes for those who have to make the estimate without putting pressure or haste.
  • Add extra time to the overall project, avoiding doing it on every single activity.
  • As mentioned previously, determine the effort first and only then the duration of the activities.

Not all collaborators have the same productivity and they do have different knowledge, skills and experience.

This is why the ability to make an estimate as well as the time needed to do it can vary.

Advice for a correct estimate of the effort

Everything starts from the estimation of the effort. So let’s see some tips to better identify it:

  • Estimating is an activity that is always open and should happen regularly during the project. The initial estimate will thus be increasingly deepened and gradually perfected.
  • During the initial phase of a project, make sure that everyone agrees on what should be delivered and therefore estimated. With everyone, we mean the project manager and project team in the first place, but also directors and all project stakeholders.
  • Involve experienced people in the analysis and estimation process and brainstorm with the people who will actually have to do the job. It is useful to have different groups of people giving an estimate to the same thing. If comparing the results shows a large disparity between the numbers, it means that the uncertainty on that specific activity, or on the project in general, is high.
  • All estimates bring an intrinsic degree of uncertainty, especially in the early stages of the project in which there are more unknowns. It is essential to quantify the percentage of unknowns in the estimate and to compensate with an equivalent level of contingency.
  • It is important to always consider the project risks and contingencies; never make estimates only considering the best case.
  • It is essential to take into account all the phases and activities of the project, including analysis, planning, planning, realization, eventual re-elaboration, delivery, project closedown.
  • Research and experimentation with different tools and estimation techniques. The estimation tools will help to consider all the different aspects of the project and will automatically add further contingency.
  • Estimate the effort in points or working hours with respect to the calendar time to cope with the fact that the team is never 100% effective. You can also apply a separate conversion factor to translate the estimated effort into calendar time. This will make it easier to track the accuracy of the estimates. If, for example, the team spends 30% of the time of an average day in meetings, answering the phone and email, an appropriate conversion factor must be added, in this case corresponding to 1.4 (1/70% ).
  • Formally record estimates and document how they were found, from which information and through which processes. It is important to make clear the purpose and the hypotheses estimated and highlight what is out of scope. This will not only put the project manager in a better position to defend numbers, but will also help to review and improve the estimation process in the future.

Understanding the difference between effort and duration of an activity is therefore fundamental for the correct planning of a project.

In Twproject, it is possible to estimate how much work is needed to complete a task or close an issue.

These estimates are taken into account in the assessment of the workload.

Twproject supports a third way to track the workload: planning, by task and by resource.

Each assignment can have a business plan, in terms of daily working hours. This is the highest level of detail to plan the activities of the resource.

effort
So, we hope that the suggestions we have given you can be useful for your next project.

What do you think about it? Leave us your comment.

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workload

How to manage the workload of a project: 6 key suggestions

Managing the workload of a project, is getting the right balance of tasks for each team member, is one of the most critical tasks that a project manager has to face.

In fact, the equitable distribution of the workload in a team is definitely a challenging task, and the temptation to entrust more projects to the best performing worker is always lurking.

But in the planning of a project, it is also necessary to be fair.

The excellent management of workload and team performance are therefore a essential goals.

In the continuos dialogue with the Project managers, we receive frequent and common questions:

  • What matters to customers and / or stakeholders?
  • How is it possible to obtain the best results?
  • How is it possible not to overload resources?
  • How can resources be used wisely?
  • How is it posible to obtain more from low-performing resources?

Here, then, a simple 6-step approach to ensure the correct management of activities and workload within the team.

1. Check the current workload

If you the project is starting from scratch, it is necessary to examine the current situation of the team.

Are the team members also following other projects? What are their other daily activities to keep in mind?

It is possible to manage in an optimal way only what is known.

Some people may be available to work on the project activities just for a limited time of their day / week, on the other hnad, others may be available full-time.

It is therefore essential to know this aspect in details in order to manage the workload equally.

2. Report of skills and absences

It is possible to better manage the workload of the team, if the project manager knows when the individual employees are absent: holidays, company outings, etc.

It is important to include these absences in the planning in order to not assign work during these periods.

Assigning an activity to a resourse that will be out of office or not available will certainly end up in a delay of the delivery.

In the same manner, it is important to speak with each employee in order to be sure to know all of his skills and competencies.

Each person can be a valid “player” if his strengths, skills and responsibilities are well known.

In this way it will be easier to assign an appropriate job and thus move towards excellence.

A collaborator may be able to work in different areas thanks to new knowledge acquired, or to deal with more technical tasks thanks to new skills developed.

workload

Therefore, the suggestion is to cyclically verify the “new skills” learned from the individual collaborator.

Normally, during the planning of the project, a list of all the work and the various activities is drawn up.

The tasks will be assigned according to the function, position and specific strength of each worker.

3. Set expectations

Setting goals and skills is not enough.

The task of the Project Manager is also to constantly remember the pre-established goals and to underline the level of commitment expected from each team member.

This helps the team to focus.

There must be a clearly expressed and shared value to which everyone should equally contribute with his talents, skills and energy.

One of the difficulties in ensuring that a workload is fair is that employees never work at the same pace.

In other words, even when the workload seems “fair and even”, it may not really be that way.

It is important to ensure that employees understand that hours can not be compared with productivity.

In fact, for two hours worked, two employees can produce different results.

The best way to do this is to praise the truly satisfying and successful performance of the project, regardless of the working hours.

A project manager should pay attention to what people are realizing in practice and not just to the number of working hours.

Granted that the time required by a resource to finish a certain activity is not really exaggerated.

4. Identify the overworked staff

This means to identify those resources that have already received more work than they can actually do in the time available.

If a collaborator really has too much work, it is possible to divide the activities into smaller blocks to distribute to several other resources.

Or postpone the deadline of a certain activity in order to lighten the daily workload.

Also for the overall workload management, it is possible to follow the 80/20 rule.

  • People should be assigned to specific tasks only for 80% of their time.
  • The remaining 20% will be used to answer phone calls, attend team meetings, deal with the clients and so on. This 20% should be distributed evenly throughout the week. It is better to fill people’s time for – for example – 6 hours a day, rather than giving them a fixed day “free” from specific activities.

There may also be the case where a person seems overburdened with work, even if this is not the reality. This can occur when the resource is not able to manage its work efficiently.

There are possible interventions to offer in these cases, such as a coaching with a more efficient colleague or a training course.

But we must also consider the fact that some people do not belong to the jobs they are in and therefore may not be suitable for the task assigned.

In this case, it may be necessary to change the role and function within the organization.

5. Identify the “free” staff

Team members are motivated when their day is full of meaningful tasks.

This makes them feel important for the project.

A time management system will help to understand if the employees are working on priority activities, or in general on activities important for the project, or not.

In some situations, the collaborators themselves can ask for more work. On the other hand, they could also say that they can not take on further tasks.

This is where the workload management capability of a project manager comes into play.

Are the team members really too busy or are they just working on the wrong tasks? What if they were just incredibly unproductive?

Some people do not give the right importance to their work and they do only the bare minimum.

With this kind of people we need to be clear.

They will have to know that the level of commitment could have consequences in terms of the possibility of promotion, financial incentives and prestigious assignments.

The more the team’s strengths and working patterns are known, the easier it will be to correctly manage the workload.

6. Inform about changes in planning

Obviously, even with the best planning, the development of a project may require an immediate change of priorities.

If you intend to change an assignment in the resource planning or workload system, it is absolutely necessary to speak first with the relevant stakeholders and collaborators.

This is one of the main tricks to keep the team happy.

Communication in this situation is essential.

It is necessary to explain the reasons behind structural interventions, as well as to highlight the requisites of the resources needed to complete the project. It is strategic to emphasize the need for a project and not make it a personal issue.

The key points to remember

What to do:

  • Spend time on planning in order to reflect on the delegation strategy.
  • Create a list of all the activities that need to be done and then assign tasks based on the specific function, position, and strengths of team members.
  • Create a culture that enhances productivity beyond the hours worked by openly praising an important and successful performance.

What not to do:

  • Being excessively rigid regarding the workload delegation strategy; when priorities change, it is necessary to be flexible.
  • Burn the top performer. Before loading him further, identify if and how it is possible to break down a more complex task into secondary tasks.
  • Let a collaborator “rest on his laurels”. It is necessary to be clear and direct on the general project expectations, as well as on the personal ones.

There are real risks involved in not distributing the workload fairly.

Indeed, if the high performers are overloaded, they will start to resent the fact that they are doing more than their colleagues, in addition to risk the burn out.

If work is taken away from slower people, they will inevitably lose interest.

People also work to achieve success – albeit small – to grow and to be recognized. When this opportunity is not given to them, the risk is high.

This is why in the TWproject software we paid special attention to managing the workload of each team member.

From the planning phase to the monitoring and control phase, it is possible to have a clear picture of the progress of each collaborator’s work.

workload

For each resource the Project Manager can have a graphical representation of the total load per day, (where each color represents a different task), as well as a detailed explanation of the load components.

The functions available are so many! The best way know them is by testing our software

In our software Work and load plan interact in order to provide – in real time – the strategic information for the successful outcome of the project.

What are the difficulties you have encountered in managing your team’s workload?

Leave us your comment.

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agile methodology

Agile methodology: advantages and disadvantages of an innovative method

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

The key principles of the Agile methodology in the project management

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

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

The advantages of the Agile methodology

The Agile methodology was firstly developed for the software industry.

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

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

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

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

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

agile methodology

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

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

The disadvantages of Agile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sixth edition of the PmBok and the Agile methodology

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

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

The advantages of the Waterfall approach are:

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

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

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

The Agile methodology focuses mostly on optimizing the process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

agile methodology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which methodology is applied in your business?

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

Leave us your feedback in the comments.

Start managing your projects.

project stakeholders

Project Stakeholders

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

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

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

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

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

Project stakeholders: interests and necessities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every stakeholder has different needs and expectations.

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

Not doing it can compromise the success of the project.

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

project stakeholders

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

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

Type of Stakeholder

Project stakeholders can be divided into two categories:

  • Internal stakeholders;
  • External stakeholders.

Internal stakeholders are directly within the organization. For example:

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

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

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

Moreover, stakeholders can be positive and negative.

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

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

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

This type of stakeholder is less inclined to help.

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

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

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

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

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

The register of Stakeholders

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

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

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

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

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

project stakeholders

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

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

The contents of the Stakeholder register

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

  • Identification;
  • Evaluation;
  • Classification.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your experiences?

Leave us your comment.

Identify the stakeholders of your project.

leadership skills

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

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

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

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

Leadership is a soft ability; part art, part science

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

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

We have been asked the following.

Can everyone be a Leader?

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

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

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

Different leadership styles

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

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

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

leadership skills

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

This matrix divides the leadership into four main types:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does the sixth edition of PmBok on leadership say?

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

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

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

This let all employees take part in the project objectives.

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

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

The PmBok summarizes the leadership as:

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

Communication is the key

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

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

This quality is probably what firstly characterizes a good leader.

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

This allows everyone to act correctly in an autonomous way.

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

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

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

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

What kind of leader are you?

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

Tell us about your experience.

Increase your leadership skills.

SMART goals to plan a project

Having Smart goals or, if preferred, a Smart approach to a project, is becoming more and more crucial, in the planning made by the project manager, for the success of the project itself.

Let’s try to analyze why.

The goals of a project: the premises that lead to SMART

A project goal describes the desired outcomes of a project, which are often tangible elements.

Goals can be used by companies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and even by private people for personal use for project planning.

A project can have a single goal, many parallel goals or different goals that must be achieved sequentially.

Goals must be settled at the beginning of the project life cycle, ie in the planning phase, in order to achieve maximum benefit.

A well-written goal is fundamental, because it can have an influence on every phase of the project life cycle.

When a specific goal is created and communicated, the team has a greater chance to achieve it, because the collaborators know exactly on what they are working.

Every kind of effort can benefit from the goals.

As an individual, it is possible to use a goal in order to choose exactly what and how to plan.

Regardless of the type of project, the models can simplify the work, from the development of the goals to the planning of the project.

SMART goals: what they are and why they are important

Identifying a clear goal can be very difficult.

The difficulty is due to the many variables that each project presents.

Fortunately, there are many ways to simplify this process.

First, we have to take into consideration that the goals will contain key performance indicators.

They will be specific to the company or area of interest.

The fundamental questions are:

  • how can we be sure that the project was successful?
  • What has to be achieved?
  • What change do we want to see as a result of the project?

An easy way to make sure that sufficient details are included in the goal – or in the different goals – is to follow the SMART approach.

smart goals

SMART goals are:

  1. specific;
  2. measurable;
  3. achievable;
  4. relevant;
  5. with a deadline.

SMART goals: are specific

The word “specific” means to clearly defines the goals, in detail, without leaving room for wrong interpretations.

Consider the so-called Five Ws, where the five W stand for the following questions:
Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Specific means, for instance, that you must be able to answer all these five questions.

Being specific requires commitment. It means preparing and activating an in-depth research on the problem you want to tackle.

General statements should be absolutely avoided, like for example: “this project will improve the employment of young people”.

There is the need to be specific, for example, what is the unemployment rate among young people and why is the situation like this, what strategies have already been implemented, why they have not worked and why the new project should be able to solve the problem.

Moreover, we recommend that you use a bullet list for the goals, which is easy to structure and visualize.

SMART goals: are measurable

The goals to be SMART must be measurable.

The word “measurable” refers to the measures and specifications of the performances that will determine if the goal has been achieved.

Everyone needs to know how to evaluate the success of the project.

For this reason the goals must allow to monitor the progress of the project and evaluate the final results.

A point of reference or a standard for success is something which measure progresses.

Measurable goals answer questions like “How much?” or “How many?”

In the previous example, this would mean to indicate “how many unemployed young people will be able to find a job within the end of the project”.

SMART goals: are achievable

The word “achievable” refers to the fact that the team has a reasonable expectation of completion with success.

Every project manager should give achievable goals to his collaborators.

If they work on extremely difficult jobs, their productivity can be reduced and this could have a negative effect on motivation.

The feeling of never being able to achieve the project goal within the deadline can bring the project to failure.

SMART goals: are relevant

A goal is “relevant” when it is in line with group or business goals.

If the goal of the project has no relevance to the general vision, it is practically useless and can not be defined as a SMART goal.

SMART goals: have a deadline

The last feature of a SMART goal is “having a deadline”.

It is necessary to include a project deadline or the specific period within which the goals has to be achieved.

A deadline helps to create the needed urgency.

It solicits the action and helps the responsibles to focuse on the commitments they have made.

This comes from the fact that they have a specific time frame within which to complete the task. It is not possible to go beyond this deadline or the performance will be lower.

This also is used to measure the efficiency of a team in achieving a particular goal.

Not having a deadline reduces the motivation and urgency of collaborators.

A big mistake for a project manager.

Suggestions for writing successful project goals

Analyzing results from similar projects and looking at what happens in the company or in the community in general can be a big help.

It can be a great advantage, for example, when we decide how long it will take to complete a task.

It is also necessary to consider all the individual steps to do, as well as consider potential events that could transform into an obstacle and not allow to achieve the goals in time.

smart goals

Here are some useful suggestions to write successful project goals:

  • Identify and write the goal, or goals, before starting the project;
  • A goal can not be written in isolation. If the team does not believe in the goal, it will not work according to it. If the stakeholders do not agree, they will not provide resources. If the stakeholders do not agree with the goal, it is necessary to work with them until a vision that everyone shares is reached;
  • Be short; so the goals can be read and understood;
  • Be clear; do not provide a list of options. Just ask for what you need and what you expect;
  • Use a simple language so that everyone can understand the goal and there is no misunderstanding;
  • Goals should be controlled, make sure that your goals allow to do this.

A goal without an appropriate planning is nothing but a desire.

Clearly, this attitude is unacceptable in the business, because only thanks to a necessay planning, it is possible to win.

SMART goals exist to ensure that project results are achieved in an organized and caring manner, which offers a great competitive advantage.

In conclusion, life is unpredictable, and so are the projects.

Therefore, it is important that goals are flexible and negotiable.

However, this does not mean that they must be vague or general.

The goals must be extremely precise and detailed, but must also transmit the idea that, during the development of the project, the project manager will continuously work to make changes and corrections if and when necessary.

Set your SMART goals.

Kanban method

How to apply the Kanban method to project management

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

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

Today this method is widely used.

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

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

The advantages of this method are different.

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

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

Kanban method

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

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

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

In fact, Kanban is a structured process of prioritization.

What is a Kanban Board?

A Kanban Board is like a blackboard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kanban cards allow to:

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

What are Kanban cards?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to use the Kanban method in project management

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

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

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

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

Here is why in more detail:

Use the Kanban method to: Assign resources

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

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

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

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

Use the Kanban method to: Workflow management

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

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

Kanban method

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

Use the Kanban method to: Reduce waste

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Kanban method in the software

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

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

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

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

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

Shortly, a very flexible multi-dimensional Kanban.

Kanban method

Do you also use the Kanban method for your projects?

Give us your suggestion and tell us about your experience.

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

A proof is worth a thousand words.
Project risk analysis

Project risk analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what does “risk” mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Project risk analysis: How to identify risk

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

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

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

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

Project risk analysis

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

Some examples of categories for potential risks include the following:

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

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

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

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

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

Project risk analysis: Risk assessment

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

Not all risks are the same.

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

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

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

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

Only a few potential risk events will satisfy this criterion.

These are therefore potential risk events on which the project team should focus on creating a mitigation plan.

The probability and impact of risk are both classified as high, medium or low.

A risk mitigation plan normally concerns events that have high results on both factors.

There is a positive correlation between the risk of the project and the complexity of the project.

In the case of highly complex projects, an external expert can be included in the risk assessment process and the risk assessment plan can take on a more prominent role in the project implementation plan.

Project risk analysis

Project risk analysis: Risk mitigation plan

After the risk has been identified and assessed, the project manager with the team develops a risk mitigation plan, a plan to reduce the impact of an unforeseen event.

The risk can be mitigated in the following ways:

  • Risk avoidance: it usually involves the development of an alternative strategy with a greater probability of success, but usually linked to a higher cost;
  • Sharing risk: involves collaboration with other stakeholders, in order to share responsibility for activities at risk;
  • Risk reduction: it is an investment to reduce the risk on a project. For example, hire and rely on consultants to take care of high-risk activities;
  • Risk transfer: it is a risk reduction method that shifts the risk from the project to another part. For example, the purchase of insurance on certain items is a method of transferring risk. In fact, the risk is transferred from the project to the insurance company.

Each of these mitigation techniques can be an effective tool to reduce individual risks and the overall risk profile of the project.

As far as the project manager is concerned, not everyone conducts a formal risk assessment on the project.

The lack of formal risk management tools has also been seen as an obstacle to the implementation of a risk management plan.

In addition, the project manager’s personality and management style differentiate the approach to risk.

Some project managers are more proactive and will develop risk management programs for their projects.

Other managers are reactive and are more confident in their ability to handle unexpected events when they occur.

Others, on the other hand, are risk averse and prefer to be optimistic and not consider risks or avoid taking risks when possible.

Whatever the case, the ability to accurately analyze the risks of a project must fall within the skills and tasks of a project manager.

In any project, a proper risk assessment becomes fundamental to a successful plan.

What about you? What kind of project manager are you? How do you manage potential risks?

Tell us about your experience.

Analyze the possible risks of your project.

digital project manager

The digital project manager: when the project meets the web

What is the Digital Project Manager? It is quickly explained!

Nowadays, our routine goes in parallel with the digital world, we are connected 24 hours a day and – almost – anything is possible thanks to the Internet.

The work itself is largely digital.

For these reasons, the figure of the digital project manager is born, a specialist who knows the online business and knows the modern tools for managing online projects.

A digital project manager is not so different from a traditional project manager.

Even a digital project manager, in fact, manages tasks related to projects, such as the planning of the project, the communication with stakeholders, the management of the team and, of course, the delivery of projects within the deadline and without exceeding the given budget.

The difference is that they work in the digital space.

digital project manager

A digital space that is growing day by day and that offers ever more performing instruments.

One might think of the digital project manager as an exclusive figure for high-tech and software companies, but this is not the case.

Digital impregnates our lives, we are increasingly connected and this hyper-connectivity and hypertechnology becomes more “normal” every day.

Almost all commercial companies now have an online presence, that they try to improve and take care of.

Many people are beginning to understand that the presence on the web is no less important than a physical presence, like a branch of the company or the company itself.

This is the work space in which the digital project manager moves: a space of innovation, but no longer futuristic.

His figure is every day more requested by the market and its importance in a company that faces the web or intends to improve its online presence is increasingly essential.

Any company that pushes sales through its website, through search engine optimization, newsletters, social media marketing and copywriting may want to seek the help of a digital project manager.

The digital project manager: What does he exactly do?

The projects of a digital project manager work similarly to any other project, but we can find subtle differences.

Digital project management usually follows these five steps:

  1. Discovery: the idea generation stage, in which new concepts or new technologies are explored, solutions are identified and risks assessed;
  2. Project planning;
  3. Production: work in concrete;
  4. Distribution: that is, the work of evaluating and analyzing the product of the project, for example, a social media marketing campaign;
  5. Maintenance: the digital project rarely has a definitive ending, but remains open for corrections and re-elaborations throughout its life. For example, a social media marketing campaign, while active, can be directed to another target audience, can be modified in the image, etc. depending on the results of the data analysis.

The digital project manager will assess the risks, plan the work and coordinate the tasks, direct the team and maintain the project “on time”.

He is also involved in the business development process that will go hand in hand with the brand and business development on the web.

In addition to managing the team and the project, these new digital managers have to deal directly or indirectly with customers and their needs.

Indeed, their relationship with the customer could have more influence than that of the sales team.

In fact, they will collect the “humor” of the customers, perceive their desires and direct the company management towards choices that could prove decisive for the business development.

What are the tools and skills required to be a good Digital Project Manager?

The set of skills and competences required for a digital project manager will be slightly different than those of the traditional project manager.

We can list the following:

  • CMS – Content Management System: software that allows the management of web content, without the need to use the webmaster. These changes can be made directly by the digital project manager, thus freeing developers who can concentrate on more complicated tasks;
  • Information Architecture: structure and categorization of information, content and digital processes;
  • Analytics: digital project managers need to know how to analyze and use data collected from tools such as Google Analytics. The data obtained are in fact fundamental for understanding and correcting the performance of the website;
  • HTML: this competence allows the digital project manager to perform some programming jobs personally, allowing developers to concentrate on more complex tasks;
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): being able to position your website in the first results of Google and search engines in general is crucial for online success. The digital project manager must know all the SEO tools that allow to promote the site in the best possible way;
  • Social media: these are used by a company mainly to drive traffic to their site and to improve brand awareness and online reputation. Knowing platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is therefore essential for a digital project manager.

Job Description

Digital project managers are responsible for managing digital projects, which may include, for example, the launching of websites, online tools, applications for mobile devices, social media advertising campaigns and more.

They are experts in technology and innovation, with a deep knowledge of how technology works in order to achieve business objectives.

Digital project managers are methodical, have excellent time management and communication skills, both personal and online, and effectively manage projects respecting the requirements of quality, time and budget.

This involves drafting supporting documentation, such as risk analysis and plan and requirements specifications, to ensure that actual progress is in line with planned progress.

Digital project managers highlight risks and develop plans to tackle, stem and proactively solve these problems when and if they occur during the project life cycle.

In addition to risk management, they will also always be looking for business opportunities to explore in new potential projects.

Another task includes the creation of effective communication channels with the team and with stakeholders.

Gaining consensus on the project and ensuring that all the activities delegated to them are clear is one of their main objectives.

A digital project manager must also have great adaptability.

The digital space can present big changes every day and without warning and flexibility and a high spirit of adaptation are therefore fundamental.

Last but not least, the digital project manager must possess a technical and marketing language, but at the same time must understand and speak the language of the people of the web.

Speaking the right “language” will help the digital project manager better understand what online customers say, in order to contribute to the conversation and effectively communicate messages to others.

Are you a digital project manager? What are your digital projects?

Tell us about your experience.

Start managing your digital project.

How to make a project budget

How can I create a budget for a project if I have no historical basis on which to orient myself?

When starting a project, it is difficult to know how much it will cost.

If we are dealing with a repetitive project, we will probably have a history on which to base ourselves.

In this case it may be easier to draw up a project budget, but different is the case when it comes to a new project.

Project managers are required to account for their budget estimates.

Given the great uncertainty that usually prevails in the initial phase of a project, this can be one of the major challenges of a project manager.

The ability to create an accurate budget is an essential skill for a project manager.

It can be a daunting task, especially for new project managers; however, once the first budget is created, you will have a first reference system.

From then on, it will be easier to manage this aspect for future projects.

The approaches to drafting a budget

There are two main approaches that can be adopted when drawing up a budget:

  • Top-down approach: decide how much the project will cost in total and divide the amount between the various phases of work;
  • Bottom-up approach: estimate the total cost of the project, calculating the individual work steps, starting from the lowest level, and then adding the whole.

Both approaches, like all things, have their advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s try to evaluate them together.

How to make a project budget: The top-down approach

The top-down approach, literally from top to bottom, is more than simply a guess of the total amount on which to base the whole project.

In fact, it is necessary to explain how the work will be carried out and structured within the amount of budget allocated for each phase of the project.

One should ask oneself if the balance sheet seems realistic on the basis of the experience of past projects, if there are any.

The advantage of the top-down budgeting approach is that it focuses on achieving the project within the allocated budget and leads to efficiency and reduction of costly practices.

A disadvantage is that it presupposes that the person who creates the budget has sufficient knowledge and skills to make a reasonable cost estimate.

If this is not the case, a conflict may occur when a team member is assigned an unrealistic and insufficient budget to complete his work phase.
In fact, there is the risk that deliberately low budgets are created with the – false – belief that this will encourage cost savings and waste elimination.

How to make a project budget: the bottom-up approach

In the second approach, bottom-up, literally from bottom to top, the project budget is built starting from the individual work stages, from the lowest level, and adding them up until reaching the total cost of the project.

The team is often involved in identifying the tasks and activities needed to complete the project and to estimate the various costs.

The advantage of the bottom-up budgeting approach is its accuracy, assuming that we have not forgotten any activity, and consequently its cost.

It is good for team morale because the project manager involves the team in budgeting.

For this reason, this approach is sometimes called participatory budget.

A disadvantage of the bottom-up approach is the difficulty of obtaining a complete list of activities and tasks necessary to complete the project, especially if it is something new, or if we are dealing with a young and / or inexperienced team.

In fact, the risk in starting new projects or in the involvement of junior resources, may be that of not contemplating entire phases of activity and process.

This inevitably leads to totally unleashing not only the costs, but also the time required to complete the project.

The different types of cost in creating the budget

In creating the budget the Project Manager must take into account different factors and above all the different types of costs.

There are basically two types of costs that affect project managers when they create a budget:

  • Direct costs
  • And indirect costs.

The former are uniquely attributed to the project and can be easily definied, such as: the cost of personnel, equipment, travel, consultants, ecc.

Indirect costs, on the other hand, are related to expense items loaded simultaneously on more than one project. Only part of their total cost is charged to a single project.

For example: telephone bills, office rent, company insurance, office equipment, etc.

How to calculate these costs?

For example, if the project will take 6 weeks and the internet bill is € 50 per month, the total cost of the project will be € 75.

To get an idea of the other costs, you can take a look at the previous year.

It will be necessary to see what has been spent on the whole and then divide it by 52 (the number of weeks in the year) to obtain an average weekly cost.

This can be valid for an indirect cost such as that of the equipment.

How to make a project budget: the management reserve

A management reserve or contingency reserve is usually added to projects and usually corresponds to a percentage of the total cost and time of the project.

This fund is used when events related to unexpected costs occur during the project.

The management reserve should be adjusted according to the level of risk identified for the project.

Clearly, the more risky the project is, the greater the management reserve will have to be, and viceversa.

A routine project, already carried out several times, will have a lower management reserve than a totally new project.

The budget will therefore be made up of direct costs, indirect costs and the amount that serves as a management reserve.

 How to make a project budget

How to make a project budget: ineligible costs

There are also costs that are generally not eligible in a project and therefore can not be included in the budget.

In general we can identify them in the following:

  • Non-accountable costs, such as voluntary work;
  • Capital investment costs;
  • Financial charges;
  • Passive interests;
  • Losses caused by the currency exchange, among other things not quantifiable given the volatility;
  • VAT in the case it is a recoverable cost;
  • Costs covered by EU funding or by another type of state funding;
  • Sanctions.

Manage budget changes

Projects rarely go according to plan in every detail.

It is therefore necessary that the project manager is able to identify when costs vary from budget and manage these changes.

A project manager must regularly compare the amount of money spent with the amount provided and report this information to the managers, the company president and the stakeholders.

It is therefore necessary to establish a method on how these progress will be measured and reported.

A widely used method for medium and high complexity projects is the earned value method.

This is a method of periodic comparison of the estimated costs – budget value – with the actual costs during the project – actual value.

The earned value method can provide information not only with regard to cost variances, but also with regard to time deviations, ie if the project is on time or not.

A simple way to evaluate the progress of the project is to take two values:

  • Direct cost percentages pertaining to an activity;
  • Sum of already worked hours on the activity and the forecast of the hours until the end of the project.

The progress of the activity will therefore result from the product between these two indicators. If it less than 1, it means that we are facing a project delay.

At the end of a project, it will be necessary to evaluate if a budget deviation has taken place and what were the reasons that caused it.

Regardless of the approach a project manager chooses to make the budget, it is essential to take the time to monitor it throughout the whole project.

In fact, for project management, cost monitoring is a strategic aspect.

For this reason in Twproject, we have developed the functionalities able to insert and manage both the costs generated by the work (direct costs) and the additional costs (indirect costs), reserving, of course, such access only to the Project Managers.

how to make a project budget

The importance of monitoring and managing a budget is crucial! Here is a small example of the support that TWproject can give you.

how to make a project budget

In this example (an integral part of the previous screen) your forecast margin (calculated from budget and planned costs) is 850.

This is the first estimate you’ve made, and it’s probably very close to what you told your client.

Then, in a second phase, you have refined your estimate: the second line represents how it is going in relation to what is planned.

The last line is the “real” situation, you have a budget of 2500, and you have spent 1285.

Great! There is a margin of 1215, better than expected!

In short, build, customize, monitor the Budget: fundamental aspects for a winning project!

What are the biggest difficulties you have experienced while creating a budget?

What strategy did you use?

Leave us a comment and share your experience with us.

Start now to create an accurate project budget

how to manage winning projects

7 tips on how to manage winning projects

The success of any project depends on the ability of a project manager to have a specific methodical approach to each project.

The approach must be in line with the needs of the client and with the strengths of his team.

In order to manage a winning project, it is essential to create an effective working structure that is not a task that anyone is able to do.

Of course, most project managers know that workflow management, like any other tool that contributes to project management success, is important, but how to do it properly is often not so obvious.

Any project manager knows that the best project management tips and tricks come with time, with experience, but also with the advice of more experienced project managers.

Therefore, today we want to give you 7 valuable tips for managing winning projects.

How to manage winning projects: Plan the day using time management techniques

For a project manager, time management skills are essential because we are dealing with a series of activities that often require rapid response times.

Planning the day will therefore be essential to maintain the overall organization and increase productivity.

For the planning of the activities there are appropriate project management software that can be a valuable help and that allows to keep track of the work done.

If you are not very tech savvy, even a simple to-do list, ordered by priority, can be a good organizational tool.

how to manage winning projects

The most important and priority tasks will therefore be placed at the top of the list, while the less important ones at the bottom. Another idea is also to use different colors depending on the urgency of the activity.

Having a visual plan of daily activities helps to have a general picture. It helps to be aware of how to manage time for each specific task and for each individual resource.

As a visual tool we can only recommend the use of Gantt charts.

How to manage winning projects: Include stakeholders in important decisions

Despite having many responsibilities regarding the project, the project manager must never forget customers and stakeholders.

Good communication is essential to keep the parties informed about the progression of the project and the need for program changes.

Some customers may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so already in the planning phase of a project, it is important to establish the frequency and the communication system to be used, which can be e-mails, phone calls, meetings, etc.

Establishing communication expectations in advance helps alleviate the uncertainty of stakeholders on the frequency and on the arrival of communications.

In addition, it can also help the project manager set the limits for when he is free to talk about the project and when he can consider himself too busy to have a conversation – unless it is an emergency.

How to manage winning projects: Communicate regularly with the team

Daily communication with the team helps to control misunderstandings and unclear needs.

Keeping your team informed at every stage of the project is essential for successful project management.

Good communication skills are a cornerstone of project management.

In other words, clear and frequent communication positively influences the way in which team members see their project manager as a leader, helps to control product quality and project duration, as well as foster risk management.

how to manage winning projects

Furthermore, a study published by Procedia Technology found that some methods of communication are more effective than others.

The researchers found that communication works best in the following order, from the most to the least effective:

  1. Electronic communication (with the right tools);
  2. Written communication;
  3. Verbal communication;
  4. Visual communication;
  5. Non-verbal communication.

How to manage winning projects: Anticipate the possible deadlock situations of the project

Even the best plans can go wrong. Even with a high level of planning and attention to detail, the project could still encounter some difficulties.

Paying attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues and other warning signs, such as a deadline or a cost overrun, is crucial.

Preventing a crisis will allow the project to continue without too many hitches, saving a lot of time and maintaining a cohesion among team, stakeholders and the project manager.

Unfortunately, not all complications can be avoided. Crisis management capabilities are essential to tackle the unexpected.

Project managers must be flexible and pragmatic, improvise and make precise decisions when needed.

How to manage winning projects: Know your limits as a project manager

Many projects are destined to fail from the beginning due to unrealistic expectations.

Establishing impossible deadlines or assigning too much work to team members will undoubtedly lead to untidy jobs and often to failure to meet deadlines.

Errors and delays in the work can direct the project towards failure, necessitating adjustment and “patching” work, extension of the calendar and going to undermine the trust of the stakeholders and of the team itself.

Taking the time to get to know the team you work with, will help you understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses and then assign the right tasks.

Delegating tasks to the right person is very important, because success depends on how team members can and are able to perform their tasks.

How to manage winning projects: Stay focused on the details

A common problem encountered by project managers is that project goals are not in line with business objectives.

A good project manager will define a strategic plan for the project that will bring the company back to success.

It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what the goal is, so a well planned project goal is essential to success.

Having a fixed deadline and budget will help maintain a project structure, marked by milestones and a written list of requirements.

How to manage winning projects: Be updated on the latest project management trends

Upskilling is very useful, if not essential, for project management.

Unfortunately, with the high workload and stress of full-time work, it can be difficult to find the time to attend training or refresher courses.

On the other hand, there are many project management courses that are conducted online and most companies will be happy to reimburse their cost.

Professional development should never stop. The workforce is constantly changing, adding new tools and project management roles that did not exist until a few years ago.

To conclude, a project manager must be an expert in leadership, communication and organizational skills.

With the high workload and stress, it is essential to have the necessary skills to reach every goal.

Remaining responsible and aware of all aspects of the project will lead to success.

What are your suggestions for managing winning projects?

Learn how to manage your projects with Twproject

One try is worth a million words.
Gantt charts

Gantt charts for a project: productive advantage or disadvantage?

Gantt charts for projects are the essential weapon of the Project Manager, but they can be extremely useful and effective even for anyone who wants to organize their activities in a structured way.

This planning tool appeared in the early twentieth century and has since been widely used for project planning.

The main reason for the success of the Gantt charts is their simplicity and the focus on the quick visualization of the activities.

Gantt charts are also an excellent way to plan the project in a temporal way, allowing to define roles, responsibilities and effective use of resources.

In fact, they provide an immediate vision of how the project is developed and structured and act as a guideline to the end.

What is a Gantt chart?

The Gantt chart, also called scheduled bar chart, is a tool used to plan a set of activities that, generally, are part of a single, more complex project.

On the horizontal axis there is the time span, whose unit of measurement depends on the project calendar – days, weeks, months, etc. – while on the vertical axis we find the list of the various activities.

Each task is represented by a colored bar that goes from the start date to the end of the activity.

Once all the activities have been inserted, there is a visual scheme of how the project is structured, which tasks come first, which ones overlap and which ones happen later.

The resources that carry out every single activity are easily identifiable.

With such a graphic structure, it is easy to understand, at first glance, if the processes are taking place on schedule and if the progress of the project is in line with the deadline.

Gantt charts

Many software have, in the Gantt, their sore point because the Gantt is not very effective or even non-existent.

Only some software, including TWProject, allow not only to obtain a Gantt chart of the project that is easy to read, but also to get even more details, indicating for example:

  • who is the resource assigned to a given activity;
  • if the resource works full-time or part-time;
  • how much work has been done and remains to be done;
  • the cost associated with each activity.

What are the advantages of the Gantt chart?

As a company we are convinced that the Gantt chart, if well structured and managed, can bring various benefits to the management of a project.

Here is a list of advantages that this system inevitably presents.

The Advantages of Gantt: Visualization

The Gantt chart allows to clearly visualize the workflow and the project structure.

When we insert the various tasks, or analyze the schema after inserting them, we can immediately realize any inconsistencies.

The linear scheme allows you to understand in advance if you will be faced with potential organizational or technical problems and allows you to prepare in advance.

The distribution of the activities allows to identify the intermediate goals and to understand if the project is in line with the schedule or not.

The Advantages of Gantt: Flexibility

As already mentioned, an advantage of the Gantt chart is to clearly show the start and end date of a given activity.

The timing of each task will be set after a direct comparison with the managers of each sector, in order to have a realistic value.

For this reason, the Gantt chart is also useful for the feasibility analysis of a project.

Once the entire project structure is set up, it makes no sense to run to complete certain steps before the set date – unless there is really a valid reason – as this may be reflected in the lack of completeness and / or accuracy.

If you have agreed on a certain date speaking to the direct responsible, it means that this is the time necessary to carry out the work correctly and completely.

Forcing time would affect the quality of work.

The Advantages of Gantt: Efficiency

These charts allow an intelligent and effective use of resources.

It becomes really difficult for the resources to be reliable when they are grappling with too many processes and find themselves submerged.

All conflicts and problems that follow an overload of tasks can lead to a definitive blockage of the whole project and, inevitably, to its failure.

Using Gantt charts as a project planning tool gives you an overview of the project timeline so you can easily see where and when a particular resource is used.

So, it is possible to allocate resources in such a way that the activies are not slowed down or blocked.

Once a process is finished, you can transfer the resource to another activity.

The Advantages of Gantt: Motivation

Gantt charts are great for morale!

Probably we all had those days where we felt completely lost and submerged from work and projects and we could no longer see the direction in which we were going.

In this case, the Gantt chart can be a valid psychological aid.

Looking at the diagram, in fact, you can immediately see how activities are taking place and how each process leads to the completion of the entire project.

It is a very effective method to raise morale and motivate the team.

Moreover, seeing the achievement of a goal – however small it may be – is still a gratification. It allows to concentrate, step by step, on the different blocks of activity without feeling disoriented by a project that can be long and complex.

The Advantages of Gantt: Communication

Gantt charts are not just a useful tool for planning the project.

Team members can use these diagrams to see where they are in the project, what they need to complete certain tasks and the inputs they need.

The project diagram shows them exactly who they should contact and who they should collaborate with during each phase.

This makes them able to communicate better not only with each other, but also with the Project Manager.

Thanks to the Gantt charts, it is also possible to help improve cohesion, communication and understanding of and in the team.

The aspects (disadvantages) of the Gantt chart to keep under control!

As with any high performance tool, even for the Gantt Chart, there are some aspects to monitor.

Aspects that if not properly managed could result in real disadvantages.

Let’s list briefly the aspects to pay attention to, so that everyone can make his evaluations:

  • It can become extraordinarily complex. Except for the simplest projects, a Gantt chart will present a large number of activities and resources used to complete the project. There are special software that can handle all this complexity. However, when the project reaches this level, it must be managed by a small number of people, or often by one, able to handle all the details. Large companies often employ one or more prepared Project Managers. In companies not used to this type of management, this may not work as it should.
  • The size of the bar does not indicate the amount of work. Each bar on the graph indicates the period of time in which a given activity will be completed. However, by observing the bar, it is not possible to determine what level of resources is needed to complete these tasks. For example, a short bar could take 500 hours, while a longer bar could take only 20 hours.
  • The length of a bar in fact indicates the timing of a given activity and not its complexity in terms of working hours.
  • It must be constantly updated. After starting the project, things can change. If you use a Gantt chart, you need to be able to change the chart easily and frequently.
  • Difficult to see on a single sheet of paper. The software that allows you to manage these graphics are mostly suited to a computer screen and are not meant to be printed. It therefore becomes difficult to show the details of the plan to a broad audience. It is certainly possible to print the chart, but this normally involves a job of “cutting and pasting” of the individual pieces, rather expensive in terms of time.

All in all, the biggest advantage of the Gantt chart is the pure simplicity and the clear overview of the activities and their duration.

This makes it ideal for projects where facilitated access to all relevant information is required and where these should be easily understood by all those involved in the project.

This is why we thought of an evolution of the TWProject Gantt.

In fact, we have built an instrument capable of modeling situations in real time and that can easily be modified over time.

This is in contrast to the traditional project management methodology where the projects are immediately defined in detail (unrealistic method for most of the working situations).

Twproject’s focus is to capture the work done in real time, to guide the Project Manager during the entire project development.

Our customers’ experience in this direction encourages us by providing us with guidance in future development.

What is the greatest benefit you find in the company, thanks to the use of Gantt?

Tell us about it!

Do you want to create your first Gantt?

Project Life Cycle

Project Life Cycle: phases and characteristics

The Project Life Cycle consists of four main phases through which the Project Manager and his team try to achieve the objectives that the project itself sets.

The four phases that mark the life of the project are: conception / start, planning, execution / implementation and closure.

Each project therefore has a beginning, a central period, a completion and a final phase (successful or not). All phases that we will analyze in this article constitute the so-called Project Life Cycle .

Obviously, those mentioned are only the main phases of the project, which means the starting point for a further subdivision in sub-phases, activities and tasks, increasingly basic and detailed, necessary for the development and allocation of work among the resources.

For each phase or lifecycle activity, the project manager must have two clear things in mind:

  • The objectives of each project phase: based on company constraints ranging from quality to timing and costs;
  • Products (derivable): every activity must lead to results that can be tangible goods or a documentation or specific services, etc.

But now we specifically enter the four main phases of the project life cycle.

Project Life Cycle

Project Life Cycle: The initiation phase

During this first phase, the objective or “need” of the project is identified.

This can be, for example, the resolution of a business problem or the analysis and creation of a concrete opportunity.

An appropriate responce to the need can be documented in a business case with the recommended solution options.

A feasibility study is then conducted to verify if each option is in line with the objective and a final solution is determined.

The feasibility study asks questions about the feasibility of the project. Questions such as “can we do the project? Do we have the resources to do it?”.

Furthermore, a justification study phase of the project is also carried out, for example by answering the question “is the project necessary for this objective?”.

Once these analyzes have been carried out and the project is considered feasible and necessary, this is officially started and, in case it has not already been identified, a project manager is appointed.

The project team is thenidentified and involved, thus starting to take shape.

At this point we can then move on to the detailed planning phase.

Project Life Cycle: The planning phase

In this phase we start from the objective of the project and move on to develop it in as much detail as possible, planning the steps necessary to reach the final solution.

The individual tasks of the project are then identified, as well as the requirements that the resources must have and the strategy to follow.

A project plan is created that illustrates the activities, tasks and timelines.

The project manager coordinates the preparation of a project budget by providing cost estimates for labor, equipment and materials, if needed.

The budget is used to monitor and control the expenses incurred during the entire project phase.

Once the Project Manager has identified the work, prepared the strategy and the performance and estimated costs, the basic components of the planning process are complete.

It comes then the right time to identify and address any factor that may pose a threat to the success of the project. This part is called risk management.

Potential problems are identified, as well as the action that must be taken to avoid them, solve them or at least reduce their impact.

This is also a good time to identify all stakeholders and establish a communication plan that sets out the information needed to keep all the parties involved in the project informed.

Finally, the project manager will draw up a quality plan that includes the quality objectives, the control measures, also listing the criteria to be met  obtain the acceptance of the client – customer that can be the company itself.

Arrived here, the project has been discussed and planned in detail, and is ready to run and move on to the next stage.

Project Life Cycle: The execution phase

During the third phase, that of the implementation, the project plan is put into motion and the work is performed in concrete, following the steps structured in the planning phase.

It is important and fundamental to maintain control and communicate how – and when – necessary during this whole phase.

Progress is continuously monitored and appropriate  changes are made and documented as variations with respect to the original plan.

Whatever project  it is, a project manager usually spends most of the time at this stage.

During the execution of the project, people perform their tasks and progress information is exchanged through regular team meetings, so-called progress status meetings .

The project manager uses this information to maintain control over the project direction by comparing progress reports with the project plan, to measure the performance of activities and take corrective actions if necessary.

The main strategy should always be to bring the project back to its original course,that of the project plan drawn up in the previous phase. If this is not possible, the changes from the original plan must be recorded and the modified plan must be formalized.

During this step, project sponsors and all other stakeholders should be regularly informed about the progress of the work.

Each product result should be analyzed and accepted.

Once the results of the various steps have been produced and the client has accepted the final solution, the project is ready for closure.

Project Life Cycle: The closing phase

During this closing phase, the emphasis is placed on:

  • the final results;
  • the delivery of project documentation;
  • the termination of supplier contracts;
  • the release of project resources;
  • the communication of the closure of the project to all the stakeholders.

The last remaining step is to conduct an analysis of what went well and what did not.

Through this type of analysis you gain experience and knowledge, are gained, factors that will help the project manager, and the team in general, for future projects.

Unfortunately, the closing phase is often underestimated and in many companies the project is delivered without further evaluation; it only matters if the project was a success or not.

In reality, it isn’t only important to conclude a project successfully, but also to be able to execute it in the way that was set in the original project plan.

There is no shortage of cases in which the objective has been achieved despite having experienced a phase of execution full of changes, delays and problems.

The closure phase also serves to analyze this, in order to avoid making the same mistakes in the future and not adequately assessing certain risks.

The four phases of this life cycle may vary according to the sector and the type of project, but in general they are valid in any area.

When a project manager follows Project Life Cycle taking into account all the factors of each individual phase, he will have already taken the first step towards success.

Tell us about your personal experience of success.

Get familiar with the phases of your project.

the sixth edition of the PMbok

The sixth edition of PMbok

General overview and differences from the fifth edition

At the end of 2017, the sixth edition of the PMbok was published. 

Let’s start from the base: what is the PMbok?

It is the Project Management Body of Knowledge, a guide, published by the Project Management Institute – PMI, which aims to document, gather and standardize the practices generally used and recognized in project management.

“Generally recognized” practices means the ones that can be applied to most projects and on which there is a widespread consensus on their value and usefulness.

This means that sometimes the latest project management trends promoted by some consultants, even if interesting from an evolutionary point of view, may not be part of the latest version of the PMbok, because they are not “generally recognized” practices.

The PMbok made its debut in 1987 and it has evolved over the years, up to the current sixth edition of 2017.

But which are the PMbok changes from the fifth edition to the current one?

Let’s summarize the differencies in this article.

PMBOK sixth edition: Increase of total chapters

In the fifth edition of PMbok five groups of processes were listed:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Monitoring and Control
  5. Closing

The number of processes remain unchanged in the sixth edition, but what changes is the number of sub-processes within each process.

Furthermore, in the fifth edition there were a total of 13 chapters. In the sixth edition we find instead a new chapter that deals with the role of the project manager and its functions.

In addition to this, the skills and competences that a project manager must possess are now aligned with the so-called Triangle of Talent.

It is not enough to have technical skills, but due to the dynamism of the working environment and the evolutionary trends in the sector, it is necessary that the project manager possesses also additional skills. The most relevant include:

 

  • Strategic and corporate management: It is necessary to understand the progress and the functioning of the company business in order to adapt the project to it. The project manager must therefore possess the skills to analyze the competition, the market, know the legal implications, business models, etc.
  • Leadership skills: In the fifth edition of the PMbok, this skill is already explained, but the new edition gives it more emphasis. Among the leadership skills, we find emotional intelligence, problem solving, team building and the ability to influence and motivate the team;
  • Technical skills: This refers mainly to the sector in which a person works and the specific skills required for the project.

 The sixth edition of the PMbok: The knowledge areas

In the fifth edition of PMbok 10 areas of knowledge were listed.

These still remain in the sixth edition, but two appear with new names, as specified in the following list:

  1. Integration Management
  2. Scope Management
  3. Time Management is replaced by Schedule Management
  4. Cost Management
  5. Quality Management
  6. Human Resource Management is replaced by Resource Management
  7. Communications Management
  8. Risk Management
  9. Procurement Management
  10. Stakeholder Management

Why these two changes?

The new term Resource Management refers not only to the human workforce, but also to the physical resources (such as materials, equipment, licenses, etc.) that can be part of a project and contribute to its success.

Time Management has been replaced with Schedule Management, so that the importance of project management planning is emphasized.

 

the sixth edition of the PMbok

Moreover, in the sixth edition of the PMbok, each area of knowledge has four additional sections:

Furthermore, in the sixth edition of the PMbok, each area of knowledge will have four additional sections:

  • Key concepts;
  • Tailoring considerations: they must help to focus on the important processes of a project depending to its size and, of course, on the scope of work;
  • Developments and new project management practices;
  • Focus on the Agile  and adaptive Methodology.

PMBOK sixth edition: The three new processes

The sixth edition of the PMbok lists 49 processes, 2 more than the last edition.

In reality the changes to the processes are 4 because the three processes have been added while one has been eliminated.

The Close Procurement process has been removed. This refers to the closing of vendor contracts, a task that in most organizations is not performed by the project manager.

Among the new processes added we find:

  1. Manage Project Knowledge: born from the need to process the data of the market and the business in which the company operates to transform them into knowledge and “wisdom” on which certain decisions will be based. Knowledge is a power that will help the project manager to use data processing technologies and make decisions based on concrete analysis;
  2. Implement Risk Response: PMI surveys have stated that most project failures are due to improper risk management. Therefore, implementing the risk response in the management of the project is a necessary addition;
  3. Control Resources: this new process refers to the monitoring and control of the various resources present in the project and is aligned with the modification, seen previously, in the area of knowledge from human resources.

PMBOK sixth edition: 6 changes in existing processes

6 processes are renamed in the current PMbok edition, even if their content remains unchanged:

  1. Perform Quality Assurance becomes Manage Quality.
  2. Plan Human Resource Management becomes Plan Resource Management.
  3. Control Communications becomes Monitor Communications.
  4. Control Risks becomes Monitor Risks.
  5. Plan Stakeholder Management becomes Plan Stakeholder Engagement.
  6. Control Stakeholder Engagement becomes Monitor Stakeholder Engagement.

From Perform Quality Assurance to Manage Quality. This refers to the fact that, while quality assurance is a way to manage quality during execution, in reality there are also other qualitative aspects to consider.

This overall quality management is what reflects the name change.

The change from “Control” to “Monitor” indicates that, during the execution of the project, we monitor it to understand what is happening everyday and personalize the strategy to meet the changing needs.

the sixth edition of the PMbok

Points 5 and 6 on stakeholders refer to the essential factor of understanding how to involve the stakeholders to ensure that everyone agrees with progress and results.

Who will be affected by these changes?

The role of the Project Manager is becoming more and more important and is spreading in every sectors; this is why the need to certify its skills increases.

The PMbok then becomes a fundamental text for all those who are dealing with an official exam to get the title of Project Manager.

Nowadays, there are five internationally recognized certifications:

 

  • CAPM – Certified Associate in Project Management
  • PMP – Project Management Professional
  • PgMP – Program Management Professional
  • PMI-SP – PMI Scheduling Professional
  • PMI-RMP – PMI Risk Management Professional
  • PMI-ACP – PMI Agile Certified Practitioner

Regardless of the type of certification, students and prospective Project Managers will refer to the Pmbok and, consequently, their work will for sure be influenced by the changes in the sixth edition of PMbok.

But not only.

Even a certified Project Manager must be updated on the changes contained in the new edition of PMbok.

Being up-to-date is the best quality of a serious and competent professional.

A careful reading of the new edition of the Pmbok will certainly be useful and a source of interesting reflections that could help guiding any type of project in an efficient and professional manner.

Leave us your comment or your impression on the new edition of the Pmbok.

 

Get familiar with the phases of your project.

project management.

The 3 trends of Project Management

Project Management is not a static topic but evolves from year to year and follows the trend of industry and the world of work in general.

There’re trends, that we can clearly see, that are increasingly influencing this profession. Some of these started some years ago and gradually take hold, others have been born only recently and abruptly.

Knowing them is necessary to maintain a strategic vision of the profession and the sector.

Let’s see then what are the trends that will affect the project management sector.

The Trends of Project Management: the advent of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is a very current topic and there’s a real debate around it.

As with any new trend, there are also in this case two currents of idea:

  • those in favor who announce it as the “reality” of the future;
  • and those who are skeptical, or even frightened, of the consequences that this evolution can have not only at work but also in everyday life.

Project management can also be influenced by artificial intelligence.

Therefore should we be favourable or frightened?

In particular, when we talk about artificial intelligence applied to Project management, we talk about systems that can manage projects and their progress without the need for human input.

Not only the simplest tasks will be automated, but an understanding of the key points of the project can also be developed. In this way artificial intelligence is able, thanks to this knowledge, to perform more complex tasks, make recommendations and even make decisions.

Moreover, an artificial intelligence system can save time by improving the results of a project.

 

project management

Project Management managed by artificial intelligence is a service  more developed and that goes beyond what is currently offered, for example, by so-called bots.

Not even an algorithm that applies machine learning to predict activity estimates can be called artificial intelligence, although interesting and useful.

The true potential of artificial intelligence in Project Management can only be seen when you start to connect boats and algorithms.

Now we try to hypothesize what artificial intelligence applied to the Project Manangement can do.

Here some concrete examples:

  • Combine the right resource with the right role: Artificial intelligence will allow not only to match the right resource to the right team / project, but also to select upstream the resources suitable for a given project
  • Reduce downtime: Artificial intelligence is able to analyse the performance and the progress of each resource and assign a task / project based on the real capabilities of the individual;
  • Create an ecosystem for knowledge management: When an employee for whatever reason leaves the company, part of his knowledge is non-transferable and goes away with him. In this sense, artificial intelligence can be used to centralize knowledge. This will avoid the so-called “starting from scratch” when a change takes place;
  • Improve the performance of the resource by reducing the effort to a minimum: How many times we have those days when we are not in “the right mood” and spend a lot of time on a simple task? How many times, on the contrary, do we manage to complete complex activities in a very short time? Artificial intelligence can help the project management system associate the best task to the right resource at the best time of day, suggesting the planning of activities in a personalized, unique and variable way;
  • Provide objective evaluation and vigilance without getting tired: By their nature, human beings can get tired and this can affect the quality and precision of work. An artificial intelligence system, on the other hand, is tireless and available 24 hours a day.

Of course, a system that integrates all these functionalities is not available yet, but in the near future all this can become a real.

There is still a long way to go and the potential of artificial intelligence in Project Management is not yet fully developed.

However, the goal of the new technologies is to realize and integrate these functionalities.


Project Management Trends: Wearable technology

The tendency in Project Management to the increasing use of Wearable Technology seems unstoppable.

By hearing wearable technology many think about glasses, headphones, and smartwatches, but the concept goes well beyond these.

Wearable technology devices not only help us count how many steps we take in a day or how many calories we burn but can even improve our productivity in a project.

In fact, wearable devices can provide data in real time and perform monitoring and localization functions.

These devices will establish a connection between workers and the digital platform.

In this way, the data can be used to analyse the workforce in order to increase efficiency and productivity.

 

project management

Wearable technology can also simplify the process of managing daily activities. Time, as well as the progress of the activity, can be scanned and collected on virtual worksheets to obtain a precise image of the flow.

But the advantages of wearable devices are not finished yet, they can also help increasing the level of employee health.

Already today, a growing number of employers and companies are encouraging their workers to wear fitness trackers to measure their health.

In fact, it is widely demonstrated that an increase in fitness levels is related to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

In addition, many wearable technology devices have the ability to enable Project Managers to keep track of strategic aspects, such as the heart rate of the employees and the level of stress and fatigue, in order to maintain workplace performance.

This can lead to a decrease of the burn out cases due to projects that are too demanding for a resource.

For this reason, if an employee shows a high level of fatigue during a given activity, the employer can choose to delegate this task to one collaborator who proves more suitable and “fresher”, allowing the first employee of the team to concentrate on a lighter job.

Some companies all over the world are also using wearable technology for fitness tracking and they offer incentives to their employees according to these values. (For example, in America, cheaper health insurance is offered to employees who increase their fitness levels.)

The potential that wearable technology has in increasing productivity is the factor that is increasing its use in the workplace.

There are already studies and reports that highlight how the use of this technology actually increases productivity.


Project Management Trends: Smart Working and Remote Team

The sharing economy is proving that more and more companies are implementing the use of project teams with resources that operate remotely.

More and more workers are looking for flexibility. The ability to organize one’s time and hours of work and not being tied to a desk is becoming more and more important.

This trend is definitely destined to grow.

 

project management

In Italy, Smart Working (or agile work) is a reality: 305,000 workers have switched to this modality of work. And the numbers will grow, especially in the large companies.

This is confirmed by the data from the latest research of the Smart Working Observatory at the Politecnico di Milano.

The benefits of Remote work are undeniable for the company:

  • Productivity is improved;
  • Absenteeism is reduced;
  • The costs for physical spaces are greatly reduced; in fact, several large companies are redesigning their offices, reducing the surface area.

Moreover, the Observatory registers a productivity increase of 15% for a worker who adopts an already tested smart working model.

The benefits of distance work and Smart Working also have an impact on the worker:

in fact, the Smart Workers are more satisfied than their colleagues who don’t adopt this working method.

Thanks to remote work the smart worker:

  • Reduces travel time and costs. As the Observatory also shows by implementing only one working day a week remotely, an employee could recover even 40 hours in a year.
  • Improves the balancing of professional and private time and space (the so-called work-life balance).

In the end, Remote teams offer great opportunities: more economy and more productivity if managed effectively and with the right tools. We’ll talk about it later in this blog.

In the meantime, a final reflection. The scenarios change but the basic objective of the project management remains the same: deliver a project within the pre-established time frame and without exceeding the budget.

This our analysis, we would like to know yours. Do you see other trends that can help to innovate and simplify the Project Management?

Leave us your comment or your impressions on the evolution of Project Management.

 

project status meetings

Project status meetings: what to monitor to make them work!

One of the main responsibilities of a project manager is to know the progress of the project at any time.

To this end, project status meetings become a fundamental tool throughout the project life cycle.

Unfortunately, however, too often, these appointments turn into a waste of time losing sight of the objectives of the meeting itself.

In this article we will try to unveil some secrets to carry out effective Project status meetings.

The aims and times of the meetings on the progress of the project

The frequency of these meetings obviously varies depending on:

  • the complexity of the project;
  • the number of project team members;
  • the level of information required by the project owner, by customers, stakeholders, etc.
  • from the level of involvement of the project task manager.

Once the timing has been established, it is fundamental for the Project Manager to evaluate, during the meetings, the progress of each of the following elements:

  • Updates of individual activities.
  • Progress of the project compared to planning: are we late or early?
  • Budget status: are we under or have we exceeded the budget?
  • Quality status: are we maintaining the expected quality levels?
  • Current or hypothetical problems (such as changes, problems with resources, dissatisfaction with the customer or supplier, etc.).
  • Next steps to be taken.

 

project status meetings

Project status meetings are essential for the Project Manager and must be scheduled periodically.

Thanks to these meetings the Project manager has the possibility to:

  • Keep the focus on the project.
  • Orient the team to look in the same direction.
  • Report to the company management clear and updated information on the progress of the entire current project.

Unfortunately, too often these important meetings are ineffective and fail to bring benefits to the project in the intended way.

The most common reasons why project progress meetings turn into a waste of time.

There are some recurring reasons why project status meetings fail. Here is a list of the most frequent:

  • Unclear or even missing agenda.
  • Team members not adequately prepared for the meeting.
  • Inability to manage the time during the meeting.
  • Inability to maintain focus on the subject matter of the meeting.
  • Absent or ineffective feedback from team members.

Unclear or even missing agenda

When Project status meetings doesn’t have a previously defined and shared agenda, they will inevitably become unclear and ineffective.

Without a roadmap that marks the road, the meeting is easily dispersed and time is often misused or even lost.

In addition, team members will not be able to provide effective feedback as they are not prepared to face the meeting.

The purpose of a project status meeting is to obtain an update on the status of activities, identify problems and so on.

Therefore It’s essential that team members prepare themselves on time and collect specific data before the meeting to be prepared to answer certain key questions.

Without specific predefined objectives, the meeting will not bring any benefit.

Team members not adequately prepared for the meeting.

It often happens that some team members do not perceive the importance of the meeting and think that all they should do is just show up and attend the meeting.

When this happens, the whole team loses precious time.

Unsupported feedback can delay the resolution of the problem, causing frustration and delays in the project itself!

Inability to manage the time during the meeting

“Even today an interminable meeting …”.

This is the classic phrase that the team members, exhausted, exchange each other out of the meeting room.

If the time is not managed properly you will get three boomerang effects:

  • Team demotivation.
  • The need for a further meeting on the same topic.
  • The possibility of arriving at hasty and ineffective decisions.

In addition, team members may try to skip the meeting by perceiving it as a waste of time.

Once team members begin to miss project status meetings, the overall effectiveness of this tool is bound to deteriorate inexorably

Inability to maintain focus on the subject matter of the meeting.

Closely related to the previous one, it is the inability to stay on the pre-established tracks.

This incapacity is very frequent.

In fact, participants often tend to digress, considerably reducing the time dedicated to the purpose of the meeting.

Thus we arrive at the crucial issues with little time available, often taking decisions of poor quality dictated by haste.

Absent or ineffective feedback from team members.

One of the most difficult tasks of a project manager is to deal with several different personalities within the team.

The most aggressive personalities tend to dominate project meetings, while the more passive types tend to contribute much less to the discussions being much less talkative about their views on a given problem.

We all know the saying that the creaking wheel gets more oil and that’s what often happens during project meetings.

Sometimes a project manager or team leader will be overly influenced by a team member with a more aggressive personality.

When some team members dominate while others sit passively (without providing critical input on a problem), the quality of decisions taken by the team suffers.

Another big problem with this dysfunction is that the project manager often develops a distorted view of some fundamental project problems because one or two team members express very strong opinions.

Such opinions may not be representative of the group at all, but without a balanced response from another team member, the project manager may conclude a progress meeting with an inaccurate view of the team’s views on a particular issue.

project status meetings

Conclusion

Project status meetings are a key tool in the project manager’s toolbox.

Unfortunately, a few project managers have adopted methods and techniques to ensure that these sessions are concise, productive and valuable.

Too many project managers assume that a project status meetings means sending an invitation to the meeting and simply showing up.

Project status meetings require a lot more!

The good news is that when project status meetings are effective and efficient, the results are huge!

The productive meetings on the progress of the work:

  • increase the morale of the group.
  • Provide comprehensive information on the status of the project.
  • Discover potential risks.
  • Provide a forum for the timely resolution of problems.
  • Encourage the sharing of relevant information among team members.

Finding the best time to plan a meeting on the progress of a project is very important.

It may be obvious, but it’s not just about finding a day when the team is available, it’s about finding a day when none of your colleagues have important deadlines, scheduled appointments or high-priority activities to close.

Using a project management software like Twproject, with shared agendas, is essential to manage a focused team.

Introduce your team to Twproject.

One try is worth a million words.

5 Project Planning Mistakes to Avoid (Part 1 of 5)

Managing a project is complicated and making mistakes that can compromise the progress of all activities is very simple.

One of the most delicate phases from this point of view is the project planning one, errors made in this phase are in fact the most serious and can negatively affect the achievement of the entire project.

The problem is that often you notice that something is wrong when it is too late and there is nothing more that can be done to limit the damage.

In this article we will explain what are the most common project planning mistakes and what strategies you can put in place to avoid them.

Commons management errors are grouped into 5 categories:

  • planning errors
  • errors in priorities management
  • communication errors
  • errors of responsibility
  • errors of organization

Today we will help you identify those in the first group.

Planning a project is generally composed of two main phases. Both of these phases can face different critical issues:

 Project analysis – phases and dependencies

When you start analyzing a new activity and you are about to schedule it, you need to keep in mind these 3 commons mistakes that could compromise the success of your business:

1) The scope of the project is too wide

Issue: Even if the goal of the project is clear, even described in detail with specs and agreed with the client, be focused only on the final goal, especially if the end date is long-term can lead to serious consequences. Managing big projects is very complicated, the variables involved are numerous and focusing on the final target can make you underestimate many small contingencies that make the project grow without control.

Solution: The best way to avoid having a wide scope is to brainstorm with your team until you are able to outline small goals that are easy to manage. This brainstorming is also very helpful to divide your project in phases. Sub-phases do not necessarily have to overlap perfectly with the sub-goals, they will be the guideline, the short-term fundamental steps you have to focus on to keep everything under control.

2) Micro management

Once goals have been identified both in the long term and, even better, in the medium and short term, it will be necessary to break down the project in phases with the help of what you identified above.

Issue: Regardless of the tool used to manage your project diagram, you don’t need to be too ambitious. Pay attention and do not fall into the opposite error of point 1: break your project down into too many activities, whose maintenance can become extremely burdensome.

Solution: When to stop? A phase, in particular if the root project lasts more than 6 months, should not last less than a week. This is not true in general and depends on a case-by-case basis but applies well most of the time. Under this value (activities that last just few hours) you can manage tasks with to-do lists, checklists, flexible than a Gantt chart. Using such tools will help your team work better, without needing your constant assistance, making them more involved.

3) The project does not follow a standard management methodology

Issue: For scheduling and manage your activities it is essential to use a tool that supports you in this work. If you do not use a software or, more generally, a planning methodology, the probability that the project become chaotic increases exponentially. Different projects, managed by different people, could be organized in diametrically opposed ways and can also use a completely different vocabulary that can disorient your resources.

Solution: Rely on a methodology, no matter what, as long as it is shared by your team. Initially it could be hard but over time, making it yours and modifying it to fit better with your needs, it will help you keep the team united under one method and one terminology. Use a software that embraces this methodology, a correct management of phases, of dependencies and schedules will reduce the delays and the misunderstandings drastically.

Analysis of timing and effort

Once diagram and phase dependencies have been created it is necessary to estimate effort and schedule them in time:

4) Too ambitious plans

Issue: A common planning mistake is to be too ambitious following exactly the expected time for the activities. When you face several phases, it is important to evaluate a certain margin of error that saves the project from numerous  adjustments. Relying on the knowledge of your team is essential because they have a detailed knowledge of all the activities and possible risks.

Solution: Learn from your  team and evaluate with them risks of each phase in order to give a realistic estimate. Relay on them not just on your experience.

5) Fail to plan due to customer pressure

Issue: It could happens that you fail to plan a project just because of  customer’s pressure, who often have lots of requests, reduced budgets and no time at all. One of the most common mistakes is to give the customer the feeling that some activities are easy to implement or maybe free, errors made to acquire the project offering a convenient price.

Solution: Even if you want to offer a convenient price, talk about the project for what it is without discount in time of effort, this will help you avoiding misunderstanding with your customer. When you estimate a project, both in effort and in costs, do it without thinking about the agreed end date and the budget set. Once the realistic estimate is completed, match it with what the client expects and try to align the two versions. In this way you will immediately understand if the project is at risk of loss or at risk of delay without unpleasant surprises during its development. A correct assessment of reality and expectations avoids frustrations in the team and communication problems.

Conclusion

If you are a project manager you probably know that the list of mistakes you can make is much longer, but without a doubt these 5 issues are not only very common, but are also 5 of the most risky for achieving your goal.

As you see from the listed points we firmly believe that the use of a project management software, such as Twproject, could facilitate all of your work by avoiding many of the possible errors in planning a project.

A project management software will help you solve each of the 5 problems listed:

  1. You can associate to your project discussions and meetings that highlight all goals to help you in the drafting of the phases
  2. You will have a Gantt Editor that will help you create phases and dependencies and that will allow you to manage to-do list and checklist to avoid micro management
  3. It will help you embrace a methodology and help you to standardize the terminology throughout the team
  4. It will help you take advantage of your team’s knowledge for a realistic project estimate
  5. You will be able to manage plans during quotation phase and development phase, always having clear times and costs

If you want to start now to rely on a project management software to help you avoid all these errors try Twproject.

Start now to recognize these errors and avoid them.

5 Most Common Mistakes in Managing Projects

There are no two identical projects, at the same time all projects seem to suffer of similar problems.

Even the best project manager can, in case of important tasks, particularly long-lasting or if subjected to continuous requests for updates, fall into common errors that could lead a task to fail.

These frequent mistakes in managing projects can be avoided if you make a continuous analysis of your way of work and team health.

Commons problems, faced by every manager, can be grouped into 5 different types:

Mistake #1 Wrong Planning

The most common mistake in managing a project and certainly the one with the greatest impact is the wrong planning.

Starting from an in-depth analysis of your own internal processes is crucial. A correct identification of the activities, their duration, the dependencies and the effort that each of them requires will help you to identify a realistic task end date and to avoid critical stages. Tasks that start with a wrong planning, often too optimistic, generally suffer of great delays and frustration for the whole team.

A typical example is to repeat the error of selling a product at a certain cost, maybe to be competitive, despite the fact that it uses more resources than expected, so, without having a clear idea of ??how much it costs to your company. The solution could be to use a Gantt chart tool and templates that you  can refine over time, this will help you improving your analysis, step by step. Ask your resources to describe in details the work done to create a knowledge base on which you will be able to make predictions increasingly consistent with reality.

Mistake #2 Priority Vs Emergency

As a project manager, you should have always clear the progress of your activitites, which are in late and on which you need to focus on your energy. Instead, your resources often find themselves involved in multiple tasks, with different managers, different habits, which make their organization very complicated.

Clearly highlighting their priorities is essential to ensure that they do not work by emergency, simply supporting the most demanding or pressing project manager. The analysis of priorities must be done with all the managers working with your team. The choice must be made by mutual agreement and respected by all without interference, the list of priorities consulted by the team must be valid and always updated.

 

Mistake #3 Broken Communication

Another common mistake in project management is to underestimate the importance of communication: One of the main causes of delays in projects is the lack of communication. The goal of the project must be clear to the team from the very beginning,  desired end dates, and in general the whole planning.
It is also important to communicate with the working group in a constant and active way: resources must always be aware of how the task is going. You are late? Everything is alright? Tell your team, because they will adjust their to do list according to this information. Schedule weekly meetings and always keep everyone updated even using a dedicated messaging software.
To improve your communication and resource management you could start scheduling weekly meetings where each resource can share with the group the progress of their work: you could choose Monday to share not only what was completed but also to plan the activities of the new week, check the load of the operators and always make sure that your team is not overloaded.

Mistake #4 It’s Your Responsability

The responsibility is certainly on the project manager’s shoulders and for this reason you could often make the mistake of not trusting your collaborators always wanting the last word on every decision. It is actually known that delegating phases and therefore making the team responsible increase productivity significantly, the only precaution to be taken will be to have a solid communication with frequent meetings in order to recognize immediately if a phase is late or on a wrong path. Trust your team, it is the basis for the success of every project.

Mistake #5 Paper Management

We often underestimate how a project management software can help a work group to manage activities. A common mistake in management is to rely on a simple list of excel, maybe not shared, absolutely not usable to increase the productivity of individual resources, an aid that in reality turns out to be ineffective and obsolete. The latest project management software includes advanced features that drastically lighten people’s workload. A tool like Twproject, for example, includes interactive Gantt, prioritizable to-do lists, task chats and customizable dashboards. Features that will help you solve each of the problems listed above.

Probably reading this post you’ve found yourself in one of these descriptions, I hope not in all of them 🙂 however, do not miss the next 5 in-depth post in which we will analyze one by one these errors with practical suggestions to avoid them.