The PM role and disruptive technologies

The role of the Project Manager changes with disruptive technologies

How are disruptive technologies redefining the Project Manager figure?
The third PMI Report addresses exactly this topic.

As already highlighted in the previous articles, 1st article and 2nd article, disruptive technologies are revolutionizing entire sectors and entire organizations. In short, they are forcing all organizations to change both what they do and how they do it.

This third Report evaluates the results of a survey of 537 executives – including PM – from all over the world on the effects of disruptive technologies on people, projects, work, culture and strategy.

Project Managers and disruptive technology management

In order for organizations to remain within the market, managers and project managers must learn to manage the influence of disruptive technologies.

Currently, the most used disruptive technologies are those shown in the following table.

PM role and disruptive technologies

Already today, disruptive technologies allow many organizations to do their jobs better and respond more quickly to fluctuations in market trends and customer demands.

When talking about change, the Report highlights that the most active organizations are worrying about:

  • Embracing a culture that promotes constant transformation
  • Understanding that change management is critical
  • Identifing managers and PMs as “leaders” of change, when they make disruptive, digital, and transformation changes.

However, one aspect is fundamental: organizations should not limit themselves to just one or two disruptive technologies.

True digital transformation is based not only on the intelligent adoption of different technologies.

Each organization must create its own “digital recipe”.

Managers often take the initiative in creating a digital transformation strategy and become the driving force of change throughout the organization.

It is therefore no surprising that more than half of high-performing organizations consider the leaders responsible for managing the change.

In fact, the most effective way to drive change is to create senior leaders who believe in digital transformation and can manage the culture of transformation within the organization.

 

The change takes place from the top down and will not work unless the employees are managed and led by leading people.

Disruptive technologies: best practices

Considering disruptive technologies, there is no single approach for every organization.

The Report lists some best practices related to promoting change in organizations, which Project Managers should pay attention to:

  • Participate in the change process actively.
  • Organize meetings and campaigns for change.

A successful action is to meet regularly with employees in order to discuss the benefits of digital transformation, the way in which disruptive technologies can improve workflows and increase productivity.

  • Communicate effectively and ask for regular feedback.

But digital transformation doesn’t just happen thanks to this.

Organizations also need a well-designed strategy, smart technology choices, and project management skills. All these factors that should be found in the project manager.

Organizations also need team members with an innovative mindset. This sometimes means choosing people who do not have a high level of experience, but have the ability and willingness to try new things, experiment, fail, move forward.

As a result, many organizations are starting to train their talents in order to strengthen the entire company.

Executives believe it is important for talents to have project management skills among the top three skills.

People with project management skills often support and even adopt frequent changes to compete and succeed in a fast-paced business environment.

Therefore, a robust organizational change management program is a top priority in order to help organizations embrace new technologies.

The 5 fundamental steps for change

To instill a culture of constant change and innovation, organizations must:

1. Invest in continuous education and training

New tools and techniques allow employees, including project managers, to work more efficiently and quickly than ever before. Investment in talent and continuing education must therefore be a priority for organizations. Ultimately, the use of disruptive technologies also affects people and not just technology.

2. Fully involve employees

As promising as new technologies may be, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, workers will easily consider them a threat.

To allay their fears, organizations should provide timely and accurate information on new opportunities.

The management, the PMO, and project managers can help make insecurities disappear by guiding change management from the inside.

3. Make leadership and project managers the leaders of change

Project leaders will play an important role in integrating the culture of innovation and change, evangelizing new technologies and methods throughout the organization. In this way they become educators, helping people understand how to apply new technologies and new systems.

4. Create a data-based organization

Data is the lifeblood of a digital organization.

Rapid advances in data science enable organizations to analyze vast amounts of data for insights and processes. Moreover, predictive analysis can help managers identify problems and risks before they occur therefore taking preventive actions.

To truly make the most of all this information, organizations must promote a data-centric culture in which leadership is based on these to make decisions. For the next generation PMO and future project managers, data science will be an essential part of the skills. Considering all this, also a project management software can play a decisive role.

5. Eliminate the fear of making mistakes

Building a culture of innovation requires the freedom to experiment with new ideas and new ways of working, without the fear of being “punished” if something goes wrong.

By adopting disruptive technologies, organizations must accept an environment in which employees, by experimenting, can fail, learn from their experience, and move on to the next “experiment”.

Traditional leadership is not accustomed to accepting failure, but must allow this experimentation mentality so that innovation can flourish.

 

A huge part of a successful digital transformation depends on an organization’s ability to embrace change.

This evolution is pushing organizations to rethink how to evaluate the success of project management.

Project management was once measured in terms of ability to deliver on time, within the budget and with quality, but what differentiates and creates success in project management is now the ability to innovate within the project.

This is where project leaders become strategic.

Here the link to download the Reports

https://www.pmi.org/learning/thought-leadership/series/disruptive-technologies/the-c-suite-outlook

 

Manage changes with Twproject

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disruptive technologies

What future for Project management? New reports and disruptive technologies

3 Reports to analyze in detail the future of Project Management. 3 reports that the Project Management Institute has just published on the evolution of Project Management taking into consideration the “disruptive” technologies.

These reports were presented during the seventh PMO Symposium in Washington CS, where more than 650 project management executives came together to understand the future of the role and the industry.

The focus was on disruptive technologies  and on how cloud solutions, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have changed the way of doing business in organizations and transformed whole industries.

We have therefore decided to investigate these topics, dedicating this and future articles to the individual reports of the PMI in order to show what awaits us in the near future.

Report 1: Forge the future: evolve with disruptive technology

The Report, born from the collaboration between Accenture and PMI, is very interesting as it looks at the creation of a culture of innovation through the adoption of interruptions.

 Through the adoption of these emerging technologies and new ways of working, the PMO will continue to evolve as a strategic collaborator that guides the delivery and execution of the strategy.

Disruptive technologies are the new reality for every organization in every sector.

Artificial intelligence, cloud, digitalization, blockchain, all offer endless possibilities for organizations to transform themselves and their related industries.

The report says, that in order to build their future, organizations must be willing to actively stop the status quo.

Unfortunately, though, it is true that for organizations it may be easy to imagine how these new technologies and strategies will work.

In fact, there is often a significant difference between the development of the strategy and its implementation in the everyday life.

Therefore, the project management office (PMO) and project managers can fill this gap, but only if they are ready to evolve first.

Here are some actions that can help:

  1. Enforce e a collaborative leadership culture that embraces change and drives innovation
  2. Reorganize and retrain project managers to incorporate new skills
  3. Evolve traditional delivery methods to include key performance indicators that evaluate organizational progress in achieving strategic goals

Disruptive technologies: threat or opportunity?

the disruptive technologies

The new technologies that emerge every day radically change the way we work and live.

Exploiting their potential requires much more than a technological focus. Organizations have to face their broader business strategy, their ways of working and change management accordingly.

Moreover, they must be willing to evolve and invest in acquiring new skills.

Organizations that already recognize the power of these technologies to increase revenue growth, profitability, and innovation are starting to create interesting evolution systems.

The Report highlights how innovative organizations, i.e. those that exploit disruptive technologies in order to obtain a competitive advantage, in general:

  • have a mature digital transformation strategy
  • are committed to making changes at the organization level
  • experiment with new ways of working
  • see the adoption of disruptive technologies as a high priority

Most organizations have undergone significant transformation in recent years using disruptive technologies, but only about a quarter of these have produced tangible benefits.

So, what prevents organizations from gaining the benefits of disruptive technologies and digital transformation?

The main obstacles include:

Selection of the right areas for the investment

 Leaders must first determine which part of their business would benefit the most from new technologies, it can be profitability increase, better customer service or cost reduction. The wrong choice, in fact, not only costs money, but hinders the business.

Choose the right technology and integrate it harmoniously

Once the technological investment priorities have been set, the next challenge is to select the right tools. Because of limited resources, companies need to choose wisely the new technology and therefore need to understand how to integrate it into existing systems without interrupting the business.

Lack of funds

The cost of moving to new technologies can still be prohibitive. In addition, organizations often find themselves spending significantly to train their workers on new ways of working.

Resistance of employees to change

This is a key factor for any transformation program and it determines the real chance of success – or not. Many employees consider the new technology a threat and therefore resist change. At the same time, the organization is not able to give them a clear vision or an understanding of the importance of change.

Gaps between strategy and execution

While senior managers are at the forefront of defining a strategy to exploit disruptive technologies, their strategic goals are not always translated into actions at the project level.

These general goals – from top to bottom – must be converted into tangible and measurable results. Gaps in communicating the vision and the lack of support from middle management can hinder the plans.

Project managers therefore have the responsibility to become agents of change and of organizational transformation. It is a necessary change.

The project manager of the next generation should be a version of himself ready for change and far-sighted. Project managers should not be afraid to experiment and embrace new ways of working and should be ready to help team members make these changes.

An organization could take years to complete its digital transformation. During this process, the project manager must therefore have the opportunity to contribute to creating a culture of innovation, agility and critical thinking, reinforced with the right tools and educational opportunities.

The fundamental steps for change

Organizations will have to face change by implementing the following practices:

Enhance the project manager and / or the PMO

The project manager and the PMO must be able to concentrate on the strategic goals of the organization. Strategy and results must be always aligned. To do this, a project manager must have authority and be able to change course if the project is not achieving the goal.

Evolve in traditional delivery metrics

This means, including KPIs that evaluate the organization’s progress in achieving strategic goals.

The project managers and the PMO should therefore not rely solely on the use of traditional delivery metrics.

These new KPIs evaluate the organization’s progress in achieving its strategic goals. The project managers will take care to ensure that the KPIs at the organization level are reflected in the business results and KPIs at the project level.

Reorganize and retrain project managers

In light of new technologies, project managers must embrace all those skills that enable them to deliver projects and programs successfully. For this reason they must be trained on all the new tools and knowledge.

In conclusion, we can say that these changes and disruptive technologies represent important factors for organizations and, in turn, for the workforce.

Therefore, a robust organizational change management program is a top priority to help organizations stay in the market with greater success and predictability.

Project managers, together with the PMO, play a crucial role as agents of change.

Here the link to download the full version in PDF

 

 

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the MAP

MAP – Methodology Assessment Process

The choice of the right project management methodology is the first step towards success.

Project managers can really become a concrete support for organizations by improving the way they implement projects, by choosing the most effective and efficient method and therefore reducing risks.

But in order to do so, it is not enough to simply recognize the organizational priorities, it takes much more. A deeper understanding of how each methodology impacts on the project is needed.

Methodologies are repeatable, effective and efficient processes that help organizations optimize project activities.

Once these processes have been developed, they can be documented and repeated.

Thanks to the “standardization” of activities, organizations can concentrate on how to run the project and spend more time focusing on the project goals and results.

The process needed to evaluate and document the right methodologies for each project is very detailed. It is also long and complex at first, but it is absolutely worth it.

Key considerations to determine the best project management methodology

A methodology is not suitable for all projects uniquely, even within the same organization.

In fact, it is unlikely that the same methodology works well in the same organization on all projects. A good practice is to develop and implement a methodological assessment process – MAP – in order to determine the best approach for each project.

It should be taken into consideration that this same process may require re-evaluations and changes as business factors change.

How to perform a MAP (methodological assessment process)

In organizational development, as well as in projects, this list of evaluation criteria is considered.

As mentioned above, this process will have to be reviewed and modified from time to time in order to keep pace with the general needs of the organization and stakeholders.

Here are the general steps:

1. Evaluate the project as a whole

When choosing a project management methodology, a suggestion is to start from the end.

It is necessary to know exactly how the final result should look like and what resources you will need to achieve it.

It is therefore necessary to concentrate on gathering initial requirements.

If the requirements suggest that you need a large and diverse team, for example, you will choose a methodology that supports flexibility.

If the final result is vague, you can instead opt for an iterative methodology like Agile.

Project budgets, timing, size and complexity, stakeholder expectations, type of project and industry are some of the other things to take into consideration when evaluating a project.

2. Evaluate the team that will work on the project

The selection and assessment of the project management methodology is essentially a project within the project.

If the team is not familiar with the chosen project management methodology, the expected results will be more difficult to achieve.

Therefore, it is advisable to take into consideration the composition of the team in order to identify its strengths and weaknesses.

If the team relies on collaboration, it is better to choose a less structured approach like Agile.

If the team is highly motivated and disciplined, a Scrum approach might be a good choice.

Team experience, training, self-organization skills, team location (remote, on-site, etc.) are also some aspects to consider when selecting a project team.

3. Evaluate the organization of to the company

The way the company is organized, its culture and its previous records, will have a great impact on the choice of the project management methodology.

Some methodologies work only within large organizations with structured and established hierarchies. Others are more suitable for smaller and faster organizations.

For example, if the previous reports show that all the projects that have applied an Agile methodology have been delayed or have not been successfully completed, it is not a good idea to use this method again.

Some factors to consider when evaluating an organization are:

  • Past records and experience with different methodologies
  • Corporate culture
  • Organization hierarchy
  • Level of flexibility
  • Maturity level
  • Dimension
  • Available resources, including external resources such as freelancers and contractors
  • Sector

4. Evaluate the project stakeholders

When choosing a methodology, stakeholder involvement is an important factor that has to be considered.

Some methodologies require that stakeholders are regularly involved during the project.

If the interested parties are occupied with other things, it is advisable to choose a methodology that requires them to be less involved.

If stakeholders are known to frequently change the scope of the project, the solution may be to choose a more flexible methodology.

Given the importance of stakeholders for the success of the project, their needs must be considered appropriately; in this way the stakeholders will be happier and more satisfied and the projects will have a greater degree of success.

5. Evaluate the available project management tools

Project management tools are normally designed to work well with a specific methodology.

Therefore, also the choice of project management tools will have an impact on the choice of the methodology – or vice versa.

In order to do this, it is therefore advisable to:

  • Create a list of all the tools currently in use
  • List their limits and functionality
  • Compare their skills against the requirements for a specific methodology

Making this in-depth assessment will help you choose a methodology that aligns perfectly with the goals, team capabilities, stakeholder needs and project management tools.

 

In conclusion, project managers have different project management methodologies to choose from.

Each of these methods has its strengths and weaknesses and choosing the right one will make the project faster, smoother and more efficient.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

the construction project management

Construction Project Management

Nowadays, applying Project Management to the construction sector is also a must.

Construction projects evolve and become more and more structured, here we find many moving parts and heterogeneous resources that have to be managed.

Moreover, in every construction project, there are many phases that have to be managed as well, from planning to construction itself. This means that managing such a project requires high technology, knowledge and tools to successfully complete it.

The types of Construction Projects

Even in construction, it is essential to use specific project management techniques that oversee planning, design and, of course, managing a project from beginning to end.

Let’s try to understand the specificities of this sector beginning by understanding how, in the construction sector, we can distinguish six different types of construction. These are:

  • Agricultural
  • Residential
  • Istitutional
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Environmental

However, these types are not watertight compartments and this further complicates things. The same subjects involved in various projects, in fact, can belong to different types.

We are talking about engineering and architecture companies or design studios, but it is also common to find construction companies, industry professionals and facility management companies.

Construction Project Management: the choice of the construction company

It is no secret that the management of construction projects is a fairly complicated task.

It all starts with the project owner (client) who gets in touch with contractors asking for quotes. It is also possible that the owner establishes a competition between contractors in order to receive offers.

There are two types of scenarios concerning bids in the construction field:

  1. Open bid: open offers are inextricably linked to projects and public works. These are auctions in which any entrepreneur is invited to make an offer. A public offer is normally promoted and advertised openly.
  2. Closed bid: private projects are generally based on closed offers. The project owner himself sends an invitation to a specific number of contractors.

After collecting all the estimates, the owner moves to the selection of the contractor through one of the following three methods:

  1. Selection of the lowest bid: in this case, the main interest is the price. The project owner selects the lowest bid from an economic point of view and proceeds with it.
  2. Value-based selection: this process evaluates both the qualifications and the contractor’s price. The owner chooses the most attractive offer in terms of both quality and money.
  3. Selection based on qualifications: this method is adopted when the qualifications are used as the sole criterion for the selection of the construction company.

Once the construction company has been officially chosen, the bidding process is finished and it is now time to start concretely with the project.

Construction Project Management: the start of the project

In general, each project has a standard life cycle, regardless of its special characteristics. This structure could be outlined in four basic phases:

  1. Initiation of the project
  2. Planning phase
  3. Execution phase
  4. Final phase

In the initiation phase, the goal and feasibility of the project are determined.

This is a crucial phase, as it can tell if this project is a good opportunity or not.

If necessary, a feasibility study is conducted and a recommended solution or plan is issued on the basis of the results.

Once everything is decided, a project charter is created. This document provides the foundation for the construction plan and is one of the most important documents in project management.

Construction Project Management: planning

The project planning phase is where the team identifies the work that has to be done.

The main priority during this phase is the planning of times, costs and resources for the project.

Based on these requirements, the team develops the strategy to follow. This is also known as scope management.

Another important document that has to be prepared is a work breakdown structure – or WBS -, a checklist that divides all the necessary work into smaller, more functional steps.

As soon as the budget, program and work are defined, the project is almost ready to start.

The next step in this phase is the risk analysis. At this point, the team should examine all potential threats to the project and find solid solutions.

Finally, a communication plan is also needed. This will establish an efficient flow of information between project stakeholders, the team and the project manager.

Construction Project Management: execution

In the execution phase, the construction project management plan is finally put into practice, ie. in execution.

As a rule, this phase is divided into two main processes: actual execution, and monitoring and control.

The project team ensures that the required activities are performed. At the same time, progress is monitored and the necessary changes are made accordingly.

In fact, a project manager spends most of the time in the monitoring phase and, depending on the information he receives, redirects activities and thus maintains control on the project.

construction project management

Construction Project Management: end

The final phase of the project represents its official completion.

The project manager will evaluate what went well and what did not. The team writes a project report, calculates the final budget and provides information on any activities left unfinished.

The project report, combined with the analysis of potential bankruptcies, will provide a valuable feedback for future construction projects.

The role of a construction project manager

A construction project manager is responsible for planning, coordinating, budgeting, and supervising a construction project from beginning to end.

In short, a construction project manager must take care of the following:

  • Draw up a budget and negotiate cost estimates.
  • Organize the working hours of employees and workers.
  • Choose the most efficient construction methods and strategies.
  • Stay in touch with customers for issues related to work or budget.
  • Discuss technical and contractual details with workers and other interested parties.
  • Keep an eye on the personnel on site.
  • Collaborate with construction specialists.

In conclusion, managing a construction project is a very demanding effort, but that in many respects – at least on paper – is similar to any other project.

There are many parameters and elements that should be analyzed exhaustively.

This is why not only the project manager has to be specialized in construction, but he should have the possibility to use the most modern project management tools for the construction industry.

Twproject is structured to support the construction project manager.

Thanks to its nature and structure, Architects and Builders, as well as dedicated Project Managers can:

  • Trace the progress of projects
  • Manage the time of the whole team
  • Record all supplier data
  • Share project files on the web securely and without any complications
  • Store and share building permits
  • Choose whether to leave data in the internet or in a dedicated remote hosting.

In short, Twproject is much more than a project management software, it is the unique management place through which is possible to carry out projects.
Thanks to its specific features and to the possibility of developing an enterprise version, the PM can really dedicate itself to its real main activity and successfully complete the construction projects.

 

Manage your change construction projects

Project constraints

The so-called classic constraints of the project, ie Fast, Economic and Inherent to the scope, are one of the major challenges of every project manager who must respect these three criteria during each work.

Specifically:

  • Time: what is the deadline for delivering the output?
  • Cost: what is the budget available to achieve this result?
  • Scope: which is exactly the expected result?

The triple constraint of the projects

This triad is also called the triple costraint; if more is required for a given constraint, this will directly affect the other two.

Here is a simple example to understand why: if you decide to extend the scope and create 20 web pages instead of 10, you will logically need more time and money to reach the goal successfully.

The triple costraint is well known in project management environments and most of the literature states that once this is respected, the results will be guaranteed.
Often though, even if this triple costraint is balanced, the problems occur the same. Why?

Often PMs do not take into consideration the existence of further constraints, that should be optimized as well.

A project constraint is a defined or inflexible restriction on a project. All constraints are compromises.
project costraints

An extended approach to constraints in project management

A project is often defined as successful if the goals of the project are achieved by the deadline and within the given budget.

But in addition to time, scope (or purpose of the project) and cost, there are six additional constraints that limit the process of achieving project goals. Let’s see which they are.

Quality costraint

Although this constraint is quite similar to scope costraint, there are actually differences.

The scope defines the exact result desired; in our example, the scope of the project is the creation of 10 web pages.

The quality focuses instead on the attributes of each of these pages.
It can be defined by answering the question: “How much does the result correspond to the initial expectations?”

In this example, therefore, quality does not define the number of web pages, but can be measured with other parameters.

It could be used as a criterion for evaluating the quality of the project, for example, the number of words on each page.
The request could be 1,000 words and the quality tolerance could be +/- 100 words.
So, if a web page contains 900 words it will be approved, if instead another web page contains only 850, this will be rejected.

In this case, it is evident how quality relates to the other constraints. For example, if the time is almost expired, the deadline can only be respected if the quality tolerance level is increased by accepting a number of words corresponding to 800 – because, in fact, writing further would mean not respecting the deadline.

Risk costraint

Risk management is an important task for project managers and any risk, needless to say, can have an impact – more or less serious – on the project.

For example, when preparing the website, you decide to skip the customer review step because you are late. In this way, there is a risk that the customer will reject the final pages precisely because he had no way, during the work, to give his feedback.

Of course, risk can be controlled to some degree through risk analysis, but contingencies are always around the corner during the entire life cycle of a project.

Resource costraint

Resources are closely connected to the cost of the project.

The amount of budget available to achieve the desired result will limit the use and acquisition of resources, which therefore creates a separate constraint.

Sometimes, even an infinite amount of money can not allow you to acquire the specific resources you need.

For example, it may take longer than expected to receive a physical resource that is essential for the design of web pages, such as an hardware, for example, which will consequently mean not respecting a deadline.

In this case, no amount of money could reduce delivery times and, for this, resources can be considered as a constraint on its own.

Sustainability costraint

The sustainability of a project can play an important role in an organization’s long-term strategy and can often influence the success of a project.

There are three types of sustainability: social, environmental and economic.

Although the first two do not generally apply directly to a project, the economic component should not be overlooked by the project managers.

Basically, managing the economic sustainability of a project refers to how the project manager manages its possible impact on the future of the organization in general.

For example, if you are working in an automobile production line, you can use low-cost materials to build some parts of the car in order to save costs.

However, in this way the economic sustainability of the organization could be sacrificed, as end consumers could complain and, consequently, choose competition’s products in the future.

Processes and organizational structures costraint

The organizational structure of a company can have a major impact on the success of the project, as it defines the project environment.

In fact, stakeholders could have a significant influence on the decisions that need to be taken.

Or again, the flow of communication that is too slow could lead to unexpected project decelerations.

Having therefore an efficient organizational structure behind a project means to have a constraint less.

Methodology costraint

Scrum, Agile, Kanban … Different project management methodologies can be used to work on a project.

Each of these methodologies has different limits.

If you use the Scrum methodology, you will have to organize daily meetings and receive numerous feedbacks and, consequently, invest in adequate resources to cover these efforts.

On the other hand, if you use the Agile methodology, it will generally be more difficult to estimate the time necessary to conclude a task in advance, which increases the risk of losing the deadline.

Therefore, to choose the right methodology, it is important to evaluate the specific situation of each project.

Customer satisfaction costraint

Customer satisfaction measures how much the customer’s expectations correspond to the final result of a project.

If the team has delivered excellent results on time and within the budget, the customer will most likely be happy and satisfied.

But if the cost turns out to be higher than expected, this would mean compromising in order to reach a level of satisfaction, at least sufficient, on the part of the customer.

Customer satisfaction will greatly influence the success of the project and it is therefore possible to consider it as a separate constraint.

To conclude, it is essential to know the different constraints of a project. The only way to control them is to understand them.

Therefore, when working on a project and, above all, when making important decisions about it, the project manager will not have to consider only the time, scope and budget, but also the quality, risk, resource, sustainability, organizational structure, methodology, and customer satisfaction factors.

Manage project constraint.

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the scheduling management

Project scheduling: management and process

Project scheduling is one of the main activities of project planning.

It is summarized in a document that describes all the work necessary to deliver the project on time and with success.

A project, in fact, is composed by many activities and each activity includes a beginning and an end. In the same manner, people have different times and different availabilities and all this must be rationally included in a project schedule.

The project management program is a document that outlines the work to be done, the order in which it must be done, what resources are required, how they will be distributed, and how long they will take to work on the various activities.

Project scheduling also helps project managers communicate and deal with team members as well as stakeholders and also helps keeping the project on track.

Specifically, a project schedule includes:

  • Milestones Derivables
  • Tasks required to complete the results
  • Dependencies between tasks
  • Requirements and allocation of resources
  • Deadlines, time intervals and duration of activities

As it is he case in many aspects during project management, also scheduling is performed in various steps.

When creating a program, project managers estimate work, timing, and resources. However, all this information is subject to change once the project is in progress.

Scheduling is usually created during the initial phases of the project, but is detailed throughout the project life cycle.

How to plan a project

There are three basic questions for project scheduling:

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

Once obtained the answers to these questions, it is possible to start the project schedule in details.
Here are the steps necessary for managing a project’s planning.

1. Plan the scheduling management

in this beginner phase, the directives and procedures for the development, management and control of the project schedule are established.

In this phase, you can organize a brainstorming meeting, where you can create a draft of the program or obtain a list of ideas.

Moreover, during the meeting, it is useful to ask for feedback from the people who will actually work on the project.

In fact, team members have a unique vision of how much time they will need in order to perform the tasks and what their skills and knowledge are.

During this meeting it is also good to acquire inputs from the client and other stakeholders.

2. Define the activities

This is the phase in which the specific activities and tasks to achieve the project goals are identified, ie the tasks to produce the derivable and complete the project with success.

3. Sort the activities

In this phase, we identify the relationships and interdependencies between all the project activities. To do this, it is necessary to consider how the activities relate to each other, in addition to any time or resource limits.

4. Estimate the duration of the activities

In this phase, we proceed with the estimation of the activities identified matching them with the estimated resources.

It is probably one of the most difficult parts of the project schedule, but it is also one of the most important as it has a huge impact on the total cost.

The term “duration” refers to the number of working hours, days, weeks, or months that team members need to complete a given activity.

Properly estimating the duration is important for both parties: this keeps customers happy, as work proceeds according to plan, and keeps team members happy, as they can easily meet deadlines.

5. Develop the schedule

In this phase, we proceed to analyze all the previous points in order to create the definitive project scheduling model.

6. Control the schedule

In this last phase, the project status is monitored throughout its life cycle in order to update and modify the schedule as the details become clearer.

For simpler projects with a narrower scope, the points from number 2 to number 5 are so connected that they can be performed by one single person.

scheduling management

Best practices for project scheduling

Once you have seen the basic steps for creating a project schedule, let’s see what are some best practices.

These are based on the opinion and experience of renowned project management organizations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI), as well as other project management experts.

  • Be clear and detailed. If this were not the case, team members would not know exactly what to do and when to do it. The more detailed the project schedule is, the more effective the work will be. But be careful not to fall into the opposite error, which is overloading the team and the stakeholders with too much information.
  • Make sure that the workload foreseen in the project schedule is balanced.
    It is important to assign the right people to the right tasks and that the workload is distributed evenly. Moreover, it is advisable to ask the team members to review the program in order to make sure the workload is reasonable. This is particularly crucial in organizations where budgets are limited and / or staff has limited availability (link a https://twproject.com/it/blog/organizzare-il-tempo-di-lavoro-del-team-livellamento-delle-risorse-o-smoothing/) . It is also recommended to regularly review all the tasks the team is working on in order to ensure that distribution is maintained appropriately.
  • Building the schedule based on results and milestones, not around activities.
    It may be instinctive to build the program around the tasks, because they represent the actual work of the team, but there is nothing more wrong. If the planning is built around the activities in fact, it is difficult to say whether the requests for changes fall within the project or not. Activities can be carried out in a number of different ways and can have a variety of outcomes.
    Milestones, on the other hand, are quantifiable and follow certain standards and criteria. In addition, creating a program on these elements helps you stay in line and to achieve the project goals (link a https://twproject.com/it/raggiungi-i-tuoi-obbiettivi/).
  • Prepare for change. It is not a question of whether the program will change, but when and how it will change. Needs, events, risks and activities of the parties constantly change in the management of the projects. For this reason, the project schedule is a work in progress throughout the life cycle of a project. When drawing up the schedule, it is appropriate to make assumptions about what changes might occur, when, and what kind of effect they might have on the project. Including extra time for important tasks allows you to make changes without sending the project off course. However, it is also necessary to create limitations in order to prevent changes that do not address the scope of the project.
  • Organize regular team meetings. Meetings with the team, the clients and the key stakeholders will help to manage the program more effectively. During these sessions, all the parties can ask questions, get updates on the progress of the activities and make decisions about the estimates and work.

New trends in the management of the project schedule

Considering the current global market, highly competitive and highly flexible, managing the project schedule properly becomes even more important.

In particular, there are two emerging practices for project scheduling:

Iterative scheduling with backlog

In this model, the requirements are reported in customer records and prioritized prior to product development. Ideally, some of these deliverables can be completed and delivered to the client during the work, instead of doing everything at the end of the project.

The great advantage of this method is that it accepts and applies the changes during the life cycle of the project, therefore during the development of the deliverables. It is therefore an iterative program.

Scheduling on request

Unlike the previous one, this approach is not based on a schedule developed previously for the requirements and product development. Here, the requested job is reported into a backlog in order to be executed when the resources become available. To give an example, it is a situation like: “Here is a list of things to do. Good! Maria is available to do the work and can finish it in a week “.

Project Management Software

Another trend in project scheduling is the use of project management softwares and tools (link a https://twproject.com/it/project-management/ ) .
While project scheduling in the past was carried out via printed calendars or shared worksheets via e-mail, today most organizations and teams use project planning tools and software.
Typically, project scheduling is just one of several features that project management software can have.
The use of a project management software helps project managers and team members to communicate, track, and review the schedule more efficiently and effectively, thus leading the project towards success.

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the project chart

How to write an excellent Project Charter

Every time a project begins, there is a need for a project charter.

Projects can arise from the most diverse motivations including, for example, changes to company goals, the need to undertake initiatives to achieve existing goals, internal and external environmental factors, customer needs, technological, political or legal changes, regulatory requirements … etc

In short, there are many motivations …. but only one Project Charter!

But what is a project charter?

It is a document that describes the vision of the project, a document that collects the goals and the plan of implementation of the project.

Here are the three main uses of a Project Charter:

  1. It is a necessary document to authorize the project. In fact, this is the document that “sells” the project to the stakeholders and defines what their return on investment will be.
  2. Serves as a primary sales document. Stakeholders have a summary to share or present when they are contacted for other projects, so that they can distribute their resources according to the needs.
  3. It is a document that remains throughout the project life cycle. It is therefore a reference document for the entire period of time in which the project is active. The Project Charter is like a roadmap for the project.

Key steps to write an excellent Project Charter

To meet these needs and write an excellent project charter, follow the following steps.

Step 1: establish the vision of the project

What is the vision of the project? Without identifying this general goal, in fact, it will be impossible to continue – in the right way – to achieve it.

In short: what is the final goal for the project team?

It is then possible to further break down the vision into goals, scope and results.

Goals: what the project aims to achieve. It is important to make sure that each of the goals is SMART that means specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and binding.
Scope: the formal boundaries of the project. It describes how the company can change or evolve after the delivery of the project and what is relevant to the project. Clearly definining the scope at the beginning of the project is essential to help maintain the control of the project.

Results or deliverables: here, we describe each final result that the project should produce.

Step 2: catalog the project organization

This step consists of four subsets.

Customers / End users: the customers of the project are identified.

In this phase, it is necessary to identify the customer or end user and the context where the project is located. Furthermore, it is important to define the person or entity responsible for accepting the results of the project.

Stakeholders: after the customers, stakeholders are the interested parties that must be identified. The persons or entities, inside or outside the project, having a specific key interest or a sort of “participation” in the project.

Roles: the key roles necessary to start the project are defined. This means project sponsor, project board and project manager, with a brief summary of each role and specific responsibilities.

Structure: it describes the lines of reporting and communication between these roles in a structured organization chart.

project chart

Step 3: Plan the implementation

At this point the Project Chart is almost finished and now you should have a fairly clear idea of what the project needs and how to organize it in order to complete the job.

This third passage is also divided into four parts:

Implementation plan: one of the responsibilities of a project manager is to manage creating an atmosphere of trust in the team, with customers and with stakeholders.

One way to achieve this is through the implementation plan that must be well studied. It is therefore necessary to list the phases, activities and timing of the project life cycle.

Milestones: one of the most important things of the project to consider. Milestones are more important and critical than activities and should be chosen with parsimony. These are indeed key events in the project life cycle.

Dependencies: A dependency is an activity that will probably have an impact on the project during its life cycle.

Resource plan: summarize the resources that will work on the project by subdividing them into labor, equipment, and materials. In this way, a project manager can know what he needs before budgeting and starting the project.

Step 4: list the risks and problems

The project chart is almost ready, but there is one last step needed in order to complete the process: identify any risks, problems and constraints related to the project.

Without a real risk analysis, in fact, a project chart is not complete and the probability that the project will fail is much higher.

Have you already started your project with a Project charter? What difficulties did you encounter?

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the Generational Competence

Project manager and the Generational Competence

The working class is changing, and with it the working team.

For the first time, in Italy there are up to 5 different generations in one company.

This means, for organizations, to manage five (generalized) series of expectations, motivations, attitudes, behaviors and communication styles.

Managing multigenerational work teams, therefore, begins to be a priority in current project management environments.

To direct multigenerational working groups, it is necessary to outline the individual resources, not only in terms of soft skills or hard skills, but also according to the generational context to which they belong.

Let’s see in this article what is this new context where the Project Manager has to operate.

Generational cultures

To talk about generational culture, it is first essential to clarify its meaning.

What is a generation?

A generation is a group of individuals born in the same period of time, who generally share similar behaviors and attitudes.

Here is the graphic that compares the different generations: on average, one generation has a time span of 15 years.

Generational Competence

Since 2010, 7 generations live together on our planet! This is something unique and extraordinary.

And all these generations – thanks to the extension of the average life in the West – coexist and share experiences, work, family and society. Obviously, each generation has its own ambitions, its own expectations, as well as different ways of communicating and relating.

Of these 7 generations, 5 can be found in the company or in specific work teams.

Let’s see which they are and and what personal / social background they bring into the company and into the work group.

When approaching a generational analysis, it is important to have a clear idea: the generations are not particularly defined by age, but mostly by the common experiences and the key events that occur during their formative years.

This means that today a Project Manager, who actually wants to be a project leader must take action in this direction, particularly working on the generations to which the group belongs.

Generational competence as an integral part of the Project Manager

As highlighted, this scenario will inevitably condition the Project Manager.

Whether it is a senior project manager or a professional who wants to become a Project Manager, the scenario is the same. Anyone who chooses this profession can not avoid developing a real “generational competence” in order to manage the new project teams.

By generational competence, we mean “the adaptations that organizations and individuals have to fulfill in order to meet the different needs of the four generations in the workforce and in today’s market”.

Developing and mastering generational skills will help Project Managers better understand behaviors (“what” team members do), as well as important beliefs and basic attitudes (“why” team members are doing it).

As a result, project managers will be able to improve team management, time management and internal communication, all to the benefit of maximum productivity among team members.

Below, we wanted to bring an overview of the most interesting generations for the project teams.

The Generation of Baby Boomers and the approach in the work team

The oldest of the active generations in project management is the Baby Boomer generation.

Born between 1946-1963, it takes its name from the increasing post-war birth periods.

It has witnessed and actively participated in the political and social turmoil by deeply forming and marking its life and critical thinking.

The Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the Kennedy and King Assassination, Watergate and Woodstock, just to name a few.

This generation grew up in a more traditional family environment, where it learned to respect the authority inside and outside the home.

The Boomer era was characterized by continued prosperity, opportunity, and the notion of “American Dream”. The Boomerists were looking for visible success and believed they were capable of changing the world.

Unfortunately, this generation is also known for its high divorce rate and new marriages.

Despite a life of hard work and retirement planning, the Baby Boomers are facing another challenge, as the recent economic recessions mean that many pension plans shift and they continue to work longer than expected.

Generation X and the approach in the team work

Those born between 1964 and 1980 are part of the Generation X.

Children of the oldest baby boomers, they grew up in an environment in contrast with that of their parents.

Instead of endless opportunities and booming prosperity, the Generation X has experienced financial, family, and social insecurity during their formative years, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the AIDS epidemic and the Desert Storm Operation.

This generation witnessed the decline of military, political, and economic strength and, later, the massive redundancies of their parents following the downsizing of the 1980s.

The Generation X has become a generation of “individuals” and has focused its attention on the ability to be self-sufficient, entrepreneurial and adaptable to survive.

On the technological front, this generation has seen the rise of MTV, computers, and video games. It was the first generation to start relying on technology on a daily basis as computers, fax machines and mobile phones entered the home and the workplace.

The Millenials Generation and the approach in the work team

All the people born between 1981 and 2000 belong to the Millennials.

This generation, also named Generation Y, has reached the age of majority in a period of global and economic expansion. Many are the children of ambitious Baby Boomer parents who have raised them with “schedules” to follow in order to face the competition and achieve the wanted results.

Events like 9/11 in New York, the attack on the 11-M train in Madrid, and the terrorist attack in London marked this generation in a global way, as technology allowed to transmit and test information faster and more pervasively like never before.

Although this generation is often considered as the generation of “digital natives”, it is important to remember that the oldest Millennials did not actually grow with ubiquitous technology. But as they grew up, technology became more and more important.

For this reason, many Millennials have established relationships that extend beyond social and cultural lines through virtual communities and chat rooms with people outside their communities, regardless of ethnicity or cultural background.

Millennials are often considered more open and tolerant with respect to any other generation towards differences in race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or economic status.

The Generation Z and the approach in the work team

The last generation is made up of those born between 1995 and 2010.

Although this Generation Z currently accounts for only 1% of the workforce – and is a generation whose identity is still a work in progress – some aspects show their disruptive entry into the world of work.

It is therefore worthwhile to monitor them, as those born in the mid-90s start to enter the world of work already today; in fact, the choice for a part of them not to attend the University reduces the time of entry for this generation.

Gen Z has been defined by some as those born in the mid-1990s, and by others like those born in the mid-2000s, and there is still no consensus on a generational name.

As a result of technology, this generation will feel more “connected” to events on a global scale than any precedent generation.

For this generation, technology is the existence, like in a “mobile mode“.

Grown up in a healthier economic situation than the Millennials, Gen Z is often referred to as “realistic” rather than “optimistic”, and demonstrates a much higher entrepreneurial spirit than that of the parents.

Generational competence becomes part of the knowledge of the Project Manager.

As a project leader, it is essential to know the generational structure of the team members in order to better manage the whole project.

Do you manage multigenerational work teams? Tell us about it!

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Organizational structures typology

Project organizational structures in Project Management

The project organizational structure is an essential configuration for determining the hierarchy of people, their function, workflow and reporting system.

It is a factor in business that plays a fundamental role in guiding and defining the way in which the organization carries out its operations.

There are different project organizational structures defined according to the area in which the organization operates and activities related to the core business.

If an organization is dealing with temporary jobs for example, the structure will probably better manage the recruitment and dismissal of employees as needed.

On the other hand, if the organization is involved in a production chain that requires continuous operation, it will have a different structure. In this case, the task assigned, will be in order to support employees for a longer time to achieve the goals of the organization.

As organizations grow or their needs change, the organizational structure must adapt to support the new goals.

Why is a project organizational structure necessary?

Every organization must have a well-defined organizational structure in order to work efficiently and achieve its goals with fewer risks and obstacles.
In the modern market, organizations must be very competitive, efficient, and dynamic in order to survive and grow. Stakeholders become, in fact, more and more aware and demanding and want quick answers.
Therefore, in order to meet the needs of the client and survive in the market, each organization must build an organizational structure capable of best supporting its goals.

Types of project organizational structure

The organizational structure depends on many factors, such as the style of government, the style of leadership, the type of organization, the workflow, the hierarchy, etc.

The PMBOK orders organizational structures into eight types:

  • Organic or Simple Organization
  • Functional or Centralized Organization
  • Multi-divisional Organization
  • Matrix Organization – strong, weak or balanced
  • Project Oriented (composite or hybrid) Organization
  • Virtual OrganizationHybrid
  • PMO

There are actually many other classifications, but we prefer to report the official one, mentioned in the sixth edition of the PMBOK.

The table below shows better the functions and characteristics of each single type of organizational structure.

Organizational structure typology

Let’s see them now in more detail.

Organic or Simple Organization

This type of organizational structure is the simplest. Businesses composed of only one person are also included in this category.

In this type of organization also freelancers are included. Of course, the role of the project manager is partly covered by the owner or the professional, who personally manage the workflows.

Functional or Centralized Organization

This type of organizational structure is the most commonly used.

In a functional organizational structure, the organization is divided into various departments where people with similar skills gather together.

It is the classic configuration in which the staff is structured in areas and departments such as the sales department, marketing department, finance department, etc.

This structure is functional as it improves the efficiency of each working group.

Multi-divisional Organization

In an organization of this kind, you can have many functional divisions with a small centralization.
Most of the time these divisions are independent of each other.

Here, an organization is structured in various divisions in which people, with different skills, are held together according to a similar product, service or geographic location.

ach division has the resources necessary in order to work and can carry out the task autonomously.

Matrix Organization

A matrix organizational structure is a hybrid between the functional organization and the project oriented organization.

In a matrix organization, there can be two main structures: vertical and horizontal.

Here, an employee can be part of a functional group, but can also work on a project.

In turn, a matrix organization can be of three types:

  • A strong matrix
  • A weak matrix
  • A balanced matrix

Stronger organizations are closer to a project oriented organization and here the project manager has most of the authority and has a full-time team.

On the other hand, weak matrix organizations are closer to a functional structure. in this case, the project manager has low authority, no budget control, and often runs a part-time project team.

Instead, balanced matrix organizations unifies the properties of both previous types. Here, the project manager has a medium-low authority and a part-time team, while the budget is managed both directly by him and by the functional manager.

Project oriented (composite or hybrid) Organization

An organization of this type considers every job as a project. Here, the project manager has full authority to complete the project successfully, has a full-time role, budget control, and a full time team available.

A team-based organization is another name for a project oriented organization.

Virtual Organization

This structure is also known as virtual society. Here, the central organization is connected to external companies (such as vendors, customers, associates) with a network connection that allows to achieve business growth and profitability. This structure allows the organization to work as a unit.

In a virtual structure, the organization maintains its core business, while the rest of the processes are outsourced. Sometimes, this type of organization is also known as an empty organization.

Here, the project manager has a low-moderate authority and mixed power over the budget. The project team can be full or part-time depending on the situation.

Hybrid

In a hybrid organization, a combination of the above-mentioned structure types can be used.

Responsibility, authority, and other factors are also mixed depending on the structure.

PMO

The PMO is also a mixed type of organizational structure, but here the project manager has the highest authority, controls the budget, and has a team completely at his disposal.

The advantages of having an effective organizational structure

An organizational structure is a framework that helps an organization effectively manage its operations and achieve its goals with minimal effort.

This structure defines the relationship between the various departments and teams of the organization. Moreover, it helps organizations to delegate authority, power, and responsibility.

But the project organizational structure also defines how the employees relate to their superiors or to the Project Manager; therefore, it becomes somethings strategic for coordination and cooperation within the group members.

The main advantage of having an effective organizational structure is the reduction of friction and discussions among the employees since the roles, responsibilities, and reporting structure are very clear.

Having an appropriate organizational model can bring huge benefits to any organization. Some of these advantages are:

  • Allowing an organization to grow.
  • Keeping attention on strategic goals, instead of having each department focused and limited on its agenda.
  • Joining a group of people and directing them towards a common goal.
  • Allowing employees to improve their skills.
  • Making the decision-making process more efficient, smoother, and faster.
  • Facilitating employee specialization.
  • Allowing better control and use of resources.
  • Enabling easier and better communication, which helps reducing conflicts.
  • Allowing employees to behave better.
  • Helping employees to grow professionally, to make a career, and to simplify the inclusion of new colleagues.
  • Helping identifying roles and responsibilities in a clear and precise way.

Therefore, each organization needs an organizational structure, otherwise chaos would take the upper hand.

In short, an organizational structure is essential for the good functioning of a company. Each company should choose its organizational structure according to its specific needs and requirements, since this also depends on the achievement of the prefixed results.

Which project organizational structure have you adopted in your company? Are you satisfied with it?

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management office

The Project Management Office

When it comes to implementing a Project Management Office, a question arises: “Is another department really necessary?”.

In fact, if you are conducting multiple projects, a Project Management Office, or PMO, is practically necessary.

The advantages of a PMO are often ignored or underestimated, but having an office like this increases the chances of success of the project portfolio of an organization.

In general, there are many good reasons for introducing a Project Office, especially in larger organizations with a growing volume of projects and complexity.

But what is a Project Management Office?

The Project Management Office is born over 100 years ago and its function has evolved over time.

The PMO is a group or department within the organization, whose job is to define and maintain the standards for project management.

You can think of the PMO as the “regulatory commission” that seeks to standardize and introduce repeating models and structures in the execution of a project in order to maintain productivity.

It also offers a guide for the project and develops methods on the practice and execution of project management.

What exactly does a PMO do?

In general, a PMO keeps an overview of the projects, knows the company strategy and ensures that both go hand in hand.

However, the fields of application of a PMO vary widely from one company to another.

A unique area of activity does not exist, but there are different possibilities, for example:

  • Compile the project portfolio by classifying, selecting and prioritizing projects according to the company strategy and available resources, and preparing the decision-making process (portfolio management).
  • Plan resources at the portfolio level, optimize their use and resolve resource conflicts.
  • Keep employee data up-to-dated, especially in terms of capacity, project allocations and skills.
  • Standardize methods and processes in project management.
  • Select, implement, and instruct employees on tools and software.
  • Increase the transparency of current and planned projects through reliable and up-to-date project data.
  • Promote the flow of information and communication.
  • Create knowledge based on lessons learned and best practices from previous projects in order to avoid repetition errors.
  • Monitor the progress of the project and the dependencies that affect resources, budgets, and schedules.
  • Train and coach project managers and stakeholders.
  • Support the project managers and the project team from an administrative and operational point of view.

How does a PMO bring benefits to an organization?

Firstly, a PMO allows you to work within the boundaries of a long-term plan and thus be more efficient in decision making thanks to ist guidance.

Moreover, thanks to metrics-based evaluation, a PMO can help keep projects on track and alert when planning, budgets, and other problems are threatening the project. In this way, it is possible to act promptly when problems arise.

When working on different projects, the PMO has a deep understanding of the links and interdependencies between all the projects. This provides an overview of the whole work, which often is not part of the competence or capacity of a single project manager.

A PMO can also be a valid support for the management of communication with stakeholders as well as communication in general. In fact, this office has relationships and contacts with other parties with which a project manager may not be so “intimate”.

And these are just a few examples. The advantages are in fact much more numerous.

With a PMO, you can align multiple projects with your business goals.
Always with the help of a PMO, these projects can be implemented within the budget, using the available resources capacity.

This means that project costs decrease and fewer projects fail. As a consequence, everything is to improve customer satisfaction.

Of course, just setting up a PMO is not enough; in fact, you need valid resources, proven processes, and support technology to get the most out of it.

The success of a PMO is not always immediately visible or measurable. However, the medium to long-term benefit of high-functioning PMOs has been confirmed by many studies.

the project management office

When does an organization really need a Project Management office?

Before starting the implementation of a dedicated office, it is good to consider its real value.
In fact, it is good to define if and how this office can bring benefits to the organization.
The first thing to consider is the state of the art of the company: do the departments communicate with each other and work in harmony? Or do the they work in watertight compartments?

Obviously, in the second case, a PM office can be the ideal solution.

How to activate a Project Management Office in the organization?

After the definition of PMO and seeing the benefits it can bring to an organization, let’s now look at the steps in order to implement it.

The process is structured in three steps.

Step 1: Analysis of the situation

Everything starts with an analysis of the current situation of the organization.
The project management methods, processes, and tools are checked and signs of weakness are identified.

Therefore, a list of projects is created. This has to be informative, complete and updated in order to determine who is working on what.

Having this project documentation is of vital importance in order to then apply improvements to the system.

Step 2: Designing responsibilities and dynamics of the Area

Once the list of projects has been identified, it is necessary to establish the areas of responsibility, the hierarchical position and the powers of the PMO.

For example, is it a service unit that provides the necessary tools or is it set up for the training and support of project managers in order to ensure the quality of the project?

There are several areas that the PMO can cover, including:

  1. Training and coaching and participation in staff development.
  2. Operational support, organization of workshops or project controller.
  3. Analysis and management of methods and processes.
  4. Strategic project management office, responsible for the configuration and implementation of the project, the selection of projects, and their priority through cost-benefit analysis and other variables.

Whatever the area chosen, it is necessary not to overload the PMO right at the beginning.
We recommend limiting it to one or two areas of responsibility.

Step 3: Activate the PMO

Just like any other project, one proceeds step by step.

Once in operation, after activating the responsibilities of the internal staff, the department is ready to prove its validity.
The new PMO must convince all stakeholders of the benefits it brings and provides.

If the PMO is made up of the right people, there will be no doubt that this new department will be warmly welcomed by the organization.

And if the PMO is immediately equipped with a technological infrastructure, and a multiproject management software, the performance increases decisively.

What future for the PMO?

Today’s PMO may not be that of the next years.
In fact, some industry surveys indicate a decline in these areas of the company in the coming years, in favor of new digital teams (link a https://twproject.com/it/blog/gestire-un-team-di-lavoro/) . This will require adjustments to new practices, also depending on the evolution of the workforce and teams.

Do you also have this vision? Tell us about it, we would like to imagine the PMO of the future together!

Read more about Twproject bootcamps.

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project for no-profit

Managing a no-profit project

The participation of non-profit organizations in the growth of the industrial sector and in Western societies services has increased considerably in recent years.

Some of the social and economic issues arising in the context of sustainable development have already been experienced by this specific type of organizations.

However, in the field of Project Management, the scientific literature focused on project management in non-profit organizations seems to be poor.

In fact, it is difficult to find data and analysis factors on project management practices in the non-profit sector.

At the same time, it is true that, for the vast majority of these organizations, projects seem to be the fundamental way to develop its business.

Although project management principles, best practices and standards are applicable to a wide range of projects, there are differences between profit and non-profit projects.

Companies and organizations must therefore adapt these elements to their projects and to their specific sector.

Let’s see today how to manage a non-profit project.

 

What exactly are non-profit organizations

The term “non-profit organization, entity or association” is a word that is part of the language we use every day.

This type of organizations are part of the Third Sector, and have the peculiarity of having solidaristic goals and try to reach their mission without profit. Basically, they fill the gaps of a State that is not always able to provide the right social support or the right contribution to cultural welfare, etc. …

In Italy, non-profit companies have increased exponentially in recent years, leading to a real reform of the third sector.

The latest ISTAT Report presented in December 2017 about 340,000 non-profit institutions, over 5 million volunteers, and 788 thousand employees.

Differences between non-profit project and profit projects
Is the management of the non-profit project different?

It is not that the management of the non-profit project is different from the management of the for-profit project, but it is the organizational context which is extremely different.

Project management in non-profit organizations differs in some respects. Let’s see where.

First of all, most of the activities are carried out by volunteers. This aspect, therefore, puts the project leader in front of new and different challenges regarding the management of human resources. Moreover, hierarchies tend to be less structured, forcing project managers to rely much more on influence and leadership.

Although strategic planning, governance, processes and key performance indicators are adopted by structured and mature nonprofit organizations, the situation is changing. Indeed, the reality is different for a large number of organizations that have a negative impact on the portfolio and have to do with managing projects with changing priorities.

Even the life cycles of the budget and the management of finances change. They are usually less predictable because non-profit organizations depend on donations and grants. Restricted funds, restrictions and legal regulations place an additional level of complexity in the management of the project. Funding, grants or donations, acquiring project teams (ie volunteers) are just a few examples of real needs.

Moreover, in non-profit organizations, stakeholder management is even more important and critical. This is because non-profit organizations often interface with governments, private companies, regulatory agencies, communities and more.

Similarities between a non-profit project and a profit project

There are also obviously some similarities in project management for a traditional organization and a non-profit organization.

In fact, both types of projects require a plan that identifies the goals, defines the purpose, assigns tasks and has measurable result criteria.

Projects require a program with activity details, dependencies, assignments and periodic reviews, as the ultimate result is to achieve the organization’s strategic goals.

In any case, the PMs of both sectors have to deal with the acquisition of resources and their management.

The real cost of the project is fundamental in the analysis and could be the decisive criterion in an evaluation.

Managing a non-profit project is as challenging as a profit project. This is why it becomes essential to activate Project Management Tools for planning, tracking costs and managing time and resources.

Effective communication with key stakeholders is essential.

Risks must be identified and managed.

On which aspects should you particularly focus when managing a non-profit project?

the project for no-profit

The project manager in a non-profit organization must pay particular attention to the following elements:

  • Identification of project stakeholders
  • In-depth stakeholders anlaysis and identification of those with major influence on the project
  • Produce a Work Breakdown Structure
  • Select project team members based on the skills needed and structure a training plan for the resources that need training
  • Empower team members and stakeholders, if necessary, by building a responsibility assignment matrix
  • Define the Gantt chart of the project in order to keep an eye on the contribution of each resource
  • Communicate the method by which the monitoring and control of the project and its activities will be carried out
  • Organize a kick-off meeting at the beginning of each project in which all the information previously cited will be exposed and in which any doubts or objections will be answered

In conclusion, we can therefore say that non-profit organizations have similar characteristics to traditional organizations. At the same time, they present very different goals that inevitably influence how projects are managed.

In NGOs projects exist and are often the basis of their daily work and their future development.

In some cases, however, these types of organizations are so focused on their mission that they do not sufficiently care for their internal processes.

On the other hand, sometimes they concentrate so much on the financial aspects necessary for their survival that they forget the original goal and mission.

Therefore, there are still many steps to be taken in order to create an adequate culture concerning the management of projects in non-profit organizations.

We believe in a structured reality. A reality in which even non-profit organizations can always have their original mission in mind, while at the same time structuring themselves internally.

To manage complex projects, a project management software becomes essential.

For this reason, we have activated a discounted license policy dedicated to non-profit organizations.
Many are the no-profit companies who have already chosen us, and who perform their projects.

If you are part of a small non-profit organization that basically does not have an IT budget, write us; you could ask for a discounted license.

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

identify strategy

How to identify the best performing Project Management strategy

Choosing the right Project Management strategy is essential and is the first step towards the success of the project.

The Project Managers know this and for this reason, they are always looking for the most effective and efficient way to manage a project, reducing its risks.

The task, however, is not simple: especially if we consider that the strategic approaches upstream determine the development of the project.

Therefore, a project manager must have a depth understanding of how each project management strategy can create – or not – a great positive impact.

With so many different and valid project management methodologies, how is it possible to identify the best project management strategy?

In this article, we want to list the most popular project management strategies and suggest some useful parameters that can guide the choice.

A series of indications that, we hope, can be useful in choosing the ideal solution for a specific project and a specific organization.

The most popular project management strategies

Waterfall Method

Since years, it is one of the most used strategies.
It has a sequential nature and it includes:

  • Static phases
  • requirements analysis
  • design
  • test
  • implementation
  • maintenance

All performed neatly.

This strategy focuses very much on the planning phase, thus increasing the possibility of collecting all the project requirements.

Its negative point is stiffness: it certainly allows greater control during each phase, but in case of changes or unforeseen circumstances, this methodology is not very effective.

Agile Method

this strategy has been developed for projects that require great flexibility and speed.
We are therefore completely in the opposite direction with respect to the Waterfall Method – and it is used above all in the software development sector.

The Agile method is structured in short delivery cycles, called “sprint”.
Furthermore, it is a very interactive methodology that allows rapid changes during the course of a project.

In summary, the Agile method includes repeatable processes, a reduction of risks immediate feedback, rapid response times and a smaller complexity.

Hybrid method

Waterfall method and Agile method are not the best? No fear! The advantages of the two strategies are merged in the so-called hybrid method.
Here, the planning, analysis and requirements gathering phase follow the Waterfall approach, while the design, development, implementation and evaluation follow the Agile methodology.

Critical Path Method

this method, also called CPM, is a strategy used for projects with interdependent activities and tasks.
In particular, it provides a list of activities and uses a job allocation structure or WBS with timing, dependencies, milestones and final results.
In addition, it highlights the critical activities by calculating the “longer” time on the critical path.

Critical Chain Project Method

This method, also called CCPM, differs from the previous strategy, because it focuses on the use of resources within a project rather than on activities.
The activities are performed by the resources actually available and if these are necessary for different tasks, priority is given to critical activities.

Six Sigma Method

This strategy was developed by the company Motorola in order to eliminate waste and improve processes and profits.
Six Sigma is based on three key components: DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control), DMADV (define, measure, analyze, design, verify) and DFSS (Design for Six Sigma). The last one, DFSS, can include the previous options, as well as others, like for example IDOV (identify, design, optimize, verify).

Scrum Method

The term is taken from the sports world, particularly from rugby.

This strategy is very similar to the Agile methodology; here the so-called “scrum sessions” or “30-day sprint” are organized in order to work on the priority activities. A supervisor replaces the project manager and coordinates the work of small teams that dedicate themselves to specific activities.

In addition to the methods listed there are also many others, more or less popular, more or less used.

It is important to underline that there is no single and univocal solution for all projects, even within the same organization.

Moreover, even the experience of a project manager who knows the pros and cons of each methodology is a factor that leads to choosing one or another strategy.

How to evaluate project management strategies

identify the strategy

The process that allows to evaluate and choose the right project management strategy is very complex and requires a considerable investment of time, but it is certainly worth it.

The Project Management Institute – PMI has developed an internationally recognized procedure called the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model or OPM3.

This tool helps organizations identify, measure and improve project management capabilities and process standardization.

It also helps consolidating the achievements of a successful project, identifying best practices and improving the link between strategic planning and operation.

In general, when evaluating the best project management strategy, the following elements must be evaluated:

  • Strategic organizational goals and fundamental values
  • Business key drivers
  • Constraints
  • Stakeholders
  • Risks
  • Complexity
  • Project size and cost

Once the previous evaluation criteria are considered, it is necessary to develop a process to identify the best strategy for the project.

Here are some basic steps:

  • Evaluate project goals and determine project drivers
  • Identify and compare the available / possible methodologies for the project
  • Consider which methodology best suits the project, ie the one that supposedly will generate the best results and with less risk
  • Implement the chosen methodology
  • Monitor and modify according to the necessity and the evolution of the project

To conclude, we can only underline that every project management strategy does not uniquely suit any type of project or sector.

Moreover, it is unlikely that the same methodology will work in the same organization for all projects.

A good method is therefore to develop a methodological evaluation process, that is a MAP – Methodology Assessment Process.

However, take into consideration that this same process may also need to be modified if the general goals of the organization change.

Manage your best strategies with Twproject

project tools

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOL – 10 key aspects to make the right choice

There are so many tools for managing projects everywhere!

Each with its characteristics, suitable to meet different needs.

In this article, we want to point out those that (for us) are the key aspects, or at least factors to consider, when choosing a project management tool in the company.

But first of all, here is a statement.

The Project Manager does not have an easy task.

Structuring an entire project, from its birth to its conclusion, assessing potential risks, choosing the right team communicate with stakeholders in a clear and timely manner , and face the unexpected … it’s not easy at all.

In order to organize all these variable phases in a single coherent plan, certain skills are not enough  ( essential for this activity); there is also a need for a high-performance project management tool.

Why choose a project management tool

When working on a project – of any size – there are four main elements that must work together:

1. Scope: basically, it refers to the dimensions, goals and requirements of the project.

It is the connection between the goals that have to be achieved and the budget allocated in order to reach them.

Scope changes are the most demanding and it is imperative, in these cases, a reflection and a review of the project that involves all stakeholders.

2. Resources. It has three aspects: people, materials and equipment.

First of all, it is important to ensure that the right number of people is employed in a project and that they have the appropriate skills and knowledge to complete the assigned tasks.

Next, you need to get the right materials and equipment, in the right location and at the right time, essential for the team in order to operate efficiently.

3. Time. When doing a project, time management is a crucial aspect.

Each activity must be listed, programmed with a pre-established duration and deadline and allocated with the right resources.

4. Budget. All activities have a certain cost that must be estimated and added up.

It becomes clear that at any level the use of a project management software can make the difference.

This need begins to be perceived in different sectors; in fact, excluding the traditional ones in which project management was born, even new types of companies start to use this tool.

What key aspects to look at when choosing a project management software

Each software has its own characteristics and is different from the other …. So ours ☺

Let’s see together what are the key functions that a project management software must have considering the new market trends and scenarios.

1. To-Do-Lists

Regardless of whether they are structured with numbered or bulleted lists, colors, markings, etc. to-do lists are optimal ways to organize information.

That’s why people love them … and even project managers.

The simple list of things to do remains a cornerstone of project management.

The easiest way to measure your productivity is to look at the to-do list in the morning and check at the end of the day whether all the tasks have been completed or if there are open points left.

Although many project management tools include to-do lists, not all of them give the right connotation to them.

Instead, it is essential to simplify the creation and management of activities, but also the sharing of lists of activities and to do lists with colleagues.

We are aware of this, therefore, in Twproject we have created a system that leaves freedom of management.
With Twproject, in fact, it is possible to switch from activity lists to Kanban cards to views on calendar – always for the same project.
This allows team members to view their activities in the way they most prefer.

the project management tool

2. Workflow

Workflow tools help keep track of activities and projects as they move through various stages of the process.

These products often use a Kanban card and boards as a framework for showing jobs in progress.

Like the to-do list, even a workflow management tool is not that complex, but it is an invaluable help for a project.

Therefore, when choosing the best tool to successfully run projects, it is good to choose one that is complete.

The suggestion, therefore, is to identify the software that offers a large amount of functionality when considering the cards, such as:

  • design boards as a framework for any type of process
  • attach file
  • comment
  • assign team members
  • etc.

Even the start of the project should be simplified: to start a new project, it should be enough to create a new board. It should take just one minute.

3. Gantt chart

Designed by mechanical engineer Henry Gantt in 1910, the Gantt chart has had a relatively long run as a project management tool.

A Gantt chart uses horizontal bars to illustrate the completion dates of the project, from start to end, progress and milestones.

While a Kanban card is best used at a single task level, Gantt charts are better for the overall view of the project and its flow.

There are several valid tools that use the Gantt chart, including, of course, ours too!
In particular, we wanted to push ourselves towards an innovative solution.

Our software balances advanced project management functionality with a very simple interface.

project management tool

4. Time monitoring

If you work in direct contact with customers, time monitoring and invoicing are two necessary features that the project management system must have.

For this, it is essential to find a software that presents a time tracker. So, whenever you want to time a specific task, it is sufficient to start the clock in order to keep track of every second.

In order to monitor the time, it is essential that the chosen project management tool also offers the possibility to manually enter the time related to the activities.

It is important to guarantee the traceability of time spent.
Over the years, we have found that the whole project team is benefiting from this functionality.

Surely the project manager will be able to:

  • Keep track of the work done at any time of the day;
  • Consult and assign the timing to each activity at the end of the working day.

In TWproject it is also possible to manage several projects simultaneously and display them in different ways, depending on the analysis required.

5. Collaboration

Improving collaboration between teams and in the team is an evergreen goal for every type of organization.

It is now clear that e-mail are not a reliable and effective collaboration tool and in most cases do not help to improve team alignment.

As a result, some project management tools focused on the collaboration aspect in the group.

In order to guarantee the best opportunity to collaborate with colleagues or customers, the chosen software must have:

  • Message boards
  • A chat
  • The possibility to share files / documents.

Therefore, we suggest that you choose a tool that focuses on business collaboration, and that is perfect for heterogeneous teams.

Combining project management, communication, digital asset management and basic payment tools in one software, becomes fundamental given the alternation of the size of projects in companies.

6. Management of the project budget

Defining a project budget, implementing it and monitoring it in real time are key steps to keep project performance high.

Therefore, when choosing a project management tool, it is important to pay particular attention to the allocation of costs.

In TWproject, we have chosen to give the Project Managers the tools related to costs, and at the same time to give the possibility to split them on different fields.
Thus, it is possible to manage both the costs generated by the work and the additional costs.

The costs, then, are tracked by all the tasks, therefore, from the root of the project it is easy to have an overview of the total costs as a whole or for a single branch.

7. Customization

The software must be a support tool for the Project Manager, it should facilitate the activity and help complete the project successfully.

Therefore, the tool must be able to adapt to the project, and not vice versa, by creating:

  • custom fields and forms
  • custom reports
  • custom advanced analysis

Twproject allows multi-level customizations.

8. Integration

In an interconnected society, work must also maintain the same standard.
In evaluating a project management software, it is important to analyze what evolutions and connections the software allows.
This means projecting the choice from a strategic point of view. If the software integrates with the major corporate CRMs or ERPs, the current investment can also be considered from a perspective point of view.

9. Remote feasible, even on ios and android

With the new ways of remote work, first of all the smart working, there should be the opportunity to work on different platforms by connecting also with a tablet or an Ipad.
Therefore, when selecting a project management software, it is important to evaluate that the software is able to perform on systems such as ios and android.

10. Language and assistance

When choosing a project management software, it is important to look at the language in which the software is available.
This is because the software must be used by the entire team and often the language can be a brake.
It is possible to create a winning project if all the team members find the tool easy to use, and the language is one of the elements that contributes to the usability of the software.

Finally, we want to underline the importance of technical assistance. Too many times this aspect is neglected. But when working with projects, timeliness is essential … together with the language.

 

Whether you are managing large, complex projects or simply trying to create a process for your daily work, life will be much easier if you choose to use a project management tool.

This, of course, is our point of view!
And what’s yours? Which project management tool do you use in everyday life?
Tell us which features are essential for you.

 

Twproject is the right tool

project costs management

Project cost management: what is it and how to implement it

Project cost management is an evergreen feature in all projects: big or small, from IT to construction. In fact, all projects require the purchase of any type of material or service.

Regardless of the scope or the program, projects need funds to complete the work.

Technically, even projects that use only manpower needfunds. Someone in fact is paying for that job.

Project cost management concerns the process of planning and controlling the budget of a project or company.

Without project cost management, the organization could lose its revenue as costs could outweigh profits.

The activities of Project COST management

Project cost management includes activities such as:

  • planning;
  • estimation;
  • budgeting;
  • funding;
  • management and control of costs.

so that the project can be completed within the approved budget limits.

Cost management covers the entire life cycle of a project, from the initial planning stage to the measurement of actual cost performance and project completion.

What is the process of project cost management?

Cost management is a way of managing the cost of the project and takes place in four phases, called the planning phase:

1) Resource Planning

In the initial phase of a project, it is necessary to define the resources necessary to complete the project activities (project team).

Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) and historical information of similar projects can be used in order to define which physical resources (and not) are needed. It is possible to think about time, material, work, equipment, etc.

Once all types of resources and quantities are known, the estimation of the associated costs can be determined.

2) Cost estimation

Several cost estimation methods can be applied in order to predict how much it will cost to perform project activities.

The choice of the estimation method depends on the level of information available.

Estimates based on the actual cost of similar prior projects can serve as a basis in order to estimate the current project.

Another option is to use parametric models in which the characteristics of the project are represented mathematically.

Estimates can be refined when more information becomes available during a project.

At the end, this translates into an estimate of unit costs with high accuracy.

3) Budgeting – (cost budgeting)

Cost estimation forms, together with a project plan, the input for the cost budget.

The budget gives an overview of the periodic and total costs of the project.

Cost estimates define the cost of each work package or activity, while the budget allocates costs in the period when the cost will be incurred.

A cost baseline is a budget approved that is used as a starting point for measuring actual performance progress.

4) Project cost control

the project costs management

Cost control concerns

  • changes in the baseline measurement of costs
  • the adoption of effective corrective actions in order to stay at a minimum cost.

The procedures are applied to monitor expenses and performance against the progress of a project.

All changes to the baseline of costs must be recorded and the final total costs expected are constantly forecast.

When actual cost information becomes available, an important part of cost control is to explain what is causing the change from the baseline.

Based on this analysis, corrective actions may be needed in order to avoid cost overruns.

Suggestions for a correct management of the project cost

  • Take inflation into consideration: the price is not fixed forever and, therefore, any good budget should take it into account.
  • Considering hypothetical natural disasters or potential events: expecting the unexpected may seem silly, but it is necessary to have a budgetary buffer for a meteorological event, a personal problem, or some other unknown factors that could delay the project.
  • Other unexpected costs: not all unexpected costs are random. Thanks to a structured risk management activity, it is at least possible to define the risk values according to the project. There may be legal problems, penalties associated with the project or unforeseen labor costs, for which it is not possible to provide a specific budget, but it is possible to prepare a buffer.
  • Real time tracking: having software that allows to monitor the budget during project execution is essential for cost management. If we analyze data that is not current, it will be difficult to act quickly enough to solve the problems.
  • Respond promptly: regardless of how a discrepancy exists in the cost of the project, it is necessary to act immediately. The longer you wait, the more money will be wasted.
  • Dimension: Some people think that smaller projects do not need project cost management. Small or big, in every project you have to manage costs.

To better manage the costs of the project, it is necessary to know the project inside and out, in all its details.

Project managers are in a difficult situation; in fact, they are the link between the customer and the project team that will complete the client’s project.

In most organizations, it is generally easier to get “more time” than “more money”, and there is usually more concern about how much it is spent rather than how much time is needed to complete a project.

Project managers and their stakeholders must enter any project with a common goal: to identify an accessible area and a plan on how to achieve it.

Too often, the cost is ignored in the project planning. But someone will eventually have to pay the bill, so why not make everything more organized and peaceful?

Therefore, it can not be ignored that cost management is essential for the success of the project. It can not be ignored that for an effective monitoring and if you want to intervene promptly in the management of costs, it becomes essential to have a project management software that tracks data in real time, such as TWproject.

Try Twproject for project cost management

One try is worth a million words.
the project crashing

When to use Crashing in project management

Crashing in project management aims to shorten the duration of the entire project by reducing one or more activities during the life cycle.

In concrete, less time can be spent on completing the project, but doing so requires additional investment.

Precisely for the greater cost that it represents, the crashing of a project is used only in emergency situations. The decision should then take place only after carefully analyzing all the possible alternatives.

The goal is obviously to obtain the maximum reduction in project completion time with the minimum additional cost.

Project crashing is an advanced project management technique that involves adding the appropriate amount of qualified resources to the activities being taken into account. It will inevitably have a direct impact on two of the three constraints, ie. planning and costs.

Crashing accelerates delivery and increases spending; however, it will have no effect on the scope of the project.

If it is not possible to add resources to critical activities, it is not recommended to implement the project crashing.

 

What methods can be used for project crashing?

There are several methods of crashing a project. Clearly, the modality to be chosen will be the one that allows to speed up the end of the project at the lowest possible cost.

So let’s see the two methodologies in detail:

Method 1: Increase the number of resources

This is the most commonly used method and involves increasing the number of resources dedicated to certain critical activities.

This essentially means reducing the time needed to carry out individual activities by increasing the number of people working on them.

For example, if Luca takes 4 hours to complete an activity, by logic Luca and Martina will take 2 hours each to complete that same activity.
However, adding resources is not always the best solution. In fact, it is sometimes the cause of long-term loss of time. We need therefore to consider the following:

  • New resources may not be familiar with the tasks to be performed, so they will probably be less productive than current team members.
  • New members will most likely have to be teamed up and led by the most productive members of the team, who could instead dedicate their time completely to the task and get it done more quickly.
  • Being available does not mean being qualified. Sometimes the extra resources are qualified yes, but tangentially with respect to the activity, and even if the new resources have the right skills, they may not be of the same quality as the current team members.
  • On the contrary, if new resources are over-qualified, conflicts may occur within the team.

For these reasons, if the insertion of new resources proves to be too problematic, there is a second technique that allows the crashing of a project.

Method 2: Fast Tracking

This methodology consists of overlapping activities that were initially programmed in sequence. These activities will therefore take place in parallel, rather than one after the other.

Of course, the application of this technique requires a prior analysis of the feasibility and potential risks.

Other valid alternatives can be:

  • divide longer activities into smaller blocks in order to concentrate more work in a shorter period of time;
  • reduce latency times between one activity and another;
  • review the scope of the project in order to eliminate the tasks considered less important.

Sometimes the best method can even be a combination of the various techniques.

For example, in addition to adding new resources, you can reprogram the project in order to work on multiple items at once rather than sequentially.

For each circumstance and specific project, it is therefore necessary to carefully evaluate the methodology to be implemented because there is no universal approach valid for all situations.

project crashing

The 6 valid reasons for choosing Project crashing

Project crashing is hard work and is not recommended in many cases. Now let’s see the 6 valid reasons to opt for the crashing of a project as a correct solution:

1. Get the most compression on the duration of a project

The main reason for which project crashing is chosen is precisely to speed up its conclusion.

If the end date of the project needs to be anticipated, the crashing allows you to get the most compression of the planning with the least impact and the lowest cost.

2. When the project has a fixed final date

During the projects, changes are inevitable and may cause a delay in the project plan. When dealing with projects with fixed end dates, this can be a problem.

What can be done when the necessary and obligatory changes to a project cause the postponement of its delivery date?

In this case you have two possibilities: tell the project sponsor that you can not respect the end date and that it must be changed or try to recover the time through project crashing.

The decision to opt for project crashing or not, will depend largely on the relationship with the project sponsor and on how urgent the end date is.

3. When there is a delay

The delays that occur at the beginning and during a project inevitably have an impact on subsequent jobs and on the final delivery date.

In these cases, project crashing can be considered as a way of trying to recover some of the lost time.

4. When the team is involved in other activities

The project may not be the most important thing that is happening within the organization at a given time.

The team, or some members of it, may therefore be needed for other more important projects.

Project crashing is, in this case, a way to free some resources more quickly, so that these are available for other activities or projects.

5. When there are more resources available

Sometimes the opposite can happen from the previous point, ie more resources suddenly become available.

In this case there can be two situations:

  • The resource is added and one or more activities are completed more quickly;
    or
  • The resource is added but this takes a long time to reach the level of the other team members. In this case, it is more the time invested than the one saved.

Here, the crashing of a project helps to deal with these situations.

6. When a resource needs training

Finally, another situation is one in which a resource is not contributing effectively to the project because it simply does not have the appropriate or updated skills.

Therefore, if the resource is committed to follow a training course, it will obviously not be available to work on the project during that period.

If there are no other resources that can do the work, this will mean postponing the delivery dates of these specific activities.

Hence the crashing of a project offers more flexibility in these cases. For example, the resources could do the job before starting the training or it is possible to accelerate the time when they will return at work.

 

In conclusion, the business and its environment are today more complex than ever, so project managers must become more rational in making decisions using the most effective tools and techniques.

Before deciding to use project crashing, make sure you have examined all the possible options and have carefully evaluated the cost analysis models. This way you can get the best results for every effort.

Try Twproject for your cost analysis

the project claims

How to handle project complaints with negotiation

Complaints during the realization of a project are almost inevitable. Of course, you can aim for full success, but also knowing how to handle complaints is an important quality for a Project Manager.

The organization requires a consistent methodology of activities aimed at planning costs, resources and the project in general. All with one goal: to satisfy the customer.

For the success of any project, the project manager should provide effective, timely and accurate information for each function in the project life cycle.

A skilled management of the project brings consistency and results while minimizing customer complaints.

However, during a project, situations may arise in which complaints emerge because of misunderstandings or insolvencies with respect to the requirements of the project.

Claims management in the projects not only concerns the relationship with the end customer, but also the relationship with third parties, such as suppliers.

Usually the greatest risk comes when the products of a project are delivered and when they do not meet the requirements that may not have been registered or may have been misunderstood.

The project planning activity, especially the analysis of the requirements, serves exactly to avoid this unpleasant situation.

It is therefore important that sufficient time is devoted to gathering the needs, goals and needs of the stakeholders of the project and the end customer.

But when the complaint – unfortunately – arrives, we must try to manage it in the best way. Let’s see, then, what are the basic steps to manage it with negotiation.

Make sure you understand the concerns of customers or stakeholders

  • Evaluate if you are the best person who can take care of their concerns. If necessary, the opportunity to speak with the superiors can be offered.
  • Let the person speak in order to make sure he has the opportunity to fully explain his concerns and desires.
  • Try not to interrupt or discuss.
  • Take notes, if possible, while you are talking or write a summary immediately after the meeting.

Demonstrate that you take customer or stakeholder concerns seriously

It is not enough to be active, but you have to let them know that you have taken charge of their request.

At this point, it may be necessary to say that the problem should be further examined and offer to call them, preferably at an agreed time.

This can also be a useful strategy because it gives the “complaining” person time for reflection. It also gives the project manager the opportunity to meditate on what actually happened and to discuss the best way to respond to the complaint.

Investigate what happened

If you think the complaint is justified, you need to understand why the project caused this foul. This will reduce the likelihood of the same problem happening in the future.

Here are some questions that project management should ask in these cases:

  • Is the complaint concerned with the conduct or behavior of a team member?
  • Is the complainant dissatisfied with something that has been agreed as part of the protocol?
  • Is there anything that can or should be changed in procedures or work practices following this incident?

Respond to a customer or stakeholder’s complaint

Do not be afraid to apologize, even if you do not agree with the complaint.

It is important to take the time to talk with customers or stakeholders or anyone who has made the complaint, in order to explain what has been done or what will be done in response.

It is also important to write what is said and what is agreed upon at this stage, in order to avoid further future problems.

It is essential to show that the complaint has been taken seriously, even if it is not believed that there is something that can change as a result of the complaint.

project claims

Prevention actions

Time Management

Project management is essentially a problem-solving methodology that ensures the timely and efficient delivery of the product or service with the aim of keeping the customer satisfied.

If you promise the customer that a project or product will be completed within a certain day, there are time constraints.

It is therefore necessary to honor the word or there would be the risk to damage the reputation of the project management and / or organization.

Project management includes the activities, processes and follow-up necessary to ensure the completion of the project, thus reducing customer complaints about missed deadlines.

Budget and resource management

Cost is usually of primary importance for customers and for the business. If the customer expects a price and receives another, complaints will for sure arise.

Cost and resource management ensures that work is completed in compliance with the approved budget and with the most effective use of resources.

An effective project management capability is therefore crucial to keep an eye on the issues that can cause a budget to escape control.

Scope management

Scope Management ensures that the project includes all the activities necessary in order to complete it.

“Scope creep” is the term for unapproved changes that affect the success of the project.

If the project manager does not provide for changes to the processes that control the work, customer complaints can increase.

Customer acceptance

Projects are generally completed when the customer approves the item or service provided, signs the work order and officially accepts the property.

Customer satisfaction surveys are precious; one should always and continuously ask the client to evaluate the performance, so knowing what is important to him.

Feedback received through this process can help reduce future complaints.

Surely it is always better to prevent complaints than to find yourself having to manage one or, even worse, many.

An important aspect is therefore that of carefully filing all the project documents that are produced and received. Here is a list of the key documents to keep track of:

  • Customer-supplier contracts
  • Subcontracting contracts
  • Project documentation
  • Drawings and maps used during the project
  • Delivery notes
  • Acceptance reports of project products
  • Tax documents such as invoices and receipts
  • Summary of meetings
  • Important correspondence regarding the project
  • Work progress report.

Having all these project documents in hand, it will be possible to set up a correct strategy in order to respond to the complaint.

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project procurement management

Project procurement management: how to manage project procurement

Let’s talk about project procurement management in this article. This is not because we want to talk about psychology or counseling, but because we are interested in practical aspects, useful for the project.

Projects are not carried out in isolation by the project manager and his team. In fact, most of these require other resources to be able to achieve the defined goals.

Most project management discussions and articles focus on the necessary processes and knowledge, which are certainly important, but insinuate the idea that a project manager and the team can do everything.

This is not true. It is essential to know when you need help and how to get it.

What is Project Procurement Management?

This is a collaboration with external suppliers in order to obtain or purchase goods and services for one or more projects.

These relationships are often created on the basis of a contract. This is to ensure that the necessary goods or services are received on time and meet the standards required by the purchasing company.

The purpose of Project Procurement Management is to establish and maintain relationships with suppliers of goods and services throughout the project life cycle.

This unique function is an essential part of project management and concerns the supervision of a series of temporary operations.

Procurement, in terms of project management, is necessary when purchasing, renting or contracting with the outside in order to achieve the project goal. These relationships, like any process within the project, need management.

Project procurement management is divided into four processes that we see below.

Procurement management planning

Purchases must be identified already during the first planning phase of the project.

In this phase, it is evaluated which objects will be produced or obtained internally and which will instead be produced from the outside.

This information, in turn, will affect the budget and the financial scope of the project.

For each external contractor, there must be a work declaration that serves as a document that delineates exactly what has been contracted.

These statements function as guidance documents through the project. The more specific they are, the better. This avoids confusion later and helps develop more accurate plans.

This process is collected in the procurement management plan which includes requirements documents, risk log, project planning, cost estimates and more.

To guide these decisions, there are tools and techniques, such as the “Make or Buy” or “Lease or Buy” analysis, which help to determine if the activity needs an external supplier or can be carried out internally.

In the case of “Make or Buy” it is a question of buying a resource, while in the case of “Lease or Buy”, we are talking about renting, for a determined period of time, a specific type of resource, generally machinery.

Here are three fundamental questions that the project manager must ask himself:

  • How much does it cost to build the resource instead of buying it?
  • How will this decision affect the scope of the project?
  • How will this decision affect the project’s program?

The execution of procurement management

After completing the documents of the first phase, we move on to the execution phase in which we study the offers received and determine which one to accept.

The comparison is made between advantages, disadvantages, and contractual offers of the various suppliers.

Before deciding, however, a criterion should be based in order to decide which is the best offer for the project. Generally, this offer will not be based solely on price.

It also does not hurt to seek expert advice in certain areas and departments.

A necessary phase will then be the negotiation in order to satisfy the needs of the contractor and the seller.

Proposals are carefully evaluated and, if satisfactory offers are not available, the project management team will solicit new bidders.

The control of procurement management

the project procurement management

Once the contracts are signed, the management of these contractors must be integrated into the general management responsibilities.

Contractors can have a negative impact on budgets and programs, so regular status updates are required to review contract agreements. You will have to get updates on the progress of the work and evaluate the performance. In essence, it must be ensured that contractors meet the requirements set out in their contracts.

Although they hire contractors because they believe they are experts in what they do, they still need to regularly monitor their work. Monitoring is essential in order to ensure that this is proceeding as intended.

A centralized system for monitoring and controlling contract changes will be used. It will be essential to evaluate and determine if any changes to contracts are necessary.

There will be formal physical inspections, internal audits and reviews of procurement operations in order to generate reports on performance that provide real-time feedback.

Monitoring the performance of the supplier is as important to the overall project results as the work done by the project team.

The conclusion of procurement management

Just as there is a process to start procurement management, there is also a process to finalize it.

What is expected at the end of the job should be detailed in the initial agreement with the contractor. There should be no confusion between the parties regarding the final product or service.

The closure process does not only concern the conclusion of supply contracts, it also includes the detection of any weaknesses, the documentation of successful processes, and the summary of the project for future needs.

The documentation is important for future projects that may involve completely different teams.

During the closing process, negotiations may be necessary to resolve contractual disputes.

Ideally, however, during the administration and control process, potential problems may be noted in order to begin the mediation process in advance.

The regular check, explained in the previous point, contributes in fact to reach the goal without receiving unpleasant surprises at the end.

Suggestions for optimal procurement management

Each organization develops its own internal policies and procedures when it comes to projects and tenders; however, these purchasing management tips can be applied to all companies:

  • Develop a clear understanding of all goals
  • Focus on suppliers’ capabilities and how their solutions will help achieve goals and tackle obstacles;
  • Resist the temptation to evaluate final decisions based solely on cost;
  • Ensure that solutions are not only short-term, unless this is the main goal. Sustainability and future support are always factors to consider.

When we talk about procurement management, there are standard features and functions. For example, most companies prefer to use fewer suppliers and establish long-term relationships, rather than turning to numerous suppliers every time and therefore activating a “price war”.

Establishing and consolidating relationships with suppliers is important because it allows various partners and shareholders to work closely on improvement and coordination activities, for the benefit of the project as a whole.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

the critical path method

Governing critical project paths without being overwhelmed

Managing critical project paths is a challenge for all project managers. In fact, in every project, you can have hundreds of tasks with dozens of dependencies and interdependencies.

Although all useful, not all tasks will have a decisive impact on the project. Therefore, it can become very difficult to identify the most important tasks, those that, if not considered adequately, will have an impact on the whole project.

In other words, let’s talk about the tasks you really need to worry about (and that will therefore be part of critical paths) in order to make sure you meet deadlines and critical tasks and activities.

The critical path method is a project management technique created in the 50s, which allows us to identify the important tasks and to keep the project on track.

Starting from hand-drawn diagrams and evolving to automated software, the critical path method has become an essential part of a project planning.

The critical path method, also called CPM, is a project management technique for process planning. It defines critical activities, and not, with the aim of preventing problems during the entire life cycle of the project.

The CPM is ideal for projects consisting of many activities that interact with each other in a complex way.

In applying the CPM, there are several steps that can be summarized as follows:

  • Define the required tasks and enter them in a sorted, sequential list.
  • Create a flowchart or another diagram that shows each activity in relation to the others.
  • Identify critical and non-critical relationships and paths between activities.
  • Determine expected completion or execution time for each activity.
  • Identify or process alternatives for the most critical routes.

What is the CPM method?

The concept of CPM is quite simple and can best be illustrated with a project graph.

The graph of the project is useful as a means to represent, visually and clearly, the whole interrelations and dependencies.

First of all, every work necessary for the completion of a project is listed with a unique symbol, such as a letter or number, the time needed to complete the task and its prerequisites.

For convenience, in the graphical representation and as a control of certain types of errors in the data, the activities can be represented only when all the previous ones have been listed. In concrete, work A precedes B, B precedes C and C precedes A.

Each activity is drawn on the chart as a circle, with its identification symbol and time, which appears inside the circle.

Sequence relations are indicated by arrows that connect each circle / activity with those immediately following, with the arrows pointing to the latter.

For convenience, all circles / activities without predecessors are connected to a circle marked as “Start”; while all the circles / activities without successors are connected to a circle marked as “End”.

The “Start” and “End” circles can be considered as zero-duration activities.

Generally, the graph depicts different “arrow paths” from Start to End. The time required to cross each route is the sum of the times associated with all the activities in that route.

The critical path is therefore the longest path, in time, from the “Start” circle to the “End” circle and indicates the minimum time necessary to complete the entire project.

Only by finding ways to reduce tasks along the critical path, you can reduce the overall project time. The time required to perform non-critical work is in fact irrelevant from the point of view of total project time.

On average, only around 10% of tasks in large projects are crucial.

Of course, if one finds a way to shorten one or more of the critical activites, not only will the entire project time be shortened, but the critical path itself may shift and some previously uncritical activities could become critical.

critical path method

The first 3 key steps in the critical path method

1) Specify each activity

Using the Work Breakdown Structure or WBS, it is necessary to identify each activity involved in the project .

This list of specific activities should only include activities of a higher level, a generic one.
When too detailed activities are used, critical path analysis can become too complex to manage and maintain.

A WBS then subdivides the project into manageable sections.

The first step is to identify the main results of a project and from here start to divide the activities into smaller and more detailed blocks of work.

You can choose how to display a structure for decomposing the work; some people use a tree structure, while others use lists or tables.

2) Establishing dependencies or sequences of activities

Some activities will depend on the completion of others.

The list of immediate predecessors of each activity will help to identify the correct order.

To correctly identify the activities and their precedence, the following three questions must be asked for each activity derived from the first step:

  • What activity should take place before this activity takes place?
  • Which activities must be completed at the same time as this activity?
  • What activities should take place immediately after this activity?

3) Draw the diagram

Once the activities and their dependencies have been identified, it is possible to trace the analysis graph of the critical path, known as a network diagram.

The network diagram is a visual representation of the order of activities based on dependencies.

The other key steps in the critical path method

4) Estimation of the time of completion of the activity

Using the past experience or the knowledge of an experienced team member, it is necessary to evaluate the time needed to complete each activity.

You can use the three-point estimation method, or PERT, designed to give more weight at the most realistic time period.

In the three-point estimate, it is necessary to elaborate three time estimates for each activity, based on previous experience or the best hypotheses.

This method presents formulas to calculate the time duration more accurately:

  • a = the best estimate
  • m = the most probable estimate
  • b = the worst estimate

These three values identify what happens in an optimal state, what is most likely, and what happens in the worst case scenario.

Once you have identified these values, you can use them in different formulas.

5) Identify the critical path

By looking at the diagram and simply identifying the longest path in the entire network, the critical path will be identified, ie the longest sequence of activities on the path.

Make sure you look for the longest route in terms of duration, not the route with the most activities in it.

6) Update the critical path diagram based on progress

As the project progresses, the actual time to complete the activity will be known.

The network diagram can then be updated including this information, instead of continuing to use the estimates.

With the update of the diagram once new information has emerged, a different critical path can be recalculated.

You will also have a more realistic view of the completion date of the project and you will be able to tell if the project is on line or behind the initial planning.

Benefits and limitations of the critical path method

Like any method, even the critical path has advantages and disadvantages.
Following are some advantages of the critical path method:

  • Graphic view of the project.
  • Discovers and makes dependencies visible.
  • Helps in planning, scheduling and project control.
  • Helps in emergency planning and risk management.
  • Shows the critical path and identifies critical activities that require particular attention, highlighting the overall duration, as well as the end of the project.
  • Shows where to act in order to bring the project back on track.

Although the critical path is a very useful tool in planning the project, it also has some limitations and some drawbacks:

  • Because the critical path method is an optimal planning tool, it always assumes that all resources are available for the project at all times.
  • It does not consider resource dependencies.
  • Pays less attention to a series of non-critical activities, even if sometimes they can become critical ones.
  • Critical path-based projects are often not completed within the approved duration.

To conclude, the critical path method has helped many project managers to develop and manage their program.

In the critical path method, the path with the longest duration is known as a critical path.

During the execution of the project, the main emphasis will be on this path.

As a project manager you will have to keep an eye on the network diagram and take prompt corrective action whenever necessary.

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fast tracking technique

When to use fast tracking techniques in project management

Fast Tracking is defined as a compression technique of the project program with the aim of concluding the project as soon as possible.

When it comes to managing project planning, Fast Tracking is a well-established technique used to reduce the time needed to complete a given project.

The compression techniques of the project program consist of two steps that should be applied sequentially:

  1. Fast Tracking
  2. Project Crashing

The second step, project crashing, means to add resources to critical path activities.

What is Fast Tracking

Fast Tracking is an advanced project management technique.

To be able to use it, it is necessary to identify all the possible activities on the critical path that have the potential to be performed together instead of sequentially.

In other words, the essential task is to identify specific activities of the critical path that can be executed at the same time.

But what happens in concrete? If two or more critical path activities are performed at the same time, only the longest activity will remain on the critical path, rather than the sum of the duration of the individual activities.

For example, at the beginning of the IT security system project, two of the critical path activities are:

  • Hire a seller of IT security software within 10 days
  • Hire members for the project team within 12 days

You can perform these two activities, considered critical path activities, at the same time.

This means that instead of using 22 days to perform both activites, the maximum duration for both activities is now reduced to 12 days. This is because the longest critical path activity is the recruitment of members for the project team.

It will thus be possible to deliver the project 10 days before.

Perhaps the case taken for example may seem trivial but a simplification was essential. In reality, at first glance, it may seem that we can not work on any activity in parallel. This is why sometimes it is necessary to think creatively.

In cases where the assets have different resources, it is possible to start one before the other ends.

Where activities depend on each other, it is possible to perform a risk assessment in order to see how fast it is possible to start the second activity. It will be necessary to take into account the fact that the employee activity has not been completely completed.

Where the risk is not too high, the opportunity to anticipate the program by a few days could be easily managed.

Resource allocations need to be checked after changing the schedule in order to make sure that the changes will not overload the team or a member of the team.

The dangers of Fast Tracking

the fast tracking

Accelerating the project is not without dangers.

Planning an initial project is something that allows you to monitor progress completely, and with Fast Tracking you are trying to do something completely different.

The main challenge of parallel task management, aside from the effort required to reschedule the activities and the resources, is that it adds much more risk to the project in general.

For example, you can buy all the furniture for a new office that you are building before it is completed. Doing so however, there is a risk that the size will change slightly during the preparation and that the items purchased, perhaps even expensive, are no longer suitable.

There is therefore a risk of reprocessing when starting an activity in advance and it is therefore necessary to take this into consideration and manage it.

Finally, there is the danger of doing a lot of work in order to put into practice the fast tracking, and in the end there could be no difference in the final date of the project.

In this case, focus on the project activities that fall into the critical path. This is the longest path within the project and defines its duration.

Activities that are not displayed when highlighting the critical path of the project plan do not allow you to anticipate the final date.

It is therefore necessary to concentrate on the right activities, in order to get the maximum benefit from the compression of the planning.

What are the advantages of fast tracking?

  1. Early delivery of the project
    Being able to deliver and implement the project ahead of schedule is a plus for any individual and for the project manager.
    Each project sponsor has the desire to see his project delivered sooner than expected.
  2. Bring the project back on track and on schedule.
    The project, during its elaboration, can undergo various delays that induce to postpone the delivery date.
    Delivering a late project is detrimental to a project manager’s career.
    In this case, by using fast tracking techniques, it is possible to bring back the project within the expected time frame.
  3. Promptly release the project resources
    When delivering a project in advance, it means that the project resources are free to work on other activities. This will allow you to deliver multiple projects with the same resources.

What are the disadvantages of fast tracking?

  1. Lack of knowledge of the critical path
    Never attempt to apply the fast tracking technique if you are not well informed about the critical path or how to find it.
    If you select the incorrect activities, in fact, no value is added.
    There is always the risk that one or more critical path tasks will be subject to an unknown change towards the end of the project.
  2. Monitor the critical path closely
    It will be necessary to exert extra effort to monitor the critical path in detail.
    It may happen that an activity previously present in the critical path, due to changes, is no longer considered critical.
    In order to avoid working unnecessarily, it is therefore necessary to constantly monitor the critical path, a task that requires time and attention.

How to perform fast tracking

Fast tracking planning begins with the analysis of five key assumptions and continues with the seven-step planning process.

In fact, it is necessary to answer the following questions:

  • Do you have a realistic program with all the activities correctly identified?
  • Are you sufficiently aware of all the dependencies of the activities, which activities must end before others can start?
  • Do you have a solid understanding of the project requirements, goals and priorities?
  • Do you have a good working relationship with the project stakeholders?
  • Do you have established and proven practices for governance, supervision and problem management?

If you answer yes to these questions, it is therefore possible to implement fast tracking to the project program, in whole or in part.

Now let’s see what are the 7 basic steps of the fast tracking technique:

  • Determine the goals expected from fast tracking.
  • Examine project planning in order to identify dependencies.
  • Finding critical opportunities / activities in the project timeline.
  • Identify all valid alternatives for making program adjustments.
  • Make informed decisions.
  • Monitor progresses.
  • Keep track of problems.

When it comes to project management, more than one approach is required in order to achieve success.

The way in which activities are managed when environmental conditions are good is not the same way they are managed when time is running out, resources become thinner and people do not work together.

It is precisely in these moments that fast tracking comes to help.

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One try is worth a million words.
the lead and lag indicator

Lead and lag indicator in the scheduling activity

Lead and lag indicators are often used in performance management. But what exactly do they mean?

Lead and lag indicators are two types of measurements used in performance evaluation in a company or an organization.

A lead indicator is a predictive measure, such as the percentage of people wearing helmets on a building site.

A lag indicator is an output measure, such as the number of accidents at a building site.

The difference between the two is that a lead indicator is able to influence change while a lag indicator can only record what happened.

Lag indicators are in general easy to measure but difficult to improve or influence, while lead indicators are typically difficult to measure and easy to influence.

Lead and lag indicator: the importance of predictive measurement

We focus too often on measuring results. Why? Because they are easy to measure and are accurate.

If you want to know how many sales have been made this month, you can simply count. If you want to know how many accidents have occurred at the factory, you can consult the accident register.

These are all lag indicators. They are a post-event measure, essential for the progress of the charts, but useless when trying to influence the future.

In order to influence the future, a different type of measurement, a predictive measurement, rather than a result measurement, is required.

For example, if you want to increase sales, a predictive measure could be to make more sales calls or run more marketing campaigns.

If you want to reduce accidents at the factory, you could make security training mandatory for all employees or force them to wear helmets.

Measuring these activities provides a series of guiding indicators, predictive measures.

The importance of combinations of lead Indicators and lag indicators

Lead indicators are increasingly difficult to determine with respect to lag indicators. These are predictive indicators and therefore, do not provide a guarantee of success.

This not only makes it difficult to decide which lead indicators to use, but also tends to provoke heated debates on the validity of the measure.

To further fuel the debate, lead indicators often require an investment to implement an initiative before a result is seen and recorded by a lag indicator.

What has become clear after years of research is that a combination of lead and lag indicators leads to improved business performance in general.

When developing a business performance management strategy, it is always a good idea to use a combination of lead and lag indicators.

The reason is obvious; a lag indicator without a lead indicator will not provide guidance on how a result will be achieved and will not provide warnings along the way to a strategic goal.

Moreover, a lead indicator without a lag indicator will not provide confirmation of the achievement of a business result.

There is a chain of cause and effect between the lead and lag indicators, both of which are important when choosing the measures to be followed in order to achieve company goals.

3 steps to find lead indicators

Lead indicators, for some, are the holy grail of performance measures.

They are mysterious, difficult to find and yet regarded as the best and most appreciated performance and KPI measures.

Humans in general have an obsession with the future and, in particular, they want to predict it.

Models of the past can give clues to the future, but it is necessary to make many hypothesis about how future conditions will shape the historical models.

In the case of lead indicators, no historical data on a measure is used to predict how that same measure could behave in the future.

A lead indicator is a measure that suggests how another measure (the measure of lag) may behave in the future.

For example, if you want to forecast future employee turnover, you can look at other measures that have a known impact on staff turnover.

For example, employee engagement or satisfaction towards their work, their manager and their colleagues.

These results can predict staff turnover because they usually start to be negative long before employees decide to leave.

For this reason, a lead indicator has a cause-effect relation to the measure of lag that is to be predicted.

And this gives the power to change things, to influence the future.

Here is the best way to find leads indicators:

1) Search for known explanatory factors

Research if someone else has already established a list of factors that are related to the lag indicator.

For example, if the interest is staff turnover, you can read articles from magazines and periodicals of human resources. Find out if anyone has already tested the factors that most affect the likelihood of staff leaving an organization.

This type of research is important, because it will save a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted by chasing potential indicators of very weak or useless leads.

2) Check business processes for new potential explanatory factors

It is useful to construct a business process scheme to which the lag indicator refers. It is useful for identifying potential steps that have a significant impact.

The use of business processes naturally helps to find the lead indicators. In fact, the initial phases of a process occur before time with respect to the result.

But be careful! Sometimes powerful lead indicators can be found in other business processes that do not directly produce results.

3) Choose the strongest potential lead indicators

When you have a list of potential lead indicators, you need to collect all relevant data. It will therefore be necessary to look for the degree of their relationship with the lag indicator.

In this case, a scatterplot will help to see the strength of the relationships.

Lead and lag indicator

Although these suggestions can certainly help identifying lead indicators, practice and experience are absolutely necessaryin order to be able to identify the right ones for each situation.

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